Being a single parent is a challenge, made more difficult when the legal system seems unfair. That’s one of several reasons Beth Incorvaia, a licensed social worker, founded the Fathers Rights Organization (FRO) from her house in 2014. After watching her husband go through a particularly trying experience with his children from a prior relationship, “I was looking for something, some organization that could provide guidance, or help, or support, and there just wasn’t anything,” Incorvaia says. Channelling that frustration into something positive, she is intent on helping other dads navigate their way through a court system which often feels heavily stacked against them.
Behind the Gate
Incorvaia says that going through the custody process can be difficult, especially for men. “Dads feel that when they go in they’re behind the gate already. They already have one strike against them, because they’re a man.” With FRO, she has one mission in mind: “We are here to encourage and empower local dads, to help them stay supported, and make sure they are
included in their kids’ lives.”
She states directly that FRO does not offer legal advice though they do have a variety of resources available that help inform and equip clients for the courtroom. “We don’t want them to go in blind. We equip them to better handle the situation.” FRO also offers parenting classes, a neutral location for dropping off a child and picking them up, and supervision services for visitations between dads and children. Due to the high need, Incorvaia says that FRO’s ability to provide supervised visitations is very important as there is usually an extensive wait time, up to two months, at other locations.
A System of Bias
Located in the same office as FRO is Kuleana Counseling and Consulting, operated by Jessica Broz. A certified clinical trauma professional, Broz augments FRO’s services by providing emotional and mental therapy to many of her clients. “If people need the mental health care or counseling I take care of that.” She provides individual as well as family counseling, and the office
includes a meditation room.
Broz says that, through the support groups and parenting classes, she sees fathers gaining skills and confidence. “People leave here feeling better knowing that they’re not the only ones going through this. They see that they’re not alone, when often they felt they were. Knowing that there are people and resources they can call upon while going through this is the encouragement that they need.”
Broz reports that, in 2015, 80 percent of custodial parents were moms. “The system doesn’t do this purposefully, it’s the way it’s set up. Societally, we still have this bias, that the child needs the love and attention of their mother, but the father is just as important to that child. They need their mom, of course, but they also need their dad.”
An Active Presence
Incorvaia says that all the fathers coming to her have one very common trait— “They want to be good dads. They want to be present, they want to be involved. They want to be an active presence in their kid’s lives.” She says that, since starting in 2014, FRO has helped over 200 different dads.
For those fathers struggling with the system, and the pressure, Incorvaia has a familiar piece of advice. “Don’t give up. [You] can get mentally, spiritually, even financially drained, and walk away. Don’t walk away. We can help.”
Fathers Rights Organization and Kuleana
Counseling and Consulting, LLC
5330 Heatherdowns #205 | 419-214-2465 fathersrightsorganization.com