Saint Kitts and Nevis
Posted - 29 Aug 2001 : 18:11:44
| Fathers with no rights
Once the father "loses custody," in the jargon of the court, he becomes in many ways a virtual outlaw and subject to plunder by a variety of officials. His contact with his own children becomes criminalized in that he can be arrested if he tries to see them outside of court-approved times and places. Unlike anyone else, he can be (and fathers are) arrested for running into his children in a public place such as the zoo, a sporting event, or a parish church. He can also be arrested for telephoning his children when he is not authorized to do so or for sending them birthday cards.
Fathers are routinely summoned to court and subjected to questioning about their private lives and how they raise their children. Whether or not they have been accused of any wrongdoing, they are subject to questioning that attorney Jed Abraham has characterized as an "interrogation." Their personal papers, bank accounts, and homes must be opened and surrendered on request to government officials, who are not required to produce warrants. Their children are taught to suspect them with the backing of government officials and given directions to inform on them.
Anything a father has said to his spouse or children can be used against him in court. His personal habits, movements, conversations, purchases, and even his relationship with his own children are all subject to inquiry and control by the court. A Virginia father had his visitation time reduced when a judge decided that soccer was a more important Sunday-morning activity than attending church services. Another father in Tennessee may face a jail term for giving his son an unauthorized haircut. Jed Abraham describes how fathers against whom no evidence of wrongdoing is presented are ordered to submit to "plethysmographs," in which an electronic sheath is placed over the penis while the father is forced to watch pornographic films involving children.
Despite the constitutional prohibition on incarceration for debt, a father can be jailed without trial for failure to pay not only child support but the fees of lawyers and psychotherapists he has not hired. A father forcibly separated from his son for three years now faces jail in Virginia if he cannot pay two years of his salary to a lawyer he never hired, for a divorce he never requested. The judge has summoned a legally unimpeachable citizen and ordered him to write a check or go to jail. And the weapon he is using is a child.
Litigants have long claimed that family courts tamper with transcripts and other evidence, but were unable to document their claims until Zed McLarnon, a forensic audio-visual expert, showed photographic evidence that hearing records in his case were being doctored. For his complaint, later aired in the Massachusetts News, McLarnon was assessed $20,000 in fees for attorneys he had not hired, and jailed without trial by the same judges who were responsible for the doctored tapes. The court is currently moving to seize his house and car. His attorney claims the court also "removed documents from his case file, falsified the case docket, refused to docket motions and hearings in the public record, and withheld the public case file for nine months."
By Stephen Baskerville