Harbour's" words are in blue
have visited your website, and would like your opinion on my article, Gender
Bias in Family Court, at http://www.fathermag.com/808/GenderBias.shtml
for your time.
I thought it sounded
like a sincere article written by a person who really doesn't have the
breadth of background in the subject matter to see the big picture and
whose perception might be clouded by a personal case. I have more
specific comments below:
on all those women of the 1990's who now use these laws to their advantage
in family courts to bring men to their knees; and to erase fathers from
the lives of their children! False allegations by women of child abuse,
domestic violence, and stalking are almost never questioned by judges for
fear of being politically incorrect."
Shame, indeed! Fortunately,
relatively few "women" are using the laws in this manner. It's
only a tiny percentage of cases in which women actually make false allegations,
and the percentage of these is the same as it is in the general population,
e.g. in other areas of false criminal allegations outside of divorce cases.
I trust you know this; your implication is unclear however, and could
be misleading in this regard.
The voices of
the men who have been wronged (or who perceive themselves to have been
wronged -- not necessarily the same) are loud and active. Their collective
sound is disproportionate to the problems. That's testimony in itself
to the continuing power of men's points of view and their creativity
in the "false allegation" area (or would this be psychological
At any rate, take
comfort that while some "false allegation" cases might result
in injustice for men, there actually are far MORE "true allegation"
cases that result in injustice for women and children, because disbelieving
women has always been -- even better than "politically
correct" -- subtly and thoroughly ingrained in our culture. Political
correctness has never succeeded in overcoming this, and I seriously doubt
that it ever will -- witness the vigilance of persons such as yourself
who will make sure that political correctness will always bear a negative
who feel justified in punishing men use these false charges indiscriminately.
Children are forgotten and have become our newest victims with full cooperation
from our Family Court system. Children need fathers too. A recent US Department
of Education study, "Fathers Involved in Their Childrens' Education"
(free for a phone call - 1-800-424-1616, option 3) will bear out these
Your first statement
here seems to imply again that you are speaking of a systemic problem that
merits addressing, rather than isolated cases. The remainder of your
paragraph floats nonsequitorious sentences. A scholar who reads this
will recognize immediately that you are not supporting your argument,
and therefore, in the interests of the critique you requested, I suggest
you try to do so. It also appears (gleaning from the remainder of
your article) that you probably have misinterpreted the study you cite,
and you don't want to embarrass yourself this way. Be cautious about
hypothesizing from studies that do not actually support father involvement
outside of intact marriages, or whose findings are the result of outcomes
on account of factors present in demographically disparate groups that
were not controlled for.
have become educated in the ways of our legal system. A new study purports
women are filing 70% of divorces today. The first person to file usually
Again, you are not
supporting your argument, but, rather, stringing blanket statements. Women
as a group are LESS educated in the legal system than men, have less in
the way of pre-existing personal support systems, are less able to access
funds to hire legal assistance, and are far more likely to have less prior
actual legal experience and fewer attorney contacts, e.g. as through business,
Women do indeed file
for most of the divorces. The party in a marriage who is more culpable
in its downfall, OR who has, as men generally are more able to do, alleviated
his misery via escapist behaviors, OR who already has access to the marital
funds and therefore has no need of a court order, is not going to be the
party more likely to file for a divorce. (The guy who breaches a
business contract likewise isn't going to be the one who brings THAT kind
of matter into court, either.)
As for the who-files-first
correlation with apparent outcomes, you might want to note that this actually
conflicts with your hypothesis regarding bias. "The system"
is not stopping men from filing for divorce first, and surely, if filing
first were that determinative, the percentages of who files first rapidly
would be changing. They are not.
unfortunate person against whom false allegations are charged must prove
their innocence while a plaintiff proves nothing. As a paralegal and a
woman, I am no longer proud of those of female gender who abuse our legal
How do you feel "as
a woman" about the GREATER numbers of women who are making TRUE allegations,
but who are punished in a variety of ways for making them?
innocent father involved in a nasty contested divorce from a woman who
vows vengeance is helpless in Family Court. Important child support
laws enacted are now strictly, and sometimes unfairly enforced. There are
stories of fathers who lost their jobs from downsizing and/or circumstances
beyond their control. When the mother of his children insists on
back child support, he is thrown into jail. Child support is based on his
'earning ability.' Debtor's prison has become our most recent politically
correct means to control men. Here again, our Family Courts condone
whatever women allege, accuse, and dictate to control men."
Here you are simply
misinformed. While I'm not saying that it's _impossible_ in isolated
cases for laws to be applied incorrectly (obviously judges can be wrong;
that's why we have levels of appellate courts as well as federal law protections),
the laws do NOT permit men to be jailed for inability to pay child support.
When they go to jail it is for CONTEMPT because it has been established
that they CAN meet their obligations, but refuse to do so. That is a very
different thing. In Florida, especially, it is next to impossible
to get a person jailed even when contempt is shown because of the purge
a husband make the mistake of remarrying, further angering his ex-wife,
a second wife's income is used as "a way to show ability to pay."
The mother of their children, on the other hand, can marry another man.
The "other man's" income is never used to lower child support."
And again, you
are misinformed. In those jurisdictions (not all, by a long shot)
in which second wives' income is relevant, it is relevant evidence on the
issue of his actual expenses, and is not about her income per se. We
don't HAVE to look at the custodial stepfather's income. Why?
Because just by being there, he already is
contributing most directly to those children! Those children are
getting the benefit of his higher income via the house they live in and
its accutrements, and their general standard of living, as well as direct
expenditures he makes for them. Where parents can provide more, we
expect them to give more; it's not a basis for reducing the obligation
You also have a pretty
wild presumption in there, about ex-wives being "angered" when
husbands remarry. If I were you, I'd take it out. It's unseemly
to be on the complaining side, while characterizing the other side as the
angry one. Sounds specious. Probably is, anyway. Consider:
would these be the same ex-wives who did the filing for divorce? Doesn't
make sense, does it, except as a perpetuation of the "vindictive wife"
stereotype, yet another "evil, lying woman" portrayal in a long
line of those that have been so common from the story of Adam and Eve onward.
rationale - "they are not his children, not his responsibility."
Since when did a mother bear no responsibility for her children? Today's
women are earning more, and are becoming a majority in our workforce. The
stay at home mom of the 50's rarely exists today. I knew of a man
who ended up paying so much child support (plus child expenses) he had
to move back home with his parents. Yet his ex-wife earned more than he
It looks like
you believe that bearing and caring for children takes no time or energy
and leaves women (who still do the bulk of the housework and childcare)
over the years, through pregnancies, during periods with small children,
and afterward with just as many hours, and just as much opportunity as
men to devote to earning money, gaining experience and contacts, and advancing
in their careers. If you hope to convince any women but the ones
who are childless, inordinately stupid, or clouded by identification with
the men they are attached to (or jealousy of the woman who was "there
first,") you need to handle this issue in a more realistic manner.
allegations of child abuse by a vengeful ex-wife devastates not only children,
but fathers. The wife files first to take advantage of all laws passed
to protect true victims of abuse and violence. The wife charges everything
from domestic violence to stalking to child abuse. Courts almost
always believe a woman over a man today."
I'm wondering why
you jump around from topic to topic, even within paragraphs, from child
support, to "false allegations," to child abuse, etc. Doesn't
make your essay very convincing. As for your belief that "courts almost
always believe a woman over a man today," you might benefit from reading
some of Karen Czapanskiy's studies. Just the opposite remains true,
across the board in all kinds of legal proceedings in all kinds of matters
(and "life" generally, e.g. back to the vindictive lying woman
stereotype; e.g. even to the studies which have found "higher authority"
in the deeper male voice.)
know of a man who was falsely accused of child sexual abuse. By the time
he was found innocent, he lost his job, his reputation, and everything
he owned. Recent statistics do show women are becoming our primary child
abusers, and yes, even killers of our children. Yet our Family Courts consistently
believe, 'the mother always makes the best parent'."
The man you refer
to in your example must be very close to you indeed, for you to be
able to opine with such certainty that the allegations were "false."
I can understand how this may have colored your perceptions; however, the
courts do not "consistently believe" that "the mother always
makes the best parent." This is obvious when you look at how
many men who were NOT the primary caregiver in their marriages have received
custody of their children -- it's way out of proportion there.
You also apparently
have been mislead by the common misportrayals of child abuse statistics,
which (1) lump things like "neglect" in with things like sex
abuse, and (2) fail to take into account the far higher numbers of women
who care for far higher numbers of children for far greater amounts of
time. From a statistical
standpoint, women are not even close to being "our primary child
abusers." In fact children are at 400-600% more risk [if not more]
being cared for by a man than a woman.
mothers today emotionally blackmail and intimidate their children into
fabricating abuse by their father. I know a man who fought two years
to get custody of his son from a proven mentally ill mother who abused
their son. Each time the court insisted 'the mother is the best parent'."
Another man, or the
same case which is moving your advocacy? You know, "SOME"
persons can be found who will do or have done just about anything that
can be imagined by human thought. But when you're advocating it as
an implicit theme in the big picture, it just doesn't wash to extrapolate
from "a person I know" or from facts gleaned by association with
only one party to a dispute.
large number of children are ordered to see a child psychologist when divorce
is filed. Counselors and psychologists are encouraged by our system to
give bad reports against a father. Fathers are automatically presumed capable
of abuse before any mother."
You'll want to reword
here... your argument appears to have disintegrated into airy generalizations
that don't even make common sense. At any given time, half of all
advocates in the system are advocating for fathers. "The system"
(even accepting your poetic personalization of the abstract concept) would
hardly be, let alone have a stake in, "encouraging" any particular
party "to give bad reports" about the other.
are intentionally denying visitation to loving, child support paying fathers,
who then spend money and time in court trying to get visitation enforced.
I know a man who hasn't seen his son in 14 years, but religiously
pays his child support. He stopped pursuing visitation in court when
the mother threatened harm to the son. Is this fair? Why is there
no press on 'intentional denial of visitation'?"
anecdote or story. To my comments above, regarding what "some"
persons do... doesn't support your argument. And... "no press?"
There's GOBS of press on the mythology of visitation denial.
We hear about it constantly, and we've even developed cadres of experts
who testify about an invented "alienation syndromes".
of the saddest
I know of is a little nine year old boy who
was put in a mental institution by his mother until he stopped saying,
'I want to see my daddy.' There are too many stories of children
committing suicide. I personally know of a woman who kept her
teenage son up night after night crying about her divorce, repeatedly telling
him "children ruin marriages."
Her son turned to drinking, drugs, and dropped out of college."
[Ed: Click on "true stories" above, for a bit more of Ms. Harbour's creative writing.]
I'm wondering how
many of these examples are the same case...?
is a reality. It is currently a billion dollar a year business. Contested
divorce is guerilla warfare whether people want to acknowledge it or not.
Everyone wants fuzzy warm answers to harsh reality. There are none
unless we all recognize the gender bias against males perpetuated in Family
Court today, and the undeniable damage it does to our children.
ago women had a disadvantage in our domestic courts. Now they can
feel quite happy knowing most women win. They can manipulate child
support into "backdoor alimony," deprive their children of their
fathers, and ruin their husband. Truth
no longer exists in our legal system.
we have come a long way. Women can be proud of the laws they fought
hard for 30+ years ago. I am personally grateful for these laws.
Let us not blaspheme those women who died for the very laws that
many women are abusing today. We must stop abusing these laws, or
one day our legal pendulum will swing back and our true victims will not
be believed again."
I think it's nice
that you are pandering to the ostensible accomplishments of the women's
movement, even as you are working against their success.; But argumentum
ad consequentiam? It's a far less skillful technique of persuasion;
since you asked, my suggestion is to ditch it.
think you are beating men? You are beating yourself; destroying your children;
and making the racketeers in our legal system rich. You are creating a
generation of children who think love is conditional and possessive; who
learn that violence by proxy and misuse of the law will make you a winner."
My own feeling is
that the term "racketeers" conjures up the obsessive stalker-abuser
types and the UPL violators who think that being in court is "guerilla
warfare." Check out the Florida Bar News this week, first page
-- one of these paralegal "defenders" is on his way to jail,
I see. [Ed. note: ten years later, it also applies to therapeutic
jurisprudence -- largely moved by the FR movement joint custody demands.]
I don't think it
helps your argument to persist in the male-dominant thinking of "winners"
and "losers" and "war," etc. It makes the underlying
agenda too obvious. The ego and competition thing already is moving
too many men's misperceptions of bias, when in reality, all they were subjected
to is a wounded ego and a thwarted sense of entitlement.
At any rate, suffice
it to say that your "racketeering" reference is unproductive.
Pretty much anyone with half a brain already knows that family
law attorneys are among the lowest earning of any specialty. Obviously,
they are not churning business to perpetuate a "divorce industry."
Where money is the motive, all family lawyers already are licensed to earn
MORE money (way more easily, too) simply by switching to a different area
will never be associated with any "feminist" movement which advocates
false allegations, destroying children, and eliminating good fathers."
Do you actually know of a feminist movement which advocates for ANY of
these things? I don't.
remember that it is children, not women, who are the real victims of the
gender bias in our family courts."
(Or the grandmas?) Dump this
pretext. Doesn't work. Anyone who is anybody in the field already
has observed over the years the evolution of arguments, focii, position
papers and name changes in the father's rights movement in order to characterize
the men's rights positions (when the bias angles didn't fly) as "children's
|Pearle Harbour is
the author of Guerilla Divorce Warfare
[liznote: Interesting anecdote, there.
Even MORE interesting is that "Pearle Harbour" notes, on
the webpage entitled Chapters
and Excerpts from Guerilla "Divorce" Warfare by
Pearle Harbour, at http://www.freeyellow.com/members2/heller2/page1.html,
(essentially a web advertisement for the purchase of the book), the following
"true story" with remarkably similar facts (emphasis mine), below:
Little Sally asked
her mother, "why doesn't daddy love me? He doesn't visit me anymore."
Her mother's shameful, unforgivable response was, "you ruined our
marriage. Children always ruin a marriage. It's your fault." (Now
it didn't matter that her mother had kept her daddy from seeing her. After
all, mothers are the best parent, right?!?)
and on the very same page, yet ANOTHER
"true story" with the same line, sounding very much like another "gender reversal" of psychological projection:
Maggie decided the
only way to stop Harry from divorcing her was to put Samantha in the middle
of their fights, making her constantly reaffirm her love for her mother.
Maggie kept telling Samantha her father left because he didn't love
Samantha. Having a child had ruined their marriage. Samantha, age 10,
tried to commit suicide. Harry stopped his divorce and went back home.
None of the fighting stopped, but Maggie did get what she wanted and that's
all that mattered to her. He is now, of course, serving a "marriage
life sentence"; creating a dysfunctional family; and a seriously messed
up child. Moral: Leave anyway and file for custody (why can't the courts
see that she tried to kill her own child). Society MUST be forced to see
how cruel mothers have become in the 90's.
So many "true stories" from "Katie" aka "Pearle Harbor."
RETURN TO TEXT
from smtp.leading.net (email@example.com [18.104.22.168]) by osage.gate.net
(8.8.6/8.6.12) with ESMTP id AAA183244 for <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Tue, 1 Sep 1998 00:53:03 -0400
Received: from wewinluv.leading.net (jm14-201.leading.net [22.214.171.124])
by smtp.leading.net (8.8.5/8.8.5) with SMTP id BAA07969 for <email@example.com>;
Tue, 1 Sep 1998 01:06:48 -0400 (EDT)
Date: Tue, 01 Sep 1998 00:47:50 -0400
From: kent charles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.01Gold (Win95; U) MIME-Version: 1.0
Subject: inquiry please
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
visited your website, and would like your opinion on my article, Gender
Bias in Family Court, at http://www.fathermag.com/808/GenderBias.shtml
Bias in Family Court, at http://www.fathermag.com/808/GenderBias.shtml
for your time.