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Political Issues This forum is for discussing the political aspects of divorce: reform to divorce laws, men's rights, women's rights, injustices in the divorce system, etc.

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Old 06-20-2006, 04:48 PM
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Default Keeping Divorced Dads at a Distance

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/op...in&oref=slogin

Keeping Divorced Dads at a Distance

By STEPHEN PERRINE
Published: June 18, 2006
EVERY other weekend for the past four and a half years, I've spent three
precious days with my two adolescent daughters. We play tennis in summer,
ski in winter, travel when the school schedule allows. But no matter where
we are, we're all keenly aware of the thin membrane of secrecy that keeps us
from being as close as we were before their mom and I divorced.


Like most divorced fathers, I'm caught in exactly the kind of nightmarish
situation that experts on stress say to avoid - a great deal of
responsibility, but very little power. I'm the major source of support for
my children; my financial obligations are set by the state, and my wages
automatically garnished. (If I lost my job tomorrow, and couldn't keep up
with my payments, a warrant for my arrest would be issued within two
months.) But my influence over how my daughters are being raised is limited,
sometimes by decisions their mother makes that I have no input into, and
sometimes by their allegiance to her when she and I are at odds.


In fact, there are times when these two girls, whom I've loved for a decade
and a half, seem like little strangers to me. They'll forget to tell me some
detail of their lives - or downright lie if they have to - so I won't feel
sad that I've missed something they shared with their mom, or raise issue
over some decision she's made with which I might not agree. As a result, I
sometimes come away from visits or phone calls feeling shaken, saddened and
angry.


My ex and I have been to court over support issues, and we've been to court
over custody issues, and the legal battles inevitably trap our children in
the middle and force them to choose sides. Sadly, this is exactly what not
to do if you want to foster a loving parent-child bond. In a study by a
child psychologist, Robert E. Emery, divorcing parents were assigned - by
flip of the coin - either to mediate or litigate their custody disputes.
Twelve years later, he found, that in families that went through mediation,
the noncustodial parent was several times more likely to have weekly phone
contact with his or her children.


Unfortunately, the system that our government has set up essentially forces
divorced parents into litigation. We need to bring children and their
divorced parents, especially fathers, closer together by revisiting our
reckless support and custody laws, and the haphazard approach we have toward
enforcing them.


Since 1998, the federal government has provided matching funds based on a
percentage of money the states collect in child support - a powerful
financial incentive for states to mandate and maximize support payments. As
a result, parents are discouraged from negotiating a settlement: only 17
percent of current support agreements deviate from state-imposed guidelines,
even though studies show that when couples set their own support figure,
it's more likely to be paid (and tends to be higher than the state's
figure).


And the court's involvement doesn't stop there. If Dad gets a raise, Mom
takes him back to court to get more money; when Dad suffers a financial
setback, he sues Mom to get his support decreased. Each time, the acrimony -
and the legal fees - grow.


But while courts will jail men who can't meet their support payments,
mothers who interfere with a father's custodial rights rarely face similar
penalties. Often, the only recourse for a dad who wants to see his children
more often is to sue, and sue and sue again.


Some fatherhood advocates argue that when mothers fail to carry through on a
custody ruling, they should face fines and imprisonment, just like fathers
do. That's started to happen: last fall, an Arkansas court sentenced a woman
named Jennifer Linder to six months in prison for "willfully and wantonly"
refusing to obey visiting orders and awarded custody to her former husband.
But sending more mothers to prison can only result in more anger, and more
confusion and alienation for the children in question. What is needed is
less court involvement, not more.


The first step toward fostering a father and child reunion is to make
private mediation of the parenting provisions (physical custody, legal
custody and visiting) the standard procedure. Allowing parents the chance to
negotiate their support - and possibly give fathers more of a say in how
their support is spent - will decrease the vitriol, and let fathers feel
more like parents, not just paychecks.


Second, we need to enact and enforce sensible penalties for interfering with
visits. Jailing a mother is no way to solve the dispute; neither are
financial penalties that hurt her ability to care for the child. But
mediation - perhaps compelled by the threat of financial penalty - might be
the solution. It's estimated that one in five children of divorce has not
seen his or her father in the past year. Without substantial rethinking of
our current support and custody law, children will continue to be alienated
from their fathers, and lawyers will remain on hand to soak up the resulting
legal fees.


Just this month, I received a summons to attend a custody conference at the
Allentown, Pa., courthouse, and another letter informing me that an
accounting error has left me short on support payments, and that my passport
may be suspended. I want to shield my daughters from these harsh truths. So
these are the secrets I'll be trying to keep from them as we gather together
for Father's Day.


What secrets will they be keeping from me?


Stephen Perrine, the editor in chief of Best Life magazine, is the author of
the forthcoming "Desperate Husbands."
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Old 06-20-2006, 08:08 PM
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Decent Dad,

good article.

lv
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Old 06-29-2006, 03:56 AM
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Hmm..

It never ceases to amaze me that parents who "parent" for 4-6 days per month think THEY are the ones who are 'short-changed'. Perhaps this parent's writing skills would've been put to better use had they detailed the way the child/children feel, huh?
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:34 AM
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I don't get the impression this author "chose" to only have 4 - 6 days/month. And I think he addressed how difficult this is for his girls.

While I don't know what the solution is, I think he makes some valid points.
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:38 AM
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For any non-custodial parent, actually any parent for that matter, it's hard to come to terms with the following questions that few people ever ask themselves:

Imagine what it would be like to lose your children? Now imagine trying to get on with your life?

Sasha, it is parenting - even if it's for 48 hours every second weekend. When a person has been living with their kids all their kids lives, it's pretty hard to come to terms with a reduction in parenting time.

Rather than discuss how a parent's writing skills might be better put to use or detailing the way in which the children feel maybe it would be better to figure out how to promote cooperation between the parents.

Because the parents are often polarized, either parent is going to ignore the assertions of the other parent, particularly if either parent is articulating something about the kids.

We live in a society that "talks the talk" about the best interests of kids, but talk is cheap and the reality is that everyone thinks they are right and the other person is wrong.
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Old 06-29-2006, 11:33 AM
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I don't think people like talking publicly about their children (exploiting them, privacy issues, etc.) nor would they want to subject their children to interviews, etc. Sometimes we do it here (for whatever reason) and I assume most people would rather not do it.

Some times to you get pounced on for explaining how your children feel "My daughter misses me and tells me so". So you get gun-shy about saying things like that for fear of the double-burn (burned once for the issue and then burned again for telling it).

I know that grown children of divorce freely talk about their missed opportunities, the hatred to the custodial parent, and so on. Perhaps we need more interviews like that.
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Old 06-30-2006, 11:29 PM
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Sean said:

"Sasha, it is parenting - even if it's for 48 hours every second weekend. When a person has been living with their kids all their kids lives, it's pretty hard to come to terms with a reduction in parenting time. "

Ok, I admit my commentary was likely based on my personal situation moreso than an 'in general' approach; I do know there are many NCP's who really have got a lot of love for their kids and miss them. I just resent like hell those NCP's who've never really been around and yet seem to think they "deserve" the same rights as really dedicated NCP's. And when all NCP's are lumped together in articles, as though they all are equal... I really cannot stomach that crap. MANY NCP's deserve ALL the opportunities they seek; but there are SO many that don't, and it's not right that those losers receive the benefit of the same consideration as the parents who actually give a damn. Am I bitter? Yep; sue me. Real parents deserve real treatment; the rest? To hell with them, IMO.

Sean wrote:

"Rather than discuss how a parent's writing skills might be better put to use or detailing the way in which the children feel maybe it would be better to figure out how to promote cooperation between the parents."

As to this comment, though; although I'm all for cooperation between the parents, a good parent NEVER leaves out how a child feels, period.
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Old 07-01-2006, 12:59 AM
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My two cents;



I like this Judge particular views in paragraph 60 of this judgment

http://www.canlii.org/on/cas/onsc/20...onsc10823.html

St. Catharines Registry No. 730/04

DATE: 2006·IV·18

CITATION: J.B. v. A.B.

SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE

FAMILY COURT


before Quinn J.

"5: DISCUSSION

5.1: Custody

[60] A non-custodial parent is frequently perceived in the community as undeserving or unqualified to have custody of his or her child; and this perception is not always accurate. The result is that, sadly, a great many non-custodial parents are unfairly seen as second-class parents. It is not in the best interests of a child to have one of his or her parents viewed in this fashion.[22] The interests of a child are better served by having two parents participate in making the important decisions in his or her life. Therefore, I begin with the rebuttable presumption that an order for joint custody is best for a child and then I look for evidence to the contrary.[23] This means that the initial burden of proof falls on the party opposing a joint custody order to rebut the presumption. It may take very little evidence to do so (sometimes a single troubling incident will suffice). Once the presumption is rebutted, the burden shifts to the parent seeking joint custody to prove that such an order is in the best interests of the child.

lv
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:13 PM
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sasha1 wrote:

Quote:
Ok, I admit my commentary was likely based on my personal situation moreso than an 'in general' approach; I do know there are many NCP's who really have got a lot of love for their kids and miss them. I just resent like hell those NCP's who've never really been around and yet seem to think they "deserve" the same rights as really dedicated NCP's. And when all NCP's are lumped together in articles, as though they all are equal... I really cannot stomach that crap. MANY NCP's deserve ALL the opportunities they seek; but there are SO many that don't, and it's not right that those losers receive the benefit of the same consideration as the parents who actually give a damn. Am I bitter? Yep; sue me. Real parents deserve real treatment; the rest? To hell with them, IMO.
We are all shaped by our experiences in divorce. The mainstream media tend to lump everyone together categorically - so when they talk about NCP's then often NCP's are portrayed as a victim. Similarly, when they talk about CP's they often portray that group as victimized as well. Again, what's missing is a dialogue that truly looks at divorce through a child's eyes and I think that as a culture, we simply aren't prepared to take this kind of purist approach to addressing the best interests of children - in my view, this is the ultimate hypocrisy of divorcing parents, the family law system, the judiciary, law makers and the news media.

We talk until the cows come home about "bad mom" and "bad dad" but we rarely talk about what "bad mom and bad dad" can do to get their heads out of their butts and start working together to promote healing for their kids.

We have to do to divorce and child custody disputes what we as a culture have done to cigarette smoking and drunk driving - make it socially unacceptable behavior to engage in a wholesale war over children of divorce.

My experience is that most parents aren't prepared to do this and that's the real tragedy for kids.
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