I Miss You …

I have put off this post in hopes that I wouldn’t really need to write it. The sad truth is, that hope is based on ideas and principles that just simply will never be at play in my case. I go back and forth from being damn near suicidal to overly optimistic. No one would have ever described me as manic, but the thoughts in my head are just that. I know I am not unique in this. I read stories everyday of men who are walking the line of life and death in their heads. Only they know the darkness that surrounds their thoughts. Its sad, but one of the things that keeps me kicking is that idea that somehow my ex-wife would find a way to get at my life insurance, and metaphorically piss in my grave. The idea of the harm that it might do to my kids is hard to even consider, since I have died to them many times already as the courts and their mother have taken me from them. I have no idea what they really think about the situation. Someday I might hear from them what life was like. I will probably be heart broken regardless of the answer, for they will either share my pain or they will have judged me as unworthy. I spend too much time thinking about the things that they might be thinking, but I never hear. I miss my kids everyday. There is no way for my heart to be full again. I cannot love my step-kids or my wife the way I ought to be able with them so close, but so far away. In a strange way, it seems that it would be better that they have died, because I would not have the constant reminder that they are so close, but yet unreachable. I know this sounds crazy, but it feels true right now.

I am honestly shocked at how few men have turned violent over the loss of their children. I don’t think its good for society that we so readily accept this as normal, and even try to internalize this such that our hearts don’t hurt quite so much. We were built to love by providing and protecting our families. There is fine line where we are treated as dangerous for this, and relegated to provider, but its not really the role of provider, but one where we are enslaved to the mother until such time that the children are released into adulthood. The line between provider and slave is often a thin one, but it is one that every divorced man has felt the difference at some point, even if they have not been relegated to simply a means of financing that which they have no authority. The emotions surrounding this situation is almost impossible to describe to anyone that hasn’t been through it. Its not something we are supposed to experience in the land of the free, but after a couple trips to the county courthouse, you realize that we don’t live in the land of the free, because anytime someone else’s well being can be used to take away your rights and property, you are not free. Most men want the best for their children, and will do the right thing in regards to the children. That is the right thing from their perspective. The court has inserted itself into the family in a way that makes it the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong when it comes to raising your children. Usually this power is used to make decision making simpler or to expedite the process, but sometimes it is used to tear the kids completely out of a family that is perfectly capable of taking care of the kids. The dangers come from one key legal phrase – “The best interests of the children” This phrase is not defined as it is read. There is a legal definition that implies a whole lot of power to the courts once you walk through the doors.

Growing up, my dad and I had a special relationship. One that I cannot imagine would have happened had my parents divorced, because then more than now, fathers were relegated to weekends. We would stay up late and talk and yell and debate. I would stand in the garage with him while he smoked his cigarettes on cold nights. He taught me to drive, and how to do so many things that are required of a boy becoming a man. He taught me how to love without pandering to those you love every whim. He taught me how to put up boundaries in my life, even with the people you love most, and to demand the treatment that you expect. He also taught me that sometimes you let down those walls for no good reason other than you love the person, and you don’t want them to feel unloved. At the core, he taught me how to balance your needs in life with those that depend on you. I rarely thought about the expenses of our life, though he made it clear that there was a budget, and some things weren’t in that budget. If I wanted it in the budget, then I had to contribute to that budget. He was a warm man, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a strong man. He was always capable of exuding warmth even when he was actively disciplining one of us.

It is taking me weeks to finish this post. A part of me keeps hoping that it won’t be necessary, or that it will have a happy ending. It doesn’t I see my son who lives with his mom periodically. He likes to come by, but he has replaced his soccer with a lot of work. I feel that his mother pushed him to do this. It lowers her expenses, and she finds ways to make him pay for things that should be paid for by her. He is slowly developing into a man. Slower than what I would like, but he doesn’t spend enough time with me to develop faster. My oldest daughter doesn’t see me much. She still seems to have a strong connection when we see each other, but she doesn’t go out of her way to ever see me. My youngest seems to be figuring out that she can see me, but she is in middle school and can’t get herself anywhere. Sometimes she uses that to see me, but I try to limit that to times that she can spend more than just taxi time together. I honestly see my oldest son the most. I get a four hour visit with him at Teen Challenge once a month. He is growing into a pretty good man, though I can’t claim too much credit for that. There are other men who deserve that credit.

Nothing hurts more than to want to turn tell your children that you love them every night, and know that they aren’t going to be at your home for many, many nights for you to get to do that. To go from being a part of their daily rituals to an awkward silence when its time for everyone to go to bed. It hurts to know that they have beliefs about me that simply isn’t true, but they aren’t mature enough yet to share those beliefs with me in such a way that I can share my point of view. I find myself at the verge of tears all the time. Its a hell of thing that we do to our families in the United States. I do hope that our children can do better. I hope they learn the lessons their parents and grandparents did not.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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

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

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

Losing Hope

i know that this song is about lost love, but it felt right. Going through this process of family court makes me wonder just what my kids will think of me when it’s all done. Will they still love me. Will they still be mine in any way that matters. Am I just having the longest, most horrible good-bye ever. This weekend should have been mine, instead I get 8 hours with them, but with restrictions. Its cold, and snow is coming. This limits what I can do with them when we are out. I don’t know how long my teenagers will put up with this schedule. I also don’t know if they will take the easy out and just not want to go, or are they going to make a big giant stink that can’t be ignored. I just don’t know.

Since the events of my last post, I have had a therapy session with my son. It was fairly uneventful. After that I spent the evening with all four of the kids. We went to my mother-in-law’s house and watched a movie. My wife made dinner for us, and I heated it up for us. We didn’t do a lot, but at least we were in a place that was comfortable for most of us.

The following Saturday my kids and my ex-wife had a therapy session together, then the therapist met with me and my wife and my ex-wife. I was told that my oldest will not be left out. I was also told that he had issues after our evening together, and that I shouldn’t have taken them to my mother-in-law’s house. There was a picture that didn’t include my oldest son, and it upset him. I was also told that I should have taken them out for dinner or cooked the meal myself. It was inappropriate to have a meal ready for us.

My case keeps hinging on my oldest son. The easy road would have been to leave my wife before we were married. To leave her kids, and not worry about the outcomes for them. I am left to choose whether to allow him to reintegrate completely, and before my step-son is ready, or lose my kids. I sadly will stand by my principles, and lose my kids. I would rather face them and explain my choices than set a different example.

I was supposed to have a therapy session yesterday with my oldest son. The therapist told me he wasn’t up to meeting with me, so it didn’t happen. This entire process hinges on him. A kid who thrives on power is being left in charge, and people who have his best interests at heart are willing to hurt others in his stead. There are so many things wrong with this. In my next post I will go into some of those issues.

I have nearly lost hope . My kids are nearly lost to me. I have fought so hard to maintain my relationship with them, but in the end, I may be the only person who has a say that cares about their relationship with me. I hope I am wrong, but I fully expect that within the next few months I will have even less contact with them, and I will be lost to them. I hope for a better tomorrow, but I expect the worst.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Time Is Love

where is the love?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Income Based Child Support – Defacto Alimony

Buffalo Bills - Alimony Ale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Letting Go

10 of 365 - Let Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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

I Got Time

Time

I went to court, and learned that basically the GAL is a hired gun. The opposing counsel proposed a schedule that takes one half of a day away a week. I have had my kids 7/14 days, and now will have them 6/14 days. Not so bad, right. I can’t call this a full on victory, or even a victory at all. You see, it was opposing counsel who told my ex to accept this. I don’t know why. I like to think its because she really knows what she is doing is evil, and doesn’t want to make it worse. I do believe that people answer after death for what they didn’t suffer/pay for in life. I feel sorry for divorce attorneys. I am pretty sure the evils they have participated in will make for some rather horrible answering in the afterlife. The GAL had no objection, even though there was so many problems with me as a father, and he was ready to strip me of most of my rights. This ultimately came down to child support.

The child support system in my state requires that we have near equal time, like 49% and 51% or totally equal to use the equal parenting time numbers. Taking one half a day a week away puts me back into the standard child support calculations. It nearly doubles my child support. There is nothing I can do about it. We will have to tighten our budget. Its sad that nothing matters, but the child support in the grand scheme of things, but its the truth. I am ultimately a paycheck. What’s even worse is its okay to berate me for not wanting to pay as much child support as possible, but its not okay for me to argue that keeping the money makes me a better father. If it were about the kids, the court would punish the parent unwilling to work with the other parent on the issues that matter.

I keep seeing how things are changing. How the laws are becoming friendlier. I don’t benefit from these. The system still hasn’t taken those views. The system has ways to ensure that you get back in line. I make a good living. I am for lack of a better term, middle aged. In a few years, I will be half way to retirement from when I entered the work force. I will be taking home less money than I did in my first full time job. A time when I lived in a cheap midtown apartment, and still cooked most of my meals at home. I had just enough money to eat my lunches out, but on a budget. I am required to maintain a home for me and my three or four kids on what I earned when I didn’t know anything. I earn a little more than triple what I earned then, but will be taking home the same amount of money. None of this accounts for the differences in cost of living that has happened in the last 20 years.

So here is the challenge. To win my kids hearts and minds while their mother tries to buy them using the money I earned. To find activities that will excite them, entertain them, and teach them without spending much dough. I have to do so with all the extra restrictions they are putting on me to. I am being chastised that I shouldn’t leave the kids home alone, ever. Mom does this more than I do, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Remember the kids are 13.12. and 10. We aren’t talking about little ones, but ones that are soon going to be in the 5th, 7th, and 8th grade. They aren’t allowed to babysit the stepkids at all either, even though my daughter is going to start babysitting for other people, but won’t be allowed to sit at my house for a run to the store. My ex is going to run a sabotaging campaign against me, but there isn’t much I can do about that. My kids need to find their own voices, and stop parroting what their mother says about me.

There will come a time that if I haven’t won my kids time, and I am not allowed to parent freely, that I will just have to quit. I hate the idea. I have thrown up at the thought of it, but there are limits to what I can do. Any fathers with words of encouragement, please share them. I see the end being closer than I had hoped. Its a terrible thing to wish for your kids to grow up quickly, but that is where I am. It is where I can have a relationship with them without constant interference by their mother. I played nice. I didn’t want to make her out to be a bad person, because that would be telling my kids the same thing. I should have know that none of that would matter to her. She wants them to believe that I am a bad person.

I will be telling my son that marriage can be a wonderful thing. I will also tell him to never have a child with a woman. To go get a vasectomy, and adopt a child if he wants one, and do so without a partner. By no means let a wife adopt them as well. This way, you will actually get to raise your child. You won’t be faced with someone stopping you from being able to love your child everyday. Trust me I understand how my ex feels when the kids are gone. I understand that she doesn’t want them to go. I also understand that my kids deserve a mother and a father, even if we aren’t very good at it. Time and time again studies show that the relationship matters more than the quality of the person. What my ex is doing to the kids is evil, and she has made them a party to it unwittingly.

Ten-Foured,

JeD