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WV Group's Aims to Protect Father Custody Rights


West Virginia leaders of a family organization are seeking legislation that they believe will overhaul family law in the state and better protect a father's child custody rights during and after divorce. The West Virginia wing of Men Against Discrimination (MAD) recently released their legislative agenda for 2007, which calls for:

  • Courts beginning West Virginia child custody determinations with a presumption that mothers and fathers have 50-50 custody, unless one parent is clearly and convincingly proven unfit for shared and equal custody;
  • Mandatory consequences for visitation denial and false allegations of domestic violence or child abuse;
  • Open family courts providing information that is part of the public record.

In a Bluefield Daily Telegraph story, local MAD leaders Tim Fittro and Ron Foster accuse the West Virginia court system of promoting a "society of fatherless children."

MAD literature estimates that women receive custody in 83% of divorce proceedings.

The group further says that West Virginia divorce laws and family court systems have created a situation in which parents are pitted against each other and children are treated as prizes.

Local MAD leaders also plan to address West Virginia domestic violence petitions, which they feel may be used as a weapon in child custody cases to block visitation rights. The group would like to see statutory regulations for false domestic violence allegations.

Fittro describes MAD as an organization operating under the principles of "Truth, Justice and Equality in Family Law" in order to protect the "natural, God-given and constitutional rights" to parent one's children with exception to cases of abuse.

MAD is composed of not just fathers but also sisters, grandparents, girlfriends, second wives, mothers and children. The group cites statistics that children raised in fatherless homes are more likely to commit suicide, run away, do drugs and commit rape.

MAD's 2007 legislative agenda reveals how child custody is not only often a major source of debate for involved parents and children inside the courtrooms but also a very controversial issue locally and nationally for all types of organizations. Child custody battles can get nasty and involve bitter feelings between spouses, and child custody debates between organizations with different beliefs may be no better.

While championing the rights of the man or woman during an actual child custody case or political debate, it is vital that all sides involved remember that the children's welfare must take precedence over and bitter personal feelings or political leanings.

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