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

May 8

Losing my kids

My life is losing its color :: mi vida pierde color

I don’t understand how we got here, but here we are. A GAL was appointed in my case. My oldest is in state department of corrections custody. I go to what is likely the final hearing in my custody aspect of my case next week. I have maintained equal parenting time with my kids for 3 years. It doesn’t matter. I am now going to be like every other father put through the grinder. I will be told that I am on standard schedule, and should feel lucky.

The GAL only wanted to talk about my son who is not living at either of our homes. He is only concerned with my lack of contact with him. My son has showed no remorse for his actions. I held hostage and sexually assaulted my soon to be stepson who is autistic and half his age. He didn’t do this once, but multiple times over the course of a few months. I have made sure that he has received treatment and care, and followed the criminal trial closely from both the victims side and the perpetrators side. The GAL spent less than 4 hours interviewing myself, my four kids, and their mom. In a status conference he proclaimed that I had committed a “cardinal sin”, that what I have done is “unfathomable”, and perhaps “unforgivable”. What might be so bad, you might ask. What did this man do, you say. I refuse to kick out the victim and his mother. I cannot have my son in my life on a regular basis if they are here. My son cannot have contact with them for as long as they are minors. My son threatened this little boy, 7 years old at the time, with the idea that if he told us what he was doing, then I would leave them. This little boy with autism was first diagnosed when he had a full breakdown after his father returned after not seeing him for a year, and then left again two weeks later. To lose a father figure in his life, and yes he calls me dad now, is the worst thing that could happen to him. I will not abandon the victim in favor of the aggressor. I do not believe my son should be allowed around his siblings. He has physically or sexually attacked each and every one of them. So this is my sin.

He has sprinkled in that my other son is afraid I might abandon him, and that they all feel some jealousy of the two kids who live here all the time. So of course the correct course of action is to further limit their time with me. That will make them feel more secure in their attachment to me. They have also said that they feel like slaves in my house. I honestly think that one came from my oldest who isn’t even here, but does it matter. There are 5 kids in my house. One helps prepare dinner, one cleans up the kitchen after dinner, one clears and wipes the table after dinner, and then there is taking out the trash and cleaning their rooms. None of which am I very particular about, which you could tell by the condition these things are in when they finish. I usually have to come in after them to finish.

I predict that if I can’t figure out with the increased child support, how to keep my house and have to move, then she will file motions saying my home is inadequate to house all the kids, and that I should be denied overnights. She will limit their time with me more and more over time, and step up her alienation efforts over time. I also predict her contact with my oldest will either diminish quickly after the ruling, or she will hit one of his triggers and get him to react and be thrown into the juvenile detention center. All of this will be my fault. She will ensure that with a distortion campaign.

I don’t know when this nightmare ends. The results of my case can cause my fiance'(new wife) to lose her kids to her ex who lives out of state. He is suddenly interested in taking them for the first time in 4 years. This all defies logic. I have never done anything but try to protect my kids and love them. At the end of the day the court is finding a way to put me in my place as the father. Fathers only role in the family is to give mom a break and pay the bills. I will be paying nearly $27,000 a year in child support. This amounts to having to earn $35,0000 just to pay my child support. I will have just over $2,000 a month to pay for my life. To live near my kids schools and activities, rent is nearly that everywhere I look. I am now being sentenced to poverty by indeturehood to my ex through my children. Until the last is 18, I won’t have money to save. I will be 50 y/o in massive debt and no savings. This process has made the mere idea of retirement probably impossible. Someone please tell me how men are the economic winners When it is all said and done, my ex will receive nearly $35,0000 dollars annually in tax free money for the kids. I will be living off of $24,0000 and be required to pay the larger portion of the medical expenses and if she can figure it out, also pay half of all activities. I have lost all ability to dream. I see no good futures right now. I will live on destitute and only a footnote of my kids teen years.

My only hope is she absolutely self destructs, and soon.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 29

Getting My Shit Together

Day 12 Occupy Wall Street September 28 2011 Shankbone 22

One thing this summer has taught me is that things can go from good to shit in nothing flat. Whether its my house, my finances, my love life, or my criminal record. The past couple of days I have been sick. I had a stomach bug, and didn’t go into work. It makes no sense to be there, if I keep running to the bathroom every few minutes. I took advantage of the time to clean my home, which had become a wreck. I had decided that I would be moving soon, and kind of stopped treating it as a home. Well now I think I will not be moving any time soon. Financially it doesn’t make sense. As much as I hate the extra drive time, it doesn’t make sense to move right now. I cleaned the kids rooms, my room, and the rest of the house. I will officially string the kids up by their little toes if they don’t take care of things. I will work on the basement and garage and outside next. I hope to have the basement and outside done by the end of the weekend. The garage will take a little longer. I may have to wait for the outside before I am done.

My STBEW has been spending on the kids like crazy. This impacts me, because she doesn’t spend her own money at all on the kids. I pay for sports, medical, dental, school, etc. She pays for food when they are at her house. I haven’t been able to keep up with my bills. This has got to stop. I need to figure out how to catch up on the bills. I got hung up on how unfair it is she has rented a place that costs more than mine, and that she pays her bills, and that she has chosen a job that pays less than she can earn, because it is convenient. It pisses me off. It makes me mad that she gets what she wants, and I am stuck reacting to it forever. I will spend the next 10 years or more dealing with this. Its not fair. I lost my dreams with no choice in the matter, yet I keep paying. I have multiple creditors that want to collect money I don’t have. I am going to lose my house that I thought was going to be the house I would raise my family in. My kids are being jerked from home to home, because we aren’t together anymore. I have two creditors that I still have to deal with. I am paying all of the debt we accumulated. She gets to have a clean slate as she steps into her new wonderful life, and feels justified because as she puts it to everyone who listens including the kids, I earn twice what she earns. Again this is by choices she has made. She could choose to take a job that matches her skills and experiences, and her pay will be commensurate with mine, especially after she gets her government checks. VA and adoption subsidies not welfare.

I was looking at the birthday card I got from Sarah. It was all promises of making new memories. It was less than a week later that she ended our relationship. We had a good week and weekend leading to the break up. I am still stumped on why things changed so fast. The only thing I can come up with is the following. She still has issues with her dad, who she had just put to rest in the Grand Canyon. He died a couple years ago. My divorce wasn’t moving as fast as she liked. Partly because I don’t have money, and partly because I wanted things aligned already to avoid a large amount of conflict. The other thing I can think of is she was becoming increasingly restless as she thought about falling in love. I don’t know that she was prepared to care. She has been a serial dater since her divorce. Yes, I think she has commitment issues. Like all things for me, I am patient. If things haven’t changed too much for me and she were to decide to contact me again, I would give her a chance, but with new ground rules, and some explaining on her part. I doubt she will though. I do think she will probably go on dating forever, until there are no men left and then wonder what the hell happened. Sadly women don’t realize that their time to select a good man is small. She being exceptional in her appearances and not looking her age, might have some more time than others, but time catches up quickly, and she is already in her 40s.

There isn’t much I can do about the DUI. That will be my reminder of my time with Sarah for the next year. It is also what will probably keep me from moving forward this year with much of anything. One night out, and a bad choice to get in the car to drive home. No one was hurt, no car wreck, I just got pulled over. I won’t argue the rightness of that. The problem is everything is so automatic. I haven’t broken a traffic law in twenty years, yet now I face a potential of a year without a drivers license. I will probably be put on a diversion program that will tell me I can’t go anywhere that servers alcohol or drink for the next year, and will have to participate in some form of treatment for my alcohol abuse that doesn’t exist. I rarely drink. When I do, I have one or two drinks except in rare occasions. The system is designed for the serial offender. The person with a problem. Now this is something that is very wrong. The loss of the license is based upon an administrative court, something that to me sounds like an oxymoron. This is all based on a a number. A machine measured my blood alcohol based on my breath. The number was at a level that says I should lose my license for a year. This is not how things are supposed to work. This is the worship of science. Machines screw up, and deal with the average case. When you see these police shows that show all the cool technology, remember that someday you might get convicted because of a faith in these devices. Don’t get me wrong, I was stupid. I broke the law. I deserve punishment, but the DUI system punishes in a way that far exceeds the crime. The punishment is based on the potential damage that could have been done, not on the actual harm done. A first time DUI with no harm caused, should be punished with a fine, community service, and maybe 90 days of diversion or probation. Some points on the license and maybe it never comes off, because it is a serious problem for repeat offenders.

Well as I said, I am getting my shit together. I am going to keep my place up better. I am going to get bills paid ahead of time. I am going to get some savings done. I am going to get the divorce done, so that I can move forward with a love life, without that being an obstacle. I don’t think that would have made things better with Sarah, but it would have let things go a little longer. The criminal shit, well that is what it is. I will deal with it as it comes at me.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

May 2

Constantly Changing

High Dumbo Range

This has always been an issue. She has always been an unsettled person. We moved 6 times in 14 years. She left me by moving back to the city, and she doesn’t feel like she was thoughtful enough in her choice, and wants to move again. I almost believe that what precipitated the separation was a desire to move when we were upside in our house. The market killed us. We had made good money on each house up until this one. We are taking a bath in this one. We are selling a house that is more than twice the size of one of our old houses for less money than we sold that house for. It sucks. She expected that I would stay in that house, and be the one stuck while she moved up here and started her new life without me. She would be the known one at the school, and I would be one of those dads. I turned the tables a bit. I wasn’t willing to live that far away from my kids. I moved shortly after her to a place near the kids schools. I am not in the same district, but close enough to drive them there quickly. I am in the neighboring district. I don’t really care if she moves. The kids will, but I am out of the business of telling her she is making mistakes. She can do that fine on her own. I do keep notes on those mistakes. I want to make sure that I keep at least equal time with my kids. My problem is that she can’t seem to find anything in the same school district, and can’t work her schedule around school when she has the kids, so they need to ride the bus, or go to the schools near the high school she works at. This puts me in a position of choosing a place that is convenient to the schools they are in, but not very convenient to where she is looking. It will make my mornings tougher, and make getting to work harder. I hope she changes her mind for at least a year. If she is more patient, she will find a place in the district we are in now.

We have not been separated for a year yet. The schedule is constantly changing. First we were using a 2/3/5/4 schedule. It meant we were changing houses only once during the week. She had the 5/2 part of the schedule. She complained that the kids didn’t feel like they saw her as much, so at the first of the year we swapped schedules. I got the 5/2 part of the schedule. The real reason that the kids felt this way, was because they hadn’t. I took the kids to most of their practices, even when they weren’t with me. There were a number of nights that I would be there while she did something else like the gym. I would do homework, fix dinner, and get them off to showers and bed. She would come home just in time to kiss them good night. This still happens some, but I am much more apt to ask her to bring them over to me, or go get them, and have them spend the night or evening with me. She hasn’t handled my oldest well. They explode at each other. I have posted about this before, and there is more to come. He has done some crazy things in his rages at her. Rages that just don’t happen with me. She has been threatening him with having to come live with me all the time. I finally pulled the trigger, and asked that she let me have him during the week. She would have any access to him she wanted, but he would spend the night with me. He would still have his weekends with her and his siblings, and he would be with me and the other kids when they were with me. It amounted to at most 2 days a week where he may not see his siblings. I thought this was needed to give them some space to develop a new kind of relationship. She was not sold, but went along with it for a week and a half. She then talked to a counselor about him and came over and pretty much took him. She wanted to have him when the other kids weren’t there, except the weekends. The weekends would stay the same. So now he spends 5 nights a week without his siblings. A new family dynamic is being created, and its not good. They still don’t get along any better. She just doesn’t explode in front of the other kids at him. This is sad for me. I really would rather be back on a schedule where he gets to be with his siblings all the time, especially if things aren’t going to change for him and her. I am sure that by the time school starts she will want another change. I am almost tempted to propose that we do one week on, and one week off. Friday through Thursday. We would still help each other with practices, but the consistency I can provide in week, I think would be good for all of them. It would feel less harried, and give me a better work schedule.

With the moving comes changing schools. My oldest has been in 4 different school systems and is only in sixth grade. The kid who hates change keeps getting changed. Even if she doesn’t move, she is trying to change his school to one that feeds into her high school, so she can keep a better eye on him. If she moves they all will be moved to another school, because she can’t get them or pick them up from school. They will have to go to a school where they can ride the bus for her place. I can’t keep them in the same schools. If they came to my schools, I would use the bus. I would also allow them to come to my place every afternoon and start homework until she gets off work. Something she won’t allow. She also won’t go for having to pick them up every afternoon. They have all just made some new great friends, and I am sad that she might uproot them again. Without a pattern of this changing all the time, I don’t believe that I can get them residential status with me to provide that stability. I am going to have to talk to a lawyer and see if filing for that type of custody would do some good.

Changing teams is the next thing she wants to change. She has tried ever season to move my kids from one team to another. She begins bad talking the coach, and making other people feel bad about them as well. I am not happy with this. My son is being made to feel bad about a coach who loves him. A coach who cares for him probably more than anyone outside the family. A coach who does a fine job, and mostly for free, even though he should be being paid. She is doing this for my daughter, who plays on a team with my niece. My niece fought hard to get on this team, and has been a great player on the team. They have fun together, and this is one of the rare times that they get to be together with the busy life our families have with four and three kids a piece. She has told me that it is my responsibility to get them together, and that it wouldn’t be her fault they see each other less. I haven’t told her, but I would not take her to games in favor of playing with cousins if that is the choice I am forced to make. I think I will win with my daughter, but not with my son. His coach is working with us while he is suspended from playing by us for grades and school work. Any random coach who just liked how he played would drop him from the team at the first opportunity, because he is not invested in him.

I hate the fact she constantly wants to change things for my kids. I hope she will settle down, but without me to settle her in her life as a husband, I doubt that she will. I fully expect she will become more chaotic. Divorce is such a huge change for the kids. I don’t think changing the rest of their life is smart, but I don’t have all the say. I hope that my kids get through this without any more damage than necessary. I will try hard to do this on my part.

Ten-Foured,

JeD