John has been helping us raise money in the entertainment industry, and has also given generously to Fathers and Families.
John first joined our efforts in California in 2004 when he worked with us in our successful effort to protect the CA Supreme Court’s LaMusga move-away decision from a legislative assault. In his Los Angeles Times column “Divorced Dads and Fairness” (8/4/04), Eisendrath wrote:
[Recently] the California Supreme Court issued the landmark LaMusga ruling giving divorced fathers a fighting chance to prevent their ex-wives from moving away with their children. It was an important decision, reinterpreting the court’s 1996 Burgess decision, under which custodial parents…have been allowed to drag the kids off to different cities, states and even countries, even if a judge agreed that such moves were bad for the kids. The April decision articulated a single premise: Decisions such as this one must be based on the best interests of the child…
I care about this issue because it happened to me.
In October 2002, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge denied my ex-wife’s request to move our two young boys 200 miles north to San Luis Obispo. The judge ruled the move would be detrimental to them because it would destroy the close relationship they shared with me and that it was not in their best interest.
My ex-wife appealed. In May 2003, a three-judge appellate panel remanded the case back to the lower court. Citing Burgess and related cases, the panel concluded that detriment related to the move–including the damage done to a child’s relationship with his father–was not a sufficient reason to prevent it. All that mattered, according to the law, was that my ex-wife spent more hours of the week with our two boys than I did, which of course was based almost solely on the fact that I work and she doesn’t.
And by the way, she was not moving to San Luis Obispo to improve our children’s economic prospects, to place them in better schools or to be near relatives. It was a pure lifestyle choice. She wanted to live on a farm with her new husband, and the court said that was OK.
The result was that in August 2003, the same Superior Court judge who had originally denied the move because it was bad for the boys now ordered it to occur. Visibly frustrated by what the appellate court was instructing him to do, the judge made his feelings plain: “The order I’m about to make is not in [the boys’] best interest,” he said from the bench. “Let’s get that real clear. I haven’t changed my mind from the last time. It’s simply no longer relevant.”
Imagine how that feels: Being told by a family court judge that under the laws of the state of California the best interests of your children are not relevant.
Today John says:
This is a cause near and dear to my heart. Children have the right to have a relationship with both parents after a divorce or separation–a right that is routinely violated by our court system. We’ve long needed a strong, well-funded national advocacy group that can represent the interests of children of divorce. We need to bring balance to a system rife with gender bias and which devalues the importance of the father-child bond.
This isn’t about my custody case–my case is long done. But I owe it to my sons and I owe it to all children to address this terribly damaging and oft-ignored social problem.
I support Fathers and Families because they are professional and effective, and are our best hope for change.
I urge everybody reading this to volunteer to be a part of Fathers and Families by visiting www.FathersandFamilies.org/volunteer and to contribute to Fathers and Families by visiting www.FathersandFamilies.org/give.