February 23

Daddy’s Gone

This song isn’t really about my situation, but the pain and desire described in the song is the light version of what I feel, and my kids probably feel right now. I certainly hope things get better, but my hopes are pretty small. This song made me cry the first time I heard it, so its one that tugs at my heart. Be prepared, this post is likely going to be long and jump around. My thoughts aren’t clear and there is a lot I want to say. This blog is as much for me to get rid of some of my angst as it is for me to convey the very real issues I observe and experience.

I haven’t written in a while. I was preparing for trial, and then having to deal with the results emotionally. I don’t know that I will ever be able to recover from what has been done. I don’t know that my family will recover. If it does, it will most likely do so without me. It is clear to me at this point that there is no justice in the USA. The freedom and justice that our forefathers fought to protect was lost generations ago. Maybe from the beginning. In a letter to A. Coray on October 31, 1823 Thomas Jefferson wrote:

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life if secured against all liability to account.

I consider Jefferson one of the most astute of the founding fathers. It seems whenever I have disagreed with him, life teaches me that he was correct. I now take all his words to heart as I examine this grand experiment called the United States of America. I am going to break this up as much as I can into sections.

The Trial

Pre-Trial

I approached my ex and asked her if she would stand with me to have the schedule that she had agreed to before. She told me that she wasn’t in a position to go against the GAL’s recommendation. At the time, I thought it was a strange wording, but didn’t think too much about it. I now believe that she asked the GAL to step in, because she had given me a schedule, and that they were working together. Otherwise she would have expressed that she wouldn’t stand with me, not that she couldn’t. I have to remember that she parses words more adeptly than the best attorneys.

My Exhibits

I had presented a number of alternatives to the proposal that would allow me to retain my overnights with the kids, and to spend time with my oldest on a limited basis. He would not have overnights with me. I would spend an evening with him alone and a weekend afternoon with him alone, and I would spend an evening with him and his siblings and a weekend afternoon with him and his siblings. This would be on a two week cycle, so there would be 4 encounters with him and me. Two of which would include his siblings. We also had many pictures with us as a family. This last one should have been compelling, but it was really just one other thing for the GAL to latch onto that excluded my oldest.

Testimony

The GAL

He described a man who abandoned a son. I understand how that is the view of some. I have reasons for my behavior that have been discussed in this blog. I also have had many roadblocks that I simply could not get across, some financial and some put there by my ex, and some self imposed for the sake of the other kids involved. He described my home for the others being a Cinderella story. Not the good part, but that they were treated as the slaves in our home. Made to do unreasonable chores, and sent away without care. This is far from the truth. Again as I have discussed in this blog, they have very few responsibilities at my house, and I felt like I really couldn’t give them many without being accused of being a slave driver. He talked about a few examples of issues at my house. Each one was out of context, and a singular issue not an example of an ongoing issue. He presented his recommendation for parenting time. It gives me a few hours every Tuesday, and every other Thursday. I then have eight hours every other weekend.

The Ex

Her attorney only called her. She kindly made me look like a horrible person. She made a point that I made my daughter go to the daddy/daughter dance with my step-daughter, and got her there when it was half over because I took her to my wife’s grandmothers to get a picture. The truth is that I had told my step-daughter that we couldn’t go to the daddy/daughter dance at her school this year. It was the same night as my daughters. My step-daughter will have three more opportunities to with me. My daughter asked me to bring her. I told her that she didn’t have to do that. She still wanted her to come. I didn’t realize that a good chunk of the high schools where I was planning on having dinner were having a dance that night. After my first few attempts at getting into a restaurant, I took them to a nice bar and grill that I knew they would like the food at. To make things more frustrating, they lost my ticket and took an extra 45 minutes to get us our food. Instead of arriving at the dance less 30 minutes after it started, we arrived 75 minutes after it started. I felt horrible, and then it gets twisted in court to make me look bad on top of it. My lawyer challenged her with a few things, but all in all she didn’t say much. I should have encouraged him to call her as our witness as well, so he could get her more on edge. He was playing by the cross-examination rules, then when I took the stand the other two attorneys asked to have those tossed aside and tried to make my lawyer look silly for thinking they should honor cross examination rules.

Me

I was on the stand for over an hour and a half. First my attorney questioned me. I explained my position on things the best I could. He asked me mostly open ended questions. My ex’s attorney then asked a couple questions. She really didn’t seem to have any focus other than you shouldn’t like this guy, but she seemed a bit befuddled. I suspect she had heard a story that I don’t talk well and expected something very different than I presented. The truth is I don’t talk well when confronted by my ex. She is one of the few people who can set me to stuttering. I am thoughtful when I speak, but that doesn’t mean I am unable to speak off the cuff. My thoughtfulness tends to mean that on many topics I have already put a great deal of thought into what is being talked about. Next the GAL questioned me. Pretty much every decision I made, he twisted into being a poor one. He shouted at me, and badgered me. I did a fair job of answering the questions, even when he didn’t really want me to. At one point he shouted at me “They are just step-kids.” This pissed me off. If I haven’t shared my philosophy about kids here, then I must now. My answer was that I have adopted 3 children, and have had a few more as foster kids. Blood does not tie me to the child, and I did not take it lightly when I had my wife and her two kids move in with me. When they moved in, they were now one of my children, lacking only the legal piece of paper naming it so. I won’t treat them differently (at least intentionally) than I do the other kids. This is why I struggle so much with this. I honestly still don’t believe he is safe to be in the home with his siblings. He hurt them too. It became apparent to me that the GAL was focused on the wedding ceremony we held that wasn’t legal. We were not able to get married because my ex would not allow the bifurcation to happen. We were married a little over a week after the divorce was final. Funny, my wife has the same legal anniversary for both me and her ex. We will celebrate the date we made the commitment.

My Wife

She was rushed through, since the court needed to finish. My lawyer called her and had her talk about her relationship with the kids. My ex’s attorney then cross examined her. Again I was not real sure what her point was. It was an odd mixture of questions. The witnesses were told to wait in the hall, so they couldn’t hear the other witnesses. A partner from my law firm was in the courtroom, and left. She tried to insinuate that my wife’s testimony should be thrown out because she talked to him. She merely introduced herself. The court had no issues with her. It would have been an ethics violation for him to say anything regarding the testimony since he heard the instructions, and he too is an officer of the court. The GAL attacked her on treating the kids poorly and having separate rules for the kids. There are, but they he has them flipped. Her kids are held to more accountability than they are, even though they are quite a bit younger. He also went after her for the wedding ceremony, and so did my ex’s attorney. They were picking at her words. She did get angry and lashed out a bit, but she kept it pretty much under control.

The Judge

The judge ruled in favor of the GAL. She gave an eloquent speech that this was only temporary and that it should be looked at as a reset for me and the kids. My wife and her kids are to have no contact with my kids. My lawyer told me she was leaning that way in chambers. Apparently in another case this worked. I doubt that the other case actually resembled ours. It was probably an absent father, who was then encouraged to be active with all his kids, or some other issue that wasn’t a direct result of his child’s actions. I also got a hint that there was something not being said. I will get to that in a bit. She handed over the decision making to the therapist that has been working with my oldest, and now the other kids. The GAL has less authority than before, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a factor.

The Take Away

There is a small hope the therapist will have a different view of things. The focus is largely on my oldest who is 15. We will see how things go from here. Every time I turn around, I get smacked in the face, so expect no less here. I actually will address this in my next post. I got the distinct feeling through the GAL that the story that is in his head is the one where I ran off with a new young wife and left my family floundering. That I stopped caring for them, and treated them poorly. The timeline does not support this, but his direction of questioning and his atitude seem to indicate that is the story he has bought. Or at least a story of I didn’t let the kids adjust at all. Our separations was 18 months before I ever introduced them to anyone, and that was my wife. I was not incautious in that decision. She wasn’t the first woman I dated. I did not want to cause havoc in their lives. I really do think it is just a matter of time until I lose my right to contact with my kids. The process is just whittling away at what I have. There isn’t much ore that can be taken away. My kids are pre-teens and teens, they aren’t going to be happy with the schedule that is being proposed for long. Pretty soon they will be asking to not have to do it.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 15

Income Based Child Support – Defacto Alimony

Buffalo Bills - Alimony Ale

The more I think about this, the more it is true. Any form of child support that is based on someone’s income is defacto alimony. Alimony is based on the principle that a man’s ex-wife deserves to be supported near the same level she was in the marriage. That she has become accustomed to the lifestyle, and thus deserves it. This is one of those ideas that drives me nuts. Its not a right she had in the marriage. Its a principle that encourages divorce if the man is losing his income earning potential. If his income is dropping, then so will her lifestyle, but if she divorces him before or at least early in the fall, then she can get herself a guarantee of the lifestyle they have, even if he falls to a point where that is unsustainable. Sounds ridiculous, but it is how things work, or worked. Since most states have limited alimony now instead of lifetime alimony.

Anytime a there is a new right gained through divorce that didn’t exist in marriage, there are going to be issues. The principle of alimony is based on rights that don’t actually exist in marriage. She is a guaranteed beneficiary of his income through divorce and alimony, even though in marriage she was not guaranteed this, but naturally received something similar. As the wife of this man, his income naturally benefited her as it did him. Other than the fact that alimony indentures or enslaves a man to his ex-wife, the further problem is it only looks at income to determine what is the correct amount. If we were to ignore the first problem, and its hard to ignore, then it would be more reasonable to determine what was spent on the lifestyle, and then determine the amount that should be paid for alimony. Most high income earners don’t spend anywhere near the totality of their income for their lifestyle. Alimony was a treat for the rich in divorce that has been extended to the rest of the population. When the rich paid alimony, they often had the resources to continue living their lifestyle as they always had, at least when they only had one ex-wife. The middle class on the other hand are struggling to save a little and maintain their lifestyle. There simply isn’t enough income for both parties to live a similar lifestyle as before. This has taken time, but it has made alimony look like a bad deal.

Now all the same arguments about lifestyle have been applied to the child support calculators. The children suddenly have a right to a lifestyle. Most children are granted primary residency with the mother, so the father has to pay child support to her. There is a practical aspect that says that one parent needs to pay for all the needs of the child. Its too difficult to manage otherwise. I am not a big fan of the law being practical, because whenever it is people’s rights are stomped on. This is no different. Children have been given the right to a lifestyle that the parents provided. This benefits the parent, usually the mother, that has the primary residency of the children. She gets the money to spend as she wishes. If she isn’t taking care of the kids basic needs is the only way that how she spends this money gets scrutinized. Effectively alimony has been rolled into child support. Giving the children a right to lifestyle and building it into child support does this.

Since half the population stands to gain from this system, its hard to fight against it. Fathers have been made into indentured servants for their children. They are forced to work at certain level to maintain their children’s lifestyles. Both alimony and child support have many means to freeze the current state as they see fit. You must go back to court and get approval to lower the amounts. The court is under no obligation to lower the amounts, even in cases where the payer has lost income earning potential, but they are obligated to further raise child support if the earning of the payer increase. The payer will not be allowed to go to school to better their ability to earn if it means earning less. Many men become trapped in jobs that have no upward mobility, because they would have to change jobs and accept a lower salary for the time being to regain headroom in their ability to earn again, and they cannot afford the support payments and earn less.

I hear the arguments for this type of child support and the means for enforcing it. Many come down to the idea of why should the children suffer because the father has made bad career choices. the constant drone of he is obligated to pay for his children. The seemingly irrefutable argument that children cost way more than the child support that any man pays, and that the mother is shouldering the majority of the burden. The first idea is flawed. If the parent suffers financially, it is natural the children will suffer as well. When married parents have financial difficulties, the children feel them directly. A false dichotomy has been created when the parents aren’t married, where the only parent’s financial problems felt by the children is the residential parent. The second argument seems to assume that the only way a father can pay for his children’s needs is through child support. I have argued before that most of these problems are already solved with criminal neglect laws. If the father is not supporting his children, and they are neglected, then prosecute him. Most fathers will spend what is necessary to care for their children without ever having to see a court room. The third argument really depends on the financial status of the parents. Most middle class and above situations don’t fall in this category. The father’s child support pays for 100% of the kids expenses, including the extras-curricular and luxuries. There is enough left over for the mother to better her lifestyle as well. In most cases the mother is not required to expend any of her resources to care for the children. This includes the costs of a larger home and vehicle to use for the children.

The natural way of economics in familial structures is very different than what the family court imposes on people on a regular basis. Children and others benefit from the income of those they live with. No one has any obligation to care for those who don’t live with them. Children really aren’t much different. So long as the children are properly cared for, it should not be the business of the court how this happens. Shared parenting would allow the children to benefit from both parents and their abilities. The system now allows the children to benefit from both parents, but they never see the reality of this. They see one parent providing, while the other parent does not. Often the parent they see provide for them isn’t shouldering the burden, because they have taken the resources from the other parent to do so. It would be natural for the children to have to pull out of sports or other activities during a financial crisis, and for most families a divorce constitutes a financial crisis. The family would eliminate unnecessary expenditures to free up the money to pay for the crisis. With support, the residential parent is allowed to do this. They can even use the support to do so. The payer is often left with so little discretionary income left that they are unable to dig out of the crisis until such time that they are no longer obligated to pay support.

I have seen this play out in my life. It hurts to see her be able to eliminate the debt in her life, while I am called by creditors. She has a newer car, and can afford to repair it on a regular basis. She can provide the things I would want to provide for my children. I am left with debt that I won’t be able to pay off for years to come. I have to shop for gifts that I hope they see the meaning in, because they are of little real value. I am not able to provide the luxuries that I would like, while they have them at their mothers. Many would tell me to be happy that my children have these things, but when their mother is able to gain credibility in their lives through these things, and I cannot provide the things I would choose. My income is used to provide things for them that I may not choose to do so. Simple things like TVs in their rooms. I would not approve of, but they have them at their mothers, and my income paid for it. i Phones; I would never purchase these for my children, but they have them using my income. These are just a couple of things that I have lost say in, but am required through support to pay for. My children benefit from my income while I do not.

The only thing that most women lose by leaving the fathers of their children is access to the man and his skills. The man is often shamed for not providing these things. If there are boy children, they often take advantage of them for these things. The man loses so much more. He loses his income, significant time with his children, his authority in his children’s life, and his ability to be seen providing for his children. The children only see their mother providing, even though the resources she uses came from their father. The cost of divorce lies squarely on a father’s shoulders, and all too often they aren’t the ones who initiated the divorce. Many like to say the cost is bore by the children, but that is only true because of the losses that happen to the father, or in rare case the mother. The children would be much better off if the parents were told to figure things out, and take care of your kids together. Let nature takes its course with the parents, and there will be less animosity and fighting. We need to stop using the worst examples to set how we are going to handle the average cases for everyone.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 1

Letting Go

10 of 365 - Let Go

This is something I am not good at. When I take a Meyer’s-Brigg’s personality test, I always get INTJ. I have found this tool to be very accurate in describing how I think and react to things. This type is rare, and struggles finding people to associate with. We are not understood well, and though we understand others, we don’t see value in acting on things that fit right, so we easily discount others. This makes relationships hard, but one of the things often associated with an INTJ is loyalty, so once a relationship is established we will fight for them. I think my story shows how willing I am to do this. Lets break down my personal perspective on being INTJ before we get to far.

I – Introversion preferred to Extroversion: This means that social interaction costs something. It can be tiring. This does not mean that I am not social. I am very social. I am not energizes by being social I seek time alone to recharge my batteries. A relationship that cannot respect this about me will not be valued.

N – Intuition preferred to sensing: I see the big picture, and tend to focus on that. When I get into the details, I am very good at figuring them out with my sights on the big picture. The problems tend to come when I allow perfectionism to blind me to finishing the goal. I can get mired in the details, and fail to ever reach my goal. This has happened in my divorce, and it happens a lot at work. Its a constant topic with my boss. He gets it, and its his job to kick me in the head to shake things up. We have a good relationship in that way.

T – Thinking preferred to feeling: Logic is the greatest thing for making decisions. Social constructs don’t matter much to me. I will try to reason my way through the world. This works great at building and designing things, but it doesn’t always work well in dealing with people. People don’t make sense. They are illogical. I often can predict what someone will do like I am living in a video game, but I fail to find the capacity to act on that knowledge because it doesn’t make sense. This is something that I am working on.

J – Judgement preferred to perception: Predictability is the core of this trait. Decisions that I will make are not hard to figure out. I have given you all you need to know to know how I will react to something. Most often this trait is one that drives early decision making. I don’t tend to this. This is also in the more comprehensive tests for me the lower case version. It is my weakest trait in the INTJ or INTj. I come close to the middle on this one, but always have fallen to the J not the P.

I explain all this, because what I have been going through has really torn at my core. The person I chose as my mate has turned against me in the ways that hurt the most. I struggle to show emotion. I don’t always process emotion in the moment. When I do, I am surprised by it. My family has changed a lot since I started this process, and that is where things have gotten messy.

My Dad died two years ago. I miss him everyday. He was very different than me, and we had great arguments. The best kind. I never doubted I was loved by that man. He and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but we knew we could count on each other. I know he had brain cancer, but he died not believing in me. I struggle with that every day. I don’t know how to resolve the feeling that go with that. He saw me as a failure for the first time in my life. I know that his cancer affected how he perceived things, but it still hurts like a son of a bitch to think about it.

While my Dad was sick, my sister pushed me out of my mom’s circle. I was no longer someone she called. I didn’t see at the time, that my sister was doing this, but as I look back, I see that she was actively pushing me out of my mom’s life. A little less than a year ago, she stopped talking to me. I don’t know why. She withdrew almost completely. At family events, she talked around me, but almost never to me. She began talking to my ex at events more and more, and now openly treats her like a sister while ignoring me, and insisting that my nieces and brother-in-law do the same. I haven’t had any significant time with any of them in quite a long time. My sister gets my kids together with hers by going through my ex. She actively rejects my step-kids. My step-son cried to his mom why his aunt doesn’t love him anymore.

My mom recently decided to make a huge issue out of a small issue. It revolved around my current wife. She has tried to force me to push her out. She is looking at things as if the marriage ceremony and vows don’t mean anything, because there is no legal license to go along with it. She wants me to choose her over my wife. That isn’t going to happen, as anyone who understand me or any other INTJ for that matter should know. My mom remarried on the day before my birthday. She did so on the down low. She didn’t want to be judged for living in sin.

My new step-father, a man I thought was going to be a good thing in my life has chosen a very poor course with me. He decided to step into this fight between my wife and my mother, and even my and my sister. He challenged me by emasculating me. He became the great white knight. He tried to cut me down before them, and insult my manhood. Its something he doesn’t belong in, but he put himself into the middle of and made it between me and him.

I will write about the details of all these things next. I am writing this because the results are hard for me. I have told my step-father that I am done with him. Those were the words he told me if I didn’t do what he expected. My sister doesn’t talk to me. I told my mom that we needed to take a break, because she isn’t hearing anything I have to say. I have to let go. Its time to let go.

Letting go is not something that I do well. I have to let go of the things I can’t control. I have to let go of what is right, at least in my case, when it comes to the family court process. I have to let go, because I will be called on to help others who are going through what I have gone through. I have to let go of the fatherly relationship that I desire. Mine is gone, and this man who married my mom isn’t going to fill his shoes. From what I can tell he already has a son like me, and isn’t interested in him either. I have to let go of my sister. I don’t have the emotional cycles to deal with whatever she isn’t talking about. I am not going to pretend that I am innocent. I just don’t know what is bothering her. My mom has chosen to be more selfish than I have ever known her to be. I have to let that go. She isn’t hearing me right now. She may never hear me again. My father may have been more the translator than I ever thought he was for us. What I can hold on to is the fact that my father and his father are the only men who loved me for who I am, and accepted who I am as well. That is enough.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

October 9

People Don’t Like Change

changing fate

It seems that I have been a too go with the flow for too long now. I have done what others want far too often. Generally, I don’t care. I am the last to do something in the crowd, and often miss out because time has run out. I am the one that takes the kids, so the adults can spend time together. At least I used to be that guy. Recently I have asserted myself in many ways. Its the only way I can break the chains that held me in my marriage. The people in my life don’t seem to like it.

My sister has been moving farther and farther away from me. The excuses I hear are far more recent than the the actions she has taken. I still believe that my ex has put herself in the middle. I don’t know exactly to what end. In the past I would be be asking forgiveness for the wrongs that are perceived. I don’t have it in me. Preserving the relationship would have been the choice I always made in the past, but I spent too many years doing that everyday for my ex. Trying to figure out what I did wrong. Hoping I never did anything so wrong again that she would cheat again or worse leave. I shouldered the blame for everything that was wrong. I started to believe that I was solely responsible for all my relationships. I understand that this is crazy thinking. As it applies to my sister, this change has not sat well with her. She views me as a taker in her life, though I haven’t asked or taken anything from her. I do believe that as I look back. The only thing I got help from her family on, was my daughter needed a ride for soccer practice. I always offered to take one way, but they never took me up on this. For most of the year, I have invited her family to things we were doing. They chosen to do other things over this time every time.

My mom has been a sideline player in my life since I have been an adult. I don’t understand why this is. I thought that we were getting somewhere new over the past few years, but it seems that this is not the case. She is pushing me back. She has assisted with financial things over the past few years, and I am grateful for this. I don’t know where I would be without that help. It seems that the financial help has been a substitute for the other affection that I could have used. I don’t understand her reactions to things. For a while I gave her grace. My father was dying, and my circumstances were changing all at the same time. I wasn’t sure she had much to give. She was a sounding board for me. She heard some of the crazy thinking that I had through all of this. Some of which is in this blog, but much of it simply needed to be talked out. She largely doesn’t understand what I am going through. She knows a piece of the pain, but she can’t fathom the fullness of it, and I hope she never has to.

I am not the same person that I used to be. I know this. I am harder. I am slowly learning that there is no justice. I am also learning that everyone has to take care of themselves first. This is not something I like about human nature. I thought that somehow I had managed to build a network around me that was different. Mostly because I was always willing to go out of my way for others. I didn’t realize that those others aren’t there for me. They never were. I don’t know that I want to change so much that I don’t look out for others, but I do need to start taking care of myself first. Letting things go to take care of others is only going to kill me sooner than I have to die. I can say that my thinking has gone from “What would they do if I were gone” to “They wouldn’t miss me if I were gone.” Its sad to think that way. I think its true for my kids as well as almost everyone else I know. They might be sad for a minute or two, but life would simply go on. At this point, I am not even sure how many great stories would be told about me. I hope to find a better outlook on life soon. Its time to shift my thinking.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

October 7

When Does It End

The Endless Tunnel

I have been reading things at A Shrink For Men. Its abuse week or some such thing. The stories stand out to me, because these men have or are dealing with the things that I have. Some to a greater degree, and some to the same. I know these stories seem crazy when you read them, but they happen, and with greater frequency than most people understand. The reality is our culture breeds borderlines. We forgive their actions, because they are women. Men who behaved this way go to jail. Women who behave this way send men to jail.

I am heading back to court next week. I have lost all hope of a good outcome. I don’t have a settlement yet, and I suspect that she will not give me what I want. I am financially unable to pay my rent. I have to dig up $600 to avoid contempt of court to pay the GAL who basically decided that I am not a worthy father. He handed all the power to her. He took away any normal negotiation tool that I may have. So far she has taken the position of simply limiting my time to a point to maximize her child support. This isn’t so bad, except she has the power to make it less, and she very well might do so. I hope that I will get a settlement, and the one I want. I am not asking her for anything really. I am asking for her to accept my retirement money, and to cash out a portion to give back to me. Money that is already mine, that I don’t have access to. Money I need to get back on my feet. Money I need to avoid bankruptcy. I am not even sure that bankruptcy saves me, because much of my debt is in the category of things that aren’t subject to bankruptcy. I am sure my lawyer has made sure that a good chunk of my time has been charged for custody and child support issues, so that it isn’t subject to discharge.

The system loves women like my ex. They feed the system with unending debates. She can look reasonable, because the conflict feeds her. Its a natural place for her to thrive. Absent of this conflict, she is likely to explode to create the conflict that she needs to feed on. The process is killing me. I walk around with constant chest pain. I have had multiple panic attacks while playing soccer that have dropped me to my knees. The judge has lost her patience with the case, but I won’t be surprised if it continues. If she settles with me, then it will be a constant return regarding the children. I have decided that I have to move if things become worse. I need to go live somewhere where I am not constantly reminded that my children aren’t mine anymore. The supreme court has upheld that parents not being married don’t lose parental rights, but the family court denies these rights to men everyday. They do so by threatening the worst, even though its probably not legal. Men settle fearing to lose it all. Lawyers get rich off of divorce. Divorce is a predictable cash cow. I haven’t won a single point in court or negotiations, yet my attorney will still collect the thousands of dollars for this privilege. In my field I don’t get paid if the work isn’t satisfactory. If I do get paid for shoddy work, I will get sued. Most courts won’t hold attorneys to account, because they are all a part of the system. When I went through my DUI case, the attorney explained to me which lawyers were prosecutors where, and judges elsewhere, and defense attorneys somewhere else. The system feeds on itself. If a lawyer loses a case against another lawyer they risk being ostracized in future proceeding with that attorney or their law firm. Unless you can afford to hire a hotshot from out of town, then you will not find an attorney who will be vigorous in these cases. The same goes for the GAL in family court. No one wants to challenge them too harshly, because they have to deal with them in other cases, and can’t afford to lose every time they are in the same courtroom.

I don’t have much fight left in me. I truly understand how men walk away from all this. The pain of living it everyday is too much. Its easier to live your life completely apart from anything that may bring you in the path of your children who might choose to ignore you. When you are unable to provide directly for your children, it hurts to say that they have to ask their mother, knowing that you have provided the funds for the things they need. The only glimmer of hope I get is when my kids see things for how they really are. I am attacked for pointing it out to them, so its not often. I don’t see them seeing the truth for long if I lose time with them. Someday, when my sons are facing the family court themselves, they will understand. Its possible that they will also be so estranged from me that they won’t call me, but they will mourn what they lost, and what they will likely lose with their kids. Its at that moment that they will realize the pain that I felt.

I don’t know what is going on, but she seems to have turned my family against me. My sister has pulled away from me for most of the last 3 years. All the while telling me she doesn’t like my ex, and never did. A couple weekends ago, I was at my daughter’s soccer game, and my sister was at the game. I didn’t know she was coming. She sitting next to my ex and chatting like they were the best of friends. She wouldn’t acknowledge me. I talked to my brother-in-law for a bit, until she gave him a look. He sat down behind her like a puppy dog. My mom has met with my ex on at least two occasions. The first time she came at me with all sorts of accusations that were straight from my ex’s lips. She has since blown up over a Facebook post from my current wife. One that had nothing to with her. I assume that a guilty conscious fueled the backlash. I guess people asked her if it was about her. I can only assume that she has talked about things that would make them think like that. For years I have asked her and my dad to be more involved in my kids life. I have pointed out that as they get older, they will see that she is more engaged with my sisters kids. I was told as my ex and I split, that she was largely the reason. Nothing changed. My dad was sick with cancer, and that was the new excuse. My dad has since died and my mother remarried, and nothing has changed. They still make it my nieces events. When my daughter played on the same team as her cousin, they watched her play. They haven’t seen her play since. My daughter also always said that they were there to see her cousin. My step-daughter was super-excited that my mom was at her school show, but she didn’t even realize my step-daughter was in the show. She was there to see my other niece. I have come to the conclusion that the problem is likely with me, because I am the constant in the equation, but she has never indicated what the problem is. I wish I had moved away years ago. I have stayed in the area, because I was made to feel guilty to do otherwise. Now I feel trapped by the fear of losing my children. This is why if I lose more time with them, I will make that move. I will likely make it with or without my current wife. There is only so much pain I can face, and if she is unable or unwilling to move with me, I cannot stay.

I honestly think that my ex has manipulated things for her advantage. I suspect that I will hear in court that I should have less time, and that she will do a better job than I do in keeping the kids connected with my family. I think she will hold my kids hostage to get what she wants from my family. She will threaten that they don’t get to see them if they don’t play along, and then use the contact she controls to justify taking them away from me. I have grown to sympathize with the men who after family court have committed suicide in fantastic ways to send their message to the world. I understand how a mild mannered man is driven to murder. Not that these are things I am considering, but what once seemed so crazy to me, now is evident. These men feel powerless. Not just powerless, but enslaved. They have been enslaved through the system to the very person who despises them. They are continually punished by their slaver, and they are treated as something despicable. Their is no justification for what happens in family court. For the court, it is simple pragmatism. The court operates as it always has. It functions to control conflict, and has a system that does just that.

In every case that I am personally familiar with, only one parent is willing to use the kids as pawns to get what they want. That parent will win. The other parent, who actually has the kids best interest at heart, will lose. They will lose big time, and the kids will lose as well. The kids lose the parent who cares most for them. The courts do not use the wisdom of Solomon. Most judges probably look at the story of Solomon, and think that they are like him, but they are not. They are more like the appointed judges under Moses. Their job was to give Moses time. To let him do other things that were demanded of him. Often they would try to mimic what they thought he would do, but in the end when he made wise decisions these judges were surprised by what he did. Wise people do not mimic others. They instead learn to understand that thought process of others, and use the same tools that other wise men used to make new wise decisions. I hope for a day where some wise men make changes to fix this mockery of a family court system.

This post is all over the place, there is just a lot of shit going on in my head that I needed to dump.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 29

Custody Is The Problem

Elián

Sure divorce is a problem in our society. Its not one that is likely to go away. We have a society where people retain their autonomy after marriage. This means that both people have the chance to continue developing relationships and to be able to make their own living after being married. The social pressures to stay married have largely faded. In sub-cultures there are still some pressures, but this is not the case for larger cultural moors. Those who exist in the sub-cultures that judge divorce, can simply leave them. Most people understand that what was gained or lost together will be divided when you separate. This too is not really an issue. It might hurt to divide up your property, but its something that most people will get over fairly quickly. Divorce hurts people. Kids suffer, and the partners suffer. This should be a short term suffering. Most of the time, people accept there is no real winner in this game, and move on. Children adapt to the new family structure like they would have to a new baby or a grandparent moving in or out of their home.

The problems almost always come into play when you start talking about custody. Custody presents a scenario where there are winners and losers. This is where things get nasty. This is where one or both partners find the will to destroy the other person. Currently women hold the advantage in the same way a 7 foot, 350 pound man holds the advantage on the offensive line. They may not win every time they line up, but they are likely to control the line the majority of the time. The problem is women don’t have a natural advantage, but one that is instituted by the societal ideas and government. The fact there is an advantage to be won is the problem. In the majority of cases, both parents are able and willing to raise their children. Most men are blind sided by the fight they are walking into. Its a bit like one of the Dugger girls walking into a restaurant and finding out that it is a strip club. These men expect fairness and logic to prevail, but the system isn’t built on either of these ideas. It is built on tort. Tort says that if previous courts have ruled a certain way, then it too should rule that way or argue why it shouldn’t rule that way.

The majority of time spent in court by divorcing couples revolves around child custody. This is the case for a few reasons. Both parents don’t want to lose time with the kids, and they believe that they are a better parent than the other person. One of them is probably right, but it doesn’t really matter. Understand that each parent chose, either directly through marriage or indirectly by having risky sex, to have a child with the other parent. Thus the choice should be respected by the court. If neither parent poses a real risk to the children, then they should be granted equal access to raise the children. The court should not become embroiled in arguments over who is the better parent. They should not entertain the idea of what is in the best interest of the child. For one reason, there is no possible way for them to determine what is in actual best interest of the children. Nor under different circumstances do the kids have the right for their best interests to be considered. I would also add that this is a slippery slope, because the court could attain the habit of deciding that it is in the best interest of the child for the state to raise every child. Divorce law and tort is leading down a path that would make that next step a pretty simple one to make. The court shouldn’t entertain this idea also because it is not actually a right of the kids, it is a mechanism used for the court to decide who wins. The children and the parents should be forced to live with the choices that the parents made initially. Just because the parents don’t want to live together doesn’t mean that the court must make this choice. The court should enforce the parents equal access to the children, not choose who gets the majority of the time with the children. Often, if not most of the time, the court chooses sides with the person most likely to keep coming back if they don’t win. This is no way to determine peoples lives. It is a process that allows someone to control and hurt the other party for no other reason than they want to and are willing to. If there is no reason to pick sides, then the court should refuse to do so. As it stand now the court will choose sides, if one party asks them too. Very few fathers will ever ask the court to do so, because they know how the court will tend to act against them, but it is no better for a man to decide to ask the court to intervene simply because they know and understand that the particular court is likely to side with them.

There are only four positions the court should take, and they should be considered in this order. The first is the parents agreed to this arrangement, and the court will honor it. If the parents figured it out, and are both are willing to live the arrangements, then court should stay the hell out of it. The second is the court will enforce some form of 50/50 arrangement. This should be the default. If this were the default, then most parents knowing the uphill battle for something different would choose not to fight. If the end of most custody fights was that there would be no change to the terms, then most fights would not occur. The third alternative is that for some reason it is truly not workable for the parents to have an equal time share. This should be a high bar to reach. One that would require a substantial physical distance or a work schedule that makes it impossible to manage. This is also a situation that should the obstacles be remedied, the the parents would be moved back to a 50/50 schedule. If the distance is created by one parent is likely done for the purpose of winning a larger time share with the kids or is done by their choice not the other parents choice, then it should be awarded to the other parent. Any action that would interfere with one parents rights to raise their children should be rewarded with less time, not more. When time cannot be 50/50, then as much time that is possible should be granted the other parent. If that means that one parent has every weekend, and the other parent has weekdays, then this should be the schedule. Weekends aren’t magical, and if that is the only time a parent can reliably have the children, they should be given that time. The last option should only be used if one parent is deemed incapable or a danger to the children. This option is very simple. One parent has the children most of the time, and the other parent is required to have an appropriate amount of supervision based on the risks they present. They should be given as much time as possible, but it is unlikely that overnight stays, especially ones that are greater than a single night should be allowed. If they are, then it is unlikely they actually present the risks necessary for this ruling, and an appeals court should overturn the ruling for a more favorable arrangement. This arrangement should be reviewed at least every six months to ensure that the risks are still present. When the risks have been mitigated, then the arrangements should be changed to something more favorable.

Most cases shouldn’t ever see a court, nor should the threat of court change the course of negotiations. It should be fairly predictable what the court will determine. As in all these discussions, there are the edge cases. The ones where a family is abandoned by a parent, and where there is real and tangible abuse. I do believe that abandonment is so hard to effectively prove that the course should be taken when a previous abandonment has been ruled there be a course to allow reintroduction of the parent and child. Simple plans with goals that are attainable. If the parent follows the plan, then the end result would be that they have 50/50 time with the child. I do believe there are real abandonment cases, but many of the ones that we encounter of supposed abandonment is a father who has given up when the system keeps kicking him in the teeth, or the prospect of the hell court brings down on them is too much, and they walk. I hear all the time that a real man wouldn’t abandon his children, but the reality is the measure of a man isn’t how much abuse he can take from his ex, and sit by while he is denied the right to truly parent his children. Circumstances are usually more complicated than they first appear. The human psyche plays a large role in how people respond. There is not a formula for what the right response is. We rely too much on a few people judgement of the scenario to make these determinations. People who have no vested interest, and people who truly know very little about the realities we have faced. Neither person should have to say anymore about the other person than I cannot live with them anymore, and I do not want to share my life and lifestyle with them, with the understanding that you are bound so long as you have children.

There are lots of reasons why custody is such a problem. Most of them are emotional. One or both parents have decided that the other parent is a bad person, and feel justified in their actions. The fact the court will make a decision also leads to people asking for the court to make the decision. If the bar for less than shared parenting is set very high, then it becomes less likely that people will ask. Then if the court adopts the position that someone who is fighting to lessen contact with one parent without good cause should be given less access to the children, because they are in fact seeking to harm the children. These everyday custody battles all but go away when there is nothing to gain. Money is another factor that plays a major role in these cases. I think that just as each person in a divorce has equal rights to property, and equal responsibilities to the debt, so should that apply to the children. Each parent has an equal right to access and time with the children, and equal responsibilities for the expenses of the children. When bills are due for the kids, each parent should have to pay half the expenses. How much you earn should have nothing to do with this. People say kids are expensive, but they really aren’t. Clothes, nutrition, school, shelter, and basic healthcare are not that expensive over and above your own expenses. It is the activities and other things all parents want to give their children that are. These are lifestyle items, and they should not be deemed a right to the kids, though today they are. No child support should be ordered. Not taking care of your kids should be handled criminally, and the parents rights should be considered in relationship to the criminal proceedings.

Child support is the biggest drivers of custody battles. The payer doesn’t want to pay their ex, and the payee wants the money. Sometimes they want it solely for the kids, but they don’t want to have to negotiate with the ex for paying it, so child support gives them freedom. I have said it many times before. Child support transfers the decision making power of one parent to the other. This is true for all but the most wealthy and frugal people. Even then, the power is transferred, because the other parent has been given the resources to make the decisions. Many will say its not fair for the richer parent to have this power, but neither is it fair for the court to decide which parent has this authority. It is more fair that the person who earns or has the money by normal rights is allowed to spend it as they see fit. The other parent should have no rights to it.

If custody battles were all but eliminated, the children would have better relationships with both their parents. One parent wouldn’t be second class, and the parent who is able will generally ensure that the kids desires are as fulfilled as is appropriate. I had no problem as I began this journey, before child support, providing extras for my children, even in their mother’s house. I never made a big deal to the kids that I was paying for it. I simply paid for it or gave her some money to pay for it. I won’t ever get reimbursed for expenses I have to cover that I already paid her for in my child support. I have to decide whether I can afford to pay again. Right now I can’t. This is a decision tree that no one should have to use, but a large number of mostly men and a few women have to do all the time. Custody battles really are about the money. Let no one trick you into thinking differently.

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

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

May 27

I didn’t really get time

pocket watches

I thought that I had at least won some time with my kids. I haven’t had a weekend with my kids in the month of May. My first weekend is the weekend of 6/6-8. My middle schoolers will be leaving for a missions trip on 6/7. I won’t get them back until the Friday for Father’s Day. The following weekend is mine, but their mother is leaving for vacation with them for 9 or 10 days, and then she has the 4th of July Holiday. I lose a day off of that weekend. I don’t get a full weekend with my kids until July 18th. Thankfully I get 3 in a row then, but I haven’t figure out how their mother will take some of that away from me. My youngest will get at least one more full weekend with me in that time, but that is it. I suspect the alienation will be in full swing when I get them back for any period of time. I already see differences in how they react to me. I am not sure what I will do if this continues. I will not leave them in a protracted battle for custody. When people ask how fathers can check out, they haven’t been through this. They haven’t seen their children tormented. They haven’t had the thoughts that it is better for their kids to believe they are a loser who left them, than for them to be continually subjected to the active hate of their father from their mother. I am not finished, but there has to come a time when I am done. The lesson learned is that the parent who is most aggressive, and the most likely abusive is going to win custody. They have no boundaries to stop them from doing whatever it takes to win. Winning wasn’t even what I wanted. I just wanted to spend time with my kids, and have money when I have them to enjoy things with them. If I can’t have that, then I may be best served by moving away and petitioning the court for extended visitations over the summer. Of course that won’t be easy to win while she has the school job, and has summers off herself.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

May 16

I Got Time

Time

I went to court, and learned that basically the GAL is a hired gun. The opposing counsel proposed a schedule that takes one half of a day away a week. I have had my kids 7/14 days, and now will have them 6/14 days. Not so bad, right. I can’t call this a full on victory, or even a victory at all. You see, it was opposing counsel who told my ex to accept this. I don’t know why. I like to think its because she really knows what she is doing is evil, and doesn’t want to make it worse. I do believe that people answer after death for what they didn’t suffer/pay for in life. I feel sorry for divorce attorneys. I am pretty sure the evils they have participated in will make for some rather horrible answering in the afterlife. The GAL had no objection, even though there was so many problems with me as a father, and he was ready to strip me of most of my rights. This ultimately came down to child support.

The child support system in my state requires that we have near equal time, like 49% and 51% or totally equal to use the equal parenting time numbers. Taking one half a day a week away puts me back into the standard child support calculations. It nearly doubles my child support. There is nothing I can do about it. We will have to tighten our budget. Its sad that nothing matters, but the child support in the grand scheme of things, but its the truth. I am ultimately a paycheck. What’s even worse is its okay to berate me for not wanting to pay as much child support as possible, but its not okay for me to argue that keeping the money makes me a better father. If it were about the kids, the court would punish the parent unwilling to work with the other parent on the issues that matter.

I keep seeing how things are changing. How the laws are becoming friendlier. I don’t benefit from these. The system still hasn’t taken those views. The system has ways to ensure that you get back in line. I make a good living. I am for lack of a better term, middle aged. In a few years, I will be half way to retirement from when I entered the work force. I will be taking home less money than I did in my first full time job. A time when I lived in a cheap midtown apartment, and still cooked most of my meals at home. I had just enough money to eat my lunches out, but on a budget. I am required to maintain a home for me and my three or four kids on what I earned when I didn’t know anything. I earn a little more than triple what I earned then, but will be taking home the same amount of money. None of this accounts for the differences in cost of living that has happened in the last 20 years.

So here is the challenge. To win my kids hearts and minds while their mother tries to buy them using the money I earned. To find activities that will excite them, entertain them, and teach them without spending much dough. I have to do so with all the extra restrictions they are putting on me to. I am being chastised that I shouldn’t leave the kids home alone, ever. Mom does this more than I do, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Remember the kids are 13.12. and 10. We aren’t talking about little ones, but ones that are soon going to be in the 5th, 7th, and 8th grade. They aren’t allowed to babysit the stepkids at all either, even though my daughter is going to start babysitting for other people, but won’t be allowed to sit at my house for a run to the store. My ex is going to run a sabotaging campaign against me, but there isn’t much I can do about that. My kids need to find their own voices, and stop parroting what their mother says about me.

There will come a time that if I haven’t won my kids time, and I am not allowed to parent freely, that I will just have to quit. I hate the idea. I have thrown up at the thought of it, but there are limits to what I can do. Any fathers with words of encouragement, please share them. I see the end being closer than I had hoped. Its a terrible thing to wish for your kids to grow up quickly, but that is where I am. It is where I can have a relationship with them without constant interference by their mother. I played nice. I didn’t want to make her out to be a bad person, because that would be telling my kids the same thing. I should have know that none of that would matter to her. She wants them to believe that I am a bad person.

I will be telling my son that marriage can be a wonderful thing. I will also tell him to never have a child with a woman. To go get a vasectomy, and adopt a child if he wants one, and do so without a partner. By no means let a wife adopt them as well. This way, you will actually get to raise your child. You won’t be faced with someone stopping you from being able to love your child everyday. Trust me I understand how my ex feels when the kids are gone. I understand that she doesn’t want them to go. I also understand that my kids deserve a mother and a father, even if we aren’t very good at it. Time and time again studies show that the relationship matters more than the quality of the person. What my ex is doing to the kids is evil, and she has made them a party to it unwittingly.

Ten-Foured,

JeD