At a civil rights forum held on April 10, 2014, President Barack Obama recounted the trials and tribulations of Lyndon B. Johnson as he crusaded for an end to racial segregation and economic oppression. It was a part of his speech before an audience commemorating the 50 year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He emphasized that we must “dismantle the structures of legal segregation.” While I could certainly identify with the president’s message, having litigated civil rights causes for more than 25 years, I had to ask whether it applied to the unequal and oppressive legal structure of divorce and family courts in America.
Only one day earlier, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, flanked by a feminist entourage, condemned members of Congress for their failure to pass the Equal Pay Act. Once again, the message appeared sincere on its surface after hearing some statistic about women earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. But throughout her own long tenure as a member of the same Congress, Ms. Pelosi never crusaded to rectify the more alarming statistic each year that men are paying 85% of child support orders and losing some 90% of custody cases in divorce and family courts.
Somehow, after successfully advocating for women and minorities for all of my professional life, I could not reconcile these lofty speeches with the reality of parenting inequalities in America. Somehow it was difficult for me to share the enthusiasm of these two civil rights advocates when reviewing the countless horror stories of discrimination, oppression and unjust decision making I have become exposed to in a lucrative Family Court structure which does more to reward politicians and lawyers than it does to promote families and children.
Obviously, in the world created today by Hollywood and Wall Street, traditional family structures will suffer. Parents will separate for the benefit of their children if other worldly interests prevail or if mom and dad simply cannot get along. But such a separation does not lead to the routine conclusion in these courts that dad pays and mom nurtures. Such an archaic result, common to President Johnson’s day, remains the standard for mandatory support and custody orders and the last bastion of institutionalized discrimination left unchecked in America today. “Dead beat dad” remains a sexist slur used by our Justice Department as recently as two years ago to announce a child support sting operation (otherwise known as “The War on Fathers”).
If these two particular politicians were as courageous as Lyndon B. Johnson, they would be calling for congressional hearings and a complete overhaul of our family court structure, its welfare (child support) laws, and practices by unscrupulous divorce lawyers. They would be “dismantling the structures of legal separation” between parents and children which stand in the way of shared parenting, equal access to children and relief from a system of economic oppression caused by a trillion dollar profit industry. State governments will not do this because they continue to benefit from this unequal system of justice through massive federal grants and collection interest revenues based on the number and magnitude of child support orders and family court controversies that can be generated.
It is obvious that parents and families will not see the long overdue reform which is sorely needed in these courts any time soon. Impotent studies, window dressing and lofty commitments to our children (not theirs) remain the lay of the land. So it begs the question: How many more school shootings will it take, how many more poorly educated children will we see, and how much additional breakdown in our moral fiber will occur before our government realizes that a proper commitment to civil rights must include these courts? Their secret proceedings must be opened and made accountable to the people.
The president’s speech has caused me to expand the mission of our parenting rights site, Leon Koziol.com. It will now address “citizen rights” generally and the reform of lawyer abuses in our courts. You will even see a new site, Lawyer Reform. Com, developed to aid us in this mission. It is a renewed commitment sure to result in a new round of retributions by licensing authorities in my state (New York), but this is a civil rights cause that can no longer be suppressed. It must be pursued toward a greater purpose, our children and future generations of Americans. Please stay in contact with this site as we move to daily reports and a more effective movement to assist you in your own trials and tribulations.
Leon R. Koziol, J.D.
Parental Rights Advocate
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