Why Child Support Is Mandatory

keith's child support

To most of us today, child support is a matter of course. If you aren’t married to the mother of your children, then you pay child support. This wasn’t always the case though. Normal, hard working men took care of their children regardless of the status they held with the mother of their children. As a matter of fact, the legal definition of marriage is a fairly recent thing. Marriage law was governed under common law. Now that is a rarity as well. So why is it automatic that men pay women child support? How did this become the norm?

If you go back in time to the 60s and the 70s in the US, you will find that there was a lot of political activism surrounding the sexual revolution. You started to hear about dead beat dads. A thing that largely wasn’t a problem until promiscuity was the norm for young women. Dead beat dads are a consequence of loose women. Maybe not wholly, but the epidemic that led to the outrage is a result of this. There are a number of social and scientific factors that led to this, and birth control availability is one of them. People like to pretend that birth control always works, but it doesn’t. It certainly becomes an issue when there are mind altering drugs involved, and this era had a lot of that as well. As these girls became women with daunting task of raising kids alone without a father, the term deadbeat dad emerges.

These numbers grew over the next couple of decades. Court ordered child support starts to become more common as these mothers seek assistance in raising these kids. Most of the men paying child support never wanted the child. All they wanted was the sexual gratification. Whether knowingly or not, they had abandoned their children. Under common law in most states, this allowed the mother or community to seek financial support for the children. Mostly when the mother was living off some form of government assistance. Before this time, very few people had heard of child support, let alone known anyone that paid it. Now it was common enough that everyone knew at least a recipient or payer of child support. The majority of people weren’t concerned that they would ever have to pay child support themselves.

A fair chunk of these men not being fatherly minded resisted paying the support, and when they lived outside the jurisdictions of the courts ordering support, it was difficult to find ways to enforce collection. The Federal government was increasingly becoming the primary source of funding for the assistance programs, and so felt that had a stake in child support collections. They increased efforts to collect child support, and laws were passed to give the states more ways to collect child support from reluctant fathers. As more laws were passed by the Federal government, they saw that not all states and jurisdictions cared to collect child support. The decided it was not enough to give the states the tools, but they needed to give them incentives. They started to reward the states with some form of matching funds for every dollar of child support they collected. There were also incentives for having your collection rates at high percentages.

Whether it was an expected and desired side effect or unexpected, I don’t know, but the end result was that states saw that collecting child support could mean new revenue. If there were more support ordered in the courts, then they would collect more support and have more matching funds. They also saw that having more orders would also increase their collection percentages, because the vast majority of men wouldn’t dodge their responsibilities. As time went on the Federal government required that child support dispensaries be created and the income withholding order became the norm and even required in all Title IV cases. Financially the states started adding fees to the service. All in all the states make money through the dissolution of marriages and unwed parenting.

The states are now stakeholders in the breakup of families. Even though history clearly shows that the breakdown of the family unit is a leading indicator of the downfall of a society, the states are invested in the process. Financially it pays for them to do so. This is an artificial economic increase for them, because no new money is made. Now for those like me, who don’t really trust government to begin with there are other factors that also fed this process. One is statistically men are savers and women are spenders. Transferring money from men to women will generally mean that more money moves through the marketplace, and there are more taxes to collect. Women vote more than men, and there are more women than men potential voters. Women are more likely to vote for candidates that will make sure they are taken care of. It is certainly easier to hand out someone else’s money, than it is to do anything truly constructive for this country. The idea has been sold that because the children have a right to what each parent’s income can provide, then they must have a right to the income itself. Its a mixed up thought process, because all of us that have had kids in traditional marriage know, is kids have a right to the luxuries you are willing to provide. Only when you are a child support payer is that idea flipped. It doesn’t extend to the child support recipient. There is no requirement for them to spend any of the money on the kids, so long as the kids are generally taken care of.

Child support creates a second class of citizen. It also tends to keep money out of savings. Men are paying enough that they can’t save for themselves. The money they would save is being spent now on the kids, either in their own household or in the other parents. Men with one or two kids generally spend what they would have anyway on top of child support. Men with more kids are left with little to maintain themselves. If they want to have their kids any amount of time, then the costs of housing alone will make it difficult for them to save. This to states that want increased tax revenues is a good situation. The money continues to move, so they get more in terms of sales and income taxes. Its a short term view of economics. The states would be better off when each generation can save. They pass wealth on to the next generation, and each generation becomes richer. Government is freed from taking care of more and more of its population. In a freedom loving country like the US, this is a good thing. The poor are the hardest hit in these schemes. The problem is government always tends towards controlling the population. These systems keep men under control. They don’t have the finances to be distracted by what is going on in government, and are subject to such high penalties for non-payment that they don’t risk doing otherwise.

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

Prepare For Your Divorce

Love, Commitment and Adulthood

From the start of your marriage, you should prepare for your divorce. This is truly the case when you plan on having kids. You need to protect your ability to live on and live well after divorce before you get married. This might sound a bit crazy, but its true. Its sad that the world has come to this, but it has. Men are not treated fairly in court, and so they need to limit their damages the best they can. Traditional marriage with children should be forgotten, because if that is the route you take, then you will be punished for it later.

Prenuptial agreements are worthless if there are children. The court and clever lawyers can eliminate most parts of this agreement in the “best interest of the child.” Understand that this principle applies to all decisions the court makes. From who gets the house to how property is divided. The only time a prenuptial agreement holds real weight is when she wants it to, and when there are no kids involved. The one value that they have is that it may set the tone for where you start negotiating. They won’t save you in court, but they might help you stay out of court and get a fair deal through mediation and negotiation.

You must be an equal partner in every way with the kids duties. Not just doing half the work or care for the kids, but half of each type of work. Make sure you have a flexible job, and slow down the promotions. They won’t do you any good anyway after divorce, because she will just get a bigger chunk. Try and have a job that pays around the same as the job she has, and yes she must have a job too. Take as much time as she does doing things with the kids alone. Discourage breast feeding. Yes it might be better for the kids, but it takes you out of the duties of feeding the kids when they are infants. It will be argued that this creates a bond that you can’t have. Take the kids to school half the time, and pick them up and do the homework with them at least half the time. Making breakfast and dinner anytime you can, and make sure you are doing it regularly half the time. Go clothes shopping and school shopping. Nothing that involves your kids should be done without your active involvement. You should probably only have one child as well. Child support in the future is far less with one child, and makes tearing the family apart less appealing.

Be alert to the possibility of divorce pending. A year or two off, stop looking for raises. Start taking more time off, and if you are hourly, then work fewer hours. Use this time with your kids. This lowers your pay while you are married, so you are held to a lower standard for any child support and maintenance. Understand that I am advocate of equal parenting time, and I believe that men and women should care for their kids. I don’t believe that court ordered child support is the correct mechanism to do this. Not only does lessening your hours set a lower bar for future earnings when calculating child support, but it also prepares you for the truth of what is to come. You can increase your hours to help with the economic burdens of divorce, and it not be used against you in most states. You will also need more time off to deal with things that used to be divided duties when you were together. Including tagging the cars and other mundane tasks you don’t think about when you are married, because usually one of you is more able to take care of that issue on any given day. If you are working to your best potential at the time of divorce you are likely to not only suffer from having to share your income with your ex, but also having less income coming in do to your new time constraints. Divorce courts don’t deal with the realities of the economics of divorce. They tend to go with a “greater good” philosophy in their decisions. These are masked in other terms, but generally men are more likely to get along without assistance after divorce, even when monies are taken from them. If they shift the kids to one parent in a legal context, and the other parent pays them, then it is likely that the greatest number of people in the case are going to be okay. The kids and mother are taken care of and the men are likely to get along, even if not so well.

You need to have a go bag. You should have all the things you need in a bag that you have access to, even if you don’t have access to your home. This should have the basis you need to survive. Clothes and money should be in the bag. Anything you use daily should be in the bag. It could be doubly helpful in other situations, but think that you might be out of your house for a few weeks and not have access to things you use everyday during that time. If she pulls the trigger and gets a restraining order, its going to take some time to sort things out. You should have enough immediate cash to allow for you to live during that time, including getting some shelter. Think hard about this and put the bag together. Having the cash is important. Make sure to include having enough cash to meet with a lawyer for some advice as well.

Start putting money aside early. Have a bank account that you stash a certain amount in every paycheck. This is handy when things are good for buying presents without snooping, but let it grow. This is your nest egg. It will get you started when you are looking for new housing, furniture, and all other things when you start over. This should not be a shared bank account. This is yours and only yours. The more you have, the better off you are when divorce is eminent. This can also give you the balls to lay down the law when you need to lay down the law in your relationship. This can be some alpha boost, and may help you in your relationship long term, and avoid the very thing you are preparing for. Insurance so to speak.

Have a family law attorney on retainer. As soon as you have the money to put an attorney on retainer, do so. Give them a mailing address that your spouse doesn’t have access to. You don’t need to have anything for them to do. Just find a good law firm, and put them on retainer. If things go south fast, you don’t have to worry about getting this money together or spending your safety net money for this. You just have to make a phone call and go in and meet with them. Given this advantage, you can go ahead and file for divorce and set the initial rules of engagement if her opening isn’t to file then tell you. This will keep you from being caught flat footed legally. This can be the difference between months of panic, and quickly resolving things in a favorable way.

These are all hindsight is 20/20 types of observations. I am sure there are more, but the point is that you should plan for the likely end of the relationship before it hits you. Once you have the law firm on retainer and money automatically going to an account as a safety net, you don’t have to think about these things again until you need them. They will comfort you rather than hinder you while you go forward and try to beat the odds. They may be the difference in you divorcing and not. It may be counter intuitive to you, but not fearing divorce may very well prevent it. It wouldn’t have for me, but I would be in better shape if I had these things in place. I wouldn’t have needed the go bag, but having the money and the attorney would have stopped me from making certain decisions I felt I had to in the heat of the moment.

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

Uniformity Would Help

Skewed Uniformity

As I have engaged and researched the divorce and custody world from different angles, I see that so much of what happens varies from state to state, and even from county to county. As a more libertarian thinker, I find this generally a good thing in theory. The fact that those closest to the people make the rules. The practice is something altogether different. Every state has its own divorce and marriage laws. There are some key things that vary between localities that can make a world of difference.

First Federal Law plays a big role in this. To give the illusion of uniformity there are some standards set up by Federal Law. One is that marriage carries a reciprocal agreement between the states. Basically if two people are legally allowed to be married in one state and they move to another state where they are allowed to be legally married, then that marriage will be honored by the other state. On the surface the relationships are the same. The standards that each party are held to can vary widely from state to state. None of this matters much, unless you are in divorce court. You enter into a marriage in a state that has limits on property division and maintenance, and you can end up getting divorced in state that has no limits and often decides to inequitably divide property. You may live in a state that infidelity matters or doesn’t when you marry, and move to state that is the opposite. Understand that this changes the deal. How a contract is broken is a part of the contract, so moving states changes the contract, and for most people they are unaware of the change of terms. What is worse, is one partner can move to a state that is favorable to them, and after meeting the residency period in than state, they can file for divorce. A ruse of moving for work or or schools or other factors, and the other spouse is to follow can allow one partner to choose a more favorable location to break the marriage contact. Infidelity can have a large effect in some states, and no effect in others. This again changes the terms of the contract.

These same principles are applied to child custody. There is even more Federal ambiguity added to the mix. Federal Law requires states to have child support formulas and systems in place, and have enticed them to up collections through matching funds. The results are that states have figured out that this is a profit center. So much so that my state has instituted in the guidelines for child support that the parent who earns more should pay child support to the other parent, when they share custody 50/50. This is because the state will get more matching funds with the higher calculation. Moving states changes the terms that you will have the when having kids with someone, and in divorce you may not know the terms were changed by moving across the state line. This is a major issues for people who live near state borders, and a large part of our population does. Trade and population centers are often along the state borders. It allows for companies to take advantage of changes in laws in both states without having to turn over an entire workforce. Whether you have shared custody or limited time, and how much you pay in child support is the domain of the state that the the kids go into the courts care either from divorce or birth depending on whether the parents are married. It doesn’t matter what the state laws were where you were married, because they don’t have the jurisdiction.

I am not a fan of the courts being in the middle of all this. I am also not a fan of state sanctioned marriage, but under the tax laws, its is hard to not accept the government domain in relationships. For most of us, we can’t afford to not accept it. I believe that it would be easier to combat the problems with the system, if there were simply one system. Marriage and child custody legislation should be largely federalized. Marriage and divorce should look the same in Miami, Chicago, Springfield, and Sacramento. It shouldn’t matter where you live,the contract should be the same. The terms you are breaking the contract under should be the same, and the issues of child custody and support should be the same. This is an area where we are constantly dealing with the rights of people and the constitution gets stomped on. If the laws are already under Federal purview, then it is more likely to receive the scrutiny it deserves. By the courts, by the president, and by congress. Even more importantly, it would be a valuable topic for the press to cover. No longer do you have the crazy people up in Nebraska making some kooky law for a few people in the high plains, but you have a singular standard that will affect nearly half the population. Most of the problems of the current laws would be absorbed by the Federal government, but now the few activists who want to fix things in each state can fight a unified battle to fix the problems with the system.

I think that long term, there needs to be a simple child custody rights amendment added to the constitution. This amendment should define clearly what the child’s rights are from their parents. I think these rights are pretty simple. They deserve food and shelter. They deserve an education. The deserve to be treated humanely, and to be free from abuse. They deserve a relationship with both a father and a mother. I say this knowing that homosexual couples will adopt children. I think there needs to be a provision that there is someone who has the rights to act as a father for the child. We need to reboot our thinking and accept that kids need male and female influences in their life. These relationships are important. I am not really sure how that one plays out, but I do think it is important. Relationships are imperfect, so this last one might be hard. This amendment should also define a parents rights. The parents rights should include the right to spend significant time with their children. The right to make decisions in their child’s life regarding health, education, and religion. The child has the right to an education, but the parents have the right to choose the manner of that education. It should define who has the ability to settle disputes and how they will be settled. I don’t think a courtroom is the right place. I think that perhaps court is the place where they can come to agreement as to who will settle disputes. This should be a trusted clergy person, therapist, or other person who will develop a relationship with both the parents and the children. There should also be a means for the the parents to change who that person is, because that person should be someone who is trusted by both parents to assist in these disputes. I am sure that there would be far more details than I can think of this moment, but it would have a tremendous effect on the process that we follow now.

This amendment would create a culture where men and women would not have to get married to raise kids together. I think it would be common that parents would have a parenting plan that would guide them in their decision making and living arrangements. I could see parents choosing to live together as a couple or simply as parents in a contract to raise a family together and to share the expenses of raising the children. I think in the long term, it is likely that men and women will choose to raise a family together and have separate romantic relationships. This is something that might even change how homes are built. I could see homes with three spaces in our future. A family space that has the kitchen, dining, living, and children’s spaces. A mothers apartment and a fathers apartment. Each apartment would have private sleeping, bathing, and limited cooking spaces. There would also be a private living room for each parent. The parents would be free to run their apartment as they please. They would share decision making on the shared spaces. The kids would no longer have to shuffle from father to mother. If the parents don’t get along well, they could schedule their time with the kids such that one is responsible for taking care of the kids and the larger portion of the home for a few days and then the other. The children would have easy access to both parents when they need or want them. Activities and homework can be a joint effort without either parent having to go to the others home. When romantic partners are in the house, they wouldn’t have to have any contact with the children. The arrangement could be simply for the time it would take to raise the kids to a certain age. This may not be an arrangement that everyone would want, but it is the type of flexibility that having an amendment that guarantees both parents and children certain rights with each other would lend itself to. Traditional marriage would still be an option. It would squash the current culture that surrounds the single mother heroes our society so loves. Men would have equal access to their kids, and financial responsibilities according to the law would be limited to the guaranteed rights of the children.

Without strong marriage, and we don’t have strong marriage, flexibility in parenting relationships is necessary. The current paradigm is one where men pay the bills and women take care of the kids. It is based on the illusion that this is what the marriage contract represented, and that it should be mimicked as much as possible. This is not what the contract was, and even if it were, the contract is void. The marriage is one that essentially says that I as a man will take care of you financially and protect you physically and in turn you will comfort me and care for my treasures, including my children. When that contract was broken, then the wife was left to figure out how to care for and protect herself. The man still provided for his children under his own roof. The only time a man was held to account, historically, as he is now was when he abandoned his family. If you read the legal path of how we ended up where we are, it is all based on the concept of women being abandoned with their children by men. This has never been the majority of the circumstances. It has always been far more common for women to choose to walk away from men. As a matter of fact, they were far more likely to walk away from their kids. They don’t do this now, largely because the money comes from having the children.

Its time to stop having different standards around the country. Its time to stop pretending that one dynamic works for all families. Its time to stop handing out cash and prizes to one person, while extracting them from the other. Its time to stop pretending that statistical averages actually define how people manage their money and lives. Its time to remember that all parties involved have rights. It is said that divorce is worse than having a spouse die. Part of that is because all the worst parts of the spouse are magnified in the current system, while the best parts are unavailable to you. In the death of a spouse, you lose the burdens with virtues. You are able to idealize the memory of that person. Your former spouse in divorce is remembered at their worst, because the current system encourages people to be their worst.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Custody Is The Problem

Eli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Feminism: The Results

SlutWalk NYC 2011

This is where feminism has taken us. Watch the video

It a time not so long ago a man hitting his wife was largely ignored, or so the story is told. I don’t know that was ever really true, but that is the story. I do know that feminism has brought us a world where men can’t be harsh with a woman without intervention from others, but a woman beating on a man is considered entertainment. We have seen the video of Ray Rice hitting his now wife on the elevator. If you haven’t then check it below. It seems that defending yourself is only okay withing certain boundaries. I see her hit him at least twice. Yes he is a big strong man, but she is not a child. The world wants us to treat women as children. If they hit you, then they it can be returned. If it is, then you should limit yourself, so as not to hurt her. I have said it before, but we are going to see more Ray Rice scenarios, and they are going to be worse. As men are treated as if the smallest things are the same as big things, the ones who don’t or can’t avoid the confrontation will escalate it quickly, because they will be handled the same regardless. Feminism is on a path of making things more dangerous for women, not less.

Limiting Child Support

Dead-beat Dad sale

I find it necessary to argue this issue from two sides. One is that child support is one of the biggest evils in western society, and that it should be abolished. That is my honest opinion. The legal requirement of child support is akin to slavery, while the moral obligation to supporting you children is a whole different issue. The moral obligation to take care of the children you bring into the world is one of the most important ones any man has. Moral obligations and legal obligations are not congruent, nor should they be. If all moral obligations were codified into law, then we would all be slaves.

Child support is crippling. Many men with one or two children can make way with the rates that are imposed, but they do so with much less than they should have. Most men are not in poverty, but many of the arguments that are made revolve around the men that are in poverty. The sad part is they tend to do so in such a way as to cripple the men in poverty. I have four children and feel the impact of the child support in rather extreme ways. The idea that I am proposing is simply to limit the impact of child support. A big part of my reasoning is that men should be allowed to spend from their own reserves on their children. The children shouldn’t see mom buy them everything, and that dad doesn’t buy them anything, especially when the truth is often for those in the middle class and above, that the dad is paying the lion’s share of the expenses for the children. For poorer men, it is even harder. They often after child support, don’t have the resources to decide to forgo something else to spend extra on their child.

Child support’s purpose needs to be redefined. Currently it is defined to support not only the necessary expenses for the child, but also that it is to support the child’s lifestyle if the child still lived with both parents. The lifestyle right isn’t a real right. The parents have always have had the right to determine the lifestyle of their children. There is no good argument that because the parents don’t live together, that suddenly they have this new right. I don’t know how to define correctly yet, but the end result needs to define it as something that pays for the child’s needs, and the needs should be clearly identified. The rights of the paying parent need to be recognized in the process. Financially the paying parent should be allowed to earn a base amount that is untouched. The reality that the children don’t live with that parent is the reason they don’t have the benefit of the home that parent provides. There is no excuse for one parent being left without enough income to provide for themselves the basics of life.

Base Earnings Aren’t Subject to Child Support Obligations

At a minimum the every child support payer should be allowed to earn what is considered poverty level for them self and their dependents. The current system likes to pretend that someone isn’t going to have more children after the first relationship blows up. This idea needs to go away. Men and women should be allowed to pursue relationships fairly unhindered, especially by previous relationships. At least legally. What is more egregious, is the only one shackled by the current system is the one obligated to pay child support. The other parent can continue on as if they have no obligations at all, and legally they don’t. This should be based on each paycheck. Men and women who work odd jobs and other work that doesn’t have consistent incomes should only be held to account for child support when they earn enough to pay it. The argument against this is that the parent receiving child support should be able to rely on the payments coming in regularly. The truth is that if they were together, they wouldn’t be able to rely on that income any better, so why should they living apart have more confidence in getting paid than when together. The idea that divorce and family law can be neat and tidy, while so many people are not that stable, nor should they be required to by the court.

A Maximum Child Support Obligation Regardless Of Income

Child support should not be an endless well. The parties are not together, and the children should be allowed to benefit by the lifestyle both parents are able and willing to provide for the children. This does not mean that the paying parent should be required to pay that money to the other parent. That is certainly an option, but shouldn’t be court ordered in any way. I am not sure what that number should be. My initial thoughts are that it should be no more than $2000/month regardless of the number of children or income. There is no reason that one parent, even if they are able, should be required to fund the lifestyle of the other parent. This number is probably too large, but its a point to start at, and with the other limits I propose will not apply to most child support payers.

A Maximum Percentage of Net Income

As discussed above, net income is the amount of money left after taxes are paid and required benefits are funded, including health insurance. This number should be 25% regardless of the number of children. One quarter of net income is more than enough money to extract from a person without their consent. Each child should be worth no more than 5% of this net income. Again this is per pay cycle, not annually. If you reach a maximum in the pay cycle, you are not obligated to catch up. You don’t pay taxes on fictional income, neither should you pay court ordered child support based on fictional income. The current system requires that people pay a dollar amount regardless of actual income. The courts only discretion would be to lower the percentage, not raise it. Anything more than these numbers would be illegal to collect. The concept of arrears should go away.

Maximum Amount

A maximum amount should be assigned based on the time of separation or birth of the child, whichever came last. That maximum amount of support should be based on the last three years of taxable income. The maximum should be set to the rates that are mentioned above. Child support shall not go up based on the increases in income of the payer, unless they have not been meeting the threshold of being able to pay 5% per child because of low wages during this time frame. The amount should be calculated based on the lowest amount they could earn during that year, and still pay 5% of their income per child.

The Order

An order should be written for a percentage of income. The laws should limit was is taken in the following ways. It will not exceed $2000/month. It will not exceed 25% of their income. It will not reduce the net income to below poverty level based on the number of exemptions claimed. Tax returns are subject to the order as new income, since it was excluded in the net income child support was collected from during the year. When the maximum amount has been reached for the year based on all the criteria above, then no more support shall be required until the next calendar year.

Extraordinary Expenses

Any expenses from medical, dental, or mental health are covered under these guidelines, unless the expenses exceed 75% of the child support paid during the year. In this case the bills that exceed the 75% mark are going to be split 50/50 between the parents.

Opting Out

If both parents choose to opt out, then this is a binding agreement and cannot be revisited. The parents will be required to pay 50% of the required expenses for the children. Each parent is obligated to provide the children with enough clothing for their home and to properly feed and care for them when they are in their care. Medical, dental, and mental health expenses will be split 50/50. Education expenses will be split 50/50. If there is a disagreement about schools and the court rules to place the child in a program that is more expensive than public schooling, the other parent is only required to reimburse to the level of 50% of the costs of sending the child to public school. If the child is pre-school aged, daycare expenses should be paid inverse proportionally to the amount of time that each parent has the child. All orders should be 50/50 time share with the kids unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise or the parents agree to something different.

Results

The end result is that child support payers will know what their maximum required at any given point and time. The burden of child support is limited when income levels are low. If a person has income that is not W2 in nature, then of course they will need to be mechanisms to calculate 1099 income. In these cases it might be beset to treat child support like taxes. The paying parent would make child support payments quarterly when they pay their taxes. Though I am still against child support requirements because it is akin to slavery, this model would loosen the shackles.

Conclusion

I only mentioned it once above, but in general all custody orders should be 50/50 without a compelling reason to not do so or agreement of the parents. The results from this type of change would change how a child support payer views their jobs. There are many men who have lost their motivation to improve their wages, because they don’t see enough of the income increase. The children will typically benefit from the father’s income increase, even when he doesn’t pay additional child support. I know men who have not started their own businesses. In their marriage their wife was against them doing so, and as a good husband chose not to do so for their family. These men under current child support rules continue to choose to not start these businesses, because the risk of the penalties if they can’t meet their obligations are too high. If child support were based on actual earnings and not just a dollar amount, then these men would be given the freedom of choice that married men have. Married men have the right to choose to lower their income to spend more time with their families. They have the right to start businesses that won’t generate income for some time. It is wrong that men lose this freedom because they don’t live with the mother of their children.

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

Busting Myths: Child Support Is Necessary

Take off or Bust

Busting Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding parenting, divorce, and parenting after divorce. These myths are propagated by our culture and carried into our court rooms. These myths need to be removed from our judgement as a society. They often encourage bad behaviour that is contrary to the the stated goals of creating new family units that everyone can thrive in. They encourage decisions that just might not be right if it weren’t for these myths. I am not using statistics for this discussion. We all have had enough people in our lives experience divorce or raising kids in separate households to know what the outliers are. Stop assuming that there is some society so different from the one you live in that exists in the USA that is so divergent that these behaviors are allowed to thrive. There really isn’t one, and the few places that might turn a blind eye are not representative of the norm. I originally planned on this being a single post, but it became way too long. I have made it a series. One that I will likely be adding to over time. I will try and remember to update the links below for all parts of the series.

Abuse Is Common
Conflict Is Unhealthy
The Best Interest Of The Child
Child Support Is Necessary

Child Support Is Necessary

The Myth

The core legal principle used in child support arguments is that the children have a right to be financially supported by both parents, and that it is the courts job to ensure that this happens. The system generally applies the principle by imposing child support on one parent, and they pay it to the other parent. The core idea behind this thinking is that the children will live the majority of their time with one parent, while the other parent would fail to provide for the child in their absence. The most egregious example of bad behaviour used is abandonment. The court assumes a position that one parent has abandoned the family, and it is their job to force them to support the family they left. These parents are then rewarded with a discount if they take the time to see their kids on a regular basis. The court has taken pre-emptive action to protect children. As we have all been told for the better part of a century, children are the real victims of divorce. From the outside looking in, this is a net positive for society. The kids are guaranteed the financial means they need to survive.

The philosophy is that the children have a right to a percentage of each parent’s income, and that they are naturally benefitting from the custodial parent?s income. The non-custodial parents income does not benefit the child unless it is given to the other parent. It is also saying that the child needs a trustee for their rights, and that trustee is the custodial parent.

A big part of this myth is built on the single mom struggling to survive after she has been abandoned by the father of her children. She now has to figure out how to succeed on her own. Movies and TV specials have been produced so much on this subject, it could be considered a genre of TV show. Our culture deplores a man who won?t take care of his family, and has no problem making a deadbeat pay.

The Truth

The truth is child support is big money. There is no bigger money in the divorce and family court industry. It is the gift that keeps on giving. Child support is the most debated item in a divorce, especially when you link it with custody matters in general. There would be very little argument of the general concept of time, if child support were not on the table. Most child custody battles ultimately are started by someone who wants to pay less or receive more in child support. The lawyers like this, because it is a constant stream of money for them over the years. The court doesn?t want to deal with real issues over and over again, but this child support thing is pretty easy, especially with guidelines being required in every state. The Federal government pays the states to collect child support in a form of matching funds, so the more they collect, the more they get. Now the states have figured out they can use this money any way they like, so like taxes, they are aggressive in collecting child support. Private companies are now employed to do this for many of the states. These companies do so in multiple states. This creates a new lobby and industry to keep child support as it is, and increase the number of people who are paying child support.

What also has to be noted is money means control. Even when decisions are supposed to be made jointly, the one with the money will have the last say. This is a fact of life. Child support has been historically such a hot topic, because for the middle class and below, paying child support means losing authority in your kids life. It also means not being recognized as the provider that you are for your children. You as the payor of child support are largely relying on the other parent to convey that you are playing your role in providing the things they need in life and then some.

Governments throughout man?s time on earth has sought to control the population. There is no end to the level of control that the government will take given the room to do so. The family court and specifically child support is a means of control that is too hard to pass up. The means of collection child support has created a new class of person. Anyone obligated to pay child support no longer has the same freedom as anyone else. They must maintain a job to pay child support. They must allow the government to take child support from their paychecks just like taxes. They are faced with severe and sometimes automatic penalties for failing to pay. All these actions can be taken without due process. In California, it was ruled that it is not unreasonable to require a person to maintain a job that allows them to pay their child support at a level the court has deemed reasonable based on the person’s skills. The reasoning is that people have to maintain jobs to pay their taxes. This argument, though on the records is fallacious. Most taxes are paid based on income, not potential income. If you have no income, then you will not be required to pay taxes on the money you did not earn. You will be required to do so with child support, and there is no guarantee that you will be given any recourse if you lose your job and you are not able to find a similar paying job to replace it.

My Take

Most cases do not involve abandonment. This is the truth. Most parents want to raise their kids, and will do what it takes to take care of them. The few who do not want to are the outliers in family law. Divorce is not rare. Over half the population who marries will experience divorce. Child support in its current form is unnecessary. There is a judge I have heard a few personal accounts about who also believes this. His default ruling is everything is split 50/50. The time, the expenses, and everything else you can think of. He orders one parent to pay the other $150/month in support. The purpose of that money is to cover school expenses. That?s it. Everything else is up to the parents to figure out. This guy has it figured out. Divorces are messy, and people can argue a thousand ways to Sunday why their way is better than another. The truth is, most of these arguments have a punitive component built into them. It is not the family courts job to punish anyone. They should ensure that rights are protected for both parents, and that there is a fairly even distribution of property, and then leave them to figure things out on their own. Parents don?t need to have the same set of rules. I bet they didn?t when they were in the same house. Parents don?t need to make the same decisions as each other. Conflict does not have to be erased for the kids to be raised well.

The example I will close with, because I know couples who do this, and the realities would be ignored by the court. These couples are the best equipped to separate their households. They usually have two similar incomes, and they live off of one of the incomes and save the other income. These couples have the wealth to sustain them through the rocky process of divorce. They also each have the means to maintain a similar lifestyle as they have before separation. After going to court, one of the parents will have to pay the other parent, even though their lifestyles were built on less income. The argument will be that it is the child?s right to child support. Understand that in marriage the child has no right to the parents income. Only outside of marriage does this exist. The children have a right to a parents care. Yes the parents wealth benefits the child, but it is not the child?s. If it were, we would all be required to save a hefty chunk of our pay every check to pay for kids things, and then save for them later, because its not ours its theirs.

I grow tired of reading on forums the shaming language used to attack those who don?t think child support is legal or ethical. It comes from men and women. The men are usually the worst, because they have drank the kool-aide and don?t learn from their own experiences. Child support is an evil. Its enslaving. It doesn?t serve the children well. Having two active and involved parents should be societies goal, and pillaging one parent for the benefit of the other won?t do this. Increasing animosity and acrimony between the parents won?t do that.

Ten-Foured,

JeD