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Joe Cordell Discusses With Lawyers.com Judge’s Bizarre Ruling In Facebook Case


facebook2A Cincinnati judge ordered a man to make daily apologies to his estranged wife on Facebook after the man posted about how she keeps him from seeing his children, resulting in “probably the most glaring example I’ve seen in recent times of abuse of orders of protection,” according to Cordell & Cordell co-founder Joseph Cordell.

The judge ruled that Mark Byron violated his restraining order by posting a status update on his Facebook page calling his wife an “evil, vindictive woman.” His wife found out about the post, complained to the judge, and the judge ordered Mark to apologize or face 60 days in jail.

Privacy and free speech advocates have assailed the ruling, but Cordell told Lawyers.com that an overlooked issue at play here is the fact that restraining orders are biased, overused, and too easy to obtain against men.

“Every day in courtrooms across America, orders are being issued with very vague allegations, and nothing remotely approaching actual physical abuse,” Cordell told Lawyers.com. And the consequences are deep. “It literally sinks the man’s ship in terms of primary custody in many states. When you place the stakes this high, mere allegation is enough.”

Since an order of protection is written in a way that is much broader than needed, thus leaving wide discretionary latitude for a judge, the result is something that comes out of this bizarre Facebook case, according to Cordell.

“A guy making a statement to a third party, not suggesting or implying any physical harm, but because a judge sees it as harassment or emotional abuse, the court feels it’s in the parameters of a violation of an order of protection,” Cordell said.

Read the full article: “Judge Orders Divorcing Husband To Apologize on Facebook

Fathers encouraged to stay in childrens lives thanks to community organizations

Child services organizations have often had a reputation for being the enemy of fathers and non-custodial parents, as the agency is usually the one seeking past due child support payments or seeking to incarcerate non-payers. However, some agencies are attempting to reach out to fathers in their communities to provide support, dispel myths and help these men become better parents.

One such organization is Lucas County Children Services in Ohio, the Toledo Journal reports. Recently, the agency hosted a town hall meeting at a local church. When fathers expressed personal problems at the event, someone from the organization was introduced to them to provide help.

Other fathers spoke up in praise of the organization.

“I’m here to tell you that the Children Services Board isn’t here to take your children,” Carl Christopher, a father of three, told meeting participants, according to the news source.

The agency helped him have the opportunity to clean up his life and after improving his situation, he was granted full custody of his children.

According to Fathers and Families, an agency devoted to promoting two-parent approaches to child custody, half of American children are growing up without a father in their homes due to divorce or unmarried parents. However, the agency feels that fathers often get inaccurately dubbed as irresponsible when misguided laws, government policies and judicial traditions also play a role.

Ohio changes child support laws to give more leeway before licenses are taken

In Ohio, parents who fell behind on child support payments had their drivers licenses suspended after 30 days, until a new law pushed that punishment back to 104 days, allowing non-custodial parents more time to get back on track, WDTN reports.

Charles Jones, a resident of Montgomery County, told the news source that he believes the new law will be more effective than the old version, because taking away someone’s ability to drive can hinder them from going to work, making money and sending child support checks.

Non-custodial parents in the state who have struggled to make ends meet are welcoming the new law.

“I understand that kids need their child support and that men should pay their child support, but it’s hard times out here and I believe there should be some kind of programs for the fathers,” Lawrence Perkins, who pays child support, told the news source.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the new law was passed as part of the state budget and will take effect on September 28. The state also recently passed sentencing reform that encourages judges to keep non-payers out of jail. Instead, probation or community service is preferred, the news source reports.

Child custody and support disputes spur increase at local juvenile court

According to the News Messenger of Fremont, Ohio, the workload at the Sandusky County Juvenile Court is increasing, particularly due to a growing number of child support and child custody hearings.

An annual report filed by the court showed that in 2010, the court saw 2,454 cases, an icrease of 416 from 2008. The majority of the growth in cases was seen in custody, support and visitation, Judge Brad Smith told the publication. These cases typically deal with children of an unmarried couple, as cases involving the offspring of married couples are usually dealt with in adult court.

“In a down economy, there are more people attempting to collect child support, more people trying to modify it and more people not paying,” Smith explained to the news source.

The increase may also be due to the growing number of single fathers fighting for custody in American courts. According to the U.S. Census, single dads now head 8 percent of households, up from 6.3 percent in 2000 and just 1.1 percent in 1950.

Same-sex partner denied shared child custody

The former partner in a lesbian relationship was denied partial child custody of a daughter that she helped raise and financially support, according to multiple reports.

In a 4 to 3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that Michelle Hobbs of Cincinnati was not legally eligible to share custody of the now 5-year-old girl. The court ruled that Kelly Mullen, the girl’s biological mother, did not agree to share legal custody of the child, despite planning the in-vitro pregnancy with Hobbs and naming her as “co-parent” in power-of-attorney documents.

Mullen reportedly voided those documents after she and her child moved out of the home they shared with Hobbs in 2007. In the court’s majority opinion, Justice Robert Cupp said that “co-parenting” can have many different meanings and suggested that same-sex couple’s may want to draft a written contract regarding custody rights in order to protect their interests.

“Co-parenting can have many different meanings and can refer to many different arrangements and degrees of permanency,” he wrote.

Some experts say that the legalization of gay marriage in several states may lead to more court cases regarding child custody among couples that divorce. The issue has particularly come to light after New York legalized same sex marriage last month, the largest state in the U.S. to do so.