Hero of Fathers’ Rights?

Clark Rockefeller made headlines when he took his seven year old daughter in Boston on July 27 during his first supervised visitation with a social worker.  Rockefeller lost custody last December when the mother relocated to London for work.

Rockefeller turned himself in in Baltimore and now faces felony charges in Boston.

Some websites portray Rockefeller as a hero of fathers’ rights and are using his case to draw attention to problems with the family court system.

Dahlia Lithwick, writing at Slate.Com, recognizes these problems:

“Many good fathers will be downgraded from full-time dads to alternating-weekend-carpool dads. They will be asked to pay at least one-third of their salaries in child support for that privilege. Simple rules of modern life make it likely that an ex-wife will someday decide that a job or new husband demands a move to a faraway state. At which point the alternating-weekend-carpool dad is again demoted—to a Thanksgivings-if-you’re-lucky dad.”

But, she notes, that “lionizing Clark Rockefeller or other violent, lawless fathers will not promote fathers’ rights or fix the family-court system.”

She’s right.  The system is imperfect.  But until we come up with something better, it’s the best we’ve got.  As Rockefeller found out, taking the law into your own hands will not work.