Category Archives: divorce

It’s Time To Stand Up Against Unfair Treatment: No Indians Or Dogs Allowed

From D.J., a grandmother:

I would like to share with you a story. One that was told to me by my mother, one that I have never forgotten. My dad was white and my mother was Native American. Before they were married, when they would go on a date, my mother would tell of times that she was not allowed in certain businesses.

Why you might ask. Some businesses back then had signs on their doors that would read…NO INDIANS OR DOGS ALLOWED. Therefore, my Dad would go in alone, while my Mom was forced to stay outside. Hurtful and sad to my Mom? Yes. But that’s not the reason I share this story with you. I share this story because I find strength in knowing that somewhere along the line; someone must have stood up as a group, like the Shared Parenting Supporters, and were successful in changing the laws, so that those signs could no longer exist. As times change, so must the laws.

For the last several years I have watched while my grandchildren are pulled away from their Daddy every two weeks and watch them cry as they hold out their arms to him as they leave. And I have watched my son sit at my kitchen table and cry like a baby after they have gone. Those of you that have children know that your children are your children, no matter how old they are. And when your children hurt, you hurt. Despite the thousands of dollars he has spent in attorney fees, he still has limited time with his children and they with him. He is denied phone calls and is only allowed to talk to them for a few minutes twice a week within a one hour time frame. The children are sent to their rooms if they ask to call their Dad and are punished if they cry when he takes them back to the custodial parent. My granddaughter tells me she wishes she could see her guidance counselor everyday because she says every day she is sad. The same granddaughter shares with me that she has nightmares about her Mom (the custodial parent) chasing her and her friend with a knife! How many five year old girls dream such dreams about their Mom? The court says they are doing what is in the best interest of the children. I beg to disagree. I write this to you today as a proud Native American Mother, Aunt and most importantly Grandmother… because my children and my grandchildren need me to. I stand proud with my son as he struggles to change the custody laws and because the children of North Dakota need me to tell my story.

There are families in your State, North Dakotan’s, father’s mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and yes, children, that have had something that belongs to them taken away…a parent and an entire side of their family, and are hurting because of our outdated custody laws.

It is time for change. I am here today to ask the voters of North Dakota to Please support Measure 6…for the children!

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#voteyeson6 #northdakota

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How the North Dakota Divorce Industry Holds Children For Ransom

In the current system in North Dakota, if you do not have the financial means to hire attorneys to fight for more parenting time, or simply enforce your current order, you and your child(ren) have little to no relationship. There is an unwritten presumption, one parent will be minimized and often, it’s the parent without or simply runs out of the necessary financial resources. And this is how the North Dakota Divorce Industry holds children for ransom from good parents.

This email comes from North Dakota father who supports Measure 6 and just a few of the reasons why. He unfortunately, does not feel comfortable sharing his name out of fear his coming forward will affect what little time he and his son have together. And if you’ll read on, you’ll understand why. His story is not uncommon.

The details may be different for others, but the theme is all the same:

I’m not sure where to start, but talking about this gives me a great deal of anxiety, in no way do I want this to come back to my son. I am afraid of retaliation from his mom as she is extremely vindictive towards me with little consideration towards my boy. But I think sharing my story might help someone in the future.

When she was a few months pregnant we learned that he was going to be born with health complications. I won’t get into the details but he spent a few months in a children’s hospital. He’s had a few surgeries and blood transfusions and fortunately, he is doing great now. She and I sadly just could not make things work and we actually separated before he was even born. She was working as a nurse in a clinic when he was finally healthy and strong enough to come home. But at night and on the weekends, my parents or I would have him because she would be out partying. I’m not saying this to somehow make her look bad when things were really fine. Things weren’t. Our son wasn’t a whole lot more than a year old when she called me at work one day and informed me that she was going to treatment for a substance addiction.

I 100% supported her as I wanted my son to have 2 healthy parents. But over time, I learned she had an addiction to pain meds and had been abusing her role as a nurse. Her nursing license was revoked. She was evicted from her apartment and and while the investigation was going on in regard to this, she asked me to say that I could not handle raising our child should the State’s Attorney General contact me in regard to her role as a mother.

She moved in with her parents to try and recover and in the meantime, proceeded to do everything possible to make me look like a dead beat dad. I am a good dad. I love my son. And until this point, we (my extended family and I) have been our son’s primary caregivers and most stable family unit. But she wouldn’t let me see him (and I had no recourse but to take her to court on this). When I finally did, my son asked me why I was mad at him.

It wasn’t long before her attorney presented me with a stipulation for a custody agreement that I did not agree with so I did not sign it. I could not afford an attorney at the time so her attorney sent the stipulation to the court minus even more time than what was originally offered. The judge signed it as a default. I have since, almost been completely shut out of his life. When I try to work with her to see him, she belittles and harasses me. I have saved messages, emails that show she does nothing but put our son in the middle and uses him as a pawn to punish me for who knows what. I’ve worked with an attorney, it’s gotten me nowhere. I’m afraid it’s just a matter of time before she completely takes him. I get one weekend a month, depending on whether or not she’s mad at me. But most of the time, it’s just one weekend. If I don’t pony up for another court battle and commit to more legal fees, it’s all I’ll ever get as far as I can tell. And there’s no recourse for her, should she choose to not let me see my son, the son I helped see through a very dark time in her life.

I am a great dad, I have a good steady job and a clean kid friendly house for him to come and enjoy. But it’s always empty without him. And I know, based on what he says when we are together, a piece of him is empty without me, too.

The fact is measure 6 will help situations like his. The children raised in these situations are essentially the ones who lose in North Dakota. After all when one parent wins, kids lose.

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Lessons From Half Of Me: My Life As An Alienated Child, Parent and Step Parent

In being advocates for keeping good parents involved in their children’s lives to the maximum degree, we meet awesome people, many with stories of their own. This biography is from M.O. She chooses to remain anonymous due to her husbands case as well as respect for her ex husband.

Here is M.O.:

“In hopes this will help the fight and our cause of parental alienation.

I was five years old living in Divide, CO in 1975 and as I ran up the hill in the cold air to our house after getting off the school bus I walked into the living room to find my mom sitting on the couch and the spindle of the record player torn off along with a picture of my parents broken in the fireplace, with glass shattered. I retain that image to this day and it is still painful.
This was the last time I saw my father until 1989. I left high school late in my Senior year knowing I was close to my 18th birthday and no one could stop me from finding, loving and being reunited with him.
This is not an article to bash the mother who was not receiving support unless she begged, who was home with us every evening and making sure we were fed, bathed, clothed and safe. It’s a story of two sides a parental alienation that scarred four children into adulthood.

As a child growing up without my father caused a constant void in my life. I missed him. I loved him. I was half of him.

I only contribute that to the fond memories I had of sitting on his lap driving his big white Ford truck as he laughed that deep laugh and teased not to get to close to the ditch and I remember times of camping and Trout fishing at the 11 mile Reservior. Climbing into bed in the middle of the night with he and my mom because I was scared, and him welcoming me.
Many times I would ask to see my dad, only to be asked why and given this long sorted version of why my parents were divorced and how could I want to see him after what he’s done. That he didn’t support me or didn’t care if I had clothes or even shoes for school. I tried writing him letters only to have those letters opened and me being told what to take out and what I should actually say that might not sound the way “mom” thought he would interpret it.

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I remember my mother having a long relationship with a man who I adored, he filled a lot of the void I felt for my own father who would never find me now because “mom” had changed our last names to her fiancé’s last name and put us in a new school to protect us from “dad” in the event he was even looking for us.

Both my parents are gone now. My resentment is evident, I feel the pain of my childhood and don’t often visit the graves of either of my parents. I think of them often and wish things could have been different. I love them both.

I got married I feel later in life to my daughter’s father, she was 8 at the time and I was 29. We have two daughters together both of which have a very open relationship with their dad. I do have primary custody of them. But, quite honestly, I don’t watch the Holidays or the schedule that closely. ( I look in my daughters eyes and they miss their father and his family, just like I did and I know from my own experience that I am probably half the woman I could be if I at least could have known my Dad, Aunt’s, Uncle’s and cousin’s where I came from on the other side.) So depending on what they want, we make plans according to which side of the family they want to spend their Holiday with. It is very hard at times but I chose divorce, not them.

My girls are not a possession and trying to hurt their father or make him feel less of a man or empty inside because of my own animosity towards him is cruel, not only to him but to the children I’m helping raise and example I am setting for them. I am not a perfect mother, I have made many mistakes. I can’t expect perfection from their father either.

My own divorced stemmed from Operation Iraqi Freedom and my ex husband returning to me and the kids with PTSD. Very emotionless towards his life with me, yet angry he wasn’t able to do more while deployed, and at times suicidal. This is where it got hard because in order to protect the girls I had to remove them from this, in hopes it would snap him out of what he was going through and sadly it didn’t. We tried counseling, we tried medications, we tried what we thought would save the marriage but when it came down to instinctiveness, my instincts were telling me to remove the kids.

He still saw them, he went without paying child support for ten months. He still saw them. He called and didn’t have gas money to get to where I had moved to see them, he still saw them, I left money on the kitchen table for him. When he was short on groceries, I packed them for the weekend so the kids could still go, still see “dad” and I grew, I grew big time. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do and finally after two years of being divorced and doing the right thing I was able to look at this from the stand point of the kids and not the angry ex-spouse.

Eventually he and I were able to talk and of course that is almost always about the kids. In fairness to my husband, it will remain that way. I don’t go into the past with him and I try to have very little contact with him at all unless it is something I don’t feel is appropriate for the kids to relay. I have talked to him about moving closer to share more time, it’s something he’s considering. But in the meantime, when the youngest now 12 misses dad, I say well why don’t you call dad and see if you can get an extra day in this weekend, or you don’t have school Friday, why don’t you have dad pick you up Thursday night. Her eye’s lite up like I have given her a gift. And I have. A gift of peace, trust and love.

In 2011 I married again to a really energetic man, who took to my girls like they were already part of the family and he had his own children as well. Four small children. A four year old, and three, three year olds. We dated for fourteen months before getting married and he spent 12- 14 days with his kids a month even though their own agreement stated every other weekend.

At first their was a lot of contact from his ex and I gave it about six months until the 4 phone calls a day some to his place of employment for meaningless things and the 6-10 texts a day became a bit too much for me to think was normal contact about the kids. The comments about me in the driveway each time she picked up the kids or dropped them off. Many other things I won’t go into detail about that are more personal. Until, I politely asked her “when we don’t have the kids, to please respect our time together.”

Our intent as husband and wife was to have them as much as we could because we love them to pieces, live in the same school district and because we live so close to the other parent.

What we ended up with after all was said and done is this: a split schedule with their mother. Us having them 12 over-nights a month and Monday through Monday all summer long. We are paying full child support, providing Insurance and paying for all expenses when they are with us. We love the idea of shared parenting and are 3 days away from that. My husband is a playful, fair and honest man. He’s hardworking, he loves his children beyond measure and has always provided financial and emotional support for his them. It’s not what’s fair, it’s what he and his children deserve.

I read all of these posts from men and woman who are so threatened by a new meddle-some “step-parent” or by the actual “other parent”. I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine that if everyone looked into your child’s eyes and asked them what they wanted or remembered the look on the other parents face when they held that child for the first time any of this would be going on. I stand up for my husband and his rights for his children not out of spite for his ex-wife but because of his many years not being able to have children he helped bring these four beautiful little people into this world and deserves to be as much a part of them as he can be.

As a step parent I adore my step kids, I love them with all my heart and my door and home is always open to them. I also have a step daughter who is older and a half sister to my two girls and on her own now. We still have an unbreakable bond and love for each other. God puts us in each others paths for a reason and I can’t imagine my life without that sweet girl.

Your children love their Mother. Your children love their Father. Your children even Love their STEP Mother and their STEP father. They love Grandpa, Grandma and they look upto their Aunts and Uncles with love and warm thoughts of play times with their cousins and memories they deserve to have with both sides of their family.

We are raising a generation of broken children, when divorce is at it’s peak and children are being torn to love one or the other parent more out of spite or jealousy. We cannot continue to run the other parent and family into the ground making claims of mental disorders, being falsely accused of abuse and making our children believe they too have to ‘hate’ or “ignore” or “disguise their love” for their own mother or father or step-parents.”

Anonymous

And So We Fight

By Jodi Johnson

I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.

~Sigmund Freud

And so we fight.

We fight to be a part of the lives he brought into the world. The lives that were created because he exists. We fight to retain something that is indelibly, rightfully, biologically his. We fight to protect these children from being divided in two by the people who are supposed to be caring for them.
It begs the question WHY? Why must he fight to be in his children’s lives? Why must he prove over and over and over again that he belongs in their lives when he was put there in the beginning by virtue of nature alone?

Married couples don’t have to prove their worth and battle in the courtroom year after year to see their children, to go to their school events or birthday parties or simply have a conversation with them. It’s just what parents do and it’s never questioned…when those parents are together that is. Yet when those parents can no longer co-exist, by no fault of the child’s, one parent is instantly demoted to “visitor;” and in many ways also, “victim.” They are victimized by the court system who makes decisions on the lives of people they don’t know based on one hour’s worth of testimony by whoever is the more believable. They are victimized by the other parent who now sees them as a paycheck instead of a person. They are victimized by society who judges them for not being the constant presence in their children’s lives they truly wish they could be. They are told when and where and for how long they can see their own children. They are told when and how long they can speak to them. They are told they can’t make decisions about the lives they created. And they are told how they feel about it doesn’t apply; that someone else has determined what is in their own child’s best interest and they must comply. And all because mom and dad can’t be married to one another.

And so we fight.

Albeit slowly changing, our society and our court system has long-held, archaic beliefs that women rear the children while the father provides for the family. Particularly in our very conservative corner of the world the notion of the father raising the children is frankly scoffed upon.

It brings to mind the June and Ward Cleaver version of Americana wherein the mother is packing the children’s lunchboxes every morning wearing her ubiquitous apron and has dinner on the table, hot and ready, every evening when Ward comes home from work. A pleasant, slow lifestyle. Well what if June and Ward split up? Naturally June would continue to take care of the kids while Ward provided, right? That scenario made sense in that era because far fewer women worked and they relied on their husbands for support while the men relied on their wives to take care of the domestic end of things.

Fast forward to 2014. June had an affair with the 26 year old neighbor which led to the demise of her marriage with Ward. Ward still works his 8 – 5, home at the same time every night, alone in his cramped one bedroom apartment because half his income still goes to June and he’s sitting there bored, missing his kids. June is working 65 hours a week. She and the kids are running frantic every morning trying to get out the door in time for them to be dropped off ½ an hour early to school because June has a morning meeting. They get a ride home on the bus and let themselves in the house and are there from 5:00 – 7:00 unsupervised. She leaves work at 6:00 to go to the gym for an hour and then goes home to feed them a pre-packaged dinner, check the kids got their homework done and have them get ready for bed by 8:00. And let’s not forget about the weekends when she’s out with boyfriend #4 that year while the kids are home with the Wii.

Meanwhile Ward, the “visitor,” is just wishing he could see them and would sacrifice whatever he could to just spend time with them. But the judge said no. He’s not the better parent. And he can only talk to the kids once a week. And he can only see them for 40 whole hours a month. Despite June never being fully present for the kids, in the court’s firmly held beliefs, June is still the best choice for the kids’ primary caretaker because she bore that child during infancy.

This is a true and clear depiction of the modern day custody situation. No, it’s not every family’s story. But I can tell you undeniably, it’s what we’re living, my husband and I; and it’s true of millions of other broken families world-wide.
We can simply not hold steady to the beliefs, stereotypes, and even laws of the past. They’re antiquated and not representative of the way life is now. In some cases, yes, mom is the better choice. But absolutely in no way should that be the pre-determined presumption. That child was created 50/50 and clearly the mom had, at one point, determined that this man was a qualified candidate to be a father to their child and only now because emotion and jealousy has clouded her judgment and ill-placed resentment has hardened her heart, this child’s father is precluded from being a caring, beneficial presence in the child’s life. And it certainly doesn’t benefit the child, being forced into accepting which half of themselves they get to spend time with more.

The tide is now starting to turn, ever so slowly, because dads are just plain fed up with the discrimination and are speaking out in growing numbers and the women who support them are using their voices to create a necessary balance and get the needed attention. And people, the government and court system included, are starting to listen. We are on the precipice of major change in family law and the view of the parental role in fatherhood in cases of unmarried parents and need those voices to continue to speak; and speak to the people who can effect change as there is still a long and arduous road ahead for these pioneers of father’s rights.

And so we fight.

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20 Tips to Maximize Your Chance of Equal or Shared Child Placement During Your Divorce

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By Casey Wilson

Doing things correctly during your divorce, may be the most important thing you can do to ensure a joint physical custody order. This list does not guarantee joint physical custody, but will maximize your chances.

1) Do not move out of the marital home, unless a court orders you to do so. If this is too strange offer to take turns with your soon to be ex taking care of the children in the marital home.

2) Do not agree to any temporary custody agreement unless you feel comfortable with it being a permanent custody order. Never, never rely on verbal agreements. Every agreement needs to be signed by both parties, by a judge and filed with the court to be binding.

3) Get involved in activities for your child. Get involved at your child’s school ie volunteer in the classroom. Try to do this before you are getting divorced as well. Be able to provide proof of this.

4) Say nothing that could be used against you in court. Mention no emotional problems, medication, or mental health issues unless a court requires you.

5) Cooperate with your soon to be ex as much as possible. Yet have boundaries when they are intruding or violating court orders. Handle violations swiftly.

6) If your ex is volatile and attempting to draw you into an argument…..leave immediately

7) Tell the truth, it is much easier to remember.

8) Record conversations if it is legal to do so in your state.

9) Attend counselling and take a personality test

10) Take your child to counselling

11) Study your states custody laws. Do not rely on your attorney to inform you on state law. They DO NOT always have your best interest in mind. Their business depends upon how much you use their services. They want you uneducated and not communicating with ex spouse unless it is through them. Do not rely on your friends’ advice, either.

12) Never bad mouth your ex in front of the child

13) Go to church with your child

14) Do not change jobs unless it provides you with more liberal time with your children, it is important to show stability

15) Document everything. Keep your documentation in a safe place where ex will never find, work is best, a locked computer or phone.

16) Show your ex studies on equal parenting. Nearly all recent studies show that equal parenting leads to better child outcomes. Try to get him or her to agree before litigating.

16) Communicate by written means. Get a new email address with an online server and use it for communication, save all emails in separate folders. Give no one the password.

17) Take a parenting class

18) Attempt to use a parenting coordinator as much as possible, have it in your divorce decree. Use mediation as well. What is said in parent coordination can be used in court. What is said in mediation cannot be used in court.

19) It is imperative you have a very, very specific divorce decree. It should mention exact times for exchanges, communication frequency and times, who will claim children on taxes, holidays, religion, activities. These cannot be too specific. An airtight divorce decree will decrease the chance of going to court more often. Attorneys are often intentionally vague in drawing up divorce decrees to ensure relitigation.

20) Cook meals. Tuck children into bed. Give baths. Give hugs. Talk to them. Tell them you love them. Tell them it’s not their fault. Do this before divorce as well.

Disclaimer: Under no circumstances do these recommendation guarantee an equal parenting order by a court. These recommendations are not legal advice but advice gathered from hundreds of divorced parents.
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Ten Arguments for Shared Parenting

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Shared Parenting in South Dakota just makes sense.  Here are ten arguments for shared parenting:

1.        This issue is about fit parents.  This issue is about fit parents.  The statement needs to be repeated because opponents continually equate this issue with protecting children against unfit parents.  Shared parenting advocates are not talking about those parents who are guilty of domestic or child abuse.  Shared Parenting advocates are talking about two people who are innocent and therefore entitled to the privileges of an innocent person.  It is important to not get caught up in the argument that in order to protect our children we need to keep the current system in place.  All of the current safeguards against abusive parents do not go away with shared parenting. 

2.       Every single parent with “standard visitation” in South Dakota also has a 50/50 schedule.  The schedule is for only 3 months out of the year:  Summer Vacation.  Every fall, a child who was with their parent for half time during the summer goes back to 4 days a month during the school year.  It is clear that the current system has no problem “allowing” shared parenting; it is clear that there is some sort of belief that NCPs (noncustodial parent) can’t parent effectively during the school year.  Proponents of Shared Parenting want to be more than vacation parents. 

3.       There is data out there that shows that the more contact that feuding parents have, the poorer the outcomes for children.  There is almost no schedule with greater contact for feuding parents than minimum South Dakota guidelines.  There are 20 points of contact for feuding parents a month with minimum guidelines.  There is absolutely no correlation between greater time spent with NCPs and negative outcomes for children.  There is only a correlation with negative outcomes for children with greater points of contact between feuding parents. Simple changes in a schedule can minimize contact between feuding parents

4.        Opponents to shared parenting make one point again and again:  men are abusive.  Men are not good or equal parents.  They assert that legislators need to assume that they are guilty to protect our children.  Opponents state that if they are good fathers and because men are financially privileged as gender that there is a cheap, fairly straight forward process of getting a lawyer and providing proof that they can co-parent.   I have spent 5000 dollars to get “minimum recommended guidelines” with my child.   None of the “cheap or easy” argument  is true. 

5.       If our state wants to guarantee child support payments then it needs to guarantee greater visitation.  Numerous studies show how increased fatherhood participation increases payments.  Greater visitation does not take away any support for children.  Abated funds are used to support the child in the non-custodial parent’s home. Zero money is taken away from support to a child.  Two homes need the resources (money) to support a child, not just one.

6.       We are talking about fit parents.  We are talking about fit parents.  Not one part of the proposed South Dakota  legislation for Shared Parenting is for children being in homes with unfit parents.  Parents with documented issues do not have the right that fit parents have.   We are upholding a standard of innocent until proven guilty—not the current standard of I don’t like you and so you can’t see your child.   

7.       I am a counselor.  I’ve done marriage counseling and family systems counseling.   This system creates leverage with two things:  money and visitation.  Children are being put in the middle.  Our laws need to take away that leverage from both parties.  There should not be an option for leverage.   Divorce can turn two people into ugly people.  The best” interests of the child” is about creating an environment that encourages the most time, love, and support from both parents.   When a parent wins in our current system, a child loses. 

8.       Parenting plans are part of the new legislation.  If one parent needs to be put in primary charge of medical, religion, and school decisions then that can be part of the plan.  Laws should not give one parent the only ability to make choices—power from the outset.  

9.       This system supports misogynist and outdated ideas about parenting.  There is no longer a “tender years doctrine” because the courts acknowledged that both sexes can care for a child.  Current stats show men and women both care for their children more than they ever have before.  Women don’t rely on men to take care of them.  Despite a lower average wage for women, women’s wages are getting better.  Here are some other points to consider before listening to how poorly women are coping in our modern world.  Six out of every ten persons entering higher education last year were women.  There are more female doctors and lawyers graduating than men.  The unemployment rate is also higher for men.  It’s new world for both sexes.  As much as I know this issue impacts more men, we should not make it a women’s rights issue on the other side.  This issue is about our children’s rights and access to two fit parents.

10.   The best childhood outcomes are from two parent families.  Children need active and engaged parents.  They do not need single mothers and visiting fathers.  As a counselor, I have counseled depressed fathers because they have lost their kids and helped young adults with scars dating back 20 years because of these laws.  These laws are failing South Dakota’s families and children.  The heart wrenching stories from women and men should compel us to do something—not acting is not an option.   The composition of the South Dakota Shared Parenting Coalition is parents:  men and women.  Good people.  The primary stakeholders in this case should not be the lawyers who profit from conflict but the parents and children who are directly impacted by this legislation.  Shared parenting is about two fit parents supporting their children and represents the “best interests of children.” 

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“Kids and Noncustodial Parents Get Screwed.” – Child Support Case Worker

In working to reforming our current system, I meet great people on a daily basis who see unfairness.

I am not alone in this, of course.

Today’s post is from a Division of Child Support case worker in South Dakota and has contacted me several times concerning South Dakota’s unfair custody laws. She asked to post anonymously as she believes she could lose her job if her superiors knew of her stance. So I post this, humbled she would take that risk and grateful for her insights. I believe you will be too.

This is from the front lines of child support and custody in South Dakota and neighboring states. Our anonymous writer today works with custody and child support on a daily basis.

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Here is her unedited letter:

“I am a Division of Child Support Caseworker in South Dakota. As such, I speak with other caseworkers in SD and nearly all other states in the US every day, and know there are very few options for “non-custodial” parents who are being denied equal access to their children, unless they are fortunate enough to be able to afford a long and expensive custody battle, which is extremely rare, especially in cases where the parents were never married.
While your group needs to pursue one issue at a time, your particular issue being custody and visitation arrangements after a divorce, I hope that you will also pursue shared parenting and child support arrangements for parents who were never married, as this is an issue that definitely needs to be addressed and rectified.
Before continuing, I will say that I, and all DCS caseworkers, recognize that the “non-custodial” (and we don’t like that term) parent may be the mother rather than the father. In most cases, however, the NCP is dad and the CP is mom, so please forgive my use of general terms such as “she” and “he”. I use them for the sake of simplicity, not out of a lack of respect or understanding that mothers do sometimes get the raw end of the deal, along with their children.
In every state in this country, the child support system is not only broken, but is in desperate need of repair. It is unbalanced and very often unfair. The child support calculation is based on the income of both parents, in every state, although I will admit there could be a state or two that does not do it this way and I am just not aware. In most states, if either parent is unemployed but not disabled, they are presumed to be capable of working 40 hours a week at minimum wage, so their income is imputed at $1275 per month. Following this calculation, if mom is willingly unemployed and dad is employed full time, making a mere $10 an hour, dad has a child support obligation of $357 per month for one child. (I got this number from SD’s child support calculator website and it is accurate.) Every parent, regardless of the relationship (or lack of one) that existed at the time the child was conceived, has a responsibility to provide financial support for their child. That is a fact. But, should dad, making $10 an hour really be forced to pay $357 to someone who is not willing to work? Where is mom’s responsibility in this? In these situations, mom (unless she is actually working 40 hours a week for minimum wage, which is rare), is receiving food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance, so she is sitting back, living a meager life and doing nothing to improve the lives of her children, and not having to lift a finger to do it. In the meantime, dad is working hard and still can’t afford to keep the lights on in his own home.
Most of the dads I speak to are willing to pay the child support, despite the financial stress. They understand that there is a little person out there who needs their help, and they are okay with that. In many of these cases, dad has not seen his child even once since the relationship with his child’s mother demised, and he has no recourse other than to hire a lawyer to get a visitation order. The first problem with this is that dad, making $10 an hour and paying $357 a month in child support has no money left over for to hire a lawyer. The second problem with this is that, even when he does and gets the order, mom can still deny the visitation and there will be no consequences to her for doing so. Sure, dad can take her back to court again, and the judge will tell her to behave, but if she doesn’t, nothing will happen in SD. Dad and the kids are still denied access to one another.
Approximately 2 years ago, the state of Illinois passed legislation that actually puts repercussions in place for CPs that refuse to follow the Illinois State Visitation Guidelines. If the CP denies access to the children to the NCP, her driver’s license can be restricted, and not be reinstated until she complies. What a novel idea. I am beside myself, wondering why every state has not enacted this legislation. We restrict, suspend, or revoke the driver’s licenses (and other licenses) of NCPs when they don’t pay the child support, even when they are unwillingly unemployed, yet we allow CPs to use their children as weapons against NCP, regardless of whether he is paying.
I had two office visits today, both from dads who are doing the best they can and still are being denied access to their children, simply because mom decided she doesn’t like them anymore. The first has a 5 year old daughter that he desperately wants to have a relationship with, but hasn’t been allowed to see since she was 1 year old. At least in that situation, the poor child doesn’t know what she’s missing in not being able to see her dad. The second is much more sad, and it honestly makes me very angry. Dad raised mom’s first child as his own from an infant to 4 years old. In the meantime, they had a child together. They were together for another year or two. For the next several years, dad had BOTH kids – even the one that was not his – for weekend visitation. Not enough, but at least it’s something. Then, mom decided to pull the rug out from underneath dad, with no consideration for her children. Dad has now not seen either child for a year and a half. He and mom were not married, so mom has all the power, unless he can afford an attorney, which he can not possibly afford to do.
As we sat and talked, there were several times that I could see he was struggling not to cry. Ever since mom decided (for what crazy reason no one knows) to withhold visitation, both children, and especially his biological child, have been acting out in school. They’ve been bullying other kids and being defiant to authority. His biological son was finally allowed to see his half sister (that dad had from another relationship) after being denied access to her for a long time. According to his sister, all he talked about was how much he missed his dad and how he is so happy he has all these things that his dad gave him, because it helps him remember his dad. Mom has the kid in therapy, that dad is paying for, and she is apparently oblivious to the reason why the kid needs therapy. I could tell her, but it would probably result in me being fired. Mom has 3 kids by 3 different dads and I would like to talk to her about that as well. Bottom line is mom is sitting back, collecting child support and state benefits, and not doing a damn thing to support her children, but she will be the first to call if a payment is a day late. This is just one case I am telling you about, and it’s not even the worst one; it’s just the one at the top of my mind.
The bottom line is this. We need to have state agencies that provide free services for NCPs to have fair and equal access to their children. We already have state agencies that help people who make no contribution themselves collect child support, and we are screwing kids and NCPs in the process. That is not acceptable in any state. I hope your legislature – and mine – will figure that out. Good luck and God Bless to you and your children.
All that being said, I hope all the NCPs (I really hate that term) understand that your CS case worker is not against you. We are forced to support the order, whatever that may entail. We have no power to help you with anything else, but we really would like to. God bless and God speed to you and your children.”

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