On Wednesday, September 19th, I attended a hearing at the Plymouth, Massachusetts, trial court to speak a judge and his buddies on the panel about the Draconian child-support guidelines which noncustodial dads are forced to pay - or go to jail.
Below is my statement. Although we were addressing our comments to Herod, at least he had to sit and listen while for once we could speak without being ordered to shut up.
If I had to give my speech a title, I'd call it "The Moral Problem of Court-Ordered Fatherlessness".
Child Support Guidelines
To: Massachusetts Trial Court
Date: September 19, 2012
From: Greg Sabine
I am proud to be here as one of the 50,000 members of Fathers & Families, Inc., and I’m especially grateful to our Executive Director, Rita Fuerst Adams, and our Founder, Dr. Ned Holstein. These extraordinary people exemplify the spirit of Proverbs 31:8, which states, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves”. It is said that a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument. Fortunately, Fathers and Families is represented by people who happen to possess both the irrefutable evidence in support of shared parenting and those non-custodial parents with compelling stories of the stripping of their constitutional rights, the robbing of their spirit and the utter destruction of their children. Our need for a shared parenting law is supported by the 86 percent, those who operate outside the corrupt divorce industrial complex (i.e., the 14 percent) - whose epicenter is this very courthouse.
While I really don’t want to talk about the obvious financial disparities and oppressive orders endemic to the unjust child support guidelines (mother support, more truthfully), I’ll just briefly share how the system has worked in my case (a middle class situation with two teachers as parents) - using these color-coded bar graphs to hopefully paint a more lucid picture.
The first two sets of bar graphs depict my income in blue, and my then-wife’s income in pink – prior to the divorce proceedings 16 years ago. In the next two sets of graphs, the green represents my support payments (paid out of after-tax income), the blue shows what I actually have to live on (which includes taking care of my kids when they were with me on summer vacations and alternating weekends, etc.), and the pink represents the mother’s income.
My tax preparer at one time explained that the mother was so advantaged that she essentially had four times my income, and it got even better as time passed while she basked in her “single mom” status. Spinning off an old "Saturday Night Live" line, "Beisball been vely good to me", many custodial moms can confidently crow, "Divorce been vely good to me". My kids' mom had the financial capability to give them a car, send them on trips to Europe, Hawaii, etc. – all the while using her custodial advantage to distance those kids from their dad. As the graphs demonstrate, I could have comfortably raised my children without any support from my higher paid ex-spouse. But the fathers in this room understand full well the financial reality of what we have faced while the children we love were alienated out of our lives.
What I’d really like to talk about, however, is the root cause of this injustice. The current problem is not a financial one, any more than it was for the grossly underpaid Negro sanitation workers in April, 1968, when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King went to “speak up for those who [could not] speak for themselves”.
The problem was then, and is today, a moral one. Those men didn't hold protest signs saying, "We demand equal pay!" - though they rightfully could have. No, each declared, "I am a man". "I am a man". Ladies and gentlemen, I am a father. Dr. King said that any law that does not conform to the “Moral Law of the Universe”, i.e., God’s law, “is no law at all”. When the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is fired for his refusal to remove the Ten Commandments ("Honor thy father and mother.") from his courtroom, when God has been thrown out of the public square, moral confusion and chaos are the guaranteed results, and the revered “Rule of Law" (which has been part and parcel of our Judeo-Christian heritage) does not exist in the family courts. Put plainly, as respect for God as his commandments goes, so goes respect for fatherhood.
This Monday, September 17th, we commemorated the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution – a document (most notably the 14th Amendment's "due process of law" clause) that gets torn up every day in our family courts. That pandect rests on a solid foundation, the Declaration of Independence, which says that our rights are God given (“endowed by our Creator”). Thomas Jefferson also wrote, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God?”
Forty percent (40%!) of America’s children will go to sleep tonight in a fatherless home. Isn’t it tragic that so many of those children are the victims of what I’ve termed “court-ordered fatherlessness”? Back in December, 1998, a hateful anti-father article appeared prominently Boston Globe (I’ve saved it). In a piece titled “The Militant Divorce”, the legal profession was advising moms to take “revenge” on their husbands and to “Get the money, get the kids”. A large, color illustration showing a father lying prostrate and being stomped on in the courtroom by a justifiably angry mother – right in front of the approving judge - sent the obvious message: fathers are not only unnecessary, they are the very enemy of the family.
That article brought back painful memories of my own countless court appearances, especially the three-day, kangaroo-style trial in front of Judge Catherine Sabaitis just one year earlier (1997). While I was not physically assaulted in that courtroom, I was denied the basic constitutional right to take the witness stand and rebut the charges levied against me by a vindictive mother seeking to “get the money, get the kids” – which she did.
Through the process I was ordered to pay an attorney I never hired thousands of dollars, and I was never charged with any crime, though I was treated like a common criminal – and of course my children were stolen from me. I learned early on that the Massachusetts family courts are just plain crooked and corrupt.
The situation is best summed up by esteemed researcher Dr. Stephen Baskerville: “Never before in human history has any government created a machinery whose primary purpose is to take children away from their parents [mostly fathers]. Nazis and communists both did it but it was not their principle aim. In America we’ve created a massive, multi-billion-dollar government machine that exists for no other purpose.”
During my early years in education I was a respected history teacher at the [Plymouth, MA] high school across the street, and I brought a group of 11th graders to tour the old county jail which was in the vicinity of this building. When our guide explained that there were “deadbeat dads” occupying the cells, I wanted to wring their necks. Boy, what little I knew about the plight of the MANY incarcerated dads who are not deadbeats, but are in fact beat dead by the “machine”.
The audience in attendance here understands because they are among the 86 percent who support the solution: changing the custody laws to SHARED PARENTING. The question to those on the panel taking these testimonies is: Are you part of the solution, or are you part of the 14 percent radical fringe that seeks to perpetuate this epidemic of court-ordered fatherlessness?