June 20

Things Are Looking Up

This is somewhat of a strange post. Things have been hard the last few months. To some degree my perspective is shifting and I am able to see things from a different angle, but I have also lowered my expectations of the circumstances around me. Lets play a little catch up, before I get into all of that.

In my last post, my oldest son had been arrested at school for battery against his mom. She also handed over a tablet to the police that was filled with child porn and other gross, inappropriate, and illegal material. I was crushed as I prepared to make space for him at my home to find out that everything really wasn’t going to work out. I was at a hearing for him. He wasn’t there, and mom wasn’t there. His attorney didn’t really understand where he was, and no one had communicated to him where my son was living now. He is in a county run group home. He asked me to walk with him after he got a new hearing date. He told me that this case was a clear case of self defense and that the strange relationship between his mother and him is why my son is reluctant to defend himself in court. He also told me that there was nothing interesting on the tablet. If there had been, then he would have been charged, or his previous probation would have been violated. Everything that shattered my hopes was a lie. This changes everything. Not only is reintegration in my home a possibility, but his mother essentially has tried framed him for two crimes. One that never happened and one that she committed against him. I still can’t wrap my head around doing that to my own child. When I was dropping off the other three kids at their mom’s house, my youngest waited until the others were in. She asked me if she wrote a letter to the judge, would I read it to her. I told her I probably would not be allowed to do that. I said if she wanted to write one, then I would give her an envelope with the address and a stamp. I also told her that it probably wouldn’t be read by the judge unless it became evidence, but the GAL, my attorney, and her mom’s attorney would get copies, and it would force it to be talked about. She is still pondering if she wants to write it. She is afraid that no one will do anything, or it will make things worse. She had asked me while we were at the group home, that if all this was about them, then why doesn’t anyone really care what they think. The three kids all told me that they haven’t talked to the GAL in close to 6 months. That means he didn’t even talk to them before he he pushed for the current schedule.

I am not sure what happened when they got to their mom’s. They either confronted her or she interrogated them. Both have happened in the past. The therapist who has caused me so much trouble was involved. She believes that this is dangerous for my son, and that he needs to take responsibility. I firmly believe that it is dangerous for him to learn that he is bad, and has to take responsibility for the actions of other. He is not a scapegoat. I found out that even before I took the kids to see their brother, that she and their mom had met with the kids. They told my kids that because of my behavior and inappropriate conversations with Jon that there were 1 of 3 things that could happen. They might not be able to see me at all; they might have supervised visits with me; or they nothing will change. This conversation should never have happened. They are attempting to alienate me from my kids. My 14 year old told them that he wouldn’t do supervised visits, and that he would figure something else out. They challenged him, and he just repeated himself. My 11 year old said she wasn’t happy with that idea, and that she would be able to speak freely with me with someone writing everything down. I think she said the idea was just stupid. My 13 year old said she thought it was all stupid, but that they didn’t actually think anything would change. My 8 year old step daughter said the other day “He isn’t bad, he’s just done bad things.” I told my son this when we were there, and he almost cried. I repeated, and told him I think he needs to hear it, because he doesn’t believe it about himself, and he agreed. He struggles a lot with that idea. His mother and therapist aren’t helping.

I am working at bringing my son home. He doesn’t belong where he is. When I found out the truth, I called my wife, and before I could say anything, she was thinking of ways to bring him home. The idea scares her a lot. Fortunately my step son’s therapist now works for the county youth detention center, and I think she can work with us for reintegration. She was truly great with him, and I think will be able to navigate the pitfalls that we may be facing.

The therapist for my son has recommended that I have no contact or at least supervised contact with the kids. She has placed her relationship with the kids over mine. The GAL has yet to pipe in on these things. I think it is a great sign that my ex filed a motion to modify parenting time. I think it stands out that the GAL is not supporting this, and they are desperate for a change. If my son stands up for himself, it is likely to change custody for the rest quickly, especially if I am asking for him to return to my home. They are claiming I told the kids their mom made it all up to get my son out of the house. I made no such claim, but I am sure that my kids are smart enough to put together as I did that if all of the lies are actually lies that is the only option. They also don’t seem to know that my information is from my son’s attorney, and not the kids. My new attorney is ready to go after this with way more aggressive tactics than my previous one. I think we are going to file a counter motion to give me primary custody and her the standard schedule, and for me to have sole legal and residential custody of my oldest. Next week, I may have good, great, or horrible news. We shall see.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

May 8

There Is No Logic

If this were not happening to me, I truly would believe that this is all an exaggeration. My oldest son was the primary reasoning for my time being limited. His victim lives in my house, and that prevented him participating fully in my household. It was made clear that he would not be left out of anything. Me and my wife pushed ourselves to figure out how to make room for him in our household, because to not do so was clearly going to prevent me from having my other kids in any significant way. We worked with my stepson’s counselor and got to a point where she was comfortable with reintegration starting.

We pushed to go ahead and start the process with my son. We were told that he couldn’t handle it. That he was not ready for reintegration. Yet still my time is limited with my other kids. My oldest son has been taken back into state custody. He physically assaulted his mother, and most probably has violated his probation in other ways. I still have not been granted more time with my other children. The therapist that is making recommendations has expanded the scope of why the kids are not spending as much time with me. In part they are not allowed to spend as much time with me as before, because they aren’t receiving the kind of time they want with me. So they say. Less time with them, means less time of any kind, and it means that the time we have is less comfortable. I am being fed with circular logic that makes no sense. If what you just read looks like I didn’t proofread, then read it again. That is really the type of reasoning I am dealing with.

So I have had a few overnights with my kids, and had been able to bring them to my home for the past few weeks, but still very limited. There has been some email communication back and forth between myself, the therapist, my wife, and my ex-wife. The discussion wasn’t a pleasant one. The therapist, a social worker of 2 years experience, decided that she thinks my wife is delusional and paranoid and is imagining risks to her children and herself. To be clear, my wife thinks reintegration of my son into either household is risky. He has sexually abused 3 of the 5 other kids. He has physically attacked his mother, and viewed sexually inappropriate material on the internet while on probation for a sex crime. It might be arguable about what his risk is, but it is not unreasonable to believe there is a risk.

I have a new attorney. She specializes in high-conflict divorces. She herself has been through a pretty nasty one. She sees a lot of issues with the case and the current situation. She is working towards remedying some of the problems my previous attorney has caused or allowed, and fixing the current situation.

I am dumbfounded at the lack of reasoning that is involved by the people making decisions that affects other people s lives in significant ways. The therapist enjoys telling me that she will not defend her therapeutic interventions, and that the kids are her clients. She needs to explain whatever I ask, I am the parent and legally I am the client. The kids can be her patients, but they are not the clients. They cannot legally be the clients, and this is something that can affect her license to practice. I am sending a formal complaint to the state licensing board. It is quite thick.

I am convinced more than ever that court and its hangers-on are not capable of determining “The Best Interest Of The Children.” The best interests cannot be determined by people who don’t have to live with the decisions that are made. The parents, even ones that can’t agree to which way is forwards are more likely to be able to get there. They have to live with the results.

My hope is that through all of this, that the relationship I have with my kids is not permanently damaged. Its damaged now. As far as everyone is concerned who makes decisions it is more important that the therapist who continually creates a larger and larger integrity gap with me isn’t undermined in the kids eyes. It is fine to undermine the relationship with me though.

It is also clear that not only is alienating a parent overlooked by the court, but encouraged. Every decision I make is questioned, and my ex-wife is never questioned. My children see that what I decide doesn’t matter. They see that time with me isn’t important. They know that my authority is meaningless in their life. The GAL, the therapist, their mother, and the judge have all affirmed this with their words and actions.

This is all bullshit. I ask myself how long do I continue to fight. I can’t make myself quit, but I don’t know how long I can keep going and not lose all that I am.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

March 20

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.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

March 9

Political Change

I haven’t seen that there is much that can be done in my case, or any number of cases like mine. I have talked to men and women who fall into similar situations. The fact is there shouldn’t have to be losers when we talk about custody, but if it goes to trial, there will be losers. That is what courts do, they decide who wins. When a case goes before the court, there are generally 4 parties represented. One is you and of course another is your spouse or ex-spouse. The third is an idea called “The best interest of the child,” often mistaken as being the children. Who is this fourth party involved? The state. Who represents the state? The court. That’s right, by entering the court room to argue your custody case, you have invited the state into the upbringing of your children. Once they are there, they will stay there. The state’s interests are protected by the court. The attorneys on both sides will appeal to the state’s interests at times to try to shift the state’s/court’s thinking towards their client’s interests. The third party may or may not be represented. Sometimes this idea that the arguments revolve around is argued by the the parents attorneys. Sometimes this idea has its own representative. Four party negotiations are not a simple matter, but once you are in court, the advantage goes to the state’s interests. Each jurisdiction may have different interests, and each judge may have different opinions about those interests, so there isn’t a singular list of things to address here. What needs to be addressed is that the state has an interest in most custody cases.

In my recent reading, I am very much of the opinion that to change things, I have to seek political change. I may not be able to affect any changes in favor of my relationships with my children, but I can affect change for them. I have talked about the costs of the state being in the middle of our families in other posts. I am not going to go into them at length here. I am simply going to say that the state taking an interest in my family’s dynamics without their being some form of criminal misconduct on one parent’s part is dangerous to our freedoms. This does not simply endanger our parental rights, but it endangers our rights in general. The state using children as an argument to get involved in private matters during custody cases is simply just the state gaining a foothold into other areas of our lives. What is even worse, is the state is being represented by a court system that is making decisions outside of their authority. Our elected officials are invading our homes, but our courts acting as an oligarchy.

Much of this has been caused by our elected officials not wanting to get their hands dirty, so they give the court authority to make decisions they shouldn’t be making. Child support is a great example. The legislators in most states have delegated the authority they have to set a child support schedule to the courts. In most states the state supreme court will in one way or another set the child support schedule. This is advantageous to the elected officials, because they won’t be blamed for taking the money from the payers or shorting the payees. Without the oversight of the other branches of government, the courts can choose to do what they see as the best interest of themselves and the state. They understand that there are Federal matching funds for collecting child support, and the legislators can ensure that some of that money makes it way to the courts. There are government jobs tied to having to maintain processing centers for child support payments.

The question is how do we affect change. Where do we attack first. One of the first things I see needing to be struck down is the Bradley Amendment. It gives no means for paternity fraud to be fixed. It doesn’t deal with the realities of life for the person paying child support. It is a key ingredient to the dehumanizing of the payer, usually the father in the public eye. Along with the Bradley Amendment, the criminal penalties for non-payment of child support need to go away. Traditional civil penalties are enough for dealing with court orders that fall under the civil courts. A family court doesn’t even hold the same evidentiary standards as normal civil court, so it has no place in applying criminal penalties for anything.

Two things need to go hand in hand for the next step of change. One is the idea that the children have a right to a portion of the parents income. Its a silly notion that really exists to justify child support at very high levels, and to justify the transfer of income without a tax consequence. It is the equivalent of a theological debate over the law. No one listens to it, until they see the utility of it in their lives. The other is to get the legislators to accept responsibility for child support rules or calculations. The two go hand in hand because it is this accountability that will get them to listen. Now it returns to an issue that has political capital. The state representatives now have a reason to come up with calculations and rules that benefit their constituents. This becomes a campaign issue. Our Federal representatives can be pressured to change the nature of child support. The matching funds need to go away. States should not be rewarded for their role in destroying the family. The tax consequences of child support need to be changed. This is an income transfer from one adult to another for the purpose of raising their children. There is no requirements for how the money is spent, so without any accountability, its just income.

Pressure then needs to be placed on the states to make child support something that is not required or even the norm in cases. Both parents have a right to support their children as they see fit. There is no fairness in this. If one parent has more money available to provide nice things to the children, then they should be allowed to use it as such if they choose to. In reality this isn’t different than it is now, except the court has decided that one parent will have this money by their ruling. Hard work and financial planning are not the deciders. Most parents will take good care of their children. The parents can work out expenses as they see fit. Any required expenses should simply be split in half legally. Each parent being responsible for 50% of the expense according to the law. I can tell you, I would rarely hold my ex-wife to that standard, and would simply pay most of my kids bills. The image of the deadbeat dad needs to be eradicated from the political discourse. Our elected officials who choose to use such language need to be punished at the ballet box. The culture that men are bad, and lazy needs to be attacked at every place it is seen. Men cannot afford to ignore these things anymore.

Child support orders should be a total amount, divided into monthly amounts due. It cannot be raised or lowered. It should be treated as most other debts. If a parent paying child support is filing for bankruptcy, the child support due should be treated as one of the highest priority debts, and receive some of the largest funding through the process. When the bankruptcy is over, the child support should be considered paid in full. By this model child support is simply an award like any other civil case. The law needs to stop looking at every father as a potential dead beat who does not want to care for his children. Most men who filed for bankruptcy would emerge better able to pay directly for the child’s needs.

I know what needs to change. I have some ideas about the specifics. I know that these ideas will be flushed out over time, and working with others. Right now I need to find some political allies to fight the fight with. I need to find some elected officials who are already fighting the fight. Its time to to change things. Its time for fathers to make it clear that they matter, and they care, and they will destroy your career if you are betting against them.

This was somewhat of brainstorming session. I would love for some comments and ideas to sharpen my thoughts on this. I am actively looking for groups that are taking real political action, and politicians that are ready to stand with fathers.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

March 9

Lies and Betrayal

This process has taught me to trust very little. I don’t naturally seek people out for utility, but that can be the safest route through life. I used to have very idealized views of people and institutions. Somehow I thought I would escape the realities of these. Some might call me jaded. I don’t think that I have reached that point. I still see the potential in all these things, but my ability to believe in them as more than idea is gone. I am going to go through some of the things here that I have had to change my perspective on, because reality doesn’t reflect the beliefs I so dearly wanted to hold on to.

Marriage

I used to believe that this institution was something holy. It’s not. It is simply something legal that complicates life. Its a cost I am willing to pay for stability in a partner, but the reality is, it is a price she is charging me for companionship. It could be holy. I do believe that it was a holy creation. It was supposed to be a good thing for all involved. The reality is that over time marriage has become a ransom charged to men for a long term partner. Men used to have their own ransom, and that is what made it a more equal partnership. Men used to be the gatekeepers for family. They were also the protectors. They were the ones that if the family were to break apart, would provide resources as they saw fit to care for the mother of their children. The legal realities in the modern world is that men are going to be required to pony up whatever money someone else decides is right to care for his family, and will be required to do so at whatever cost it places on him. His children can be kept away from him, and yet he still be required to pay for them. He is treated as a man who abandoned his children to death, and is being punished as well as required to pay for them. A marriage that includes children is a shitty deal for men. Other than the most outlying cases, men are subject to the whims of their wives as the marriage falls apart. This hasn’t stopped me from entering into another marriage, but it will not include new children, and I enter into it with a very different perspective of what the deal is.

Justice System

There isn’t one. My son was not punished in any significant way for what he did. I don’t want his life ruined, but his victims deserve to see some justice. All they have seen is that he went away for a while, and now all decisions revolve around him. In a very real way, all my kids have lost me through his actions. He has through the fractured relationship that is left from what he did, and his mother’s constant use of him as a wedge to get what she wants. My other three as they have lost significant time with me, because it is unfair to him to be left out. My step kids have lost me, because I am out of the house more to spend the little time I have with my kids. There are now five kids relationships compromised all in the name of his best interests. Some day he will have to face with me the reality of the consequences of his actions, and how they have affected so many people. I dearly hope he will grasp it, and take it to heart, such that he never does something like this again. The family court does not provide justice or even equity. The decisions made have very little to do with law, and so much to do with the judges disposition and opinion. The family court has simply acted a siphon for my money to go to lawyers and other professionals. It has been used to extract the maximum amount of money from me every month to my ex-wife for the purpose of taking care of the children. Children, I would prefer to have in my home to care for in more important ways.

Truth Matters

It doesn’t. As a matter of character, it sure does, but having strong character is a losing proposition. I still value it, but it hasn’t served me in any way that matters, and has done significant damage to my situation. I can only hope that it will have an impact in the future. I know that I feel better about telling my kids why I made the decisions I have, because they are rooted in my character.

The GAL told the court that he talked to each of the kids and explained their recommendations. He said the two older ones were okay with the recommendations, and the that the younger one was going to struggle. That is how he said it, because he didn’t have his reference card to identify the children by name at the moment. When I picked up the kids after court, I asked them if they understood what the GAL explained to them. They told me that they hadn’t talked to him in months, and that me and their mother had explained the schedule he was proposing. Most of his communications apparently have been with my ex-wife, but he attributes them to the children. None of them seemed to be okay with the schedule. They asked how do the fix this.

Now that the social worker/therapist is acting as the custody manager, I have a new slurry of untruths to deal with. I had asked her if I could take the 3 kids with me and my wife and my step-kids for about half of spring break to the beach. She said she would talk to them and see what they were feeling. She did talk to them. She wasn’t very clear to them what she was acting. She came back to me and said that the kids weren’t comfortable with the idea, so she wasn’t going to recommend it. In talking with the kids, I have expressed I was disappointed that they weren’t going with us. My youngest was the first I talked to, and she asked why not. I told her what the therapist had told me, and she told me that she thought it would be weird if my oldest went. She was upset that they weren’t going with us. When I talked to my other daughter, she didn’t like it any better, but was trying to have a good outlook that she was going to be able to go to the beach with a friend later. My son is just pissed. He really wants to go, and doesn’t understand why all this is happening. When the therapist is questioned about their responses on things, she replies harshly. She asks if I think they are lying to her. I want to say “No ma’am, I think you are lying to me.”

I knew my ex-wife would bend the truth to her will. I never thought that so many others would join her. It seems very surreal to me, who has always believed that truth would win in the end, but I have read enough history to know that was a silly fantasy.

Family Comes First

My sister has not spoken more than a few words to me in about a year. I don’t know why. I wish I could say I have stopped caring, but I haven’t. She doesn’t treat my step-daughter well, and comes into contact with her on a regular basis. I know she knows about the custody changes, because her daughter was taunting my step-daughter with them at school. If there were any trauma in her life that I was aware of, I would have reached out to her. At least opened a dialog. I haven’t heard a thing from her. I spent most of my life ensuring she was okay. It hurts a lot to know that she doesn’t share any of that concern for me. I on occasion see my ex-wife coming and going from my neighborhood. This means that she has been spending time with my sister. Somehow the relationship with this woman that my sister never cared for has taken precedence over her relationship with me.

My mother and I aren’t talking. There are a few reasons. One is how her husband decided to get in the middle of what should have been a small conflict between her and my wife. I tried to push the conversation to be between them, and to not use me as a middle man, and he decided to make the conflict between me and him, and publicly shame me. I told him to take a hike. I don’t have the time or patience for that white knighting bullshit. She also knows of the changes. Instead of reaching out to me in any way that matters. She has decided to continue to communicate with my ex-wife in lieu of dealing with me. My ex-wife will be going out of town for an event with my oldest daughter, and my oldest son will be going somewhere for the weekend. My other son and daughter will be with my mother for the weekend. I will have to reschedule my 8 hour visit with the kids because of this. In a very real way, my mother’s time with my kids is interfering with my contact with my kids.

I told my mother that her behavior with my ex-wife was hurting me. She chose to attack my ability to work with my ex-wife instead of address the issues I brought up. One of which was that the relationship was going to be used against me, and it has been. In court the GAL insinuated that the reason we weren’t speaking was because of my relationship with my kids and how I treat them. It will further be used to demonstrate that a relationship with me is not important to them having a relationship with my family. She feels justified in her actions right now. I don’t see how this fracture is going to be healed. Its not going to be anytime soon. I don’t have the emotional cycles left to deal with any of that.

I am not some petulant child just coming into adulthood, and trying to find my feet by walking away from my parents. In these situations parents can count on time fixing things as the child experiences real life for a while. I am a middle aged man who has spent most of his life working for the benefit of others. I have started charities, and given over six figures over the years to their benefit. I have given of my time to strangers for no reason other than they needed help. My character has not suddenly changed. I am still the man that puts others first, but there is a limit to what I am willing to lose without a fight. Sadly it seems that being that person in my family’s life has left me alone. They counted on me to come to their aid, and to bridge the gaps between them. Now that I am the one on the outs, there is no one to bridge the gaps for me. For now these relationships will have to remain on hold. We will see what time does for them.


Am I jaded? Perhaps a little. Am I broken? Sometimes I think so, but not at the end of the day. I know that my kids are all at an age where they have to make decisions of their own. They will one day come to me and we can have an honest conversation. I will do my best to hold my bitterness, or hopefully be rid of it, but not my righteous anger over what she is doing.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

March 9

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.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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

February 28

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.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 23

Daddy’s Gone

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

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

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

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

The Trial

Pre-Trial

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

My Exhibits

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

Testimony

The GAL

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

The Ex

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

Me

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

My Wife

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

The Judge

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

The Take Away

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 6

Justice for All

Our Lady Of Justice

This song says a lot about our legal system. There isn’t much point looking for justice in this system. It is a system that feeds on itself to ingratiate and enrich those that are in the legal profession. It really is a den of thieves, and if you have never had to participate in courtroom hi jinx, count yourself lucky.

I am going to stop hoping for my case to be near an end. At this point I have to accept that it will continue for the next 7 1/2 years. It won’t end until my children are all grown, and that isn’t going to be until June 2022. I used to think that was a long time. Now I know that it will be here in the blink of an eye. Too bad when I blink, I get sucker punched every time. Court has been a scary place for me. Sadly, I am not afraid anymore. I also have no expectations that I will receive fair treatment. In criminal court, lawyers may play fast and loose with the law, but ultimately they have to find some boundaries within the law. In family court, the law is a flimsy thing, and the room for interpretation is so large that a judge is given the leeway to do whatever pleases them, so long as there is a motion, and a child to rule in their best interest to justify the decision.

First the positive. My divorce was bifurcated on 12/31. Nearly two years in court and 18 months of asking for this, it was finally granted. I am now married to my new wife, who I had a ceremony with a year before to the day of my divorce bifurcation. To add to the irony, we eloped and were married on the same day she was married to her first husband. I hope this one turns out better for both of us. There won’t be any children to complicate things. Right now we spend most of our time dealing with the all the fun my ex creates. I still believe that marriage can work, but I also have the common sense to know that I can’t make it happen by myself. Too bad I didn’t have that sense during my first marriage. I would have ended things before we had kids together.

The GAL had threatened to recommend something less than standard visitation if my ex and I did not agree to something different. She and her lawyer had come up with a parenting plan and threatened that we would go to trial if I did not accept it. It was pretty poorly written. I offered some edits and corrections for holidays and such. No major changes. The plan allowed for me to have the kids for a 5 day stretch every two weeks. I wasn’t happy with it, but the block of time being contiguous allowed for me to have some good time with them. She seemed okay with the deal. If you recall, my oldest son cannot come to my house, because he sexually abused my stepson. So the schedule had to do with my other 3 kids. I struggle pretty much everyday with what my relationship can be with my oldest considering what he did, and the fact that he said he did it because he didn’t want to live with me at all. He is now the crux of the arguments used to judge me as a poor father. My oldest son is back at his mothers. The GAL decided that he needed to chime in on our parenting plan, even though he said he would let us alone if we had agreement. He thinks I should have one evening a week, and 8 hours every other weekend. My wife should have no contact with my kids, and no overnights. This is not a plan that could work in the long term, and for me to have any real time with my kids, they would have to miss their activities. Which if you have been reading this blog for long, you will remember that the GAL has a real issue with my kids missing activities for family things when they involve me.

I was told that the GAL has been having regular conversations with my children, and that this is inline with how the feel about me and my wife. My wife picked up the kids from school the day we heard about this. She had gone to the orthodontist and picked up some wax and rubber bands for my son. She had also gone to the pharmacy to get him some cold sore treatment. My son made a point that he wanted to leave some of the stuff at our house so he didn’t have to take it back and forth. My wife started crying. The kids wanted to know why she was crying. She told them what the GAL was recommending, and that there is a real risk of us losing our time with them. The court won’t like the conversation that we had, but over time their mother has had a chance to expose them to what is going on in court without any reprisal, and at this point we had nothing to lose. I told the kids that if they wanted their voices heard, that they needed to make sure that they were sending whatever they wanted considered to the GAL. I told them to make sure that their voices were heard, and that not me, their mother, or the GAL were filling in the blanks for them. None of them remembered communicating with him anytime recently.

To add to my suspicions that there is something wrong, there was a weird texting incident the other weekend at my house. My two oldest and my ex all share an apple account for their iphones. My daughter was having great fun, because her phone was sending and receiving texts as her brother. She was messing with her brother by sending texts to his friends. He wasn’t getting them either. I suspect that my ex was tinkering with the apple account so she can send texts as the kids while they are at my house. It is a fairly simple thing to do, because apple wants you to be able to use any of their devices to communicate as yourself. I can do the same for my step-kids with the apple tools or with the google tools, since they are using google voice for their phones.

With nothing to lose, I am forcing this to trial. The judge will ahve to rule on the issues. She is going ot have to put herself on record regarding the issues. She is going to have to leave herself open to appeal. She also is going to appoint another party to interview the kids, because everything is hearsay regarding the kids. In my state you cannot cross examine a GAL, so you need a third party to verify what the GAL is saying. Recommending that I essentially get no time with my kids makes it so I must challenge everything he is saying. It is possible that with enough crap exposed I could get my time back to 50/50 or better. There is also a risk I could lose it all. Pray for me and my family.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 22

Time Is Love

where is the love?

This is something I learned while working in ministry. That’s far in my past, but the lessons learned about relationships still ring true. Time is love. I talk a lot about child support, and the harm it does. This is the flip side of the argument. This is where things hurt worse. Losing authority in my kids life through child support is something I can’t stand, but it is how the system works. A system that needs to change. This is the less tangible side of the problem.

If you have ever been involved with youth ministry, there is the idea that is passed on to the leaders that “Time = Love.” I used to think it was just a phrase to motivate you, but as I saw it at work, its true. People feel loved by you being available to them with your time, and choosing to spend time with them, when there isn’t anything in particular to do together. Just hanging out. Young men do this naturally with each other. As we grow into adults we don’t continue to do this as well. We get busy, and doing “important” things becomes more pressing than just spending time with people. Friendships become less important than colleagues, we even pretend that our colleagues are our friends to try and fill the gap, but it doesn’t work. In the end we all become a little lonelier.

Our kids need time. That is the only thing that matters. They will remember hanging out while you work on the car or fixing a bike or even cleaning the kitchen. These are the times that you talk about life. These are the times that you transfer your knowledge not just about the thing you are doing, but you get to talk about your experiences from the past that can help train them, and they get to tell you their stories that explain how they are being shaped for life. This can’t be replaced by the car rides to practice or games. The conversations just aren’t as organic as they are when you are just doing life. I think this is especially true for men and their children.

The same attitude gives mothers the advantage in custody. The tasks are more important than anything. Mothers tend to be more attentive to the tasks of child raising, especially when there are two parents involved. All custody cases really seem to focus on the kids in such a way that if you read the documents involved, you would think that that all children function at the same level as toddlers. The basic care and feeding of the children is the focus. The end result of mother centered custody is the kids don’t get the benefit of a father who forces them to care for themselves while being the safety net. A father who draws them alongside them instead of just ordering them around or just taking care of them. Children deserve a mother and father because they balance out each other. Yes a man has usually acted as provider, but he should be allowed to do that on his terms. The current system reduced him to a wage slave, and that isn’t the role of father. He is a provider, and in that role he also gets to train his kids about providing for themselves.

I have yet to see a man who is an active father who doesn’t provide for the needs of his kids. These are things that when raised to the challenge of being a single or divorced dad that most men just do. All of the things that the court make all important about the kids are taken care of. I have also seen very few mothers who are very good at teaching kids to leave the nest. I don’t know how many kids from single mothers who don’t learn to ride a bike until they are much older than the kids raised with an active dad. This might sound stupid, but allowing the kids to crash is part of teaching them to ride a bike, and mom’s aren’t very good at that. The pictures you see of men tossing babies in the air that so many people like to make fun of, but the truth is this is part of men teaching their kids to fly. In healthy families kids look to their mom for comfort, and their dad for security. Even as a baby they learn that their dad isn’t going to let bad things happen to them, even when something scary is happening.

Kids are being robbed of their security through divorce and the courts. Men have to figure out how to put the wrongs away, and do their best to still be fathers with only 1/3 or less the time they had before. Any justification for this falls on deaf ears with me, because divorce changes everything. The idea of keeping this normal for the kids is lost in divorce. Pretending that you can come close is absolute bullshit. Women are being rewarded with money and power for keeping the fathers at arms length and limiting their time. Kids suffer for this. The become unsure of themselves. The person who was their security is struggling to care for himself now. He no longer can pay for the things he used to, and their mother can, but she can only because she receives money that the father cannot talk about. None of this makes the children feel secure.

Relationships are not about quality time. They are about time. The children deserve the most time they can get with both parents. They need the comfort from mom, but just as much they need the security of dad. This is something the court doesn’t recognize. The long term ramifications of kids who fail to launch don’t seem to matter. All that matters is that the kids succeed in school, and don’t go to jail. The system is broken. It doesn’t account for all the intangibles that ultimately matter. The court can’t account for them, but it can take a more neutral stance. One that says that parents are required to take care certain aspects of the kids needs, and each should have to do it.

Kids need time with each parent, and lots of it. When the parents are thinking of the kids, then they will do this naturally, and ultimately when the parents are left on equal footing with equal time and responsibility for the kids, then this is much more likely to happen. The parents are more likely to work together. It doesn’t matter how many words are used to say that should occur, it wont’ occur so long as the parents aren’t operating from equal footing. The courts do a huge diservice to the kids by not working for the parents to have equal footing in most cases, especially cases where the parents are both able, willing, and in close proximity to each other. This is something to fight for. This is the case to make to our legal overlords.

Ten-Foured,

JeD