Divorce Survival Guide for Dads
When the Custody Battle Begins
One morning you woke up and the world you used to know turned upside down. What happened? Well, if the papers in front of you are right, your wife of 10, 15 or even 20 years decided she was done - as in done with your marriage.
The family dinner you came to expect when you returned home from work every night is suddenly gone. In it's place is an empty house, or an invitation to leave the house you have long occupied with her and your children.
How could this be? You are a dedicated family man, hard worker, good provider, etc. What could she have been missing? You will never know. Forget figuring it out, it's not yours to know. It happened, and nothing you can do will reverse it.
That is the first thing you need to understand. Yes, there is a grieving process. And yes, it does take time to get to acceptance. But right now, you do not have the luxury of time. If you fight against the reality of what has just occurred, it may cost you your finances, your career and your relationship with your children.
Many times when a woman decides to leave the man who has provided for her, she is focused on two virtually exclusive goals - maintaining as much of the financial support as she has enjoyed throughout those years together, and destroying any remnant of the idea of her husband as the person she mistakenly perceived as a knight in shining armor, rather than an ordinary guy.
While the former is understandable and to some it is obvious, the latter needs to be understood because it is likely to drive her actions at nearly every turn for many years to come. In working to destroy her image of that man, she will in turn do very much to destroy his capacity to be the kind of provider he had been for her for so many years before she decided to leave. He will no longer be able to be that kind of provider under any circumstances. Nonetheless, the actual circumstances will be that she will ask him to essentially do for two households everything he had done for one when the couple remained in tact.
It's highly irrational, but it is the course that is regularly taken by females when they choose divorce, especially if they have been stay at home moms during the marriage. It is a reflection of where their emotions lead them, but it is also a reflection of where attorneys often lead them.
Trial lawyers, criminal lawyers, and business attorneys all get criticized for their meanness, greed, and desire to win at any cost. But there is no other field of law that fuels these tendencies in attorneys more than divorce law. Even more, however, it is the attorneys that represent women who are mothers, especially of young children, who go the farthest in taking their clients' demands for vindication and money, and use them to viciously attack the opposing party, no matter how ill equipped that opponent may be to defend himself or retain adequate representation to the contrary.
So to be very clear, the Summons and Complaint you are seeing today, is very much like a tornado warning or even an air raid siren. Havoc is being wreaked on your life, and you need shelter and protection for whatever you can save.
The Reality for Fathers in Family Courts
The reality is that men with young children, i.e. pre-adolescent, rarely get custody of their children. In fact, children are nearly six times as likely to live with their mother in a single parent household than with their father. Worse still, almost two out of every five non-custodial fathers have no access or visitation rights with their own children. The vast majority of these fathers are paying court ordered child support to their ex-wives, though they have little or no say in their children's upbringing, and the relationships they have with their children are dramatically impaired and damaged.
This isn't just reality, it is a very harsh and unyielding reality. It is harsh because of the toll it takes both on the father and the children, and it is unyielding because attorneys, psychologists, judges, even your own friends and family will expect that the outcome is a foregone conclusion you can do nothing about.
But that last assumption is where reality runs off the tracks and couples with an array of mythological cultural stereotypes that should not apply. And they DO NOT HAVE TO APPLY! But unless he prepares very wisely and with great fortitude and conviction, the stereotypes will run over any father like he is nothing more than road kill on the cultural path to raising children under their mother's care and direction - and with father's full financial support.
Getting the Help You Need
Go to the Child Custody and Support Law Blog. Visit the website of Thompson Legal Services. Contact a Father's Rights Attorney. You need to act with great care and be rational. But part of doing this is to act promptly, without delay. In the early stages of your case, things will happen quickly, and they are likely to work against you