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My gut reaction to more news of a fathering court.

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It takes but a few moments of passion — and a woman  — for a man to start a child. 

Between funding of abstinence education, healthy marriage initiatives, fatherhood initiatives, a “fantastic” public school system (USA), trailing the industrialized world in several core topics, like reading and math, and rampant crime inside and outside the schools; between initiatives preventing parents from knowing whether or not a teen daughter has gone to have an abortion on school time (Google “Pacific Justice Institute”), and so forth — PERHAPS with all these, plus federal funding womb to tomb, more studies and evaluations of those studies, and of course the “help” of the child support system in setting reasonable and consistent standards in assigning — and collecting the child support to relieve the welfare load (supposedly) — and of course with more, and more prominent active fathering courts replacing the rule of law and common sense

we might find a few good men with moral integrity and empathy for the welfare of their offspring.

Actually, from what I can see, the idea is with ENOUGH props, such men can be made — or bribed — to shape up, and care about their offspring. 

This is among the many causes our debt-ridden country has decided to espouse. 

As a mother, I didn’t feel it necessary to bribe and/or threaten my children to excel at their studies (which they did), and I am puzzled why this approach is thought to be so important to make sense as applied to grown young (or older) men in order to step up to the fatherhood plate.   

So . . . re :
Jackson County Pioneers Missouri Move to Fathering Courts

I add my sarcastic italicized comments so the text doesn’t blithely slip down reader’s gullets and a  warm fuzzy feeling about the nobility of this enterprise get assimilated into the thinking system.  This is a first-response post.  

Then again, what you assimilate is your choice.  When you read, remember that every Court Comissioner, Defense prosecutor, and public prosecutor mentioned is, I would think, on public dole also.  Welcome to the OK Corrale..  Everyone feels better after a few sessions in there.

This post is based on an emotional gut reaction to the concept.  Perhaps my “reasoning” as such is fuzzy, but I don’t see how it could be much fuzzier and emotionally based than what I’m commenting on.  Judge for yourself.  Please! – – -these are government-supported policies (and therefore $$), so keep it real!

Jackson County Pioneers Missouri Move to Fathering Courts
John Holt, edited by Jason Vaughn
November 6, 2009
KANSAS CITY, MO – Kevin Gainey was on top of the world. A good job as a bail bondsman, a lake home, and custody of his young son following his divorce.

{{FUNNY, I thought there was gender bias against men in family courts.  That’d be an interesting  case to look up. . . . Maybe  Mom must have abused substances, abandoned children, been a slut and was off witha nother man, or simply a stay at home Mom who was financially outclassed somehow.   Maybe she was a working Mom and he was a stayathome father?   Or, maybe she just gave them to him, not being financially independent and called that a good deal.  Or perhaps she was not emotionally connected to her son.  There are a thousand reasons this father, not mother, may have gotten custody of his son after a divorce, all of which might be relevant to the story, and shed a different light on the situations, and the wisdom — or lack of it — of whichever judge decided to allocate custody of his son to a Dad.  Boys should be with fathers {{no matter the character…}} was maybe the thinking, I guess.  H OW OLD was the son?  Who had been previous caretaker?  Was his former Mom a stay at home Mom?  Was the divorce contested or amicable?  What was that background story???}}

But bad habits caught up with him, his son moved back with his mom, and Gainey lost his job.

{{“bad habits caught up with him.”  Yeah, let’s gloss over that aspect. 

Poor fellow, couldn’t run fast enough.  Was it meth, crack, heroin, alcohol, pornography, — WHAT bad habits.  No matter, poor dear, he couldn’t outrun himself..

Also, I note, “moved BACK with his Mom,” meaning, she had custody, then lost it.  Maybe not.  But if so, Gee, sound familiar, folks? — except the actually getting to move back with Mom part…}}

“Wasn’t always accountable for my actions,” Gainey now says. “A lot of it had to do with my substance abuse problem.”

{{So what did the rest of it have to do with??}}

{{Externalizes the problem —  I am so familiar with this language pattern!  Not his fault, still..}}

{{Notice he didn’t say:  I wasn’t always accountable, I abused substances (and which one[s])..and “I hurt my son” }}with what ramifications…was it endangering his son most likely?  What was he doing to support his “bad habits” and “substance abuse” problem that caused a radical custody switch?)

With no money, doing odd jobs, and a sobriety issue {{SO it was alcohol…}}, Gainey fell behind in his child support, and wound up facing criminal charges.

{{Again poor dear, he was drinking, making holding a job difficult– apparently AFTER he lost custody of his son, as child support was involved.  I say apparently, because I don’t know for sure, but it seems likely…}}

 Despite that, prosecutors deemed him a good candidate for a diversion program that could give Gainey a fresh start and keep him out of prison: fathering court.

{{FORMULA:  State & Court order child support.  Child support not paid.  This is contempt of a law, and a quasi-criminal situation that can land a parent in jail, the purpose of which is to communicate that child support is a serious issue and to be paid.  However, there’s a way to dilute that message that child support IS for children, IS important, and that neglecting it IS negligence, when the potential to pay exists (i.e., stop drinking, and instead work, or at least seek work….  get help yourself…)

Enter — voila! —


((Somehow, I sense as systemic setup — do you?))  ((My blog talks about the Father’s Resolutions passed in 1998 & 1999 in US Congress, and posts some links and excerpts of the horror that XX% of African American children are sleeping in homes wi thout their fathers in them nationwide, and how Congress can stop th is travesty….

Note:  The 15 yr old girl gangraped, with passers by, in Richmond, CA recently had a father in the home.  He just wasn’t at the door leaving the dance to get her.  The victim, and it’s STILL no excuse, but she was 15 and inhaled a good deal of alcohol first.  She had a father.  Must have been a statistical anomaly.  Meanwhile, in another state here, to protect young sons (like the one exposed to substance abuse, above) and the young daughters (like the one whose  currently devastated Dad, I’m sure, did NOT show up needy and underemployed in a fathering court, apparently) we need MORE, not LESS< “therapeutic jurisprudence.” 

In fact, let’s actually just SKIP the jurisprudence part (except for the labels on the door) and go straight to therapy, just CALLING it “court.” 

Gag me with a spoon.. . .Or show me the up and coming “mothering” courts.  No one gives us that rope, that I’ve seen!   

It will not change the wheels of the institutions — we still need more fathering intervention nationwide, and grants to fund them, and to alter the philosophical basis of law to accommodate a “required outcome” of more father-contact, and to bribe, cajole, coach, and help men  to understand they must actually help FEED those they BREED. 

Launched in 1998, Jackson County’s fathering court is modeled after its drug court: parents, most often dads  {{Well, THAT”s a shocker….}}, get help meeting the challenges that may be holding them back through an initial screening. Regular follow-up court appearances are designed to keep them on track.

“I think that’s the role of fathering court. To identify the barriers that are preventing payment of support, and then to direct them to the services that resolve those issues,” says Family Court Commissioner Patrick Campbell, himself a father of two.

Commissioner Campbell presides over the court which meets weekly in Division 43.

{{Let me get this straight:  He presides over this court, presumably making decisions and signing court orders affecting men, women, and their mutual children, and THINKS he understands its purpose?  Does this Commissioner have a law degree in any state?}}

{{Are there any actual rules of court which apply in this situation?  By the way, people have a right to be heard by a judge, not a commissioner, if they choose, or so I heard.  I suppose that’s not highly publicized over there…}}

On a recent morning it was a crowded docket, as Commissioner Campbell greeted men who must demonstrate that they are making progress, make some kind of regular payment toward child support, and attend a 12 week parenting class.

{{Yes, there’s no problem on earth that a good parenting class can’t solve.  }}

“Congratulations”, Campbell tells one dad. “I told you when you graduated and got a job I was going to raise you up a little bit. So I’m going to raise each of them to 150 a month.”

To another dad, the commissioner urges contact with his kids: **”These three kids have one dad and you’re it,” he tells the man, who admits he hasn’t seen his children much.

**I am a mother.  I am having to fight pretty damn hard for contact with my kids, and there’s not one court commissioner, court-appointed attorney, mediator, judge or any one else assisting me.  But because I wasn’t abusing substances and in trouble with the law, there were no “services” offered to help.  In fact, when I went seeking them — after child-stealing on an overnight– they weren’t found.  Period.  If anything, these courts were resisting.  I didn’t understand this fully til, again, I looked up the “Access Visitation” grants system and “REQUIRED OUTCOME” for grant recipients.  You can research this, too — my blog, others, or the internet.  THAT’s what this is about.  NOT the kids…

To other men he’s a cheerleader, a task master, a coach, urging some to get something as simple as an email address so they can receive job listings sent to them by the program.

“You try to make a quick decision as to whether this is a time to encourage them or is this a time to push ’em where they’re not comfortable,” Campbell says later.

{{I am so sorry to find that the public servants in this country feel the need to parent parents, and have forgotten their assigned duties and oaths of office (for th ose who are also attorneys).  The President of the USA had to swear an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.  This includes due process, and laws.  What’s up with this crowd?  ???}}

A prosecutor and defense attorney stand at the bench with each of the dads, but unlike other settings, they appear more like a team, working with, rather than against each other in a court where there is no court reporter, and nothing is on the record.

{{WOW.  That’s wonderfully reassuring that all decisions will be ethical, fair, not subject to any forms of bribery or kickback, and protect the interests of the children involved, and the rest of the society not to have to pick up the tab….}}

“They see that we’re all trying to help them get to where they need to be,” says prosecutor Rebecca Leavett, who calls fathering court her favorite docket. “And I think they get more relaxed and trust us, they open up to us more about the issues that are actually going on in their lives.”

{{Translation:  some of them can be disarmingly open — when there’s money at stake.  I am so glad that the prosecutor and the defense attorneys — in an adversarial system designed for the truth to come out, through due process, and fair judgments be made — are in truth not even PRETENDING to do “bad cop, good cop,” but admitting that it’s all a show.  . . . . . .   }}

{{I”m so glad that these hardened attorneys get to have some moments of warm fuzzy feelings of do-goodism.  Perhaps the single mothers (if applicable) and fatherless children can take that warm fuzzy feeling and serve it up hot for dinner, or hug it as a pillow on a cold night.  Perhaps th ose attorneys might want to empathize with those not actually present in court, in their warm fuzziness on the law…and accountability…. AA for effort, eh??  }}

Her counterpart agrees.

“This isn’t a time for secrets, this isn’t a time for somebody to come up and say ‘whoa that’s attorney-client privilege, I want to keep this between me and my attorney,” says Gaurika Anand, a public defender who works with most of the dads.

Along with court transcripts, adversarial process designed to elicit truth, we now also want to do away with attorney-client privilege.  Gee, I wonder what ELSE is on the docket here??

Are the sons and daughters of these child-support-deprived kids going to grow up realizing, as their Dads now have, that it’s not actual performance, but just a public effort, that actually counts in life?  We can’t expect real standards based on real needs, after all…. 

I say this as a teacher, most of my adult professional life.  I know that failing to make standards clear, and then get a consensus to excell at reaching them — accomplishment and stretching those standards upwards by effort (not bribery…) produces the warm fuzzy feelings.  Not cheating them by constantly reducing the bottom line…}}


This year, Missouri lawmakers saw the eleven year old Jackson County court as a good model, and approved the concept statewide. So far several circuit courts have expressed interest, but there’s little money for launching new fathering courts. A state court spokesman says it’s expected the concept will eventually spread when the state’s economy improves.

Gainey is just happy he had the concept to benefit from in Jackson County. Initially reluctant to attend the parenting classes, he eventually did, and is grateful for the opportunity. He’s slowly whittling down his $17,000 back child support bill, has attended rehab, and says he’s now sober and working toward a better life.

When Gainey and other dads graduate, the criminal non-support charges are gone, so long as they continue to work to pay down their child support debt.

“There’s no way I could disrespect the opportunity family court’s given me,” he says. “This is gonna’ happen.”

That’s what Commissioner Campbell wants to hear from more of his participating dads.

“In this court you actually see people make changes.” he says. “I would never tell you it would be all of those making changes, but you see a lot of people make primary fundamental changes in their life. And that’s a very encouraging thing to see.”


When you mix this scenario in with domestic violence, just know that economic abuse is a common factor.  While I’m VERY jaundiced, there’s a reason —  my personal experience, which is not unique, as a mother, watching the impact of sporadic child support payments, the NONresponse of the system to do anything about it when I worked and invested diligent time to get them to (and involved others).  When the children lived with me, it stalled, delayed, obstructed, and gave me double-talk answers to direct questions.    This affected my children, and my relationship with them.

The second the custody switch happened, this same system that would NOT move for a single mother, went aggressively to bat for a father who’d just responded to my attempts to collect by snatching the kids! 

This will all come out in the wash eventually.  Warm fuzzies (I don’t share them, in this matter) in one place don’t compensate for hungry children elsewhere.

For those new to these posts — the OCSE (That’s federal Office of Child Support Enforcement) are administering the grants to the states for increasing noncustodial parent (translation:  FATHERS) involvement with their kids through mandated mediation, parenting plans, and other issues designed to —    I hate to keep repeating this truth, but it’s the truth– diverting the evidence and fact-finding process from OUTSIDE The courtroom (and off the record — see this above case!) — to court paraprofessionals whose BUSINESS is apparently custody-switching, titles to the contrary….

How far away is the Gulag Archipelago from this Designer Family Concept?

Not too far, from what I can see.

Gag me with a spoon…..

For further reference on this topic.


For more on Kansas, Google (or search my post also)   Claudine Dombrowski, Oletha Faust-Goudeau (and etc.).  Kansas thought ANOTHER fatherhood initiative was needed recently.  Guess they forgot about all the other programs racing through the courts, governments, county jails, chidl support agencies, faith-based nonprofit organizations, and university advanced social sciences programs, and — did I miss a venue?  No matter, fatherhood initiatives wi’ll turn up there sooner or later.  Just you wait…

LOOK:  If it’s a court, let it be a court.  If it’s therapy, let it be therapy.  Tell the truth on the label outside the door.  Also tell all the mothers involved what’s being done, out of their vision, hearing, and awareness, with the Dads of their children.  So they can, like me, put their two bits in.

Failure to call things what they are in my book is simply called lying.  No wonder confusion is rampant and mental health professionals are swamped, and stressed out with clients. 

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  In order to put SOME kind of order to thoughts, it’s necessary to have a somewhat standard point of reference for the words used to describe them.

What I read about here — that’s not court, that’s a farce of a court process.  Everyone might as well go laughing to their various banks, those that have them, while the single mothers, scourge of our nation, go find a 3rd job, and then get criticized openly in family court for their “relationship” with the latchkey kids.

Some of these Dads had legitimate problems.  How many of them were screened for prior domestic violence and use of the child support system to apply pressure on the  mothers of their kids?  If so, why do they get the kid glove, and the families the backside of the hand?

I advise people to totally avoid the child support system, if at all possible.  I do not think it’s redeemable at this piont.  Too large, too much power, and too many people are dying when people get pissed off at its proclamations.  the office shooting in Orlando, FL had a child support debt element, for those who noticed.  The shooting (one died) took place in an office, but it was a Dad, with history of controlling and abuse, and a child support debt of over $11,000.   

Was it a fair ruling?  Quite possibly that system is adding to the stress factors.

I was within range of not needing child support, but I couldn’t get the protection to my own work life and relationships to make it all the way home.  Somehow, that doesn’t seem (in retrospect), “accidental” at all.  Strong, independent, law-abiding single mothers upset the  machinery here, and it seems courts like these, and other programs, are intent on doing away with us, and our connection with our kids.  We may maintain it, but it will cost us — whether through supervised visitation, or thousands in lawyers in the family law system; once entered — exit is difficult.

If these comments are helpful (or your gut reaction to them is like mine to the article), please feel free to comment on-line.

Have a nice day.

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  1. […] Get Honest My gut reaction to more news of a fathering court.Men’s Rights, Women’s Right, or plain old WHAT’s Right?The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge and Family […]

  2. […] Get Honest My gut reaction to more news of a fathering court.Men’s Rights, Women’s Right, or plain old WHAT’s Right?The SF-Oakland Bay Bridge and Family […]

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