California Lawyer Magazine: NOW Leader Calls Fathers’ Movement ‘Dishonest and Dangerous’

California–Background: California Lawyer magazine covered the Fathers’ Rights Movement in the #2 story in its March issue–The Dad-Vocates by Bill Blum. The article quotes family law attorney David C. Stone, men’s advocate Warren Farrell, Craig Candelore of the Men’s Legal Center, myself, and others. In the article, Helen Grieco, executive director of the California chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) says, “The fathers’ rights movement is both dishonest and dangerous.”
According to Blum: “She views the rise of fathers’ rights organizations in the 1980s-and the accompanying increase in custody disputes as bargaining tools-as a direct response to ‘the demand of the women’s movement for greater child support, which ended up costing fathers more money.’ Under California law (Cal. Fam. Code 4055), Grieco points out, child-support payments are determined by a formula tying support both to the income of the parents and, most important, to the percentage of time children spend in the physical custody of each parent. Generally, the more time a child spends with a mother having primary physical custody, the more support a father must pay. “‘There are definitely financial reasons why some men seek child custody,’ says USC Law School professor Scott Altman, who studied divorce-negotiation tactics by polling the members of the family law section of the California Bar. Altman found that over a one-year period more than 60 percent of divorce attorneys reported receiving threats of custody litigation from their opponents to extract more favorable child-support arrangements. Altman further found that attorneys who represented women exclusively or predominantly received such threats three times as often as their counterparts. (Lurking in the Shadow, 68 USC L. Rev. 493 (1995).)” This is a common and misleading feminist argument. I discussed it in my co-authored column Louisiana’s HB 315 Says One Parent is Better Than Two (Shreveport Times, 5/20/06): “In Louisiana, like most states, how much time each parent spends with his or her children helps determine how much child support is ordered. Rep. Shirley Bowler (R-River Ridge), who authored the bill, asserts that dads seek shared custody as a way to decrease their child support obligations. She promotes HB 315 as a way to ‘remove this angle’ in the current law, which she claims divorced dads are exploiting. “While it is true that there are fathers who put their pocketbooks above their children”s best interests, Bowler and the bill”s supporters ignore the obvious converse. If a dad may seek 50% physical time with his children simply to lower his child support obligation, doesn”t it also hold that a mother may seek 85% physical time in order to increase it? “Similarly, critics charge that the child support provisions of current law amount to paying men to spend time with their children. In reality, the provisions simply acknowledge that both moms and dads have child-related expenses.”

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