Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Child Custody Case to study Constitutional Protections

Fathers frequently left without significant contact
Posted: May 12, 2009
10:58 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

A court hearing is scheduled tomorrow on arguments that allege the basic child custody procedures used by judges in Bradley County, Tenn., are unconstitutionally biased in favor of one parent.

WND previously reported on the case stemming from a divorce dispute that attorney Stanley Charles Thorne believes could impact custody decisions nationwide, because it calls down the authority of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause to help fathers who are good parents.

According to Thorne, the case before Circuit Judge J. Michael Sharp is testing the court procedures used in the child custody case of 3-year-old Kate Hopkins, which began in 2007.

After more than two years in court and five different judges, the case is set for trial beginning May 27 in Sharp's courtroom. But Sharp is hearing the constitutional issues before the rest of the case is heard.

Attorney Jeffrey Miller will argue on behalf of fit Tennessee parents and their children, and an attorney from the Tennessee attorney general's office, Warren Jasper, is expected to argue on behalf of the standard procedures.

According to a statement from Thorne, one of the procedures that will be challenged is the "80-day rule" created by local judges. It automatically takes effect as soon as a child custody case is filed, allowing one parent only 80 days a year with the child while the other parent is allowed 285 days – regardless of circumstances.

The rule, Miller argues, discriminates against one parent, violating the principle of equal protection as well as due process, since it is imposed without a hearing.

Such procedures would be banned if Sharp rules the practices are unconstitutional, Thorne's statement said.

Hundreds of divorce cases are filed daily across the U.S., and according to the Children' website, custody dispute cases leave nearly 38 percent of the fathers with no access or visitation rights to their children. In addition, four in 10 mothers report they interfered with the father's visitation to punish him at least once, half the mothers see "no value" in the father's continued contact with his children and 70 percent of the fathers wanted more time with their kids.

Thorne is serving as a consultant in the case of Jeremy Hopkins, a successful lawyer, in his attempts to be treated the same as his daughter's mother, Elisabeth, also a successful lawyer, in their custody of Kate.

Since the mother left the family in Tennessee and took Kate to Pennsylvania about two years ago, Jeremy Hopkins has been allowed only sporadic days with his daughter.

"All I want for my daughter is for her to have mom and a dad," Jeremy Hopkins told WDEF-TV in Chattanooga.

Michael McCormick of the Institute for American Families said the system is set up to pit a mother against a father in a marital dispute, when it should be working to accommodate the needs of a child for both a mother and father.

"The courts are going to pick a winner and a loser and when they do that, the child ultimately loses," he told the station at a recent rally regarding the case.

"If we look at what's happening to our society we can trace the social pathologies just as increased rates of incarceration, early sexual activity for girls, truancy issues related to the family breaking down and the social fabric of our society is breaking down in terms of the family breaking down, we are being weaken as a nation and we need to change that," McCormick added.

He estimates 17 million fathers nationwide do not have fair access to their children, and about 3 million mothers have the same problem.

Thorne, who has 25 years experience as a lawyer, most recently has specialized in constitutional issues in family courts, representing parents and children on various issues.

The family's life was disrupted by the mother's decision to leave, Thorne said, but the relationship of the father and daughter was aggravated by a "family court system that cares for neither of them while it keeps them mired in a swamp of never-ending legal hassles just to be together."

"Many constitutional issues will be decided by Kate Hopkins' case," he continued. "Perhaps the most important is where the Constitution draws the line to protect the relationship between an innocent child and an innocent parent from government interference."

he dispute came to a head just before last Christmas, following the expiration of the most recent visitation order. Jeremy Hopkins, on a scheduled visit with his daughter, decided to have her stay in Tennessee until a court hearing on the required court-ordered visitation plan.

Instead, he was arrested for interfering with a custodial plan, "even though there was no court order in force," and his daughter was returned to Pennsylvania. The warrant later was quashed by a judge, who essentially determined it never should have been issued.

Thorne questioned the legal system ordering a child taken from one parent "when the child is in no danger … and the child has never been abused, neglected, or harmed" and given to another parent absent a court order.

The 14th Amendment states: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

"This case affects not just the people of Tennessee," Thorne said. "This is huge."

Numerous organizations are working for the rights of fathers in disputes like the Tennessee case, including,, Fathers False Charges Helpline, Fathers National Lawyers Referral, and

The original article can be found here:

1 comment:

  1. The system knows exactly what it is doing this and why.

    It is the divide and conquer rule and the only winner is the system, which by the way is the third party in the marriage, when there really ought just to be the 2 partners.

    The system knows that once the players- lawyers and judges get involved, then the parents and children become the pawns on the board.

    The parents are conned into believing they are players, but they are not.

    All the while lawyers and Barristers practice their performance for the court as jestors.

    Also USA lawyers are all members of the BAR- a British corporation,,,,,,, oh yes, it is all a fraud, once you research the truth.