Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Are Alabama Fathers Really Ignored?

Greg Allen writes a blog entitled Daddy Types, everything the new father needs to know. According to Allen, he's generally ignored when his wife is present--something he's learned to live with.

Perhaps that's a situation Allen and others can find humor in, but what about legal situations, specifically those involving custody? Do Alabama judges still ignore the father when a mother is in the picture. According to many non-custodial fathers, this is the case.

Gary Lee Parker Jr. of Franklin County is one such father. Parker divorced his wife Lorrie Jane in 2004, at which time Lorrie was awarded custody of their only child. In 2006, Lorrie petitioned the court for permission to move to Huntsville where she ostensibly had a better job. In private, she told her ex-husband her principal reason for the move was to distance him from their daughter. Under the Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act, such moves are subject to approval by family court. Judge Terry Dempsey promptly approved Lorrie Jane Parker's request.

Gary Lee Parker then appealed Judge Dempsey's decision, only to have it upheld by the higher court. Gary Parker also requested custody in order to assure continuity in his daughter's education. This request was also denied, even after it was proved Lorrie Parker's salary in Huntsville would be less than her previous wages in Franklin County.

Is Lorrie Jane Parker a fitter parent than her ex-husband? In all probability, no. Did Judge Dempsey allow Lorrie Parker to retain custody of her daughter simply because she is female? In all probability, yes. That begs the question: Is the Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act administered fairly in Alabama? Unfortunately, there may not be a simple yes or no answer to this question.

There are no winners in divorces. We certainly don't envy family court judges who are required to make such life changing decisions on a daily basis. Yet judging from many of the e-mails we have received recounting legal quandaries extremely similar to Garry Lee Parker's, we suspect that Rodney Dangerfield isn't the only male who gets "no respect."

Note: We understand Crocodile Ed's in the former Emerald Coast building will be opening next week. Good seafood is hard to find in this area, and we encourage everyone to give them a try.