Encouraging Divorced Fathers to Remain Active Parents

I came across an excellent article today in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Solangel Maldonado, “Beyond Economic Fatherhood: Encouraging Divorced Fathers to Parent, 153 U. Pa. L. Rev. 921 (2005). The article isn’t posted yet on the law review’s web site, but I found a copy of it on Seton Hall’s site.

Maldonado, an Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall, argues that the law has influenced social norms, most specifically in this context by its treatment of no-fault divorce and child support. She cites with approval arguments that the increased enforcement of child support (from a fairly casual enforcement level in the mid-20th century to decisive and active enforcement today), leaves fathers with the impression their primary contribution to parenting is economic. Every divorce lawyer (and nearly everyone else) has repeatedly heard from divorced fathers the lament that “I’m just a meal ticket.”

In many communities, so long as a divorced father pays child support – even if he does nothing else for his children – he is perceived as a decent, maybe even a good, father. Even if he has little contact with his children, so long as he supports them financially he will not elicit the moral opprobrium of most of his neighbors, coworkers, or relatives. We have only to look at the labels used to describe fathers who do not financially support their children (“deadbeats,” “deadbeat dads”) and the law’s and media’s obsession with such fathers and contrast it with the lack of attention given to fathers I refer to as “emotional deadbeats” to conclude that society condemns economic deadbeat dads but apparently cares little about emotional deadbeats.

. . . In most states, so long as nonresidential fathers pay child support, they have satisfied their legal obligations to their children. The law does not require that nonresidential fathers see their children, provide them with moral or educational guidance, or meet their friends and teachers. It merely requires that they support their children financially; it does not require that they parent them. By failing to demand that nonresidential divorced fathers take a more active role in their children’s lives, and by imposing few consequences when they abandon their children, the state enables disengaged parenthood and sends fathers the message that their presence is not important.

Id. at 940-41 (footnotes omitted).

Maldonado cites disturbing statistics about the involvement of fathers with their children after divorce:

  • About 80 percent of children live with their mothers after divorce.
  • About 60 percent of children have little or no contact with their fathers after divorce.
  • 23 percent of children of divorce have had no contact with their fathers during the past five years.
  • Most time fathers spend with their children is focused not on moral or personal development but on entertainment.
  • She cites research indicating the advantages for children who grow up with active involvement by both parents (if they’re not in conflict). The power of the article, however, lies in its analysis of why divorced fathers tend to be so disengaged and what society can do to change fathers’ behavior. Moving beyond the usual concern about courts’ preference for mothers over fathers, she points out that divorce lawyers may perpetuate bias by conveying to their clients the impression that custody is Mom’s to lose. (I regularly do this myself). The article also points out that the whole concept of “visitation” gives fathers the impression they’re not important to their children.

    Although legally responsible for supporting their children, unless they share legal and physical custody, fathers may depend on the residential mother for information about their children’s health, performance in school, athletic activities, friends, etc. For many fathers, the superficial nature of the visiting relationship leads to increased frustration as they realize, in the words of one nonresidential father, that “a father who is a visitor is not a father at all,” and may eventually lead to termination of all contact.

    Id. at 977 (footnotes omitted).
    She also traces fathers’ disengagement to the emotional pain they experience and their conflict with the child’s mother.

    Maldonado argues that society can and should change family law to encourage (require?) divorced fathers to participate more actively in their children’s lives. She suggests these changes:

  • Establish a norm and expectation of joint legal custody and stop allowing mothers veto power over joint custody. That is, presume that joint custody is appropriate unless the court receives evidence that it would be detrimental to the child.
  • Require parents wishing to avoid parenting responsibilities to submit to a “Refusal of Parental Responsibilities” hearing at which he or she would state on the record the reasons for rejecting the children.
  • Encourage courts to hold in contempt residential parents who interfere with visitation by the other parent and to be willing to suspend their driver’s licenses and professional licenses.
  • Characterize parenting time with the nonresidential parent not just as a right but as a legally enforceable duty. Rather than nagging nonresidential parents to spend time with their children, the court could simply impose on uninvolved parents a requirement of community service in lieu of parenting time as it does now for minor criminal offenses.
  • Establish a cultural norm of nurturing fatherhood similar to the cultural norm that already exists about economic support.
  • I found Maldonado’s article at once challenging, grating, and enjoyable. It’s a good illustration of why law reviews exist and why we lawyers should pay more attention to them.

    28 thoughts on “Encouraging Divorced Fathers to Remain Active Parents”

    1. My ex-has not called our daughter (32 and handicapped) in 8 years. He has seen her twice only because my other child picked her up and took her to see him at a resturant for fathers day. I will never understand why fathers don’t want anything to do with their children after the divorce – even with a wife that doesn’t want him to see the kids, a father shoud speak up. Yes, he hates that he pays me child support and alimony. – He wanted the divorce and the other woman. He has exactly what he wants plus children that hurt.

    2. After many attempts at resolving my internal conflict regarding my ex-husband’s emotional abandonment and the fact that he does maintain a bit of honor due to his “voluntarily reduced salary” support payments, I found, thank God, your literature. Thank you for publishing something that I think was almost meant for me!
      My beautiful daughter is only three, and her father has not seen her in six months, has had her over night only twice and has always gone more than four months between visits. He says that when he sees me, he becomes useless and can not work….thus, rendering him useless for supporting our child. I even arranged for him to visit her or pick her up at a neutral ground…but he declined. It is tearing my sweet child apart, and I am not able to do a thing. I don’t date, work two jobs and devote every waking moment to and for the betterment of our lives. His support is almost funny and he has a helicopter, several girlfriends, cars, camps, boats…you name it.
      I have to say, though; I am the lucky one. My daughter is absolutely the joy of my life and she is surrounded by my family (parents, brothers, sisters etc.)
      Thank you again for your words.
      Please keep me posted on your progress and let me know if I can do anything to impress this point.

    3. What I don’t understand is how there is not a law that protects children against father such as these. You are either an active father in your childs life or just don’t be their father at all. I have a friend who divorced when the kids were 4 and 5. The father dissaperaed with another woman, seven years later he comes back to try and see them, she refuses because the kids are now older and she knew of his inability to commit. He takes her to court, guardian ad litem is involved, the kids are sentto see doctors to help them re connect with their enstranged father. After they meet and are starting to know eacdh other, two months later the dad finds himself a new adventure and leaves everything. No longer seeing his children, at this point those kids are more traumatized than when they didnt know their dad. He abandoned them when they were young, came back into their lives now that they have a better understanding only to walk out on them again. How can there not be a law to protect children from these type of behavior? Someone please answer this for me.

      Best to all

    4. Sir, I would love to hear more information regarding the opposite: women who take advantage of the fact that their ex-husband makes more money and so decides not to work. I am the fiance of such a man. He is a good father, sees his kid almost three months consecutively in the summer, for his son’s birthday, and every other Christmas/Thanksgiving. Yet because he makes more, he pays more, which is fine for him. What is so frustrating is when his ex-wife brainwashes his son into not liking him, and constantly competing for his approval (she spoils him to death and makes her look like the good one). He pays over $800 a month and the worst is now that she’s pregnant again (not married), she plans on taking a year off from work when the child is born. He’s worried that now he’ll have to pay the full amount of child support. It is frustrating to both of us because we would like to start a life and someday have our own kids, but because of the “bad rap” fathers get, and the more financial responsibility he has compared to his wife, it seems so exhausting. Every couple of months, she changes the legal agreement because of her work status. Is there any information you can provide for this type of situation where the tables are turned?

    5. It is nice to see someone take the time and write about the importance of being a father. Fathers deserve equal rights and it is important they are involved in their childs life. The children will remember it when they get older and do the same for their children.(hopefuly) The part I do not agree with is a punishment for not spending time with your kids.
      I think Americans have enough laws and social standards to deal with, but what is one more? Then should mothers who give their children up for adoption be punished? Lets face it, mothers have all the rights and a lot more support from the goverment then men do. I was never offered free school tuition for my children and I pay support, but their mother was given a full ride. I am a meal ticke and just a pay check to her, she gets half my pay check. But it is OK because my children love me and I have still managed to get my own house in the same town. If I had full custody I would not even want her money because having the children full time is all the braging rights.

    6. Lets look at the reality. The mother gets the kids. The dad gets VISITATION. Let us break that word down. It starts with Visit. That does not mean parenting. It means spend some time. Big Deal. What a mom wants, is the kids, but the dad in the life. Well, from a dad’s view, it is VERY PAINFUL to be just a visitor. You have no idea how painful this is. If you think you can do better, give the dad the kids, and you be the VISITOR. Seems, nobody will take that deal. It is like buying a gold watch with payments. but you give it to your ex, and when you want to know what time it is, you call her. SO, SOMEBODY IS GONNA BE IN PAIN, and most times, it is the dad. Seeing the kids, knowing YOU DON’T GET A SAY IN THEIR LIFE, is harder then heck. I cried the whole time the first time I visited my kids. I mean the whole time. Every second. I tried it again 6 months later, same result. I have not been back. YOU WANT A GREAT FAMILY, MAKE IT WORK. Figure out a way. And that is for DADS AND MOM’S. Both do selfish crap. But asking me to be there, live in the pain, esp. that you caused, and I am bitter as heck, I hope to never see the mom or the kids again.


    7. I’m a single mother of one. I have a beautiful 3 year old daughter. I have taken care of her on my own from day one. Her father is in and out of her life and when i call him out in it he does not like it. My daughter does not like to be around him the times that he does pop up and tries to be a dad, sge cries, screams and call out for me. I have never taked bad about this man to my daughter i dont waste a single breath talking about this man. I spend my time with my daughter , enjoying it. An i wrong for not watning him to be around her. I feel like if he cant be a father like she deserves and not a holiday dad that he should leave her alon. I feel like he can hurt her more than any man in her lifetime can ever hurt her. I NEED SOME ADVICE

    8. My son in law has had 5 affairs, always coming back to say he’s sorry, now he left her and their two kids 3,000 miles away to another woman. His daughter is sure he will hurt her mom to kidnap her (she is 10), he does not want his son (13), their hurt is upbelieveable. Yet all of her family: parents, grandmother, and siblings help them pick the pieces. He tries to play mind games, and guilt games with his daughter, I stopped telling her he has called – as each time its very hard on her. She says she will never go visit him with that other woman, and hates him. I just listen, they are going to start counseling to cope, in time they will make their own minds up about him. But I will not offer a good dad attitude to them, he has never been there for them ever.
      A Grandmother who has picked up pieces numerous times.

    9. TO everyone whos been divorced with children i feel that child custody should not be done with the divorce it should be held seperate ,children are more than property issues (not cars,houses,etc.)they are little people with big feelings and did not ask to be put in the middle of this crazy world of divorce no matter what when you and your ex spouse were married you loved each other and taught your children to love so therefore you as parents entered in a life time contract that contract is (children)life is not easy !I am a mother of a wonderful handsome 13 year old son who I love more than anything in life. He is a teenager now ,and his dad is remarried with a three year old son and has slowly stopped seeing our son as much and has stopped helping pay for childsupport,medical,and etc.children are not trophy items they need both parents love even if the parents arent together our job as parents is LOVE OUR CHILDREN(spend time with them they are not little for long and there maybe a time when they wont have time for YOU!)people make choices some good some bad what they choose to do with it REMEMBER THE CHILDREN and not always thinking of yourselves (parents need to set their feelings aside and no its not about bragging rights its about a child being loved and settled in one home and not being bounced back and forth like a tennis match.please understand the little bit of childsupport that some men OR WOMEN have to pay is only part of the money that aids in careing for a child so those of you who feel that paying childsupport is a punishment you are only thinking of yourself and not your children!

    10. The court has gone to great efforts to facilitate the non-custodial parents parental and visitation rights. In many cases the clear guidelines and minimum visitation schedule does help to make it clear that the father has the legal right to parent their children. However, the court has given the non-costudial parent these rights without mandating that they have anything more responsibility than pay childsupport. These same courts are now ruling for lower and lower alimony. This is occuring even in longterm marriages with exceptionally high incomes where one parent has not worked in order to care for the children. It is not rational to then expect, a woman, who has given up a career to invest in her husbands career and then to raise their children to now be forced by these same courts to seek additional education and employment outside the home. Because visitation is a “privledge” and not a responsibility, this same parent is then expected to preform ALL of the tasks required in raising the said children. The non-custodial parent has absolutly NO legal (maybe moral) responsibility to preform any child rearing task if they choose not to. This means that the now working/student mother is getting by on much less money, trying to work or go to school, and take care of all of the needs of the children. The father in this case is given more income to live on than before the divorce(because he gives his ex-wife and children a smaller portion) and is free to persuse any intrest he chooses. This same non-costodial parent can elect not to take visitation more an extended period of time and a whim can announce “I will be there at xxx” and the custodial parent is legally bound to produce the said children for visitation reguardless of pre-planned events. In addition, the said non-custodial parent can use this tatic as a weapon to whine to a receptive (formerlly divorced father)judge that the big mean mother is denying visitation when the fact is that the parent has choosen not to take visitation. There is a contridiction in this that needs resolving. Being a parent comes with responsibility as well as rights and these can not be divorced simply by divorcing the partner. The court needs to be as concerned with enforcing these responsibilties as it is with perserving the rights of the non-custodial parent. WHY MAKE THE STANDARD VISITATION SCHEDULE AND PARENTING AGREEMENTS ENFORCEABLE TO ONLY ONE PARTY? Tell me the legality of this? Could it be that the majority of current lawmakers are men and are currently running unopposed? I personally am tired of playing in the OLD BOYS NETWORK and am ready for my daughters sake to see this changed.

    11. My husband has 2 children from his first marriage. I’ve been with my husband for 8 years and the children are now 18 and 16 years of age. Just to give a little background, my husband is divorced because his EX cheated on him and it was her choice to be divorced.

      I have witnessed first hand a MAN, a FATHER that has been both paying child support and expenses + spending a majority of the little time he has with his kids undoing what his ex-wife spends doing mentally to these children during the week. We find / feel that there is no law in place to protect the rights of the Fathers that are doing the right thing. She has used the children as leverage on a constant basis for all these years. She lies to the children about why the divorce took place. She feels she has carte blanche to just spend whatever she wants and we are just obligated to pay for whatever it is. Now that we’ve been pushed to the point where we don’t give in to the mother, the children have taken her side and have stopped all communication with their father, myself and their 1/2 brother (our son). We feel it is better to teach children (especially at ages 18 and 16) to stand on their own 2 feet and to work and earn some of life’s luxeries. Where their mother feels it is just better to give them whatever they want/ whenever they want. Therefore, making us look like these horrible people who don’t care about them (they feel if you care about someone-you give $ or material things). And their mother who wouldn’t be able to afford 80% of what she gives them if it wasn’t for the support we give. But the kids don’t see where it comes from. They see it as her giving. We’ve sat them down to explain the importance of family relationships etc. It just doesn’t sink in. This wear and tear on our emotions all this time has broken us down. This is abusive and unhealthy for everyone. We’ve offered therapy and the children don’t feel that they need it. At this point, what is a good father like my husband supposed to do. I know that there are “Dead-beat” dads, both financially and emotionally, but There are good fathers out there that end up being turned off by the years of mental abuse that he takes from the Ex-wife and the children. There are no laws in place to protect them.

    12. In response to Jenny –

      I would also like to say that together they (my husband and his EX) chose to have children and she had the LUXERY of staying home to raise the children. There was no reason she couldn’t continue to work – I believe NOT ALL WOMAN are forced – “Give up” their career for their husband and children. I think that is a very one-sided selfish way to look at it in order to get additional alimony Especially in this day and age with the economy the way that it is.

      When you have a child there are sacrifices that you need think about before getting pregnant.

      I am forced to put my child in daycare – I knew that before I got pregnant that my husband had obligations to fulfil and that if we wanted to bring a child into this world, it would be a partnership. I would have to continue to work. Not only do I work full time, I am a mother and a Step-mother when I’m allowed to be one. And a darned good one might I add. I make it to every scool function, every sports event etc.

      If a woman feels that she must choose a career OR her family – that is not nessesarily the fault of the husband (unless he is a caveman and forces her to quit )

      I believe it also depends on the situation – Why should a husand pay alimony if his WIFE CHEATS ON him. This is why pre-nuptual agreements are not such a bad thing.

      Basically what Im getting at is that it is not so cut and dry – there are other ?’s that go along with the point you are trying to raise.

    13. To Jennifer who mentioned – its about a child being loved and settled in one home and not being bounced back and forth like a tennis match.

      Why is it not about a child being loved and settled in 2 homes. I understand that we don’t want these kids to feel like they are bounced around, but if there is a child of divorce, isn’t it right for the child to feel settled in both homes and to feel secure with both the mother and the fathers life. After divorce, life keeps moving on. A parent may get re-married add more children to the family – don’t you think it is right for the child to feel like he / she is an equal important element to the fathers family as he /she is to the mothers family? It is just as much the mothers responsiblity for that healthy blending as it is the fathers responsibility.

      When my son was born, my step-daughter was 13 and my step-son was 11. Their mother pounded it into their heads that my husband and I don’t care as much for them as we did for the new baby. Instead of re-enforcing the stabilty and sense of belonging to our family, she preyed on the insecurity of her own children. As a mother, I can’t understand how someone can do that. I as a step mother WANT / WANTED my step children around. I WANT them to have a heathly relationship with both their mother and us and their 1/2 brother. My husband still doesn’t get over it when his children have to walk out the door. You speak about the father having all the time in the world to do whatever he wants – whenever he wants w/out responsiblity, as it is the custodial parent that has to do everything. But what about the mothers that don’t let their children continue to grow emotionally. Or the mothers that don’t let their children go to the fathers house to be a part of that growing family?

      Where is the responsiblity on her part? I know there are alot of Scorned Mothers .. wives. Who are mad because they’ve been left “Holding the bag” so to speak. but there are also alot of Crappy Mothers out there that just use their kids as leverage. or as a way to get extra money. It is wrong.. It is wrong to use these children as pawns just to get what they want.

      what about the fathers that want custody of their children – and the mothers won’t let them have it. What about the children that want to experience living with their fathers and the Mothers wont’ even consider working out some sort of arrangement that would be healthy for everyone – Why.. because then she risks either losing the child support that she has grown accustomed to having in her pocket or even worse – she may have to pay support herself. Which – Whooa… wait a minute – – It is important to pay child support if it is the FATHER PAYING and THE MOTHER REICEIVING… – But when the tables are turned… Uhhh Mother doesn’t like that Idea – Go figure ?

      Just remember there are SO MANY DIFFERENT SITUATIONS OUT THERE.

    14. Men are always talking about the child-support they have to pay. Most of you don’t realize that money is for bills. to keep a roof over the childs head, to feed the child, for clothes, the utility bill and so on. Most moms are not PUTTING THE MONEY IN THIER POCKETS. You are angry because you can’t controll that money. You can’t tell her how to spend it. She gets more from you now than when she was married to you, and that just pisses you off. Don’t worry about the money . WORRY ABOUT THE CHILD! Most of you don’t even have a clue about how much it takes to raise a child because most men don’t do the shopping for the family. I’ve heard stories about how the blood boils when they have to write that check. Again, I say get over yourself, and stop calling the children pawns or brain-washed. Believe you me, your children can see and they can here. She don’t have to say a word.You guys have so practice self deception, to do what you do and so justify it that it almost gets to the point that you can’t hear truth anymore. I’ll end this by saying the greatest leverage a woman has is her self. Take care of your self so you can take care of your children

    15. Marge – WHEN a birth mother is telling her children … you can’t do this because “Daddy won’t pay” ( when Daddy is already paying 25% of his salary + 75% of Medical, Dental and extracaricular activites and 50% of college.
      Maybe Mommy shouldn’t give into EVERY POSSIBLE WHIM that the child has – Maybe Mommy should teach her children to earn what they want. Nothing in life is free.
      If mother is living beyond her means and putting inground pools in the yard and purchasing 8K cars for their kids when they are not even of age to drive or don’t even have a J O B ! ! !
      Something is wrong – How can you say that mothers don’t use their kids as leverage or pawns – Are you a divorced mother? When you twist the kids into thinking that the other parent deserved the vilification that you are creating – and the kids come over all weepy eyed saying ” Mommy said I can’t do something/get something” because of you” THAT IS CALLED LEVERAGE – – THAT US USING THE KidS ! ! ! !
      We don’t care how she spends the money we give for the kids – but don’t piss it away on BS when there are college expenses or important things to consider. Its not about control, its about being responsible – its about getting over the bitterness of the ex husband and YES DOING WHATS RIGHT FOR THE KIDS ! !
      We give what we are supposed to give – we can’t help it if she spends it on nonsense and then has nothing left – maybe that will teach her to budget her $$ better.
      Like I’ve said previously – We have no problem taking custody of the kids. We’ve hoped and prayed that they would come live with us, so that they and their father as well as myself and my son can have some sense of family with them – anytime his ex feels that we don’t understand what it takes financially or emotionally to raise children, she can feel free to hand over custody and pay us child support and see how willing she is to just pay for whatever the kids want to do.
      Which we’ve asked and the kids have asked and she has on EVERY occation declined. Surprise, surprise.
      I believe you are incorrect…

      My HUSBAND and I do the family shopping … NOT JUST ME.. So he is well aware of what it costs to run a household!

    16. Here, here Janine! We are currently fighting for the bitter ex to meet us 3/4 of the way (1/4 of the way for her) and for her to surrender the $521 extra a month she is getting for having his youngest in a daycare he no longer attends (he now is in public school!) We have to file and argue via attorney just to get the right amount of money to be paid and it has take 3 months for that so far. The kids come over with no shoes clothes with holes in them and its just ridiculous. She does use the children as leverage and she makes it obvious in her behavior. Perhaps some of you have a raw deal but doesnt a father that religiously drives 2.5 hours each way, twice in one weekend, twice a month and on holidays and calls them and stays in their lives deserve to be treated a little better than just as a cash cow? She took the youngest to the doctor and had him put on Strattera (ADHD meds known to cause suicidal thoughts in children) without even mentioning a problem to their father. She can just do whatever she wants and we have to take her to court to fix it. Its BS and it is very hurtful. My husband agonizes over the fact that he cant see them.

      I dont want to generalize this, however, there are legitimate sides to each story and every story is different. As to what the article states, I do not think we need more laws to regulate ANYTHING- you cant make someone love thier kids more than themselves- who knows what would go on if people were forced to do this, probably more harm than good.

      I also have a 3 year old son who hasnt seen/heard from his bioliogical father since he was 6 months old and has never paid a dime! I want him to sign over his parental rights but out of selfishness, he wont. I can see this issue from both sides and if its about the money or why he/she left than the focus is in the wrong spot. I want my son to grow up feeling wanted and in some cases, the biological father just doesnt want to face the kids because of their own self-loathing. I cant control that, I can only control the environment my son will grow up in.

      It boils down to leaving the bitterness behind- from both sides- for the sake of the children. the truth will eventually be known, but as much as it hurts, you cant change it or try and sway them to how you feel about it. You must let them live and learn and come to thier own conclusion about their parents and their behavior. My husband makes sure the kids know that he loves them and that he is there for them no matter what and we make a point to keep any feelings or bitterness about the situation out of their lives. We will not know how well their Mother follows this philosophy but again, we can only control the environment they are in when they are with us.

    17. All of you should have worked hard on your marriage as hard as you work on putting each other down. Of course the new wife thinks he’s a saint but if you ever sit down with the first wife or husband, you’d get an ear full. Anything can be worked out because everything is in your thinking. If you think the worst of your marriage then that’s what your marriage will be. Obviously you weren’t thinking about the children when you were leaving. I don’t care who you are, unless you are abusive, it can be worked out. LOVE IS A VERB. Don’t ever make decisions on your emotions (how you feel) It’s the biggest mistake you’ll make. Just look into the eye of your children, and what decisions that are made for them without any say from them. I think we are so selfish because we seem to only care about what we want. My mother once told me “To ignore the fact, don’t change the fact” and that’s the truth. We took vows. What happened to fore better or for worst. You could have worked it out. We are soooooooooooooooooo selfish :

    18. MAYBE IT WAS MY HUSBANDS EX WIFE WHO WASNT” THINKING OF HER CHILDREN OR THE CHILDREN OF THE WOMAN SHE CHEATED ON MY HUSBAND WITH – YEP … you heard correctly… — Who was being selfish in His marriage? He wanted to get councelling.. She didn’t want to work on it… Now he is being punished for moving on with his life. “We” are not selfish – there are different situations… ALL SITUATIONS CAN”T BE JUDGED THE SAME WAY MARGE –


      Marge – Don’t be so nieve. YOU are being very one sided – life is not cut and dry.

    19. Oh – As the new wife, Im entitled to thing that Something must be better this time around…Everything we’ve been through, My husband and I are still married… 9 Years strong… their marriage didn’t last quite that long. . Just means they were wrong for eachother or that we work better together than they did.

      Thats OK Marge – Its OK that sometimes people just arent meant to be w/ one another … It happens.

    20. Janine and T.A,

      You are absolutely correct. Janine, I feel your pain. I am a dedicated father who is in the same situation that you are in.
      I feel like a disneyland dad who has no say in my daughter’s life. All I am is a child support payment. Not only do I have
      to pay child support, but I have to buy all the clothes and pay for the expenses. The mother has shacked up with a new boyfriend
      and is not paying attention to my daughter. I ask her for more visitation and she says no. It is all about the money.

      There is so much mental torture that I feel like running away from the whole situation sometimes. She constantly threatens
      me to increase child support. I cannot even get ahead in life. The better I improve myself and the more money I make, the more
      the Court System will take. Because of the high child support payments, I cannot even save for my childs education.

      In addition Janine, if you look at the views of most of the women, you can see that they do not think the situation is unfair.
      Only women who are married to a divorced father will see how cruel the system is to the fathers. They also have to live through
      the torture and pain.

      I am sick of these American selfish Women. I WILL NEVER EVER MARRY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    21. I’ve been divorced for 16 yrs. The courts favor the mothers regardless and so does child protective services. Never missing a payment, moving from Chicago to West Virginia to be close to my children for 12 years, never missing a weekend, does squat when the mother refuses to allow the children proper counselling so they can handle all this. What happens? 16 yrs of pent up anger by my eldest son (estranged the last 8 yrs). He thinks all his mothers woes are my fault. He even talked suicide and what happened when I suggested counseling for him 8 yrs ago? The counseling was presented to him like his father wanted him committed. I could not take having to keep going back and forth to court only to hear false accusations about me and what a bad person I really was. What has happened since? Feb 16th my youngest son, now 17, called me telling me his mother attempted suicide and how fast could I get from DC to WV? Apparently for 16 years she has heard voices and thought “people were after her”. My 2 sons have had to deal with this thinking all the time I was the cause of all this. Reality she has been bi-polar with hullucinations. She was hospitalized for 3 weeks and almost lost her liver due to one of the 4 bottles of pills she took was Tylenol. Guess what else? After me having to travel down to WV, get my son, register him in HS, pay for an attorney ($1500) so I could get the authority to register my son legally in school- the day she was let out of the hospital – lithiumed out of her mind walking and talking like a zombie – the courts insisted I return the 17 year old immediately to the care of his mother. So even if she is professionally designated as insane, attempted suicide, high as a kite on lithium and other drugs for her bi-polarism and hallucinations guys are still treated like 2nd class citizens only there to provide the financial support in the courts eyes. I love my son and let him know I was there for him but having to turn him over to a situation where he now has to take care of her is, pardon the punn – insane.

    22. this is not really about me i jsut have some questions for my future husband. ok hes getting ready to fil for a divorce and him and his ex have been apart since there son was 3 or 4 months old. he woul get his son on sundays for about 5 or 6 hours. well that stoped when he had to go back to his country for about a year. now his son knows him but is a little affrad to go with him on vistation. well my reall question is that will his son have to take the classes even thow the divorce is not effecting him since his mother and father split up such a long time ago> oh and by the way he is 5 years old now. if you could please answer my question i will be very thanksful of your answer.

    23. First, I’m going to answer the question you didn’t ask: do I have any business stepping into the middle of this mess and marrying this man? Okay, I won’t offer an answer; I’ll just state the question.

      I gather you’re describing classes for children of divorce. If so, of course Dad’s son will need to take them. And it will probably help him get a better grip on some of his feelings. Why would you or Dad oppose that anyway?

    24. I think that any man that lets his new fiance run the show is a coward. Alot of the ex spouses’ new significant other think that they can run the show and thats not right. They take control over the ex husband’s mind and the ex wants to please the new love in his life and will believe her over his ex at any cost. They are blinded because they are, or think they are in love with the new woman. Especially when the new woman lies to make the man think that the ex is causing trouble that she really isnt causing, honestly. The new woman says detrimental things about the kids’ mother in front of or to the kids,{which puts the kids in the middle and makes them feel bad inside}, what do you say can be done or should be done. She has even caused an unjustified physical confrontation with the mother of the children, in front of the children. That is my problem, and i am the one who wanted the divorce. Is it insecurity on her part, or would you say, vendictiveness. She has even called cps on me, for no reason, just out of meaness, i guess. I have sole physical custody of my three young children, ages, 11, 9, and 6. And i try to give their dad as much lea way as possible with the kids’, even though it may be my weekend sometimes, but the listens to his new girlfriend and her lies, and they are lies, no lies from me cause i dont even know any of the people that will read this, any suggestions from someone who has been in my position? Signed, {DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO TO MAKE PEACE.}

    25. I haven’t been in your position, but I have spent time with a fair number of people who are, and I can tell you from experience that the old saw about pigs was never more true than here: “never wrestle with a pig; you’ll get dirty, and the pig likes it.”

      The kids live with you, so they know what kind of mother you are. You’d be amazed how adept children are at compartmentalizing what Stepmom says about their Mom. It literally stops registering with them after a while.

      Your strategy is to smile sweetly when confronted with the latest outrage. Just say something like “You’ll just have to make up your own mind, won’t you?” and change the subject to something more interesting to your kid.

    26. My husband is having an affair with a married woman who lied about filing for divorce and other issues she says her husband is abusive, I found out that these facts were not true and informed my husband, he has already defended her to me even with the facts, 23 years of marriage just thrown away. When my husband retired for the military he retired me as well, now I’m dealing with a disconnected father who now wants to be the father of the year “Disneyland Dad. He favors our youngest child because he won’t judge him for his actions but I have a 13yr old that knows that he cheated, I wanted to work on the marriage, I feel you can work though anything but I can’t compete with a someone who’s 10 years younger, she was in a bad marriage and is ok with breaking up someone elses family, but to see my husband do a 360 to become so selfish and sacrifice a great family is disturbing to me. Now we both have lawyers and are getting ready to take the gloves off, unfortunatly. I was a stay at home mom with a child with epilepsy and ADD, now I am expected to go back to work with out any training so my husband can find some happiness, I’m still in shock.

    27. I am a 32 year old father of a 6 year old girl, she is the world to me. I was with her mother for 13 years and married for 8 years we are still married but going though a divorce. My wife has a drug problem, she takes pain killers and a lot of them, I want my little girl to live with me but do not know if this will happen. I joined the army so I could take care of my wife before we got married, I got hurt bad and not I can not work and I am disabled. I do not make much money at all from the VA and live with my mother and my grandfather. My wife went to the courthouse and said she was scared of me and had charges put aggenst me, later in court she dropped them because her Lawyer told her they would find out that it was all a lie. She is still using drugs and has been dating 3 guys in a one year time frame moving in with one guy after knowing him for 2 weeks and has had my little girl over at the other guys houses to spend the night, and is now living with one of them. She has changed my little girls schools 3 times this year alone. I know I do not make much money and I am disabled but is that really a reason to give a child to the other parent that abuses drugs and exposes my little girl to different men. One reason the numbers for fathers not seeing or spending time with there kids are so high might just be the fact that most courts side with the mother just because she is the mother and nothing more. I love my little girl and would do anything in this world for her and to keep her safe, but how are fathers like me supposed to get there kids if courts favor mothers, even ones that do not deserve to have kids at all. I know some fathers should not have kids and yes some (like mine) could live the rest of there lives with out there’s and be happy, but not this one, one of the only reasons my wife will not let me have my little girl is because she wants money from me and has told a few people that as well as myself. So I really do not know what to do.

    28. The issue not mentioned here is one of visitation enforcement.

      All that my family court judge ever did to my ex-wife for denying me access to our children was to verbally chastise her, but when the prosecutors office screwed up my payroll deduction, I was suddenly the scum of the earth and threatened with incarceration because she had no computer record of my child support payment.

      After getting the payroll deduction problem fixed with the prosecutors office, I then promised my ex-wife that the next time that she denied me access to our children, that I would have her arrested and prosecuted for Interference With Custody.

      I haven’t had a problem with visitation, getting my children’s school records, or their medical records since making that promise.

      It makes one wonder how many of the emotional ‘deadbeats’ in this article have been forced out of their children’s lives by vindictive custodial parents.

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