Early in December 2017, the Texas Attorney General’s Office held a private meeting with a group from the Texas Fathers’ Rights Movement (“FRM”) at the Capital B Room E1 012 from 9 am- 12 pm. The meeting was called to discuss ‘how destructive the collection process child support is’ and that it is damaging men and their ‘new families’. To conceal the event from public view the OAG requested that the FRM group remove an outreach video that it had posted on the internet as an invitation to the enthusiastic fathers of their base, who wish for and are in search of legal methods to prematurely end and decrease support to their minor children. They needed the meeting to be an invitation-only affair. The press was not to be invited. The public was not to be invited. It was made clear that this was NOT to be an open meeting.
At the helm of it all was Jeff Morgan, a resident of Dallas, the said coordinator of the event and of the video invitation, which had to be taken down. Morgan deleted the post and later posted another video while reading a letter, indicating that it was from Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office. The letter informed him that while there would be no guarantee of “safe harbor” for non-custodial fathers who attended the meeting with active outstanding warrants for child support evasion, but that, per his request, no one would be “checked” for warrants, either.
Excerpt from a previous post.
For those of you who think I am beating this horse to death in my blog posts, I am. But purposefully.
I need you to be fully aware of what we are fighting against. And I want my readers to understand that the Fathers’ Rights agenda is not only well-organized but well-funded.
In part one of Beating the Trojan Horse, I took you back to my piece on the Father’s Rights Movement but also the push from these organizations to make 50/50 shared parenting laws in all states for family courts to follow. This agenda is not only damaging to children but financially devastating to some single parents. And it is NOT going away anytime soon. The bill that was defeated in Florida this past legislative session was on its third try. And yet, the PAC behind it will have it introduced AGAIN next session.
How Big Is This Fight?
Florida is not the only state where fathers’ rights groups are pushing for 50/50 though.
Let’s turn our attention to Mr. Morgan’s home state of Texas.
Texas, in the last Report to Congress, is second in the nation for child support arrears at $16.93 BILLION owed to OVER 1,723,000 IV-D child support “cases”.
Texas averages 24% childhood poverty- defined as below the Federal Poverty Threshold. This is- ramen noodles are a luxury -poor, as the Federal standard has not been updated since the ’60s.
But child support collection is “damaging men and their new families”. This claim got Mr. Morgan and his henchmen a private audience with the Attorney General and helped push 50/50 bills onto the floor for the past two legislative sessions.
Where Is This Coming From?
Who is pushing the Fathers’ Rights agenda?
Well let’s look at this excerpt from the Texas Family Law Foundation, regarding the 85th Legislative session:
Sometimes lobbyists are fortunate enough to have the opposition kill their bill. But this fortune often comes at a price, or at least, it is not always pleasant. This bill, known as the “50/50” or “equal parenting” bill would have created a presumption that a 50/50 child custody order is in the best interest of the child and thus, removed significant judicial discretion in deciding custody arrangements. As you know, 50/50 may often be in the best interest of the child, but the parents must get along. The bill was brought to its author by persons associated with the Texas Fathers’ Rights Movement, Texans for Parental Equality, and Americans for Parental Equality.
By the end of February, the lobby team received death threats on Facebook, as well as an alarming phone call from a man who did not identify himself. We filed a report with the DPS, but that did not stop the groups from defaming us all over the Capitol and beyond, appearing at every committee hearing to testify on bills that had nothing to do with their issues, and harassing legislators and staff. By May, the men’s rights activists (MRAs) had managed to kill their bill and demonstrate why a 50/50 parenting order would not have worked in their individual cases. However, it is worth noting that these groups have created the impression of a national movement and Texas is not immune. Interestingly, many of them also support ending no-fault divorce. There is little doubt that some of these MRAs may have been treated unfairly in their divorces, but the vast majority of them simply cannot stand paying child support to the “ex”.
Despite this, these MRG’s came right back for the 86th and put 50/50 on the table again. They will NOT STOP.
It is interesting to note that California, in 1980, was the first state that mandated and favored 50/50 custody arrangements. In 1988 after examining the results of 50/50, California became the first state to revoke it. The experiment in “fairness” didn’t even last a decade before the disastrous results could not be denied.
Is There An Alternative?
So why is this beast, that has failed miserably now being pushed into state legislator’s agenda nationwide?
It’s simple, follow the money back to the selfish parents who want to keep it all. No matter who gets hurt on their way to the bank.
How about instead of Fathers’ Rights or Mothers’ Rights we have Childrens’ Rights?
Why don’t we recognize our children as human beings worthy of consideration? They have rights too and can’t fight for those rights like their parents. Why don’t we protect our children from inappropriate custody rulings and subsequent financial abuse?
It is time to start asking some questions of our politicians as well as the bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS oversees the Administration for Children and Families and part of the mission of the ACF is: “We promote the economic and social well-being of children, families, individuals, and communities with leadership and resources for compassionate, effective delivery of human services.”
Someone there should be interested in the rights of children.
Let’s make some noise together and find out!