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In Memory of Allen Wells

This set of web pages for Allen Wells has been recreated from web pages archived at http://web.archive.org

Key page for Allen Wells

The Pain of Custody Battles


Article 2622 of soc.men:
From: allenwe@microsoft.UUCP (Allen WELLS)
Subject: The Pain of Custody Battles
Message-ID: <54747@microsoft.UUCP>
Date: 19 May 90 02:10:51 GMT

I just started reading soc.men, but I've seen a lot of threads that strike 
a chord with me.  I thought that some of you might be interested in what I
have been going through, and the impressions it has given me of 'the system'.

Some background.  I was married about 6 years ago.  Within three months I was
being regularily beaten.  (Side note to those of you who are skeptical - this
is, unfortunately, not particularily uncommon.  I've seen some studies which
estimate that the frequency of husband beating is almost as high as that of
wife beating.  I will also strongly contest the assertion that husband beating
is somehow not as bad.  I've been attacked with a knife.  I long ago lost 
count of how many times I was beaten while I was driving.  Even when I didn't
feel like my life was threatened, the degradation, humiliation, and 
helplessness of the situation is terrible.  But I digress.)  After six months
of marriage, I called a divorce lawyer and made an appointment.  I never hid
anything from my wife, and I immediately told her what I had done and showed
her the listing so she could contact someone else.  Later that day, she made
a tearful, apparently sincere apology where she listed everything she had been
doing, acknowledged it, promised improvement, and asked me for another chance.
I gave it to her.  She convinced me to give sex another try (it had been about
four months) - saying that if we were trying to be close ... it's hard to 
disagree with an argument like that.  We had sex once.  She lied about birth
control and got pregnant.  After that, things rapidly went to hell.

I probably should have just filed for divorce then, but I couldn't leave my
(unborn) child behind.  I'm not particularily religious, but committments and
responsibilities mean a lot to me.  The thought of leaving my child to grow
up without a father ...

To make a long story short, I stuck things out for another 3.5 years.  The 
abuse never stopped.  She was a terrible parent, and I tried to make up for
it when she would let me.  Eventually, I burned out.  I finally decided to 
file for divorce when I realized that I would kill myself if I didn't get 
out.

So I decided to file for divorce.  That was almost two years ago.  I still
don't even have a trial date.

Part of the delay, of course, is that I am contesting custody.  At first, I
felt that it was a token effort - but I wanted it on record so when she started
moving from verbally to physically abusing my son I would have an established
record of wanting custody.  Recently I've begun to think that I might actually
have a chance of getting custody.

As to any semblance of fairness in the system ... there seem to be two basic
biases in the syste - the bias toward the mother, and the bias toward system
abusers.

The bias toward the mother is pretty obvious.  I couldn't even file for 
divorce without leaving the house first.  She was automatically awarded 
temporary custody.  I've been paying over 2 times the child support
guidelines for one child as 'temporary' support to make sure there is no 
'hardship' on her or my child and they are maintained in the state they are
accustomed to until the divorce (and in NH, the support amounts add one child
to the federal guidelines - so one child 'costs' as much as two in most states).
This allows her to work less than 10 hours per week for 'spending money'
(despite having my son in 40 hour/week daycare ...).  When I had to change
jobs (I took a job which paid well, but the project they hired me for 
never started) I ended up having to take a large salary cut.  The court
refused to adjust my support payments because the cut was 'voluntary'
(word to the wise here - make sure you wait and get fired first if you 
are in a similar situation - even if that means a suspension of insurance
and a period of unemployment, the courts are much more receptive).  As a
result, I am now going into debt farther every month just to pay for basic
necessities - even before things like lawyer fees.

And when you get to the custody issues ... it gets even worse.  I have been
obligated to pay 100% of the costs of the Guardian ad Leitum.  It has taken
me nine months to convince him things were serious enough to require a 
psych evaluation of both parties.  (One conversation: "Do you believe that
she regularily beat me?" "Yes" "Do you realize that people who beat spouses
also abuse children?" "Yes, but I don't think she will ever put him in the
hospital, so I don't see that being a problem")  Now that she is court-
ordered to have her evaluation - I am obligated to pay 100% of the cost of 
it, of course.

As to my claim about system abusers being favored, this may actually only
be female system abusers.  I don't know.  I do know that the court is willing
to tolerate almost any sort of behaviour out of her.  She has physically
assaulted me when I arrived for a visitation.  She has regularily and 
unilaterally cancelled visitations with no notice.  She has regularily lied
on statements submitted to the court - even about easily verifiable things
(like the number of bedrooms in the house).  She has flaunted every deadline
and order she has been given.  Every request for contempt I have made has
been turned down.  Of course, the one time I delayed support payment (because
she was denying visitation, among other things) I was hit with a contempt
order.

As it turns out, the system seems to finally be losign patience with her.
She played the 'I have too many expenses and I can't pay my bills' hand a 
little too strong, and the court just ordered the house to be sold - which,
if my support is lowered, ought to get things to the point where I can start
paying my bills.  Of course, she has refused to return any calls from 
brokers or let them into the house.  She has finally been ordered to have
the psych evaluation (I think she finally went into one of her rages at the
Guardian, otherwise nothing would have happened).  Of course, she refuses to
set up an appointment.  So, here I go to court again.  Perhaps I can get 
them to do something in a few months.  Then again, maybe not.  

And what happens when all this goes to trial?  Probably she just gets custody.
Technically, New Hampshire has a law that says either parent has an equal
right to custody.  In reality, the only really good chances of getting 
custody are if the mother has abandoned the child, committed a felony, is
a drug abuser (alcoholic probably doesn't help), has put the child in the
hospital, or has recently been committed to a mental institution.  The 
perceived emotional trauma of removing a child from the mother (as opposed
to the negligable trauma of removing a child from the father  :(  ) outweighs
almost any charges of verbal abuse or simple bad parenting you can demonstrate.

The likely net result will be that I end up around 20K$ in debt and have 
'nothing' to show for it.  This is, of course, assuming that the court doesn't
decide to give me the privalege of paying for her legal bills.  After all, 
paying them would be a 'financial hardship' for her ...

So, why am I doing this?  I couldn't not do it.  Abandoning my son by leaving
was bad enough, abandoning him to go through the same hell I went through is
something I can't do.  I have to give him every chance I can.  But if you
don't feel that strongly about it, don't even think about it.

___________________
Next article by Allen Wells: Divorce Post-Mortem (long)

___________________
Posted 2006 09 04