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