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Articles Posted in Father’s Rights

A recent Fox News article regarding a potentially bitter California child custody dispute noted that Guy Fieri, a well-known Food Network personality who also hosts a game show on NBC, has been pulled into the middle of a California child custody and father’s rights case pitting a parent against grandparents.

The network, citing the celebrity-watching website TMZ, reports that Fieri is looking after his 11-year-old nephew while the boy’s father and his maternal grandparents dispute custody. Fieri is reportedly vacationing “on a remote lake in Northern California with no cell service,” a remarkably convenient location for someone trying to keep a child out of the limelight and away from squabbling relatives.

The news network reports that the boy is the son of Fieri’s late sister, Morgan. Since her death last year Fieri and Morgan’s parents have sought custody of the boy claiming his father, Dain Pape, “should not get custody because he is ‘living out of his motor home’ and has no source of income.” In a victory for California father’s rights, a judge in Marin County “sided with Pape, ruling that he should have custody of his son, and the grandparents must return” the boy to him.

A one-sentence ruling earlier this month by the United States Supreme Court dealt a blow to California father’s rights by letting unequal citizenship standards for fathers and mothers stand.

According to an account in the New York Times, the case – Flores-Villar v United States – concerns a father seeking to pass his US citizenship on to his foreign-born son. As the Times outlines: “children born outside the country to an unmarried American parent are considered American citizens at birth if the parent lived in the United States before the child was born. For a mother, the required period of residence is one year. For a father, it is 10 years, five of them after he turns 14.”

This blatantly unfair standard was upheld here in California by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this month the US Supreme Court affirmed that ruling in an unsigned, one-sentence opinion. The statement noted that the court was divided equally, 4-4, with Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself (presumably because she was involved in earlier stages of the litigation during her previous job as US Solicitor General).

The recent revelation that former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a member of his household staff was a shock for many. But, as a recent article at the Huffington Post points out, it also provides an opportunity for all of us to revisit some of the more complex Los Angeles and Orange County father’s rights issues that can emerge in the wake of an out-of-wedlock birth.

As the website notes, many children are born in similar (though not nearly as famous) circumstances every year. “Not surprisingly, many of these cases end up in court when the parents are at odds about custody, child support and other matters,” the site adds.

The piece notes that mothers of children born out-of-wedlock have full custody of their babies in nearly every state pending the establishment of paternity. In most cases, this puts the onus on the father to assert his California paternity rights, usually by going to California family court. Fathers are also, of course, obliged to support their children, generally until they turn 18.

In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, here is a blast from the past blog post from a vindicated father who was able to get his Temporary Domestic Violence Restraining Order Sealed by the Orange County Superior Court.



A recent article published by Fox News.com raises an interesting question: if a mother won’t name her baby’s father, where does that leave the dad and his custody rights?

The peg for this discussion of California paternity and fathers’ rights is actress January Jones, best known for her role on Mad Men. According to Fox, Jones recently announced that she is expecting her first child. “Unlike most celebrities, however, she refused to name the baby’s father, and said through her rep that she intends to be a single mother,” Fox reports.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Jones did not conceive using a sperm bank, where does that leave her baby’s biological father? The article notes that here in California a man who believes himself to be a biological father but who is not named in the child’s birth certificate “has a limited time to come forward” and demand a paternity test – two years, in most states. The article notes that something along these lines happened to Padma Lakshmi, host of the TV show Top Chef. Her attempt to be an unencumbered single mother unraveled last year when the baby’s father demanded a paternity test and asserted his parental rights after the test came back positive.

A Los Angeles man is taking Japan Airlines to court claiming the carrier “wrongfully helped his Japanese ex-wife leave the United States with their son, despite court orders that the child remain in California,” according to an account of the case by Agence France Presse.

The incident goes back to December 2008, AFP reports, when Scott Sawyer’s ex-wife Kyoko took their two-year-old son to Japan in violation of a California child custody order. Sawyer has not seen his son since. His chances of doing so are particularly bleak because, as the news agency notes, Japan is one of the world’s few wealthy countries that is not a signatory to a 1980 treaty requiring “the return of wrongfully held children to their usual countries of residence.” In addition, Japanese courts rarely return children to foreign parents in the context of international child custody disputes.

At first glance this might seem to be mainly an issue of child custody, rather than of

A celebrity child custody and visitation case suddenly got a lot nastier last week when mixed martial arts star Chuck Liddell was publicly accused by his ex-wife of kidnapping the couple’s son and taking him to California, according to the celebrity-tracking website TMZ. Liddell, in turn, appeared before a California family law court to accuse his ex of neglecting the child.

The case seems to have begun in late March when Liddell traveled to Colorado, where his ex-wife Lori Geyer lives with her current husband, for a visit with the couple’s 12-year-old son. Four days later, TMZ reports, Geyer received a call from Liddell’s attorney informing her that the boy was in California and would remain there until a custody hearing could take place.

A week later Liddell was in a California court seeking full custody of the boy, claiming his mother had neglected him by leaving a “severe toothache” untreated for “2 or 3 months,” and also that “the boy was allegedly abused by being forced to perform physical labor – including snow removal.”

Custody of Baby Vanessa, the toddler born in Ohio, raised in Orange County and, for most of her short life, the subject of a complex inter-state child custody battle, was awarded Monday to her adoptive mother, Stacey Doss of Rancho Santa Margarita, according to NBC Los Angeles.

I have been blogging about this story since last summer, because it touches on a number of important issues regarding Orange County child custody rights, adoption and father’s rights. Last fall Doss won a significant interim victory when an Ohio court ruled that Vanessa should continue living with Doss while legal proceedings unfolded. Yesterday, however, the custody trial (which also took place in Ohio) ended in a clear-cut victory for the Orange County woman, as she was awarded full custody of the girl she has raised since birth.

Doss adopted Vanessa through legal channels, making arrangements with the girl’s biological mother while the latter was still pregnant. In the days immediately following Vanessa’s birth, however, it became clear that the mother had lied (under oath, in court documents) when she said she did not know who the child’s father was. Benjamin Mills, Vanessa’s father, in fact, had two other children with Vanessa’s mother. The pair have had an on-and-off relationship marked by repeated instances of domestic violence over many years. The two older children are being raised by Mills’ mother, who also sought custody of Vanessa as part of the just-concluded legal proceedings, who has legal custody of Vanessa’s older siblings.

A recent ruling by an appeals court in Texas is being cited by legal commentators as an important blow for California fathers’ rights. The case involves a child custody battle involving a gay couple. Though the ruling came in Texas, the core issues in the case originate here in California and focus on our state’s child custody laws. Commentators are calling the case especially important for the ways it may reinforce the rights of adoptive fathers in all parts of the country.

According to an analysis at The Huffington Post the basics of the case are these: A gay couple from Texas traveled to Canada to marry in 2003, and later “registered as domestic partners in California.” Because neither gay marriage nor domestic partnerships are recognized in Texas, when they decided to have a child they hired a surrogate in California who was impregnated using sperm from one of the men. “Prior to the child’s birth they obtained a pre-birth declaration of parentage under the Uniform Parentage Act, which is lawful in California.” Declarations of this kind allow same-sex couples to establish legal parentage prior to a child’s birth.

More recently, when the couple broke up, the partner who had provided the sperm attempted to claim sole custody of the child based on his biological link and the fact that Texas does not recognize same-sex unions (and has, in the past, also refused to dissolve same-sex unions contracted in other states). In effect, he claimed that the California declaration of parentage had no validity in Texas and, therefore, he was effectively the sole parent.

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