August 11

Being Gollum

I hear stories of men winning after years of losing. I don’t see hope of that happening in court. I don’t have it in me to the horrible things that have to be done in my case to win in court. I was a highly competitive athlete, and rules and fair play matter to me. This isn’t how the law works. Its dirty, its imprecise, and values the ability to manipulate people. I loved the game play in sports. Getting in the head of a stronger opponent is one of the great thrills of life. In court opinions matter, and they affect the end result of cases. Getting in everyone’s head changes the rules. The judge isn’t a referee, but a player on the field with a different set of rules. Its all a grand game, and its bigger than any single case. They like to think of it as real life chess, but it doesn’t have rules like chess.

I used to respect what it took to become a lawyer. I used to think their was some nobility in the profession, but the more I am around attorneys, the more I realize that they for the most part have bought themselves into a club that trades favors with each other. This allows them to be overly expedient with a system that is not intended to be expedient. Family law might be the worst case of this. I have seen in in the juvenile courts, child protective courts, and divorce courts.

If you have read my story, then you know that divorce court has not been friendly to me. Like the Gollum in LOTR, I am not given the benefit of the doubt. I am looked at with disdain, and my actions that they approve of are attributed to motives that are other than noble. Their is no winning. It is simply a matter of how I will lose next. I fear like the Gollum that my pursuit of my ring will land me in the fires of Mount Doom. My ring would be actual freedom to be a father.

The Gollum transitioned as a despicable character to a pitiable character throughout the story. You felt sorry for him, but never trusted him. He was a creature to be feared, even when you needed his help. The Gollum was mistreated out of hand by the more noble characters, and to them it seemed the right thing to do. As I watched the movies and read the books, I always became upset by how the Gollum was treated. He was never given a real chance at redemption by those he traveled with. He was simply a means to an end. He knew how to reach the fire of Mount Doom without being detected.

As a father in family court, I am treated with distrust for wanting to have my kids a significant amount of time. That distrust allows the court without any evidence to prove I am not in the best interest of my children. I am feared because I don’t think like a mother. I am mistreated for not accepting whatever I am given as being a victory. I am given no path of redemption, just further restrictions, and those causing it feel justified, because I am despicable in their minds. I am not to be trusted and must be controlled. My value is mostly in the money I can provide, and I have very little more of that. I may burn before I get the ring again.

The other trait that I was most aware of in the Gollum is his jealousy. He was forever jealous of the other characters, and in particular Frodo. Frodo had what he wanted. It ate away at him. He was on the edge of murder multiple times. His internal or not so internal voice was telling him to kill Frodo and take the ring.

Now my jealousy hasn’t driven me to think of murder, but its constant and real. I see other Dads who have their kids on a regular basis. They don’t miss out on teaching them to drive. They don’t miss out on first dates. They don’t miss out on late night talks. I get none of these things. I spend a lot of time wondering what I am missing today. I just took a road trip, and I missed the conversations we would of had while we drive, if they had been allowed to go with me. The pain is at times unbearable.

The Gollum also believed that everyone would get theirs. They would someday get what they deserve, and he would relish in it. It never happened. In middle earth, there was no karma, and there is none in the real world either. Sometimes good people are bad with no consequences, and bad people continue down their wicked path without even a hint of things coming their way.

I too find myself dreaming of when everyone gets theirs. Perhaps the judge gets judged. The GAL loses his kids and has a GAL frown on him. My ex-wife would be accused of something horrible and have to live with the shame of it, and lose what she loves because of it. I think of the time when child support starts falling off, and she struggles without all my money. She will lose starting in just over a year nearly $4000/month. That is the equivalent of $60,000/year in earned income. I expect her to fail financially, and to do so hard. The problem is, I am looking forward to it.

I may not be able to change other’s looking at me like the Gollum, but I can stop being the Gollum. I have to change my internal dialog. I can’t walk around mad all the time. I have to find some place where the Gollum can be the hero, but I can’t do that while I actually think like the Gollum.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

March 25

Bitch!

This is not a nice post, I am pissed, and I don’t give a crap how people take it. The past few weeks have been shitty. Its been her fault, and I don’t give a fuck about being nice right now. She is determined to fuck every part of my life, because she is a soulless bitch who cannot attract anything to her for a real relationship that is worth having around.

Now that I am completely shit when it comes to everyone involved in the court system here, she wants to just agree to keep things the way they are. That is supervised visits and a no contact order between my step-kids and wife, and my kids. The plus side is that it gets things out of court. It leaves the possibility that she could allow things to change by agreement, but then again she could choose not to, and there is really nothing I can do about it either way. She could let me have more access to them, then she could take it away because she got pissed off. It really leaves me as not much of a father at all. My attorney and me agree that there isn’t any changing the court’s opinion of me, and this would make it possible that if I have to go back to court, I may not have the same judge anymore ,and the GAL would no longer be assigned to the case. If a new GAL were assigned, then it is likely we could get a completely different one, and with a new judge we could argue for that. I won’t say that I have hope anymore, but giving in to this isn’t quitting.

What makes me so angry about this is she isn’t thinking of the kids in any way shape or form. This is all about her having power over me. Its about her not having to parent with me. She will talk a good co-parenting game, but its not really what she wants to do. She wants to do whatever the hell she wants to do. It doesn’t have to do with the kids. At one point I called her a good mother in most ways, but now I call her a pretender. She puts the kids through hell, just like me, to get her way. She is not a good mother. She is a monster masquerading as a super-mom. Its bullshit that the courts and their entourage see her as a star, and me as a looser. Her interference is seen as being an engaged mom, and I am somehow an abuser. The system may allow it, but it doesn’t change the fact she is a monster. It might seem harsh to call her a monster, but the mere fact that she is pushing me out of the kids’ lives makes her a monster. The fact that she used tragedy in my home, and issues with my oldest to win advantage in court and trash me makes her a monster. I had nearly 300 pages of documentation of her bad behavior with the kids, particularly my oldest, and I chose not to use it, because the kids need their mom. I don’t regret it, but I was foolish to think that there was a possibility of her working with me to parent in even a most rudimentary way.

I have been reduced to that of the financier of my children’s lives, and she is the trustee who gets to choose how to spend those funds. I haven’t been given a choice to control how spending happens or what they do. The less time I spend with my kids, the more they become distant from me. I used to think if I could just hold on to something small for a few more years, that maybe I would have a good adult relationship. Its possible, but the probability isn’t all that great. I know plenty of people it has been true with, but they had a malicious ex-wife who trashed them to the kids. Mine manages to get others to believe things about me, and then moves on like she didn’t do anything. Its not the anger that becomes so transparent as children get older. It is the manipulative gas lighting that rallies my mother and sister into her circle, and they think it is okay to keep me out of the loop of what they are doing with my children.

As I said above, my family has chosen to take her side. I never asked them to take sides regarding the children, but I did expect that they would favor me under times of stress. I expected that they would at the very least come around once I was told I am not allowed to see my kids unsupervised. My only conclusion can be is that they don’t disagree with me being supervised. They have to have fallen for her stories about me, or decided that it is better to have access to my kids than to be in my good graces. I really think it is the former, because they would have told me if it were the latter. I will give my kids grace for buying into their mother’s bullshit. I will not give that same grace to my adult family members. They don’t deserve it. They knew exactly what she was like, and have expressed such to me, so they have chosen this path. It was not chosen for them.

I don’t expect much to change. Sadly the driving laws have changed here so that no child really has a full driver’s license until they are 17. The motivated can get it by the time they are 16 1/2, but not many are that motivated anymore. I had hopes that they would get their license and could see me whenever they wanted. My oldest hasn’t gotten a permit yet, and my second has just got it at 15 1/2, so he won’t be any earlier than 17. My third has a chance to to do so earlier. When I was their age, with the different laws, and my motivation, I would have not only received the highest license I could get, but I would have procured a car so I would have the freedom to see my Dad. I never had to face divorced parents, so I don’t know how that changes your motivation. I tried to express to them the importance of getting that license early, but I couldn’t tell them why I thought it was so important. That would have opened me up to more criticism in court. I am pretty sure that their mom figured out what my motivation was, and slowed things down because of that for the oldest ones.

After a meeting last week with her and our attorneys, my attorney said “Well, at least she is admitting she is just being a bitch.” To get financially flush I have need her to receive money in the financial settlement and then pay it back to me. Its pretty normal stuff, and for the most part not something she should be worried about so long as her increased taxes are covered, and they would be. I am not asking her to take any risk, and am offering her between 7K and 10K depending on taxes to do so. This would pay off her car. She basically said that she didn’t want or care that I am okay financially. I had hurt her financially, so she was going to hurt me. She has cost me 10s of thousands of dollars compared to a couple of thousand dollars are her side. I am not even counting the money spent on attorneys at this point. Its the last area she can use to control me. I didn’t do what she wanted with the kids, and have refused to behave as she prescribes through the process. This is the only thing I haven’t lost yet, so she is going to try and leverage it to exact some control. Every other item, I have tempered how I did things to avoid the conflict and try to come out with at least a little of what I wanted on the other end. I don’t give a shit at this point. She will do whatever she wants regardless. I will simply put the offers and the table, and she can choose. That is it. There isn’t anything to fight over. There aren’t a thousand ways to cut things up. Its money that is tied up in retirement. She is the only way to extract cash, so either she does or doesn’t do so. She probably won’t.

I have grand plans on telling the kids the truth someday. They may not want to hear it. They may not have a relationship with me at all. Once I have this case out of court, I will not hold my tongue when it comes to these issues with the kids. My kids will know that their mom has the power to allow us to have a relationship or not. They will know that I would be financially better off if she had chosen to help me, and so would she. This would have been good for everyone not just me.

For 19 years this woman’s opinion has had influence over my every decision. Her anger has kept me from behaving in ways she would object to. My fear of what she might do has made me process my every action through a filter designed to avoid negative reactions from her. I am finished with this. I deserve better. She took away my youth and squandered it, because she wanted to be married before she turned 30 and didn’t think anyone she was actually attracted to would ever marry her.

I was going to say more, but I am running out of steam. I cannot continue to talk about her, it hurts too much. I was going to talk about the things she has taken from me, but that will wait for my next post.

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

December 15

Income Based Child Support – Defacto Alimony

Buffalo Bills - Alimony Ale

The more I think about this, the more it is true. Any form of child support that is based on someone’s income is defacto alimony. Alimony is based on the principle that a man’s ex-wife deserves to be supported near the same level she was in the marriage. That she has become accustomed to the lifestyle, and thus deserves it. This is one of those ideas that drives me nuts. Its not a right she had in the marriage. Its a principle that encourages divorce if the man is losing his income earning potential. If his income is dropping, then so will her lifestyle, but if she divorces him before or at least early in the fall, then she can get herself a guarantee of the lifestyle they have, even if he falls to a point where that is unsustainable. Sounds ridiculous, but it is how things work, or worked. Since most states have limited alimony now instead of lifetime alimony.

Anytime a there is a new right gained through divorce that didn’t exist in marriage, there are going to be issues. The principle of alimony is based on rights that don’t actually exist in marriage. She is a guaranteed beneficiary of his income through divorce and alimony, even though in marriage she was not guaranteed this, but naturally received something similar. As the wife of this man, his income naturally benefited her as it did him. Other than the fact that alimony indentures or enslaves a man to his ex-wife, the further problem is it only looks at income to determine what is the correct amount. If we were to ignore the first problem, and its hard to ignore, then it would be more reasonable to determine what was spent on the lifestyle, and then determine the amount that should be paid for alimony. Most high income earners don’t spend anywhere near the totality of their income for their lifestyle. Alimony was a treat for the rich in divorce that has been extended to the rest of the population. When the rich paid alimony, they often had the resources to continue living their lifestyle as they always had, at least when they only had one ex-wife. The middle class on the other hand are struggling to save a little and maintain their lifestyle. There simply isn’t enough income for both parties to live a similar lifestyle as before. This has taken time, but it has made alimony look like a bad deal.

Now all the same arguments about lifestyle have been applied to the child support calculators. The children suddenly have a right to a lifestyle. Most children are granted primary residency with the mother, so the father has to pay child support to her. There is a practical aspect that says that one parent needs to pay for all the needs of the child. Its too difficult to manage otherwise. I am not a big fan of the law being practical, because whenever it is people’s rights are stomped on. This is no different. Children have been given the right to a lifestyle that the parents provided. This benefits the parent, usually the mother, that has the primary residency of the children. She gets the money to spend as she wishes. If she isn’t taking care of the kids basic needs is the only way that how she spends this money gets scrutinized. Effectively alimony has been rolled into child support. Giving the children a right to lifestyle and building it into child support does this.

Since half the population stands to gain from this system, its hard to fight against it. Fathers have been made into indentured servants for their children. They are forced to work at certain level to maintain their children’s lifestyles. Both alimony and child support have many means to freeze the current state as they see fit. You must go back to court and get approval to lower the amounts. The court is under no obligation to lower the amounts, even in cases where the payer has lost income earning potential, but they are obligated to further raise child support if the earning of the payer increase. The payer will not be allowed to go to school to better their ability to earn if it means earning less. Many men become trapped in jobs that have no upward mobility, because they would have to change jobs and accept a lower salary for the time being to regain headroom in their ability to earn again, and they cannot afford the support payments and earn less.

I hear the arguments for this type of child support and the means for enforcing it. Many come down to the idea of why should the children suffer because the father has made bad career choices. the constant drone of he is obligated to pay for his children. The seemingly irrefutable argument that children cost way more than the child support that any man pays, and that the mother is shouldering the majority of the burden. The first idea is flawed. If the parent suffers financially, it is natural the children will suffer as well. When married parents have financial difficulties, the children feel them directly. A false dichotomy has been created when the parents aren’t married, where the only parent’s financial problems felt by the children is the residential parent. The second argument seems to assume that the only way a father can pay for his children’s needs is through child support. I have argued before that most of these problems are already solved with criminal neglect laws. If the father is not supporting his children, and they are neglected, then prosecute him. Most fathers will spend what is necessary to care for their children without ever having to see a court room. The third argument really depends on the financial status of the parents. Most middle class and above situations don’t fall in this category. The father’s child support pays for 100% of the kids expenses, including the extras-curricular and luxuries. There is enough left over for the mother to better her lifestyle as well. In most cases the mother is not required to expend any of her resources to care for the children. This includes the costs of a larger home and vehicle to use for the children.

The natural way of economics in familial structures is very different than what the family court imposes on people on a regular basis. Children and others benefit from the income of those they live with. No one has any obligation to care for those who don’t live with them. Children really aren’t much different. So long as the children are properly cared for, it should not be the business of the court how this happens. Shared parenting would allow the children to benefit from both parents and their abilities. The system now allows the children to benefit from both parents, but they never see the reality of this. They see one parent providing, while the other parent does not. Often the parent they see provide for them isn’t shouldering the burden, because they have taken the resources from the other parent to do so. It would be natural for the children to have to pull out of sports or other activities during a financial crisis, and for most families a divorce constitutes a financial crisis. The family would eliminate unnecessary expenditures to free up the money to pay for the crisis. With support, the residential parent is allowed to do this. They can even use the support to do so. The payer is often left with so little discretionary income left that they are unable to dig out of the crisis until such time that they are no longer obligated to pay support.

I have seen this play out in my life. It hurts to see her be able to eliminate the debt in her life, while I am called by creditors. She has a newer car, and can afford to repair it on a regular basis. She can provide the things I would want to provide for my children. I am left with debt that I won’t be able to pay off for years to come. I have to shop for gifts that I hope they see the meaning in, because they are of little real value. I am not able to provide the luxuries that I would like, while they have them at their mothers. Many would tell me to be happy that my children have these things, but when their mother is able to gain credibility in their lives through these things, and I cannot provide the things I would choose. My income is used to provide things for them that I may not choose to do so. Simple things like TVs in their rooms. I would not approve of, but they have them at their mothers, and my income paid for it. i Phones; I would never purchase these for my children, but they have them using my income. These are just a couple of things that I have lost say in, but am required through support to pay for. My children benefit from my income while I do not.

The only thing that most women lose by leaving the fathers of their children is access to the man and his skills. The man is often shamed for not providing these things. If there are boy children, they often take advantage of them for these things. The man loses so much more. He loses his income, significant time with his children, his authority in his children’s life, and his ability to be seen providing for his children. The children only see their mother providing, even though the resources she uses came from their father. The cost of divorce lies squarely on a father’s shoulders, and all too often they aren’t the ones who initiated the divorce. Many like to say the cost is bore by the children, but that is only true because of the losses that happen to the father, or in rare case the mother. The children would be much better off if the parents were told to figure things out, and take care of your kids together. Let nature takes its course with the parents, and there will be less animosity and fighting. We need to stop using the worst examples to set how we are going to handle the average cases for everyone.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 1

Letting Go

10 of 365 - Let Go

This is something I am not good at. When I take a Meyer’s-Brigg’s personality test, I always get INTJ. I have found this tool to be very accurate in describing how I think and react to things. This type is rare, and struggles finding people to associate with. We are not understood well, and though we understand others, we don’t see value in acting on things that fit right, so we easily discount others. This makes relationships hard, but one of the things often associated with an INTJ is loyalty, so once a relationship is established we will fight for them. I think my story shows how willing I am to do this. Lets break down my personal perspective on being INTJ before we get to far.

I – Introversion preferred to Extroversion: This means that social interaction costs something. It can be tiring. This does not mean that I am not social. I am very social. I am not energizes by being social I seek time alone to recharge my batteries. A relationship that cannot respect this about me will not be valued.

N – Intuition preferred to sensing: I see the big picture, and tend to focus on that. When I get into the details, I am very good at figuring them out with my sights on the big picture. The problems tend to come when I allow perfectionism to blind me to finishing the goal. I can get mired in the details, and fail to ever reach my goal. This has happened in my divorce, and it happens a lot at work. Its a constant topic with my boss. He gets it, and its his job to kick me in the head to shake things up. We have a good relationship in that way.

T – Thinking preferred to feeling: Logic is the greatest thing for making decisions. Social constructs don’t matter much to me. I will try to reason my way through the world. This works great at building and designing things, but it doesn’t always work well in dealing with people. People don’t make sense. They are illogical. I often can predict what someone will do like I am living in a video game, but I fail to find the capacity to act on that knowledge because it doesn’t make sense. This is something that I am working on.

J – Judgement preferred to perception: Predictability is the core of this trait. Decisions that I will make are not hard to figure out. I have given you all you need to know to know how I will react to something. Most often this trait is one that drives early decision making. I don’t tend to this. This is also in the more comprehensive tests for me the lower case version. It is my weakest trait in the INTJ or INTj. I come close to the middle on this one, but always have fallen to the J not the P.

I explain all this, because what I have been going through has really torn at my core. The person I chose as my mate has turned against me in the ways that hurt the most. I struggle to show emotion. I don’t always process emotion in the moment. When I do, I am surprised by it. My family has changed a lot since I started this process, and that is where things have gotten messy.

My Dad died two years ago. I miss him everyday. He was very different than me, and we had great arguments. The best kind. I never doubted I was loved by that man. He and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but we knew we could count on each other. I know he had brain cancer, but he died not believing in me. I struggle with that every day. I don’t know how to resolve the feeling that go with that. He saw me as a failure for the first time in my life. I know that his cancer affected how he perceived things, but it still hurts like a son of a bitch to think about it.

While my Dad was sick, my sister pushed me out of my mom’s circle. I was no longer someone she called. I didn’t see at the time, that my sister was doing this, but as I look back, I see that she was actively pushing me out of my mom’s life. A little less than a year ago, she stopped talking to me. I don’t know why. She withdrew almost completely. At family events, she talked around me, but almost never to me. She began talking to my ex at events more and more, and now openly treats her like a sister while ignoring me, and insisting that my nieces and brother-in-law do the same. I haven’t had any significant time with any of them in quite a long time. My sister gets my kids together with hers by going through my ex. She actively rejects my step-kids. My step-son cried to his mom why his aunt doesn’t love him anymore.

My mom recently decided to make a huge issue out of a small issue. It revolved around my current wife. She has tried to force me to push her out. She is looking at things as if the marriage ceremony and vows don’t mean anything, because there is no legal license to go along with it. She wants me to choose her over my wife. That isn’t going to happen, as anyone who understand me or any other INTJ for that matter should know. My mom remarried on the day before my birthday. She did so on the down low. She didn’t want to be judged for living in sin.

My new step-father, a man I thought was going to be a good thing in my life has chosen a very poor course with me. He decided to step into this fight between my wife and my mother, and even my and my sister. He challenged me by emasculating me. He became the great white knight. He tried to cut me down before them, and insult my manhood. Its something he doesn’t belong in, but he put himself into the middle of and made it between me and him.

I will write about the details of all these things next. I am writing this because the results are hard for me. I have told my step-father that I am done with him. Those were the words he told me if I didn’t do what he expected. My sister doesn’t talk to me. I told my mom that we needed to take a break, because she isn’t hearing anything I have to say. I have to let go. Its time to let go.

Letting go is not something that I do well. I have to let go of the things I can’t control. I have to let go of what is right, at least in my case, when it comes to the family court process. I have to let go, because I will be called on to help others who are going through what I have gone through. I have to let go of the fatherly relationship that I desire. Mine is gone, and this man who married my mom isn’t going to fill his shoes. From what I can tell he already has a son like me, and isn’t interested in him either. I have to let go of my sister. I don’t have the emotional cycles to deal with whatever she isn’t talking about. I am not going to pretend that I am innocent. I just don’t know what is bothering her. My mom has chosen to be more selfish than I have ever known her to be. I have to let that go. She isn’t hearing me right now. She may never hear me again. My father may have been more the translator than I ever thought he was for us. What I can hold on to is the fact that my father and his father are the only men who loved me for who I am, and accepted who I am as well. That is enough.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 25

Being Non-Custodial

DV Benes

What does it mean to be non-custodial? It can mean a lot of things. The term is used to apply to anyone who pays child support. Lets look at my situation. Its a modern example of how the system is dysfunctional, and that the system isn’t at all about taking care of the children involved, but it is about taking care of the women. There has been a big shift in my state in the last few years. The legislature has recognized that the modern family has two involved parents and they are encouraging judgments that are in favor of shared parenting. This is a 50/50 timeshare of the kids or some approximating this. To get this, the parents need to be intentional when the process starts, because a judge isn’t going to change things much once a pattern has been established. If the mother is trying to hoard the kids time, then the father needs to take action right away to change things, or he will be stuck with what has been established. To go along with this new understanding of family, they have changed the child support calculators to include provisions for shared parenting. I give them credit for this move, but it is not nearly enough, but it does clearly demonstrate the overall problem with the child support calculators in most states. The truth is child support is too high in every case that I have seen. I know that is a small sampling, but I have played with the numbers from more than a few states to see how things could have been different, and they are high everywhere I have checked things out.

How does my state modify things for a parent in shared parenting? Sorry, I am not going to reveal which state I am in, but just understand that other states are doing similar things, and that the concepts are not unique. The new calculators for shared parenting kick in when you have near equal time share with the kids. It does not make it clear what is near enough, so the judge gets to decide. For some courts this is good, and others it is bad for the fathers seeking this arrangement. Its not really different than the old arrangement with liberal visitation. Its been common for a long time that men with liberal visitation has had near equal time with the kids, but the mother has had significant control over whether that is allowed or not. Now basically they apply a 20% discount for the non-custodial parent, and the custodial parent is responsible for direct expenses. No where is direct expenses explained. If the parents agree to each supply clothing, then there is another discount of about 4% applied to the child support. Direct expenses do not include medical, dental, or other health care costs. They do not include extra-curricular activities outside of school, and maybe inside of school. These are listed strangely under special needs expenses which are also not considered direct expenses. Medical expenses are expected to be divided based at the same proportion as the gross income of the parents differ. The non-custodial parent is defined in my states law as the parent who earns more money. That is it. Nothing else is used to determine this.

The end result is I get to pay for things twice. Pretty much everything. My child support didn’t go down, because under the old arrangement men would pay child support, and usually the court wouldn’t require any other payment from him unless there was an extraordinary expense involved. I pay $1000/month in child support for kids. I then pay 64% of health related costs and 50% of sports and extra-curricular costs. She pays the school expenses and the other portions of these costs. Before I was responsible for child support, I paid for all the kids expenses at 100%. Sometimes these reached the $1000 mark, but usually not. Typical expenses in a month are close though. So I pay her $1000 and then pay my proportions, which are about another $500-$600. If you do the rest of the math, this leaves her with about $500-$600 in her pocket even after paying for lunches for the kids, which she could decide to only do for the days they are with her. After paying taxes, child support, retirement loan for marital debt, and health insurance is I have about $3500 dollars a month to pay for my rent utilities and these kids expenses. To put in perspective to her income, she takes home about the same amount from her pay checks, and then gets another $2400 tax free between CS and other government checks.

As I have laid out above, there is an extreme imbalance in the reality of CS and the actual costs of raising the children. I might be able to accept this. We have certainly made some strides in the right direction for men protecting their rights with their children, but there is just one huge problem with this experience. I am under constant threat of court order to pay this amount. It doesn’t matter what my job situation is. I have lost my freedom to decide on these things. The activities that my kids are involved in are somewhat locked into place. I can’t decide that I can no longer afford them. I have can be sent to jail for having a budget change. I can lose my drivers license or have money removed directly from my checking and savings accounts. I am in fact indentured to my ex-wife through my children. I am her servant. I am required to work to ensure she is paid. I have less freedom than I had when married to her for the next decade, and she has greater freedom. She can continue to choose to work at a job that for all practical purposes is a part time job. There is no pressure on her to improve her financial condition. If I choose to improve mine, then I am then obligated to improve hes. This is a major disincentive to move up in my career. The only thing that is a driver to do better in my career right now, is that I need to make some moves or I will be the guy who gets overlooked forever.

As a father, I live with the constant threat of the court over my head. I live with the fear that she may win the battle for more time, and take even more of my paycheck. The slippery slope that will lead to me not being able to maintain a home large enough for them to visit me, and thus give her more ammunition to further reduce my time, and further tap my paycheck. I have to continue the fight for my kids. A fight that no father should have to fight. I have to pretend with my kids that everything is okay. That me and their mom don’t have problems. I can’t tell them how she has treated me, because that would be alienation of affection. I can’t do a lot of things. When people look at divorce and wonder why men are bitter, they need to understand that men are effectively slaves to their ex-wives for the time their children are growing up. This is why men are bitter. Ask a black man what the legacy of slavery has done to his life, and then understand that in the modern world, all men are subject to slavery through their children to the mothers of their children. This is why men are so bitter. This is why men can’t get over their divorce. It isn’t because women are emotionally stronger and more capable of dealing with the loss of divorce. Its because for the men it is never ending until their children are 18 years old.

Being non-custodial means being a second class citizen. Your children and their mother are superior to you under the law. People can argue this case otherwise, but the fact is proven in the number of men that are subject to this system. I will recommend to my sons that they don’t have children. That they don’t subject themselves to this burden of slavery that we call fatherhood. I love my children very much, and I would not like to imagine a life without them, but I would be free to make my own decisions if I had never had them. I would not turn back time, but I would protect those I love from this fate. I hope to change things before that time comes for them, but if things do not change, then I will recommend they choose freedom from slavery over this. I am not as good of a father as I might be without this burden.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 26

The Good Son

the good son

As this blog has covered in varying amounts of detail, my oldest son has been trouble waiting to happen. I can honestly say that I had always thought that one day he would be in serious trouble, but I had hoped that it would happen in a few years when he was an adult. I have struggled to parent him for many years. I have wavered from sympathy for him and his relationship problems with his mother and absolute frustration with his seeming inability to follow the simplest rules. I have been terrified of what call would come at a time when I wasn’t able to protect him from his own actions. Not in the sense of covering them up, but that I wouldn’t be there to stop him. I never imagined that this would be what it was though. My fears revolved around him getting in trouble because of his anger or stealing something. I never imagined that he would do these things.

I should offer a little background. For a few months we had a family live with us, who’s father moved out and abandoned them. The mom and her 3 kids lived in my walkout basement for most of the fall semester of school. She moved out during winter break before Christmas. This was when my oldest was in first grade. When they moved out, I set up the basement for our use again. I forgot to turn on the parental controls on the cable box, and my oldest managed to start watching a porn movie with the other kids. He then began acting out what he saw on one of my daughters. We found out what was going on because my other son told us. We did everything we knew to do, and had the support of many professionals who were telling us that this was likely normal curiosity fueled by the imagery of the porn they saw. He remained in counseling from then on for one thing or other relating to his behavior. We moved a about a year later into a much larger house in a small town. My son has admitted to doing things to his brother while we lived there. I was still on alert for things, and I never knew it happened until he admitted it during a police interview.

This blog has many instances of the problems that he has had with my ex. The extreme behaviors of both of them, and the pain that it has caused me to watch things unfold over the last few years. I realize that I was fully distracted by their dysfunction, and I missed the significant problems that were brewing with my son. His aggressiveness has been increasing and yet he never seems to mature in his thinking and emotional reactions to things.

Fast forward to this summer. I moved in with my fiance’ in May. We rented a place together that was big enough for all of us. There has been some struggles with my ex related to this, but that is for another post. I worked my schedule out over the summer, so that I was working from home two days a week, and going into work early the rest of the week. My fiance’ went in late two days a week as well. This made it work out that my kids were only left home alone for a couple hours two days a week, and one day a week I had it so I was home before 2 PM. I kept returning to angry kids. My son had been causing trouble with the other kids. There are 6 kids total between us. My four and her two. Her two are younger than mine. Early elementary school. I was trying to figure out how to make things work. My oldest was nearly 14 and the others were 12 1/2, 11, and 9. There shouldn’t have been a problem leaving them home alone for a while.

My oldest was sneaking food at every moment. It was accumulating in his room, and beginning to stink. I cleared his room of all furniture except his bed. He continued to find ways to sneak food. I did not know what to do. We were at our wits end. I could not get him to follow the simplest of rules. I never limited how much they could eat. I did limit the food they could eat to healthier choices. He was eating frosting and whipped topping. He would eat an entire box of ice cream treats or popsicles in one sitting. He was getting physically aggressive with the other kids. Towards the end of the summer I got a phone call from my daughter as I was pulling into the neighborhood that he had hit my fiance’s daughter hard and that I needed to come home. I was a minute away and told her I would be there soon. When I got there, he clearly was intimidating them all into changing their story about what happened. I lost my temper and smacked him hard. I knew it was a futile. I just had no idea how to get the message through to him. In my gut I knew something more was going on, but I couldn’t figure it out.

After Labor Day, we were driving back from a family dinner with my fiance’s two kids. We were talking about things, and it was announced to us that her son had been having sex with my oldest. At the time we are talking about a 13 year old and a 7 year old. We were shocked. I had told her about his history before her kids spent anytime with him. I wanted her to be fully aware before she went any further with me. We reported the incident through the county mental health organization that we were already engaged with regarding my son, and to the local police department. Through the process, I found out that my other son had caught them, and thought he had stopped things. He was trying to be the protector, but he failed to tell us what was going on. This is another pattern that I have to deal with now. My younger son has decided that he can protect both his brother and people from his brother all by himself. I fear that he is going to get really hurt soon. Charges against my son have been filed and he is currently being adjudicated through the juvenile justice system.

My ex and I have placed my son in a residential treatment facility for the time being. His time there is almost up. He will be returning to my ex’s house. He cannot return to mine at this time, and I honestly don’t see a time that he will be able to in the future. A lot has to happen before that is something that I will consider. A lot more has to happen before my fiance’ would consider it. Right now she doesn’t see that it could ever happen. He only has four and a half years of school left. I suspect that he will be allowed back for family events over time, but he won’t ever live with me again. My ex asks why I am so aggressively angry about this, when I wasn’t when it happened to our daughter. She doesn’t understand that it is the new understanding I have through the recent events combined with what happened in the past that has me so angry.

I have talked very little with him over the last couple of months. My heart aches at the thought of it. I am sad and angry. When I have talked with him, he lays blame with me for what he did. He blames the kids of my fiance’ for what he did. We did find out later that he had done things with her daughter as well, but she pushed him away and avoided him. Tonight I will have dinner with him and my mom. It will be a hard dinner to get through. He will be hurt by what we have to say, and he will be defensive. I need him to understand that his actions have changed his and other’s lives forever. I don’t know how it will go. I imagine it going so many ways. If he is truly working on changing, then it will end better than it starts. I love him, and hope that he gets the help he needs, but I see my job now as protecting others from him as much as I can.

For the coming years, I will struggle with how to be a father to my son. Many are going to judge me for my actions. Almost none of those people will have been through anything like this. I feel like I am writing the book on how to get through this all by myself. Maybe when the dust clears, I will write that book. My life has not turned out as I expected at all. It is now time to make my hand work from the cards that have been dealt to me. I am not a quitter, though there have been many times through this process that all I want to do is quit, but I keep plugging along. I have to search and see what part I play in the things that have happened to me, because life does not just happen to me, I am a part of the results. It is going to take some time and introspection to get there.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

December 13

Been A While!

while you were sleeping in 80 degree weather

I have had a rough few months since my last post. I felt like my anger was simmering when I wrote, and I wanted to take a break. I have learned that my anger really is better when I write, so I am back. I get to think things through, and get out what I don’t dare say out loud to many people, especially my ex. The past months have been filled with a lot of turmoil.

I moved in with my girlfriend, now fiance’ at the beginning of the summer. The transition was a little rough with the kids. I was arguing with my ex for my time with the kids. They are old enough to spend a few hours alone at home. I had worked out my schedule so that these hours were in the morning, so they weren’t doing much anyway. My house is right by the park where swim practices are, so the two who swim could walk there, and then call me when they got home. I got home about two hours after practice was over. I was working extra hours when I didn’t have the kids, so I could take the time off when I did.

I was having issues with behavior of all the kids, most of it was rooted in my oldest’s attitude. He turned 14 in September. As it turns out, he was sexually abusing my fiance’s two kids who were 6 and 7. Her son is autistic, and was very easily manipulated by my son. I had stripped my son’s room earlier in the summer of just about everything. He was hiding and stealing things. I could not find a way to stop him from doing what he was doing, and then I find out about this. We reported it through the county mental health organization that he was already working with in a family focused case managed therapy program. He is currently at a treatment facility, but will be coming back soon. I have had very little contact with him. I cannot allow him back in my home. I struggle at my very core on how to parent him, and I just don’t know how. I believe that he needs to be in full time care, but the system doesn’t allow that often anymore, especially if one parent is willing to care for him. He is going through the legal system, and will be most likely put on diversion.

Absolutely nothing is resolved in my divorce case, and it is costing a fortune. She complains she isn’t satisfied with things, but then offers no information to determine what might make things better. She is pursuing reducing my parenting time, and has done things to try and alienate me from my children. We are currently going through co-parenting counseling and back to mediation. I hope to get this resolved soon.

I am getting married, or more accurately, I am having a wedding. The marriage will happen later, since my ex won’t let the divorce finalize in a timely manner. We are now three years out from her pronouncement that she wanted the divorce, and two and a half out from when she moved out, and I have been with my fiance’ for well over a year. Its a strange thing, I know. I just won’t let my ex destroy anything else along the way.

I will expound on some of these things in upcoming posts. I just wanted people to know that I am still around and still fighting the fight. I wish this was all over, but I am now coming to the resolve that it may never be over until the kids are grown. I will have upcoming posts on my fiance’, on my son, on my ex, and on what is going on in general. I will also be writing about reforms I would like to see in divorce law and how things are handled in court. There is no reason that things in my case are taking so long. We have no assets, and both are adequate parents. I am going to actually make the argument that the bar should be lowered from the “best interests of the children” to something that takes into consideration all the people involved. The children are not the only ones with rights involved.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

April 9

The Letter I Will Never Send

Package from The Letter writers alliance

Dearest Ex Wife,

I married you under the pretense that we would walk through the ups and downs of life together. We promised that through good times and bad, that we would maintain this bond. We promised to be faithful to each other. We did this not only for each other, but for the future children we would have. We would build a family and live our life the best we know how. I entered into this union without an exit plan. I took vows before my God, my friends, and my family to proclaim that intended to spend the rest of my life with you as your husband. I had dreams for what our life would be like, but I also knew that things could change and that times could be hard, and may be forever, but I took those vows intending to keep them.

You married me under the pretense that we would walk through the ups and downs of life together as well. When times were good, you were not there by my side, you chose the company of others. When times were bad, you blamed me for the problems we both played our part in. You promised to be faithful, yet you were not. You thought very little of our children as you chose to leave my home and make a home for yourself separate from me. You entered our union knowing that you always had an exit plan, and you continually reminded me that you could pull that trigger anytime you wanted to. You had dreams that I would support you financially and emotionally in all that you do, whether it benefited our family or not. You were prepared to break our union when things became hard, and so you have. You took these vows hoping to keep them, if they weren’t too inconvenient for your current dreams.

I offered to pay for every expense for our children. Your only obligation would be to provide a home for them when they are with you. I told you I did not want to pay the state to pay you in my stead. I was preparing to have civil papers drawn up for your review, so that we could finish our broken union peacefully. You chose to go to a lawyer and demand child support that would of put me out of my home, and have run up lawyer fees on my side alone that far exceed anything we would have spent before. You have sought every advantage to take my money as your own, not just now but for the future. You have made me desire nothing more than for my children to grow up, so I can be done with you. Every dollar that I have to give to you is a reminder of the pain that you have caused me and our children with your selfish actions.

I cry for our son, who you have no empathy for. You treat him as if there is something wrong with him. I do not miss living with you, but I do miss the opportunity to act as his shield from your rages. You have made him the bad guy of the family. The other kids do not treat him well, and this is a direct result of the way you cast him to them. I regret that we ever adopted our children, because of the pain that you have and will continue to cause them. I cried with my father before he died about this very thing. It is a horrible day when you realize that your children would have been better off, if they had not been brought into your life. The destruction you leave in your wake will live on for generations, and there is very little I can do to fix this. I can only hope that my presence and actions will give them hope as they grow up.

You will never understand these things. You believe that you have done nothing to cause others harm. You were a miserable wife, but I would have stood by your side throughout the decades, because that is the promise that we made. You have changed me forever. You have stripped me of hope for my future. My life still remains subject to your whim. You know that I will do little to manipulate you, because I try to do the right thing, and this gives you freedom to do as you please. If only you could give me the same courtesy, but I will not have that courtesy from you. You are one of the most selfish people I have ever met, and sadly I thought I could build a life with you. I should have left you the night you told me that you cheated on my after a homecoming football game. I was stupid and overly committed to our marriage to do that. Now I must pay that price.

You left me to seek happiness, but you will not find it. You will constantly be dogged by the advantage you didn’t take. You will be the victim of people who won’t put up with your behavior. You will never understand that whatever advantage you take of me, I will be more content than I have ever been. Happiness will come and go in my life. It is not a state that sticks to anyone because their life is on the right track. I will live my life to love the people who I choose to have in it, and I will be content in the fact I value them more than I have in the past. For this, I thank you. Without knowing how hard things could be, I would not understand the value of these people in my life. Without the trials that you put me through, I would not know who would stand by me. Without your willingness to walk out on me, I would not know that most people do not walk away so easily and that most people do not hang the threat over my head for advantage. Without this, I would be a slave to those people who would, but now I will not put up with it.

Your last act is your worst. You chose to interpose the state into our relationship. We could have made things work without state interference. You know have made me subject to the state to pay you for the privilege of being one parent of our children. What you do not understand at this time, is you have also made yourself subject to their authority. You have taken away our ability to just work things out, because now that the state is there, they will remain there. I would be foolish to negotiate with you without the state involved. They are now an agent in our relationship. You will not feel the impact of this perhaps for years, but feel it you will. There is a reason that most divorced women end up on the loosing end of the financial game after the kids have grown up and moved out.

I wish this was good bye, but I will have to deal with you for the rest of my life. You will be a thorn in my side for years to come, and will most certainly manipulate my children against me as you already have. It is not fair to them, but it doesn’t change that you will do as you do. I wish you find your happiness, for it goes better for my children if you do. Any ill will I have to you must be suspended, because my children’s lives are also tied to your fortunes. You are selfish, manipulative and mean. These are the things I will remember you by.

Warm Regards,

Ex Husband.

There is more I could write, but I just needed to vent a little of what I would like to put in a letter to her.

Ten-Fourend,

JeD

March 25

Child Support Is a Racket

broken racket

I have stated before that I don’t believe in child support. My stance is one that would put many custodial parents on the public dole instead of leaving the the non-custodial parent scraping for change. What child support does is insane, though. Lets look at my case. I just finished negotiating things with the ex, and I got what everyone considers a great deal. That is such crap, because my deal is great only because everyone else gets such a shitty deal. Its simply a comparative response to my situation, not someone really looking at fairness. There is a $50,000 difference in our incomes. This sounds huge, until you consider the fact that she has teachers hours. She doesn’t have an 8 hour day, and gets a ton of days off. Even when compared to my cushy government job, she only works about 28-30 hours a week when spread across the year. She works typically only 75% of the hours a year that I do.

Below is the a table showing just how our child support plays out.

This table shows how she gets two government checks. That increase her income by another $16,440. These were used in our calculation. Because she couldn’t budget I added another $87 a month to cover before school expenses. I will be responsible for 1/2 of all extra-curricular expenses and 61% of all uncovered health expenses. And if the school fees exceed $1200, then I will cover 1/2 of those excess fees as well. I will buy clothing and cover all normal expenses at my house. Now according to this table, you see that I have $9510 in income greater than her after all this. This doesn’t sound like such a horrible deal. Now remember these are all gross numbers. Child support has no effect on taxes for either of us. Also remember that those government checks are tax free checks as well. The bottom row shows the new proportions which would be more fair to pay at this point, but it all goes back to the gross income numbers in the earlier row.

Now here is a table that shows things with some tax values on these numbers.

This table has changed the cost of my child support to represent roughly what it costs me out of my gross. It also revalues her government checks to what they would be if they were taxable income netting the values in the first table. The proportions just at the first row before child support is a few percent different, but then after child support they should be nearly 50/50. There is a $12,132 dollar swing in the actual household available funds. She ends up with $2,622 more money at the end of the year than I do. Child support has effectively leveled our incomes and then some.

Now before anyone goes stupid on me for not wanting to support my kids, understand that I have the kids 50% of the time. I participate in their lives even when they are not at my home. I am as active as I ever was with them. I have the ability to pay all of their expenses out of pocket. This scheme has made my kids more expensive to me than they were before, because I pay many of the expenses twice. I pay her to pay them, and I pay them. Lets also understand that just looking at the gross numbers, that is a $24,000 swing in income from one parent to the other.

There are many people out there that will attempt to explain to me that this somehow right and fair, but it is not. In my state, this predetermined to go to the lower income worker, and statistically we all know that will be the mother. I can’t get a divorce with kids and not pay my ex for the privilege for the rest of my children’s childhood. If these terms are brought back to court after the divorce, I will be asking for straight guidelines. This will mean that I pay child support, and portions of the healthcare. The rest is her problem.

I had offered to pay all of the kids expenses. 100% as they came up. Just don’t go the child support route. I have an extreme problem with the government taking money from me to give to her to do the same thing that I can do anyway. She went after child support, and an amount much higher than what the government standards were. I knew I probably couldn’t trust her, so now she has proven that I cannot trust her. I have to go fighting for everything as we go from here on out. I really have no peace about this. She will cost me by the time this is all over a minimum of $1,000,000 dollars. A decision I made at 23 years old, and then stubbornness to stick to that decision with honor even when others would have walked will cost me a fortune. None of that even accounts for the fact that I also will have to constantly battle her attempts to alienate me from my children.

I don’t know how to combat this. I am looking for options. I will be contacting my representatives and going after them for making sound decisions that protect men’s rights during divorce, and limit the transfer of income between the parents. In the modern world, it is not reasonable for both parties not to be held to account for the financial responsibility of their kids. The guidelines most states use on paper give those very words credence, but then the guidelines don’t actually make it happen, because typically the largest earner, yes the father, is required to send more money than the kids expenses to the lower income earner, yes the mother, to pay the bills. Oh and if that amount of money is higher than what the actual expenses are, then its explained that the money can be used however she pleases. Child support is right, I have to support 5 children. The three I adopted, the one I created, and the one I am divorcing.

This whole thing ultimately will prevent me from getting ahead in the world financially for the next ten years. You see all the money that I might have been able to find to save is going to that woman to spend as she pleases. I can’t hope that she will save any for my kids education, and I can’t afford to pay for it myself. My life will be a constant financial struggle, and I make enough money that shouldn’t be the case. I hate her for that. I won’t get over the damage she had done to my family and my and their futures.

Ten-Foured,

JeD