In many cases, “In the best interests of the child” is a laughable phrase that roughly translates into, “In the best interests of the mother at the expense of the child and the father.” Many Shrink4Men community members, both men and women, have suffered horrific and financially crippling experiences at the hands of former high-conflict and/or abusive personality-disordered spouses and partners who take advantage of a Family Law Industry that’s clearly biased towards women or, rather, women who had access to a man’s sperm first. Family Court doesn’t seem to give a fig about the best interests of children from second families, or children from first families for that matter given the frightening number of women who clearly aren’t better parents, but receive primary custody by virtue of their reproductive organs.
Divorced men/fathers are often accused of being bitter when they complain about unfair custody rulings and spousal and child support laws. Many of these men have good reason and a right to be bitter. The way many men are treated in divorce court is unconstitutional. However, men aren’t the only ones affected by the “discretion” of Family Court judges and evaluators. Women and children suffer, too.
I’m part of a private online women’s group who support each other through the headaches, hassles, stalking, harassment and host of other abusive behaviors and injustices perpetrated by their husbands’ ex-wives and/or exes with whom they share children. Over the next few weeks, with their permission, I’ll be publishing their frustration with Family Law and the ongoing nonsense they put up with year in and year out.
A few weeks ago, I posed the following question to these ladies:
If women’s groups and feminist organizations are serious about promoting equality between the sexes, then Domestic Violence laws such as VAWA and divorce/custody laws need to undergo serious reform. Currently, domestic violence and family law are, more often than not, nothing more than kangaroo courts, which are heavily biased toward women/mothers and against men/fathers.
Divorce and custody law reform and domestic violence law reform aren’t just men’s issues. Our broken system affects us all. As second wives, caregivers of children from previous relationships and parents of your own children, you’re able to see how biased and unfair the laws are very clearly because you and your loved ones have been harmed and continue to be harmed by our broken system, which is easily manipulated by abusive, high-conflict personalities.
For example, the present family court system doesn’t seem to have any regard if you and your family have enough to live on—the first wife and children come first. Child support ends at 18 when a child legally becomes an adult. Meanwhile, grown women who are capable of supporting themselves, but refuse to do so, can often collect spousal support indefinitely. Many of you contribute your own earnings to support another woman and her offspring, without thanks—in fact, you’re treated like garbage—while they don’t lift a finger to support themselves.
If your husband misses a child support payment, his wages can be garnished and/or he can be hauled off to jail. Many of you live with the fear of false allegations from the ex-spouses and PAS’d step-children. Many of you experience severe financial hardship, because your husbands’ high-conflict ex-wives repeatedly drag your husbands into court to feel “in control” and other pathological BS. This burns up your savings; money that could be going to the children we’re all so supposedly concerned about and why? Because these women enjoy the attention and conflict and want to hurt and punish their exes. Currently, family court allows women to abuse the system this way.
What types of these injustices make you the most angry? What laws and practices make you angry enough that you’d get out there and work toward change? What about our current system and the way it treats men and fathers makes you fearful for your sons when they’re ready to begin having romantic relationships?
Here are some of the responses:
Lady A: The system still assumes that the mother is the best parent for the children to be with.
Unfair/unjust divorce decrees are created and men are told, “You’re getting off easy. . .” when they aren’t at all.
The system perpetuates bad behavior on the part of ex-wives since the scales are tipped in their favor from the get-go. Women know this and use it.
My old elementary school friend who had contacted me on Facebook told me that his wife never worked, but was offered a position regularly at her mother’s company—a position she refused. When they divorced (his wife’s idea), she still refused to go to work although the offer was still there. Instead, he was forced to sell two commercial properties (rentals) and two residential properties (rentals) so that she could purchase a $700+k home. PLUS he pays alimony AND child support, although he has the kids 14 days a month. He’s like, “Wha?!” I believe he said the divorce itself cost him around $200k—and that was spent just not to get TOTALLY screwed by a woman who felt ENTITLED.
By the way, his ex-wife told him that she and her attorneys were “soul mates.” I bet they are!
Lady B: What makes me the most angry, as a step mom and a bio mom, is the idea that every time a man gets a raise or a bonus, his ex-wife gets a cut of it. I’m angry that child support is nearly impossible to adjust to a lower amount when a man loses his job, takes a pay cut or the economy tanks.
When I was awarded child support for my kids, my attorneys assured me, “It can only go up, almost never down.” Even when I had no step-mom experience, I thought, “That’s crap.” When my exes have fallen on hard times, I can’t imagine going after them for child support when they don’t know how they’re going to pay rent and feed the kids who live in their home. Just because we had babies together, I have no right to ask or expect this; just as an intact two-parent family would have to adjust to economic changes, my children and I need to adjust as well.
Look at the Michael Douglas case, his ex wife went after his earnings from Wall Street 2. The guy has a wife, kids, is battling cancer and this is a good what- 10-15 years after his effing divorce and she still demands her “share.” Do they even have any kids together that are still minors? At what point does a woman need to take care of her own effing bills?
It isn’t fair that ex-wives collect when the father makes more money, but the rate doesn’t change if he is making less. I say this as a bio-mom and a child support collector.
I also hate the notion that every disagreement needs to go to mediation, so anytime a father says “no” or expects the court order to be followed, the mother has a right to force him to mediate. All she has to do is file any sort of papers he can’t agree to.
I hate that the courts do not understand that in some cases, co-parenting will not work and they need to have a plan B in place. Currently, if you can’t co-parent, the courts say shame on you, try harder and demand that two people who couldn’t work it out when they were married somehow become a better problem-solving team now that they’re divorced.
I hate that there are not legally defined definitions of harassment from a former spouse. As long as they preface anything with “this is for Timmy. . .” one side can repeatedly stalk, harass and assault the other, because it’s for the children in her mind.
Lady C: The way in which child support is calculated is troubling to me. Child support guidelines in many states were formulated back in the “day” when divorce was just starting to become prevalent and when many mothers were stay-at-home mothers. Child support calculations weren’t based on how much it takes to support a child adequately. It was based on the idea that a CHILD’S LIFESTYLE (AND MOMMIE’S, TOO) SHOULD NOT BE ALTERED by a divorce. Really? Says who?
So, a disproportionate amount of a man’s income is ordered as child support, so that the “first” family, now no longer a family, can maintain a lifestyle as if they are still a family. I find this very perplexing.
It’s also troubling that, in many states, the custodial parent’s income (usually the mother’s) is not weighted the same in the calculation formula. Our attorney put it to us this way—ex-wife’s income can swing wildly up and down and have little impact on the amount of child support paid by my husband. My husband’s ex-wife earned over 150K/year for awhile, but apparently this didn’t affect her needing $800/month of tax free child support from my husband for ONE child.
My final complaint, well, that I’m writing about, that is, is the lack of education and knowledge on these matters in the “system.” Family court judges should be required to read and take classes on high-conflict disputes, Parental Alienation Syndrome, and personality disorders.
Next week, I’ll post some more responses to the question, “What makes you angry about divorce and custody laws?” Meanwhile, what do other Shrink4Men community members find most upsetting? Please join the chorus.
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