Monday, June 12, 2017

Spurious claims, accepting responsibility, and high conflict child custody cases

When I encounter a parental archetype that relates to child custody, especially who not to be, I endeavor to share anecdotal accounts so you may contemplate the outcome of his or her experience. By not having to learn from personal experience but, instead, by example you and your children may benefit from those shortcomings of others.

For this latest example it is helpful that you have a working understanding of the personality of this character. I will first provide an account of the encounter and then a situation that should encapsulate the psychological make-up of the parent.

Midday Friday I set up camp with a book buyer in the parking of a book distributor who was having a sale the next day. Of the thousands of people who attend we managed to be first in line. That evening we were joined by some of the ten other people he employs to assist him. That evening during the course of general conversation a man so employed mentioned something to the effect of gender bias in the application of Indiana's Civil Protection Order Act.[en1]

His claims ran the usual gamut of long ago dispelled notions. This included that the DVPO was unconstitutional, that it transferred property without hearing or due process, that the exclusion of an owner of property from the real property was the criminal act of conversion[en2] , that men are ordered to pay child support -- even if they go to prison -- and can't get out of it, that women never have to pay child support, and, of course, that parenting time should be 50/50 and deviations from that are an unconstitutional abrogation of a father's rights. The claim that the 13th Amendment was unconstitutional and we don't legally have to pay federal income tax was probably in there too.

My arguments to the contrary were met with broad disputations not on point to my claim but rather generalized to a constitutional argument such as the "general welfare" clause[en3] or that the "corrupt courts" were biased against fathers.

Two things occurred to me at this point. The first being that it was highly probable that he has not watched child custody or DVPO proceedings in at least 50 different courts throughout Indiana. Secondly, and more notably, this is the guy to which the book seller has occasionally mentioned over the past three or more years as a friend who is "going through a horrible custody battle" and could use my assistance.

At this point I should have painted a clear image in your head of this person. The one who broods about his situation, attributes fault to others, and may post on Facebook ad nausea about his case. It's a personality trait which is considered a deficiency in the wellness schema for fit parenting.

Here is how the book sale goes. We go into a pen that houses a grid of about 200 crates containing 500 or so books each. Our group spreads out in a preplanned course in pairs or trios. There is a picker, such as me, who decides which books to purchase. Then there is a packer who receives the books or is told to pull them from the bins. This person or another may act as a runner who takes the books to a check-out area and then returns with another empty packing box.

The particular parent who is the subject of this posting mostly acts as a picker but floats as needed. After accumulating about 2000 books [80 boxes] we were done and all proceeded to check-out. Well not quite all. One person wasn't there.

During the frantic rush as we pour over these books each of us comes across a few titles that we want for ourselves. For efficiency those get tossed in with the books for the book seller. Well, instead of being at check-out with the others, someone was off at a staging area sorting through about 10 boxes which had not been taken to checkout to be tabulated.

While nine employees stood by idly the book seller complained to me that he needs to get those 10 boxes to check-out and we will sort through them at the shop. So I go tell our dear protagonist to get the boxes to check-out so we can get going. Further, that he will be able to retrieve his titles at the shop when we sort them there.

The response to me was simply put, "No, I am not going to do that. That doesn't work for me. You can just wait, I am going to get my books out here." The result is that the book seller is paying 10 employees an hourly wage for the time this guy picks out his books.

Well, I have never been to a hearing involving this guy. I have never seen the custody order, the petitions, or the CCS. I don't even know who the mother is or anything about her. I haven't been contacted by him for his necessary counseling.

But there is one thing I do know about the case. That this custody case, which began in the womb, continues to this day because he insists that it do so.

At this point, if you have observed my previous admonitions, you can imagine the proceedings and identify the major contributing factor to the ongoing high conflict. This man is a child parading as a parent who when he doesn't get his way is going to take his toys and go home. But the "toy" in this case is a child under the jurisdiction of the court. What that means is that court procedure is applied and done so [or supposed to be] according to statute and applicable case law.

It is the absence of a judicial officer conducting the proceedings according to statute and applicable case law -- as is supposed to be the case -- which perpetuates the conflict. That is the perception of this father as I have observed. However, his position that the general welfare clause is applicable to protection orders and that he hadn't heard of Lambert v Lambert[en4] relating to child support payments being reduced for incarcerated parents demonstrates his misapplication, misunderstanding or ignorance of law.

What doesn't go over well in these proceedings is the proposition that the judicial officer is a conspirator in a vast anti-father scheme, that there is a constitutional mandate to order 50/50 parenting time, that the court acts criminally, and that this is not a matter for a court to decide. All made without supporting evidence or historic reference.

The reason I long ago expanded from providing just trial strategy assistance and appellate preservation to providing cognitive behavioural therapy directed toward child custody proceedings in because underlying perceptions direct behaviour. That is, you act according to your thoughts.

If an argument is to be made in court regarding the custody or parenting time of a child then it should be valid and comport to established procedure and law. Courts are a venue for logic and law to be applied. Thinking otherwise is the foundation for behaviours destructive to a case. Philosophical arguments to the contrary should be saved for another venue like the legislature, academia or less formal popular culture. And while on the subject of philosophy our protagonist may be well advised to examine Heidegger's proposition that we are engaged in the world.

1] IC 24-26-5 et seq
2] IC 35-43-4-3 A person who knowingly or intentionally exerts unauthorized control over property of another person commits criminal conversion, a Class A misdemeanor.
3] Article I, section 8 of the U. S. Constitution grants Congress the power to "lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States."
4]  Lambert v. Lambert,. 801 N.E. 2d 1176, 1180 (IN. 2007) Prior to Lambert, Indiana was one of the states that held the position that commission of a crime was a voluntary act which resulted in imprisonment and as such was voluntary underemployment. Thus, support payment orders should not be modified to reflect the reduced earnings during incarceration. The Lambert decision held that the decision to commit a crime was so far removed from intent to get child support reduced that it was therefore improper to base child support payments on anything other than current incarceration income.

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