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

September 28

Are We The New Babylon?

Well are we? I am thinking of the United States when I say this. Babylon rose to the status of empire twice. Once around 2000 BC and again around 500 BC. At these times it was the cultural center of a large portion of the world. I also like to think of Babylon, because it was a pivotal kingdom in the Old Testament or Torah. It represents throughout the Bible how an empire can be glorious and so quickly only become a fabled story just a few generations later. Babylon stands also as a symbol of arrogance. The tower of Babel was built in what would be a part of the Babylonian empire, and the city of Babel would be its capital. Babylon had a legal system that seemed to systematically mete out unfair justice depending on the particular crime and the accused. Babylon’s story itself is not that different than other empires throughout the World’s history. It is one of the oldest, and in a way, it is the original history that keeps repeating itself in future empires.

This was going to be a much longer post, but I lost my train of thought. The question stands though, are we the new Babylon or Rome. Societies that rose to such power based on principals that later were lost and then they crumbled into something that only shared the name of the original. The United States once stood as the greatest society of the modern era. Not only were we pushing limits on technology, but we were a society where people were allowed freedoms that seem extreme to the rest of the world. People thrived in our culture. I think when the United States stood up to tyrants around the world, we lost what made us unique. We started to fear what the world had to offer, and we started to strip our society of the freedoms that made us great for the fear of what might happen. The great depression further exacerbated the situation. A couple of generations never wanted to fear the loss that was experienced during that time. The end result is taking away risks, which is the same as taking away freedoms. They go hand in hand. When you take away risks in an effort to make things better without the effort imparted by the people who benefit, you end up with societal losers that because of these safety nets end up damaged in some way. Whether that is the fathers without children, the homeless ex-soldier, or the child without a father, they are all victims of a society that has over-zealously tried to protect those that they see as the weak to the detriment of others. Government provided securities come at a cost, a cost far too high for society. Sadly society never recognizes the cost until its too late.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 31

The Great Paradox of Family Court

There are so many paradox in family court, that it might be hard to single one out as the great one. Perhaps my view is skewed, because this is the one that is used to beat me about the head and chest until I submit, well at least get pushed back. Every man might have a different idea of what qualifies as the “Great Paradox” in their case, but this is my bog, so fuck them. You get to hear my story. If you have your own ideas, I would love to hear them. Put them in the comments.

The paradox that I m talking about is that you aren’t supposed to talk to the kids about what happens in court. The majority of decisions made in family court dramatically effect everything about their lives, but we aren’t supposed to talk to them about these things. We aren’t supposed to tell the kids that mom and dad don’t agree on things, and that they are fighting over things in this mysterious court somewhere. Decisions are made that change their lives, sometimes dramatically, but we as parents are supposed to not talk to them about these things. We are simply supposed to say that the court decided that they are no longer allowed to see their dad regularly, or you are now going to stay with your dad full time who is moving 800 miles away, so you won’t see your mom very often. These are the things that we are not supposed to talk to your children about.

On top of the fact you are not supposed to talk to your kids about these things, their are “professionals” who do talk to your kids about these things. The GAL, therapists, and custody evaluators all are allowed to use their judgement to talk to your kids about these things in your stead. They can say whatever they want, so long as the court is willing to listen to what they are peddling.

I can understand this position if divorces and custody were determined within a couple months, but the truth is that most cases stay in court until the last child is 18 years old. This makes parenting your children difficult at best and impossible in some cases. Courts like to pretend that kids are somehow too naive to understand what is going on around them, and too stupid to understand. They often worry about the harm done to children by understanding that their parents are not in total agreement about things, while not realizing the kids knew that long before the divorce proceedings started.

In the “Land of the free, and home of the brave,” we are supposed to parent as the family court likes or risk losing the right to parent. We are not to exercise our constitutionally protected rights or we risk losing the right to parent. The battle cry of those who are conquering our rights is “in the best interest of the children” said in calm tones before or after each statement they make. All it takes is some time in family court to realize that your rights don’t matter at all. They don’t matter, because we have built a system the requires great means to protect your rights.

I am left with the options of parent my kids as I see fit when I have time with them, and potentially lose my time with them, or to be a father in name only. I can choose to not parent my kids, but have time with them(maybe). That isn’t even a given. The core argument is that me and their mother are not supposed to disagree, and if we do, then the court needs to pick who is right even on issues where there isn’t a right person. They will choose the same person almost every time, because that is the most likely way to get the other person out of court.

I finally watched Divorce Corp. a few weeks ago. The statement that stood out to me as absolute truth is that it doesn’t matter how good the parents are. They could be two of the worst parents who together can hardly care for their children or two of the best parents who would both excel at parenting alone or together. When they walk into court, the court will decide which one it judges better by standards that are not always obvious. Gender bias plays a role here, but this isn’t always the case. All too often you have one parent who has no problem trashing the other parent, and by doing so, they end up looking better to the court, especially if they are clever about it. Once the court judges the parents and decides which it will support, from that moment on the chosen parent might as well be in the top percentile of parents and the other parent might as well be in the bottom percentile of parents. The reality doesn’t matter. This is why in court the most aggressive parent wins.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 25

Judged Unworthy

I have tried to write this post for a long time. I am dumbfounded at the results. Put simply at the end of June I was restricted to supervised visitation, and that my mom and sister were the approved supervisors. I will talk about the whole experience down below. I have lost every motion in court. Not most, but every motion. I have yet to file a motion on my own behalf beyond the counter-petition for divorce. In a dispute like this, no one is actually wrong all the time, and the other isn’t right all the time. This is at its core a selfish dispute, so neither party is looking out for the other. By definition each party is trying to take some form of advantage of the other for their own benefit.

The Motions: It was fairly straight forward. It said that I should no longer have my out of home visits with my kids without supervision. That I didn’t have appropriate boundaries when talking with my kids. It specifically says I continue to have inappropriate conversations with my children and confuse them. The other motion was for there to be a redistribution of GAL fees, because I have caused the largest share of the expenses, and should be responsible for a greater portion of the fees.

The Trigger: When I told my son, and the other kids that I didn’t believe that he belonged locked up. I created a conflict between what their mother has told them, and what I was telling them. I am assuming they were upset and went to their mom and made a big deal about the fact I don’t tell the same story as her. I thought it was important that the kids know that my son was not as bad as they had been told, and more importantly that he isn’t bad just because he has done bad things. Those things don’t define who he will be, but are a bread crumbs on the trail of where he has been. My step-daughter said this to me before I could get it out of my mouth when I was telling her what I had talked to him about, and she’s eight. I just want him to understand he is always becoming the man that he will be, and that others don’t determine that for him. That he has a chance in this world.

The Hearing: Well there was talking. Very little of it had any content of matter. Opposing counsel insinuated without evidence that I am hurting my kids by parenting them. The therapist stood up and recommended that I have supervised visits in part because I was undermining her relationship with her clients. The sole way I was undermining her was by not allowing her to undermine my relationship with my kids, in particular my oldest son. The GAL made a few grand statements that amounted to know real facts or evidence, but a final opinion that he agreed with the position that I should have supervised visits. The judge talked to my ex-wife and her statements were basic comments of she only wants to protect her children and that she believes they should have a relationship with their father, but … Its always the “but” that gets you. When the judge talked to me, I explained what I had said and why. The GAL interrupted me intimating that I don’t have the moral authority to father my son, and that I owed him an apology for what I did in the past, when he sexually molested my step-son. I told him that I had apologized to him, and had talked at length with him about the whole situation. He spit some nastiness my way that if I said something similar would have landed me a contempt charge.

The Results: The judge ruled that I should have supervised visits. Only my mother and sister were mentioned as supervisors. Neither one talks to me, but goes to church with and socialize with my ex-wife. I haven’t had more than a few counseling sessions with my kids. My ex-wife is trying to end those as well, because we talk about inappropriate things there. This is the word to describe what I do and say. It has been the narrative her attorney started from the beginning. My first attorney told me it was to get under my skin and to ignore it, but he was wrong. It was setting the tone for the future when she planned to take my kids away from me in any meaningful way. The court has heard it so often, that it doesn’t even ask for an explanation about how it is actually inappropriate, but accepts that is who I am. I have each of my three kids for an overnight visit for exactly one night. My oldest not at all, since he has been in state custody for the majority of this time. I get to see him twice a week. At least him being in custody allows for me to see him unhindered.

The Takeaway: This is tough. I have to figure out how to see my kids. I don’t trust my sister and mom. I am afraid that they are going to do whatever it takes to stay in my ex-wife’s good graces, so that they continue to benefit from contact with my kids. My mom recently had two of the kids overnight, and chose not to try and include me. This isn’t the first time she has done this. My sister has my girls on a regular basis, and has never attempted to include me while I am going through this. Not that school is in session, it is very hard to figure out how to do therapy appointments. I am going to have to figure it out soon. Somehow paying the therapist that is trying to remove me from my kids lives is of the utmost importance to the court. My attorney walked out of court and said to me that she didn’t think she was going to take another case in my state. This was the second case she has had that just didn’t make sense how the judge and everyone else behaved. It didn’t follow normal protocol from our neighboring state that she normally practices in. She also confirmed that the appeals courts in my state have a tendency to not set aside trial verdicts but to provide the judge with instructions that allow them to keep the verdict that they gave. GALs can’t be cross examined in my state and he hasn’t thus far been made to issue an actual report. I believe that he doesn’t want to put a report in writing, because the weakness of his case will be exposed when someone reads it and isn’t compelled by his emotional response to everything.

The Chaos: I had asked for someone else to supervise. Opposing counsel said that wasn’t an option. I asked for someone my attorney knew, and my ex-wife knew. My ex-wife called this person and told them that I as a delinquent dad, and that I could have scheduled to have her supervise at any point. I told my attorney this, and her response was that I cannot control her behavior. The thing is, I need an answer and I am getting mixed signals. I think I should be able to use this person after that phone call. I am afraid my attorney has given up right out of the gate.

The Future: The judge decided that we should have a limited custody eval. After she was done lecturing me about my wife, who hasn’t had any contact with anyone but me in the case for months. This is a court services professional that will do an investigation of their own, like the GAL, but has a different legal definition. This person will make their own recommendation to the court. I of course will be paying more of these fees than my ex-wife, because that is how things go for me. I hope that there is a difference in what this person’s opinion of me is.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 23

Daddy’s Gone

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

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

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

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

The Trial

Pre-Trial

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

My Exhibits

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

Testimony

The GAL

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

The Ex

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

Me

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

My Wife

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

The Judge

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

The Take Away

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

October 9

Economic Realities Of Divorce With Children

they're 35 years old, thrice divorced, and living in a tarp down by the river

The economic realities of divorce are talked about all over the web. The problem I always encounter when reading them, is they don’t apply to everyone. A big number of the people that are profiled or talked about fall in lower income brackets. These are people who are going to struggle either way. Both parents end up struggling under these circumstances. They would struggle together or apart. When they are apart, it very difficult for both parents. Many don’t have jobs that have paid leave, so a sick kid is lost money. This is why so many “single” mothers feel justified regardless of how the father is getting by. They are barely making it on their own, and need every penny they get. No doubt in their minds, it is all the man’s fault. I don’t agree with this stance. I understand that the obstacles of low income people are sometimes insurmountable. If we cared, we would remove the burden of child support from men who don’t live above the poverty level. We would pick up the slack. Rather than spending all the money trying to track down these guys and collect, we should just spend that money for the kids. I generally don’t believe in government funded charity, but if I have to choose between a direct wealth transfer between two poor people for 18 years, and spending tax money, I will choose the tax money. Increasing the animosity between the couple and making it hard for the father to act as a father is not best for the kids. Our society would be better off if low income families had fathers that were able to be engaged.

Now that we have cleared a path through the low income families that are at the center of this discussion, especially in polite company. Now we are putting men who make good livings, and want to be involved in their kids’ lives. The system favors having the mother have the children, because it maximizes child support. As discussed before, child support is a profit center for the states, or at least a major contributor to government jobs, and people’s reliance on the state. Men generally take on the financial burden when the marriage is ending. They feel responsible for making sure the family makes it through this thing that threatens everything that is safe for those he loves. Most divorces are instigated by the wife, so its natural that the husband still feels protective of her. During this time, she is able to live off of his generosity and figure out how to take what she can. There is no excuse for child support from a father who is active in his kids life. He will support them. Instead we see the states inferring the rights of lifestyle based on the parents income to the kids. My kids have a better lifestyle than I do, and they will until such a time that I am no longer forced to fund it through their mother. You see as you move up the economic spectrum that fathers are being left in dire financial circumstances, and the mothers are living pretty much the same lifestyle they had before. I see “single” mothers who live in the homes they lived in before the divorce, while the fathers are barely scraping by in apartments that are hardly large enough to share with their kids. The lifestyle that he once had is forever gone to him, or at least until such time that the kids are grown. This may not be true after you reach a certain level of wealth, but even the Robin Williams with all of his success was stretched beyond what he could bare, and was spending more money supporting ex-wives than he was supporting himself.

In most areas of law, you cannot have a ruling that causes something to happen, and then use that something to get another ruling that you want. This is akin to sending a soldier out to war, and then charging him with murder for the actions that were demanded of him. In family court every rulings effects can be used to change something else. Take time away from a parent, and then you can raise their child support. That is an indirect result of the previous ruling. The court is preventing you from doing something, and then punishes you for not doing it. Everything is intertwined. This gives attorneys and the courts great leeway in how to handle case. You will hear it said that this is necessary, because each case is unique, but the truth is the matters that should be before the court are that unique. There could be, and I would argue should be standards that are applied universally to these cases. As things go right now, the court will use tools that aren’t normally allowed in court, because children are involved. Everything is obscured through these professionals.

Now back on track. Divorce means that the money that a family had now has to support two households. The family court has decided that it needs allow one house to have most of that money, and the other needs to earn most of the money. The principle is based on the idea that the money earned by both parties is the families, even though there is not a family in the same way that there was. You are both parents of the same kids, and those kids are active in both parents families, but the divorce says that the parents are not family anymore. The money is not the family’s money anymore. The money is each parents own, or it should be. The fantasy that there is still a family unit is what drives this. This fantasy makes the long term damage of one party for the benefit of the other justified. There is no driver for the mother to seek out ways to make more money. It is simpler to target the man for more and more money. Since the money follows the kids, everyone looking in sees that the kids are okay, and no one pays attention to the man, who is struggling everyday now. The man who has to choose whether he takes a vacation alone or none at all. A man who makes enough to take his family to Disney Land, but has to wait and here how Disney Land was with their mother, because the money he would spend on that vacation was sent to her.

The part that is hardest for me to fathom is that men accept this, and even embrace this. They have bought the idea that this is being a good dad. That taking care of the mother is noble. What they don’t see is that they are taking care of person who constantly undercuts them, and makes them with their children. These men are looking at themselves with pride for paying their support, while the mother of their children is reminding the kids of all the things he doesn’t buy for them. These men wonder why as their kids get older and older that they are losing touch with their kids, and some never regain that connection. The system as it is now makes martyrs of the mothers, and villains of the fathers. The fathers are living well below their abilities to support a woman who wants nothing to do with them. The system of present gives the mother the benefits of being married without the responsibilities, and gives the father the responsibilities without the benefits.

I know I am still scatter brained. Heading to court next week, and my brain is swimming with too many ideas.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 30

Uniformity Would Help

Skewed Uniformity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 23

Loss Of Hope

Been doing fine since you've been gone

I try hard to move forward. To figure out how to move my life on from this tragedy that has befallen it. Its not simply the divorce, but all that is served up to me through the process of divorce. I see many men who are struggling with the same thing. They can’t move past the point where divorce devastated their life. I know far too many men who have stagnated after divorce. They stop growing personally. They just stop. I have to stop and ask myself, why is this? Why do men and not women seem to be afflicted by this. I don’t think the answer is simply there is a difference between men and women, but that is surely a part of it. If it were merely that, then the man who succeeds after divorce would be an anomaly, and they aren’t. Its more complicated than that. My view of the world is that of someone in the middle class. From my front porch is where I am commenting from. As I move about society, this problem is by far worse in the middle class.

So why might this afflict the middle class more than those below, and those above it? This I think is fairly simple, though not obvious. First lets talk about what the middle class is. The middle class is a place of hope. People move freely through the middle class. Its a place that is hard to escape, but you enjoy most luxuries that society has to offer, if only in small doses. You believe it is possible to have the next big idea and escape into the upper class of society. All the world has to offer, seems available with enough effort and intellect. There are books and movies and modern day folklore that tell the tales of someone moving from their middle class existence into the world of the rich and famous. People in the middle class tend to start at the bottom of a profession, and work their way up as they age to the tops of their professions. Its natural for anyone who is motivated to find their way onto the ladder and make this progression in one way or another. Those who live in the middle class have choice in their profession and can move between professions with minimal cost to their lifestyle. The middle class is a big place to live as well. Its not merely a function of income that keeps you there, but the social connections you have. This is good and bad, but most of us see the relative positives of these connections. In a family structure, those in the middle class have the luxury of deciding how much lifestyle luxuries they will partake in, and whether one of the partners can make their job that of homemaker or to earn more money(and how much). The middle class rarely takes any real risks, because there is a lot to lose. In the middle class, people like to talk about calculated risks, but rarely are the risks real. There is little to lose in the risks that people take in the middle class. The rare times that the risks are real, you see how risk taking can hurt and how it can pay off, but finding the motivation to risk your comforts is a hard step to take for most.

Now lets look at the lower class. This place seems inescapable. You have few real choices in your lifestyle. You see society as a type of jail, and its there to control you. You act out to demonstrate your autonomy when you can. For some this is violent and criminal, and others it is more subtle. You have little to lose, so taking risks costs you less. Some would say that they aren’t risks at all. Often there is little calculation to the risks that are chosen. The purpose is more to remind yourself that you have some level of control in your life. Your world is filled with people who tell you what you need or should do, and warn you of consequences if you don’t. In the lower classes you really don’t believe that there is a way to move up in society, and you believe that if you do move up, the system will find a way to kick you back down. Working for a living sometimes seems futile, especially when you can spend your time figuring out how to get a government and charitable handout that exceeds what you could earn any job you can get. In the lower class, there is little hope. The men in this class make decisions without fear of losing what they have, because they have very little that can be taken away from them.

The upper classes have a very different view of the world. Most people in the upper classes are born there. When someone from the middle class reaches into the upper classes, they really aren’t a part of them. Though their children or grandchildren will likely be. The upper classes have a safety net through your connections. Its more than just money that keeps you there. Every luxury society has is at your fingertips So much so, they are mundane. This is why so many young adults in the upper classes take such crazy personal and social risks. They learn through this risk taking, that the social network they have will prop them back up after a fall. This confidence that is born through this process allows them to continue to take risks when it comes to their financial world. They have room for failed business ventures, and thus can learn lessons practically that rest of us have to read about, and try to apply. This is a tremendous advantage, and one that most of us will never know. The best corollary that most of us will experience is in playing a video game, and being able to restart the game at a checkpoint after failing a tasks or losing a life. To fall out of the upper class, you would usually have to do something that is so damning politically that no one is willing to extend their hand to help you up anymore for risk of losing their support network as well. This is a very high bar to hit, so even the most inept are able to retain their position with limited effort. Loss of wealth usually takes a generation to fall into the middle class, and in this time a sufficiently motivated family will recover their wealth. The upper class doesn’t need hope. They know the costs of their risks, and have the luxury of limiting the scope of the risks taken.

What we see in middle class divorce is the devastation of a man’s hope. First the wealth that he has worked for in his life is plundered. Not just by the division of assets, but by lawyers and the system. There is rarely enough left over to feel like you have sound footing to launch from. We have already discussed how the middle class is actually a risk averse group, so what happens next. The court now tells a man that his future earnings are not his own. They belong to his children, and he must give it to the woman who assisted in the plundering of his wealth. He no longer has the choice of whether his child will have piano lessons or he will save that money to make a better life for all of them. Now he must spend that money on his child whether the child has piano lessons or not. The path to where he was has been artificially elongated by this. More hope lost. Before the devastation of his family,the man had a right to choose to start over in another industry, and work his way back up, or to take a risk and start his own business. The court has decided that the child’s ability to maintain their lifestyle is more important than the man having this right to choose. If he chooses to start a new venture, he may very well be held to account for the same amount of child support regardless of his earnings. Taking such a risk can likely land a man in jail for being unable to pay this court mandated support. For all practical purposes, the man has lost the right to choose his own employment. When people look on a man in this position they are puzzled as to why he doesn’t seem to care about the responsibilities he had before the divorce. The answer is, he has lost hope. He is now more like the man in the lower classes, who has little to lose. He may still exist in the bubble of the middle class, but his thinking is now like that of a lower class man. He believes he has nothing to lose. When you have nothing to lose, you also tend to believe you have nothing to gain. There we have that the cost of divorce for so many men in the middle class is the loss of hope.

The end result of this loss of hope will be seen in future generations. Lower class men have already began to avoid marriage. There is nothing to gain from it, and the hope that it will provide them with some advantage in life that they would not have otherwise is not apparent. The upper class still have hope in marriage, but things change more slowly in the upper class. They tend to not be concerned with the lower and middle classes, but what happens across society at large eventually bleeds into the higher classes over time. The middle class is quickly seeing little or no value in marriage. This is true for men and women alike. Men are seeing that all the advantages of marriage for them can be taken away by divorce. This is not some breathtaking revelation, it is what is expected. What is not expected is that all the disadvantages of marriage are not simply held onto through divorce, but are multiplied. Marriage is by definition a limited loss of autonomy, but in divorce that autonomy is further attacked. What is worse, child rearing now carries the same weight. Men who have children are automatically made responsible for the woman who bears that child. Our society thinks that this is okay and even right. Our society is blindly running down a path where men will avoid all familial entrapment. They will only find hope separate from women. Ultimately this will bring down our society.

An example of how this is already affecting the thinking of our children, a recent conversation with my 13 year old son went this way. He told me that when he gets married, hes not getting divorce. I explained that he doesn’t have control over that. His wife can end the marriage if she chooses. He then said that he would be careful especially if there were kids. Then he said well maybe he wouldn’t have kids, if he can’t guarantee they don’t get divorced. Then he followed with this. Well if we aren’t going to have kids, then why get married. My 13 year old is already looking at a path that may be eternal bachelorhood, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I will likely give him advice, when it is safe to do so, and that advice will be that if he wants kids, then he should adopt them on his own, and never let a woman become legally the mother of the children. He should have a vasectomy, and give up the idea of having any progeny of his own.

How do we find hope again? How do we climb out of the hole that society throws us in when we divorce? I see no hope until my youngest is grown. I don’t want to wait that long. I don’t know that I will survive if that is the soonest hope I have. What is there to hope for? How do we find our footing again? This system has to be changed, and soon. The evil it does to families is horrible. The fact the system doesn’t consider the rights of all the people in involved is destroying men everyday. In my heart, I know there is some hope, but I can’t put my finger on it. I can’t see it. I haven’t given up, but I want to.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

June 30

Lets Make It Criminal

"Canadian Criminal Law, Review" vols. 2-10

I know that the child support system has effectively made it criminal to not pay support, but lets dial things back. Child support is currently a right of a child, that the custodial parent is the legal custodian of the money. This system says that the non-custodial parent will spend at a minimum a certain amount of money in the name of the children, but has no say in how that money is spent. This is where we lie right now. A not small amount of the theory that lies under these laws is that men, the primary payers of child support, will not let their children go without things they can afford. So the system feels justified in taking as much as they can from the man and give it to the woman, knowing that the man will go to great lengths to be able to continue to care for their children.

As an example of this attitude in my case, I just had my CS more than doubled. I lost one day out of 14. I went from 7/14 days to 6/14. This put me back into the regular CS guidelines, and not the equal parenting time guidelines. With four kids that I expected to raise inside of my miserable marriage, this is a lot of money. If I were paying what I should be in taxes out of my paycheck, I would be paying more to my ex, than I receive in every pay check. As it is, it is a barely mentionable the difference in these numbers right now. Yes some of this is because of a loan on my retirement to pay off marital debt, but it still leaves me with very little every month. I told her I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for half the extra-curricular activities. She keeps trying to find ways to get me to revisit this decision. she has the spending power of someone who earns more than I earn, and I less than she earns. With my income alone, even with the loan, I can easily afford all the kids expenses including extra-curricular activities without any money coming from her.

Lets put aside all the arguments of how the child deserves the support of both parents. Lets stop pretending the system isn’t built on the principles of a man is required to be married to the mother of his children until his children are grown, even though she is not required to be married to him. The whole system needs to go. What is important is not the lifestyle of the children. It is not the money. It is, very simply are the children being cared for to a minimum standard. Let the parents figure it out on their own. Guarantee the simple rights that each parent and child deserve each other, and lets make sure that they are given time together. If a child isn’t being taken care of, then lets take it a criminal court. Charge the parents with neglect. Figure out if one parent or the other is at fault, or if both are at fault, and then divvy out consequences. We need to get rid of a system that says that one or both parents will fail to care for their children as the default stance. Most parents will do what it takes to take care of their children. CS says that one parent won’t do what it takes, so we are going to make them. The USA is not built on assumed failures of people. If parents don’t care for their children, then by all means punish them. To determine that because I make more money than the other guy, I am more obligated than him to my kids legally is not right. My kids rights are not to live the life I am capable of providing for them, but to live the life I do provide for them. There is no obligation of the other parent to spend every dollar given to her, so she retains economic autonomy.

With these high child support orders, the non-custodial parent loses all authority in their kids lives. They don’t have the means to supply directly for the kids, the things that their kids need. They are required to pay the other parent ot do these things. My children should be the beneficiaries of the lifestyle I lead, by they are not, because I have to pay the other parent, and she gets to improve her lifestyle, while I struggle. To all the mothers who want to chastise me for not wanting to pay for my kids, FUCK YOU. I have no problem paying for my kids. I don’t want to pay for my ex to pay for my kids. Fathers are being removed from their kids lives, so that mothers can live an easier life. I would happily clean the scraped knee and do the homework with them daily, but instead I get to pay someone who benefits from despising me to do those things in my stead.

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