Fathers and Families’ Election 2012 Campaign activists attended New Hampshire GOP events this week and asked former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, a 2008 and potential 2012 presidential candidate, about family court reform. Giuliani told F & F activist Shawn Gliklich, MD “family courts absolutely need reform,” and expressed interest in meeting with F & F.
Giuliani told Dr. Gliklich that he sees family law as a state matter, rather than a federal one. Giuliani is for the most part correct, however, there are many things the federal government could do to promote shared custody and undermine the current sole custody to mom norm.
The federal government helps shape states” policies in many areas by the disbursement or withholding of federal reimbursement funds. It works the same way with family law–the federal government reimburses the states billions of dollars each year in child support collection funds. A pro-shared parenting administration could greatly encourage shared parenting by tying those funds to progress in enacting shared parenting laws, implementing and encouraging shared parenting arrangements, and enforcing visitation orders.
President Obama has admirably emphasized the importance of fathers in children’s lives. However, he has chosen to focus only on the part of fatherlessness which is caused by irresponsible fathers, and not the large part of it that is caused by the family court system.
Giuliani experienced the bias of the family court system during his highly-publicized divorce from actress Donna Hanover. During Giuliani’s 2008 campaign, it was evident that Giuliani”s children were alienated from him–his son Andrew publicly attacked Giuliani’s wife Judi Nathan, and has often voiced objections to Giuliani”s and Nathan”s marriage.
Giuliani also paid put an enormous sum in the divorce, and his ex-wife even demanded that he pay her $1,140 a month to care for the family dog. We discussed Giuliani’s family life, marriage, and divorce—in which he also was not free of wrongdoing—in a column here.
Like millions of other fathers, Dr. Gliklich, a Methuen, Massachusetts emergency-room physician, was allowed limited time with his children after his divorce. In June he was quoted in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:
“My kids had one of the two people they love most in the world pushed to the margins of their lives. I have the lives of other people”s children in my hands on a daily basis–why is it I”m not allowed to equally care for my own?”
Giuliani is the 5th presidential (or likely presidential) candidate who has come out in favor of family court reform via Fathers and Families’ Election 2012 Campaign. These include:
Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, said:
“Anything I could do on the federal level I would do, as president, to address [this] real inequality. I recognize it, having been Governor of New Mexico. It’s a huge issue…the courts rule…usually [if not] always against the fathers…[in these rulings, fathers rights’] are obliterated, they’re nonexistent. I recognize that…I’m open to ideas [on fixing it].”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized the family law system for its “extreme anti-male bias.,” and explained that he was “in favor of fathers having rights…We live in an age that is very different than 50 years ago and I think that it is very often very important…that we have a much greater sensitivity that both sides, both parents, both have rights and have responsibilities…”
Less definitely but still encouraging were former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty comments:
[O]ne of the most significant determining factors of how children are going to do in school and more broadly in life is the degree of involvement and engagement of their parents in their lives. We want to encourage that to the fullest extent possible. And so the laws…as they relate to the relative balance between custodial and non-custodial [should reflect] that we want both parents engaged and productive…in their children”s lives.
I totally agree with your assessment on the need for children to be able to bond and interact with their parents. When they”re there, they do better. And when they are estranged, they do worse. There is something about a parent figure that is so critically important and indispensable in the lives of families.
I”m somewhat familiar with some cases that have played out in Utah where fathers in particular were estranged from their children. Unfortunately, caught up in the legal system, caught up in bureaucracy, we did what we could do. But I understand where you are coming from and if you have any specific solutions on how we ought to be looking at this issue, I”d love to hear them.
Join Fathers and Families’ Election 2012 Campaign!
Fathers and Families’ Election 2012 Campaign is a nonpartisan grassroots campaign with the goal of injecting family court reform into the 2012 election campaign.
Between now and New Hampshire’s February 14, 2012 primary, our activists will be going to candidates’ campaign stops, rallies, and townhall meetings, as well as calling in when candidates are interviewed on radio talk shows. We will be politely and persistently asking candidates questions about family court reform, with the goal of garnering media attention for our issues and getting candidates to go on the record with their views.
Our central issue is simple–family courts harm children by routinely separating them from one of the two people they love most.
How You Can Help
No matter where you are, there are many ways you can help:
1) If you are in New England and can volunteer to make appearances at campaign stops and townhalls, please fill out our volunteer form here and type “Fathers and Families’ Election 2012 Campaign” at the beginning of the “How I Can Help” section.
2) We understand that many of you can”t participate due to geography or other limitations. We still want you to fill out our volunteer form here and participate by:
- Helping us organize by making phone calls and doing web research.
- Making calls to reporters, radio talk shows, and candidates’ offices, writing letters and posting comments in response to our campaign Action Alerts. You will see these on our website at www.FathersandFamilies.org, our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/FathersandFamilies, and in our weekly ENewsletter.
- Our New Hampshire efforts cost money—help defray our costs by giving at www.FathersandFamilies.org/give.
We Are Non-Partisan
Fathers and Families is resolutely non-partisan and has and continues to work successfully with legislators on both sides of the aisle on legislation to promote family court reform. Our primary goal is to protect the loving bonds children share with both parents after divorce or separation, and we’re happy to work with any legislators or political figures who share this goal.
During the Fathers and Families Election Campaign 2012 we will be intervening at both Republican and Democratic events. However, there are many more Republican events than Democratic events because the Republican primary will be hotly contested, whereas the Democrats have an incumbent running.