A California Judge Targets Joint Custody Foes as `dangerous... unbalanced'

From 'Lectric Law Library


A top California family court judge has blasted ultra feminists' efforts to undermine the state's child-centered joint custody law. Using strong language, Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner-Judge Richard A. Curtis in a 4500-word statement urged the California Legislature to turndown bills violating the principle that children need the love and nurture of both parents.

He described AB 2116, one of three pending bills, as "...a mean-spirited attack on joint custody brought on behalf of angry, embittered parents who are incapable of cooperation in their children's best interest and who only wish to bend the court system and our healthy, child-centered body of law to their end of controlling their children and controlling the other parent through their children."

The bill backers, he concluded, "like all zealots, victims, and self-righteous people, have a peculiarly warped view of reality which prevents them from seeing the other side. . . They are very, very dangerous, one-sided and unbalanced people from whom to take public policy suggestions."

Although unnamed, his target in part was the National Organization for Women, leader of a drive aimed at legislatively emasculating the state's strong joint custody law that serves as a national model. Current anti-joint custody proposals would:

"Primary caretaker," is the code phrase, he charged, "for a lot of inappropriate public policy statements they wish to promulgate." Using it, their ultimate goal is to transfer custody determinations from judges to administrators.

"They don't want equality, they don't want justice, they don't want individuals dealt with as unique people with individual needs . . .

They would be perfectly satisfied with an administrative hearing system which delivers cookie cutter results so long as they're playing with a deck stacked in their favor," he declared. Studies have shown, he pointed out, that single custodial fathers are every bit as capable of nurturing their children in their own way. Passage of the bills, in effect, would intensify litigation and nullify current practices' success in persuading couples to mediate and settle. Such non-legal techniques, however, simply don't work, he added, for the five percent "who aren't too tightly wrapped."

"But it is very important that the trial court continue to have the power to impose joint custody on the far larger majority . . .who come to court... tightly wrapped but in an uncooperative frame of mind. ...most such parents will learn to put aside their differences for the sake of giving their children a peaceful life and benefits of two involved parents."

To the contrary, he warned, "if the backers manage to hornswoggle the Legislature into passing this bill, they will have succeeded in getting you to say, `The public policy . . . is to discourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing. They will have succeeded in (putting) the child right back into the middle of their petty personal conflicts..."

The bill backers, he concluded, "like all zealots, victims, and self-righteous people, have a peculiarly warped view of reality which prevents them from seeing the other side. . . They are very, very dangerous, one-sided and unbalanced people from whom to take public policy suggestions."


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