Co-Parenting?

Rome visit, June 2008 - 57

There is a lot of talk out there about co-parenting. For those who have not been through the courts recently, co-parenting is the new term for working together as parents living in separate households. You have to take some type of court ordered co-parenting class when you divorce with kids now in most jurisdictions. The Federal government has encouraged this through legislation and incentives. The classes are a few hours long if they are provided through the county or court services. Some courts allow you to find a qualifying program on your own, and some require you to do it as more of a joint counseling session. This is really a part of the child centered divorce movement. Something that I have talked about in the past. Something I think at best is a bad way to raise kids, and at worst is a manipulative idea to sugar coat making choices that benefit others appear to be for the children.

The idea of co-parenting is sound. The problem is we are dealing with people, and people aren’t always logical or fair. To further exacerbate the issue, we are dealing with people who are naturally in the middle of a conflict or more likely multiple conflicts. Sometimes the core conflict is raising the children. If this is the case, then co-parenting is not going to be a reality. The best these couples can hope for in the future is some form of parallel parenting. If divorce is founded in a power struggle of any kind, it is going to create a power struggle in all aspects of the relationship, at least in the short term following the break up, but it could be a long term proposition regarding the children. If the divorce is founded on the basis of growing apart, we are dealing with a couple where one or both are feeling like the other person did not hold up their part of the deal. There will be some animosity from one or both people, and that will lead to conflict. The most likely place for conflict to play out is regarding the children, because in the end the assets will be divided and you will have yours and they will have theirs, but the kids are still shared. Immediately after separation there are some key points of conflict. The income that each have coming in. This is intensified if one parent doesn’t have any income of their own. Each person feels like they should have the fruit of their labor, and when one person’s labor was for the benefit of the household without pay, they tend to feel entitled to as much of the other person’s income as their own. Physical assets and cash become the next issue. These are things that the parties can put their fingers on and feel. They want as much of that as possible, especially since up until a short while ago, they were all at their disposal. Cars, homes, jewelry, cash, and just stuff become the prize. Savings, investments, and debts come into play next. These things are usually handled the same by the court all the time. They are the easiest thing for the court to figure out. Neither party wants any debt, and both want the assets and savings, but these will be split quite easily by the court. I have made recommendations on handling all these things in other posts. I will beat that drum again fairly soon. The last thing both parties have to fight over is the children, and they can fight over this until the children are grown adults, and then outside of court until the day one of them dies.

In theory co-parents will work to be on the same page in decisions, and provide the kids with a united front in the same way that parents do when they are together in the same household. A major problem with this idea is its based on a view of the family unit from the outside looking in. When parents are together, the united front is often only a public view of how things work. Everyone presents a similar face to the world, but what happens in the home is often very different from household to household. Some separated parents can provide the same face, but more often than not the rational of making your family look good to the outside world is outweighed by the desire to make the other parent look worse than you. Sometimes one parent wants to make the other look bad, but in all cases each parent wants the world to believe they are the better parent. In the real world parents aren’t always on the same page in intact homes. They usually have a line that they require the other parent to be respected by the children. They agree on most major decisions or have a way to mitigate them. One parent will allow the kids to cuss a little, and the other might let them have sodas at restaurants. Usually the parent who feels the strongest on something rules that thing when they are together. This doesn’t have to change when parents are not in the same household, but it usually does. I blame the courts for this. Undermining one parent gives extreme advantage to the other parent in court, and comes with the potential of cash flow. The courts are built to handle conflicts. More than that, the courts are built to be adversarial. The people who we hire to handle these affairs have trained to be in these courts. The entire system is set up to increase conflict, and though the system preaches to the parents that they need to get along and figure out this parenting thing together, they encourage conflict in their very nature. The fact that there is an opportunity to get some advantage over the other person is the problem. The odds that both people are completely reasonable during the initial breakup and divorce process are fairly small. The odds that one person is so apathetic as to not care is also fairly small, so we throw these people into a system where they can ask the court to decide. Their actions are justified because the court as an authority has decided it as so.

Reality is most couples could figure this out on their own. Most have done it before seeking out lawyers. They have working plans and share responsibilities with the kids in a way that both are satisfied, or at least content. Neither parent has lost anything through the court process, so they can bend to make things better for the kids. This is the only time in any divorce that the kids are actually being looked after. During this time, parents will often work out whether and how to celebrate events together or not. Before lawyers and judges are involved, I have observed that most couples do just fine taking care of the kids needs, and continuing to raise them together. So much of the legal process is based on Federal Welfare benefits, and the government not being saddled with the bills for these children. This isn’t the economic reality for most families in the West. Most families can separate in a way that both parties can move on without going to the government for handouts. For a year and a half all my kids bills were paid by me, and I was able to live my life without struggling. My ex was able to take care of her bills, and though she struggled, she decided to keep her job with the school system, even though she could double her money as a skilled nurse. This decision was fine with me. It had little bearing on me. My kids had all they needed, and were able to stay in their activities. She was free to do what she pleased to take care of herself. The court doesn’t care about the example already set forth in this year and a half. Custody laws provide that someone should have to pay child support, and so once the lawyers were involved, hers sought to increase the amount to the maximum amount possible. The end result is I struggle a lot to make ends meet now, I owe lawyers 5 figures, she pays for all the kids things, and somehow doesn’t have money to make ends meet on a regular basis.

Co-parenting is a misnomer. In some ways its like snipe hunting. Its something that each family figures out over the course of time if left on their own. While the courts interject themselves and so often rob one parent of their rights in the name of the children, there is no real hope of co-parenting. A successful co-parenting relationship makes it hard for their to be a winner. The system really doesn’t care about the children, not in any way that matters. It is really only concerned with the money. They are less likely to be overruled if one parent is made out to be sub-standard, and the other one the gold standard. The court has to choose what aspects of parenting are most important. Right now those things are the things that mothers do. I don’t know if that is a result of deciding that mothers should raise kids or mothers raising kids has caused the bias, but there is a bias, and the court uses it to decide which parent to punish and reward everyday.

The biggest lie I here is that the real losers in divorce are the children. So long as the courts continue to pick sides in divorces that there is no reason to do so, the real losers are the kids and the dads. Dads lose so much time that they rarely get the big moments that naturally occur in their kids lives. If they do, its dumb luck or through a video the mom chose to send him. The kids lose the strong comforting presence that a father provides. I see this in my home. How much the two kids who live here all the time crave that, and how threatened they are by my kids coming over. I shouldn’t have to wait for her to screw up, and then go after her for the kids. The ongoing nature of custody cases makes it almost impossible to to develop a healthy relationship unless one parent quits. Too often fathers do give up, and the do so for the sake of their kids, and maybe for their own sanity. If I have any hope of finding solid financial ground anytime soon, I have to give up. There comes a point where I have been told that I am no longer the protector of my kids. I have been usurped by the government in that role. If it were another man, I would be able to challenge him, but I can’t beat the government. They have the power to take more and more away from me. I hope the years that I was there everyday, and the time we have now is enough to be a fixture in their lives as adults. I don’t know, and won’t until that day comes. Co-parenting is the big lie that I have to deal with. I am told to co-parent with her, but since she has the time and the resources, she gets to make the decisions. I might be able to get the court to call her a bad girl later on, but the decision is already made.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

The Lost Boy

Lost City

I have posted about my son multiple times. For lack of a better term, we are estranged. What he did in my home is hard to forgive, and unforgettable. I don’t know what our relationship will be over the next few years. I am afraid that when he returns to his mother’s house, that she will push him over the edge, and that he will get bounced back into the system, and never recover. More than any of my kids, I really have no idea how things go for him. With the others, I can imagine personality traits and other possible futures for them. For him, I see nothing. I can’t predict in my imagination where things will go. So much of what he is interested in are lost to him for what he has done.

I love my son, but have no idea how to help him. The pain he has caused and the malice that it was done with terrifies me. I wish his mother would let him walk this path more alone, because I do believe that his success will come only through him doing what needs to be done. He needs to change his thinking. He needs to see how the future looks all alone, and decide how he is going to change that. Her volatility with him scares me. I don’t believe that he and her have fixed much at this time. I think that that she will return to her old ways with him, when things become tough. I truly hope that I am wrong. This would be tragic, and it would start off his early adult life in and out of treatment centers and some form of incarceration. Most people are not able to recover from this.

I think that the GAL is likely trying to pressure me to change my life such that he can live with me full time. I have struggled to understand exactly what he is trying to get to happen, but this would make sense. If he has decided that I might be able to provide the structure that he needs then, he would think that he needs to force me to do that. I don’t believe that I can. Not and still have a life with my other kids. I would have to move to a place where I can provide the controls that he needs, and I would have to dedicate almost all of my time to it. I have said this before, and I stand by it. I can’t sacrifice the other five kids involved for the sake of one. I believe that doing so would create more problems with the other five, and the greater good of everyone would not be served. I struggle a lot with this. I used to believe I could do it all, and I could save the world. Now I realize that I can barely save myself, and that is yet to be seen. I need to know my limits and abide by them to be effective for those that I care about.

I met with my son and his sexual abuse counselor last week. He had a letter for me. The letter was a pretty standard therapeutic apology. When he spoke, I heard for the first time that he understood the impact of his actions. I gave up a long time ago that he would understand that his actions weren’t justified or right because he wanted them to be. My hope has been that he will learn that the impact of his actions on others matters, and that he needs to see past his own desires and impulses before he takes any action. He showed hints of understanding the actions were wrong. It was the best I have seen him in a long time. I still fear that he is duping everyone, and will move forward doing as he pleases. He is heavily medicated, but seems to tolerate it well. This makes me wonder just how strong his will is, and how he will handle coming back to his mothers at semester. I do believe he is in the right environment right now, and wish I could find a way to keep him there. The structure and discipline seem to be working. He is on a path where going from high school to the military would probably increase the foundation that is being built. He showed genuine remorse over not being able to be in my life the way he would like to be, and understanding that it was his actions that led to this situation. I saw him try to work up the emotion when he was talking, but there was a turning point where his real emotions came out. I said at one point that there are a lot of people involved who view my responses to the situation as wrong, but that when I view the complete picture, I cannot abandon the victims in this. This is what he threatened them with. I see the damage done everyday. I see the pain the little boy feels, and have to find ways to help him through it. The wounds are still raw a year later for me, for him, and for his mother.

I call this post “The Good Son,” because like the movie, he is charming and most people wouldn’t believe the things he does. At one time I was duped into believing it was just his relationship with his other, but he was working both of us over pretty good. With her it was escalate the anger, and with me it was tap into my compassion. She also used him for her advantage. They aren’t that different in many ways. Would things have been different for him if we had gone our separate ways years before, I don’t know. I suspect that root of his issues started when he was a baby. His genetics combined with the type or lack of nurture he received in his home with his biological family created his inability to attach in healthy ways. He has coped with this in some very unhealthy ways, and was far smarter than anyone gave him credit for. Sometimes I wonder if I have watched a serial killer grow under my roof, and other times I wonder if only he could recognize the broken pieces inside of him, then maybe he can find a path to a healthy life. I wish life were neat and tidy, and things worked out for the best. I don’t believe that they do for most people anymore. Many people convince themselves that life is great, but in reality life hurts. That is the feeling we have the most of. Its time to find a way out of being stuck in past hurts, and that is part of the reason I write this. It is therapeutic, and helps me let go of things that are stuck in my brain spinning round and round until I am exhausted. I don’t understand illogical responses things much, even when I factor in emotion. I would like to believe in karma, but my life shows no evidence that when someone does things without thought for others, that they are paid back in some cosmic way. My life tells me that those who don’t care for how things affect others will get ahead in life, and have most of what they want. People want to be around them, because they are judged as successful. Those who care for others are treated as weak, and tend to be societies s losers. Its enough to make you want to drop out of society and exist as far off the beaten path as possible. The life of Daniel Boon sounds really great to me most of the time.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

The End Is Near

The End is Near

I know I have said this before, but the judge is done. She wants us out of her court. The lawyers realize that we have been drained of our resources to a point where we cannot afford to do go much farther. I come out the loser in this, and it is just a matter of how to mitigate the damage, so that I am able to start out on a stronger footing. I started this journey hopeful, and I have lost most of that hope. The system will destroy any hope you have, especially if you are a man. The fact that we are litigating things that shouldn’t be litigated in our society is sick, but it is the way things work. The system is designed for winners and losers, so don’t let anyone tell you that there is suck a thing as a good divorce. The only good divorce is one that never sees court.

For those who haven’t read my story, here is a little background of how we got here. My wife left me in July 2011. She was going to seek happiness, and thought I should do the same. She moved from the small town that we lived in to the suburbs. At first I paid for all the kids expenses, but she was wanting child support. We shared time with the kids equally. She filed for divorce after I met someone else. It was about a year and a half after she moved out. I had abandoned our home to live closer to where the kids were going to school. She demanded child support when she filed. My lawyer made it pretty clear, though I wasn’t listening, that if she didn’t want shared custody, that I wasn’t going to get it. I had this pie in the sky idea that the what the legislative branch codified into law was going to be honored. It wasn’t, and the lawyers were right. Over the summer of 2013 my son sexually abused my soon to be stepson. He was almost twice the kids age. My son had emotional issues, but they generally were only issues at his moms. She used his issues to objectify my soon to be wife and her two kids. My time with my kids has been reduced once already. Just enough to knock us off of equal parenting time, and to increase my child support by more than double. I went to a 6/8 split on every two weeks. I either had the kids for four nights or two nights on alternating weeks. There is a lot more this story, but I will leave that up to you to read my earlier posts. If you are curious start at the beginning. I walk my way through everything in the first posts of the blog. I spend very little time with my oldest. I cannot face what he did. He threatened the other boy with losing me if he talked. This boy has already lost his daddy in divorce. His daddy chose to walk away without a care.

I haven’t received the new parenting plan, but I have been told that if I don’t accept it, then we can go to trial. I have been told by the GAL that he would recommend less time with my kids. I have always wanted equal time with my kids, and it keeps getting reduced. The GAL hints he might recommend more time, but not equal time if I were to leave the woman I am with. There is a restraining order in place that keeps my son from being around her or her kids, so he cannot live with me. I believe that he belongs in a treatment facility for the long term. He needs help. Barring that, I would have wanted divided custody, so the three still had the same time with me, and he would be full time with mom. The schedule I have seen that is likely in the parenting plan is a 5/9 schedule, so I lose another day. I get the kids for 5 days straight, and she gets them for 9 days straight. Its not much better than the every other weekend scenario. I get one more day than that schedule, but I go longer without having them in my home. I am slowly losing the ability to be an influence in my kids life. They never help around the house, or clean up after themselves. They are becoming more and more selfish. I can only hope to regain some influence in their life when they are grown. The settlement is pretty simple. Either she gets her portion of my retirement, or she gets her portion of my retirement and takes out the rest for me to have in cash. There are some debts that need to be paid in the process. Those debts will not be paid if I don’t get the cash. Its really that simple. I suppose there is a third option, but I won’t explore it until what I want is exhausted. That would be to get out an amount just for the debts that have to be paid, so there is a concrete number to work with. I am appalled at how bad lawyers are at math, so it has made these things more complicated.

My lawyer thinks we can have things rapped up by the end of November. I can only hope that is the case. I am exhausted. My health is not what it should be due to stress. I am ready to move on with the rest of my life. This chapter is almost closed, and the next will close in 8 years when my youngest graduates high school. I then have 3 years before all the kids are out of the house, and begin seeing the world. I had wanted to show my kids the world, but this divorce has shattered all possibility of me being able to do that. Maybe some can come along on their own, and I can still show them some of the world.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Economic Realities Of Divorce With Children

they're 35 years old, thrice divorced, and living in a tarp down by the river

The economic realities of divorce are talked about all over the web. The problem I always encounter when reading them, is they don’t apply to everyone. A big number of the people that are profiled or talked about fall in lower income brackets. These are people who are going to struggle either way. Both parents end up struggling under these circumstances. They would struggle together or apart. When they are apart, it very difficult for both parents. Many don’t have jobs that have paid leave, so a sick kid is lost money. This is why so many “single” mothers feel justified regardless of how the father is getting by. They are barely making it on their own, and need every penny they get. No doubt in their minds, it is all the man’s fault. I don’t agree with this stance. I understand that the obstacles of low income people are sometimes insurmountable. If we cared, we would remove the burden of child support from men who don’t live above the poverty level. We would pick up the slack. Rather than spending all the money trying to track down these guys and collect, we should just spend that money for the kids. I generally don’t believe in government funded charity, but if I have to choose between a direct wealth transfer between two poor people for 18 years, and spending tax money, I will choose the tax money. Increasing the animosity between the couple and making it hard for the father to act as a father is not best for the kids. Our society would be better off if low income families had fathers that were able to be engaged.

Now that we have cleared a path through the low income families that are at the center of this discussion, especially in polite company. Now we are putting men who make good livings, and want to be involved in their kids’ lives. The system favors having the mother have the children, because it maximizes child support. As discussed before, child support is a profit center for the states, or at least a major contributor to government jobs, and people’s reliance on the state. Men generally take on the financial burden when the marriage is ending. They feel responsible for making sure the family makes it through this thing that threatens everything that is safe for those he loves. Most divorces are instigated by the wife, so its natural that the husband still feels protective of her. During this time, she is able to live off of his generosity and figure out how to take what she can. There is no excuse for child support from a father who is active in his kids life. He will support them. Instead we see the states inferring the rights of lifestyle based on the parents income to the kids. My kids have a better lifestyle than I do, and they will until such a time that I am no longer forced to fund it through their mother. You see as you move up the economic spectrum that fathers are being left in dire financial circumstances, and the mothers are living pretty much the same lifestyle they had before. I see “single” mothers who live in the homes they lived in before the divorce, while the fathers are barely scraping by in apartments that are hardly large enough to share with their kids. The lifestyle that he once had is forever gone to him, or at least until such time that the kids are grown. This may not be true after you reach a certain level of wealth, but even the Robin Williams with all of his success was stretched beyond what he could bare, and was spending more money supporting ex-wives than he was supporting himself.

In most areas of law, you cannot have a ruling that causes something to happen, and then use that something to get another ruling that you want. This is akin to sending a soldier out to war, and then charging him with murder for the actions that were demanded of him. In family court every rulings effects can be used to change something else. Take time away from a parent, and then you can raise their child support. That is an indirect result of the previous ruling. The court is preventing you from doing something, and then punishes you for not doing it. Everything is intertwined. This gives attorneys and the courts great leeway in how to handle case. You will hear it said that this is necessary, because each case is unique, but the truth is the matters that should be before the court are that unique. There could be, and I would argue should be standards that are applied universally to these cases. As things go right now, the court will use tools that aren’t normally allowed in court, because children are involved. Everything is obscured through these professionals.

Now back on track. Divorce means that the money that a family had now has to support two households. The family court has decided that it needs allow one house to have most of that money, and the other needs to earn most of the money. The principle is based on the idea that the money earned by both parties is the families, even though there is not a family in the same way that there was. You are both parents of the same kids, and those kids are active in both parents families, but the divorce says that the parents are not family anymore. The money is not the family’s money anymore. The money is each parents own, or it should be. The fantasy that there is still a family unit is what drives this. This fantasy makes the long term damage of one party for the benefit of the other justified. There is no driver for the mother to seek out ways to make more money. It is simpler to target the man for more and more money. Since the money follows the kids, everyone looking in sees that the kids are okay, and no one pays attention to the man, who is struggling everyday now. The man who has to choose whether he takes a vacation alone or none at all. A man who makes enough to take his family to Disney Land, but has to wait and here how Disney Land was with their mother, because the money he would spend on that vacation was sent to her.

The part that is hardest for me to fathom is that men accept this, and even embrace this. They have bought the idea that this is being a good dad. That taking care of the mother is noble. What they don’t see is that they are taking care of person who constantly undercuts them, and makes them with their children. These men are looking at themselves with pride for paying their support, while the mother of their children is reminding the kids of all the things he doesn’t buy for them. These men wonder why as their kids get older and older that they are losing touch with their kids, and some never regain that connection. The system as it is now makes martyrs of the mothers, and villains of the fathers. The fathers are living well below their abilities to support a woman who wants nothing to do with them. The system of present gives the mother the benefits of being married without the responsibilities, and gives the father the responsibilities without the benefits.

I know I am still scatter brained. Heading to court next week, and my brain is swimming with too many ideas.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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

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

Cheaters: Kill Them All

Cheater

In my Facebook feed I see this slide show of cheating responses.. Some of them are very funny. By the end of the slide show, I am thinking to myself that there are very few that deal with women cheating. The premise is that its okay to figuratively burn a man at the stake for cheating, but what about the women. I know from experience that the message men get when their women cheat is to forgive them, and that it is just a sign that there is something wrong in the relationship. The man is told that her cheating is his fault, and that his cheating is her fault. I have commented on this before, but the glaring absence of harsh consequences for women in this slideshow I think makes a good point on our culture.

Check out this not really related, but entertaining video from Metallica’s Kill Them All album while reading the rest of this post.

Women are absolved from their bad behavior. Men are punished regardless of whether they are the ones that committed a real wrong or not. I know that my ex cheated on me, and I was never allowed to live it down. At that time, I struggled with what I could have done to prevent this. I bought into the Christian BS that told me that if I had been the “Biblical” husband that I was called to be, then this would never have happened. This kind of magical thinking hurts men in their relationships. Men should hold women to account for their actions. Their should be consequences for behaving badly, and though yes the desire to cheat might be a sign of issues in the relationship, it is is not license to actually break your wedding vows. That is a moral failure that our society treats as otherwise.

The slideshow shows a slice of reality when a man cheats. We see that their property is forfeit. Society thinks its okay for it to be destroyed or otherwise disposed of in the fits of rage the women have. Even the one man in the group who is cheated on targets the other man, not his wife. Its like she has no duplicity in the actions. He wasn’t wronged by his neighbor, but by his wife. That fact escapes him, and he has no problem destroying the man’s reputation in the community, but from the message it seems that he will be keeping the cheating wife.

Now understand that a man who does the things that are shown in this slideshow to a women or her things will go to jail. Some of the women might get a slap from a family court judge, but they will not see any jail cell for this destruction of personal property. A man would be hauled off in cuffs. Even with what is shown, the man is likely to get hauled off to protect the woman from his potential anger at her destroying his stuff. Women get a free pass to this bad behavior. We are told that the law does not allow us to seek our own justice in these cases, but here we are celebrating the punishment of bad, but not illegal behavior with what is often illegal behavior.

In my own marriage, I was subjected to overt cheating around 4 years in. I chose to stay with her, and that led to much of what this blog has been about. I to this day have not recovered from the emotional damage that relationship has done to me. I continue to be abused through the family courts, and as a man who earns just shy of 6 figures, I can’t pay my rent this month. More on that in another post. I was made to feel guilty for her cheating. I had pastors and therapists try to get me to evaluate my role in her cheating. As I look back at it, I have to ask how is it I didn’t even get to have an orgasm, but somehow I am at fault. Men need to stop accepting these arguments. Violating the marriage vows is an action that is not justified by any amount of satisfactions with the marriage. It isn’t acceptable for men to do it, nor should it be acceptable for women to do it. Fixing a marriage after such an act requires that the person who committed the act to regain the trust of the other person. There is no way to fix any of the other problems in marriage without regaining the trust. Men are often expected to not only skip this, but to accept near full responsibility for the problems that led her astray. When a man cheats, he is expected to deal with it, and often pay for it for the rest of the marriage. He is expected to regain her trust. He is expected to fix the problems in the marriage. Now I will admit that when there is cheating there are often other problems that lead to the vulnerability to cheating, but it doesn’t justify the cheating. When cheating has occurred and the trust is regained, then both partners need to work on the other issues. Its a fallacy to believe you can work on those problems before trust is regained, and in cases where trust cannot be regained, then the relationship is over.

I know many men that will attempt to rescue the marriage because of the kids. This is not a good idea. The motivation is wrong, and usually only one sided. I say this to both the men who have cheated and the men who have been cheated on. The women know that they are likely to gain control of the kids. They will play along to take their time figuring out their next move, and you will pay for it. If the kids are all you have to stay together for, then start the divorce now. I don’t say this because I don’t believe the kids are worth, but because society doesn’t tell her the kids are worth it. You see she will believe she is the better parent, and will have no problem taking the kids from you. The fact the court will play along with her will make her feel justified in her actions. Later when the kids are messed up without a good father in the house, she will be allowed to blame you for that failing to. Men need to understand that there is no winning, so limit your losses. Walk away and figure out the life you can build with the new constraints that will be on you. Don’t live for another decade like I did. All it does is make you feel like you wasted a decade of your life. I say this knowing that I would not have adopted my oldest 3 children, and would not have my daughter. All of which I love dearly, even my oldest that I can’t figure out how to engage anymore after what he did. I I had left my ex when she cheated on me, I would likely be a millionaire now in both my retirement and my savings. I would have the freedom to start my own company and live by my own rules. I am now forced to work for her benefit and comfort. I struggle to maintain the little I can afford. I earn about 40% more than the median family income is where I live, but have to budget my lifestyle based on someone who earns around 30% less than the median family income.

Its time for change in the results in these situations. Nothing will change if men continue to just suck it up and take it. I watch so many men who are stuck. Myself included. I never thought I would be counting down the time until my kids grow up, but I do. I have 7 years and just shy of 9 months left on this sentence. I used to look forward to every moment of raising my kids. Now I see every disappointment as I cannot provide for them directly. I can’t afford to take them out for ice cream. I can’t take them to a ball game or a festival. All things that I earn enough for them to do. My income affords them these things with their mother. Their experience with their mother is so much better than they get with me, because I have to pay for it. Fatherhood, the greatest gift god gave me, has become my prison.

Here is another slideshow that demonstrates how things differ for men and women. Divorce cakes that show violence against the men is acceptable. There are a couple that show the opposite, but I am still struck by what people find acceptable. This one might be a stretch, but I had the same reaction to it, so I share it.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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

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

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