Open Letter to New York Times - Father's Day 2006
Here I sit alone on fathers day with a broken heart
I just had a ten minute call with my two beautiful girls, ages 6 and 9, which my wife started intentionally alienating from me about two weeks ago over a simple property dispute. This is one of only about three calls to my children my wife has allowed in these past two weeks. The judge has not discouraged this behavior, as I hear they pretty much support whatever "mom" wants after the initial award of "temporary custody" upon filing of divorce. This then become the precendent and living situation for a year or two and it is hard to reverse. Generally when I call my wife just says "the children don't want to talk to you" without checking and hangs up on me. I do this three times a day hoping the kids will see I am trying to talk to them and call back. I have always had a very close relationship with my children and if this feeling exists in the children, which I doubt, it is something she has created very recently. It is easy to manipulate children though later in life they will regret this.
Even my phone calls are now at the complete discretion of an angry ex-wife with emotional and mental health issues.
A top world-wide expert has rated me an "outstanding dad" after spending a full visitation weekend with us. I love my children so much I would give my life for them without hesitation. I think most fathers feel this way. Yet the court system denies me my fundamental constitutional rights with complete immunity for the apparent convenience of judges and to generate more money for lawyers and the state.
Federal courts will not hear family cases and so there are no checks and balances on the system that are not controlled by the state.
It has also forced me into near poverty due to over fifty thousand in unnecessary legal and living expenses.
The divorce system has become a huge for-profit business which encourages dissent between couples to drive legal fees higher. It is the only industry in the world where dozens of people charging hundreds of dollars per hour people stand around doing nothing for their clients waiting (in court) their turn for one person who is paid $75/hour (the judge). Has the judicial system never heard of scheduling time? Many of these people are even billing two or three clients for the same waiting time. In any industry I ever worked in, and I have been an executive in many industries, this is called fraud. In the divorce business it is called standard operating procedure. This practice quickly drains the assets of the estate of divorcing couples needlessly. Even government officials have a conflict of interest in most of their decisions. Some lawyers admit privately that about half the lawyers have the goal of garnishing about forty percent of the couple's estate in legal fees before a settlement is reached. So it is not just corrupt, but in fact is a sort of criminal conspiracy to defraud clients.
It may sound strong but the fact is that this system is doing intentional damage to children and the bonds between them and their parents for money. It destroys the long-term relationship potential of the parents too. Most men are crushed both financially and emotionally by the divorce system. I think this harm might even be more than by the divorce itself. Anyone that says there is not sexual bias knows little about this system or has some interest in the status quo. The current "winner takes all" system forces parents to battle and reveal the most horrible things they can think of about each other, and many also fabricate things, just to have a chance to parent their own children. This has evolved into a truly evil system.
The supreme court has held that the right to parent your children is so precious that it can not be taken away except in extreme circumstances of real harm to the children. The state can not step in except in these dangerous situations. Yet judges often award custody to mothers by default in 15 minute temporary order hearings where the judge can not possibly learn the situation, never mind know what is best for the child. In fact research shows they usually do this exactly backwards to what is best for children. Shared parenting is the rarest outcome in these situations and yet has been scientifically proven best for children.
Exorbitant child support, often three to five times the entire cost of raising the child is the other incentive and prize for the "winner". However, the children lose every time because of this structure. Our legal system was design to be adversarial to protect citizens from government. In divorce it simply decimates all the relationships of the family. This system is completely inappropriate for divorce, where mediation and equal rights should prevail. The cost would go down, half the lawyers would be out of business and generations of children would be spared the proven harm caused by being raised by only a single parent. Children raised by a single parent have a 93% higher chance of divorce and do enormously worse by over twenty key measures like mental health, school, crime and other measures of success in life. It has been scientifically proven, with over 200 research studies, that shared parenting, with near equal time with both parents is far superior for children in the long-term. Yet the band plays on due to the huge money that is now made by lawyers and the federal incentives to state to drive child support higher each year. The state gets a dollar for every three dollars in child support they collect, making separating a child from one parent a profit center for government. The domestic violence tail is also waiving the divorce dog, as men are subject to "guilty until proven innocent" restraining orders that allow women to win everything instantly when there has never even been any domestic violence.
Fathers Day may now be the saddest day of the year for me and millions of other dads who just want to be the best dad they can for their children and are blocked by a dysfunctional government bureaucracy. My fatherhood has been stolen from me by the state that I support with my tax dollars. About three hundred fathers of divorce silently commit suicide every month due to the irreparable damage done to their lives. I can not imagine a worse system than the one we have today. Like most government monopolies because there is no competition everyone in control begins to make decisions for their own personal self-interest instead of that of its customers (we the people). Nearly everyone that has been through this system agrees, yet the band plays on.
The older I get the more I respect the vision of our founding fathers and what they created in the U.S. Constitution. The states are ignoring these higher laws that protect our citizens that judges must swear to uphold above all others when they take their oath. If state family courts obeyed the constitution this system could not exist as it does today. However, all the players ignore these higher laws with complete immunity. The laws are created by lawyers, for lawyers. It is time for change and shared parenting is beginning to sweep the nation. Talk to your state representative and demand equal rights and time for both parents. You just might help save a generation of children by making this law sooner. The media needs to shine light on this dark and harmful cartel. It just may be our top social problem today as it is harming generations of children needlessly.
Happy fathers day to those dads who are lucking enough to still have access to their beloved children in marriage or divorce in spite of this horrible situation.
With a 50% divorce rate though it could be you next, or a close friend. So call your state rep today and voice your support for shared parenting.