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Life after Divorce & Separation


Here is advice that Andrew Carlan provided in a posting, about August of 1996.  It was written after an account was given of a "Divorce from Hell."
    Andrew Carlan said that he would charge $500/paragraph if he wanted to make a profit from it, otherwise just to give him credit for contributing it.
--Walter

MY MODEST TIPS AGAINST SUCH ORDEALS

by Andrew Carlan

I had answers from men in so many different states it would be risky to give specific advise.  But here are some general observations I have picked up over the years that you may find helpful.

  1. Although I may not have any better answer than some of your more experienced specialists, one thing that separates me from them is that I certainly would never be dumbfounded at the injustice done by the courts, especially Family Court to men.  Any incredible thing is not only possible, it is probable.  Insist your attorney be prepared for it and have some strategy ready to minimize or postpone its effects.
  2. I wouldn't go near Family Court with a male client.  I would use every forum shopping device to at least get the case before what in New York is known as the Supreme Court, which in most other states is called Superior Court or County Court.  Family courts were established and operate with a political agenda and under political pressure.  It is not a court in the sense in which our Anglo-American system means justice under the common law and our Constitution.  Neither common sense, sound legal arguments and certainly not being in the right have any relevance here for the male.  The normal procedure is reversed.
        First the judgment is rendered and then the trial is held as window dressing.  Since Family Court usually has limited jurisdiction try to resolve all your financial and custody matters initially in courts of general jurisdiction and do everything possible to keep away from your ex-wife so she has as few excuses to drag you into a quasi-criminal inquisition in Family Court.  The entire staff of Family Court from the judge down to lowliest clerk are paid out of your taxes to provide support for the female.
  3. Men deserve the opportunity to choose attorneys who have the courage to openly doubt the system is willing to deliver equal justice to fathers and men.  Such men are weeded out in law school, in the essay portion of state law boards or in the admission process euphemistically called Character and Fitness.  This is particularly true of men who struggle to enter the profession later in life and have a track record, usually of pro se activity growing out of their own divorce and custody battles.
        An expose of this phenomenon is running current in the National Law Journal and can be accessed at http://www.lijextra.com/news/disbarmyth.htm (The article is no longer accessible at that address. —WHS)
  4. Painful as it may be, for some the wisest course may be to husband your resources and not contest for custody unless you are very wealthy or have political connections.  Concentrate on creating a successful, fulfilling life for yourself and when your children reach an age where they begin to think for themselves they will gravitate to the more emotionally and financially stable and mature parent.  When children reach about twelve years old there is little the courts can do.  The teen has more immunity from the bigoted judges than anyone else, including your attorney.  The rhetorical question "where do tigers sleep?" is answered "wherever they want."  You may still have problems--which I won't go into here--but they won't be with your children and you will have money to deal with those problems. Money moves courts.
  5. Anticipate your wife's filing for divorce.
  1. Start planning your strategy before your wife even files.  Women do it all the time.  Men have a habit of ignoring obvious warning signs. Remember, it is much harder to climb out of a hole you have dug for yourself than to fall in to begin with.
  2. Get professional help before any legal action commences.  Secure your funds.  Once she files, make no voluntary payments.  The court will use your generosity as a yardstick of what you are capable of paying.  Your kindness will be turned against you.
  3. Do not abandon the premises even out of misplaced consideration for the children to avoid exposing them to hostility.  Before the courts take your family hostage, take the kids and go somewhere.  (If this seems to contradict the advise above to relinquish your children initially, some fathers will accept poverty and humiliation before they will give up their children.  This advise is for these martyrs.)
  4. Don't depend on an appeal reversing the idiocy of the trial courts. It is the appellate courts who have taught the trial courts the idiocy. There is an infamous New York case in which a decent lawyer named Meyerson moved out because his little son was being destroyed emotionally by the fighting.   
         The trial court decided properly. According to the appellate court, Meyerson was guilty of constructive abandonment. He lost his son.  Apparently, the judges had never read about the wisdom of Solomon.
  1. One of the those who wrote to me had the most promising observation. The prosecutor who tormented fathers in turn was prosecuted when his wife divorced him and left him without his family and funds.  Our writer observes that he hopes this happens to more and more elected males. EXACTLY.

    1. This is NOT a philosophical battle.  This is not a battle between good and evil.  This is a battle of greed and power.  Fathers and men will only regain their rights if they become one-issue voters. Pit the parties against each other over the gender split.  Make them choose sides.  Vote for your side.

    2. Not all women are feminists.  Fewer men sympathize with the feminists than the number of women who sympathize with men. We just are too lazy to organize.  We don't have to.  All that is necessary is for a few wealthy men who have been screwed by the system is to invest big money in key races.

    3. Vote against Clinton simply because he supports the feminist agenda.  DON'T EXPLAIN YOURSELF.  Imitate lawyers. Be enigmatic.  "No comment" is the wisest answer.  Ignore the media and the politicians.  Don't argue with them.  Most of all don't expect that telling your story will evoke sympathy.  Just vote.

    4. No women ever lost her children because of an "immoral" act. The only time your wife is likely to lose is if your attorney knows the  judge and the judge owes your attorney a favor.

  2. Keep reminding yourself that virtue is NOT its own reward in the legal system.  Judges are notorious womanizers and female staff and attorneys exploit their sexuality and then holler that the legal profession harasses women attorneys and personnel.

  3. Only in rare cases is it better to "opt out" and enter into a "voluntary" separation agreement dissolving the marriage and arranging for support, custody and visitation.  Separation agreements are supposed to be contracts.  There is a concept called "overreaching" that can be used to invalidate any  contract..   It is almost unheard of outside of family law.
        People are presumed to know what they are doing.  But it is very frequently granted [as an excuse to] the wiliest female [that she didn't], often long after she has squeezed all the juice out of the contract. Usually alimony and child support are raised and visitation decreased under a change of circumstances.  Contracted limits on where she may locate to protect visitation are nullified by the courts.  New York highest court just struck down retroactively in one sweeping gesture that key restriction on the custodial mother in many separation agreements.

  4. But nothing is black and white.  IF YOU REALLY DO know your ex and she is a reasonable person and wants to get on with her life, both will benefit from avoiding expensive and nerve-racking litigation.  But remember she can change.  If she does, you will be left holding the bag.

Andrew Carlan
Attorney-At-Large

Separation and divorce is a shattering experience for many if not virtually all men.  As time goes on, I'll try to show links to various articles pertaining to the long-term impact of separation and divorce on the lives of affected men.  I'll do that as I become aware of such items.  If anybody feels that he has some information that can contribute to that effort, it will be appreciated if they can provide that information to me so that it can be posted here.  e-mail:

I had written some comments on the points made by Andrew Carlan.  A number of people asked me to make sure that the whole set of comments be made available to men who have to live with the consequences of divorce.

Don't lose heart.  Hang in there.  There is a life after separation and divorce, and, although it will be different, it can be good, rewarding and peaceful, but, most important of all, NEVER EVER GIVE UP!

Walter H. Schneider


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Updates:
2001 02 05 (format changes)
2002 03 05 (added link to Table of Contents)