There Are No Fathers III

June 25, 2013

Welcome to the West Report blog

In Washington State there is a 3 day waiting period when buying a marriage license, but you can purchase a shotgun that day, which is the way it should be. This gives your daughter time to be fitted for a new dress while you track the scoundrel down.

That of course is a stereotype but its not often that an argument can be made for both the sanctity of marriage and gun ownership rights at once. This blog is based in the Pacific Northwest after all to stretch the stereotype out a little more.

Mentioned in my previous article was that Washington State is the only one that keeps statistical records of divorce rulings. Hard to believe but it was from a solid source. In writing this I have searched, researched, searched again and damned if I can prove it wrong.

The Washington State Center for Court Research (WSCCR) has been collecting and compiling data since 2007 as a research arm of the Administrative Office of the Courts. I like how the home page states right away that they were established by Supreme Court order as if saying, “Hey, don’t blame us,” and even provides a link to the decree. The latest court report is from 2010 and the host page for the .pdf is here.

If Washington State is the only one doing this then that does raise the question of where do all these national figures come from? If only U.S. Census data is being used to compile these figures then the national numbers are at best somewhat speculative.

For example, if someone divorces twice then that is a 200% divorce rate using real life numbers. The census however would view that as two separate marriages that each ended resulting in a 100% divorce rate. When you look at the math used to reach these figures the results suggest, “50% of all marriages end in divorce,” is an optimistic best case scenario.

After adding up the yearbook totals from my 30-something high school peer group I peg the divorce rate in real life numbers at about 165%.

Another statistic current to 2012 shows Washington tied for 6th place among states with the highest divorce rates at 12.5%. It doesn’t say anywhere but I am going to assume that this is only counting existing marriages at the start of the year and new unions are calculated to figure the starting point for next year. Otherwise, with a 12.5% divorce rate, there would be no marriages left after about 8 years and obviously there still are. Are these first marriages? 2nd? How long have they lasted? The rate is basically meaningless by itself other than to show that sometime this year 1 out of 10 existing marriages will end.

Figuring out the sum total of fathers is almost impossible. What is defined as a father seems to change from statistic to statistic, but there are a few to ballpark with. First of course is our census which is a good place to start. Added to that is another from the Institute for Research on Poverty which hosts a .pdf file entitled “Stepparents and half-siblings: Family complexity from a child’s perspective” dated September 2011, found here, done in conjunction with researchers out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For example they found that 60% of firstborn children of unmarried mothers have at least one half-sibling by age 10.

So if 30% is the Washington unwed birth rate, that is 30 unwed mothers, 30 unwed fathers and 70 married couples. After a decade that would be 45 unwed fathers while 62% of those marriages would have ended by the same 10 year mark for a grand total of 73 unwed mothers, 88 unwed fathers and 27 married couples. Half of divorced mothers will marry a second time and 75% of those will end too. Adding unwed fathers of only 2nd marriages to the total gives a sum aggregate of 65 unwed mothers, 115 unwed fathers and 35 married couples.

Those numbers are highly speculative of course and while mothers having children from multiple fathers, or “Blended Families”, is fairly common now there is little in the way of solid stats to cite for Washington. I make a point of it here only for the statistical implications. If a non-married woman has two children from two men that shows on the census as two unwed births. The totals imply (2) unwed mothers and (2) unwed fathers when in real life numbers that would be (1) unwed mother and (2) unwed fathers.

The 2nd marriage stats in the above math only tracked custodial mothers, I could find little to generalize fathers and their second families with for just Washington. The number totals are further muddied because divorced fathers sometimes get added to the unwed father stats and sometimes get added to single men stats. The same applies to step-fathers with most adding them back into the single men category after a divorce.

If your talking with someone not very good at math you could just say that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and 30% of births are to unwed mothers which means that 80% of all fathers in Washington are unwed. I probably could of just typed that in the first place and saved myself the trouble of writing the last 7 paragraphs.

When discussing marriage and divorce that does raise the many topics involving custody. Generally speaking divorces that don’t involve the issue get settled without much conflict and represent only a small percent of total court time. Added to that non-married fathers have no rights to begin with and account for an even smaller percentage.

If the 30% unwed birth rate holds steady this means one out of every three children in Washington state will be taken from their father the moment they are born this year. Right off the top no questions asked.

Washington State Constitution
Article I Section 12
Special Privileges and Immunities Prohibited
No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.

Funny, last I looked children born to unwed fathers were treated very differently than those born to married fathers.

Of course our family law here is not considered unconstitutional. It is considered a “bonus” not a basic civil or human right that children of married couples enjoy a parental relationship with their father. Therefore children born to unwed couples who do not enjoy the same parental relationship are not actually being treated differently since there are no fathers to begin with here.

Talk about pessimistic. I’m not a lawyer but I am a common sense Washington state voter. These are our laws, those are the court reports, that is the census data and “that’s hows I reads them.” And not entirely pessimistic considering that there aren’t many politicians in office here who don’t, “Support Washington State family values.”

Next election season when one says that I wish a reporter would ask, “Do those values include fathers in them?”

I also draw exception to story after story in our media about lower marriage and birth rates all being the result of choices made only by women. I won’t even try and deny that those career and life choices are not a factor, of course they are. The problem is all of these studies and news reports assume that men are proposing marriage at the same rates we always have while at the same time providing nothing to support that point of view.

For starters, “Get married or your children will be taken from you,” is not called a reason to get hitched. That is called extortion. Next, even if you do get married your kids will still be taken from you resulting from divorce.

The U.S. census figures, linked above, show custodial fathers at 17%. That general range has held steady for decades. Here in Washington the latest court reports, also linked above, show the rate at 15%.

Personally, I wonder how much of that percentage are incarcerated mothers who will regain custody once they get out of jail. Regardless, “to raise children,” based on a best case 15% roll of the dice is no reason to get married.

Since I started this article with a stereotype I will fall back on another here and say the reason we still do is that every young man who’s in love feels that the 15% applying to them is an already foregone conclusion.

Good times.

And I will also say that every reliable study shows married biological parents as being the best home to raise children in.

But if you are going to do something, then do it right. I think most responsible men in this state can relate to that. And more and more of us seeing little point in even attempting marriage accounts for more than the 0% of lower birth and marriage rates being presented now by mass media’s studies and reports.

Being unwed in Washington also has some very real benefits. As I wrote about in article II paternity fraud is legal here and what few remedies men have to deal with that type of fraud mainly stem from being unwed. Once you are married those no longer apply.

Oddly enough, because we lagalized gay marriage here there is an outside chance Washington state might become the first state to get rid of arguably the most common form of paternity fraud, presumption of paternity by marriage.

RCW 26.26.116
Presumption of parentage in context of marriage or domestic partnership
(1) In the context of a marriage or a domestic partnership, a person is presumed to be the parent of a child if:
(a) The persons and the mother or father of the child are married to each other or in a domestic partnership with each other and the child is born during the marriage or domestic partnership

Currently our laws here in Washington regarding stem-cells and cloning don’t allow a woman to knock-up her wife. So when a pregnancy occurs within such a union its obvious that the other woman is not the father. However, under our presumption of paternity laws here, she in fact is. This opens up all types of new paternity fraud options that did not exist before.

One obvious example;

Wife A after however many years has met a man and started a relationship that results in a pregnancy causing wife B to file for divorce. Wife A as the birth mother retains custody and wife B as the presumed father gets stuck holding the next 20 years worth of bills even though the child is obviously not hers.

All wife A has to do is pull the, “She said she loved me and we were going to have a family together but now that I’m pregnant she’s filing for divorce and walking out the door on me,” routine.

Works like a charm.

And what can wife B say that defrauded male fathers haven’t already? The DNA test shows the child is not mine? Oh please. Its physically impossible for wife B to impregnate wife A? Nope, males who’ve had a vasectomy already tried that one. It is immoral, unethical and outright fraud? Yes, most paternity fraud victims will agree, no it doesn’t apply.

Best interest of the child trumps all and it is in the child’s best interest that wife A enjoy the same married lifestyle after a divorce as before one. Period.

Personally I can’t wait for all the, “Stand up and be a man,” public service type announcements aimed at all our wife B’s in a few years. Or the first demonstration parade demanding tougher prison sentences for deadbeat lesbian dads.

I’d march in that one just to get the t-shirt.

And the complete absurdity is the entire point. Article I Section 12 of our constitution remember? We can’t grant certain types of marriages immunities from our own marriage laws that other marriages don’t also have under those same marriage laws. So if presumptions of paternity are not applied to lesbian couples the same they are being applied to traditional couples then those laws, by definition, become unconstitutional.

If you start applying that same legal standard to custody, visitation, shared parenting, support order amounts, arrests, jail sentences and on and on… as much as I oppose gay marriage I can’t also help but acknowledge that many issues of equality our legislature has refused to give fathers we might yet realize through these new laws.

The Irony of same-sex unions resulting in stronger traditional marriages appeals to me. It would be nice to hold up at least one state in our union as an example while proclaiming, “Here there be fathers.”

~

The West Report
The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.
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