A Father’s Battle: Divorce, Custody, Child Support and More

If you’re divorced, going through a divorce, separating or facing the break up of your family,as a father and leader of your family, you need to act swiftly and wisely.The challenges you will face are greater and more difficult than almost any other challenge you are likely to face in your life.

While much of what happens is outside your control, there are a few key actions that will direct you on a path toward a successful outcome that is otherwise very unlikely.The primary action steps you need to follow are:

Accept the Reality of the Situation: 

First, this means that if your wife has decided to leave, you cannot bring her back.  Winning her back may be possible, but it’s an extreme long shot, and the risk is great that you will lose your children, your career, and your savings as you try.  In fact, you may dig your self in a deeper hole with her as whatever measure of respect she may have left for you may disappear as she observes you chasing after futility.More than likely – she just doesn’t care, and nothing is going to change her mind.

The other part of the reality you need to accept is how badly the deck is stacked against you as a man.  Men have primary custody of their children in only 10-15% of divorce situations.  In most of these, the woman has conceded custody or is guilty of a crime.  It will take every bit of commitment to your children, emotional energy and financial resources you can muster in order to come close to achieving a balance of time with your children, or manageable limits on child support.These are the points you need to keep in mind.

When She Fires Her First Shot:

The vast majority of divorces are filed by women.Though correlation does not prove cause and effect, there is a close correlation between filing for divorce and obtaining custody of children.

No, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s smart to race to the courthouse to be the one who files, but when your wife is showing signs of wanting out of a marriage, it’s wise to be prepared.You may want to save your marriage, and be willing to stay in as long as she is, but once she has filed, everything is changed for good.

Assess what is taking place: 

Some men make the mistake of not taking this all seriously, or at face value.  It is what it is.Read the divorce petition, it lays out what she can and will try to prove to make her case and get the results she is seeking.

Custody: First Things First

If children are involved, custody is the grand prize in the conflict.This may sound cynical or even disgusting to you, but it is very true.She is likely to fight in every way she can to gain custody and to minimize your role as a parent, so that she has both control over them, and the family’s future financial resources.

This may also be hard to believe, especially given that she probably held you up as a model father while you were together.But all this changes when she files for divorce.In winning the battle over custody, she will achieve two goals that are probably foremost in her thinking: she will feel validated as a mother, and she will receive child support.

While you make think the first of these goals is unnecessary and perhaps silly,don’t discount how much stock she may place in gaining this sense of validation.Psychologically it may drive every move she makes.

With respect to child support, it may be obvious that for most divorcing mothers, this is very important, but here again, it is crucial for you to understand how child support issues often generate extraordinary conflict on many different levels throughout the years following a divorce.  In fact, it is almost as if child support will force couples to continue waging battles that began long before they divorced.

The system is punitive toward men and needs to be changed.  But right now, you have to deal with the system that exists,so what do you do.

Child Support

Because the calculation of the amount of support you pay is highly elastic, i.e. variable, the work your attorney does in this area is extremely important to you. Men have come away from a divorce ordered to pay substantially more in support than their overall gross income, while others walk away from the courtroom owing only a small fraction of their income with ample resources to pay what is ordered.

Also, do not forget that the amount of time you have to spend with your children, and do in fact spend with them, will greatly affect the calculation of child support [in all but a few states]. Thus, the litigation over custody, and then over parenting time, are often blown out of proportion especially by women seeking to live off their ex-husband’s earnings.

After observing hundreds of cases in many different jurisdictions, it is my observation that  many women are motivated to file domestic violence allegations in order to use the court system to enable them to live off their ex-husband’s earnings.

Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

Criminal allegations of domestic violence are very serious and should be dealt with in the legal system with the seriousness they warrant.That is why they are conducted before a duly empaneled jury, with rights of cross examination of the accusers and other appropriate Constitutional protections in place.  Serious allegations should be met with serious and sober deliberation.

Unfortunately, the vast, vast majority of domestic violence claims are handled in a much different manner.   Family court is considered a court of equity, with no jury, not even when the claims presented to the court allege dramatically violent behavior.  Often they are conducted ex parte,with only the petitioning party present for the hearing, at least when the remedy that is being sought is a temporary restraining order.

Once that order is issued, even if Dad had no chance to argue his case, the custody battle is over.  Thanks to Joe Biden’s legislation known as the Violence Against Women Act, most jurisdictions now make it almost impossible for a father to gain custody of his minor children once a restraining order has been issued following a domestic violence complaint made by a woman.

Granted, few, if any, jurisdictions expressly forbid men from gaining custody, but nearly all consider “a history of domestic violence” as a factor in custody determinations, and that history is most often established by the restraining order stemming from her request – even if all of her allegations were later disproven.

This helps explain the extreme slope in the uneven playing field.

But as a father, a man, and the leader of your family, you should maintain your focus on the big picture nonetheless.  There are ways of faring well in this process and having a the right attorney to help you is a key to your success.

You need someone who truly understands the stakes, has a willingness to fight for the truth to be heard and a fair adjudication of the facts – even in the face of  persistent and constant put downs toward you and your case.  And be sure, these put downs will come your way.