After the Immolation of Sgt. Thomas Ball
By Elijah Ward,
The immolation of Sgt. Thomas Ball galvanizes fathers across New Hampshire and serves as a threshold event for the various players in the drama.
Before Thomas Ball‘s identity was disclosed, Fathers checked on each other. Everyone knew others who have been abused and humiliated by the family courts for years could have done such an act. Which father in New Hampshire hadn’t had his kids removed contrary to law for false allegations, his assets seized and transferred to the mother? Which father hadn’t been threatened with jail if he tried to fight for custody. It had happened to just about all. In fact, New Hampshire has one of the worst rates of joint custody in the country. In spite of a law that presumes joint custody for divorcing parents, mothers get custody of kids in 80% of cases and, when father decides to contest custody, the kids go to the mother 90% of the time.
Thomas Ball‘s immolation was the result of a decades-long policy of the New Hampshire courts of mother custody of kids. The laws are all designed for swift and efficient transfer of children and assets. No-fault divorce laws from the 1960s, which provide mothers with an easy exit from the sacred marriage contract for no reason. The Violence Against Women Act, that provides for federal and state monetary and other benefits to women just for the allegation of harm to them or the children. Funny, when you realize that the federal statistics show that mothers are four times as likely to kill their own children or twice as likely to kill their own children than fathers. Oh, and women are more likely to commit acts of domestic violence than men. So, legislation designed to protect the perpetrators of domestic violence and to provide them with monetary subsidies to make false reports. And then the public policy of the New Hampshire courts, and other state courts, which is designed “to protect” women further by given them automatic restraining orders by which they can eject their husbands out of their own homes and their possessions. The freezing of assets, bank accounts by courts to protect them for the mothers. And the issuance of child support orders based on non-existent income, in order to prevent the fathers from paying for an attorney to protect their interests in court. This is where Thomas Ball ended up. Allegations of abuse, which were adjudicated at law and not founded. The continued removal of his children, despite acquittal. The demanded and coerced payments, which kept him in poverty. What killed Thomas Ball was really not the fire, it was a system that had transferred power, authority, and assets to mothers to such an extreme that Thomas Ball had no real rights anymore, but only demands. Demands to stay away from his children, whom he had done no permanent harm, and demands to pay money he did not have.
Thomas Ball’s case was reported in the local paper, the Keene Sentinel, who described him as mentally suspect, disturbed. But who wouldn’t be. What was described as an unusual case, what in truth common, standard practice. The inevitable result of the policies of the New Hampshire divorce courts. And we all knew it. I knew it, because I had the same judge in the same court. Others knew it, because this is what family courts do: take children from fathers, then destroy the fathers as best as possible.
We each separately, then together, started fighting and winning in court. A supreme court victory. Legislators re-forming an ancient, two-hundred-year-old committee to restore judicial accountability, fathers running for office and winning, others going to law school to help other fathers, fathers running for office to change the law. A concerted effort to restore what had been lost, and which Thomas Ball brought into the light. So this is the story of who we are and what we did and how we are changing the system.