|Across U.S., Non-Custodial Parents Sue|
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
By Wendy McElroy
At least 28 federal class action suits in 28 states have been filed in the last two weeks on behalf of non-custodial parents (NCPs). The defendants are the individual states.
The plaintiffs claim to represent an estimated 25 million non-custodial parents — primarily fathers — whose right to equal custody of minor children in situations of dispute is allegedly being violated by family courts across the nation.
Family law is traditionally a state matter, but the federal government has assumed greater control in the area over the last few decades. Thus, the plaintiffs are appealing to the Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court precedent and acts of Congress "to vindicate and restore their various inalienable rights."
In short, federal law is being asked to trump state practice in custody matters.
According to the suits, state practices appear to be "willful, reckless, and/or negligent fraud, deceit, collusion, and/or abuse of powers" with a "systematic pattern of obstructing, hindering, and/or otherwise thwarting the rightful and lawful conclusion of due process" of non-custodial parents in child custody proceedings.
In particular, fathers protest the widespread practice of almost automatically granting sole custody to mothers in divorce disputes.