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A relationship between a father and child is just as important as a relationship between mother and child after the divorce. It’s no secret that relationships with fathers and children seemingly deteriorate post-divorce. After speaking with many fathers and witnessing my own husband’s anguish as a result of seeing his relationship diminish between him and his son; I now know that there are definitely two sides to every story, and every divorced dad is not irresponsible or disinterested. There are many obstacles that a father can and often does face when trying to maintain a positive relationship with his child. The constant conflict about child support, an ex-wife’s anger and/or parental alienation, maternal bias in court and much more, sometimes makes it impossible for fathers to maintain healthy relationships with their children. Through it all, once again, the individuals who suffer the most are the children. As such, they have something to say about their relationships with their fathers.

The results were taken from that same study in the last ‘what children want you to know’ article (read it to gain clarity). When both adult and minor children, of all ages, were asked about their relationships with their fathers, they had the following to say.

Remarriage

Some felt as if their relationships with their fathers had deteriorated since the divorce and were unequivocally upset about it. Blame came in all variations; from the divorce itself, to a remarriage, to the father, to a stepmother to new stepsiblings.  Often times children feel as if they are being replaced when their father remarries. Therefore, it is essential that fathers are allowed to continue to foster their relationship with their children post-divorce. It is equally imperative that fathers continue to put forth the effort to do so.  When a divorced dad remarries, jealously is to be expected. If it’s expected, then it won’t catch you off guard and you can deal with it before it gets out of hand. It is essential that you make your bio-children feel like they are apart of the family, as well as make them feel as if they are still important and special to you. If your bio-children don’t live with you, be sure to maintain regular contact with them. Call them regularly, send a little gift (it doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be a card) to remind me that you’re still there for them and that you love them. Sometimes, bio-children need some alone time as well. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to achieve this when there are step-children involved. A father must consider how sensitive the situation is for ALL of the children involved. However, an easy solution is to spend time alone with your bio-children when your step-children are visiting their bio-parent or extended family. At one point in my own blended family, my husband, sons and I sat down and scheduled date nights that consisted of alone time with both of our children and each other. Our children were happy to be apart of the arrangement, knew what to expect and therefore, didn’t feel the least bit slighted when each got their alone time. Children often times just want to be included (when possible) in on the decision making process that undoubtedly affects them in some way.

Another group actually blamed their fathers for the deteroriation in their relationship after the divorce. This group of older children reported that financial and lifestyle changes often dictated their decision to erase their fathers from their lives. Most went from houses to apartments, had to help take care of siblings because their moms had to work extra jobs to make ends meet and often witnessed their mothers’ anguish about finances. All while their remarried dad was living it up with the new family. They couldn’t understand why step-mom got to sport designer bags and clothing, live in elaborate homes and drive the finest cars, but they (his children) had to worry about money to sign up for cheerleading, basketball or other extra curricular activities. Or why their mom couldn’t afford shoes or clothing. HIS wife and their children weren’t suffering, so why should they have to? It just didn’t make sense to them, and as a result, they just wrote their fathers off altogether.

Fathers pay your child support! Just as much as your children deserve relationships with both parents, they also deserve to be financially supported by both parents as well. It is okay if you choose to get remarried, have more children and/or even father someone else’s, but don’t forget about those that you left behind. As a matter of fact, they should never be left behind; they are your children! Your children should always feel as if they can count on you, in every sense of the word.

Some of the group blamed their mothers for the change in their relationships with their fathers; claiming that their mothers’ words and fathers’ actions never seemed to add up. Their mothers would tell them or imply that their fathers’ didn’t care about them anymore, but their fathers were calling them every night (if they weren’t allowed to see them, for whatever reason), telling them how much he loved and missed them. When this group of children were allowed, usually via court intervention, to have relationships with their fathers, they quickly realized that the person that their mothers’ described was not that person at all. Most of this group was able to reconnect with their fathers when their mothers’ interaction was no longer necessary.

Some of the group members’ relationships got better after the divorce. This is the portion of the group that was allowed to maintain regular, equal contact with their fathers; spending two days a week and every other weekend with dad. I must also note that the parents of this group cooperated to co-parent their children effectively.  Even when mom, dad or both remarried, the childrens’ relationships with either parent seemed to go unscathed. These children often viewed their step-parents and step or half siblings as an added bonus rather than a threat.

Limited Contact Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Losing the Relationship

There were some children who could not see their fathers as regularly as they wanted to. Often times this was due to distance; either mom or dad moving away due to a job or remarriage. However, a portion of these children didn’t feel any less connected to their fathers as a result. These children were apart of their dad’s life, had unlimited access to their fathers and felt completely loved by their fathers. Their fathers made it perfectly clear that they were interested in their lives and wanted their children to be apart of their lives. They called them consistently and inquired about school grades and activities. This group managed to have close relationships with their dads despite the distance.  As a result, it isn’t always true that fathers who have limited contact with their children will totally lose their relationships.

In conclusion, maintaining a relationship with dad post-divorce calls for cooperation on both mom and dad’s part. Mothers should never prevent their children from having a relationship with their father due to their own issues. In the longrun, it only creates more issues for the children. Mothers are in a position to either help facilitate contact or make it very very difficult. It’s unfortunate that most choose the latter because these children all agreed that consistent contact is beneficial in maintaining that emotional bond that they long for with their fathers. And fathers should never give up on maintaining relationships with their children because it gets a little difficult. Although you may have to modify your relationship with your children; it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to develop meaningful relationships with them just because they don’t reside with you full-time, or as much as you’d like.  Make good use of email, cell phones, online photos and even webcams to communicate consistently with your children. Your relationships with them and your children will be better as a result.

I have heard many complaints, over the years, from divorced dads regarding unfair child support payments! It is something that my husband and I have struggled with, too.  It is an issue that can be the death of the blended family.  Sometimes divorced parents will continually make this issue about them, and it’s easy to do so because your finances is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But, it’s not about what your ex doesn’t need; it’s about what your child needs. If parents always consider the best interest of their child, then there shouldn’t be a problem. So, divorced dads don’t be stingy with your money by not paying child support or paying less than what your child deserves. You are not hurting your ex; you are hurting your child. And, divorced moms, don’t try to empty your ex’s bank account. Remember, that your child still has to have visitation with his father, and he has to have a house and money to take care of his child during visitation. You are not hurting your ex; you are only hurting your child. With that said, read the following comments from one of my readers and my response to her.

sad step mom Says:
August 25, 2008 at 5:51 pm e

I agree that both parents should support the child. I don’t agree that only the non-custodial parent should be doing so. What do you do when a custodial parent lies about daycare, education expenses, dance classes and so on just to get more money because she is financially irresponsible. The court doesn’t even require proof of such things. But we don’t get to even know the name of the dance studio or the daycare. She even tried to get her ex mother in law to tell the court that she paid her weekly for daycare. Thankfully the Ex MIL said she would not lie in court. We pay a huge amount of money and have no say in the childs life. We are lucky to see the child 6 days a month. She has had numerouse contempt charges based on all of this but we still can’t get joint custody.

 My Response

Thanks so much for your comments! They are always greatly appreciated.

Let me start by addressing what I perceive to be issue number 1: most of the financial burden falling on the non-custodial parent. I whole-heartedly agree that the child DESERVES to be financially, emotionally, and physically supported by both parents. But, that does not necessarily mean that the support will be totally equal. In regards to child support, it is set up so that the child continues the same lifestyle that he would have lived if his parents stayed together. Just because you get a divorce or split from the mother or father of your child doesn’t mean that you are any less responsible for caring for that child. As such, if the non-custodial parent can afford to pay more (without breaking his bank, of course), then he will likely do so. The child support system, in most states, considers both of custodial and non-custodial parent’s income when setting up child support. I know it can sometimes feel unfair, especially when the non-custodial parent isn’t allowed to be as involved as he would like to be (trust me, I know firsthand). But, don’t misplace your anger; sometimes excess emotional baggage can cause us to do this. Meaning, if we are really really mad at the ex-wife/baby’s mama (justified or not), then any and everything she does or we have to do as a result, is wrong. Is your husband really the only one financially supporting the child?? Unless he is paying for her mortgage or rent (shelter for his child), her car payment (transportation to get his child back and forth), food expenses (his child has to eat), health insurance (health care for his child) etc., then he is definitely not the ONLY one supporting the child. I’m certain that it takes a whole lot more than what your husband is paying in child support expenses to raise a child. I don’t doubt that his monthly child support payments help out a great deal, but that’s what he’s supposed to do; whether he sees the child or not. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. You can’t punish (withhold child support) the child because of something that his or her mom is doing.

In regards to issue number two- your husband not being able to see his child. I completely understand where you are coming from. It’s a hard pill to swallow to know that you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but you aren’t allowed to be actively involved in your child’s life. It’s unfortunate, but this part of the system is not set up to produce favorable results for the father, who is often times the non-custodial parent. As I explained in one of my posts, Judges seemingly have tunnel vision when it comes to these family law issues. They assume that all dads are deadbeat dads and the moms are helpless hard workers who only want what’s best for the child. When the truth of the matter is that many dads just get tired (or run out of money) of fighting. It’s extremely taxing on the dad and the child. Not to mention, that there are many moms who could care less about the best interest of their child; they are more interested in just sticking it to the ex. I’ve worked and am still diligently working hard to change this. They have to start viewing these cases on an individual, instead of a generalized basis!

With that said, your husband certainly has a right to be informed and involved in his child’s life. I would suggest getting a good attorney to set up a visitation schedule that is in the best interest of the child.

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.

 

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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???

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