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(USA) Dancers lead fight for fathers' rights

A creative way to draw attention to the plight of separated Dads and their children.

Here's a novel and creative way to draw attention to the biased and unfair outcomes experienced by all too many separated fathers:

Morning Sun (Mt. Pleasant, MI, USA)
3 October 2007

Dancers lead fight for fathers' rights
By Susan Field, Clare Managing Editor

Rodney Loonsfoot of Mount Pleasant dances along Main Street in front of the Isabella County Court House to advocate for fathers' rights in Michigan. Loonsfoot said that he is tired of the standard practice of mothers being awarded full custody when the father is an equally fit parent.

Dawn Thomas has been fighting a battle on behalf of her son and grandson for two years.

Derek Bailey of Traverse City has been fighting to see his children since a court referee allowed his ex-girlfriend to move with them to Alberta.

Bailey, the founder of Dance4Equality, Thomas and others were across the street from the Isabella County courthouse Tuesday, bringing awareness to their plight.

Members of the group bring the issue to light through traditional Native dance.

Bailey, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, was living in Mt. Pleasant when his ex-girlfriend moved the children to Canada with the court's permission, according to his aunt, Maren Bailey.

Members of the group use the traditional dances to bring attention to their cause, which asserts that mothers get preference over fathers in too many divorce situations.

What Thomas, the Baileys and others want people to be aware of is the alleged "inequality" in rights between mothers and fathers.

Derek Bailey founded Dance4Equality to promote advocacy for awareness and change.

Thomas said the issue is not just statewide but national.

The system, Thomas said, is biased toward women and is harming children by separating them from their fathers.

Derek Bailey believes that the best way to protect children from the stresses of divorce or separation of parents is to ensure a strong relationship with both parents, when both are fit.

While Thomas said her son filed for custody of his son, the court ruled that he could only have visitation six nights a month, and only if the visits did not interfere with the boy's mother's schedule.

Thomas said the system enables manipulative women to use their children against their fathers.

While Thomas and others put the blame on the friend of the court, that is misdirected, one Isabella County official said.

Greg Fogle, assistant friend of the court, said his department is responsible for enforcing court orders, not to investigate claims of neglect or abuse.

In those cases, Fogle said, the Michigan Department of Human Services investigates and makes recommendations to the court.

Charges of neglect must carry proof for courts to order changes in custody, Fogle said, and courts are leaning toward joint physical custody when possible.

Despite what Maren Bailey and Thomas say, Fogle said there are avenues a father can take when he believes he is not being treated fairly.

"There are procedures to hold custodial parents accountable," Fogle said.

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