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Ask the Divorced Guy!
by Dean Hughson
Title: When we were part of 'they' we too said nothing
For those on this list who have been through a divorce and/or custody
hearing, a logical question is why would a judge restrict a functional
parent from seeing his or her kids? Now remember that a judge is a human
being, your neighbor, may be a member of your golf club, and his own kids
probably know your kids at the synagogue or church. Why, because there is a
divorce or child custody battle, would he recommend that you have only 15%
access to your kids (every other weekend and 2-4 weeks in the summer)? The
why is that he has been told by psychologists, psychiatrists,social workers
that the best thing that can happen to a divorced family is that you
stabilize the intact unit i.e. the custodial parent and children by
ordering a custodial parent and then having visitation for the
When you didn't know anything about divorce court, if you were like me you
probably didn't have a very high regard for divorced people. I don't
remember for sure but that my unspoken thoughts were that one of the
parents was an alcoholic or running around on the other. I never thought
about the kids. I can remember saying pious things like "Your ex is a
real sleaze for doing that to you."' Largely my thoughts as a member of
the theys' was highly uneducated. I didn't know that people get
divorced many times against their wills. I didn't know that men are the
custodial parent 1% of the time after a divorce. I didn't know of the
economic problems caused in families when they divorce and the problems
getting paid child support that occurs sometimes. I didn't know the
feeling of having to tell your child I can't see you this weekend because
that is what the court ordered. I didn't know the pain of having a child
crying on the phone to you about something happening in their home and not
being able to help.
Why do they say nothing? They say nothing because we say nothing as
citizens. If the 'normal'' non-divorced community knew of the inequalities
that occur daily to men and women in our society they would demand reform.
But in the scheme of things, divorce is a hidden problem. We read about
deadbeat parents, people kidnapping their children, and sadly even people
shooting their ex-spouses but we read little about the affects of divorce
on our society and the fiber of our families.
What is the solution? Speak out when the opportunity occurs. Tell your
elected officials that you support equality for parents after a divorce and
believe that kids need both parents. Support good organizations that
espouse these views. If you see that your local community is going to have
a consumer review panel for the courts get appointed to it.
Write letters when you see an article in the newspaper on divorce and tell
people how it really is. For we have said nothing too long.
Dean Hughson, called the Dear Abby of Divorced Dads by the KC Star, is the founder of the DIVORCE HOMEPAGE. He has talked to thousands of people contemplating divorce, going through divorce, or the chaos afterwards and gives referrals and advice. He resides in Nevada, the state with the highest divorce rate in the US.
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