GENDER BIAS KILLS CHILD?

By: Mace H. Greenfield

In or about September 2003, I read about a Long Island Father, Brian Ramirez, suing the Nassau County Child Protective Services (CPS) for failing to protect his daughter. One year after his ex-wife ran off with their daughter, Mr. Ramirez reported to CPS the whereabouts of his missing ex-wife, that she smoked marijuana, that she suffered from mental illness, and was a danger to their child. He also went to Family Court seeking assistance. CPS investigated Mr. Ramirez instead for allegedly disappearing (he is a conductor with the LIRR), and the Family Court gave him a Court date two months off in the future. The night before the Court date, the mother murdered their daughter and then committed suicide. In the article, Mr. Ramirez said that: “he was the victim of gender discrimination – because he is a man and the system favors women.”

The gender bias in our courts and system has greatly diminished in the last 12 years (the only time frame for which I have personal experience), but it is still there. I saw it 12 years ago as a litigant, and I still see it today as an attorney. Though few judges are as gender biased as they were 12 or more years ago, a few still are in both Family Court and Supreme Court. Agencies such as support collection and child protective services, to name a few, are as well gender biased. Even more than half of the law guardian’s (attorneys appointed to represent the interests of the children) are also gender biased. To know who the judges and law guardians are I refer to, just watch for the ones who seem offended by my statements. This is not just true of Nassau County, but Suffolk County, Queens County, Kings County and New York County as well (these are the only counties in this state for which I have experience to be able to comment).

A woman need only make an allegation of drugs, alcohol, risk of kidnapping, or violence against a father, and the father is stripped of his dignity and access to a child until he can clear his name. When such an allegation is made against a mother, it is rarely taken seriously, too often until it is too late. Such gender bias violates both the constitution and state law, and is just plain offensive.

I do admit that not all fathers are good fathers, but true as well is that not all mothers are good mothers. Equally true is that most fathers and most mothers are good parents, never had anything bad to say about the other’s parenting until they went to court for a divorce or custody (solely as a strategic play), and the children in most cases would grow up just as well with either one. To ensure only good faith allegations are made, and not for strategic purposes, sternly punish both mothers and fathers who make empty allegations without any basis and which are found to be false. To fully ensure a child’s best interest, a child needs both a mother and a father to be regularly active in his or her life, except for the few times a parent is actually a danger. To deny this, is to hide behind your own best interests and/or gender bias.

Every case must be viewed, considered and decided on its own individual merits and facts. The time for pre deciding matters and cases based on the gender of the parties never should have been, and must end now if we are to truly protect our children’s best interests, well being and safety. The time for taking serious only allegations made by mothers and not taking serious those made by fathers never should have been, and must end now if we are to truly protect our children’s best interests, well being and safety.