October 9

Economic Realities Of Divorce With Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten-Foured,

JeD

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