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I would like to sue the state of Tennessee in FEDERAL court for violating my FEDERAL Constitutional rights in family court.

Nashville, TN |

I am a FATHER, and this is regarding state family law regarding divorce. My Federal Constitutional 14th Amendment right to 'equal protection under the law' has been completely violated by Tennessee's laws regarding family law (divorce). I do not want to sue for money. I want to sue in Federal court to have one or more of Tennessee's laws deemed UNconstitutional by the Federal court system. We have a Federal court in Nashville, TN where I am located. As you are keenly aware, regarding family law (divorce) Father's and children's Constitutional rights are violated by state laws DAILY across the U.S.. ALL family members should be treated EQUALLY under the law. Women are shown favoritism. Can I do this and does anyone know of anyone who COULD DO THIS for me here in Nashville, TN?Thx

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Attorney answers 5

Best Answer
Posted

Hello,

You should type National Family Civil Rights Center in Google.

In your own words--What was done to you that was different than the way someone else would be treated if similarly situated?

I am licensed to practise law in the U.S. Supreme Court. I am also an Attorney in good standing with the federal district courts in Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. With my 35 years of experience in federal court, I have a high likelihood of getting special permission to represent a Client in a federal court in TN. As a matter of fact, I am in TN right now-Germantown (near Memphis).

It is very important that you do not miss the short time periods for an appeal of right. I am not a TN Attorney--just Michigan and federal courts.

Call me for a conference at no charge (810) 955-5148.

The NFCRC has a means test to determine if the family member qualifies for free legal representation.

Based upon the facts as you have stated them, you may have a cause of action in federal court under the exception to the general rule that federal courts do not address domestic relations issues. There would need to be a violation of a Constitutional Right. For example, if the trial court let an expert witness say what someone else has said without the right to cross examination, this could be a violation of due process of law and thus fit under the exception. There is a split in the U.S. Circuit Courts on this issue.

My long time Friend Ben Ashmore has the above case and it has reached the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. It looked like cert. would be granted by the Suprement Court of the United States (SCOTUS for short). Ben's work phone number is (201) 891-1635.

Sincerely,
Douglas J. Callahan
Attorney at Law

Asker

Posted

Mr. Callahan - thanks very much for the information - I checked out the web site and it appears that the National Family Civil Rights Center is "on target" for my type of situation - I am in touch with your associate Ben Ashmore. Thanks very much!

Posted

You would need more than a general allegation of unfairness. Any other details?

Andrew M. Bonderud, Esq. is an attorney with The Bonderud Law Firm, P.A. He offers free consultations 24/7. Andrew's posting here is not to be considered legal advice nor does an attorney-client relationship exist.

Asker

Posted

Hi Andrew - yes, this is more than simple unfairness. My specific scenario: wife relocated from Nashville TN to Columbus OH - TN state law has no provision for equal protection/honoring the 14th Amendment - I get 95 days with children - mother who destroyed our family gets 270 days with children - this is a clear violation of my and my children's Constitutional 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law - further, our rights have been violated by TN family court/laws also in previous divorce proceedings in which the same occurred - mother got vast majority of time with children (about the same as current situation) and I and children got the crumbs - I am very serious about this - I want to have TN state law(s) deemed UNconstitutional by Federal court. It would be nice to recover ALL monies I have paid out due to TN's violation of my rights. Divorce is a protected, multi-billion dollar per year cottage industry in the U.S., and TN has cost me a lot of money due to the blatant Constitutional rights violations of myself and my children.

Andrew Michael Bonderud

Andrew Michael Bonderud

Posted

I would be willing to speak with you about this. Andrew M. Bonderud, Esq. The Bonderud Law Firm, P.A. Office: 904-438-8082 Free Consultations - 24/7

Posted

Couple thoughts:
No facts in your post indicate you have any grounds to sue--certainly no Constitutional grounds.

Getting the short end of the stick is NOT sufficient grounds to challenge a court decision. You need LOTS more than that.

You can expect significant costs (up front) in such an action.

If you are looking to consult with a Civil Rights attorney recommend you contact your state bar association and ask for a referral or try the avvo 'find a lawyer' tab to locate one near you.

I wish you the best of luck.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. His answers to any Avvo question are rooted in general legal principles--NOT your specific state laws. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

Asker

Posted

Rixon - thanks for your feedback - as stated in previous comment: Yes, this is more than simple unfairness. My specific scenario: wife relocated from Nashville TN to Columbus OH - TN state law has no provision for equal protection/honoring the 14th Amendment - I get 95 days with children - mother who destroyed our family gets 270 days with children - this is a clear violation of my and my children's Constitutional 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law - further, our rights have been violated by TN family court/laws also in previous divorce proceedings in which the same occurred - mother got vast majority of time with children (about the same as current situation) and I and children got the crumbs - I am very serious about this - I want to have TN state law(s) deemed UNconstitutional by Federal court. It would be nice to recover ALL monies I have paid out due to TN's violation of my rights. Divorce is a protected, multi-billion dollar per year cottage industry in the U.S., and TN has cost me a lot of money due to the blatant Constitutional rights violations of myself and my children.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

I am NOT familiar with your state's Constitution, but I do know that they do not need a state law regarding the 14th Amendment because the 14th amendment applies direclty to the states in prohibiting denial or EP under the law. Sorry to report that NOTHING you posted implicates the EP clause--as I stated earlier, the short end of the stick (95 days-270 days) is NOT clear violation of anything. Recommend you meet with a local civil rights attorney. These concepts of EP are NOT easy to understand and you might benefit from a more indepth discussion of the law as it applies to your case. FWIW, equal protection does not mean 50-50 split in results. It means that state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances and in most cases the gravaman is race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation etc.

Asker

Posted

Rixon - I appreciate your feedback - the Federal 14th Amendment is very clear - equal protection means equal protection - which means the states do NOT treat state citizens differently - this is logically a very easy to understand concept - I should have been treated EQUALLY by TN and thereby should have received 182.5 days with my children - I do not understand why all across this country people do not understand this simple yet CRITICAL concept. EQUAL means EQUAL. EQUAL doesn't mean UNEQUAL. EQUAL treatment means EQUAL treatment, which means states do not treat citizens UNEQUALLY as in my case and countless other cases involving family law. Further, if states would simply honor the 14th Amendment, the divorce rate across this country would not be close to 60% as it is right now, because as it currently is in about 45 out of 50 states, states show prejudice and discrimination toward Fathers (GENDER DISCRIMINATION) and show favoritism toward mothers. In the few states that honor the 14th Amendment, the few hand-full of states that have 'presumptive equality' for divorces, the divorce rate is lower than the rest of the U.S.. Because of the prejudice and discrimination shown toward Fathers, and the favoritism shown toward mothers, states are actually FUELING the destruction of the American family, because they are creating a financial INCENTIVE PLAN for women to destroy their families. This happens EVERY SINGLE DAY in this country. Trust me, I am not ranting and raving. These are FACTS that I speak of. States thusly are getting away with violating states' citizen's Constitutional 14th Amendment rights on a daily basis. Divorce attorneys stay rich, while the American family gets destroyed at a rate nearing 60%. This is what I'm talking about. It happened to ME. It happens on a DAILY basis in family courts across this country. States do not adhere to the Federal 14th Amendment. I want to sue TN in FEDERAL court here in Nashville to deem family law, specifically in my case, as UNconstitutional, because that is exactly what TN's family laws are - UNconstitutional - TN treats men and women very differently, NOT equally.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

Sorry to say your 'legal analysis' and your purported 'facts' are incorrect. I see now why you are so upset--you do not understand the legal domain--which is perfectly normal--in addition you appear unwilling to listen and that may be the crux of the problem. I can only recommend you get with that civil rights attorney ASAP and I do wish you the best of luck.

Asker

Posted

From Vance Davis..."Maybe you need to hear it from an attorney who is an expert in civil rights and constitutional law" I think that's the breakdown. What I was hoping to do here on avvo was reach an attorney who is well versed in Constitutional matters. Again, I am not trying to seek financial gain, but rather have the Federal court system make a ruling regarding this matter. I believe in equal protection under state law per the 14th Amendment. Equal protection means equal protection, which means parties especially in sensitive family matters, American citizens should be treated equally under the law. Equally under the law means exactly that, nothing more, nothing less. I as countless Fathers have experienced through the corrupt family court system in states across the U.S., are treated exceedingly UNequally under state laws . This is a clear violation of the Federal 14th Amendment. If you disagree with what I have just stated, then you have a right to your opinion just as I do. Again, I am not trying to argue. I am trying to find the answer to my question, which I still do not have. Hence, avvo.

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Rixon Charles Rafter III

Posted

OK. I appreciate that you are not arguing, but you also are not tryning to find the answer, you are trying to find the answer you want to hear. As to your desire for a Constitutional Law Expert [setting aside for a moment that every lawyer is by definition an expert on the type of Constitutional Law your post raises] your post MAY or MAY NOT be seen by a lawyer who practices only in Constitutional matters. I return to my first post--call around and find a Constitutional lawyer near you and go have a consultation--face to face.

Posted

Consult with a civil rights attorney if you really want to proceed with this proposed suit, however I think you should take a step back here. From the comments as well as the question, I see no constitutional argument here and yes, TN like every other state must abide by the equal protection clause. I think the negative response you are getting to your question is indicative of a weak claim and should give you pause. Arguing with the attorneys who are trying to give you a response is not useful. What is useful is to understand that IF you have a claim, then this likely isn't the way that you want to proceed. When three lawyers from diverse backgrounds all say in some way "I see no constitutional violation" that tells you that your child custody case is just that...a child custody case and not something where you are likely to have much luck suing a state government or its judiciary. If you think you got a bad result in a civil custody case, then just see what suing the State of Tennessee does for you because unlike your spouse, the state will have platoons of lawyers to defend and counter your every argument. A judge might very well hit you with a finding that you filed a frivolous suit and make you pay the state for bringing the suit without a good legal basis.

Again, I don't want to be overly critical but you need to accept the response and reception that your question has received here. Maybe you need to hear it from an attorney who is an expert in civil rights and constitutional law and if so, then by all means, consult with an attorney in that field. But I think the responses you have already received accurately state the law applicable to your question.

It is impossible to give specific answers to questions without meeting and fully discussing all of the potential issues that may not be addressed by your question. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information and are not legal advice. Only after a thorough personal consultation could specific legal advice be given. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. To enter such a relationship you and I would need to consult in person and form a mutually agreeable written contract of engagement. The answer(s) provided in this forum is intended to educate you and point to issues for you to raise in a consultation with a lawyer of your choosing who is appropriately competent in the field of law that your question concerns and who is duly licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where you live and/or where the events giving rise to your question occurred. You should not take any action that might affect your claim(s) without first seeking the professional opinion of a licensed attorney. There are often strict deadlines for filing suit, responding to a suit or making an appeal and you need to personally consult with an attorney to make sure that you understand and meet those deadlines.

Asker

Posted

From Vance Davis..."Maybe you need to hear it from an attorney who is an expert in civil rights and constitutional law" I think that's the breakdown. What I was hoping to do here on avvo was reach an attorney who is well versed in Constitutional matters. Again, I am not trying to seek financial gain, but rather have the Federal court system make a ruling regarding this matter. I believe in equal protection under state law per the 14th Amendment. Equal protection means equal protection, which means parties especially in sensitive family matters, American citizens should be treated equally under the law. Equally under the law means exactly that, nothing more, nothing less. I as countless Fathers have experienced through the corrupt family court system in states across the U.S., are treated exceedingly UNequally under state laws . This is a clear violation of the Federal 14th Amendment. If you disagree with what I have just stated, then you have a right to your opinion just as I do. Again, I am not trying to argue. I am trying to find the answer to my question, which I still do not have. Hence, avvo.

Arnold Garson Cohen

Arnold Garson Cohen

Posted

Even assuming that you can locate a lawyer to take this case, you will find it very costly. Most lawyers will not take a case simply because the prospective client wants to establish a principle. Clients tend to lose interest in the principle as the amount of legal fees increases. Lawyers and courts are much better suited to dealing with monetary damages and actual harm than principles by which to live although sometimes they address that also. In this case you appear to be objecting to how a particular court fashioned the judgment in your divorce. Courts have great latitude in divorce and custody cases to fashion judgments to the particular circumstances of each case. And typically each case is different from most other cases. Unless you can carry the burden of proving inequality in repetitive circumstances that do not significantly differ from case to case, you are whistling in the wind. You would likely need at least one expert witness [paid at your cost] to aid your lawyer whose fees would be your responsibility. If you persist in your effort, I wish you the very best of good fortune.

Asker

Posted

Mr. Cohen, I appreciate your feedback. What I am trying to do is go after state law, having the federal court system weigh in on the Constitutionality of TN state law, specifically TN family law. This concept is far behind the simple notion that I have been dealt with unfairly or do not agree with the judge. The American family is being destroyed at a rate of around 60%, and this is due to many reasons, but when state laws across this country do not honor the foundational principles and mandates of the United States Constitution, and treat family members 'differently' (i.e. favoritism toward mothers and prejudice and discrimination toward Fathers), what states are doing is illegal - states are getting away on a daily basis of dishonoring our Constitution, bringing 'disgrace' upon themselves, and fueling the destruction of the American family by creating an incentive plan for women to have an easy and "all expenses paid" avenue for destroying their family. States are essentially "promoting" divorce in our society. Divorce is a multi-billion dollar cottage industry in the U.S. Bar associations across the country vehemently protect this industry, versus having a notion or clue about Constitutional rights of citizens. If state laws across this country honored the mandates of our federal Constitution, women would think twice before destroying their families, as they are then aware that they will "not" be shown partiality by the family court system.

Asker

Posted

Women will know that they no longer have a "golden goose egg" freely given to them by state law and the family court system which equates to blatant favoritism by the state. The federal mandate of equal protection would be a deterrent to those women who want a quick way to destroy their family, just as women are now given the freedom to murder their unborn if they so choose. The concept is the same. When you give human beings an easy way out of a major responsibility, human nature takes over and humans take the path of least resistance. The lives of over one million unborn American citizens are ended by women who want the easy way out versus accepting their responsibility to protect the lives of the children they have conceived, lives which should be protected by the Constitution as being American citizens , whether born or unborn. I digress, yet the principle is the same as mentioned earlier. I speak the truth. This is not opinion. It is a fact that I was not treated with equal protection under TN state law. It is a fact that the mother has been given all priority, partiality and favoritism in my cases with the family court system in TN. This is blatant injustice toward myself as a Father, and also toward my children who are also American citizens. Again, I appreciate your feedback. I am a fellow TN citizen in Nashville. I speak on behalf of ALL Fathers who have been shown discrimination by the TN family court system, instead of "equal protection" as mandated by America's Constitution. My family is one of the oldest families of TN, our family having been in TN for about 250 years now. Again, I appreciate your feedback. Likewise, all the best to you.

Asker

Posted

Spellcheck correction: (in opening paragraph) should read: This concept is far "beyond" the simple notion that I have been dealt with unfairly or do not agree with the judge.

Asker

Posted

In honor of God and today being Sunday: Psalms 33:5 He loves righteousness and justice; Proverbs 29:7 A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. Leviticus 19:15 You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. Isaiah 61:8 For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Isaiah 10:1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!

Arnold Garson Cohen

Arnold Garson Cohen

Posted

Good luck. To make your case you will need to prove specific circumstances adversely affecting you that violate the Constitution. I recommend that you write out your case in specifics for your lawyer and not for this public forum for which there is no privilege of confidentiality. Pay attention to the comments of the other lawyers.

Posted

I've read through your comments in response to other attorneys and have only a few specific points to contribute:

1. "Equal protection" does not mean "equal treatment," as you seem to have been told. It means "equal treatment" unless there is a legitimate reason for different treatment. All of law in every practice area essentially turns on the challenge of making a principled identification and assessment of circumstances that justify or require different treatment.

2. Children are not property. They can't be divided equally See, e.g., Solomon's great Biblical moment. No federal or state court in the country will treat seriously any suit that is based on a contention that the best interests of the children -- as determined by a legally-qualified fact-finder in a valid and reliable fact-finding process -- must be subordinated to the principle of parental "share and share alike." That works for the proceeds of the sale of the family home. It does not work for the custody of little human beings. To win in custody matters you have to convince the designated fact-finder that you are the best suited to meet the needs of the kids. Ever it has been; ever it shall be in our culture.

No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your opinion. Equal protection when applied to real life does equate to treating everyone the "same". That means that you do not show prejudice toward Fathers, and conversely favoritism as is practiced by most states in the U.S.. Your point number 2 is illogical. The point is not to divide human beings physically, but the time that children of divorce have with BOTH their Father AND mother is critical. As you are keenly aware of the injustice toward Fathers in the family court system across this country, I am sure you will agree that children of divorce need BOTH parents EQUALLY. I am one of countless victims of the family court system in TN. Ask Alec Baldwin how he feels after going through similar treatment in CA. He wrote a book about it. The principles I bring up are accurate and are common sense. States treat their citizens DIFFERENTLY, not EQUALLY, and get away with it because a citizen cannot sue a state government directly. I as a parent and a Father deserve, based on the foundation of this country, liberty, justice, and to be treated EQUALLY, referring to, but not limited to, the 14th Amendment. Read this appeal as an example of the points Iam making http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opncavtx/2260963.txt Judge Norman Moon hits it out of the park, nailing the facts which I am describing. I demand to be treated equally, as a citizen of TN, but foremostly, as a citizen of America. REALITY CHECK: America's divorce rate approaches 60%, not 50%. The family court system, by showing favoritism toward mothers, HARMS SOCIETY by created an incentive plan for women to divorce their husbands. State governments essentially fuel the fire of divorce by creating an incentive plan for women to destroy their families. Bar associations across the country FIGHT VEHEMENTLY to protect the multi-billion dollar cottage industry of divorce.

Asker

Posted

continuing... I saw this firsthand a couple of years ago when I was involved in trying pass a bill for PRESUMPTIVE EQUALITY for parents. The Tennessee Bar Association was right there, front and center, at the subcomittee hearings stating that they did not feel EQUAL time with both parents was in the best interest of children. UNBELIEVABLE. But at the same time, it is completely believable and realistic, because the TBA doesn't give a rat's ass about the best interest of children. The TBA cares about protecting the millions of dollars that TN divorce attorneys rake in every year, preying upon the ignorant public, especially Fathers, of the ensuing hell they are about to embark into. Read the case I referred to. You have your opinion, of which I wholeheartedly disagree. I have two real children that have suffered tremendously emotionally due to TN violating my and their Constitutional right to equal protection under state law. A very simple and TRUE point: if ALL states in the U.S. honored and abided by the mandates of the U.S. Constitution, America would be a lot better country in which to live from almost unlimited angles of logic and reason. Presumptive equality regarding time that children have with both parents actually DECREASES the divorce rate. For just a single link of many, read this: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/10/16/equal_access_to_children_after_a_divorce/ I am not even delving into the many problems that children of divorce have to go through without their Father in their lives which includes significant increases in suicide, teenage pregnancy, drug use, etc. Read this if you care: http://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/ Not all parents are perfect - that is true. In cases where parents are not "fit" in various areas, their privileges DO NEED to be reduced, just as a criminal loses his/her rights when he/she does not comply with law(s). But in the vast majority of family law cases where BOTH parents ARE FIT, both parents and children DESERVE equal protection under state law.

Asker

Posted

continuing.... The Constitution exists for many reasons. One of the main reasons is to protect American citizens from injustice(s) from the government, of which one of government's primary responsibilities is to protect the freedom, liberty, and justice for all America's citizens. Ever it has been, rarely if ever practiced by states.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

It's not clear why you are posting here when you plainly have all of the answers -- or at least all of the answers that you are willing to consider. So, good luck, with all of that. I'll keep one eye on the headlines for news of your results.

Asker

Posted

What's very clear is that I posted a question and only one attorney came close to providing real feedback. What I have primarily received are opinions, such as from yourself. What you will continue to read about and see in the news across America is how the American family is ceasing to exist, how childrens' best interest is completely denied by state governments, how child-Father relationships are destroyed, how children and Fathers pay a huge emotional toll due to the injustice of state laws. As well, good luck to you and your opinions.

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