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Stepfathers don’t get enough credit, and because I know at least two that are exceptional, I feel obligated to pay homage to them in this post.
Some stepfathers enter into a second marriage trying to recover old wounds from his own past, build a marriage with his new wife, and settle into his new family with his stepchildren and often times, children from his previous marriage. Although it is a difficult situation for them, it must be handled with care because their new role can affect many people and many situations. There are those who take this challenge seriously and use their new role to help heal fatherless children. Those individuals deserve praise for stepping in to help raise another man’s child/ren.
The first man that I must honor is my husband who has been in my son’s life since he was 4 years old (he’s now 11). He is “dad” to him in every way that counts, and for the first time since my own father, he has proven to me that being a father is much more than just playing with a child and disciplining him. You can often find my husband picking up and dropping off at school, attending parent-teacher conferences, coaching little league, knowing my son’s favorite foods, watching his favorite shows (even the ones he can’t stand), making him laugh and loving away his pain. He basically does everything a good mother would do. The amazing thing about these types of stepfathers, including my husband, is they are not bound by obligation. Instead, they are with these complicated families by choice. That, in and of itself, is powerful! They make a choice to love us and our child/ren.
The second man that I must recognize in this post is my stepson’s stepfather. Ok…did I confuse you?? Even through all the chaos and turmoil that our respective families face (mostly due to his wife, my husband’s ex-wife), I can not deny that he is a great father. Through numerous conversations with my stepson, it has been revealed to me how much he adores his stepfather. He’s told me about his favorite dish that his stepfather cooks for him. He often picks him up from school. He’s the excited dad in the stands at baseball games. He’s the father who is primarily raising him in his home. Although his wife (my husband’s ex) would like for him to believe that my husband is on some sort of ego trip because another man is raising his son, this couldn’t be further from the truth. My husband actually appreciates the fact that another man can be there, full-time (we live in separate states) because he can’t. I, too, have come to learn, through my stepson, how invaluable this man is to him. Additionally, I realize that it can’t be easy because his wife comes equipped with a lot of emotional baggage. This baggage keeps us bickering, in and out of court, on a regular basis. Yet, through it all, he remains completely devoted, by choice, to this child and his mother. That, alone, deserves a major pat on the back!
One definition of a stepfather is “the man who is married to someone’s mother, but isn’t their real father.” It makes it sound like these men are more like boys/girls club mentors than they are fathers. Whoever created this definition obviously isn’t or has never had a stepfather because these men are real fathers in every way that counts.
Paula Biscare, Founder of Remarriage, LLC said it best – A stepfather is the man stuck next to you on the freeway on a Friday evening, relentlessly trying to get home to catch his stepson’s umpteenth baseball game this week. He’s the shopper at Wal-Mart at 4 a.m. December 24 trying to snag the last copy of the hottest video game. He’s the neighbor teaching his stepson to hedge the bushes, or his stepdaughter how to parallel park.
Stepfathers listen compassionately to their teenage stepchildren at the dinner table and skip golf on Saturday morning so they can take them to their SATs. They provide endless guidance and leadership, all while silently providing a secure and safe environment for their families. They often take on financial responsibilities, from medical bills, to college and wedding bills, and they do so without complaint.
Some stepfathers are unsung heroes that deserve honor, support, recognition and praise. I will continue to recognize them in my own way, and I hope that all you second and ex-wives and stepchildren take the time to show the stepfather in your lives just how important he is to your family.
I’ve experienced many family law disputes over the past several years and if nothing else, I’ve learned two things about our wonderful legal system: the justice system isn’t that just at all and money talks. The legal system simply doesn’t work because the rules that exist within it are supposed to be fair. It works because of the attorneys that persuade the Judges to interpret the rules in a manner that proves the most benefit to their client. In addition to that, the attorneys work best for you when they are paid a lot of money. Simply put, the legal system was not created for the average person, with average money, to endure. Have you ever heard of the saying “you get what you pay for?” If you have little to no money, you get a wack attorney, and a wack attorney produces wack results. As a result, you are left with a legal problem that leaves you financially, emotionally and mentally drained, not to mention less than favorable results.
My husband’s case is one in which little to no money got him a less than favorable attorney and less than favorable results (that’s putting it nicely). His ex-wife is an attorney who often uses her connections with the legal system to continually strip him of his paternal rights. Before you assume that I am being paranoid, consider my initial statement about our legal system. It truly doesn’t matter what’s in the best interest of the child. It’s about who can make the best case, and more importantly, who has the most money to keep up the fight. And, if you don’t have enough money to hire an attorney at all, then you can just hang it up because the Judge is not trying to hear YOU.
At any rate, my husband has been trying, to no avail, to get increased visitation with his son for quite some time now. The first couple of times we went to court we had an attorney that must have graduated at the bottom of his class, and his representation was indicative of that. All we requested was visitation in June and July instead of June and August, due to a conflict in both his school and our work schedules. However, her attorney convinced the Judge that it was in the child’s best interest that he spend more time with his friends (and for some reason July was the only month he could do so) instead of spending that time with his father. We fought back and forth for quite some time, but lost the fight once we ran out of money (we had actually used it all on my case, but we’ll talk about a little later). The next family court dispute we encountered was when we wanted to take his son to our Mexico wedding. One would think that this would be an easy decision for the Judge. Of course his father would want him to be at his wedding, and the Judge would agree, right? Not! Once again, her high-powered attorney beat out our inexpensive attorney on the grounds that the child might get sick and there would be no hospitals nearby to take him to. I’m not kidding. Now this child doesn’t have leukemia, bone cancer, a rare heart disease or anything like that. He had a simple peanut allergy that my husband and I had been tending to for years at this point. Furthermore, it sickens me that my husband had been the child’s primary caregiver for years before I came along. As a matter of fact, they had agreed that he would have custody of him up until I stepped into the picture. As soon as that happened she all of a sudden wanted to be mother of the year, claiming that if she gave my husband custody, then she wouldn’t have as much access to him. They also had agreed, prior to my arrival, that she would pay child support because my husband took out and was paying on the loan for her law school education, and he was also the one who was taking care of the child! Why didn’t the Judge take any of this into consideration? It seems as if most Judges have tunnel vision. They expect most fathers to be like my ex (we’ll get to that later) so they treat all these cases the same. All fathers don’t work hard to avoid paying child support. Some actually care about their children and want what’s best for them. I’m not even saying that the Judge should’ve granted my husband custody on this basis, but he didn’t have to treat him like he was a deadbeat dad. But, once again justice prevails for those who have the most money and power to withstand the fight.
My case, on the other hand, turned out a bit different. My ex is one of those people whose main objective is to avoid child support and responsibility for that matter. To this day, he tries to falsify his income so that he doesn’t have to pay a fair amount for child support, but he’ll get his. Hasn’t he learned by now that you can’t pull one over on me??? Better yet, why would you even try after the last battle that you lost in court?
At any rate, initially my ex caught me off guard by serving me with a notice to appear at an emergency hearing regarding visitation with our son. He alleged that I wouldn’t let him see our son, which was partially true. My ex would pop into town after being gone for 10 months out of the year (he’s an overseas basketball player), on a moment’s notice, wanting visitation with our son. If he was in summer camp, he wanted to remove him because he thinks the sun rises and sets on his ass. Not to mention, he had lied to the court so he wouldn’t have to pay a fair amount for child support, and my son didn’t know him well enough to even WANT extended visitation with him (this alone should prove that my ex was never around prior to this little stunt he pulled). Now, his request for visitation would not have been a problem if he was a consistent parental figure in our son’s life, but he wasn’t.
I didn’t have time to get an attorney. He had me served literally 40 minutes prior to the hearing – you got off. But, like I’ve always told him, “don’t start a fight with me that you aren’t prepared to finish.” He should’ve thought twice before faking his little temper tantrum to look like he was a concerned father just to impress his little girlfriend. I found the best attorney that my $2,000 retainer fee would buy, and I was prepared to finish the fight he had started. At this point, my ex was paying child support every now and then, and he only saw our son for about a week of nonconsecutive days in the summer. By the way, he saw our son as much as he wanted to. Something else was and still is always more important than him. If I was away from my son for 10 months out of every year, I would at least dedicate those 8 weeks to him. Knowing that because I had not been there HE might not want to see me, but it wouldn’t keep me from trying to see him. I realize that he has a family (his wife and other son), but ya’ll can’t sacrifice for 8 weeks so that you can spend some time getting to know your son. Not to mention that he refused to adhere to a set schedule, claiming that he could not do so because his professional overseas basketball work schedule wouldn’t allow him to. At any rate, by the time the nearly year long battle was over he was nearly in tears due to the child support payment that the Judge enforced. She made his payments retroactive from the time he started lying about his income so he wouldn’t have to pay more money (which was nearly 4 years prior). And, visitation would be at my discretion unless he provided me with 60 days advanced notice prior to entering into the country. After it was all said and done, I ended up with a legal bill of over $10,000. However, it was worth it because money got me an attorney that produced the results that were in my child’s best interest.
Are you starting to see how this works? In the first case we had no money and our wack attorney produced wack results. In the second example, we were able to pay for an experienced attorney who produced great results. Either case was never really about the child. It was about which attorney could present the best case, and more importantly, how much money you had to keep that attorney engaged in the back and forth arguing that is often necessary to persuade the Judge.
As a result, it’s a shame that serious decisions regarding children are generalized in this way. After all, the Judge and attorneys claim that these family court laws and regulations are designed to protect the interest of the child. For some reason it’s hard for me to believe that.
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for SOME!
I just got off of the phone with my husband, and he seemed really sad. As a matter of fact, he has seemed pretty sad for the last week or so. I wish there was something that I could do as I feel partly responsible for his sadness. My mere presence is causing and has caused his crazy ex-wife to act a fool over the past 7 years, and as in most baby mama cases, one of her first reactions is “you can’t see your child.”
We haven’t seen K since early January. Although I can not disclose specific details about what happened, I will try to give you some idea. You see, K did something that was very wrong ! Even though I don’t want this action to ever happen again, I was more concerned than upset. So, I suggested that my husband call his ex-wife to inform her about it. Especially since he spends most of his time with her (we only see him about once per month). I wanted her to watch out for certain types of behavior. My husband told me that he didn’t think it was a good idea. I told him that she is still his mother, and that there are certain things that she should be informed about no matter what she’s done in the past. I truly thought it was in K’s best interest to clue her in. What in the hell was I thinking? I expected her to react as any concerned parent would, but instead guess where we ended up – that’s right, court. She took my husband to court stating that I had devised this master plan to label K as a bad kid and get him out of our house. She went on to say that she felt like our environment was perilous to K.
Now, let me explain why this too is sooooo ridiculous! Number one, I am just now recovering after being sick for an entire year. My last house had mold in it, and it wreaked havoc on my system. I passed out about 12 times in an hour, lost a bunch of weight and even lost my memory at one point. At one point I didn’t even remember who K was! I was still very sick in January. So as you can imagine, the last thing I was thinking about is a master plan to label K as a bad kid to get him out of the house. Number two, I am the one who takes good care of K while he’s in our care. We actually have a really good relationship when he’s here. As a matter of fact, she has conceded to the fact that I was trying to replace her due to our good relationship. This is why she decided that she wanted to see him more, thereby, lessening the number of visits with my husband. So how can I be trying to replace her as a mother, but be trying to get rid of him simultaneously???
At any rate, at the end of the day my husband hasn’t seen his son in 5 months, and he is extremely uspet about it. Every time she gets upset this is the card that she deals. The question is – what can I do to make the man that I love with all of my heart happy? I have truly struggled with this. If I leave, then she will be happy, and my husband will be able to see his son as much as he wants. If I just give in to her ridiculous antics, then not only will I be unhappy, but it’s also not in the best interest of my son. My heart is telling me to continue to focus on my marriage and my family because I’m going to be the bad guy (in her eyes) no matter what I do. I keep telling myself that we have made it this far, we’re happy with each other, we truly love each other, we have a solid marriage, and it will get better. But, it’s been 7 years – do I really believe that???