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Fathering Court Helps Ex-Cons Connect with Kids

Posted Jun 20, 2012 6:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Washington, D.C., program known as Fathering Court encourages ex-cons to reconnect with their children.

The program is operated by the District’s superior court with help from a network of agencies, including the Child Support Services Division and the Department of Employment Services, according to a Washington Post column. The story says the court has helped 55 ex-offenders establish “an impressive track record as responsible fathers.”

“Remarkably, an ex-offender in Fathering Court is likely to be treated with more sympathy than a law-abiding dad in a traditional family court,” the column says. “Disputes in divorce cases are typically settled in favor of the mother, while the father is reduced to being little more than an ATM for child support payments.”

The story reports on a recent hearing in Fathering Court. The father, who had been imprisoned for dealing drugs, complained the child’s mother was not allowing an unsupervised visit while his own mother was in town for a visit from China.

In response to concerns by the child’s mother about missed child support payments, Judge Milton Lee Jr. pointed out that the father had been rehired at his construction job. The judge also reminded them that, at one point, they were “getting along famously.”

The mother dismissed the former relationship as “puppy love,” but allowed the visit.

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