Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Illinois Institute of Technology Recognizes Jeffery M. Leving for Outstanding Achievement

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     Jennifer Whiteside
Dec. 28, 2011                                               
                                                                                    Tel: 312-807-3990 ext. 236

Illinois Institute of Technology Recognizes Jeffery M. Leving
for Outstanding Achievement

Chicago – The Illinois Institute of Technology this week named Chicago attorney Jeffery M. Leving as a recipient of IIT’s Professional Achievement Award for 2012.

The award is given by IIT, one of the nation’s most prestigious educational institutions, and is one of the highest distinctions that can be given to one of its alumni.

The award will be presented to Leving, an accomplished attorney who concentrates in matrimonial law and fathers’ custody rights, during a luncheon that will be held April 13th at IIT’s Chicago Campus.

“I am deeply honored by this award,” Leving said. “It will serve to motivate me to continue to fight for the rights of parents, including disenfranchised fathers, whose rights are often overlooked.”

Leving received his Juris Doctor from IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law in 1979, and is world-renowned as a pioneer of the Fathers’ Rights Movement.  He is the publisher of Leving’s Divorce Magazine (

Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio™, Jeffery M. Leving is the internationally acclaimed author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars and was selected by his peers as one of Illinois’ top attorneys.
In 2000, Leving was chosen to draft an amicus brief to submit to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to reunite Elián González with his father in Cuba in the highly publicized case.

Mr. Leving serves as the governor-appointed Chairman of the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood and is President Emeritus of the Fatherhood Educational Institute. In 2006, he received the President of the United States Service Award, the nation’s highest honor for volunteer service directed at solving critical social problems.

In August 2009, Mr. Leving was selected by the White House Office of Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships as an expert resource to join senior White House staff and other community leaders at the first White House Community Roundtable and Town Hall Meeting on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families in Chicago.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fathers Rights explored at state symposium

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Speakers at an annual symposium on fathers’ rights hosted by the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood (ICRF) agreed Saturday, Dec. 17, that fathers need to assert their rights especially in cases involving child custody.

The annual symposium was held at the Oak Park Library and featured a series of guest speakers including Dr. Leon Intrater, Lois Rakov, Dr. William Martin, Attorney Joseph Sparacino, Attorney Maureen Gorman, and Justin Wooley.

The council is chaired and organized by noted custody attorney Jeffery M. Leving who welcomed guests and speakers and explained that the purpose of the ICRF is to do everything to insure that children have an involved father in their lives.

“One third of all children born in Illinois are born out of wedlock and many won’t know their father,” Leving told the gathering.

“The Safe Haven Law, which allows mothers to abandon their newborn children without responsibility, does not require those mothers to notify the fathers of their actions. Children that are father-absent are more likely to engage in crime and develop behavioral disorders. We recognize that a father’s absence can have a terrible impact on our children and that is the key focus of this government body.”

Intrater, whose firm Intrater & Associates provides professional psychosocial services for youth and adults, said that a key challenge that fathers face in custody cases is “parental alienation.”

“The Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is the act of influencing a child or children against one of the parents. PAS, however, is often not considered a valid diagnosis in mental disorders. Most psychologists look at any behavior of a parent or by others to create a separation, physical, cognitive or emotional against one of the parents as being serious,” Intrater said.

Intrater explained that the PAS can take many forms from aggressive lobbying by one parent to negatively portray the other parent to their children to the point where children are influenced to “fear” the parent, thereby influencing the custody decision.

“The court orders on these circumstances don't address the subtleties that are sometimes created but that have huge consequences that create alienation among children against one of the parents,” Intrater said.

“Loyalty conflicts are created.... It is often seen in children associated with PAS. Children are made to feel that if they say something that contradicts the mother's view, they will be punished.”

Intrater said that many children are often totally alienated against the father by the mother and that alienation will often obscure the clearly questionable actions of conduct of the mother.

He said that recognizing PAS can help bring balance to the lives of children in custody battles. But, Intrater said, there is not enough advocacy in this area of parental rights.

Rakov told the symposium that the state offers many resources for both fathers and mothers. She said the stereotype for many years was that parental involvement was only defined as the mother’s involvement and the involvement of fathers was not sought.

“We are seeing more and more resources being made available to fathers and fathers organizations on this concern,” Rakov said. She said that it also helps when grandparents also get involved as long as the priority concern is “the best interests of the children.”

Martin, a professor at Chicago State University and the author of several books on parenting, said society has always recognized mothers as single parents, but he said there is a growing population of single fathers.

“Many fathers are single fathers. They have a child but don’t live with the mother. It’s a growing population. In 1998, 1 in 6 fathers were single fathers. Today, it is 1 in 5,” Martin said.

Martin said that single fathers need support to help them recognize issues that their children face.

“Fathers need outside help and a strong support system that is different from moms.... A lot of fathers don’t know how to get kids into pre-school or into schools,” Martin said. “Education is important and something that we need to look at more closely.”

Wooley, who is the program coordinator with Haymarket, one of the largest centers for substance abuse treatment, said both fathers and mothers need support services.

“We do a lot of work with fathers,” Wooley said. “We try to insure we are addressing fatherhood in a responsible way when we take a look at the skills that they have.”

Wooley said that the needs of fathers have been overlooked in the past.

“We must assist them in rebuilding their families and their lives and to make sure the fathers have the necessary support to be the responsible fathers that they can be,” Wooley said.
For more information on the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood, visit their web site at www.ResponsibleFatherhood.Illinois.Gov.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Leving Legal Team Rescues Child from Ransacked Home

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Leving Legal Team Rescues Child from Ransacked Home

CHICAGO – Dec. 21, 2011 – Prominent custody litigators Arthur Kallow and Leslie Arenson of the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving. Ltd., obtained possession of a 14-year-old child after she was found to be living in a potentially dangerous environment. Cook County Judge Martha A. Mills ordered a transfer of possession of the young child to her father this week.

The 14-year-old girl was identified to be living at the home of an unrelated 35-year-old La Grange man, Anthony Valerio, who is currently being investigated on drug charges. 

According to court documents, the home where the child was residing was ransacked in a home invasion by three suspects using firearms on Dec. 9, 2011. A subsequent investigation led La Grange Police to arrest Valerio on drug charges. That is when the child’s father Oscar Arcineigas leapt into action to immediately obtain possession of his daughter.

Judge Mills entered an order stating that the mother, “shall not expose the child to Anthony Valerio and shall not bring the child to any location in which illegal drugs are present or otherwise expose the child to illegal drugs.” Valerio has a history of alleged illegal drug violations.

Attorney Art Kallow stressed the vital importance of the kind of environment a child should have. “Growing up, a child’s home should be a nest of protection and safety, but that is not always the case. Generally speaking, residences that double as places of commerce for illegal drugs are simply unsafe and put the child’s interests last.”

“Children are often the innocent victims when illegal drug-trafficking and a culture of violence become a part of their daily lives,” said Attorney Leslie Arenson. “The health, well-being and safety of children is our top priority.”

The next court date is set for February 9, 2012 at 10:00AM in the Richard J. Daley Center in Courtroom CL12 before Judge Mills.

Jeffery Leving is the publisher of Leving’s Divorce Magazine. (  

For more information, please contact Jennifer Whiteside at 312.296.3666.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Internet Spin Factor Never Stops

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The Internet Spin Factor Never Stops

By Jeffery M. Leving

There is an old saying “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” It means that the story oftentimes is more interesting and even more believable than the truth.

Never has that been more appropriate than in the case of the custody battle waged between parents, Kane Snyder and Alaina Giordano for their two young children.

Snyder has been granted custody of the children. And, as is often the case, the judicial system and the father are being targeted with angry attacks, animosity and blame. The idea that a father has as much right to the care for his children in a parental custody case as a mother has many people up in arms.

The news media looks for stories with unusual twists and this case has many. The Internet is playing its own role, too, with the inability to monitor truth on the World Wide Web. Social media sites like Facebook have been exploding with more and more inaccuracies about this case.

The most obscene inaccuracy is that Snyder was given custody of his two children because the mother, Giordano, has breast cancer.  It’s an ugly accusation and even though it is not supported by the court’s decision, the idea that a mother is being denied custody for the sole reason that she has breast cancer has taken on a life of its own.

Ms. Giordano does have breast cancer and everyone, including her children’s father, ought to have nothing but sympathy for the medical plight that she faces.

But sympathy for her physical challenges is no reason for others to demonize the father, nor should the assertion that the only reason Snyder received custody is because the mother has breast cancer be given credence by those who likely have not read a lengthy and well-reasoned opinion by the trial judge.

It’s just not correct.

Snyder was given custody based on a court decision that is a public record that anyone can access. Fathers have rights in family court. Those rights are often pushed aside out of gender-bias issues and societal prejudices. And sadly, those prejudices often fuel the willingness of the public to believe insidious and misleading claims.

Let’s remember that the mother has access to the children. Presumably when the mother is fully established in the Chicago area and has appropriate facilities to accommodate the children, the parties shall share equal parenting time as contemplated in the court’s ruling.

The father has employment and the mother is unemployed. That situation factored in the judge’s ruling. Children need a stable home to live in throughout their minority.

The needs of the children are the priority in this case – not the needs of the parents.

People sometimes want to believe things not because they are true, but because they neatly and conveniently fit into a stereotype. That stereotype in the case of parental custody rights weighs heavily against fathers.

As I see it, Mr. Snyder is a loving and caring father. Moreover, the court record speaks for itself.

But to prejudice this case by asserting dubious claims is a disservice not only to the children at the heart of this custody battle, but also an injustice to our system of judicial fairness and rights.

Snyder was found to be the preferred parent by the court after all factors were considered, and that is why he was awarded custody.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Leving meets with President Obama

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Fathers Rights attorney and author Jeffery M. Leving was invited to join a select group of Chicagoland thought leaders at a private VIP reception for President Barack Obama recently.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fathers Need to Be Part of Their Children’s Lives

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Fathers Need to Be Part of Their Children’s Lives

By Jeffery M. Leving

One reason why I pursue justice for the rights of fathers is because I believe that dads are an irreplaceable part of their children’s lives.

It sounds almost anti-climactic, but fatherhood is a critical component for the healthy development of many children. However, it’s often taken for granted, and often abused during the traumatic experience of divorce.

In other words, not having a father present in a child’s life only adds to the disadvantages that child may face in the world. The best scenario is when both parents are involved but often, as we know, the parent most often absent from a child’s development is the father, and not because of the father’s choice.

On Dec. 17th, the State of Illinois will host a free symposium on Fathers’ Rights & Responsibilities. The theme – “Be a Part of Your Children’s Lives” – will help attendees understand how they can be better fathers and why fathers must stand up for their rights when it comes to their children.

Hosted by the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood (ICRF), the annual statewide symposium will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2011, from 12:30PM to 3:00PM at the Oak Park Library, 834 Lake St., Oak Park. There is no fee to attend this community event, but it is important to RSVP because space is limited.

Through responsible fatherhood educational programming and advocacy, the ICRF promotes the positive involvement of both parents in the lives of their children.

The symposium will explore several important topics: Parental Alienation; Updates affecting Child Support and Fatherhood; Fatherhood Updates; Fathers Rights; and, Male Involvement.

We often take these issues for granted, but we should not.

The laws change quickly and often with respect to parenting rights and responsibilities in the eyes of the judicial system. It’s important, especially if you are involved in a divorce, to understand how your rights are impacted.

What are your rights as fathers? It seems like another simple question, but unfortunately when you ask many fathers, they just don’t know. That’s one reason why fathers often agree to surrender their rights, because they are unsure of the rights that they do have with respect to their children.

How important is the role of a male in a child’s life? That’s a question we ask ourselves but often are not willing to answer in favor of expediting a divorce or to satisfy the other spouse.

Children need a positive male influence in their life. This Symposium will help fathers recognize how important their role in the raising of their children is, and also how they can remain pivotal in influencing their children’s lives.

For more information on attending the Symposium hosted by Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood visit or contact Jennifer Whiteside at 312-296-3666 or Governor-Appointed Chairman and Fathers Rights attorney Jeffery M. Leving at 312-296-8685. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

State Hosted Symposium Explores Importance of Fathers in Raising Children Dec. 17

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                

State Hosted Symposium Explores Importance
of Fathers in Raising Children

(Oak Park) - Nov. 28, 2011 -- The Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood (ICRF) is sponsoring their Annual Statewide Symposium on Saturday, December 17, 2011, from 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St. Oak Park. This community event is open to the public and there is no fee to attend. It is important to RSVP as space is limited.

Through responsible fatherhood educational programming and advocacy, The Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood promotes the positive involvement of both parents in the lives of their children.

“Fathers need to understand how critical their role is in parenting for their children to be successful and productive members of our society,” said Attorney Jeffery M. Leving, the Governor-appointed chairman of the ICRF.

“The symposium will help fathers and the public at-large better understand why paternal involvement is important.”

Leving is considered a legal expert on fathers’ rights and the rights of children, and appears often on national news and analysis programs to discuss those topics.

Contact Jennifer Whiteside or Chairman of the ICRF, Attorney Jeffery M. Leving at (312) 296-8656 for more information.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Safe Haven Law Tramples Fathers’ Rights

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Safe Haven Law Tramples Fathers’ Rights
Fathers Should be Given Custody of Safe Haven Babies

By Jeffery M. Leving

A day doesn’t go by that you won’t find a story about a baby that has been abandoned by their mother. Oftentimes, those children come from broken families or unmarried mothers who have broken ties with the father.

Like many states, Illinois has a law called “Safe Haven (The Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act enacted in 2001) which permits mothers to abandon any child unharmed within seven days of the child’s birth at a “safe haven” location including hospitals, emergency medical facilities, fire stations, and police stations that have staff present.

All designated safe havens must have a safe haven sign posted in a conspicuous place on the exterior of the building.

When a mother abandons a child at a designated “safe haven,” and the child is unharmed, no effort will be made to find the mother or charge the mother with abandonment or cruelty to a child.

It’s supposed to be an alternative to leaving children in dumpsters, where many end up. Despite the law, in the past weeks, two children were found abandoned in the Chicago area.

A newborn girl was illegally abandoned in the parking lot of a Schaumburg church. The child was discovered before it could have died from exposure. In Streamwood, a newborn boy was illegally abandoned in a trash can after he was strangled.

The focus of the “Safe Haven” law has been to provide alternatives to mothers who wish to abandon their children so that the children will have a chance to survive. In the case of the Schaumburg girl, she was lucky. The Streamwood boy was not. Both cases are under investigation and the individuals responsible could be charged.

Had the babies been taken to “Safe Havens,” no effort would have been made to find the mothers or to press any charges, as long as the children were unharmed.

But what is missing from this law is an important component. Many of the abandoned children are left by their mothers.

Even when the children are taken to “Safe Havens,” the law assumes that both of the parents of the child (it does take two human beings, one male and one female, to produce a child) have abandoned the baby.

That’s not always the case. What is often the case is that the mother abandons the child and the father is never informed. No effort is made by authorities in “Safe Haven” cases to determine if the father of the abandoned child may wish to have custody.

Just because one parent decides to abandon a child does not mean both parents want to abandon the child.

Yet fathers of newborns are left out of the equation.

Because the two parents are often not married, the rights of the fathers are often pushed aside or subjugated to the will and whim of the birth mother.

That is unfair to a child and to those fathers who would be willing to assume responsibility for the abandoned child’s well-being.

Society needs to insure that a birth father of a baby is first entitled to notice and the opportunity to assume custody before his child is abandoned and left with strangers forever.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at

Friday, November 4, 2011

Emotion can be a father’s worst enemy

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Emotion can be a father’s worst enemy
By Jeffery M. Leving

Too often, fathers go into a divorce with the wrong attitude. Sometimes it is out of anger due to victimization and sometimes it is out of surrender driven by depression. Divorce is driven by individual emotions so it is not surprising. But controlling your emotions is a key to insuring that fathers’ rights are protected.

Many fathers are far too willing to merely sign-off on a divorce. In far too many cases that I have seen, a spouse will seek legal advice from a divorce lawyer, and then present her husband with a proposed legal settlement.

Wanting to be as supportive as they can, many fathers will “trust” that their rights have been protected by their spouse’s attorney.

But that is rarely the case, if ever.

The spouse’s attorney is vested with the responsibility to do what’s best for his or her client. That means not only trying to get a fair and equitable division of the marriage assets for their client, but also getting more. “More” often includes excessive child support and maintenance for the spouse. It may often include custody issues involving children, if there are any in the marriage. More often than not, it will involve property rights with the balance going to the spouse. Unfairly. Wrongly. And unequitably.

In order to protect your rights, a father must stand up first for his rights, the rights of his children and the rights to property and assets. You cannot take anything for granted.

That means never – I repeat never – accept and sign a divorce agreement without having your own lawyer carefully examine the contract’s details and the circumstances of the marriage dissolution. Otherwise, you can become a target looking for an arrow.

Too often, fathers believe they are doing the best for their family, even divided, by simply surrendering in a divorce and by not contesting divorce demands from the spouse.

Too often, fathers will surrender their rights without even knowing what rights they have surrendered, or how the divorce agreement they are signing will impact their lives and their relationship with their children.

You must get competent legal assistance. Although many people believe that settling using one lawyer, often times the spouse’s attorney, will save them money and reduce the cost of a divorce, in almost every case, the costs soar and the complications that are caused by an unfair agreement drive those costs up even more. Not to mention the stress and mental trauma that will accompany signing away one's rights without even knowing what they signed away.

Always consult a lawyer. It can’t hurt as much as not consulting with one.

Fathers’ rights can only be protected when a father makes the conscious decision to do what’s right for his family. An equitable divorce settlement will pave the way for better future relations, less stress and an environment that will be most conducive for the development and growth of the children.

Oftentimes, it will also save both sides money.

You need to find an empathetic attorney to represent you who understands these issues and challenges. You need an attorney who can help you stay in control of your emotions, recognize and avoid unfavorable custody arrangements, and protect your relationship with your children.

Shared parenting agreements are manageable when the father has professional and proper representation.

Don’t let your emotions drive you into an agreement that you will realize later was wrong, unfair and not in the best interests of your children or yourself.

It is when you are getting a divorce that you have the most control of your own future and of your fathers' rights.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Holidays offer chance to reinforce relations with children

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Holidays offer chance to reinforce relations with children
By Jeffery M. Leving

Fathers’ rights include custody of children and assets but also include responsibilities, especially to their children during the holidays.

Most fathers who fight for their custody rights understand this, even though the challenges of divorce, separation and the legal custody issues can distract from some basic everyday responsibilities.

When I speak with fathers, especially after we have secured their rights through the legal system, I impress on them the need to become actively involved in their childrens  lives.

So how do you do this? Well, knowing what children are doing in school and spending time with them to insure they understand their school work is important. Fathers can be powerful role models for their children and they need to play an active part in their childrens lives.

But it’s not all work. There are many fun things fathers can and should do with their children. Maybe that means taking a vacation, or maybe that means simply participating in something the children enjoy, especially if those children are young.

This month presents a great opportunity for fathers to engage their children in a responsible and productive way.

It’s Halloween and most children love Halloween.

Here’s some pointers for fathers to participate in a fun way with their children this Halloween.

Go along with the children for the fun. It’s not only great for the kids to have their fathers with them, but it is also good for dads. It can help ease the stress of everyday work outside of the home.

You can either purchase a costume for your children or you can help them make a costume.

Fathers should always accompany children when they go Trick or Treating, especially young children.

Join with other parents and help strengthen the community bond and your involvement in your community. It’s a good way to introduce yourself to other parents in your neighborhood, who can also help to respond to family needs.

Only go to those houses in your neighborhood and that you are familiar with. Adults can and should plan out the route that their children will take as they go house-to-house and Trick or Treat.

It’s not just all fun, games and candy. It is also about safety. Prepare your children for safety for evening Trick or Treating. Make sure your children have a flashlight or a “glow stick” so kids can see cars and motorists can see the children. Make sure the costume, if it is store purchased, has reflective material on it so the children can be better seen in the evening.

If the costumes are homemade, place a reflective strip down the back and the arms.

Finally, you want to make sure your children are having fun. Let them run a little. Don’t “dote” on their actions. Try to give them some area of responsibility as a part of the event. Explain it to them that they are responsible for their conduct and how they present themselves, and you are there to help them enjoy their evening of Trick or Treating.

And if you haven’t been out with your children in a long time, you might even consider dressing up with them. Younger children especially will enjoy that. The older the children get, obviously, the more they want to show their own independence. Give them room.

Halloween is an excellent opportunity for fathers to engage their children in a positive, constructive and fun way. So make the most of it and keep them safe!

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

As economy worsens, societies seeks wrong answers

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As economy worsens, societies seeks wrong answers
By Jeffery M. Leving

It is always shocking to see what otherwise rational people will do when they face economic hardships.

We’ve seen an increase in bank robberies as cash-strapped individuals and families desperately find ways to pay their bills and put food on their table.

But it’s not just individuals and families making these bad choices. Everyone is feeling the pinch of the worsening economy, including local city and state governments.

It’s human nature to make choices in order to survive, even the wrong choices. In some cases, governments are looking at ways to save money by throwing out laws and services, rather than looking at ways to make those laws and services do what they were intended to do.

In Topeka, Kansas, for example, the City Council there announced it was going to stop prosecuting domestic violence cases in order to save money in their budget.

The cash-strapped city was responding to a decision by their local Shawnee County state’s attorney who said days before he could no longer afford to prosecute misdemeanor cases, including domestic violence. City officials said that it would require them to repeal the code which makes domestic battery a crime. More than 30 domestic violence cases have been dropped and 16 individuals already arrested in domestic violence cases have been released.

Tragically, the economic hardships on our society are putting the spotlight on the wrong aspects of issues that do need to be addressed.

Many laws created with good intentions to protect female victims of domestic violence are often misused to prosecute innocent men.

This is especially true in divorce and custody cases where orders of protection and false domestic battery  charges are often  used to pressure dads into unfair  custody settlements; you give up your kids or go to jail!

However, abandoning all prosecution isn't the answer either, because there are real victims of domestic violence, both male and female, many left  unprotected. And when the law responds to economic hardships but does nothing to remediate broken or abused laws, that creates an even bigger problem for everyone.

Several years ago, my secretary was murdered by her husband. We had obtained an order of protection against her husband before he fatally hit her in the head with a hammer in close proximity of a suburban police station!

I also represented a prominent lawyer who was arrested on a false charge of domestic battery. Fortunately in his case, we had access to video surveillance that cleared my client of the  false criminal charge.

Not all men are this lucky!

The solution we need is to fix what is broken, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Fixing our broken legal system, not abandoning it, is something that all governments need to address in a serious way.
One of the steps is to impose accountability for making false domestic violence charges.

This eventually will decrease the fraud and free-up important resources for the real victims often unprotected.

Additionally, "quality assurance" through effective and competent financial management as well as ending the wasteful spending of government funding  will free-up tax dollars necessary to protect the welfare and safety of all Americans.

We need a better system of "checks and balances" to safeguard the general public against the greed whittling down our government assets.

If there is an upside to the extreme actions of the government in Topeka, Kansas, it is to look at areas where improved legal processes and laws can actually save more money than merely throwing them out.

No one benefits when domestic battery laws are tossed. But insuring that domestic violence is prosecuted fairly and properly and that it is not used as a weapon by some to pressure husbands to sacrifice more in divorces can save far more money over the long term.

If governments want to save money, they need to insure that laws are created to respond to real need in a fair and just manner and to prevent opportunities for some to exploit and misuse them.

Topeka, Kansas isn’t the only city that could find solutions to their economic challenges by reviewing their laws and identifying those that are too often abused.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at

Friday, October 7, 2011

The power of fatherhood in film

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The power of fatherhood in film
By Jeffery M. Leving

Hollywood doesn’t make a lot of movies about fatherhood, but they love to make movies about divorce, conflict and tragedy.

Yet the image of fathers that most people have is one that has been defined by the movies and television shows that we view. It’s a skewed perception that is often inaccurate.

Many fathers believe that their rights are automatically lost in a divorce, but that is not true, of course. Oftentimes, fathers have powerful rights over property and their children that are too often forfeited or lost for the wrong reasons.

Recently, though, Hollywood has produced one movie about the importance of fatherhood called “Courageous.”

The film was produced by Michael Catt, a Baptist minister from Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Although many may view the film as a religious-themed production intended to push audiences to embrace Christianity, the film speaks to truisms in our society about fatherhood, although in a very dramatic manner.

As we all know, drama in Hollywood and on television have become the most effective tools for educating many Americans. We learn about everything from the fundamentals of the Middle East conflict to our rights in the judicial system by watching television or going to the big screen.

That’s why I support the religious ministry that is the foundation of the new film “Courageous”. Behind the plot are fundamental truisms about fatherhood and the role of father’s in family structures.

The plot of the movie is simple: Four police officers and fathers face personal tragedy and conflict in the film and they are forced to choose between becoming strong fathers or losing control of their families and their sons.

What does it take to be a real father? It takes someone willing to stand up as much for their own rights as it does standing up for the rights of your family and especially your children.

Fathers do not fight for their rights because it gives them power. They do so because it sets an example for their children. The cause of fatherhood is one that allows fathers to fight for what is right and to fight for their rights.

I counsel many fathers who find themselves in the middle of divorce. It is not easy. But I always try to remind them what they are fighting for. Sometimes they feel it is easy to walk away from a fight, believing the fight – which can be a strong word – can also be destructive or a bad influence on their children. In reality, standing up for your rights is the example that fathers must set for their children.

Defending what is right may take “courage”, as detailed in the movie, but it also takes conviction, the responsibility to do what’s right.

I wish Hollywood would make movies about progressive paternal involvement and portray fathers accurately as the caring and responsible people that the majority are. But that’s not the case. So anytime a movie comes to the big screen that tells a fundamental story of fatherly courage and responsibility, I am supportive.

Sometimes, you can’t save a family as a whole. But, you can take steps to save its important components, beginning with yourself and your children.

Finding the courage to make the right decisions and follow the right course of action can seem daunting. But in the end, the people that benefit the most are the ones closest to your heart, your children.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at For more information on the film Courageous, visit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fathers' rights need to be defended

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Fathers' rights need to be defended
By Jeffery M. Leving

Fathers’ rights are almost always side stepped, yet they are extremely important when it comes to insuring the proper growth and maturity of young children.

Without a father present in a child’s life, statistics show, a child faces a greater future of uncertainty.

Too often, father’s are either reluctant to fight for their rights in a dissolving marriage or believe that surrendering their rights in a divorce avoids a confrontation and is therefore in the best interests of the children. This is unfortunate.

There is also the societal belief perpetrated by gender bias that the raising of children in a divorced family must always be handled by the mother. That’s not the case.

It’s not. The best way for a father to guarantee the future of his child or children is to insure that they remain a part of his life. Oftentimes, that means retaining custody of the children.

Fathers need to understand that they must insist on their rights when seeking to protect the best interests of their children. They need to understand them. It is not what they know that will hurt them, but what they don’t know. They’re not fighting just for themselves, but for their children.

In many years of defending the rights of fathers, I’ve seen that it is not as difficult as it sometimes seems. Fathers who have stood up for what they believed in have, in most cases, retained their rights and remained active and involved in the lives of their children.

A divorce is not an easy experience for anyone, but fathers can help preserve the integrity of their relationship with their children simply by asserting those rights. Don’t give up your rights believing that you are doing your children a favor by avoiding conflict. In many cases, conflict is inevitable even when a father  surrenders his custody rights to his spouse. It’s important to not surrender those rights when your children need you, and to insure that you have a say in your children’s futures.

This is also true for visitation and parenting time.

Protecting your visitation and parenting time helps insure your role in your children’s lives at school, after school and in their everyday extra-curricular activities including in sports and music and even the Scouts.

Fatherless children are at a greater risk than other children. They are more vulnerable to incidents of abuse when a father is not present. They are also more susceptible to drug and alcohol use.

There is no way to predict what challenges fatherless children might face in the future. But you can fight the odds which have shown that children who do not have a father in their lives are more susceptible to problems across the board.

Insuring that the father remains in their lives minimizes the disruption to their lives, and that’s a critical goal.

You may not be able to save your marriage. You may not be able to maintain even a cordial relationship with an ex-spouse. But, by protecting your parental rights, you will likely insure that the interests of your children are protected.

That’s something worth fighting for.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t be a victim of the divorce or a target looking for an arrow. Don’t allow your feelings for an ex-spouse to blind you to your responsibilities to your children and yourself.

You will survive the trauma of a divorce far more successfully and in better health by standing up for your rights and your children.

(Named one of “America’s Best Lawyers” by Forbes Radio, Jeffery Leving is the author of two ground-breaking books, Fathers’ Rights and Divorce Wars. He can be reached at