Parents and their children pay a high price in this country – as well as much of the Western world – when they get divorced. The only people who ever really profit are the lawyers.
While the system is unfair to both sexes, it tends to be downright hostile toward men. One case that recently grabbed the headlines involves a U.S. Navy Seal named Gary who was sent off to Afghanistan in 2003. While there, his wife moved to Israel and filed for divorce, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Instead of a welcome home, Gary came back to a $2,100-a-month bill for child support and an empty nest. When the story first hit the air, Gary hadn’t seen his son in nine months and was rarely allowed to talk to him on the phone, syndicated radio columnist Glenn Sacks originally reported here.
Gary, who only has seen his son three times since he went to Afghanistan, is nearly bankrupt paying for child and spousal support, travel costs and legal fees, Glenn Sacks and divorce rights lawyer Jeffery M. Leving write in a new column.
While a recent California Supreme Court decision has made it more difficult for a spouse to move far away with children, most states do not have similar protections. Anyway, the decision was too late for Gary, whose case is based out of California.
Reservists who come home may face an even more dire situation when they switch from civilian pay to lower military pay. That’s because the federal Bradley Amendment prohibits judges from lowering child support benefits below the original amount. A drop in income doesn’t matter. Some reservists are coming home to possible felony charges and prison time if their arrears reach $5,000.
Such mistreatment from the legal system is not limited to military reservists. The courts placed two restraining orders on Christopher Kennedy of Connecticut that prevent him from seeing his children, reports The Associated Press via Newsday.
“They will not enforce a father’s motion, and they will do everything they can to rule in favor of mothers,” Kennedy tells The Associated Press. “You would honestly have to sit through a hearing to believe it yourself.”
I believe it, because it has happened to family members and friends. By court order, one relative of mine had to bring a security guard with him just to see his own three children. The distraught father had to scrimp and save for weeks at a time just to save up enough money to see his own children, before the judge finally relented. My relative’s biggest complaint? The judge automatically rules against him without even hearing his side of the story.
Some dads are beginning to fight back in this country, albeit slowly. Kennedy and other fathers, for example, are backing a bill that promotes shared parenting, which encourages judges to consider co-parenting custody arrangements. The idea is that both parents get equal time with the children. But such efforts attack the problem slowly, state by state.
Another effort, by The Indiana Rights Council, is taking a more aggressive approach by attempting an enormous nationwide class-action lawsuit. But whether the lawsuit will work is yet to be seen, and so far the press seems largely uninterested. You can read my post on the issue here, but keep in mind the dollar amounts are no longer accurate.
Just north of us, Canadian dads may be in worse shape. That’s because dads may be facing an onslaught of retroactive child support payments, reports the Calgary Sun.
It all started in Alberta courts, which decided that four dads who had been faithfully making child support guidelines owed more because of changes in income. Not new income, but increases since 1997, when Canada-wide child support guidelines were only partially implemented.
The judges fined these dads, who were not deadbeats in any way, up to $100,000 in back child support. The dads are appealing, but if they lose, fathers across Canada may have to dig deep into their wallet.
In all these cases the courts and attorneys seem determined to bankrupt dads, which results in hurting his former family as well as a new one. Which brings me back to my basic point: the Western legal system is a disaster for families.
Bad court decisions and ridiculous legal costs serve only to make dads resentful. While some men are deadbeats, did judges ever stop to think by cutting them out of family time that dads lose their vested interest in paying child support? Even if dad has limited custody rights, I’ve seen moms get away with making it impossible for some guys to see their children by claiming junior has a “cold” or a “school project.” What incentive does a dad have to pay in such situations? He still should, of course, but mistreatments as mentioned above must leave an awful lot of men feeling hopeless and bitter.
It is time for reform that does not enrich the lawyers at the expense of parents and their children. Any solution should be inclusive of dads rather than exclusive. It is time for a fair, equitable solution that protects the rights of moms, dads and most importantly, the children.