EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about Gus’ new victory!

Gus Wins! The California Supreme Court has upheld Jason’ victory in the Appellate Court!

On May 14th, Jason won a full reversal of the original judge’s erroneous decision from February 19, 2013 that denied him the right to go to trial and prove his parentage of Gus under a law barring parental rights to certain sperm donors that the appellate court unanimously ruled does not apply to biological fathers who establish a parental relationship with a child after the child is born, which in Jason’s case occurred with the consent and encouragement of the mother. Although it was a clear, convincing, and UNANIMOUS published opinion by the Court of Appeal, the Schreibers petitioned the California Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. Yet another effort to further keep Gus from his father.

This petition was swiftly,unanimously denied. After fighting for more than two years, in the courts and the legislature, Jason is finally granted the trial he was unfairly denied. He can now present all the evidence that shows he was a loving father to his son Gus from day one until he was wrongly taken away when Gus was three years old. It has been 76 weeks since Jason has seen his son, but the trial begins September 2nd, and GUS WILL SOON BE REUNITED WITH HIS FATHER!

Thank you all for prayers and support. This will be a big victory for us all in this struggle.

Joseph Sorge: Filmmaker, Family Law Activist

Allow us to introduce Joseph Sorge.  Sorge is the Writer/Director of the powerful documentary film: Divorce Corp.  Narrated by Dr. Drew Pinsky, this movie spotlights the inequities and problems with the American Family Law System.

Through an examination of influential cases as well as fascinating interviews with divorce attorneys, mediators, judges and litigants, Divorce Corp seeks to make a positive difference.  One of the film’s goals is to raise awareness about the dangerous and harmful ways our legal system is often comprised by the profit motive.  It is meant to shine a light on truth as a beginning step towards reform so that families and children can receive the compassion and justice they deserve.

Sorge was gracious to give us an interview about his film.  He explains why he made it, what he learned and what it can teach us about our family law system.

Q: Would you please give us information on your background and how you came to make this film?        

A: I came from the medical side, training as an M.D., but never went into clinical practice.  I became a medical scientist and inventor, started a biotechnology company, and eventually took it public in 2004.  In 2007, I sold the company and transitioned to TV and film.

I became interested in family law after spending many days sitting in family court as I went through a family law process myself.  Although my outcome was not as negative as many of the victims featured in my movie, I witnessed terrible mistreatment of citizens by the family courts.  I also witnessed favoritism between the judges and lawyers.

I used to believe that judges were neutral, well-intentioned people.  But as I witnessed the way that the judges treated average citizens in their courtrooms and the favoritism that the judges showered on lawyers, I developed doubts.

This spurred me to hire a researcher to investigate the family courts.  Some of the shocking truths that we discovered were featured in the Divorce Corp movie.

Q: What is your documentary film about?          

A: The movie is about the family courts and the laws that they adjudicate.  We discovered a $50 billion per year industry built around family law processes, including divorce and custody challenges.  The numbers were shocking.  You can feed every school child a free lunch in all of North and South America every day with that amount of money.  Or we could develop 50 new medicines each year.

Q: What are the major problems with our family law system and why do you think we have these problems?         

A: There are several problems, but the most fundamental flaw is that we use the adversarial system in our family courts.  The adversarial system came from English law, where each side would hurl damaging accusations at the other side in front of the king.

The king viewed this as a form of entertainment.  Our family courts are structured much the same way with one person, the judge, deciding whose accusations are more believable.

Family courts have been deemed by our judiciary as “courts of equity”, not courts of law. This means that citizens are not entitled to a jury as you would be in civil courts of law. You also do not have the right to a speedy trial, a free transcript, or a lawyer if you cannot afford one.  There is little oversight, and the judges can accept campaign contributions from the lawyers who appear in their courtrooms.

The family code is far too complex for the average person.  It’s over 2,000 pages of small print on thin paper.  Very few people have the time or background to understand it; and so it almost guarantees employment for tens of thousands of lawyers.  Since these lawyers charge by the hour, often charging $200 to $800 per hour, they are not incentivized to move your case along quickly.  Divorce ends up being one of the top causes of bankruptcy.

The courts have the right to choose one parent over the other.  This is one of the most destructive powers the courts have.  In fact, our Federal regulations state that child support shall be based on the earnings and income of the ‘non-custodial’ parent, which means that there is a presumption that one parent will be chosen by the courts to be more dominant in the child’s life than the other parent.

This represents very antiquated thinking that probably violates the equal protections clause in the Constitution – however, the Supreme Court has yet to take up a case that would test this.

Q: What did you learn while making your film that surprised you the most about our family law system?         

A: What surprised me most is that the collusion between judges and lawyers is widely accepted amongst the professionals.  Lawyers are allowed to make significant campaign contributions to judges, as are the lawyers’ family members.

Lawyers can host fund-raisers for judges or offer them positions upon retirement.  There are too many ways in which lawyers can influence judges unfairly.  I believe that this undermines the potential for true justice and leads to many imbalanced and unfair outcomes.

Q: After your experience making this documentary, what do you see as the first steps towards fixing our family law system?         

A: I would reform our family laws to mirror family laws found in the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden).  The United States has a far higher divorce ratio than these Scandinavian countries, even though in those countries you can become divorced simply by sending a form in to the government.

I think the reason we have a higher divorce ratio is that we reward people financially for getting divorced.  Our family courts award generous and sometime excessive amounts of alimony and child support.  And these amounts have been growing far faster than inflation over the last 20 years.

Our judges also often make the passive party in the divorce (the defendant or respondent, depending on which state you are in) pay the legal costs of the aggressor.  We tempt people to file for divorce because they could potentially end up receiving a big check each month, get the majority of the allotted time with the children, get the house, and have all of their legal fees paid.

The Scandinavians don’t do that.  Alimony ends on the day the divorce is finalized, typically 6 months after one of the parties files for the divorce; and child support is limited to the needs of the child, not a percentage of income.  There is no financial incentive to get divorced in Scandinavia and as a result, they have a lower divorce ratio.

In the Unites States, child support can amount to far more than it costs to raise a child and the recipient parent has no obligation to spend it on the child or to produce receipts.  Thus we hold out a reward that encourages Americans to get divorced.

Q: What are the effects of the divorce court system on the following groups: children, parents (and adults who have suffered through their parents’ divorce when they were children)?

A: Children suffer a lot, not just because their parents are breaking up, but because the family courts suck the children into the process.  The court officials speak platitudes about keeping children sheltered from the process and doing what is in the best interests of the child.  Then they go ahead and order custody evaluations that probe the children for dirt about their parents.

Judges will often hire an attorney for the children.  The attorney then interrogates the children about their parents and their home situation.  What child is not going to get the idea that some legal war is being waged when they are given their own attorney?

To add salt to the wounds, the judges will order the parents to pay for the costs of the child’s attorney, yet the parents will not be allowed to examine or question the attorney’s invoices.  The judge approves the invoices of the attorney whom the judge hires.  Then, to add another level of absurdity to the situation, the attorney who has been hired by the judge can make campaign contributions to that judge!

Talk about conflicts of interest!

I think all of this insider-dealing, unfair treatment, and reward for the aggressor harms the parents’ relationship as well.  The adversarial system, by its very nature, causes parents to become more and more unfavorably disposed toward the other parent.

When someone is leveling accusations and exaggerated opinions about you in a public forum and you are told that you may lose your children if you do not do the same, the natural outcome is for people to throw mud and end up hating each other at the end of the process.

That’s bad for the parents and bad for the children.  The whole system is a cesspool of negative energy.

Q: What can a parent do to help their child if they are going through a divorce?

A: Never go to family court.  Resolve everything with a mediator and let the mediator take the joint settlement agreement into court to get the rubber stamp from the judge. Don’t value money more than your children.

If you are greedy and fight for money in family court, it will spill over to your children and someday you will regret it.

Q: Are there any helpful resources you could recommend for parents or children going through the process of divorce?         

A: Richard Warshak wrote a book called Divorce Poison.  Also, there are many books on mediation as an alternative to the adversarial system.

You can buy the film and learn more by visiting: http://www.divorcecorp.com/

Zen and the Art of Parenting

Parents need their children as much as children need their parents.
-Paul Carvel

When you are a child growing up it may not occur to you that your parents are learning just as much as they teaching you.  A cliché we hear all the time is, “Children should come with instruction manuals.”

But the same logic applies the other way around.  We need our babies just as much as they need us.  This family arrangement does not work without the essential duality: children and their parents.

But there is another significant duality besides the parent/child relationship.  This is the duality of the father and mother, working in tandem to raise their offspring.  (This duality may exist just as harmoniously in same-sex couples where both individuals provide the requirements of each parental role.)

The combination of both parents’ presence can serve as a lifetime of checks and balances that provide for the best outcome when working.  Like the harmony symbolized in the Ying/Yang symbol, there are unique values and qualities that each parent brings when it comes to raising their offspring.

For instance, in the recent, critically acclaimed film, “Absent,” the filmmakers broker the idea that your father is actually the first person to either choose you or not choose you.  This idea is critical to understanding how well a person develops emotionally.  Mothers provide an automatic emotional bond with their offspring that is present throughout their nourishment through the womb.  But fathers have a critical role to play when that child is born.  They are our first exposure to the world at large- the first human being in our lives with the choice of seeing us and accepting us.

Neither of these parents’ worth outweighs the other.  Instead, like the necessary duality that the Ying/Yang symbol represents, they complement each other.  Get knocked down at school by a bully?  Who do you run to?  If you go to Mom she might wipe your nose and tell you it’s okay.  If you go to Dad, he might teach you how to fight back.  Of course, these are stereotypes based on traditional gender roles.  It may be more likely today that your “mama bear” tells you to fight back while your stay-at-home father dries your tears.  The point isn’t which parent lives up to the preconceived gender role.  The point is that each parent contributes according to their abilities, balancing out the instruction and support a child needs to grow up harmoniously.

We are opposed to denying any parent the right to being an invaluable portion of a child’s life because we understand the need for a child to grow up with two loving parents.

What are some of the things you are proud to say that you uniquely provide your child as their father/mother?

 

We Reap What We Sew

“We may be done with the past but the past is not done with us.”
-Magnolia

What are the long-term effects of warring, separated or divorced parents, where one is determined to exclude the other from contact with their child or children?  The short answer is that it is extremely detrimental to the development of a fully realized adult who is capable of self-love and loving others.

Studies report that adults who grow up with Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) suffer from low self-esteem, self-hatred, lack of trust, depression, and are prone to addiction and substance abuse.

The negative ripple effects can poison their later adult relationships due to the modeling they received from observing the unhealthy ways in which their parents chose to interact with each other.

Is this a form of child abuse?

Perhaps.

Let’s consider how a child must feel growing up in a household where one parent is purposefully excluded from having a loving, grounded relationship with both parents.  Typically, the kinds of strategies employed by one parent in discounting another parent include the following: bad-mouthing the other, effacing a parent from the life and thoughts of a child, limiting contact, perpetuating the notion that the other parent is dangerous, forcing the child to choose between parents, and/or making the child believe that he/she is unloved by a parent.

It is no wonder that children who grow up in this environment have feelings of unworthiness.  It is no surprise that they may even experience severe guilt related to feelings of betraying the alienated parent.  Sadder still is the notion that adults who suffered through these difficulties may one day perpetuate the cycle by unwittingly committing the same types of destructive, alienating behaviors on their future partners and even their own children.

How do we stop this?  Do we throw up our hands and resign ourselves to accepting parental alienation as a byproduct of our divorce-rampant modern day culture?  Or can we be mindful and intentional about strengthening, repairing and improving our relationships?  It is conceivable that a paradigm shift can turn around this dreary cycle.  Let us replace hate and alienation by first recognizing that both parents are needed in each child’s life.

Let us be cognizant of the ways that we may be polluting our kid’s lives by letting the hurtful, destructive dramas of our adult relationships spill over into theirs.  Let us strive to do better by our children by protecting them from the ugliness that emerges when one parent is vilified.  We owe it to our children (and one day their offspring) to offer the olive branch even when it is so much easier to resort to finger-pointing and laying blame.

Our children need us to be better.

What can we do today to ensure that our children grow up well-adjusted and feel loved?

The Playfulness of Childhood

Growing up just twenty years ago the world was a vastly different place.  We hear all the time that today’s children don’t go outside and play enough.  They are cooped up indoors because it is unsafe to run around the streets like their parents did.  Or we hear others lament today’s culture that emphasizes the computer or the IPAD as toys rather than “old-fashioned” playthings like blocks or even the Barbie Dolls of past generations.

Perhaps there is some truth to the notion that the world is less safe.  Perhaps there are more exciting toys for kids to play with but does that mean that the nature of childhood has changed?

The subject of childhood was paramount to author, Ray Bradbury, and his novel, Dandelion Wine, is his celebration of the wonder of summer for adventurous little boys.  The kind who get up at the crack of dawn to run barefoot through the grass, playing until their mothers and fathers holler for them to return home.  It is set in the year 1928 and it depicts a very different time for youngsters.

“Well as anyone knew, the hills around town were wild with friends putting cows to riot, playing barometer to the atmospheric changes, taking sun, peeling like calendars each day to take more sun.  To catch those friends, you must run faster than foxes or squirrels.”

Sounds quaint, right?  It also sounds kind of terrific to spend your days running around with your buddies, playing outside.

Okay, so maybe we have lost a little of that adventurousness as we have gone to a more digital society.

But childhood itself has not changed.  Nor have its playful children.  As a society we may boast more gadgets, more ways to stay connected and even more toys, but our children are the same.  Deep down, they still want the same things we wanted when we were little.  They long for playtime, for friends, for fun, for security and for love.

As our world becomes more technology-driven and thus more complex, the grounding love and devotion that comes from a home in which two parents can provide a harmonious relationship is even more important than ever.  If that is not possible due to differences between the two parents, then it is tantamount that even when the parental union is absent, each of the parents’ influence upon the child is not.

What would you like to give your child to better enjoy their childhood that you feel is currently missing?

An Open Letter to My Child

Like many parents, I am unable to be physically present to tell my child how much he means to me.  Though we may be apart, he is forever in my thoughts. Gus deserves to know how much he is loved, so I am taking this time to write a short message to let him know his Dad cares so much about him and thinks of him all the time.

This is my open letter to Gus and to all children suffering the effects of parental alienation.

Since launching this campaign, I have heard so many upsetting stories from other parents who are forbidden from participating in their children’s lives.  It is absolutely heart-breaking.  I wish there was some way I could fix it so that no other innocent was kept from the loving arms of their Dad or Mom.

Sadly, that is not possible.  But what I can do is share my personal story, spot-lighting this divisive issue so that this fight can receive the attention it deserves and we can begin to reform our unfair parental laws.

There are many parents like me who will not be able to wake up with their little ones tomorrow morning; parents like me who cannot hug and kiss their babies.

Children who have been isolated from a father or mother due to their parents’ messy separation or vindictive custody battles may be learning the sad lesson that some relationships are not permanent.  For this very reason it is imperative that we parents continually provide our kids with devoted messages that demonstrate the unconditional nature of our love towards them.

What loving, hopeful message would you like to send to your child today?

 

All Voices

Publication/Website Name: Phyfoxil

Author’s Name: NOT LISTED

Date Published: Nov 14, 2013

Link to article: http://www.allvoices.com/news/15954279-mel-gibson-is-all-smiles-after-hitting-one-of-hollywoods-hottest-clubs

SThough Bootsy Bellows in West Hollywood is usually filled with hot, young twenty and thirtysomethings, 57-year-old Mel Gibson helped boost the average age at the club on Wednesday evening. The actor slipped into a bright blue suit and tie combo, and rather than throwing water at photographers.