Advocate for fathers are mounting a ballot effort to repeal the state’s restraining order law, arguing that it has been overused and misapplied in a way that discriminates against men and breaks up families, report the State House News Service.
“The real world effect is that fathers, in particular, are instantly removed from their families. If they have children they are instantly removed from the lives of their children,” Joseph Ureneck, chairman of the Fatherhood Coalition, told the News Service. “The way that the law is written now, all that a person has to do is say, ‘I’m afraid of this person and I also don’t want this person to see our children,’ and they just check off a box. Many times there is no allegation that the father has done anything untoward to the children. It’s a horrible law in terms of breaking up families.”
An effort to place the repeal on the 2012 ballot would require supporters to mount a major signature drive throughout the fall. If Coakley certifies the language of the petition in September, proponents must then gather 68,911 signatures by mid-November. Then, if the Legislature opts against supporting their proposal or offering an alternative by May 2012, backers must gather another 11,485 signatures by July 2012, clearing the way to put the question on the ballot.