The Little One

She is my little one. She isn’t so little anymore. She is bigger than quite a few adult women, but she is just finishing up the fifth grade. Unlike her siblings, she is my biological child. Whether people like to admit it or not, there is a unique connection between us. One that cannot be explained through our experiences. The GAL had made the comment that the younger one would have a hard time with his recommendations. Of course I knew that they all would, but she would have the hardest time. The older ones are at an age where branching out from your parents is natural, so they have just accelerated this in their lives. They are acting more like older teens than they are.

I was on a trip with my wife. We took her kids to see their dad, and we combined her expanding business opportunities and a beach vacation for us. The night before we left the little one called me. She asked to have lunch with me when we return. She said she wanted to talk. I of course was curious, but looked forward to spending a little time with her. She is one of the few people in the world who I feel loved by regardless of our mood or temperament. In this way she reminds me of my great grandmother, a woman that she never had the privilege to meet. As I was driving back home the next day, I get an email from the therapist. She wants to meet us to continue the conversation that my daughter wants to have. This made me suspicious of what was to come out at this lunch.

We had a nice lunch. She didn’t really bring up anything of consequence. She told me what she had been doing over the break. When the therapist showed up, she and my daughter told me that at family therapy earlier that week with my ex-wife that my daughter became very upset. She told the therapist that the current arrangement makes me more like a friend and not like a dad. She wants her dad. There was some hint that she seemed to think that I liked the current arrangement, but I know that I have been clear that this is not the case. I suggested that there should be some overnights starting, and if they cannot do them all together, because my oldest would feel left out, then why not one-on-one with the other three. The therapist thought this was a good idea, and also thought that the girls could come together as well. We will see what is figured out for an actual schedule. Nothing is in writing yet.

I told the therapist that this schedule would not allow me to be much of a parent. She wanted to tell me that I could parent at the mall or wherever we were. She didn’t grasp that all the situations she gave me required that I have the influence that comes from intimacy, and without just spending time together doing nothing but life, there isn’t intimacy. I guess in this bizarro world that I live in, it takes the voice of a child to open the eyes of these self serving adults.

I hope that the rest of the kids take notice that there are ways that they can affect what is going on, and take action. Its sad that I don’t have the power as the parent/adult involved, but the family courts have stripped me of that. They have lots of power, because the courts have decided it should be that way. Its not healthy, but it is what we face as men in the court system. Our power comes through the kids, just as it is taken away in the name of the kids interests. The kids actual interests and “the best interests of the child” have to be expressed in terms such that those who are making the decisions see that they are in opposition to each other. There isn’t any guarantee that it will matter to these people. They like to be innovative and creative. They want to be remembered for the impact that they have. They measure success in the short term, and by things that they have defined. None of these people will follow the outcomes into adulthood for the children. They won’t see that ripping a father out of their life, even a pathetic one is doing far more damage than allowing him to remain and forcing the father and mother to figure things out.

I have commented on the system a lot over the past posts. It is severely broken. There are lots of ideas about fixing the system, but no one is asking if the system should be making these decisions. The system should have a check in system. It should ask some questions to determine if a case belongs there at all. There should be very clear circumstances that don’t allow the parents both be involved equally for any case to be heard. Any allegation of abuse needs to be criminal and substantiated by a conviction or a plea bargain. All other cases need to be handled either by agreement or by standard rules set by elected officials not judges. Child support needs to be removed from the equation. Any required expenditure for the kids should be split, and all other expenditures should simply be handled by agreement. If parents don’t agree, then the parent who wants the expenditure, can pay for it. Courtrooms are a poor place to resolve conflict between parents. Parents have to move forward after court. Courtrooms are generally where a relationship is ended not changed. As the separation of parents gets farther away without a courtroom for one to gain advantage over the other, the new relationship as simply parents living apart will develop into something that is functional and perhaps even healthy.



Conflicts of Interest

A conflict of interest is something that not everyone understands, it is more complicated than simple self motivation. It is more than than someone not being able to represent opposing parties. The basic definition according to Wikipedia is

A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests (financial, emotional, or otherwise), one of which could corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.

In the most innocuous of cases, the parties in a divorce case have multiple COI. The system creates these severely divergent parties. The pain that one or both parties feel as they head down this road is not usually enough to drive someone who is not otherwise so utterly destructive down the roads that divorce drives so many people. Usually both parties have some care for what happens to the other person, especially in long marriages. They care what happens to the things they have acquired that have memories attached to them. Selfishly each wants the things they like, and there is probably some considerable overlap in those things, but again most people can figure out that given a little space. Both parties care for the children. They want the best for their children, and they believe that given a chance they can provide that. Its not that hard of a path without outside influences to understand that taking away the other parent is going to hurt the children. Without a conflict based system, the majority of divorcing couples even in high conflict divorces will find an equilibrium that is functional and fair. Many will argue that the system allows the weaker party a chance to have their say in the process. The reality is that the court system gives more power to an aggressive person over the less aggressive person. I don’t know that there is a way to change the power balance in a relationship to something more equitable in any process. I would chalk up the inequity to the fact these people chose to have children with each other, so they are bound to each other and the balance that they have created until those children are grown. Its not something for anyone else to fix for them, unless there is physical violence involved, and as much as this is the argument for all cases, it is a select few cases that it is actually a factor in.

The lawyers from the beginning have some COI. The largest one is their pocketbook vs helping their client resolve the case in the shortest amount of time possible and with the least conflict. Conflict drives up their rates. They have to spend more time preparing for hearings and trials, and arguing their points. They have to handle discovery issues. In a simple no frills divorce, the parties come together, and the lawyers will have a punch list of things to go over, and they sign off on the division of assets and a plan for continuing to raise the kids. If the lawyers were actually protecting their clients interests, they would do their best to settle conflicts with compromise, and would communicate with each other when the clients are struggling to do so. There would not be posturing and mudslinging. The system clearly demonstrates that it is the lawyers pocketbook that wins in most cases, but because the system is centered on the fact that you might go to court, it is impossible to be prepared for that eventuality without engaging lawyers. They have created a bubble to trap divorcing couples that the lawyers control to their benefit. Its all cloaked in professional ethics to make it all look legit.

The judges have nothing but COI. They don’t want to be overruled, so they engage third parties to make recommendations, and then support those as if they carry the weight of facts. These third parties are often lawyers themselves, or other court hangers on. The family court system is largely funded on having conflict that requires the parties to show up at court and have court costs. The judges are employees of the state, so they benefit from the child support that moves through system with collection fees attached. Family court judges are either on their way up or on their way down. The ones that are on their way up, want rulings that are not overturned, but get the kind of review that shows how clever they are. This allows them to have some basis to seek promotions, especially if they are seeking appointments that involve public elections. They want enough notoriety to have their name known without a cloud of controversy hovering over the decisions. The ones who are on their way down simply want to avoid controversy, so they don’t get dumped to traffic court or some other obligatory system to keep them employed. Avoiding controversy is ruling in ways that uphold the status-quot in the court system. Making ruling that may be constitutionally correct are not to be favored over making rulings that are inline with your peers.

The third-parties that are involved in family court present with the most COI opportunities that I can imagine. Custody managers, mental health professionals, GALs, etc are all people who are given a significant amount of power over people’s personal lives. They quickly become a means for the court to micro-manage how you live. The profit by being involved, so they are never going to go back to the court and state that they are not needed. They are most likely going to make a case for their ongoing involvement in the case. In a family with multiple children there are further COI that can happen. In my case, I have one child who’s circumstances are very different than the others. He is not able to come to my home at this time, because he sexually assaulted my step-son. I have a healthy relationship with the other three kids. The GAL in my case should have almost immediately asked for separate GALs to represent the kids, because they can’t possibly have the same interests in this case. That is a judgement that he chose not to make, and there is very little recourse for me to take. His recommendations came down to what he considered best for the one child and applied to all of the children. The judge appointed this same child’s therapist/social worker to be the custody manager for the kids, and the exact same conflict of interest exists there. Her concern for my oldest child and preventing him from offending again at least while he is a minor overrules the interests of the other children. When looked at as a singular entity rather than individuals, the greater good is served by serving the needs of the only the most needy individual. Since she doesn’t have the legal status of custody manager, just the role, she isn’t held to the standards of custody managers. Those standards state that she couldn’t sit in this role because of a prior significant treatment relationship with one of the parties involved. When the judge is being creative, these types of things don’t really matter.

The children are often left in the worst position with their COI. I don’t usually say that children suffer the most, because there is a lot of suffering to go around in divorce. In this case they are stuck between loyalties to each parent, to the family unit, to their siblings, and their own self interests. The emotionally needy or demanding parent will get the child’s loyalty out of guilt. Meeting this need is quite probably the worst decision the child can make. It enslaves them to that parent and ties their own emotional well being to that parent’s well being. The desire for a whole family unit is a big driver for the kids, and it can often lead to destructive behavior with a parent who is moving beyond the marriage into their own life, perhaps with a new partner. I think these two combined with some emotional manipulation by my ex-wife led to my oldest son doing what he did. The kids don’t want to hurt their siblings, so they try to figure out what each other are thinking and make decisions and opinions in line with what their siblings will approve of. They tie each other together, even when their own self interests would be served with a different or individual decisions. Their own self interests are the thing that so many kids will look past. They will ignore them to the perceived good of others. When one child doesn’t ignore them, it is often in the worst possible ways. They get what they want with bad behavior. The siblings will often try to make it all okay, but over the long term, they learn that bad behavior leads to results. The children in families where one kid has had significant issues in divorce often have all the children develop issues to gain the same advantage. I see some of this with my kids already. In the end they are likely to resent each other over time. This makes me sad.



P.S. I leave you with this, because it showed up when I was looking things up and I liked it.

Losing Hope

i know that this song is about lost love, but it felt right. Going through this process of family court makes me wonder just what my kids will think of me when it’s all done. Will they still love me. Will they still be mine in any way that matters. Am I just having the longest, most horrible good-bye ever. This weekend should have been mine, instead I get 8 hours with them, but with restrictions. Its cold, and snow is coming. This limits what I can do with them when we are out. I don’t know how long my teenagers will put up with this schedule. I also don’t know if they will take the easy out and just not want to go, or are they going to make a big giant stink that can’t be ignored. I just don’t know.

Since the events of my last post, I have had a therapy session with my son. It was fairly uneventful. After that I spent the evening with all four of the kids. We went to my mother-in-law’s house and watched a movie. My wife made dinner for us, and I heated it up for us. We didn’t do a lot, but at least we were in a place that was comfortable for most of us.

The following Saturday my kids and my ex-wife had a therapy session together, then the therapist met with me and my wife and my ex-wife. I was told that my oldest will not be left out. I was also told that he had issues after our evening together, and that I shouldn’t have taken them to my mother-in-law’s house. There was a picture that didn’t include my oldest son, and it upset him. I was also told that I should have taken them out for dinner or cooked the meal myself. It was inappropriate to have a meal ready for us.

My case keeps hinging on my oldest son. The easy road would have been to leave my wife before we were married. To leave her kids, and not worry about the outcomes for them. I am left to choose whether to allow him to reintegrate completely, and before my step-son is ready, or lose my kids. I sadly will stand by my principles, and lose my kids. I would rather face them and explain my choices than set a different example.

I was supposed to have a therapy session yesterday with my oldest son. The therapist told me he wasn’t up to meeting with me, so it didn’t happen. This entire process hinges on him. A kid who thrives on power is being left in charge, and people who have his best interests at heart are willing to hurt others in his stead. There are so many things wrong with this. In my next post I will go into some of those issues.

I have nearly lost hope . My kids are nearly lost to me. I have fought so hard to maintain my relationship with them, but in the end, I may be the only person who has a say that cares about their relationship with me. I hope I am wrong, but I fully expect that within the next few months I will have even less contact with them, and I will be lost to them. I hope for a better tomorrow, but I expect the worst.



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


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.



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.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



Custody Is The Problem


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.



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.