Fathers Rights Activist: I Only Hit My Wife In Self-Defense

Back in November 2004, the BBC aired a program alleging that some members of British fathers rights group Fathers 4 Justice had been denied access to their children in part because they had a history of violence against their former spouses. At that time, Fathers 4 Justice founder Matthew O’Connor complained that the BBC’s Fiona Bruce had an axe to grind against the group because of her support of a domestic violence initiative.

In the first week of January, however, Fathers 4 Justice founder Matthew Mudge admitted that he was convicted in 1998 of two charges of assault against his wife, but added the he only hit his wife in self-defense.

Mudge has been the very high-profile spokesman of Fathers 4 Justice, which has pulled off a number of publicity stunts over the past couple years including throwing flour on Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mudge has talked about his own efforts to have access to his children following his divorce.

Of his assaults on his wife, one of which left her unconscious, the Western Mail reported,

Mr. Mudge told the court [in 1998] that after an Army party his wife accused him of looking at other women and would not stop hitting him. He told the court, “I had to defend myself. I hit her eight or nine times on her right arm to try to give her a dead arm to stop her.”

“Then she ran a bath and I only forced the door because she wasn’t answering me and I was concerned. She started hitting me again, I slapped her and she slumped to the floor.

You can almost see the credibility escaping Mudge’s body like a deflating balloon.


Welsh activist assaulted wife. Martin Shipton, ic Wales, January 5, 2005.

I hit my wife in self-defence, says fathers’ rights activist. Martin Shipton, Western Mail, January 5, 2005.

Avoid Deadbeat Parent Problems by Enforcing Visitation Orders/Joint Physical Custody

The Christian Science Monitor’s Marilyn Gardner wrote an interesting article about ‘deadbeat’ dads that acknowledged the problem with parents failing to pay child support but balanced it with a look at the obstacles that stand in the way of noncustodial fathers and mothers.

One of the interesting statistics Gardner cites is how the likelihood of a parent failing to pay child support increases when the noncustodial parent’s ability to visit the child is cut off by the custodial parent. Gardner writes,

Some fathers want an end to what appears to be a double standard in the legal system.

“They throw fathers in jail for not paying support,” [Fathers’ Rights Foundation founder Ronald] Isaacs said. “But they don’t throw mothers in jail for denying visitation. If the courts would enforce visitation orders with the same vigor that they enforce child support, they would get a lot more money than they do by going after these few people.”

As Gardner notes, custodial parents sometimes have what they believe are very good reasons to violate court-ordered visitation. But those sorts of issues should be addressed by independent mediators and/or the courts, not the custodial parent. Courts should enforce visitation orders just as they enforce child support and other orders.

Going even further, courts should have a presumption of joint physical custody. Joint legal custody is already common, and several states have a presumption of joint legal custody. With joint physical custody, the child spends time living with both parents on an agreed upon schedule, typically with the child residing with one parent 70 percent of the time and with the other parent 30 percent of the time (50/50 arrangements are also common). This keeps both parents active in the life of the children.

Now obviously there are many circumstances in which joint physical custody is simply not possible or feasible, but courts should presume joint physical custody unless and until circumstances of the individual case suggest that a different arrangement would be better for the children involved.


Making ‘deadbeat’ parents a thing of the past. Marilyn Gardner, Christian Science Monitor, August 28, 2002.

If You Disagree with Rob Okun, You’re Not a Good Father

Some feminists and feminist organizations have had a long standing animosity to the Father’s Rights movements, culminating with National Organization for Women‘s 1996 press release claiming the movement was “using the abuse of power in order to control in the same fashion as do batterers.” That animosity was on full display recently in an article penned by Rob Okun and published by Women’s eNews.

After a lengthy look at the role of father’s in family life — which Okun claims can be “a force for great good in family relations and child rearing, or a force of hostility and estrangement” — Okun informs his readers that father’s need support and a fair shake from the courts unless they are in any way involved in the Father’s Rights movement. In that case, all bets are off. Okun writes,

Many such fathers see their children’s mothers as actively trying to deny them access to their children, and more than few get involved in what are often called “fathers’ rights” groups. It’s not uncommon to see handfuls of men with signs advocating the rights of dads picketing in front of family courts in many states in most sections of the country.

Nonviolent fathers deserve support as they look for a fair shake in custody cases in which they have legitimate claims. But others have forfeited any such claims for support if they intimidate their children’s mothers, harass the court or affiliate themselves with groups more interested in fueling conflict than in maintaining the well-being of their children.

Presumably, Women’s eNews would not run an article from a conservative suggesting that women who spend their time picketing at NOW-sponsored events are bad mothers who have forfeited any claims for support, but it had no problem giving Okun’s article the headline, “Involved fathers care for kids, not picket courts.”

Right, and a woman’s place is at home caring for children, not in the work place.


Involved fathers care for kids, not picket courts. Rob Okun, WEnews, October 31, 2001.