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Colorado program brings dads and kids together

Federal funding has allowed Colorado’s child welfare agencies to connect fathers with their estranged children through a new government program, according to the Denver Post.

The state started the Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative after receiving $10 million in federal funding. The program aims to boost fatherhood programs across the state and even provides parenting classes, therapy and employment guidance fathers who may have been barred from seeing their child because they were unable to afford child support payments, the newspaper reports.

“This grant has been very successful in creating that paradigm shift, to educate the providers of these services to always ask, ‘Where’s the father?’ Don’t just assume the father is out of the picture,” Dan Welch, a member of the department of human services, told the paper.

The program has allowed Richard Jama, a Liberian immigrant, to connect with his daughter. Although he had been paying child support, he discovered his daughter was living with foster parents after she was abused by her mother’s boyfriend, a development social workers never informed him of. The news source said when Jama confronted officials at the child support registry office they directed him to a fatherhood program.

After Jama completed the program he gained full custody of his daughter, who is now 6.

Child custody issues similar to Jama’s case regularly occur across the country. A Nebraska man recently sued the state after it took officials more than eight months to tell him his daughter was in foster care, despite the fact that he paid child support.

Fox News Talks Divorce With Joseph Cordell

Cordell & Cordell co-founder Joseph Cordell appeared on “The Tom Sullivan Show” on Fox News Radio to discuss family courts’ bias against men, custody battles and the use of alimony payments.

Here a few highlights from the interview:

Why he got involved in helping men and fathers in the family court system: “It’s an area that needs special attention. Historically, guys have faced an uphill climb. In many courts across America, guys have to expend additional effort, resources and ingenuity to come out with a fair result. So we decided to focus on serving one side of the table.
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On child custody battles: “There’s the old joke that if you run into a bear in the woods with another hunter, you don’t have to outrun the bear – you just have to outrun the other hunter. And that’s kind of the situation in divorce courts when it comes to understanding custody battles. It’s really a matter of being the better option, not necessarily being the perfect parent.

“Keep in mind, in divorce court more than any other area of the law, judges have a huge amount of discretion so there’s a lot of opportunity for biases and particular preferences that we all as human beings have that come into play. Historically, it has not worked in the favor of dads.”

Paying spousal support to your ex-wife: “Legally, those funds are to be assigned to the child. Now we all know that if Mom gets $1,000 a month, she’s getting some benefit from that to the extent she pays for transportation, housing, food, etc. At the end of the day, Mom’s standard of living has increased while Dad’s has substantially decreased.”

To listen to the June 13 podcast, visit The Tom Sullivan Show podcast page. The interview begins around the 1 hour, 28 minute mark.

To arrange an appointment with a Cordell & Cordell divorce lawyer, please contact the Cordell & Cordell office nearest you.

Alabama child custody laws shelved

Some fathers in Alabama who claim they do not receive enough time with their children as a result of their child custody agreement have expressed their dismay a bill that would give them more custody has been shelved until the next legislative session, according to the Anniston Star.

Luke Smallwood, a Jacksonville resident, told the newspaper he believes lopsided child custody laws in the state are partially to blame for his 2-year-old son’s disappearance. Smallwood, who is supposed to see his son every other weekend as part of his custody agreement with his ex-wife, said earlier this month his wife didn’t show up when it was his weekend.

“Unless the mother is a crackhead or has some sort of drug addiction, the court isn’t going to give fathers any rights,” Smallwood told the paper.

To help fathers win more custody rights, the state Senate introduced the Alabama Children’s Family Act, which would have required judges to order equal, joint custody of children in all divorce settlements that parents cannot work out themselves. However, the news provider said opponents believe the measure would provide little stability to children who were forced to travel back and forth between two homes.

Other states have also been reconsidering their child custody laws. Tennessee recently passed a bill that requires judges to consider how they can maximize a child’s involvement with both parents when making custody decision, which was signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam.

Gingrich supports fathers rights

While attending the Seacoast Republican Women’s Breakfast in New Hampshire, former Speaker of the House New Gingrich said the U.S. family court system has an “extreme anti-male bias” when designating a custody dispute between a mother and father, according to the blog Fathers and Families.

Newt Gingrich fathers rightsRead the DadsDivorce.com article “Newt Gingrich Criticizes Discrimination Against Fathers Rights.”

Gingrich discussed his views on the issue after he was approached by Fathers and Families activists at the event. At issue was the fact that the U.S. legal system typically awards minor custody to women considerably more often than men if a couple splits up, according to the news source.

When asked about his thoughts on family court reform, Gingrich said he believes the nation has progressed to a point that authorities should realize men have just as much right to see their children as women.

“We live in an age that is very different than 50 years ago and I think that it … is very important…that we have a much greater sensitivity that both sides, both parents, both have rights and have responsibilities…” he said.

About 75 percent of all custody awards in the U.S. are given exclusively to the mother, while only about 10 percent are made solely to fathers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The Ongoing Battle for Father’s Rights

Cordell & Cordell principal partner Joseph Cordell discussed the progress fathers have made in family law courtrooms across the country but acknowledged the need for more equality during his appearance on the McCarthy and Friends Show on 94.1 KPVR in St. Louis.

“There has been progress in the field of men’s rights and I applaud that,” Cordell said. “But there still is an institutional bias in my opinion. We continue to focus on trying to get the courts to be completely gender blind.”

The divorce industry makes presumptions about fathers and men that have elevated the interest unfortunately of women above the interest of men, according to Cordell.

“Quite frankly, it’s really become a civil rights issue as much as anything,” he said. “When you think of the progress we’ve made in civil rights, men’s rights as it pertains to the family has been neglected and it’s time a light is cast on it. There needs to be the same sort of concern of fair play that is given other individuals.”

Twenty years ago while practicing general law, Cordell realized 85% to 90% of his clients were coming to the Cordell & Cordell firm for domestic relations help.

“During the course of that experience I couldn’t help but notice the challenges consistently facing the guys side of the table when it comes to custody, maintenance issues, and accusations of domestic violence,” Cordell said. “I found in waging those fights that I enjoyed it more. So we proclaimed ourselves as a firm that devoted itself to representing men in domestic relations matters.”

Cordell also discussed his new book “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce” and gave advice on what men should consider when facing the possibility of divorce.

Listen to Part 1 of the interview for more information on men’s rights.

Part 2 examined the double standards and challenges men face in divorce.

In Part 3, Cordell outlined some of the most common mistakes men make in divorce.

To purchase “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce,” click here.

Cordell & Cordell is a national domestic litigation firm focusing on helping men with divorce issues.