How to Bring Dr. Warren Farrell
as an Expert Witness for Shared Parenting
in your Child Custody Case
Dear Dad and/or Mom, Step-mom and Children's Grandparents,
I write this after reading Father and Child Reunion and seeing how virtually every page “hit the nail on the head” with regard to me, my children and my child custody case. And also after reading the “Parenting Observation Report” written by Dr. Farrell after his observation of me with my children. I then helped persuade Warren Farrell to take time away from his writing to create the Evidence Kit (see below) to help children caught up in child custody cases to instead grow up with the benefit of both parents. So here is how to get him to help you. And why.
Many judges and helping professionals agree that children of divorce are best raised by both parents. However, when a mom feels “it would be best for my children to live with me,” even professionals assume she knows best, and miss cues that reveal her resistance to genuine shared parenting (such as saying “my children”). This Mom Bias is so strong that alienation and ulterior motives are often overlooked.
Why is some moms' resistance to equally-shared parenting so easily missed? Because our knowledge of the value of dad runs so shallow.
Dr. Warren Farrell's book, Father and Child Reunion, and his DVD and CD, In the Best Interests of the Child , change that. Father and Child Reunion is the most recent book analyzing the major current research on what is optimal for children of divorce—or children not brought up in an intact family.
I found Father and Child Reunion created such depth of understanding about the value of a dad that it shocked even me—and I considered myself a well-informed dad. For example, I did not know that the more exposure a child has to her or his father, the more empathetic the child is likely to be. Nor did I know why. Chances are, neither does your attorney. Nor your judge.
When I read Father and Child Reunion, it gave me the strength to fight to reunite with my children; and I know it will help a mom who genuinely has the best interest of our children in mind to understand why rough-housing, tough love, boundary enforcement and other parenting styles of a dad toward which a mom may not immediately gravitate, are in fact crucial to child development.
The best attorneys often have so many clients they don't take the time to study all the parenting literature. So Dr. Warren Farrell's DVD, In the Best Interests of the Child , leads the attorney to the questions that can be asked of Dr. Farrell in court to help Dr. Farrell best educate a judge as to why anything less than a dad's equal involvement is putting the child at risk.
At risk of what? Of everything from ADD and underachievement in every academic area to problems with drinking, drugs, delinquency, depression, disobedience (what Warren Farrell calls “the 5 D's”), low self-esteem, unmarried teenage pregnancy, self-centeredness, being bullied, lack of assertiveness, and poor social skills.
When judges in states like Michigan and Arizona who were not previously inclined toward shared parenting in child custody cases, heard Dr. Farrell's expert witness testimony, they not only changed their orientation for the father Dr. Farrell represented, but for parents in subsequent child custody cases as well.
How to begin?
First, start with an Evidence Kit.
The Evidence Kit will give you:
- Father and Child Reunion in hardcover;
- Three copies of the DVD “The Best Interests of the Child” so you can submit it as evidence (courts require separate copies for the court and opposition). This allows your attorney to see how Dr. Farrell would be as an expert witness in a child custody case;
- One audio CD version of “The Best Interests of the Child” so you and your attorney can review in your car the data supporting equal time in child custody cases;
- The on-going research on the importance of dads and why shared parenting is so crucial in child custody;
- A collection of legal cases that can be a resource for your attorney in your current case or in an appeal.
The cost of the Evidence Kit is $119 plus shipping and handling (less than many attorneys charge in a half hour).
Second, email Dr. Warren Farrell at email@example.com with your situation. He will set up a free phone consultation if he feels he can be of help. Depending on your situation and finances, he will recommend one or more of the following…
1) A “Parenting Observation Report”- Dr. Warren Farrell visits your home and observes you with your children for between a full day and a weekend. He writes a “Parenting Observation Report” that includes ways in which your parenting has value to your children (based on the research). He employs his writing skills to create such clear pictures of your parenting skills (assuming you are a good parent) that the judge experiences both intellectually and emotionally why it would be a crime to give you less than equal time with your children in any child custody case.
When the mother's attorney reads the report, she or he is usually especially impacted by Dr. Warren Farrell's explanation of why, if shared parenting is rejected, children usually do better with dad as the primary parent .
Until this moment, from the perspective of the mom's attorney, the worst-case scenario was shared parenting. Suddenly it is dad as the primary parent. Most attorneys see how research showing dad as the better default primary parent can change everything. Previously, mom had nothing to lose by continuing to fight. Now it is apparent that mom's resistance to shared parenting could lead to dad being the primary parent. (Which has happened with some of Warren Farrell's clients.) That increases most attorneys' willingness to encourage the mom to settle, thereby avoiding the expense and acrimony of a court battle.
When the mother's attorney and the mom also learn of Dr. Warren Farrell's credentials as the world's leading male feminist prior to feminism leading the charge against father involvement, and his ability to communicate (as evidenced by his repeated appearance on Oprah and more than thousand television and radio shows), it reinforces their willingness to settle--to keep Dr. Farrell from being your expert witness. It takes this leverage for the mom's attorney to be able to persuade the mom to settle out of court with a genuine shared parenting child custody plan.
2) In-Court Expert Witness Testimony. If an out-of-court settlement is not forthcoming, Dr. Warren Farrell's time with you and your children serve well to qualify him as an expert witness whose research is directly relevant to your parenting skills. And his time with you will allow him to use all of his expert witness testimony time zeroing in on the research that is most relevant to you, and communicating with the judge his personal experience of you.
3) Telephone Testimony on the Best Interest of Children If money is a major challenge for you, Dr. Warren Farrell can also testify via telephone on the general findings of his research. Obviously, this has limits, and since only some judges will allow this without direct experience with the parent, your attorney should first run it by the judge after your attorney has viewed the DVD and read at least the first two chapters of Father and Child Reunion . However, when Dr. Warren Farrell did telephonic testimony only in West Virginia recently (November, 2007), it led to not only the judge being so persuaded that he dismissed other witnesses to extend Dr. Farrell's testimony; it also led to the judge seeking advice from Dr. Farrell that he could use in other child custody cases. More amazingly, even the mom's attorney transitioned from cross-examining Dr. Farrell to asking him for his advice in his other child custody cases!
Dr. Warren Farrell will answer questions personally via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Supportively, Robert Norton, President, C-Level Enterprises, Inc., and Distributor of “The Best Interest of Children” Evidence Kit, DVD and CD.
Biography of Dr. Warren Farrell Relevant to
Testifying as an Expert Witness
in Child Custody Cases
Three Judicial Biases
About Mothers' and Fathers' Rights
to Shared Parenting in Child Custody Cases
When I do expert witness work in child custody cases, I often confront three biases against shared parenting from judges that I was also surprised to see proven invalid when I did the research for Father and Child Reunion.
The first bias is the Stability Bias; the second is the Mother Bias; and the third is the Conflict Bias (the bias that "If-the-couple-is-in-conflict-joint-custody-will-not-work"). All of these biases apply to post-divorce parenting.
The Stability Bias.
Judges understandably reason that amid the instability of divorce, children are best stabilized by staying in the home they are accustomed to with the parent who has been the primary parent. I call this "geographical stability". The research shows that geographical stability does not create psychological stability. For children of divorce, geographical stability is "one parent stability"; this article explains why "one parent stability" is psychologically destabilizing. For example...
Studies show that after divorce the children who do best psychologically have about an equal amount of exposure to both mom and dad--especially if both parents live near each other, and there is no bad-mouthing. The psychological stability of two-parents equally involved leads to the children also doing better academically and socially, and being healthier physically.
Why does two parent stability trump geographical stability? No one can be 100% sure, but a blend of research and observation offer clues. Three quick assertions in quasi-headline form...
First, the job of a child growing up is to discover who it is. Who is it? It is half mom and half dad. It is not the better parent. It is both parents. Warts and all. So we are not talking here about fathers' rights, mothers' rights or even the child's right to both parents. We are talking about a new paradigm: the child's right to both halves of itself.
Second, children with minimal exposure to one parent seem to feel abandoned, often psychologically rudderless.
Third, dads and moms, like Republicans and Democrats, provide checks and balances. Moms tend to overstress protection; dads may overstress risk-taking. There has to be a balance of power for the child to absorb a balance of both parents' values. One parent dominating tends to leave the child with a stereotyped and biased perspective of the values of the minority parent, and ultimately a lack of appreciation for that part of itself.
The Mother Bias.
Most judges do believe children do best with both parents, but if they must live with one, mom is given the edge. In fact, the new research I report in Father and Child Reunion very clearly shows that children brought up by dad are more likely to do better psychologically, physically, academically and socially than those brought up by mom.
I will explain in the teleseminar not only some of the twenty-five measures that create this counterintuitive conclusion, but also what dads do unconsciously that so often works to the benefit of the child. At the same time, I will also explain why it would be erroneous to conclude that men make better dads than women do moms (e.g., dads usually have more income).
The "If-the-couple-is-in-conflict-joint-custody-will-not-work" Bias.
Conflict-- especially bad-mouthing-- hurts all parenting arrangements. The more the conflict, though, the more important it is for the child to see both parents about equally, because conflict leaves the child vulnerable to feeling that the parent it does not see has abandoned it-- does not love her or him. The less the child sees a parent the easier it is to form a negative and caricatured stereotype of the unseen parent. This leads to the child feeling negative about that half of her or himself.
Finally, a system that says, "If the couple can't get along in court how are they going to get along enough to share the children?" creates an incentive for the mom to initiate conflict. Why the mom? The Mom Bias teaches mom that if she can erase the joint custody option, she is more likely than dad to be given custody of the children. This awareness creates an incentive for a mom who wants full custody to not co-operate with the dad.
The three biases in combination lead to many options after divorce not being considered. The teleseminar and Father and Child Reunion explore some of those options.
My experience thus far is that virtually all judges are focused on doing what is best for the children, as are most moms and dads; that the above responses to these biases address the issues that prevent judges from giving more priority to securing both parents' equal involvement; that once judges know this, their rulings are much more likely to incorporate this prioritization.
The Conflict Bias (“If-the-couple-is-in-conflict-shared parenting-will-not-work” )
It is often said, “If a couple is in conflict, shared parenting will not work.” My research finds the opposite: the more the conflict, the more important it is for the child to see both parents about equally. There are three important reasons for this:
- When there's conflict between parents, children invariably feel it. Not just by overhearing negative comments, but also by seeing eye-rolling-type body language or feeling negative energy when the absent parent's name comes up. If a child sees little of a parent, that parent becomes a “straw parent”—a hollow image. Since the straw parent's genes are also half of the child's genes, that leads to the child experiencing half of her- or himself as a “straw child.” If that hollow image is also negative, it is reflected in the child's low self-esteem. Fortunately, when the child sees that parent more, the child is more likely to understand that parent better, and the child feels more secure with both the parent and the part of her- or himself that is like the parent. (Obviously, if the absent parent is highly abusive, this approach is not viable.)
- Conflict leaves the child vulnerable to feeling abandoned. Seeing little of either parent reinforces this insecurity.
- Finally, a system that says, “If the couple can't get along in court how are they going to get along enough to share the children?” creates an incentive for the mom to initiate conflict. Why the mom? The Mom Bias teaches mom that if she can create conflict, they are more likely than dad to be given custody of the children. This awareness creates an incentive for a mom who wants full custody to not co-operate with the dad. If the dad is a good earner and the mom is not career motivated, then this incentive to criticize dad to get the children may be as powerful for the mom as it would be for a political incumbent to criticize someone who wanted his or her job. Moms who are receiving money to care for the children often respond to father involvement as if the children are their job and dad were a threat to their job.
In brief, the more the conflict, the more important it is for the court to make it clear that the child will see both parents about equally, thus stabilizing what the parents would otherwise destabilize. A strong guarantee of shared parenting eliminates the incentive to deepen the conflict so that the mom can have the child; inhibits the development of a “straw parent” who morphs into a “straw child;” and soothes fears of abandonment.