June 30

Lets Make It Criminal

"Canadian Criminal Law, Review" vols. 2-10

I know that the child support system has effectively made it criminal to not pay support, but lets dial things back. Child support is currently a right of a child, that the custodial parent is the legal custodian of the money. This system says that the non-custodial parent will spend at a minimum a certain amount of money in the name of the children, but has no say in how that money is spent. This is where we lie right now. A not small amount of the theory that lies under these laws is that men, the primary payers of child support, will not let their children go without things they can afford. So the system feels justified in taking as much as they can from the man and give it to the woman, knowing that the man will go to great lengths to be able to continue to care for their children.

As an example of this attitude in my case, I just had my CS more than doubled. I lost one day out of 14. I went from 7/14 days to 6/14. This put me back into the regular CS guidelines, and not the equal parenting time guidelines. With four kids that I expected to raise inside of my miserable marriage, this is a lot of money. If I were paying what I should be in taxes out of my paycheck, I would be paying more to my ex, than I receive in every pay check. As it is, it is a barely mentionable the difference in these numbers right now. Yes some of this is because of a loan on my retirement to pay off marital debt, but it still leaves me with very little every month. I told her I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for half the extra-curricular activities. She keeps trying to find ways to get me to revisit this decision. she has the spending power of someone who earns more than I earn, and I less than she earns. With my income alone, even with the loan, I can easily afford all the kids expenses including extra-curricular activities without any money coming from her.

Lets put aside all the arguments of how the child deserves the support of both parents. Lets stop pretending the system isn’t built on the principles of a man is required to be married to the mother of his children until his children are grown, even though she is not required to be married to him. The whole system needs to go. What is important is not the lifestyle of the children. It is not the money. It is, very simply are the children being cared for to a minimum standard. Let the parents figure it out on their own. Guarantee the simple rights that each parent and child deserve each other, and lets make sure that they are given time together. If a child isn’t being taken care of, then lets take it a criminal court. Charge the parents with neglect. Figure out if one parent or the other is at fault, or if both are at fault, and then divvy out consequences. We need to get rid of a system that says that one or both parents will fail to care for their children as the default stance. Most parents will do what it takes to take care of their children. CS says that one parent won’t do what it takes, so we are going to make them. The USA is not built on assumed failures of people. If parents don’t care for their children, then by all means punish them. To determine that because I make more money than the other guy, I am more obligated than him to my kids legally is not right. My kids rights are not to live the life I am capable of providing for them, but to live the life I do provide for them. There is no obligation of the other parent to spend every dollar given to her, so she retains economic autonomy.

With these high child support orders, the non-custodial parent loses all authority in their kids lives. They don’t have the means to supply directly for the kids, the things that their kids need. They are required to pay the other parent ot do these things. My children should be the beneficiaries of the lifestyle I lead, by they are not, because I have to pay the other parent, and she gets to improve her lifestyle, while I struggle. To all the mothers who want to chastise me for not wanting to pay for my kids, FUCK YOU. I have no problem paying for my kids. I don’t want to pay for my ex to pay for my kids. Fathers are being removed from their kids lives, so that mothers can live an easier life. I would happily clean the scraped knee and do the homework with them daily, but instead I get to pay someone who benefits from despising me to do those things in my stead.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

June 17

Beating A Dead Horse

beating a dead horse

I harp on this idea. Its fundamental to what is wrong with child custody in America, and probably throughout a large portion of the world. One parent is rewarded with for limiting access to the children by the other parent. Here are a few ways to that this could be fixed, and could be done quickly. For things to get better, these are cases where parents should be allowed to go back to court and get it fixed quickly once changes have been voted on. Yes the courts would be overwhelmed, but this kind of change could save a lot of kids from living their life estranged from their fathers.

To truly simplify things, child support should be clearly defined to cover certain things, and only those things. I should preface that I am talking about situations where the mother and father live in a reasonable proximity to split the duties of raising the kids. So in other words, your typical divorce. Not an abandonment case or other complexities that people like to talk so much about. Lets define child support to pay for education expenses, health and dental fixed cost, and basic needs. The basic needs might need to be spelled out, because some people think a cell phone, X-Box, and car are basic needs. It is not one parents job to support the other parent while they raise the kids. If it were, then they would be married, so in divorce or cases where the parents were never married, it is the responsibility of both parents to have enough income to support their household. Now this child support could go to either parent. Lets just say that it is divided proportionally, and that the lower earning parent pays the higher earning parent. I know this is backwards from what we do now, but it makes sense. The parent with more money coming in is more likely to be able to pay these required fees, even if they exceed the estimates. The parents should be required to keep track of the real costs, and pay the other parent the difference one way or the other every quarter. This is a business relationship after all, or that is what I keep being told at least. Actual medical and dental expenses should be split by the parents, and for fairness sake, I guess it should be done by proportions of income. All other expenses for the kids are negotiable. If you don’t agree, then the parent who wants to spend money on them should pay for them.

If in divorce it is determined that choices that were made by the parents for one to sacrifice career to be the caretaker of the kids, then alimony should be used. It should be time limited, and then it is a transfer of wealth that has tax consequences as it should. So if the ex is required to support the other persons household, it is done in a way that he/she can support it with lower taxes. This is the real world that the rest of us live under when we pay someone or get paid by someone. Again, this should be time limited. It should not go on infinitum. You are divorced, and thus you should be required to find a way to support yourself adequately. I would put a cap of 5 years from the date of the alimony order on this. This gives you time to get a bachelors degree if you think that is the way to go, and you don’t have one.

Now lets talk time. Since both parents are responsible for their own households now, then time share should be negotiable with a lot less spite. There is not money to be had by having more time with the kids. I truly believe that most parents can have this discussion with a lot less friction and animosity than when money is also on the table. Its cute to talk about these issues like money shouldn’t matter and will be worked out based on the time after its figured out, but no one separates the issues. I earn just shy of $100K/yr and after child support, I am expected to maintain a home for me and my 3 or 4 kids on less than $30K/yr. I cannot provide near the lifestyle that I should be able to, and constantly have to choose whether I do something with them or I enjoy a little of the lifestyle I should be able to provide them without them, knowing their mother has the means because of child support to provide what I should be able to provide directly. If child support were more limited, then I could do these things with my kids. I could appear to be the provider that I am for them. Fundamentally it there is going to be an imbalance in the households. That is the nature of comparing two different people. This isn’t a bad thing. The bad thing is the government, not hard work is determining which way the imbalance goes. I would have to nearly double my income to have the same spending power that she has. This is because my CS goes up as my income goes up. Even in the current system, CS orders should not be something that can be adjusted upward. People should be allowed to work to improve their lives. If I earn an additional $1000/month, I should see close to $700 after taxes, but I won’t. CS will take a good chunk of that, and I will be lucky to see $350. I work too hard to see so little. It is assumed that I would spend a certain percentage on my kids. I wouldn’t, or if I did it would be to do something with me.

I have heard stories from people that their mothers saved all the child support, and gave it to the kids when they were grown. This sounds noble, but the truth is that this is still taking money from one person against their will and giving it to another. Should the father support their children? Yes, they should. Should the father be compelled with the same force that the IRS has to collect taxes to support their children at a level that government has decided is proper? No, this is immoral, and goes against what the USA stands for. This is a clear reminder that we are no longer operating under the constitution. That the constitution of our country is simply a historical document that people talk about, but has no real power anymore.

The problem is everyone wants to talk about fair solutions. There aren’t any. Someone always has the advantage. The problem is the government is deciding who the winners and losers are. They aren’t the referees though, making sure that the rules are followed. They are effectively making marriage till the kids are grown financially. You can marry again, but the kids make it so the government can force you to work at a certain level until your kids are grown. As bad as simple divorce is, this makes it evil. No one should be enslaved to another. Slavery is antithetical to the US way of life. We fought multiple wars including our own civil war on this premise, but here we are imposing slavery on men just for having children. The majority of children would be well taken care of by one or both parents without this. The very few who would not should not create a rule that affects everyone. Fairness is a pipedream. It will never be found. It is better to allow the natural progression happen.

The other point I want to drive home, is this. Custody should be 50/50, unless the parents agree to something else, or there is some criminal finding that prevents that. The criminal finding should require that charges are pressed, and the the parent is found guilty. If measures are taken during the trial process to protect the kids, they should be reversed if the the parent isn’t found guilty. The family court is essentially labeling fathers as potential abusers and stripping them of their rights. The courts need to be pressed into accepting that all parties have rights, and no ones trumps the others. As it sits right now the kids’ rights trump all other rights. One parent is made the keeper or steward of those rights, and thus gets all the goodies that go along with that. Divorce creates an imperfect family. Pretending we can make it better with the right court orders is sick. Both parents should be given equal opportunity to raise the kids. Disney Land Dads are a side effect of fathers not having authority in their kids lives. CS transfers most authority to one parent, usually the mother. Ultimately she gets to make the decision by paying or not paying for certain things. For most of us dads in the middle class and lower, we don’t have the funds left after CS to fund what we think is important on our own, so the mother gets to decide. This means that mom is in charge, literally. This is the message that the kids get. This is profoundly unhealthy.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

June 9

To Fight the Fight, or Not

Clint Hester Finishes his Opponent at Wild Bills Fight Night

This question is one that I have struggled with. I have a real problem with the fairness of things, or more the unfairness. The system ultimately stands on these three principles. One, the children’s best interest is the underlying right that trumps all other rights. I have seen this through the process, and its is the giant hammer to smash all problems. Two, the mother is generally considered a better arbiter of the children’s best interest than anyone else involved, and the experts will back this up. Three, it is all actually about child support.

My first point is this. The children’t best interest is strong enough to strip everyone else of their rights. You may not know it, because it only becomes an issue in divorce and a few other more obscure child welfare type cases, but the children have a right to a portion of your income. That’s right, they don’t just have a right to the benefits that you bestow upon them as a parent, but a right to the actual income. This of course is child support. The child’s best interest determines whether a father or mother are allowed to be involved in the child’s life. Some might say this is right and correct. With what I have seen in the system, and I have seen a lot. I have adopted kids through foster care. The bar needs to be raised. The bar should require criminal negligence of some sort to remove kids from a parent. I am sorry, but children are raised in imperfect circumstances all the time all over the world, and guess what. Many of them grow up through those circumstances to be great leaders. You might even argue that they grow up to be great leaders because of those circumstances. Another right your children are bestowed, but you may not about is lifestyle. The kids have a right to maintain a certain lifestyle. Without divorce, you wouldn’t know this, because most kids don’t know how to advocate for themselves through the system, but the principle comes into play during divorce. One parent is deemed the keeper of the kids lifestyle, and thus they get all the benefits after divorce of maintaining that lifestyle, while the other parent is required to continue to fund a lifestyle they are not able to maintain for themselves. I read comments on blogs a lot, and the underlying argument used by many, is that we, NCPs (generally fathers), should be happy our children our being taken care of. The truth is, I expect no less. My children deserve to be taken care of. I am also fully capable of doing so. I am not only capable of doing so, but capable of doing so with my own income and resources all by myself. The system generally punishes the parent who can say that. The other parent will receive control of the kids, and get the benefits of the children’s lifestyle. In the name of the children’s best interest, one parent is chosen to outrank the other, and the other parent is quite literally indentured to the other parent until such time the children are considered legally emancipated from their parents. The court does so very pragmatically. They seem to be looking out for the children on the surface. The truth is the court is actually trying to limit whether or how often the parties return. When one parent is so substantially limited in their spending abilities and power over the children as an authority in their life, then it less likely that disputes will return to court. This is at least the theory that they operate on. The truth is that a few years after divorce the parenting time and arguments have usually subsided when both parents are granted equal access and control or authority in the children’s lives. This does not mean that each parent takes equal responsibility, but that things work themselves out in a way both parents are happy with the resolution. This leads to better outcomes for the kids. When the court chooses sides, the parents are more likely to spend more time in court, and ultimately this is money in the bank for lawyers and court systems, so they aren’t really motivated to limit conflict.

The second point is that the mother is generally considered better at determining what is best for the children. I will agree on the principle, but not on the importance of the idea. Mother’s most definitely look out for the children’s needs as children. Father’s on the other hand take on the task of raising adults. It is the combination of the two ideals that benefit the children. Ours society is full of overgrown children. They are healthy and unproductive. They spend their time doing thing of no value. Our society has also neutered fathers in every family law case I know of. It is a father who divvies out the harsh punishments. It is a father who demands that a child participate in taking care of the business of the house. It is the father that children run to when they have made a major mistake and need the hard, and sometimes cold, solutions that a father provides. When the father is shutout, or limited in his authority in his kids lives, they lose this. I will talk about how this is true in my family later. The mother is the nurturer. She provides an important factor to raising kids, even older ones, but without the God designed balance in the kids lives, then they will be well nurtured and cared for, and totally incapable of taking on the world on their own. Like I said before, I struggle with the unfairness of it all. I also have to face the realities presented to me. I am not going to get a fair deal. I am still my kids father. I am going to live my life without a significant portion of my income. I will have to tell my kids no, when I should be able to say yes, but finances won’t allow it. I know plenty of people with less money, but it is terribly frustrating to have less income at my disposal than my ex earns, while she has more income at her disposal than I earn. The courts have more than reversed our incomes and granted her control. She will, even with her limited capacity, nurture my children. She won’t raise them into adults. That will probably happen when the kids are legally adults, and she becomes tired of them. They will run to me, and I will have to give them a serious dose of reality. I will care for them, but with heavy hand. I will be more the mentor than the father at that time. I will have to teach them how to be adults in a very short period of time. For some of them, this will be an easy challenge, and for others this will be miserably difficult.

The third point is the most true. All the rationalizing in the other two are really for the purpose of this one. Child support is king. The states earn money by collecting child support. They get money from the payors and payees for handling the transaction. In some states this is a pretty hefty percentage. In others, it is a flat fee. They get this for imposing themselves into the middle of the case. On top of that, they are being paid by the Federal government for collecting support. Child support falls in the category of welfare. Part of the legal underpinnings of child support is that the mother has been abandoned and the father is not taking responsibility for the children. The courts artificially create an abandonment scenario in most cases, just so long as one of the parents wants to push it. This allows them to impose child support. Child support is in part punitive for abandoning your children and wife. Modern divorce of course is driven by women. Women don’t want to be in the confines of their marriage, and thus step out. The courts allow them to do so, and yet maintain their lifestyle, so long as their are children involved to justify it. The actual and marginal expenses of my children do not equal what I pay in child support. This includes their lifestyle expenses. She is never called upon to use her income to fund the children. Yes the calculators make it appear that she does, but if you look at how the formulas work, then you will see that it has very little effect on the numbers how much she earns. The payor’s income is the primary determining factor of child support. I have my children nearly equal time, but not equal enough any more. I have to maintain a home and feed them, and all the other things that a parent does for their children. None of this matters. I have to figure out how to do that on what I have left. I am amazed at how many men figure this out. It is a testament to how men operate, that they figure this out. Statistics show time and time again that years out from divorce, men are winning, and women are not. How can this be. There is only one way that this can be. Men are stronger emotionally and intellectually. I am not making a judgement based on sex, but more on the fact that society does not save men from failing. This forces them to be stronger. In the same way that father’s make their children stronger. When people look at divorce reform, and how to make things better for everyone, they need to look at child support and alimony. These transfers of wealth are the single biggest drivers in frivolous divorce. They are also the primary drivers in most litigation in divorce. If child support is more clearly defined as to what it is supposed to fund, and then the calculations are based on funding those things, they numbers will go down. Men will be able to be active providers in their children’s lives, and they will tend to disappear less from their children’s lives.

As to the question posed in the title. To fight or not. Well that one is harder to address. I have lost a lot of money fighting. I have lost my time fighting. I have lost my authority fighting. I am not sure any of it was worth it. I was a bit delusional in believing that the the rules and legislation from the state government would give me a leg to stand on. The courts are still pretty autonomous, and they make their decisions as they see fit. Understanding that no one in the higher courts wants to deal with domestic issues helps to put in perspective that the family courts are given a tremendous amount of freedom in these cases. The other thing that rules the day, and allows for the courts to do as they please is the concept of “The Best Interest of the Child”. This is a concept that is self contained in your case,so it can’t include all children that are connected to the case. It can only involve the children of the parties that are sharing parenting. So a man with 3 kids by 3 mothers can end up in 3 different courts, with 3 different and possibly contradicting definitions being applied to the case under the guise of the “Best Interest of the Child.” In my case the best interest of one child is being held up above the best interests of the other children. He rules the day. This would be my oldest son, who without remorse sexually abused a kid half his age. My lack of warmth towards him is what matters most to the court. My desire to protect the other kids from his is deemed harmful by the court, because it hurts him. This is the standard that we are abiding by in family court. If we were married, we could petition the state to take him back into their care. He is demonstrating psychological disorders that we were not prepared to deal with. I might sound cold in saying this, and it doesn’t demonstrate the entirety of my feelings, but the state gave us a problem to deal with so they didn’t have to, and we are not well equipped to deal with that problem, so they should shoulder the responsibility of that problem. I love my son. A day doesn’t go by, where I don’t think about him, and grieve the loss of seeing him grow into the man who could be. I hope that he turns his life around, but all I see is patterns of him never taking responsibility for his actions. Life happens to him. I know how easy it is to fall into that trap. I have done it through the divorce process. I am now looking to take control of what I have control over, and move on. It pains me that so much control has been stripped from me, but these are the cards that I am dealt. Much of it is un-American, but that doesn’t change reality. I do my best. I am working at not taking pleasure in the idea that she will fail in the long run, because its not good for me. It will be even worse for me, if she doesn’t fail, and figures it out. The one thing, I will take from this is, I will not be friends with my ex when this is all done. I do not relish major events where I get pushed to the side, so the kids can please their mother. I know that their life is not as good as I could provide in my own home. I will not thank her for raising my kids, regardless of the responsibility she takes. I won’t because, I did not choose this. I would gladly raise my kids in my home. I would provide for them from my checkbook. Instead my kids don’t know or understand that I am still their provider. That I pay enough in child support to pay their mothers rent and utilities with money left over for the car payment. That all they have in their mothers home is in part paid for by me. This makes me sad, but there is nothing I can do about it.

I am done fighting. I will take what I can with my kids. I am not allowed to give them responsibilities in my house. I am relegated to a hotel to provide babysitting services, so their mom gets a break. A privilege I get to pay for. They won’t understand this for years, if ever. I can’t let them watch the step-sibling, even for a brief amount of time. I can’t leave them home alone, even though they are old enough to care for themselves for a few hours, and the autonomy teaches them responsibility. I cannot ask them to do chores, because they feel like servants in my home. The fight has cost me additional freedom beyond what divorce cost me to begin with. My only words of advice to men is they should go nuclear from the start. Don’t worry about your parenting relationship with the your ex. You can try and mend that later. She is unlikely to hold back, and you are likely to end up right where I am at. Women have the advantage, so don’t be afraid to paint the picture of her as a monster. Win the war, then be fair in your treatise. That is the only way to engage family court. I also want to scream at the top of my lungs for men to start fighting the fight before they are facing divorce. Get your representatives to change the standards for family court, and to put teeth in the laws they are writing. Get them to require that criminal actions that affect the children be involved to limit the time a dad has with his kids. With the most recent ruling. I have only seen my kids a few days in the last month and a half. This is not right, but it there is nothing I can do to change it. My only recourse is the courts, and they are not likely to defend my or my children, for they have taken the stand already on behalf of my children in favor of their mother. I will not fight. It hurts too much. I am working on creating ways to connect with my kids, so that they still come to me on their own. I will write about some of those next.

Ten-Foured,

JeD