Please bear with me as I try to sort out my mangled thoughts.
Last weekend, I went to a “Parent Forum” at a family event. The children were engaged elsewhere in various activities geared towards their age groups (it was an EXCELLENT event) while the parents had an opportunity to talk about different issues that were affecting us as parents and our families.
One brother shared his frustration with what he called the “Babylon System.” Separated from his former girlfriend, he was now caught up in the crazy world of family court, child support, custody and visitation. I think he said that he was allowed to see his daughter only once a week on Wednesday plus every other weekend. His rage was directed at his ex who had thrown their entire family into a turmoil by calling Babylon on him (which included Children’s Aid or what is sometimes called Child Services) but it was obvious to him that in the end, his daughter would be the one to suffer the most.
Two days later, I was driving with a girlfriend of mine. She is recently separated from her husband and lives alone with their daughters. She shared her frustration that her husband is not holding up his end of the financial responsibility. She says that she has been more than patient while he got a job and got his financial house in order. However, after taking note of his new car and a new computer while he still claims that he has no money to put toward the support of his daughters, she is ready to take her request to the next level. Thinking of the comments that the brother made on the weekend, I shared his concerns with my friend, especially around the impact of Children’s Aid and the court system on the children. She repeated, vehemently, that her daughter’s father gives no money for food, no money for their schooling and seems bent on punishing her at the expense of their daughters. She asked me, “What am I supposed to do?” I didn’t have an answer.
My anxiety is centered around the realization that we have too many fathers who are not helping to support their children, either with money OR with their time. Then, when a mother is forced to go to court, brothers are quick to say “Can you believe it? She called the MAN on me!” It is seen as the ultimate betrayal. On the other hand, we DO have mothers who play the games, holding out their child as a pawn for the most money, denying visitation, telling lies, everything. And we DO have those fathers who use fake addresses to avoid the court papers, work under the table to avoid having their wages garnished, get their driver’s licenses revoked, passports revoked and still jump through all kinds of hoops, all to avoid giving money to feed their children!
But we also have hard working mothers who wish they didn’t have to take it there, having the court in their family business just to make a father do right — and usually unsuccessfully. And we have fathers who genuinely want to be a part of their children’s lives but are just not able to get a fair break in the legal system.
My question to you is: Have you been involved in the family court system for child-support or custody issues? If yes, why did it come to that? If no, is it something that you would do if you had to?
The other thing that blows my mind is the hate that sometimes comes along with the rage. When I heard this man talking about his ex-girlfriend, it seemed like he forgot there was ever a time that he had loved this woman. That he CHOSE to have a child with this woman. I think if I could talk to every angry “babydaddy” or ex-husband out there, I would ask them, Do you remember what it was like to love this woman? Before she became, as you say, a “crazy, deranged babymama?” Same for the sisters: Unless this was a hit-and-run, I’m thinking that we CHOSE to have a child with this man. What happened? How do things fall apart?