Volume 80, Number 7 | July 14 -21, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Fathers fight for the right to see their children

By Cynthia Romero

As Eric Nagy sat on a park bench recalling the custody battle for his 6-year-old son, the sounds of neighborhood children in a playground could be heard in the background. This made Nagy a little nostalgic, and he couldn’t help but smile. For two years, Nagy has been a leader in Fathers-4-Justice, a nonprofit organization that promotes the idea that children of divorce or separation “deserve the right to be raised equally by both parents.” Ultimately, it’s the children themselves who are most abused by America’s family court system, the group believes.

“I’ve been fighting for four years because my son has been through a lot of abuse,” said Nagy as he looked down. “I was approached by Donald Tenn — he owns the franchise and wanted to start a branch in the New York area — and I knew I had to be part of it.”

To an outsider, Nagy might appear to be an attorney. On his lap rested a plastic bag with dozens of court orders, letters and records of all sorts. Nagy sorted through them and laughed, joking that maybe he should pursue a career in the law.

“This is my way of keeping track of my son,” he said. “I can’t let anything slip because if I do, the court is very unforgiving. When you go into court, the judge asks you to present your case. Sometimes you get a good judge who sees the relevant facts. Other times the judge just doesn’t like you and you don’t get anywhere.”

Nagy refers to his knowledge of the court system as a “double-edged sword.”

“I go into court, completely aware of my rights and am completely respectful of the authorities, but I feel like I have everyone against me,” he admitted. “It takes a lot to pull myself back up and do it all over again.”

Nagy excitedly shuffled through his paperwork as he discussed his next project: a Fathers-4-Justice rally in Washington, D.C. High-profile direct action is a key part of the group’s approach.

“There are going to be so many members of Fathers-4-Justice in Washington this month and we are going to demand equality in the family court system,” he said. “Something just has to change.”

Contrary to popular belief, Fathers-4-Justice is not just for fathers. Nagy stressed that the organization has a strong following from mothers, grandparents and aunts and uncles across the country.

A calm demeanor came over Nagy as he spoke of his son.

“I don’t really have a lot of rights to my son; I only see him six days out of the month,” he said. “He’s just a really great kid who likes to play ball, draw and dance, he’s innocent.”

In the meantime, Nagy tries not to grow weary and looks forward to a day he doesn’t have to go through the court to see his son.

“I’m going to keep fighting until I have my son back,” he said. “There isn’t any other way about it, no matter how long it takes.”

For more information about Fathers-4-Justice, visit http://www.f4j.us/ .


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