Archive for child custody

Mexico-US Child Custody

Mexican father battles to raise his U.S. son

The above article refers to a situation that will no doubt be a harbinger for future custody cases.  Back in the 80’s we had a cartoonist, Gary Larson, who often used animals to point out the many foibles of American society.  My all-time favorite showed two scientists, with their obligatory white smocks and clipboards, that were finishing a dolphin communication research project. Two dolphins were in a pool and one said to the other, “Como esta usted?” and the other one replied, “Estoy bien, gracias”

The two scientists both had looks of extreme frustration on their faces and one of them exclaimed, “Let’s call this off, we’re never going to understand this dolphin language!”

Last week I went to a couple of websites because I was curious about the nations with the highest and lowest percentages of bilingual speakers.  It should surprise no one that the US was near the bottom of the list with only about 14%.  It’s a global disgrace that foreign languages are almost never part of an American elementary school curriculum and that 14% figure is even more ludicrous when one considers that our nation is roughly 15% Hispanic and that the state in question, New Mexico, has perhaps the highest percentage of both Hispanics and bilingual speakers in the nation!


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Black Fathers Matter

This title is the speakers riff on the organization that in 2015 became a media darling, Back Lives Matter.  Despite the fact that proportionally far fewer black men have been killed by police now, as compared to 50 or 60 years ago, this group had been given almost blanket media coverage.

The speaker on this five minute tape, Larry Elder, is one of the most compelling commentators on race relations in America today (I’d love to hear a debate between him and Mr. Obama on the topic).  He notes that in the “bad old days” (one could choose that same 1950-1965 era or even go back to the days of slavery), a black child was as much as ten times more likely to be born into an intact family than he/she would be today.

The New York Times chose to celebrate this year’s Fathers’ Day by pointing out that a foundation had recently come across a few letters that Barack Hussein Obama Sr. wrote to his son.  The Times noted that so far the junior Mr. Obama has shown no interest in the letters.  Unfortunately, this same lack of interest has been demonstrated by him in regard to how one of his main group of political contributors, the trial lawyers, prop up a family court system so prejudiced against fathers that most of them “abandon ship” early. This is one of the main factors leading to a 73% chance, in black families (and a 53% chance in Hispanic ones), that the dad won’t be around when the child is born, which in turn has lead to the 20 trillion dollars in “War on Poverty” spending since 1965.


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A Day to Ponder Families and Relationships

On a day in the US when we had the worst mass shooting in our history, it’s a good time to reflect on the importance of the people in our lives.  This young woman, to her great credit, was able to take a horrific, long term, governmentally-funded atrocity and offer hope to millions of other children around the world.  Not many 17 year olds have the courage and verbal skills to address their nation’s parliament on a personal matter and I it would be just as rare, if not more so, here in the US.  In my own case I had to wait 14 years, not just nine, to achieve equal custody, but in my case I was merely treated like a criminal and didn’t actually become one like the father in this case.

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Hillary, Child Custody & Attorneys

The above headline, in typical mainstream-media fashion, would have one believe that Ms. Clinton is truly a fully-liberated 21st century woman and supports gender-neutral child custody decisions.

Alas, as one sees later in the article, it is yet another case of “them that gots shall get…” as Blood, Sweat & Tears sang so eloquently in “God Bless the Child”. The “gots” in this case being political connections.  As noted in a previous blog entry, at one point this winter the Wall Street Journal found that Mrs. C had collected three times as much from trial attorneys as from her number two group of contributors, financial firms.

While the mainstream media, per usual, has completely ignored the significance of that list of political contributors, her competitor, Mr. Trump has acted in accord with another old blues song, “You Got the Right String Baby but the Wrong Yo-Yo” by spending most of his time denouncing the ethnicity of his judge in the Trump U. fraud case and only mentioning in passing that the attorney bringing the case is a HUGE(Mr. Trump’s favorite adjective) contributor to Mrs. C’s campaign.

Both the media and Mr. Trump would be far better served in concentrating on how trial attorneys stifle business innovation (2015 was the first year on record that saw more business failures than start-ups), slow economic growth (2015 was the first seven-year period in US history with no single year above 3% GDP growth) and, last but not least, separate parents from their kids, leading to hundreds of billions of  dollars in unnecessary welfare and law enforcement costs for all of us.




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Child Custody in Israel

*My first encounter with an Israeli occurred during my initial trip abroad way back in 1977.  I was eating at a youth hostel in Florence, Italy and met a young Israeli woman who wanted a male companion to hitchhike with her to Rome.  Although she was very independent this was a very practical consideration in those days because Italian men had the well-deserved reputation of having “wayward hands”.  The short term partnership went well and after a few hours we were able to meet with her friends, a group of  El-Al security agents, in Rome.  Spending a couple days with this group of “nice tough guys” I was able to understand the old saying-“five Israelis, six opinions”.

*Fast forward a quarter century to my first taste of a common European attitude toward Israelis.  It was my first post-divorce(from an Israeli woman-known as a “sabra”, a cactus sharp on the outside yet tender on the inside) Internet date.  I was finishing a very pleasant one-hour lunch in which it seemed this tall, attractive Dutch woman and I had a lot in common. After a lull in the conversation, she asked me, “So tell me a bit about your ex-wife”.  I was shocked that when I started with “She’s an Israeli…” the woman abruptly stood up and said, “I couldn’t possibly deal with an Israeli’s custody issues” and walked away like an Olympic race walker!  I was later to learn that among a majority of Europeans to be pro-Israeli automatically classifies one as anti-Arab and probably a bigot in general.

*Now, in regard to the above link, it is rather long but it does contain a good deal of common-sense child custody advice, amazingly starting with King Solomon’s decision in what was probably history’s first recorded child custody case.  The other very notable part of these paragraphs is that, just as Hebrew and Arabic are part of the same Semitic Language family, so too do these Chabad Society guidelines contain Muslim-like gender-based child custody elements: all children should be with the mother (with generous visitation and strict move away guidelines) until age six, at which time a boy goes to live with his father, while a girl stays with the mother.

*As with the other nations and regions covered in previous entries, Israel has its own peculiar set of demographics.  Its total population is only about 8.5 million, with 1.5 million Arabs(comprised of mainly Muslims and Christians) being part of that number.  Israel’s population growth rate is the highest in the developed world but much of that comes from its Arabs, the 20% of the population that is Orthodox and from immigrants.  Given the high influx of immigrants (and the difficulty of learning Hebrew, a language which, in its written form, omits vowels!), Israel has become a nation with one of the highest percentages of English speakers in the world: about 85%, which is nearly the same as Canada and higher than most EU nations.

*Israel more than almost any other nations has an unusual set of move away parameters. On one hand, it is geographically a small nation (especially if one excludes the almost one half of the total area which is the Negev desert) and it is only a 60 minute drive between its two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  Thus, a domestic move away scenario (or visitation, for that matter) is not usually onerous for either parent.

*At this time we must say that one of Israeli’s greatest strengths, its high percentage of English speakers, opens the door to great global mobility, which can lead to some extreme move away situations. In 2008 I researched this topic in depth and found a very interesting website:  In that year I found that the number of US-Israeli child custody court cases was more than the US-Mexico, US-UK and US-Italy combined!

*In conclusion, let me go into one case from 2008 that vividly illustrates how, despite the existence of something called the Hague Treaty for international child custody (of which Israel is ostensibly a member) an Israeli-US child custody case can be, as the Brits used to say, “a sticky wicket”.  This case involves a California Jewish couple that had a young son and were in business together managing apartments. They both seemed to be relatively secular (or at least non-Orthodox) but wanted to take a year off in Israel to connect with the mother’s family (the father had no family there) and to have their son experience the culture and to learn Hebrew.  After the agreed-upon year, the mom decided that their real estate business needed immediate attention and she flew back home.  After a relatively short period, the father decided that he loved Israel and was staying, along with the son.  This of course was a great irony since the father had no familial connection to the nation and barely spoke Hebrew.  As I do recall, however, the boy had by then reached the “magical age” of six and this alone might have made it very difficult for the mother, no matter what Hague and American family law attorneys say on such matters. The bottom line, as I told my Temple University-Tokyo students two decades ago is that “demography is destiny”.  Many nations, especially in the EU, that signed the Hague treaty find themselves in a “demographic vise”, with fewer and fewer children to pay the retirement benefits for a rapidly aging populace. While Israel doesn’t fit the EU population model, it is surrounded by an often-hostile and very rapidly growing Arab region, which inclines it toward all types of self-preservation methods, including “holding their children tight”.


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Child Custody in Muslim Nations

First of all, I realize that this is a very broad topic, probably more so than any of my prior 69 posts. One can verify that by simply typing this topic into Google and note the one million plus entries.  I decided to use two sources: Wikigender, which I’d never encountered and, which would seem to be an official Islamic website.

The latter site introduces the term “hadana”, which refers to the care that a mother gives and this can be passed onto a female including (seemingly in order) a maternal grandmother, a sister or an aunt.  Its counterpart is “wilaya”, supervision by the father(or a male paternal family member if he is unable to take responsibility), which involves passport rights and education.  In cases where the two parties don’t agree on child custody, the father gets custody, assuming that he is religious.  It is also noted that a mother is usually never denied visitation and that the father is given this superior position based on the assumption that it is far more likely that he will remarry.

Wikigender was a good source for comparing in the situation in various Middle Eastern nations and I thought these four were the most interesting:

*Iran was the only predominately Shiite nation listed and the only one to feature a western film on the topic: “Not without my daughter”, with a moving performance by Sally Fields.  After the 1979 revolution fathers were given custody of boys after age two(changed to age seven in 2003) and girls at age seven.

*Egypt is similar to Iran in that mothers are granted custody of boys until age seven and girls until age nine.  Here though, judges have discretion to move the ages to nine and 11, respectively, if they feel it to be in the child’s best interest.

*Saudi Arabia is distinctive in that it is home to the two most important Muslim shrines, Mecca and Medina, has a huge number of foreign workers and is considered to be the strictest Muslim nation. Here mothers have custody of sons until age five and daughters until age seven, probably the youngest ages of any nation.

*Lebanon is perhaps still the most westernized of any majority Muslim nation.  Its capital, Beirut, was called “The Paris of the Mideast” until the violence began proliferating in the 1970’s.  Despite this western patina, mothers are only allowed custody until a son reaches seven and a daughter nine.  The mother loses custody immediately if she remarries, whereas the father does not and the children belong to his line.


In summary, as in the Confucian nations cited in previous weeks, it seems that the purpose of these laws is to preserve social stability, but from a very different mindset from either East Asia or the western world.  Another important consideration is the degree of secularization in any given nation, thus a country like Indonesia, where Mr. Obama spent several years in his youth, should have different custody laws than any of the four nations cited above.



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Child Custody in India

In case the link is no longer active, go to the above website and type “child custody” in their search bar: it’s from 4/11/16.

*This is a continuation of child custody in major nations.  India is the only major nation I haven’t visited, or lived in for considerable time.  They include China, Japan, Indonesia, Russia, the UK, France, Germany and Spain.

*It is very important because demographers predict it will have the world’s largest population, surpassing China sometime this century. It has also recently modernized its economy under Prime Minister Modi and even has a realistic goal of surpassing the US in national Wi-Fi coverage.

*As an Asian nation, most in the West might presume they are a male-dominated nation.  If so, like Japan and China, it doesn’t extend to child custody.  This case, while giving a token mention of the importance of both parents, gave the father very little parenting time.

*Nevertheless, at least the Indian Supreme Court has made a statement on the importance of both parents.  I could find no such comments by the US Supreme Court, which appears to confine itself to international custody cases, rather than applying the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to child custody.

*There are four aspects to Indian society which would tend to make child custody a far less contentious issue there than in the US: arranged marriages, very important extended families, a very low divorce rate and much lower rates of geographic mobility.

*While I haven’t visited India, my daughter attended an elaborate three day wedding there.  One can imagine the vast social pressure extending from such an event, which might be enough on its own to keep a precarious marriage together in later years.

*In conclusion, although the vast majority of the Indian population are Hindus (hence the newspaper title), it is estimated to be up to 15 % Muslim.  In those families, a child custody case could follow very different parameters.  A future blog entry will touch on one or more Muslim nations.

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