The
Fatherhood Coalition

Custody Questions Unite Dads in Protest

By Catherine Maletz, Staff Writer, Hampshire Gazette

September 22, 2000


NORTHAMPTON -- Michael Franco of Holyoke says he wants his daughter, Victoria, back. He said his ex-wife was granted custody of the 2-year-old girl and then moved to Texas.

Now he's seeking custody, he said, in a system that gives custody to mothers in an estimated 80 to 85 percent of custody battles, according to Father Magazine.


"If people believe in equal rights for women in the workplace, why don't they believe in equal rights for fathers on the homefront? Judges are espousing bigotry,"

Michael Franco


About 15 people, representing the Fatherhood Coalition, a nonprofit all-volunteer organization that was founded in 1994, turned out for a protest Wednesday morning outside the Hampshire County Probate Court. The protesters said they were there to support shared parenting and "fairness in the adjudication of family law.”

Members of the Fatherhood Coalition organized the event, which drew fathers and supporters from Northampton, and as far away as Pittsfield and Westfield. Members of the group Fathers And Children Together, a Springfield organization, also attended.

Passers-by and drivers occasionally gave the demonstrators thumbs up or honked their horns in support.

"We’re in favor of designing a parenting plan that suits the needs of both parents," Franco said.

"If people believe in equal rights for women in the workplace, why don't they believe in equal rights for fathers on the homefront? Judges are espousing bigotry," Franco said.

Tom Dicroce of Pittsfield was on the corner of King Street and Merrlck Lane with his partner, Cathy Dixon. Dicroce declined to talk about his situation, but said he wants to give fathers more support in the custody process.

"Men are distraught as it is, all of a sudden they don't have their family.  There's no one to help them with the paperwork or to show them what happens" during that period, Dicroce said.

“I looked for help.  It was not available,” he said.


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