September 24

Limiting Child Support

Dead-beat Dad sale

I find it necessary to argue this issue from two sides. One is that child support is one of the biggest evils in western society, and that it should be abolished. That is my honest opinion. The legal requirement of child support is akin to slavery, while the moral obligation to supporting you children is a whole different issue. The moral obligation to take care of the children you bring into the world is one of the most important ones any man has. Moral obligations and legal obligations are not congruent, nor should they be. If all moral obligations were codified into law, then we would all be slaves.

Child support is crippling. Many men with one or two children can make way with the rates that are imposed, but they do so with much less than they should have. Most men are not in poverty, but many of the arguments that are made revolve around the men that are in poverty. The sad part is they tend to do so in such a way as to cripple the men in poverty. I have four children and feel the impact of the child support in rather extreme ways. The idea that I am proposing is simply to limit the impact of child support. A big part of my reasoning is that men should be allowed to spend from their own reserves on their children. The children shouldn’t see mom buy them everything, and that dad doesn’t buy them anything, especially when the truth is often for those in the middle class and above, that the dad is paying the lion’s share of the expenses for the children. For poorer men, it is even harder. They often after child support, don’t have the resources to decide to forgo something else to spend extra on their child.

Child support’s purpose needs to be redefined. Currently it is defined to support not only the necessary expenses for the child, but also that it is to support the child’s lifestyle if the child still lived with both parents. The lifestyle right isn’t a real right. The parents have always have had the right to determine the lifestyle of their children. There is no good argument that because the parents don’t live together, that suddenly they have this new right. I don’t know how to define correctly yet, but the end result needs to define it as something that pays for the child’s needs, and the needs should be clearly identified. The rights of the paying parent need to be recognized in the process. Financially the paying parent should be allowed to earn a base amount that is untouched. The reality that the children don’t live with that parent is the reason they don’t have the benefit of the home that parent provides. There is no excuse for one parent being left without enough income to provide for themselves the basics of life.

Base Earnings Aren’t Subject to Child Support Obligations

At a minimum the every child support payer should be allowed to earn what is considered poverty level for them self and their dependents. The current system likes to pretend that someone isn’t going to have more children after the first relationship blows up. This idea needs to go away. Men and women should be allowed to pursue relationships fairly unhindered, especially by previous relationships. At least legally. What is more egregious, is the only one shackled by the current system is the one obligated to pay child support. The other parent can continue on as if they have no obligations at all, and legally they don’t. This should be based on each paycheck. Men and women who work odd jobs and other work that doesn’t have consistent incomes should only be held to account for child support when they earn enough to pay it. The argument against this is that the parent receiving child support should be able to rely on the payments coming in regularly. The truth is that if they were together, they wouldn’t be able to rely on that income any better, so why should they living apart have more confidence in getting paid than when together. The idea that divorce and family law can be neat and tidy, while so many people are not that stable, nor should they be required to by the court.

A Maximum Child Support Obligation Regardless Of Income

Child support should not be an endless well. The parties are not together, and the children should be allowed to benefit by the lifestyle both parents are able and willing to provide for the children. This does not mean that the paying parent should be required to pay that money to the other parent. That is certainly an option, but shouldn’t be court ordered in any way. I am not sure what that number should be. My initial thoughts are that it should be no more than $2000/month regardless of the number of children or income. There is no reason that one parent, even if they are able, should be required to fund the lifestyle of the other parent. This number is probably too large, but its a point to start at, and with the other limits I propose will not apply to most child support payers.

A Maximum Percentage of Net Income

As discussed above, net income is the amount of money left after taxes are paid and required benefits are funded, including health insurance. This number should be 25% regardless of the number of children. One quarter of net income is more than enough money to extract from a person without their consent. Each child should be worth no more than 5% of this net income. Again this is per pay cycle, not annually. If you reach a maximum in the pay cycle, you are not obligated to catch up. You don’t pay taxes on fictional income, neither should you pay court ordered child support based on fictional income. The current system requires that people pay a dollar amount regardless of actual income. The courts only discretion would be to lower the percentage, not raise it. Anything more than these numbers would be illegal to collect. The concept of arrears should go away.

Maximum Amount

A maximum amount should be assigned based on the time of separation or birth of the child, whichever came last. That maximum amount of support should be based on the last three years of taxable income. The maximum should be set to the rates that are mentioned above. Child support shall not go up based on the increases in income of the payer, unless they have not been meeting the threshold of being able to pay 5% per child because of low wages during this time frame. The amount should be calculated based on the lowest amount they could earn during that year, and still pay 5% of their income per child.

The Order

An order should be written for a percentage of income. The laws should limit was is taken in the following ways. It will not exceed $2000/month. It will not exceed 25% of their income. It will not reduce the net income to below poverty level based on the number of exemptions claimed. Tax returns are subject to the order as new income, since it was excluded in the net income child support was collected from during the year. When the maximum amount has been reached for the year based on all the criteria above, then no more support shall be required until the next calendar year.

Extraordinary Expenses

Any expenses from medical, dental, or mental health are covered under these guidelines, unless the expenses exceed 75% of the child support paid during the year. In this case the bills that exceed the 75% mark are going to be split 50/50 between the parents.

Opting Out

If both parents choose to opt out, then this is a binding agreement and cannot be revisited. The parents will be required to pay 50% of the required expenses for the children. Each parent is obligated to provide the children with enough clothing for their home and to properly feed and care for them when they are in their care. Medical, dental, and mental health expenses will be split 50/50. Education expenses will be split 50/50. If there is a disagreement about schools and the court rules to place the child in a program that is more expensive than public schooling, the other parent is only required to reimburse to the level of 50% of the costs of sending the child to public school. If the child is pre-school aged, daycare expenses should be paid inverse proportionally to the amount of time that each parent has the child. All orders should be 50/50 time share with the kids unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise or the parents agree to something different.

Results

The end result is that child support payers will know what their maximum required at any given point and time. The burden of child support is limited when income levels are low. If a person has income that is not W2 in nature, then of course they will need to be mechanisms to calculate 1099 income. In these cases it might be beset to treat child support like taxes. The paying parent would make child support payments quarterly when they pay their taxes. Though I am still against child support requirements because it is akin to slavery, this model would loosen the shackles.

Conclusion

I only mentioned it once above, but in general all custody orders should be 50/50 without a compelling reason to not do so or agreement of the parents. The results from this type of change would change how a child support payer views their jobs. There are many men who have lost their motivation to improve their wages, because they don’t see enough of the income increase. The children will typically benefit from the father’s income increase, even when he doesn’t pay additional child support. I know men who have not started their own businesses. In their marriage their wife was against them doing so, and as a good husband chose not to do so for their family. These men under current child support rules continue to choose to not start these businesses, because the risk of the penalties if they can’t meet their obligations are too high. If child support were based on actual earnings and not just a dollar amount, then these men would be given the freedom of choice that married men have. Married men have the right to choose to lower their income to spend more time with their families. They have the right to start businesses that won’t generate income for some time. It is wrong that men lose this freedom because they don’t live with the mother of their children.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 23

Loss Of Hope

Been doing fine since you've been gone

I try hard to move forward. To figure out how to move my life on from this tragedy that has befallen it. Its not simply the divorce, but all that is served up to me through the process of divorce. I see many men who are struggling with the same thing. They can’t move past the point where divorce devastated their life. I know far too many men who have stagnated after divorce. They stop growing personally. They just stop. I have to stop and ask myself, why is this? Why do men and not women seem to be afflicted by this. I don’t think the answer is simply there is a difference between men and women, but that is surely a part of it. If it were merely that, then the man who succeeds after divorce would be an anomaly, and they aren’t. Its more complicated than that. My view of the world is that of someone in the middle class. From my front porch is where I am commenting from. As I move about society, this problem is by far worse in the middle class.

So why might this afflict the middle class more than those below, and those above it? This I think is fairly simple, though not obvious. First lets talk about what the middle class is. The middle class is a place of hope. People move freely through the middle class. Its a place that is hard to escape, but you enjoy most luxuries that society has to offer, if only in small doses. You believe it is possible to have the next big idea and escape into the upper class of society. All the world has to offer, seems available with enough effort and intellect. There are books and movies and modern day folklore that tell the tales of someone moving from their middle class existence into the world of the rich and famous. People in the middle class tend to start at the bottom of a profession, and work their way up as they age to the tops of their professions. Its natural for anyone who is motivated to find their way onto the ladder and make this progression in one way or another. Those who live in the middle class have choice in their profession and can move between professions with minimal cost to their lifestyle. The middle class is a big place to live as well. Its not merely a function of income that keeps you there, but the social connections you have. This is good and bad, but most of us see the relative positives of these connections. In a family structure, those in the middle class have the luxury of deciding how much lifestyle luxuries they will partake in, and whether one of the partners can make their job that of homemaker or to earn more money(and how much). The middle class rarely takes any real risks, because there is a lot to lose. In the middle class, people like to talk about calculated risks, but rarely are the risks real. There is little to lose in the risks that people take in the middle class. The rare times that the risks are real, you see how risk taking can hurt and how it can pay off, but finding the motivation to risk your comforts is a hard step to take for most.

Now lets look at the lower class. This place seems inescapable. You have few real choices in your lifestyle. You see society as a type of jail, and its there to control you. You act out to demonstrate your autonomy when you can. For some this is violent and criminal, and others it is more subtle. You have little to lose, so taking risks costs you less. Some would say that they aren’t risks at all. Often there is little calculation to the risks that are chosen. The purpose is more to remind yourself that you have some level of control in your life. Your world is filled with people who tell you what you need or should do, and warn you of consequences if you don’t. In the lower classes you really don’t believe that there is a way to move up in society, and you believe that if you do move up, the system will find a way to kick you back down. Working for a living sometimes seems futile, especially when you can spend your time figuring out how to get a government and charitable handout that exceeds what you could earn any job you can get. In the lower class, there is little hope. The men in this class make decisions without fear of losing what they have, because they have very little that can be taken away from them.

The upper classes have a very different view of the world. Most people in the upper classes are born there. When someone from the middle class reaches into the upper classes, they really aren’t a part of them. Though their children or grandchildren will likely be. The upper classes have a safety net through your connections. Its more than just money that keeps you there. Every luxury society has is at your fingertips So much so, they are mundane. This is why so many young adults in the upper classes take such crazy personal and social risks. They learn through this risk taking, that the social network they have will prop them back up after a fall. This confidence that is born through this process allows them to continue to take risks when it comes to their financial world. They have room for failed business ventures, and thus can learn lessons practically that rest of us have to read about, and try to apply. This is a tremendous advantage, and one that most of us will never know. The best corollary that most of us will experience is in playing a video game, and being able to restart the game at a checkpoint after failing a tasks or losing a life. To fall out of the upper class, you would usually have to do something that is so damning politically that no one is willing to extend their hand to help you up anymore for risk of losing their support network as well. This is a very high bar to hit, so even the most inept are able to retain their position with limited effort. Loss of wealth usually takes a generation to fall into the middle class, and in this time a sufficiently motivated family will recover their wealth. The upper class doesn’t need hope. They know the costs of their risks, and have the luxury of limiting the scope of the risks taken.

What we see in middle class divorce is the devastation of a man’s hope. First the wealth that he has worked for in his life is plundered. Not just by the division of assets, but by lawyers and the system. There is rarely enough left over to feel like you have sound footing to launch from. We have already discussed how the middle class is actually a risk averse group, so what happens next. The court now tells a man that his future earnings are not his own. They belong to his children, and he must give it to the woman who assisted in the plundering of his wealth. He no longer has the choice of whether his child will have piano lessons or he will save that money to make a better life for all of them. Now he must spend that money on his child whether the child has piano lessons or not. The path to where he was has been artificially elongated by this. More hope lost. Before the devastation of his family,the man had a right to choose to start over in another industry, and work his way back up, or to take a risk and start his own business. The court has decided that the child’s ability to maintain their lifestyle is more important than the man having this right to choose. If he chooses to start a new venture, he may very well be held to account for the same amount of child support regardless of his earnings. Taking such a risk can likely land a man in jail for being unable to pay this court mandated support. For all practical purposes, the man has lost the right to choose his own employment. When people look on a man in this position they are puzzled as to why he doesn’t seem to care about the responsibilities he had before the divorce. The answer is, he has lost hope. He is now more like the man in the lower classes, who has little to lose. He may still exist in the bubble of the middle class, but his thinking is now like that of a lower class man. He believes he has nothing to lose. When you have nothing to lose, you also tend to believe you have nothing to gain. There we have that the cost of divorce for so many men in the middle class is the loss of hope.

The end result of this loss of hope will be seen in future generations. Lower class men have already began to avoid marriage. There is nothing to gain from it, and the hope that it will provide them with some advantage in life that they would not have otherwise is not apparent. The upper class still have hope in marriage, but things change more slowly in the upper class. They tend to not be concerned with the lower and middle classes, but what happens across society at large eventually bleeds into the higher classes over time. The middle class is quickly seeing little or no value in marriage. This is true for men and women alike. Men are seeing that all the advantages of marriage for them can be taken away by divorce. This is not some breathtaking revelation, it is what is expected. What is not expected is that all the disadvantages of marriage are not simply held onto through divorce, but are multiplied. Marriage is by definition a limited loss of autonomy, but in divorce that autonomy is further attacked. What is worse, child rearing now carries the same weight. Men who have children are automatically made responsible for the woman who bears that child. Our society thinks that this is okay and even right. Our society is blindly running down a path where men will avoid all familial entrapment. They will only find hope separate from women. Ultimately this will bring down our society.

An example of how this is already affecting the thinking of our children, a recent conversation with my 13 year old son went this way. He told me that when he gets married, hes not getting divorce. I explained that he doesn’t have control over that. His wife can end the marriage if she chooses. He then said that he would be careful especially if there were kids. Then he said well maybe he wouldn’t have kids, if he can’t guarantee they don’t get divorced. Then he followed with this. Well if we aren’t going to have kids, then why get married. My 13 year old is already looking at a path that may be eternal bachelorhood, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I will likely give him advice, when it is safe to do so, and that advice will be that if he wants kids, then he should adopt them on his own, and never let a woman become legally the mother of the children. He should have a vasectomy, and give up the idea of having any progeny of his own.

How do we find hope again? How do we climb out of the hole that society throws us in when we divorce? I see no hope until my youngest is grown. I don’t want to wait that long. I don’t know that I will survive if that is the soonest hope I have. What is there to hope for? How do we find our footing again? This system has to be changed, and soon. The evil it does to families is horrible. The fact the system doesn’t consider the rights of all the people in involved is destroying men everyday. In my heart, I know there is some hope, but I can’t put my finger on it. I can’t see it. I haven’t given up, but I want to.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 19

Busting Myths: Child Support Is Necessary

Take off or Bust

Busting Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding parenting, divorce, and parenting after divorce. These myths are propagated by our culture and carried into our court rooms. These myths need to be removed from our judgement as a society. They often encourage bad behaviour that is contrary to the the stated goals of creating new family units that everyone can thrive in. They encourage decisions that just might not be right if it weren’t for these myths. I am not using statistics for this discussion. We all have had enough people in our lives experience divorce or raising kids in separate households to know what the outliers are. Stop assuming that there is some society so different from the one you live in that exists in the USA that is so divergent that these behaviors are allowed to thrive. There really isn’t one, and the few places that might turn a blind eye are not representative of the norm. I originally planned on this being a single post, but it became way too long. I have made it a series. One that I will likely be adding to over time. I will try and remember to update the links below for all parts of the series.

Abuse Is Common
Conflict Is Unhealthy
The Best Interest Of The Child
Child Support Is Necessary

Child Support Is Necessary

The Myth

The core legal principle used in child support arguments is that the children have a right to be financially supported by both parents, and that it is the courts job to ensure that this happens. The system generally applies the principle by imposing child support on one parent, and they pay it to the other parent. The core idea behind this thinking is that the children will live the majority of their time with one parent, while the other parent would fail to provide for the child in their absence. The most egregious example of bad behaviour used is abandonment. The court assumes a position that one parent has abandoned the family, and it is their job to force them to support the family they left. These parents are then rewarded with a discount if they take the time to see their kids on a regular basis. The court has taken pre-emptive action to protect children. As we have all been told for the better part of a century, children are the real victims of divorce. From the outside looking in, this is a net positive for society. The kids are guaranteed the financial means they need to survive.

The philosophy is that the children have a right to a percentage of each parent’s income, and that they are naturally benefitting from the custodial parent’s income. The non-custodial parents income does not benefit the child unless it is given to the other parent. It is also saying that the child needs a trustee for their rights, and that trustee is the custodial parent.

A big part of this myth is built on the single mom struggling to survive after she has been abandoned by the father of her children. She now has to figure out how to succeed on her own. Movies and TV specials have been produced so much on this subject, it could be considered a genre of TV show. Our culture deplores a man who won’t take care of his family, and has no problem making a deadbeat pay.

The Truth

The truth is child support is big money. There is no bigger money in the divorce and family court industry. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Child support is the most debated item in a divorce, especially when you link it with custody matters in general. There would be very little argument of the general concept of time, if child support were not on the table. Most child custody battles ultimately are started by someone who wants to pay less or receive more in child support. The lawyers like this, because it is a constant stream of money for them over the years. The court doesn’t want to deal with real issues over and over again, but this child support thing is pretty easy, especially with guidelines being required in every state. The Federal government pays the states to collect child support in a form of matching funds, so the more they collect, the more they get. Now the states have figured out they can use this money any way they like, so like taxes, they are aggressive in collecting child support. Private companies are now employed to do this for many of the states. These companies do so in multiple states. This creates a new lobby and industry to keep child support as it is, and increase the number of people who are paying child support.

What also has to be noted is money means control. Even when decisions are supposed to be made jointly, the one with the money will have the last say. This is a fact of life. Child support has been historically such a hot topic, because for the middle class and below, paying child support means losing authority in your kids life. It also means not being recognized as the provider that you are for your children. You as the payor of child support are largely relying on the other parent to convey that you are playing your role in providing the things they need in life and then some.

Governments throughout man’s time on earth has sought to control the population. There is no end to the level of control that the government will take given the room to do so. The family court and specifically child support is a means of control that is too hard to pass up. The means of collection child support has created a new class of person. Anyone obligated to pay child support no longer has the same freedom as anyone else. They must maintain a job to pay child support. They must allow the government to take child support from their paychecks just like taxes. They are faced with severe and sometimes automatic penalties for failing to pay. All these actions can be taken without due process. In California, it was ruled that it is not unreasonable to require a person to maintain a job that allows them to pay their child support at a level the court has deemed reasonable based on the person’s skills. The reasoning is that people have to maintain jobs to pay their taxes. This argument, though on the records is fallacious. Most taxes are paid based on income, not potential income. If you have no income, then you will not be required to pay taxes on the money you did not earn. You will be required to do so with child support, and there is no guarantee that you will be given any recourse if you lose your job and you are not able to find a similar paying job to replace it.

My Take

Most cases do not involve abandonment. This is the truth. Most parents want to raise their kids, and will do what it takes to take care of them. The few who do not want to are the outliers in family law. Divorce is not rare. Over half the population who marries will experience divorce. Child support in its current form is unnecessary. There is a judge I have heard a few personal accounts about who also believes this. His default ruling is everything is split 50/50. The time, the expenses, and everything else you can think of. He orders one parent to pay the other $150/month in support. The purpose of that money is to cover school expenses. That’s it. Everything else is up to the parents to figure out. This guy has it figured out. Divorces are messy, and people can argue a thousand ways to Sunday why their way is better than another. The truth is, most of these arguments have a punitive component built into them. It is not the family courts job to punish anyone. They should ensure that rights are protected for both parents, and that there is a fairly even distribution of property, and then leave them to figure things out on their own. Parents don’t need to have the same set of rules. I bet they didn’t when they were in the same house. Parents don’t need to make the same decisions as each other. Conflict does not have to be erased for the kids to be raised well.

The example I will close with, because I know couples who do this, and the realities would be ignored by the court. These couples are the best equipped to separate their households. They usually have two similar incomes, and they live off of one of the incomes and save the other income. These couples have the wealth to sustain them through the rocky process of divorce. They also each have the means to maintain a similar lifestyle as they have before separation. After going to court, one of the parents will have to pay the other parent, even though their lifestyles were built on less income. The argument will be that it is the child’s right to child support. Understand that in marriage the child has no right to the parents income. Only outside of marriage does this exist. The children have a right to a parents care. Yes the parents wealth benefits the child, but it is not the child’s. If it were, we would all be required to save a hefty chunk of our pay every check to pay for kids things, and then save for them later, because its not ours its theirs.

I grow tired of reading on forums the shaming language used to attack those who don’t think child support is legal or ethical. It comes from men and women. The men are usually the worst, because they have drank the kool-aide and don’t learn from their own experiences. Child support is an evil. Its enslaving. It doesn’t serve the children well. Having two active and involved parents should be societies goal, and pillaging one parent for the benefit of the other won’t do this. Increasing animosity and acrimony between the parents won’t do that.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 19

Busting Myths: The Best Interest Of The Child

gray day over the field of wheat (yesterday was a nice day)

Busting Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding parenting, divorce, and parenting after divorce. These myths are propagated by our culture and carried into our court rooms. These myths need to be removed from our judgement as a society. They often encourage bad behaviour that is contrary to the the stated goals of creating new family units that everyone can thrive in. They encourage decisions that just might not be right if it weren’t for these myths. I am not using statistics for this discussion. We all have had enough people in our lives experience divorce or raising kids in separate households to know what the outliers are. Stop assuming that there is some society so different from the one you live in that exists in the USA that is so divergent that these behaviors are allowed to thrive. There really isn’t one, and the few places that might turn a blind eye are not representative of the norm. I originally planned on this being a single post, but it became way too long. I have made it a series. One that I will likely be adding to over time. I will try and remember to update the links below for all parts of the series.

Abuse Is Common
Conflict Is Unhealthy
The Best Interest Of The Child
Child Support Is Necessary

The Best Interest Of The Child

The Myth

This is definable and a real thing, and the court should have a role in determining what this is for children who are a part of a divorce case. Most states use this standard for determining custody and other decisions regarding children. They usually have a vague set of standards on how to determine what this is. They also give wide leeway to the officials given the task of defining this for the particular case. Depending on the state and court, this can be per child or the children can be treated as a single entity. Sometimes this is up to the officials making the determination.

The idea is that the children are not able to legally speak for themselves, so someone is assigned to speak for them when the parents don’t agree. In this case both parents have been determined to be unable to determine what is best for their children, so the court will do so. Please understand that if you don’t agree, the state is now deciding what is best from that point on, whether it is at the time of the divorce or at some point later. The state is the de facto legal guardian of the children now.

These officials will evaluate the physical and mental well being of the children, and make decisions based on their determination. The official in most jurisdictions are lawyers who have taken a state provided course in being a GAL and then maintained some form of continuing education. The other type of official that is used is a custody evaluator. These guys can be one person with no specific training or a very comprehensive group of people in a firm with multiple disciplines and training who look at all aspects of the children. Its hard to find out what you are getting if you have no prior experience with the particular firm.

The Truth

This is not a real thing. This is legal mumbo jumbo for whatever the judge, GAL, or other official wants it to be. Even in the best of circumstances, this is a means of crippling one parent so they cannot effectively continue to fight the case, and the case can be decided with some finality. By the time the process is over, it is common for one parent to be viewed as the Patron Saint of Parenting, and the other to be the just barely shy of a child abuser, and they should be lucky to see their kids at all, let alone have them under their control.

What is really being decided is who gets to control decisions about the kids. One parent will be given full control of the kids, and all the resources that the couple has to do do so in the form of child support. It uses the the process to effectively determine that one parent is legally the abandoning parent, so that the other parent gets child support. Current doctrine favors the mother. Maternal aspects of parenting are viewed as more important to the well being of child than paternal aspects. Divorce in the modern era uses this principle to effectively strip children of one parent, and that parent is more often than not, the father. Once child support is granted, especially in the USA, the ability for the parent paying child support to use their finances to inject their preferences in raising the child is removed. They rarely have the means to fund things themselves, and in the cases where they would have the funds to do so, they are paying enough in child support that the other parent can effectively nullify them using the funds the receive.

The legal right generally remains to make certain decisions, but it is only enforceable through the courts, so the it is really not a right that matters. The parent who has the children more and has the right of residency for the children effectively gets to raise them as they see fit with little interference, and the court will generally support that parent over the other without some overwhelming state interest in not doing so. The court does not decide what is in the best interest of the children, but who has the right to decide what is in the best interest of the children.

This principle overrides all other agreements. Anything that was agreed on in a prenuptial agreement is null if this principle can be applied correctly. Certainly certain assets will still be handled by the agreement, but anything that this principle can be used on can be changed by the courts. This includes how the home or homes will be divided, and how other assets that are utilized for the children’s benefit in marriage. If one parent gets the kids, then anything that benefits the kids will also go to that parent. Its pretty amazing the things the courts can include into this doctrine to get the results they want.

My Take

The questions that stand out in my mind every time I hear this phrase is “Why does this matter?” and “Why is it the courts business?” Now understand that most parents ask themselves all the time what is best for their children. Then they balance that with what is best for the family as a whole. It is the parents job to figure out how to raise their child. The standard used by the court not only puts them in the position of the parents, but it also makes the childs rights higher than the parents. I know many people who will argue that as a parent you have given up your rights by having children, but this isn’t really the legal truth, well its not supposed to be anyway. A good parent puts their desires aside for the sake of their children. The paradigm created by the court is one where we are raising spoiled and immature children, because helicopter parenting and indulgence is regarded as being better for the children. A parent making tough choices regarding the balance the family needs will be judged harshly and possibly as unloving. The children being raised in homes that measure the best interests of the children in the same way the courts tend to will be ill equipped to enter the world on their own at 18. In generations past, most children were prepared to care for themselves by age 14, and continued to develop as young adults under their parents tutelage. Now they remain children until the harsh realities of the real world smack them in the face.

This is a club for the legal system to use to get the determinations they want. There are certainly courts that use this in favor of fathers, but that is not the norm, nor does it make it any more right. Its a way for the courts to avoid ruling on evidence, and thus protect themselves from appeals. The family courts are not a court of law, though lawyers run them. They are a means to control the population. Once you are in front of them, the case doesn’t end until the kids are grown. Unlike any other area of law, the family court keeps its hands in your life, once you have come before them. Honestly, even if you haven’t been in the courtroom, because divorce is granted through the courts.

No one can define what this means, but when you say things about the best interest of the child, and can paint what the other party is doing as not being in the best interest of the child, you then sound like a good guy. People who have not been through the system feel good about legislation that is intended to take care of kids, and everyone knows that divorce is horrible for kids. The continuation of the decline of results of kids in divorced households supports that these laws just aren’t good enough, and thus they are given more power. Those of us that have been through the system, know that these principles are by no means in the best interest of the children, and are often the main drivers of these poor results. Its a twisting of the language that isn’t understood until you live it.

This principle is also a key tool for one parent to control the other parent. The parent that the court favors is giving full leeway to behave as they see fit, while the other parent is often saddled with rules that make no sense. In my case, the step siblings cannot be left in the care of my kids, even though I have two kids that have babysat on their own. My kids cannot be left in my care while I work from home, though she can leave them home alone while I work from home and go on a multiple hour road trip. I cannot watch them, because I am working, so they have to be left alone or go with her. Either option for her is acceptable. She got to make these rules up. The GAL gave her all the ammunition she needed to do so. I have also effectively been told that I cannot ask my children to do chores around the house, because they feel like slaves in my home. Without going into details, the core of the chores they have been asked to do revolve around the principle of clean up after yourself, and put things back where you got them.

The end result is my authority is crippled. My children report on me to their mother who takes it to the court. They know that there is very little I can do, and state as much to others, though they still don’t want to face me with those words. In the long run, undermining one parents authority in such a way will also undermine the other parent’s authority. The kids will realize that parental authority is not a right of either parent, and will they will act accordingly with both parents, not just the lesser parent. My ex cannot continue to undermine my authority, and expect me to be effective in handling my sons when they don’t want to respect her authority. When they reach the age that fathers have to take over and lay down the realities of becoming a man, there is no man there for them to respect as they come of age. This creates so many problems in our society.

Things don’t change for two reasons. One half of the people are the beneficiaries of these laws. Why would they want them changed. The system seems reasonable to them. Making the other parent out to be a monster justifies all of their actions, and in the long run they really saved the children from the other parent who would have surely done harm if left to their own devices. The other half of people are so beaten down and tired from trying to just have a normal relationship with their children that they don’t have anything left to try and fix the system. The few that do usually had such horrible results that they see no other alternative than to go after the system.

This is the single worst thing in family court. It is used to do whatever the court wants, and it needs to be changed. I encourage all men and women to get rid of this. This is a tool that as it leaches farther and farther into our society, it will be used to make our children the states. We will not have any freedom in raising our children. There are no societies that have thrived for long that did not allow mothers and fathers to raise their children without interference from the government. Societies that have allowed the government to raise their children directly or by proxy have fallen and often very quickly.

The Supreme Court of the U.S. has stated that being married has no impact on your parental rights, and thusly you do not lose rights by not being married or divorcing. It is antithetical to the American legal system that there should be one parent who is given the full rights of parenthood, while the other parent is stripped of their rights and turned into a second class citizen. The changes to the status of the non-custodial parent extend beyond that of their parenting. They are held to different standards and face different punishments. In many cases actions that the custodial parent takes are not regarded by the court at all, but the very same actions can be used to hold a non-custodial parent in contempt of court. Other “administrative” actions can be taken against the non-custodial parent without the court even getting involved. Understand that once you walk into court with a child custody issue, you are relinquishing your rights to the court. You may end up with title non-custodial parent, and you are now a second class citizen. Also understand that if you win the title of custodial parent, its not permanent, and you could be sitting on the other side of things later, if the court decides it should be so.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 19

Busting Myths: Conflict Is Unhealthy

Conflict (Chess II)

Busting Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding parenting, divorce, and parenting after divorce. These myths are propagated by our culture and carried into our court rooms. These myths need to be removed from our judgement as a society. They often encourage bad behaviour that is contrary to the the stated goals of creating new family units that everyone can thrive in. They encourage decisions that just might not be right if it weren’t for these myths. I am not using statistics for this discussion. We all have had enough people in our lives experience divorce or raising kids in separate households to know what the outliers are. Stop assuming that there is some society so different from the one you live in that exists in the USA that is so divergent that these behaviors are allowed to thrive. There really isn’t one, and the few places that might turn a blind eye are not representative of the norm. I originally planned on this being a single post, but it became way too long. I have made it a series. One that I will likely be adding to over time. I will try and remember to update the links below for all parts of the series.

Abuse Is Common
Conflict Is Unhealthy
The Best Interest Of The Child
Child Support Is Necessary

Conflict Is Unhealthy

The Myth

This myth is common. You hear that it is better for the kids to not be in around constant fighting. That disagreement is bad for parenting. When there is a lot of conflict, abuse is likely coming. The myth is based on the idea that as couples divorce, the conflict is exposed, because its not hidden behind closed doors. The kids have to live in the middle of a battle zone, and can be the unwitting victims of the constant fighting of the couple. The home with conflict is simply a powder keg ready to explode. Divorce is justified because of conflict. If divorce were not easily granted, then all of these wives are soon going to be the victims of domestic violence.

The divorced couple also has a conflict myth. This is the myth that if two parents don’t agree on things, that the children will be poorly taken care of. They will not have their needs met, and that it is the courts job to limit the conflict. The court will make decisions to give one parent the decision making power to limit conflict. This is all done to protect and care for the kids.

The Truth

Conflict is a normal part of life. People’s decisions are made better when there is conflict, and they have to think it through. The lack of conflict in a relationship is likely the better indicator of a failing relationship. Yes when people cannot resolve conflict, there is a problem, but its no bigger a problem than avoiding conflict. No one agrees all of the time.

Most couples are not fighting all the time. The ones who are, rarely are heading for divorce. Most couples just start putting space between each other. They fight less as they head to divorce. Its the actual divorce process that increases conflict. If the courts stayed out of it, and lawyers were not involved, it would just be a tougher breakup like everyone had with a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past. Kids add to the issues, but again the court increases conflict, because there is advantage to be won or lost through the process.

The idea that parents in conflict cannot parent well drives a lot of custody decisions. I can’t remember a time that there wasn’t some conflict in our parenting, so it is easy to demonstrate that conflict exists. The myth says that parents in separate households can only parent together if they are on the same page about things, and if they are not on the same page, then one parent needs the decision making power. The truth is that the conflict sharpens your thinking on issues and the children will benefit by both parents working through the conflict, even if they never reach a full resolution on most issues. There are only a few things that require both parents to truly agree on for the kids to be healthy. Those are school decisions and medical decisions.

My Take

The courtroom is based on conflict. Its how it resolves issues. The courtroom is the wrong place to resolve a divorce. I honestly would like an official who could handle signing off on the final agreement, and have the power to liquidate assets that the couple cannot agree on, and divide the cash between them. Give them the necessary means to obtain a court order to unhinder protected assets like retirement plans. I would think that a court order like this could be obtained in a similar manner as to how the police get warrants for investigations. It wouldn’t have to go to a specific judge. Most of the conflict will dissolve as emotions cool down in this type of system. There simply isn’t much advantage to be gained, and if there is something that one person really cares about, then they will be willing to offset it with cash or other items. Sure there could be some conflict over certain things, like a family pet, but for most people this process would work out pretty quick once the emotional storm is over.

The courts are involved, because lawyers want it that way. Most people don’t realize that the majority of divorce research is done by groups of lawyers or is commissioned by lawyers who are looking for ways to make more and more money off of divorce. Divorce is one of the biggest profit centers for most law firms, and is a profitable place for even nominal lawyers to make a good living. Half of all marriages end in divorce, and a large majority of these are first time marriages. This means that the customers are almost all newcomers. Criminal lawyers want the repeat business. They are going to do their best to have you come back when you slide to the wrong side of the law again. It is to their advantage to do a good job at a fair price. This just isn’t true for family lawyers. They need to extract as much as possible right now. Most of their clients that divorce again have far fewer assets available to extract from them. Me and my ex had around $100K in assets and my legal bills have crept very close to $20K including the GAL. This means she spent something similar. The lawyers will have taken half our wealth, and very little has changed from what we would have agreed on before regarding assets.

Understand that while the judge, experts, self-help resources, and even your own lawyer warn against conflict while going through divorce, they are continually taking actions that will increase discontentment and increase the desire for conflict. This will drive up the costs all of the way. Now taking away the slow spigot of dealing with conflict as it rises, our system is increasing the amount of “powder keg explosions” that result in divorce. Sadly these “powder keg explosions” are used as excuses for so many of the actions that are taken, but in truth the vast majority of them would be handled at the time to little consequence. There are a large number of things that just wouldn’t have been issues in my case, if they could have been dealt with without her lawyer telling her to hang on to them, and then doing the adult version of tattling to the judge. I know lawyers think its normal to live your life in the shadow of a great overlord in a black robe, but to most of us this is an authority that we don’t want in our lives.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 19

Busting Myths: Abuse Is Common

Abandoned doll, edit I

Busting Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding parenting, divorce, and parenting after divorce. These myths are propagated by our culture and carried into our court rooms. These myths need to be removed from our judgement as a society. They often encourage bad behaviour that is contrary to the the stated goals of creating new family units that everyone can thrive in. They encourage decisions that just might not be right if it weren’t for these myths. I am not using statistics for this discussion. We all have had enough people in our lives experience divorce or raising kids in separate households to know what the outliers are. Stop assuming that there is some society so different from the one you live in that exists in the USA that is so divergent that these behaviors are allowed to thrive. There really isn’t one, and the few places that might turn a blind eye are not representative of the norm. I originally planned on this being a single post, but it became way too long. I have made it a series. One that I will likely be adding to over time. I will try and remember to update the links below for all parts of the series.

Abuse Is Common
Conflict Is Unhealthy
The Best Interest Of The Child
Child Support Is Necessary

Abuse Is Common

The Myth

This myth comes up whenever you talk about divorce. Abuse is cited as a reason for so many of the laws that affect divorce. The myth is that most divorces involve a cowering woman who has survived vast amounts of abuse over the years, and has finally found the courage to leave her husband, and needs the protection of the court and police to keep her alive. According to the myth nearly half the men who get married will beat their wife at least a little bit, and half of them will do so to the point of risking her life. This myth is so strong that when you hear about a divorcing woman, it is a first inclination to worry about her safety by many people. This myth feeds the “White Knight” or “Prince Charming” characters in all of us, who want to protect the weak from evil.

The myth encompasses physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, and marital rape. There are other things that have been cited in more extreme cases, but these are enough. The laws are written to protect women from all of these. They are written with the assumption that a woman wouldn’t be leaving a perfectly good relationship and the security it provides unless something horrible has happened. We have the entire history of man to show that women rely on pair bonding relationships to protect themselves, so they wouldn’t abandon this protection, unless the protector is worse than the other possible risks they face without the protector. It is hard for a happily married or idealistic young man to stomach the kind of horrors that some women might face, and they desire to do their part to protect these women in ways their own husbands have not.

This myth is so strong that the standard forms in most states for filing for divorce are mostly related to protection from abuse. There is often a checkbox and a couple lines to fill out to get an order of protection and an emergency hearing right away. To blow up your family and to put children through this trauma is unthinkable by most people, unless there is a monster lurking in the shadows. The story of a violently abusive husband behind closed doors, and a stable businessman and community member in public has been sold to our culture for a very long time. Behind closed doors all men are possibly a closet sociopath.

The Truth

The truth is that in most relationships there has been some physical aspect to altercations. It might be pushing, slapping, grabbing, or simply pounding on a wall or table. It isn’t the norm for most people to fight like this regularly, and for most the type of contact doesn’t present any more risk than playing frisbee. The couples where this is the norm, it is also generally not just one partner doing these things or even initiating them all of the time. When physical altercation is the cause of divorce, it is usually the first one. Most people in abusive relationships stay there. They are sympathetic to the abuser. No one should live like this, but there is a more complicated psychological reaction to what is happening in these relationships than just the abuse. I won’t claim to understand it, but I will claim that those who stay after abuse generally believe in some way that the abuse is justified or not their partners fault. This is broken thinking, but it is also thinking that keeps them from leaving. The domestic violence laws, well intentioned or not, are misguided. They take away the core principle of American justice, that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. It allows the family court to dispense justice without proving fault. It has become a tool for ensuring that women can get what they want in divorce without having to negotiate. This isn’t only a problem for those who have been accused, but for all men going through divorce. There is a concept of “negotiating in the shadow of the law.” This means that in the shadow of how the court is likely to view things based on prior cases, men are not negotiating from a position of equal footing. They are negotiating for something better than they hope for in court, but not for their equitable share of things. This is especially true when it comes to things regarding the children. Lawyers like this system. It allows them to control the amount of conflict and maximize their income. The law saying one thing, and the reality of the process being another thing will allow both the husband’s and the wife’s lawyers to utilize the system to pad their pockets.

My Take

Domestic violence is horrible, but the kind of ongoing domestic violence that these laws are written to handle is not the norm. It is the bar that all men going through divorce are faced with proving they are not one of those guys. The domestic violence laws really just need to be repealed. In a no fault divorce world, domestic violence should have nothing to do with the results of the case. I say this with an understanding that partner abuse has not been a demonstrator of child abuse or future child abuse, so it shouldn’t play a role in deciding what happens with the children. I do think there should be an emergency process for women and men of abuse to use to protect themselves as they head out for divorce. I think there should be a simple process for someone lower than a judge to hear the initial part of a case. The person leaving needs to vacate the house, unless they agree otherwise, and an equal time share with the kids needs to be established right away, unless there is agreement otherwise or a significant compelling reason not to do so. If the person leaving was unable to retrieve their personal items, then police can assist in ensuring there isn’t conflict while retrieving these things. Any other items should be protected with an order not allowing either of them to dispose of, destroy, or sell them. There should be directions to the courts not to take initial possession of the house as a precedent as to who should be allowed to keep the house. I don’t want the advantage to shift to the alleged abuser, but neither should they automatically lose everything based on allegations that haven’t passed any legal test at this point. As I have said in previous posts, the assets of a marriage should be divided by agreement, or the court should force the sale of the items and then the proceeds divided equally by the parties. The court should not decide who gets a home, car, heirloom, or other items. If you rember the story of King Solomon and the women who argued over the baby. His solution was to cut the baby in half. He then gave the baby to the mother who wouldn’t let the child be cut in half. There are two lessons in that story for us in these situations. One, is that it is clearly not the courts role to judge on things of family. The court has no insight no matter how hard they try to find it. Two, that the person who is most aggressive in wanting the child is most likely to allow harm to come to the child for the sake of winning. Our courts routinely ignore this second lesson I also think that fault divorce should be a viable option for the victims of domestic violence. Criminal charges should be filed, and some form of guilty finding or plea would imply fault in the divorce case. This should be the only way to divide the property in an inequitable way.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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