October 1

The Dystopian Fantasy

Even before I knew what a dystopia was, I have loved movies and books about them. They are a great backdrop for thrillers that build great characters. Most of them in the past were things that geeks and nerds enjoyed, and yes I count myself among that crowd. The common theme in these movies has been in the building of a utopian society the powers that enforced the rules of the society begin to use the utopian ideals to feed their desire for power. All these stories have one similar idea. That for the utopia to be built the society has to be tightly controlled, and that the people will appreciate the results more than they resent the loss of freedoms. These societies are almost always covertly totalitarian in nature, and their citizens are mostly sheep who avoid thinking of the realities of the society that they live in. To do otherwise would require action on their part.

One of the things that seems universal in these stories is that the children are indoctrinated into the ideals of the society at a very young age. Sometimes they are taken from the parents to be raised by the government at young ages. Other times they are used as spies to report on their parents after daily indoctrination in their schools. The indoctrination continues with continual messages on futuristic video screens throughout the society, and other things sprinkled throughout society. There are rituals of the society that are reminiscent of religious rituals. These rituals not only help indoctrinate, but they help expose those in society who are opening their eyes, because they resist the continuing the rituals.

The fantasy of these stories is that there are heroes that break the dystopia by not going along with it, and are able to hide within the dystopia without being noticed. That is until they are ready to be seen, then they create such a clamor with the people that the dystopia cannot continue to control the lives of the people. A few anarchists can change the world. These anarchists come from one or more of three prototypes. The coming of age teenager who sees the world for the first time with new eyes, and chooses to not go along with the status quot; or the egalitarian in the ruling class who can stand by no longer and watch their peers take advantage of the masses for their own benefit; or the someone from the lowest class who is ignored by society, because they are an artifact the utopia itself creates, and they lead an uprising from the bottom of society.

As a fan, I love the recent excitement surrounding dystopian society stories. As an avid reader, I love that young people are racing to read the stories before the movies come out. The past couple generations have not been avid readers, and it seems that we are raising more readers now than we have since before I was a kid. These stories like “Blade Runner” were on the fringe in the past, and struggled to be successful. The current stories are huge best sellers. My kids love them, and this is something I truly enjoy on my own and can be shared with them. The modern dystopian society story almost exclusively revolves around a coming of age that brings with it an awakening.

Why now do these stories resonate? Why are our youth drawn to stories about broken futuristic societies? Why do these stories have so few adults heroes? Is this how our youth see society? Are the adults so week that our children see no hope in their parents? These questions are important. The stories, the music, the personalities that resonate with our youth tell us a little something of our future. Does this particular class of stories predict a future that we should look forward to, or one we should fear. What part of these stories resonate with our youth.

I believe that these stories resonate with our youth, because they see how broken our society is. They may not be able to put it into words that society is broken, but they feel it. They can sense where things are moving. They don’t have the faith in the past that we have. I grew up in a generation where very few kids experienced divorced parents. The police officer who acted like a jerk had a name and everyone knew it including his peers. The homeless epidemic was filled mostly with men who suffered some form of mental illness. The idea that you could be more successful than your parents was an expectation with hard work. Today our kids nearly all experience divorced parents, or parents who might as well be divorced. The police are to be feared, even when the ones wearing the uniform are not bad people, they tend to view the rest of us as a threat when they are on the job. Our homeless have grown to include men who do not have enough income to pay the court ordered support and take care of themselves, and many of our youth know someone who has had that happen to them. It seems impossible for them to do as well as their parents. This is in part due to their shortsightedness of the years it took to get there, and part is the truth that high paying jobs are shrinking while costs are increasing. They see their parents lose jobs and have to take lower paying equivalents more than anytime before.

Why are there so few adult heroes in these stories? That one has a couple of answers. The first is people love to read and see stories about heroes who are like them. They want to believe that they can be the hero of their own stories. In most past stories with young heroes there is a mentor that will help guide the heroes on their path. Someone who in their own time had been the hero of their own story. These new stories lack that aspect. These young heroes are making their own way. Today’s youth don’t see the adults as being able to change what is going on. Nearly all their parents have either been put under the thumb of the court or have used the power of the court against the other parent. Neither of the parents demonstrates having any power once the government is engaged. Beyond that, we try to pretend that the actions happening through the courts in their lives are just decisions being made by the courts, so neither parent or themselves have any power in the situation. They have professionals asking what they want, and then telling the court to do something else. The feeling of powerlessness has to be incredible. I know as an adult, it is overwhelming.

What our youth see, but we want to ignore is we already live in the beginnings of a dystopian society. The idea that our kids have rights that supersede the parents rights even in what should be considered normal parenting decisions is normal in our legal system. It also considered that though the children’s wishes should be considered, they also are not capable of expressing those wishes, so a government official is going to interpret what they desire for us. This creates a situation where the government is able to impose their will on behalf of children without any real concern of the legalities of the decisions they are making. It has been said that there isn’t anything you can do anymore without breaking a law. If the government wishes to put you to trial, all they have to do is find the laws that you are breaking to do so. It is reasonable to say in our current society, that it is impossible to be a law abiding citizen. The ultimate control a government has is the ability to arrest its citizens anytime it wishes and look like it is still living by the rule of law.

All these stories share the idea that a rebellion is needed, and that these heroes become the leaders of the rebellion. The truth is the world won’t change without a general uprising from the people. One or two people will not lead the charge. The leaders of the world learned after the U.S. Revolutionary war that you have to smash the underground communications. Small uprisings are fine, but a general uprising cannot be allowed. Communist China demonstrated with force when Tiananmen Square was overrun with protesters. The world saw how one man can inspire a political movement to take over the world during World War II. These are all things in our modern world that can be monitored and squashed. The amount of force the government can bring down on its citizens is unprecedented compared to any other time in history. The U.S. fought to keep soldiers from occupying its lands, including its own. As time has continued, we have replaced our police forces to handles domestic law issues with soldiers. We are now living under military occupation of our own governments.

My hope for my kids is that they find in them what we do not have. That they can overcome the inertia that keeps us moving down this road, and change the world. I hope they can escape this dystopia and discover what our founding fathers had dreamed of. I and many I grew up with saw the changes coming, but we thought that we could change the world at the polls. The problem is some were excited for the changes. They thought that the government taking care of us was going to be a blessing, and many still do. We are heading into dark times. My children will suffer more than they already have. Will they be strong enough to find a way to make the world better, or will they just go with the path that has been laid before them.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

March 9

Political Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

June 9

To Fight the Fight, or Not

Clint Hester Finishes his Opponent at Wild Bills Fight Night

This question is one that I have struggled with. I have a real problem with the fairness of things, or more the unfairness. The system ultimately stands on these three principles. One, the children’s best interest is the underlying right that trumps all other rights. I have seen this through the process, and its is the giant hammer to smash all problems. Two, the mother is generally considered a better arbiter of the children’s best interest than anyone else involved, and the experts will back this up. Three, it is all actually about child support.

My first point is this. The children’t best interest is strong enough to strip everyone else of their rights. You may not know it, because it only becomes an issue in divorce and a few other more obscure child welfare type cases, but the children have a right to a portion of your income. That’s right, they don’t just have a right to the benefits that you bestow upon them as a parent, but a right to the actual income. This of course is child support. The child’s best interest determines whether a father or mother are allowed to be involved in the child’s life. Some might say this is right and correct. With what I have seen in the system, and I have seen a lot. I have adopted kids through foster care. The bar needs to be raised. The bar should require criminal negligence of some sort to remove kids from a parent. I am sorry, but children are raised in imperfect circumstances all the time all over the world, and guess what. Many of them grow up through those circumstances to be great leaders. You might even argue that they grow up to be great leaders because of those circumstances. Another right your children are bestowed, but you may not about is lifestyle. The kids have a right to maintain a certain lifestyle. Without divorce, you wouldn’t know this, because most kids don’t know how to advocate for themselves through the system, but the principle comes into play during divorce. One parent is deemed the keeper of the kids lifestyle, and thus they get all the benefits after divorce of maintaining that lifestyle, while the other parent is required to continue to fund a lifestyle they are not able to maintain for themselves. I read comments on blogs a lot, and the underlying argument used by many, is that we, NCPs (generally fathers), should be happy our children our being taken care of. The truth is, I expect no less. My children deserve to be taken care of. I am also fully capable of doing so. I am not only capable of doing so, but capable of doing so with my own income and resources all by myself. The system generally punishes the parent who can say that. The other parent will receive control of the kids, and get the benefits of the children’s lifestyle. In the name of the children’s best interest, one parent is chosen to outrank the other, and the other parent is quite literally indentured to the other parent until such time the children are considered legally emancipated from their parents. The court does so very pragmatically. They seem to be looking out for the children on the surface. The truth is the court is actually trying to limit whether or how often the parties return. When one parent is so substantially limited in their spending abilities and power over the children as an authority in their life, then it less likely that disputes will return to court. This is at least the theory that they operate on. The truth is that a few years after divorce the parenting time and arguments have usually subsided when both parents are granted equal access and control or authority in the children’s lives. This does not mean that each parent takes equal responsibility, but that things work themselves out in a way both parents are happy with the resolution. This leads to better outcomes for the kids. When the court chooses sides, the parents are more likely to spend more time in court, and ultimately this is money in the bank for lawyers and court systems, so they aren’t really motivated to limit conflict.

The second point is that the mother is generally considered better at determining what is best for the children. I will agree on the principle, but not on the importance of the idea. Mother’s most definitely look out for the children’s needs as children. Father’s on the other hand take on the task of raising adults. It is the combination of the two ideals that benefit the children. Ours society is full of overgrown children. They are healthy and unproductive. They spend their time doing thing of no value. Our society has also neutered fathers in every family law case I know of. It is a father who divvies out the harsh punishments. It is a father who demands that a child participate in taking care of the business of the house. It is the father that children run to when they have made a major mistake and need the hard, and sometimes cold, solutions that a father provides. When the father is shutout, or limited in his authority in his kids lives, they lose this. I will talk about how this is true in my family later. The mother is the nurturer. She provides an important factor to raising kids, even older ones, but without the God designed balance in the kids lives, then they will be well nurtured and cared for, and totally incapable of taking on the world on their own. Like I said before, I struggle with the unfairness of it all. I also have to face the realities presented to me. I am not going to get a fair deal. I am still my kids father. I am going to live my life without a significant portion of my income. I will have to tell my kids no, when I should be able to say yes, but finances won’t allow it. I know plenty of people with less money, but it is terribly frustrating to have less income at my disposal than my ex earns, while she has more income at her disposal than I earn. The courts have more than reversed our incomes and granted her control. She will, even with her limited capacity, nurture my children. She won’t raise them into adults. That will probably happen when the kids are legally adults, and she becomes tired of them. They will run to me, and I will have to give them a serious dose of reality. I will care for them, but with heavy hand. I will be more the mentor than the father at that time. I will have to teach them how to be adults in a very short period of time. For some of them, this will be an easy challenge, and for others this will be miserably difficult.

The third point is the most true. All the rationalizing in the other two are really for the purpose of this one. Child support is king. The states earn money by collecting child support. They get money from the payors and payees for handling the transaction. In some states this is a pretty hefty percentage. In others, it is a flat fee. They get this for imposing themselves into the middle of the case. On top of that, they are being paid by the Federal government for collecting support. Child support falls in the category of welfare. Part of the legal underpinnings of child support is that the mother has been abandoned and the father is not taking responsibility for the children. The courts artificially create an abandonment scenario in most cases, just so long as one of the parents wants to push it. This allows them to impose child support. Child support is in part punitive for abandoning your children and wife. Modern divorce of course is driven by women. Women don’t want to be in the confines of their marriage, and thus step out. The courts allow them to do so, and yet maintain their lifestyle, so long as their are children involved to justify it. The actual and marginal expenses of my children do not equal what I pay in child support. This includes their lifestyle expenses. She is never called upon to use her income to fund the children. Yes the calculators make it appear that she does, but if you look at how the formulas work, then you will see that it has very little effect on the numbers how much she earns. The payor’s income is the primary determining factor of child support. I have my children nearly equal time, but not equal enough any more. I have to maintain a home and feed them, and all the other things that a parent does for their children. None of this matters. I have to figure out how to do that on what I have left. I am amazed at how many men figure this out. It is a testament to how men operate, that they figure this out. Statistics show time and time again that years out from divorce, men are winning, and women are not. How can this be. There is only one way that this can be. Men are stronger emotionally and intellectually. I am not making a judgement based on sex, but more on the fact that society does not save men from failing. This forces them to be stronger. In the same way that father’s make their children stronger. When people look at divorce reform, and how to make things better for everyone, they need to look at child support and alimony. These transfers of wealth are the single biggest drivers in frivolous divorce. They are also the primary drivers in most litigation in divorce. If child support is more clearly defined as to what it is supposed to fund, and then the calculations are based on funding those things, they numbers will go down. Men will be able to be active providers in their children’s lives, and they will tend to disappear less from their children’s lives.

As to the question posed in the title. To fight or not. Well that one is harder to address. I have lost a lot of money fighting. I have lost my time fighting. I have lost my authority fighting. I am not sure any of it was worth it. I was a bit delusional in believing that the the rules and legislation from the state government would give me a leg to stand on. The courts are still pretty autonomous, and they make their decisions as they see fit. Understanding that no one in the higher courts wants to deal with domestic issues helps to put in perspective that the family courts are given a tremendous amount of freedom in these cases. The other thing that rules the day, and allows for the courts to do as they please is the concept of “The Best Interest of the Child”. This is a concept that is self contained in your case,so it can’t include all children that are connected to the case. It can only involve the children of the parties that are sharing parenting. So a man with 3 kids by 3 mothers can end up in 3 different courts, with 3 different and possibly contradicting definitions being applied to the case under the guise of the “Best Interest of the Child.” In my case the best interest of one child is being held up above the best interests of the other children. He rules the day. This would be my oldest son, who without remorse sexually abused a kid half his age. My lack of warmth towards him is what matters most to the court. My desire to protect the other kids from his is deemed harmful by the court, because it hurts him. This is the standard that we are abiding by in family court. If we were married, we could petition the state to take him back into their care. He is demonstrating psychological disorders that we were not prepared to deal with. I might sound cold in saying this, and it doesn’t demonstrate the entirety of my feelings, but the state gave us a problem to deal with so they didn’t have to, and we are not well equipped to deal with that problem, so they should shoulder the responsibility of that problem. I love my son. A day doesn’t go by, where I don’t think about him, and grieve the loss of seeing him grow into the man who could be. I hope that he turns his life around, but all I see is patterns of him never taking responsibility for his actions. Life happens to him. I know how easy it is to fall into that trap. I have done it through the divorce process. I am now looking to take control of what I have control over, and move on. It pains me that so much control has been stripped from me, but these are the cards that I am dealt. Much of it is un-American, but that doesn’t change reality. I do my best. I am working at not taking pleasure in the idea that she will fail in the long run, because its not good for me. It will be even worse for me, if she doesn’t fail, and figures it out. The one thing, I will take from this is, I will not be friends with my ex when this is all done. I do not relish major events where I get pushed to the side, so the kids can please their mother. I know that their life is not as good as I could provide in my own home. I will not thank her for raising my kids, regardless of the responsibility she takes. I won’t because, I did not choose this. I would gladly raise my kids in my home. I would provide for them from my checkbook. Instead my kids don’t know or understand that I am still their provider. That I pay enough in child support to pay their mothers rent and utilities with money left over for the car payment. That all they have in their mothers home is in part paid for by me. This makes me sad, but there is nothing I can do about it.

I am done fighting. I will take what I can with my kids. I am not allowed to give them responsibilities in my house. I am relegated to a hotel to provide babysitting services, so their mom gets a break. A privilege I get to pay for. They won’t understand this for years, if ever. I can’t let them watch the step-sibling, even for a brief amount of time. I can’t leave them home alone, even though they are old enough to care for themselves for a few hours, and the autonomy teaches them responsibility. I cannot ask them to do chores, because they feel like servants in my home. The fight has cost me additional freedom beyond what divorce cost me to begin with. My only words of advice to men is they should go nuclear from the start. Don’t worry about your parenting relationship with the your ex. You can try and mend that later. She is unlikely to hold back, and you are likely to end up right where I am at. Women have the advantage, so don’t be afraid to paint the picture of her as a monster. Win the war, then be fair in your treatise. That is the only way to engage family court. I also want to scream at the top of my lungs for men to start fighting the fight before they are facing divorce. Get your representatives to change the standards for family court, and to put teeth in the laws they are writing. Get them to require that criminal actions that affect the children be involved to limit the time a dad has with his kids. With the most recent ruling. I have only seen my kids a few days in the last month and a half. This is not right, but it there is nothing I can do to change it. My only recourse is the courts, and they are not likely to defend my or my children, for they have taken the stand already on behalf of my children in favor of their mother. I will not fight. It hurts too much. I am working on creating ways to connect with my kids, so that they still come to me on their own. I will write about some of those next.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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

January 15

Charitable Organization for Men

Charity Tuesday banner, Tintagel

I am contemplating what it would take to set up a foundation or organization that’s purpose is to help men recover from the economic desolation from divorce. I am not sure how to go about it yet, but I am doing my research. My hope would be to be reimburse legal expenses and other expenses related to protecting their rights in court. Paying off debt and tax bills that accumulate because of divorce. I would also like to start to put together an army of lawyers that will take on these cases and understand the sensitivity of the cases. There are men’s divorce law firms, and some of them actually get what’s going on. Others just pay lip service to men’s issues to increase client contacts. My own case is inspiration for this, and I am still going through it. I know that I will be broke for a long time, because of my divorce. There isn’t much I can do about it, but I do want to help change things for other men. The long term goal would be to change the laws in the USA to favor a system of divorce that doesn’t include court room combat, or the threat thereof, but establishes fair baselines for couples to agree to and firm defaults when the couple cannot agree on things. The system is out of control, and encourages fighting that just isn’t necessary. Most of us have had bad breakups before we were married, and somehow we managed to figure things out mostly on our own. The needs of a divorcing couple aren’t that much higher, except in system where winner can take all.

I am going to continue to blog on my life, but I am going to start talking through how to start this thing. I hope that I can get some sound advice from others about not only how to start this thing, but also in setting the direction as I move forward. It may take me years to get this off the ground, but I feel like it is important, and needed by too many men. Its time to start making some changes. Time to stop complaining, and start taking action. The status quot sucks. This is for men. This is for the children. And this is for our society. Everyone suffers when there is an underclass in society. It was true with slavery, indentured servitude, and its true in the modern cultural shift of indenturing men by proxy through their children.

I am hopeful that there are actually men out there that care, and will start to support this cause and get it off the ground. I am especially hopeful that there are some lawyers out there that see past the profits and care about what is right and wrong. I know there are lawyers that went into law to help find justice. This is a call to these men and women. Right now, I am planning. When my own mess is somewhat behind me, I will be wanting to take action, and I hope that there are some lawyers who are willing to help create the legal entity that will be required to do this work.

Comments and opinions please.

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

February 13

After A Deep Breath…

Deep breath

… and a talk with a lawyer, I can sleep again. He pulled up the filing and the words out of his mouth were “Holy shit, this is fucked up” Turns out that with all that with the arrangements we are seeking child support is roughly a third what she had, especially after the right figure was put in for my income, and she would be responsible for all direct expenses. The only negotiating point is the non-recreational sports they are involved in. No big deal if those expenses are split. We keep clothes and necessities at both houses, so she doesn’t need money to supply me with those things.

I have found that the only thing that makes me panic is loss of time with my kids. Nothing else can throw me into sleepless nights anymore. Well maybe fear that harm is coming to them. I now am confident that I won’t be broke when this is done, and I can relax a little. She will throw a temper tantrum over the hearing that fixes her orders already filed.

She won’t be nice through the process, but that’s okay. I am confident that my estimates are conservative enough that I will come out happier with the results than I was planning on. I found out that not only have the equal parenting time revisions been published in April 2012 in my state, but there was further guidance and pressure to the courts to use it in August 2012. This is all fantastic, and confirms that I was right to wait. I wish I had filed first, but things should still work out fine this way. I meet with the lawyer tomorrow morning to hire him and get moving.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 12

Hard Lesson Learned

Lesotho - Maseru Qoaling School - John Hogg - 090626 (14)

I tried hard to get an agreement with my wife that worked for both of us. I was informed this morning that she filed for divorce. I spent most of the day stressing over what she put in the temporary orders. Something that of course we haven’t needed for the last almost two years to make things work. She has now gone after child support based on bogus numbers. Child support that will if I can’t get it fixed put me in a position that I cannot afford to continue to live where I live now. I live in a 3 bedroom duplex. When I have my kids there are 5 of us in this duplex. On top of that I am expected to pay 1/2 of all their expenses. Literally child support doesn’t pay for their extra-curricular, school, or medical expenses. I know this is not a shocker to anyone reading this, but it pisses me off that I am supposed to pay those in proportion to our gross incomes, but after child support her monthly income is greater than mine. This just reinforces to me that child support is bogus in most cases where the father is actively involved. I have the kids 1/2 the time or better. I will not be able to maintain a home that can fit my family when this is done. I continue to cut expenses hoping to get ahead, yet my ex keeps finding ways to increase my expenses related to children. I hate her. I really do. I can’t even say she changed. I was blind to what she was. She is truly a horrible human being, and only cares for herself.

I was hoping to stay off using the adversarial system, but she has changed the game on that. Greed of course has driven her. I stand to lose in this system. The question is by how much do I stand to lose. I hope that I can afford a lawyer that can do something to limit that loss. If not, then I stand to lose time with my children, because I will paying for all their shit. I am sure that they will love me for that, because stuff is really what matters. Not time with their father. If I am lucky, I will have a wonderful new wife/girlfriend who will at least tell them how great I am while I work my second and third job to pay the home they stay in when they are with me. I actually do have a girlfriend who is pretty great, and much better with a limited budget than I am. I can hope that she really does figure out some ways to help me out there. We plan on combining households this summer. I was nervous about it before, but now it seems that may be the only way I can find a way out of this mess. I do love her, and she seems to be in every way the opposite of my ex, so at least she brings new problems to the table if there are some.

I am disgusted that in divorce the children are used as the leverage for me to continue to pay for the lifestyle of a woman who chose not to be with me. I can only hope that she remains as bad at budgeting as she is now, and that she is blindsided as the kids age out of support, and she goes bankrupt and miserable alone with a bunch of fucking cats she can’t feed anymore. I know that sounds awful, but as it stands now my divorce will cost me half a million dollars when you consider that amount of money that I have to send to her in the name of the kids. Money I could just as easily just pay the expenses with. Instead I have to pay her. What does this do? This shifts the balance of power to her. The person with the money has the power. The government ensures that women get the power.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 17

Summer

summer maps and waves

My summer has been eventful. There has been good and bad, and maybe very bad. The bad, at least for me. My STBEW moved and the kids are in a new school once again. The distance makes it so many nights I don’t get to see my home until after 8PM. I will no longer be able to do homework with my kids, and have dinner ready for them before we do our evening activities. They will ride the bus to her house, and do homework at her house. This effectively cuts me out or takes away my way at least of parenting.

The good was the woman I was dating. She taught me a lot. It was refreshing and enjoyable in every way. We communicated well. Ultimately she told me that she couldn’t handle how I made decisions. A lot of that revolves around how I am managing my divorce process. She really never could understand that avoiding conflict with a high conflict person really is the best way to get things done. She had been weird since her trip over the summer with her family. I think she was having a hard time with the spreading of her father’s ashes and the reality of that closure. I miss her and its only been a few days. Its just knowing that we won’t be getting together again, and not talking through the day. I appreciate that she thought that she would come to a place where she would get frustrated and not like me anymore, so chose to end things now before it would be really hard, or she didn’t like me.

The really bad is that over the summer, I had one stupid night out and got a DUI. I don’t know what is going to come of it, but my state is super strict on this. If the lawyer doesn’t work something out, I may lose my license for a year. I really hope he can get that worked out. The criminal case doesn’t worry me much. I can deal with those consequences as much as they might suck, but I can’t handle not driving. There isn’t public transportation, and I have to get all over town. I am not sure what I will do if that is the case. There are no hardship licenses for work, and I wouldn’t be able to take care of my kids.

The good and bad is my father was diagnosed with brain cancer for the second time. He is doing well, and my parents took my family and my sisters family on vacation. We all had a good time. He is doing better than any of the doctors believe is possible. We also know that he is living on borrowed time. He will die soon. Its surreal to talk to him about it, but its better than watching him be in pain or to just lose him.

Some more bad, is my sister almost lost her house to the bank, and mine will be foreclosed on soon. Mine isn’t that bad. I want it gone. Its just more paperwork for the divorce, so its better to be gone before that. It sucks that it is so tight for my sister right now.

Another bad is the connecting unit to my duplex burned this summer. The smells have been really bad. I hope that gets fixed soon. I am not ready to move. I need to have the divorce settled and the DUI figured out first. I may choose to move to the neighboring state that has a hardship license, so I can drive if things go poorly.

Surprisingly with all the anxiety in my life, I feel well. When this is all over, I will be stronger for it. I will have to help my mother. I will be divorced, finally. I look forward to dating someone new, whoever that might be. I will also be content until such time that I meet whoever this girl is. I would give the last girl a chance if she hasn’t gone out and dated again, and I haven’t as well. I think with her that will be unlikely. She is attractive and likes to date. I will talk more about her in my next post.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

July 12

Old Habits

"A Dastardly Deed in the "Old Castle"

In the nearly decade and a half of marriage to my wife, I have developed the habit of trying to predict what she would want. I learned that I needed to know how she will respond to something before I dealt with it. Her temper was so bad that I found that I just gave up the idea of asking her certain things. I would choose to not see friends because it might disrupt her plans. I would do my best to live my life without inconveniencing or embarrassing her. I would do these things as a means of survival, not because I loved her and wanted to make her happy. I would do this to avoid conflict that was inevitable anytime I had plans that were not hers. We aren’t just talking plans she didn’t like, but plans that weren’t hers.

Now as I, for lack of a better term, have a girlfriend. I caught myself doing this with her. My high school reunion is coming up, and I wanted her to go with me. I put off buying tickets for weeks, because I was busy trying to figure out what she would say and think about the issue. I was concerned, because I am not divorced yet. There are people that will be there that know this, and know my wife. I was trying to guess if this would bother her. It took me a few days to realize that I was being stupid. This is not how a healthy relationship works, and that I was placing my old patterns and behaviors into this new situation. I immediately texted her, and asked her to go to my reunion. I warned her that there were going to be people there that might know my situation. She said yes, and made fun of the anxiety I put myself through in asking her.

I related the story to my mom. Other than the fact she is uncomfortable talking about me dating, the conversation confirmed what I was thinking. She told me if it was that hard to figure out then it was not a good relationship. She also told me she would kill me if I got into another relationship with a woman who made it that hard. She asked how my girlfriend responded, and then said good. She was pleased that it was just me over thinking things, rather than the woman I was with deciding to put me through the ringer for the sake of demonstrating her power.

One of the things that I have to learn to do, is to catch when I am following old patterns that aren’t healthy. The inability to make decisions based on my preferences, and to constantly look for the hidden subtext of my partner is a horrible habit. Its not fair to her or me. If I want to know what she thinks, then I can expect that she will answer me without malice when I ask. This shouldn’t be hard to figure out, but the results of spending so many years in a relationship with a high conflict woman has made my responses, even to me, bizarre. The new thing for me, is I express the intellectual and emotional quandary that I put myself into to her, and she laughs and makes fun of me, and then reminds me that she is perfectly capable of letting me know how she thinks and feels without any help from me. Such a simple thing. Two adults dealing honestly with each other. It is so liberating. You would think that I have found the fountain of youth. I know that things with me and her may not work out, but I am learning that things don’t have to be as bad as they have been with my wife.

Ten-Foured,

JeD