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.

Visit www.responsiblefatherhood.illinois.gov.

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 www.DadsRights.com.)

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 www.DadsRights.com.)