Monday, May 31, 2010

Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines modifications hearing

The Domestic Relations Committee [DRC] of the Indiana Judicial Center held a public input session on Friday 21 May 2010 to receive comment about the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. About 15 members of the public and stakeholders appeared and gave input. Following this session the DRC met to discuss the comments received during the hearing.

There was an overwhelming agreement that Section II(D)(1) provides the greatest confusion in the Guidelines.

"If the non-custodial parent misses a regular weekend because it is the custodial parent’s holiday, the regular alternating parenting time schedule will resume following the holiday.  If the non-custodial parent receives two consecutive weekends because of a holiday, the regular alternating parenting time schedule will resume the following weekend with the custodial parent."

I have talked to numerous judges, lawyers and parents who, among each group, have conflicting views on what this section means. The DRC clearly understands the problem and will be making a language change recommendation that will make this provision clear.

Numerous speakers made comments that included references to court ordered child support payments although the comment period was specifically for input on the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. The comments were not entire lost on the DRC but since the Indiana Child Support Guidelines were amended effective this year it is unlikely that those comments will receive further attention.

The most important consideration from my point of view is whether children are getting the necessary access to both parents. There was overwhelming opinion that the guidelines are not being used effectively to ensure that children are receiving that. The DRC has echoed the opinion that the established minimum parenting time is being used as the standard.

The guidelines were established to be a tool to assist parents, attorneys and judicial officers in crafting parenting time arrangements. Instead, with much of the fault being attributed to attorney's misinforming clients, the guidelines are being applied as a rule for parenting time. The DRC understands that they need to craft stronger language advising parties that the guideline parenting time is a minimum that should be considered when creating a parenting time plan.

The DRC established 11 areas that recommended changes will be made in. Assignments to those subcommittees were made during the afternoon meeting. In March I made a presentation to the DRC about "Virtual Visitation". This is one section that will be added to the Guidelines. I will also be seeking to have it added to the statutory framework in the 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Significant and informative feedback was also received in writing. I will be presenting some of those to you in the near future.

The DRC will meet in additional sessions this year for the purpose of writing the revisions to the guidelines. It is the goal of the DRC to have the revised guidelines available this year for consideration by the Indiana Supreme Court for adoption at the beginning of 2011. Information on this process and our proposals may be found here.

Stuart Showalter's Political FaceBook page


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2010 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Change your Parenting Time order

The Domestic Relations Committee [DRC] of the Judicial Conference of Indiana will meet on Friday 21 May 2010 to take public input about suggested revisions to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines [IPTG].

This is a chance for parents with child custody orders that reference the IPTG to change those orders without going to court. Language that says that parenting time is per the IPTG will result in that time being subject to the revisions made in the guidelines.

I have previously written about the process of amending the IPTG which can be read here and here.

If you have ever complained that your Indiana child custody order does not give you enough time with your child then you need to take advantage of this opportunity. If you are not the speaking type please come to listen. The committee will be accepting written testimony.

Stuart Showalter's Political FaceBook page


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2010 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If you are really against Domestic Violence

There is a group of pretenders on FaceBook posting a status update in which they pretend to be against Domestic Violence. This post in intended to inform and offend because these ignorant people need to be offended. However, anyone who truly is against Domestic Violence will put aside their hurt feelings and prejudices and will read this.

Here is what is being posted;
While you SCREAM at your woman, there's a man wishing he could talk softly to her in her ear. While you HUMILIATE,OFFEND and INSULT her, there's a man flirting with her and reminding her how wonderful she is. While you HURT your woman, there's a man wishing he could make love to her. While you make your woman CRY there's a man stealing smiles from her. Post this on your wall if you're against Domestic Violence

Anyone who refuses to acknowledge the majority of the victims of a crime does not want that crime to go away. In fact, this intentional obfuscation is deliberate by those holding a purpose and political agenda to ensure that domestic violence continues.

There is one sad reality that we must acknowledge and accept. Laws have been carefully crafted to ENSURE THAT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS NOT ELIMINATED so that it can be used as a tool for financial gain. That is the reality, not opinion.

In 2005 four male victims of domestic violence filed a taxpayer lawsuit in California -- Woods. v. Shewry.

In 2007, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly dismissed the case, ruling that men are not entitled to equal protection regarding domestic violence. On 14 October 2008 the Court of Appeal reversed that decision and held:

The gender classifications in Health and Safety Code section 124250 and Penal Code section 13823.15, that provide state funding of domestic violence programs that offer services only to women and their children, but not to men, violate equal protection.

It is the intention of DV lobbyist and others who receive DV funding to ensure that children continue to suffer the direct harm and collateral effects of DV so they can continue to seek funding to "tackle the problem". Yet, they have no intention of eliminating DV.

With that in mind there are some policy makers who do want to see it end and want the laws changed to allow it to end. Almost two years ago I was asked to provide testimony at the Indiana State House on the topic of Addressing Domestic Violence and Child Custody Decisions.

Unfortunately, the message is still not being heard. Some lawmakers refuse to acknowledge at least half of all cases of DV. I heard it said this year "99% of all acts of DV are committed by men". Also, that "woman are the victims of DV." This is deliberate misinformation intended to INCREASE the acts of DV. I will explain to you just how social psychologists have framed this issue to actually perpetuate acts of DV.

I still feel ashamed that I ever let it happen but I did take an oath to stand beside someone who was mentally ill and I didn't think having her sent to jail was the proper solution.

After putting up with all the attacks and even having a gun pointed at our child and the physical abuse against him I finally called the Boone County Sheriff's Department one night around 11:00pm. We lived on a corner lot out in the rural area. She and her gun were leaving one direction while law enforcement officers arrived from the other.

When I asked about a protective order I was told by the deputy "No judge in this county is going to issue an order to protect a man." He was correct. When I tried to get one against one of my stalkers I submitted the affidavits from witnesses clearly stating that this girl was coming by my house 20 times a day, had come in my house while I was gone, had taken items, etc. A police officer even told her to leave me alone. The judge denied my petition.

Another thing that the deputy said that night when I said was being abused by her was "Come on, you're a man." As to say, what's wrong with you, you can't stick up for yourself?

This illustrates the imbalance of power dynamic that helps to perpetuate DV attacks.

Judges and prosecutors are TRAINED to keep it going. They use phrases like "it's better to err on the side of caution" when issuing an order that is not supported by the evidence and is known to place the woman in a superior power position.

What they are really saying is, I need to remove power from one person and give it to another so that the [legally] powerless person will strike out violently from frustration. If you had never done anything to harm your child but a judge issued an order for you to leave your home, never have contact with your children again and pay all of your spouse's expenses, would you feel frustrated?

Guide to Psychology dot com reports that violence is the last resort of the weak and powerless. That a man will commit an act of DV out of pure frustration for not being able to do anything else.

Anyone who has objectively looked at DV situations and responses from the legal community know the reality for men. The police automatically assume that the man is the cause of the violence even if he shows signs of an attack and the woman doesn't. Judges will refuse to issue orders of protection for male petitioners and will issue them to keep men away from their home, children and workplace without any evidence to support the unjustified order.

The male victims feel disregarded, accused and powerless by those in a position of legal authority who have been trained to intentionally do this.

Psychologist Steven Stosny, Ph.D., based in Germantown, Maryland, says the things that make batterers turn to aggression are what he calls "core hurts." They boil down to a few--feeling disregarded, unimportant, accused, guilty, devalued or disrespected, rejected, powerless, inadequate or unlovable.

Karen Parker Thompson, a domestic violence expert, says she knows that 85-95% of victims are females so that is what they tend to concentrate on.  However, what she doesn't tell you is that men are victims in about 75% of cases.  

The Center for Disease Control reports that half of all DV cases include mutual aggression.  There is just no data to support that women are victims at a higher rate than men, especially 85-95% which is an absolute lie by Thompson. Daniel Whitaker, PH. D., in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Public Health, a CDC publication, reported that 70% of DV victims in non reciprocal cases are men.  That means that when one person attacks another that a man is the victim is more than two-thirds of the cases.

Mandatory arrest laws, once thought to protect women from domestic abuse, are now being repealed because the rates of arrest were much higher for women and this was contrary to the propaganda effort used in passing the laws. A 1998 study of arrests in Los Angeles revealed the effects of the "must arrest" law: When the number of arrested men doubled, the number of arrested women quadrupled with the implementation of mandatory arrest. The laws are now being adjusted to conform to the desired result of having more men arrested by giving police officers the discretion to not arrest females.

DV does happen organically in some people but policy makers, judges and prosecutors intentionally try to ensure that people are physically assaulted by creating a power imbalance. They do this for the very reason that when a problem is solved the money flowing to solve the problem dries up.

The U.S. Department of Justice has a component called the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) whose objective is to "reduce violence against women". According the USDOJ the OVW has awarded nearly $4 billion in grants and cooperative agreements. This money has been used to create partnerships among "police, prosecutors, victim advocates, health care providers, faith leaders, and others".

A perfect example of how a problem won't be solved because of those who rely upon the funding; The "war" on drugs. The "drug problem" will never be solved so long as people are making money off the "fight". Same with the multi-billion dollar DV industry.

Anyone who is serious about combating DV will read what Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D. , Professor of Psychology at Florida International University in Miami, has to say about it in Facing Reality on Domestic Violence

I have also written False Allegation of DV and Bogus Restraining Orders Harm Men, Women and Children and The Spurned Woman Who Cried Domestic Violence which may be viewed here.

Until there is a willingness to use truth in addressing this topic there will be no movement towards ending it.

As a victim of domestic violence I have been an advisor to legislative bodies, law enforcement, educators and others about the realities of domestic violence and effective solutions to combat it.

To those of you who perpetuate the MYTH that men are not victims of DV - You are shameless abusers of children!!!

If you truly want to combat DV then you will post this as your FaceBook status instead:

While a man hits a woman, there's a man wishing he could stop being hit or having things thrown at him. While a woman complains that she feels helpless, powerless and abused there is a judge abusing the rights of a man and making him helpless and powerless. I acknowledge that women commit acts of Domestic Violence as much as men and it is not a gender issue. Post this on your wall if you're against Domestic Violence.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Make a suggestion for me to write about.

Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

Connect with me for the latest Indiana child custody related policy considerations, findings, court rulings and discussions.

View Stuart Showalter's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to my child custody updates

* indicates required
©2008, 2010 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dow Jones 1000 Point Drop - What really happened?

Pundits, analyst and government officials still don't seem to understand what I knew at about 2:50pm on Thursday 06 May 2010. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and, more importantly, the entire stock market functioned just as it was intended and in the exact manner that participants in that market demanded.

To better understand how the market moves it is necessary to know what factors move the market. Primarily it is fear and fundamentals. First, a quick summary of the fundamentals.

In a sense stocks are bought with borrowed money. Literally, there is what is called margin trading. This is where money is borrowed against the stocks currently owned which allows the trader to buy more stocks. In a broader sense though money is borrowed from that parked in bonds. Bonds are a liquid asset where the cash is available and pays a return, interest, on the money invested.

If that money is transferred to stocks the cost to own the stocks is what would have been earned in interest. So generally, when interest rates go up stocks will go down because there is less incentive to own stocks which have a reduced spread. The spread is the difference between the interest rate paid on cash and the dividends and anticipated price appreciation of stocks.

The other market driver is fear. This comes from two polar opposites. Fear of losing money and fear of not making money. When the market starts to decline and then accelerates, investors as a group begin to fear losing the value in their portfolios which is the term for their collection of stocks. Some people anticipate these declines and "short" a stock. Shorting is when a trader borrows a stock from someone else and sells it, betting that the price will decline.

The other side of fear is that of missing out on a rally or getting in on it too late. The short seller doesn't want to get in on a rally late as that means it will cost him more to buy back the stocks that he borrowed and sold earlier. Likewise investors don't want to pay more than necessary for stocks. Either of these can push the market up nearly as quickly as it goes down.

An interesting dynamic about stocks is that only about 1-2% of the outstanding shares in a company will trade in a day. Even when a stock changes 10% or more in price it is usually no more than 3% of the outstanding shares trading. This is because most investors don't consider buying or selling their stocks on any particular day. They are "buy and hold" investors.

I am what is called a "pattern day trader". I buy and sell stocks with little intention of ever holding onto them longer than a few minutes to a few days. I exist in the market for no other reason that to provide market stability. To explain what went on during the dramatic decline and rebound I will give an example of how traders play the market.

To start you need to understand what a "limit order" and a "market order" is. A limit order is an order to buy or sell at a particular price. A market order is an order to buy or sell at whatever price is being offered or asked at the moment. In my example I will use XYZ company which is priced at $100 starting the week.

By Thursday the value of XYZ was down to $95. Everyday, traders put in limit orders which can be seen as "bid", the price that a trader wants to pay, and "ask, the price a trader wants to get. Those can be seen here. As you can see there are not many limit orders placed and if you watch for a few minutes you will see it changing often.

Another type of limit order is a stop-loss order. That is the price at which an investor wants to get out of a stock and "cut his losses". So in my example let's say there are many stop-loss orders placed in the range of $60-$90. That means, when the stock price gets down to $90 the guy who is only willing to lose 10% has already programmed a computer to sell the stock.

So start off, the day opens with some fear about the market in Europe possibly going into free-fall. XYX opens the day with not many people wanting to buy. In fact, there are no 'bids' over $91. The highest bid prices are quickly filled by sellers who decided to start the day with market sell orders. That is they wanted to sell at whatever the price was. Since there was a bid of $91 that is where the market started.

As the day wore on the price dropped below $90 and the stop-loss orders started getting triggered. This put more downward pressure on the market. Buyers were being cautious and not wanting to buy until they knew for sure that the market had stabilized. In the meantime nervous sellers just wanted to get rid of what they owned before the price went any lower.

By early afternoon prices were dropping even more and, as news spread of the declines, more stop-loss orders were being placed, and buyers were reassessing the "bids" they had placed. The result was that there were few bids in place and more people wanting to sell. XYZ was down to $80 at this point, triggering more sell orders.

Bids were now being lowered from $75 to $60, $50 or something silly like $10. As that market started to fall quickly the stop-loss orders were automatically triggered. Panic set in and some sellers simply demanded that their stocks be sold. In a matter of minutes the $75, $60 and $50 bids had all been met by market sell orders. Even so panicked sellers kept placing market sell orders.

Before news could get around that XYZ was now at half price, investors kept saying to sell. Often times "saying" to sell through a pre-programmed trade price that may have been set months earlier like when the stock was at $50 and a stop-loss of $45 was placed. As buyers started trying to choose between stocks, sellers kept placing orders. In the two minutes it took the buyers to start placing orders XYZ went from $50 down to $10. A few minutes later it was back up to $70 as buyers overwhelmed the market with market orders as quickly as the sellers had.

Part of the reason that prices fluctuated so dramatically was because of rules in place on the major exchanges. If the prices go down extraordinarily the major exchanges have pauses. A seller still intent on selling is moved to an off-exchange site where buyers are not as prevalent. The market price on the exchange could be $25 but $10 off-exchange. In the 15 seconds that the exchange may have been shut the "market" order was shifted off exchange. This is why limit sell orders must be in place.

On Thursday I made some very careful buying decisions in the morning based upon prices being about 10-15% lower than what I had sold them at the previous week. In that period between 2:40pm and 3:00pm I saw an ETF that I trade, URE, go from around $40 down to $3.24 and back up to around $40. I only use one computer and do this part-time while reading e-mails, writing articles and doing research. So it took a moment for me to get the news.

I saw that URE was under $20. I went to place the order and was given a quote of $3.24. I thought I had entered the wrong symbol. I clinked the link and was taken to a chart where I confirmed that I had entered the correct symbol. Normally I would think the company had just announced a bankruptcy filing but this was an ETF [Exchange Traded Fund] made up of 20 or so companies. So, I decided to buy. The price was around $32. I place the order to buy at 'market' price and bought it at $35.11. A few minutes later it was $40. So then I placed a market sell order.

That order took 12 minutes to execute. It was excruciating but as the price was going up I didn't mind so much. It hit $42 but then started drifting lower. Finally, I got $40.60 out of it. The exchange later canceled all orders executed while the price was under $16. So, it was actually good that I didn't pay $3.24 because I would have made nothing once the trades were canceled.

Rumors abound as to what caused the near free-fall in stock prices on Thursday. Some have speculated that one trader inadvertently entered a huge sell order. Others say that computers gained intelligence and did it on their own like something out of a sci-fi movie. Still others speculate that it was a deliberate manipulation of the market by wealthy traders.

In the end it will be resolved that the markets responded to the pressures applied by panicked investors just as they were directed to do.

In closing, I will give you an example using Superbowl tickets. Let's say it looks like the two most popular teams in the league are going to win their playoff games. That would increase demand for the tickets. In the final minutes though unknown teams from small markets score touchdowns and move ahead in each game. Normally tickets are sold through brokers on-line or in newspaper ads. Scalpers suddenly panic and flood the brokers with offers to sell and the price goes down dramatically as some brokers quit buying.

This is just like what happened on Thursday when the pool of buyers on the major exchanges evaporated and the majors shut down their computerized trading systems briefly.

Now imagine that you run out onto the street in front of your office building and say "I'll sell these Superbowl tickets to the highest bidder in the next 15 seconds". That is what happened Thursday. Impatient sellers who volunteered to play in this stock trading game suddenly decided that they were willing to sell to anybody at any price regardless of how insignificant the market was.

If you want to play a game that occurs in micro seconds on various exchanges throughout the world then it is best to first do your homework, know the risk, not panic and USE LIMIT ORDERS!

Stuart Showalter's Political FaceBook page


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2010 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

2010 Primary election - a referendum on the status quo

The Tea Party dominates the political headlines, Americans clamor for change and the phrase 'politics as usual' is thrown about in every discourse on the problems facing America. The 04 May 2010 primary election was the mini-referendum on the status quo.

One particular US Senate race gained national attention not only because it is seen as a pivotal race but because it has been framed as a battle between the status quo and the much needed change that has been called for.

On 26 September 2009 Indiana State Senator Marlin Stutzman, a fourth generation farmer from Howe, Indiana, announced that he would be seeking to challenge US Senator Evan Bayh for his seat. Former US Congressman John Hostettler officially announced on 03 December 2009 that he would be joining Tea Party activist Richard Behney and Stutzman in a race to challenge Bayh.

In February 2010 I began hearing rumors swirling about the Indiana State House that Evan Bayh was going to retire which he officially announced on 15 February 2010. Don Bates, Jr.a financial advisor from Anderson, Indiana, announced that day that he would also seek the nomination.

On 10 February 2010 Washington DC lobbyist and Virginia resident Dan Coats, who said North Carolina was 'a better place' than Indiana, announced that he would also be seeking the seat held by Bayh, in Indiana.

The decision by Coats to seek the US Senate seat from Indiana was not an organic one of Coats'. It was, rather, the idea of a group of political leaders in Texas who felt their agenda could best be accomplished by a legislator who hadn't promised to vote according to the will of the people and his conscious, such as Stutzman had repeatedly done.

This group scoured the country and quickly found a recognizable name in a Virginia resident, Dan Coats.

The other four candidates campaigned regularly while Coats essentially took the election for granted. The most relentless campaigner from my perspective was Marlin Stutzman. After a brief rest from the 2010 session of the Indiana General Assembly I began campaigning for Stutzman.

In early 2010 Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates Director of Minority Affairs, Don Chavis, and I cold-called Marlin Stutzman while we were at the State House one day. Stutzman was in a conference room with us within 10 minutes. Stutzman engaged us in a conversation about child custody issues of which he was well aware and had clear ideas on the direction that the law needed to go in this area. [photo: Showalter, Stutzman, Chavis]

The Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates endorsed Stutzman because it was our feeling that he showed the greatest promise to stand up against the status quo. The well-financial and influential special interest lobbyist who seek to see harm continue to plague children so their clients may financially benefit from the fallout would not influence Stutzman. Stutzman made the pledge to do what is best for children even if it would go against party leadership or specialist interest campaign donors and cost him a re-election bid.

Coats has been a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry which sees substantial profits from treating children subject to abuses created by the effects of family law court abuses.

On 19 April 2010 Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates Director of Public Affairs, Sara Graves, Director David Lemmell, Stephanie Smith and I attended the US Senate candidates debate at Franklin University. There I was able to ask the question of the candidates would he go against party leadership in doing what is best for children. You may see the responses here.

I also spoke to each candidate individually. I was impressed by this group of candidates but could not shed my feeling that Coats was committed to making a clean break from special interests and the status quo in Washington in favour of doing what is best for children. Following the event I interviewed Stutzman. I came away that day feeling more assured that Stutzman was the best candidate for US Senate in Indiana.

I was with Stutzman on many occasions leading up to the election. Dinners provide great opportunities to relax and just discuss various issues with legislators or candidates. The hours of discussion that Marlin had with myself or others in my presence always demonstrated the sincerity that he has and commitment to our Hoosier values.

I campaigned daily for Stutzman leading up to the election. Often times in Boone County but also Hamilton, Hendricks and Marion. I informed many people about Marlin and why he was the best candidate to go to Washington to represent Hoosiers. I like to think that I did have some influence. In Boone County the results were closer; Dan Coats 2,595 votes - 33.6%, Marlin A. Stutzman 2,470 votes - 31.4%.

Unfortunately, reality smacked us in the face last night. 40% of Indiana Republicans who voted in the US Senate race chose to go with the status quo. They chose as their candidate a Washington insider who maintained the status quo when he was previously there as an elected representative from Indiana. It is truly sad that those voters enthusiastically supported a continuation of policies that will see children harmed or killed regularly so a few may profit financially from the destruction of the lives of those children.

Maybe there is hope that Coats will change his ways. If his refusal to comply with the campaign finance laws is any indication then I don't hold out much hope.

As Stutzman said, "Covering up who he lobbied for, and where the money he is now spending on his campaign came from is not within his rights or within the law. At this point we are only left to believe that Dan Coats is wholly owned by Washington special interests."


Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates

©2010 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.