There was a time not long ago when I had to have that difficult conversation with a family lawyer. “My ex wife won’t let me see my kids and I need to do something about it.” I was lucky back then when I went through my child access battle, I had a legacy left behind from my grandfather (from his custody battles) that I could use as a yard stick to live up to. Unfortunately a lot of men do not have such a benchmark to live up to when the gravity takes over making the situation feel impossible.
To make things harder, men of today have a tendency to compete with other men to the point of destruction rather than ever helping a fellow man. The “eat or be eaten” mentality may have its place in the boardroom but when it comes to a situation like this, kicking someone when they are down just seems inhumane, or worse.
The rest of this article is advice based on experience I learned firsthand and experiences of other men I witness firsthand in years since. I wish this advice was available to me when I needed it most. I hope it will find its way to where it is needed most.
Probably the best piece of advice I can offer is hard to hear but here it goes
“Your mental health is more important than anything else, do not let them take it away from you, take ownership of it, when it belongs to you they can’t take it away from you. If you come out of this fight with your mental health intact; you have won this battle, with or without your kids. Too many men are losing this battle and we need you intact for more battles that will inevitably follow. Your kids will grow up and return to you, they will know you fought for them, and lost, but they will not forget.”
In these situations it is all too common for the mother to manipulate the emotions of the children to encourage them to turn their back on their father. I know the pain of this firsthand, it does happen and it should be no surprise to someone who reads this that women are masters of manipulation, more than capable of manipulating a small child and stand to benefit by using these tools to manipulate an already biased court system.
There is nothing I can say here to ease your pain but I can pass on these pointers worth remembering
- do not do anything in front of your children that will create a negative memory in them of your actions
- do not get angry or frustrated with your kids when they start acting out their mothers behavior
- maintain whatever access you can (even if it is just a phone call where you get berated by the kids). They will at least remember you called once the brainwashing wear offs
The slogan goes like this “Parental Alienation is Child Abuse”. Whilst I agree with the sentiment perhaps the message could be delivered a bit more tactfully. I would just prefer to stick the CHILDREN NEED FATHERS.
Lastly a message to the children who have grown up without fathers: You may never have considered this before but your father may have originally wanted to be in your life then circumstances became too much for him to bear. A lot of men to not have the support necessary to cope with such long-lasting and orchestrated attacks on their character from such a well armed foe.
Not all the rumours about family court are factual
I was constantly told not to take my fight to the family court. You will lose everything, I was told. As far as I could gather everything was already lost, would remain lost and the ex-wife wasn’t going to volunteer to give it back on her own accord. I needed to do something to show my kids I was fighting for them. When I decided to put my matter in the hands of the court I knew I had decided to trade off money for child access. That’s what I expected and that is what happened. I was lucky I had a significant amount of money to trade. I received some visitation in return but not what I would call access.
My approach was to get it over and done with as fast as possible, go hard and go early. It wasn’t exactly a success for me but it was the lesser of all the evils.
I thought of myself as a military minesweeper clearing the minefield from explosives and clearing a path for the next generation of men who need child access. I don’t think I succeeded but it was worth a try. 🙂
I can offer these piece of advice to help
- start embracing the minimalist lifestyle being forced upon you (straighten your head and free yourself from clutter in your apartment/car)
- seek support from a men’s group (I didn’t do this but I wish I had)
- remember that you are the man and that this whole society is built off the back of your hard work
- remember you have the rest of your life to regain the balance
- focus on your mental health and self-improvement above all else
- Do not rely on your new partner to drive you (I do not recommend any paths that involve new partners, far too messy)
- Do not blindly follow peoples advice if they haven’t walked in your shoes (including other divorced dads, your case is unique)
How to deal with your militarized ex-wife
My lawyer kept saying to me “Remy, remember we are in a siege here, she has got the siege mentality you need to adopt it too, if you want to walk away from this.”
When I say militarised I mean highly armed for good reasons. It’s not just an exercise in getting you to read this far. The mother in these cases holds the power to send a man to jail and strip him of all his finances, child access rights, freedom, majority of his future earnings, dignity and reputation all she has to be is be prepared to “exaggerate the truth a little, commonly refered to by the rest of us as lying” . This power is given to her blindly when governments blindly condemn a man for domestic violence or rape claims with no evidence, no opportunity for response and no retribution for false claims.
My advice to deal with the situation is:
- Take the high road, from a distance. I now subscribe to the concept of karma which helps a lot, look into it.
- Think of her as a 3-year-old child who is not, will not and cannot take responsibility for her own actions. She will change her mind at a moments notice and will turn on in every chance she gets.
- Do not expect this to stop once you hand over all the money
- Minimize the risk you put yourself in i.e.
- Do not go to her house (yes it is her house now even if you built it), don’t call when it is unwanted, don’t step one foot wrong, don’t even show up on anyone’s radars
- You need to act like a saint.
The relevant military analogy would be you are cornered, outnumber and outgunned in enemy territory, don’t start shooting at the firing squad
- try not to give her any ammunition she can use against you, this includes alcohol fueled publicity, Facebook propaganda and one I always would have loved to do – shagging the ex-wife’s friends/colleagues
- If you have to go AWOL from you kids life for a while to neutralize her attack, consider the long game.
Dealing with social workers, opposition lawyers, clerks, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, counsellors, aid workers, blah blah blah
Try to put yourself in their shoes if you want to communicate with them effectively. More often than not you are just another client same as all the other who they see are already guilty and the children is their top priority, the mothers opinions counts for more than yours.
I always got the feeling that the outcome is pretty much already defined regardless of your circumstances. I went through the motions mainly as an exercise in closure and to help me feel I had fought as much as possible in the years to come.
Remember: Everything you say will be resurrected and twisted against you.
To Sum It Up
Change starts with one man at a time. Yes I know firsthand the system is corrupt. Yes I know firsthand it is a fight you can’t win but even if you put up a fight you are bucking the trend.
This was a particularly hard article for me to write so please forgive the raw nature of it. I will come back to it and clean up the rough edges one day, when the minefield is cleared.
The above article discussed such topics are parental alienation, shame, guilt, ego and divorce court weaponry far too common in this age of no fault divorce and court bias.
Several coping mechanisms were suggested but this path to wholeness is unique to each situation.
Embrace a minimalist lifestyle, it is now your new normal and materialism is so 80s.
Minimise your risk. The thread of false violence claims is ever present, take precautions, if you need to record interactions this could save your freedom.
Fight hard, fight clean and get it over and done with as fast as possible.
Your children will return to you when then can, be ready for them, and don’t make the path back to you any harder than it already is.
The most important part is this:
Once you have survived thees injustices firsthand, yell it from the hilltops, do not let anyone pass you by without sharing your story. Younger men need to be supported and need to be educated on the risks of divorce and their lack of rights as a father. Divorced men need our support to rebuild their mental state and rebuild a healthy life with their kids.
As a parting gift please following this link “If” poem by Rudyard Kipling and click on the audio file for inspiration.