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.