Divorce Court – A Biased System

The world has changed, but the divorce courts have lagged behind. In a fair and equitable system assets would be divided so that each parent can afford to provide for the children in the same manner.  Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and in most circumstances the system will favor the woman and disproportionately, harms men.

Divorce Court has not caught up to modern day society.  Decades ago, family structures were such that most men went to work and most women tended the home, partly because open discrimination against women in the workplace was widely accepted and women couldn’t get a fair shake in the working world. The laws of the time reflected that reality, providing married women with various financial protections in case of divorce. At the same time, laws assumed that women were better suited to nurturing and raising children than men, so the kids usually ended up with mom.

After all the expenses incurred to get divorced, men face additional burdensome alimony payments even in situations where their ex-wives are capable of working and earning a substantial income.  Additionally since the courts automatically assume that the mother should be awarded primary custody the man is subject child support payments as well.  After all of the legal expenses, alimony, child support payments are made – how can a divorced man truly be able to afford anything let alone provide for their child when they are together?

It reminds me of an emotional heartfelt video from Met Life, MyDad’s Story: Dream for My Child, a young girl hands her dad a letter. She narrates the commercial, gushing about her dad being her “Superman,” “the most clever,” and “the sweetest daddy in the world.” He’s seen taking her out for ice cream and cheering her on at school. But then, her letter takes an unexpected turn. “He lies,” she says. “He lies about having a job. He lies about having money. He lies that he’s not tired. He lies that he’s not hungry. He lies that we have everything. He lies because of me.”

A man that has gone through divorce can relate to the depiction of the father in this video.  Like most parents, the father in this video is willing to sacrifice almost anything for their child’s happiness – including lying.  The advertisement shows the father working multiple jobs and even begging a recruiter to hire him just to make ends meet. Despite his struggles, he does it all with a smile, so his child won’t worry.

Children look up to their parents to be their role models and we don’t want them to have to worry about us. Children look at their parents as superheroes and most parents will do almost anything to make their child happy.  Throughout this process, I learned that following these three simple rules will help you and your children continue a trusting, loving and enjoyable relationship.

Tell the truth. Your kids are entitled to know why you are getting a divorce, but long-winded reasons may only confuse them. Pick something simple and honest, like “We can’t get along anymore.” You may need to remind your children that while sometimes parents and kids don’t always get along, parents and kids don’t stop loving each other or get divorced from each other.

Always say “I love you.” However simple it may sound, letting your children know that your love for them hasn’t changed is a powerful message. Tell them you’ll still be caring for them in every way, from fixing their breakfast to helping with homework.

Let go of what you cannot truly control and just make lots of memories. Turn your house into a home. To a child, a fun filled day at the park, an epic game of basketball in the driveway, snuggling with the lights off watching a great movie can mean so much more than an expensive trip or gifts! Just be present whenever your kids are present. Without any distractions, take the time to listen to what your child has to say.  Spend time enjoying each other’s company and at the end of the day you will have a great kid who can’t wait to spend time with you.

 

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