Introduction of TFRM Legislative Managers:
How our new role will fulfill the TFRM Mission

Our lives are flipped upside down. If you are reading this post, you are most likely in the throes of a winner-take-all family court system or you are already a victim. By extension, your children are victims as well. This surreal world does not seem recognizable. To many experienced noncustodial parents, this surreal world is an absurd normal. But it is not normal.

For the Fathers’ Rights Movement, our mission includes bringing the community of fathers together as a unified social force aimed at restoring society’s ideal of the father and strengthening the connection each father has to their children.

Let’s break that down.

The “community of fathers” is not gender specific. Of course, this community involves fathers, grandfathers, and sons. However, this community also includes women that support fathers and the unique concept of fatherhood. These women might be the significant other of the father, the grandmother to her son’s children, or the child of a noncustodial father. This community also includes noncustodial mothers. They suffer the trauma the same as fathers. Only together, we are “a unified social force.”

“… Restoring society’s ideal of the father…” is a seemingly insurmountable challenge. The social construct of the deadbeat, abusive dad is persistent in our culture. This point of view permeates family courts. Disinterest parties of the family court such as judges, lawyers, GAL’s, court psychologist, court investigators, court mediators, and social welfare workers all contribute to the fatherless epidemic. Their ulterior motive is simply money with the “Child’s Best Interest” as a ruse to justify their actions. After all, it is their job. But, we know this.

As a community, how do we change this and work on “strengthening the connection each father has to their children?” Well… how do family courts work? They work within the framework of the law. That is why it is a futile effort to remove “corrupt and biased” judges. In the end, you replace one judge with a like-minded judge. Because they are bound to the law, we must accept the heavy mantle of legislative change. It is incumbent on us, as a community of fathers, to restore society’s perception of the father and reestablish that father-child connection for the sake of our children. After all, we do what we do for our children… not us.

The greatest fundamental legislative change resides in these few words: the rebuttable presumption of 50/50 shared physical custody. I am not a lawyer but I understand words matter in the legal world. Subtle words such as may, shall, must, will, substantial, and pursuant make or break good legislation. The word presumption is a very powerful word as well. In a criminal court, Due Process dictates that a person accused of a crime is presumed innocent. In family court, the presumption of shared custody diminishes the judge’s discretion automatically as the presumption of innocence in a criminal court. Many states offer shared custody as a 30/70 split of parenting time as common practice. This custody order is commonly called shared legal custody whereas one parent is designated as the custodial parent and the other as noncustodial parent. This is NOT the same as shared physical custody. Whether through co-parenting or parallel parenting, children spend half of their time physically with each parent… a concept many social science researchers, psychologists, and some lawyers as in the best interest of the child. Out of any language presented in a shared parenting bill, the rebuttable presumption of 50/50 shared physical custody must be the primary goal in any piece of legislation.

It is my fervent belief that success can be achieved through two main efforts: community outreach to stoke political activism and a coalition of like-minded organizations through relationship development and maintenance. This enables our community of fathers to mobilize and actively advocate for parental rights… which is a human rights and social justice issue.

I have been with the Fathers’ Rights Movement since October 2016. I have volunteered as a Facebook Editor and Chapter Lead in the Alaska TFRM, interim Regional Manager for the now defunct West Region TFRM, and now, as the Legislative Manager for TFRM. I have authored two bills currently introduced in Alaska and New York. I have spent an entire 24-year career in the Army under the false social construct about fathers and paid the price through parental alienation, psychological and emotional abuse, and biased courts. After I retired from the Army, I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies with a double minor in Political Science and History. I was fortunate enough to use the pursuit of my degree as a vehicle to research parental custody issues, public policy, and case law. This pursuit is motivated by my children.

As the Assistant Legislative Manager, Frank Hand hails from New York. Frank has been with TFRM just over a year and is a graduate of Marist College with a Certificate in Leadership and Paralegal Studies. He has a degree in Business Management and an Advanced Placement Degree in Culinary Art from the New England Culinary Institute. He has over 22 years in the hospitality industry. He has since decided to focus on studying law and changing legislation since his children were alienated from him at very young ages. He wants to dedicate his studies and future to help ensure no other father has to endure what he has had to endure like so many.

Frank and I are here to help you analyze public policy, advise chapters on legislative activism and the legislative process, coordinate advocacy work with other nonprofits, inform the public on pertinent legislation, and help make your state the second state in the Union behind Kentucky for the rebuttable presumption of 50/50 shared physical custody. If you are dedicated and patient to legislative change, we are here to help but you must accept responsibility for implementing legislative strategies. We cannot do this alone. We need your help.

If you want to check to see if your state has shared parenting legislation, go to Legiscan at https://legiscan.com/.

David Vesper, Legislative Manager, dvesper@tfrm.us

Frank Hand, Assistant Manager, fhand@tfrm.us