The following post is by Taylor George, a regular reader and commenter on the Jesus Creed blog. This blog sometimes provides posts by readers and commenters. Taylor is touching on a sensitive but all-too-real topic: the impact of divorces on dads. No one at this blog wants to suggest that divorce is anything but tragic and messy, and sometimes the reasons for divorce are not entirely clear or forthright, but there is a concern that the courts do not treat fathers with equity. The big question here is whether or not there needs to be more equity in the divorce court. Here’s the post by Taylor:
Not often can you find two men at work hugging, crying, and sharing a story. That’s the situation I found myself in a couple years back when a coworker of mine, Ted, told me his child custody story while I was trying to fix his computer. It’s a story it seems I am hearing almost every other month from friends and family alike.
It goes something like this: we married seven years ago and grew apart. Along the way we had a couple kids but now I hardly get to see them. In Ted’s case it was four toddler aged boys and a bit older, and according to Ted when the fourth one turned out to be a boy his wife left him. “You see,” said Ted. “She wanted a girl, and when that didn’t happen she became disinterested in the marriage.”
Now he’s left with a child support payment and little contact or influence with his kids. He has a picture from their younger days sitting on his desk, and as he told me his story we both began to tear up. I realize that Ted’s ex-wife has a side to this story. The fact is this however, as a father it is possible to be nearly perfect and lose physical and legal custody of the kids.
Truth be told, there is no perfect way to split a family. It is obviously a complex situation for a third party to figure out. Once again though, we know how the courts usually rule. Fathers get a couple weekends a month, a week or two in the summer, no decision making in the life of the children, and many times a crippling monthly payment. In the state of California it can be as much as sixty percent of your income.
So here is the question: Why does this have to be the de facto one size fits all solution? Why must Dads be guilty until proven innocent? Why can’t we figure out how to share physical custody especially for children well beyond infancy?
One answer might be retribution. For years men worked, came home plopped their feet up on the couch and watched on while mommy plugged away changing diapers. I get that. I get the parts of this debate that are related to women’s liberation and rewarding those who nurture. I can remember my 80 year old grandmother at a Thanksgiving dinner two years ago unsuspectingly unloading on all of us about how our dead grandfather “wouldn’t do a damn thing with the kids after work.” Strong words for a Southern Baptist.
To this line of thinking I’d like to say firstly that times have changed, and more importantly fathers have changed. Dads today are more involved and more nurturing. So let me state this: We need a change. We need to draw Dads back into the equation. Dads need their kids, and kids need their dads. We need to treat Dads fairly in custody situations. We need to quit pitting Moms against Dads, and quit giving Mom’s an incentive to seek a divorce unnecessarily.
To the people that disagree with my direction on this I have to ask, how would you want the courts to treat your sons as grown adult fathers?