The following piece is written by Utah family law attorney, Eric Johnson, and originally appears on his website, www.divorceutah.com. Mr Johnson has given me his permission to publish it here. I first saw Mr Johnson’s post referenced on Fathers & Families and am grateful to be able to share it here on Shrink4Men. Thank you, Mr Johnson!
In a recent online forum in which I participate, the this issue was raised by a fellow attorney:
“The more custody cases I handle the more I am starting to believe 50/50 shared physical custody is rarely in the best interest of the children.”
In the spirit of Jonathan Swift, I responded as follows:
It’s all about the children. Parents? No! The interests of society at large? No! Children!!! Will somebody please think of the dewy, doe-eyed, delicate children! To hell with the parent’s interest in maintaining as close a relationship and as close of contact with his/her children after divorce. Forget the tragic toll of divorce on public life. Joint custody is filled with risks (and we must never ever expose a child to risk) and the potential for inconvenience. We must eliminate risk and hardship at all costs.
So why not just kill one of the divorcing parents (giving his/her life insurance proceeds to the surviving parent, of course) for the sake of the precious children? The children will adapt. Lots of children have parents who die young, and while they may suffer initially, they learn to deal with it with the help of the stalwart surviving parent. It’s not the end of the world. Besides, killing a parent off has many advantages “for” the child (and if it happens to result in the court and attorneys not having to be bothered by those pesky divorce cases, so much the better):
1. It not merely reduces inter-parental conflict, it guarantees to eliminate it. As a corollary, it eliminates the possibility of child custody ever coming before the court again (unless, of course, the custodial parent goes crazy or poops out being a sole custodian and has to be replaced with foster care parents, but I digress);
2. It also eliminates the hardship on the children caused by shuttling them back and forth between their parents’ respective residences;
3) Eliminates that feeling of the children being “torn” between loyalty to one parent or the other;
4) Eliminates the awkwardness of children having to admit their parents are divorced;
5) In the U.S., the child may qualify for Social Security Survivor benefits;
6. Eliminates the very possibility of the children growing apart from the noncustodial parent;
7. A noncustodial parent cannot resent having to pay child support or being jerked around on visitation by the custodial parent if the noncustodial parent is dead. So many noncustodial parents are marginalized to the point that they might as well be dead; why not just make it official?
8. By killing the noncustodial parent, the “best” parent survives, so that the children are not confused or hampered in any way by the difference in their parents’ respective parenting styles. Simplify. Reduce complexity;
9. Eliminates the need for contingency plans in the event of relocation of the custodial parent;
10. Eliminates the hassle of step children and after-born half-siblings dividing the noncustodial parents’ affections and mucking up the visitation schedule;
11. Has the fringe benefit of making the issue of alimony moot;
12. Hey, if you’re going to litigate so fiercely over child custody anyway, you might as well go all in, eh?
So order the noncustodial parent killed. Everyone benefits, especially children. Yes, certain sacrifices must be made, but if it means a child is spared the troubles I list above, isn’t it worth it? We’ve seen the alternatives, and they are just too messy.
Which brings me to another brilliant idea: require all men and women to be sterilized as a prerequisite to marriage. ‘Wouldn’t want to run the risk of them bringing children into the world and then divorcing now, would we?
The quest for certainty and finality breeds absurdity, my friends. To criticize joint custody on the basis that sometimes–despite our best intentions–it’s the wrong fit and sometimes hurts some kids is to criticize the fact that life is unfair (and it also glosses over the fact that sole custody has hardly been proven to be a reliable or preferable fallback position).
An extreme solution (and a bit of gallows humor), but it effectively highlights the absurdity and broken-ness of family law and court practices. The scary thing is, though, that I’m sure there are many high-conflict exes who would be in favor of this as long as they could cash out the non-custodial father’s life insurance policies. Custody should be default 50/50 shared physical custody, unless a strong argument with ACTUAL EVIDENCE can be made for a different arrangement.
Counseling with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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Dr Tara Palmatier says
With the slippery slope family court, negative advocate attorneys/HCPs are on, I wonder how unrealistic this is? NCPs are dehumanized by the courts, so . . .
Wow! That is about the size of it, isn’t it? I am sure if my husband’s ex could manage this without repercussions, she would love killing off the “useless appendage” that she considers my husband.
Thanks for posting that, Dr. T!
Yikes! Life is unfair? Could have told me in person but to find out this way on the inter web is devastating. Lol. “The quest for certainty and finality breeds absurdity” – awesome line. Thanks for posting this gem Dr. T!
“Joint custody is filled with risks (and we must never ever expose a child to risk) and the potential for inconvenience. We must eliminate risk and hardship at all costs.”
Threat X Vulnerability X Consequence = Risk
Kill the non-custodial parent -> Threat = 0
0 X Vulnerability X Consequence = 0 -> No risk.
The math works….
I’m making copies of this and handing it out at my next co-parenting session.
Sometimes the best argument against bigotry is sarcasm and shame.
Strange article. It may repel new visitors if they don’t get the sarcasm behind it.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Sorry, I probably should have explained the Swift satire this is mimicking.
If memory serves, “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift is a political satire written in 1729. In it, he proposes a solution for the impoverished Irish (a big problem then). He suggested they improve their lot by selling their children to rich merchants and nobles to eat.
Brilliant! Read it 3 times and makes me laugh more each time. I’m a bit of a fan of gallows humour. Hello All. Been lurking for a couple of years now. Thank you for sharing your stories and wisdom.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
Welcome, Silena, and I’m glad you’re no longer lurking!
Thank you. Can’t tell you how helpful this site has been. Feel it only appropriate to be able to contribute to all the people who have helped me/us especially you, Dr Palmatier. My husband’s ex is as described in so many articles and comments here and the guidance provided is immeasurable. This is my first marriage but I have been in a long term relationship with a man with children before and it was not like this; the difference between normal and abnormal I know is not lost on you or anyone on this site. Luckily for me with that normal experience, what my husband and I go through on a (used to be daily) weekly basis at the behest of his ex has been very much challenged. Thank God for my ex and his ex wife because I have lived what a usual divorce with kids looks like. Behold the caterwauling from my husband’s ex though!
You nailed how I’ve been made to feel by my ex and her family, the court systems in Colorado and Kansas and the attorneys involved including those I’ve hired to represent me in my fight to establish a relationship with my 5 yr old daughter. I’ve recently applied for a large life insurance policy because for all practical purposes where she’s concerned I might as well be dead. I’ve all but given up trying because the combination of a psychopathic/narcissistic ex and her family being represented by a small town man-hating female attorney in another state from where I live is seemingly a no-win situation for me (and my daughter). In my situation, however, I think one of the non-custodial (I was duped into giving custody to maternal grandparents thinking it was temporary and my court appointed attorney didn’t bother to tell me any different) parents should definitely be killed. No sarcasm here. What I would give to find an attorney in Kansas with your expertise to help me! Have you ever thought of going to law school? Things need to change and maybe they will but sadly not in time for me and my little girl.
“Soon to be Ex-Wife” and I went to meet with a psychologist that would be visiting with our daughter. Psychologist told us that children have a much more difficult time dealing with divorce than dealing with the death of a family member. She asked us why and we got it wrong, of course. She said it was because “divorce never ends”. It will last them their whole lives. So, the argument sounds reasonable to me except I would be signing my own death warrant. Sometimes, even I start thinking that would be best. Then I press on. Tomorrow is the next day and today could be a lot worse.
Dr Tara Palmatier says
With all due respect, I believe your psychologist is wrong. It is not divorce per se that is harmful to children, but rather conflict that continues after the divorce that is most damaging. With divorce, as painful as it can be, there is the hope that the conflict will stop. If it doesn’t because of a high-conflict and/or personality disordered parent who engages in PAS, that is what is damaging to children.
If you’re married to a high-conflict and/or disordered woman, you should research high-conflict divorce and custody disputes as well as parallel parenting. The following links may be helpful:
Why am I an orange with eyes at the end of my antennas?
This made me laugh because I can still picture my ex and his wife still ‘blaming and shaming’ my ashes in an urn because I didn’t die correctly.
Dawn De Beer says
When I flew to th US IN October for 6 weeks.I saw the damage the ,other is doing to my 4 year old granchild,I thought because of the courts and how they view child custody,I truly thought of having a few glasses of wine with the mother(she loves drinking,,,,LOOK AT HER FACEBOOK)and then telling her how she is damageing her little girl.I know I am wishing for a miracle.What is the alternative because the courts do not see this,,,just maybe that awesome satire is the answer.We all wish for that solution,,because we are caring normal humans we would never do that route.We will just continue to pray that the heavenly Lords sees the devastation these mothers cause and he will in His time put it right.But……..it is so hard to wait when you see what is happening.Dr Tara,,you are just the greatest to us that are so sad with what is happening in out lives
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Most of society views men as expendible anyway.
1. Your ex would rather you be gone.
2. Your employer only cares about making money.
3. Your government only cares that you pay taxes.
4. It seems to me a lot of women don’t really like men, they just like the things men do for them like earn money, use their muscles to do things, repair stuff, and kill insects.
5. Within a short period of programming, your kids won’t like you either.
Jay Rose says
My husband is seeking primary custody of our step daughter because the mother has engaged in excessive litigation, made false allegation, moved away, and now seeking sole custody and increase in child support because the move resulted in her making less money and reducing the child’s standard of living. Went to mediation thinking he had 10 pages of examples back by e-mails and recorded phone calls of her alienating and breaking the joint legal custody provisions in the court order. You know what she gets for all this bad behavior and emotional child abuse? She gets sole custody. Really? All I can say is WTF. How could this happen. You go in looking for more contact with your child, there is no reason you are found unfit but you get less contact and less decision making abilitity.
We still have to go to court, but to have to go through “this” is apolling. How are we not to be cynical and think the family court system is not bias in favor of the mother?