Friday, November 30, 2007

Responses to Taken Into Custody

Readers of my National Catholic Register article on the book Taken Into Custody have responded on both sides of the issue. Here is a reader who thought I gave too little attention to the woman's side:
Your statement,"These women want me to throw their husbands out of the house, make him pay child support, while she keeps the kids to herself to raise without interference from him" prompted me to contact you. I have been married for 23 years to an abusive husband and tried desperately to hold my family together. As his temper temper got worse our home became characterized by a climate of fear. Despite the fact that he promised that if I dropped out of college to pay for his graduate school, he has resisted any attempt on my part to return to finish my education. At the women's shelter where I stayed there were stories that would curl your hair of cruelty and degradation. Is it any wonder that mothers would not want men like these to influence their children? My husband has two degrees and a successful business while I have been a housewife. Is it unreasonable to expect support during my transistion to working life? No fault divorce is terrible for kids who are only regarded as spoils to be evenly divided instead of vulnerable dependants who should be protected. I agree that the whole business stinks, but I don't believe you understand what some women have lived with that has driven many to flee a violent tyrant.

I understand very well what goes on. It is just that this story is not the only story out there. Most divorces are initiated by women, and most of them do not involve any form of domestic violence.

This case is not a “no-fault” case. She have a clear case of fault. No-fault rules in many states prohibit the court from taking fault into account in property settlements or custody. It would be more fair to everyone concerned if the court would consider fault. That would provide much better protection for women in situations like this one, as well as protect against abuses by the kind of women I described in my article.
I sincerely hope this woman is not still married to this man.

From the other side of the aisle, a reader sent this note to the editor at the Register:
I am a subscriber to NCR, but just read the article by Jennifer Morse (Taken Into Custody by Divorce, 25 Nov) on-line. Her article pretty much summarizes the feelings I have gathered from men who have been through the divorce process in the last 20 years. In fact I am amazed at the close parallels I experienced in my own divorce (which I did not want). My wife filed for divorce, which completely caught me by surprise. There were no warning signs that anything was wrong; I was extremely happy with my family as they also appeared to be with me, my wife included. Her RELATIVES commented on how she was always so positive about our relationship. We went to a marriage counselor who could find no problems, in spite of my wife's claims, in the marriage. I suddenly found myself accused of mental, physical and emotional abuse against both my wife and children. Whoa! Mental professional experts involved in both sides of the situation felt something was very wrong with my wife's thinking. I lost my house, my lovely children (plus inordinate child support for 3.5 years), and all our friends. She evidently did a real "number" on me with my daughters and our friends behind my back. She lost two-thirds of her income. No one won anything here, and all was lost. I felt I was on a run-away train once the money started being spent to set things in motion legally.
Jennifer wrote an insightful article that strongly shows a feminist but self-defeating side to no-fault divorce.
I would appreciate it if you would forward this on to her with my kindest regards. I have not read the book. I don't need to - I could write it. Abortion, the Pill and no-fault (unilateral) divorce are forces that have torn the fabric of our society apart irreparably. All people should perk up, read the writing on the wall, and listen to the lessons of Church teachings.

I actually hope this reader will pick up Taken Into Custody and read it. He will know he is not alone.
And by the way, one of the reasons I think this book is important enough to review: many people do not realize what they are getting themselves into when they file for divorce. Many decent and well-meaning people have an image that divorce will solve their problems and end the conflict between themselves and their spouse. In extreme cases, such as the first lady who wrote in, that may be true. But for many people, divorce doesn't end the conflict: it just transfers it to a new arena, where there are the equivalent of loaded legal weapons lying around. I want people to have a realistic assessment of the invasions of their personal privacy and autonomy that they may face once they bring the family courts into their lives.
I hope that people who are considering divorce from a low-conflict marriage will realize that it may be much more costly than they think.


Patricia Hershwitzky said...

The impact of divorce with respect to 'government takeover of the family' is old news for many veterans of the divorce wars dating back over twenty years. However, as is so typical, and even as we now see in the global warming debate, the mass media only quotes politically acceptable "experts". Moreover, these are usually reduced to snazzy, one line propaganda slogans. Thus, the 70's/40's economic comparison between divorcing men and women's in the 80's became the trumpet blast for legislators, judges, attonreys, and divorce activists. It was NEVER a genuine scientific reflection of the research results. Having extensively studied the research, it became obvious that this mantra arose from a relatively small group of wealthy divorcees such as those one would find in Beverly Hills. The real message of this study was that the average couple could NOT afford to divorce, man or woman. However, when I wrote an analysis and forwarded it to a colleague, he remarked that no one would publish it as I was not sufficiently credentialed. the fact that I and others still attempted to point out the "emeror's nakedness" was drowned out by so many other voices. How sad, but this did teach me to be quite cautious about any study results reported by the media.
Pat Hershwitzky

RScott said...

Taken Into Custody

I appreciate Dr. Morse discussing a topic which receives too little attention in the media and society in general. She is one of the few professionals in the field who recognizes “no-fault” could just as easily be described as “unilateral” when the topic is modern divorce. I received some negative feedback for my posting in the “The Boyfriend Problem” when discussing the legal environment men face today. I recently read the column “A Word That Means “Divorced”” by Clare Siobhan which is linked into Dr. Morse’s website. Something jumped out at me, “his aggressive and erratic behavior prompted me to call the police and have him removed from our home to the local psychiatric ward.” presented in the context of Clare being the unwilling participant in a unilateral divorce, and the above being the result of the fighting that often occurs in a troubled marriage. The very next statement is “He called me from the ward two days later to say he wasn’t coming back.” This caused some shock on my part, not because of his decision, but because the author thought her husband could have any other response and still be considered a rational human. The context of the article is a discussion if marital commitment within the doctrine of the Catholic Church, but her response was to resort to the absolute worst of feminist secular law. Consider the very words used: “have him removed from our home to the local psychiatric ward.” She had the unilateral authority to have her husband incarcerated and she accepts this as a given and her right thanks to laws passed at the behest of the worst radical feminism imaginable. This is a power once reserved to sovereign Kings and Queens over their serfs in the middle ages! Further consider the current societal context of “justice” routinely discussed in the media as demonstrated by the Mary Winkler case or the false accusation case at Duke University.
Mary Winkler murdered her husband by shooting him in the back and was released from responsibility for this crime by simply claiming “domestic violence”, which was in fact her second excuse for her action, but clearly an effective excuse as she is free today. All she had to do was claim “domestic violence” even though there was never a previous claim of such, nor any evidence of current DV. Apparently, not only the unilateral ability to incarcerate, but also the authority to permanently terminate, a husband is now the law of the land.
A similar result can be interpreted from the false accusation of rape against three men at Duke University. The false accuser changed her story multiple times, the scientific evidence absolutely precluded the falsely accused, and, eventually, after the racially and politically motivated prosecutor was removed, it was left to the state’s attorney general to admit the absolute innocence of the unfairly accused and in the very next statement indicate the true criminal in the whole episode, the false accuser herself, would retain the sympathy of the justice system and not face ANY charges herself. She continued to enjoy the rights and sympathy of a crime victim, even after being demonstrated to actually be the criminal!
Given the context, I find Clare Siobhan’s claim to being a victim of unilateral divorce hollow. She demonstrated her ability to use the anti-male justice system and dared her husband to continually place his head back into the guillotine – a choice he wisely refused. For those of us who have experienced modern divorce, is it any wonder we might be cautious and only consider “marriage” in a context that excludes the state and the “justice” system? The only question should be why the church continues to sanction the destruction of marriage by inviting the state into church sanctioned unions through the avenue of a state marriage “license”. Responsible and rational men are refusing the very construct of a pre-determined outcome should their marriage have difficulty. Women must also come to a more rational conclusion and decide if they want to marry a man or the radical feminist alternative of total state control over their lives.

Jennifer Roback Morse said...

Mr. Scott
While I appreciate your comments in general, I have to take exception to your reaction to Clare Sioban's article. When her husband assaulted her, what do you think she should have done? It seems to me that a 2 day overnight psych evaluation is not that onerous, in comparison with being arrested for DV. Men are not automatically innocent. What other options should she have?
I have written elsewhere about mentally ill/unstable people. We often leave them at large until they actually hurt somebody. In context, and all things considered, I don't think this particular case was a feminist-inspired over-reach.

RScott said...

Dr Morse,

I appreciate you viewpoint and may have over-reacted to the article. My reference is the DV law in Colorado, which is automatic arrest and at least an overnight jail stay, along with a system that will very rarely allow the accuser to withdraw charges. Assault is not a requirement under this law, just a suspicion of "intimidation" - meaning the way the person feels is adequate to produce an overnight jail stay, which is often followed by a restraining order and the beginning of the divorce process under Colorado law. Once started, the process is rarely derailed. If this were a true assault, not clear in the article, then the legal system already contains provisions for handling assault. My reaction was to the claim of being a victim of unilateral divorce when clearly there were issues between the two people leading to an arrest of one and culminating in the divorce process. This is not the common model where the wife or husband has found a replacement for their spouse and has the unilateral right to dispose of the spouse in favor of the replacement. Often this includes not only the right to dispose of the existing spouse, but the ability to retain the family home AND the product of the other persons labor, in the form of their paycheck, even when there are no children in the marriage. These conditions are what feminist control of our legal system has produced and why I advocate exclusion of that system from a true marriage.

I was very favorably impressed by the author’s discussion of her previous smugness concerning those who were divorced and how that attitude was erased due to her own experience. Those of us who did not choose divorce, beyond our decision to marry in the first place, have experienced those with such attitudes and the frustration it can cause is significant.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

many people do not realize what they are getting themselves into when they file for divorce.

This is so true. My husband spent a few years practicing divorce law. After just a few cases he started counseling his clients not to get divorced (which always caught them off guard). He saw first-hand how divorce just demolished peoples lives and almost never improved anything.

I often think of what his mother, who was left a single mother after a very unwanted divorce, says to her friends who are going that route: "What you think is out there ain't out there!"

Thanks for a very thought-provoking post!