A friend of mine has been embroiled in a custody battle with the mother of his child almost from the time of the child’s birth. The mother has made false accusations of physical and sexual abuse. She has had him arrested. She has interrupted their visits with all sorts of nonsensical claims. He has had to hire lawyers in multiple countries.
The battle has cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars and left him in near financial ruin. His family has advised him to give up. He refuses to give up. Stubbornly, he soldiers on.
The situation brings me to tears because this man is one of the most loving fathers I know. His relationship with his child is beautiful.
If things continue on this way, there is no good ending here.
As a single divorced mother whose ex-husband walked away from his children for years because he claimed I was “too difficult” to deal with, I am a bit torn. On the one hand, I understand why my friend’s family is telling him to cut his losses and move on. On the other hand, as a mother, and having witnessed the beauty of his relationship with his child, I am loath to see that come to an end. It feels wrong to me for a father to have to lose everything just to fight for the right to see his child. But it feels equally wrong to me for a father to abandon his relationship with his child, no matter the price.
I’ve talked to a number of men who have said they were tempted to walk away from their children because of the difficulties they were having dealing with the mother of those children. In most cases, I felt – and they agreed – that walking away from one’s children because you don’t get along with their mother is unjustified.
My friend’s custody battle is an extreme case, and is beyond mere not getting along. But there are other extreme examples. But even in extreme cases, is a father ever justified in walking away?
When a mother is vindictive and uses her children as pawns in her battle against her ex – when she makes false accusations that a court (or courts) must investigate, often requiring the involvement of social workers, psychologists and other professionals; when she constantly frustrates his efforts to have a relationship with his children; when she interrupts his visits, makes last-minute excuses for not going through with a visit that he has already planned for (including taking time off work), invents emergencies that don’t really exist – is there ever a point when a father has a rational basis for saying, “Enough is enough!” and walking away from the situation until the children are old enough for him to seek a relationship with them, independent of the mother?
And what are the pitfalls of that approach? Is there ever a point when it’s too late to try to be a dad?
I continue to pray that things work out for my friend and that he is somehow able to work out a deal with his ex before all their lives are further destroyed. I am also happy that my ex and I have managed to put our own court battles behind us, and are now attempting to co-parent. But I would love to hear your thoughts as to whether a father ever, even under the most difficult legal and financial circumstances, is justified in giving up on maintaining a relationship with his child?
45 thoughts on “Can Fathers Walk Away From Their Children?”
I’m a bit confused by the focus on fathers. The “answer” for men should be the same as the answer for women; if there is a stopping point for mothers, then there is a stopping point for fathers. If mothers should continue to fight no matter the cost, then the same should go for fathers.
A more interesting question, however, is why men seem more able or willing to disconnect from their children for so long. For many reasons, we make it easier for men to do so, by continuing, for example, to place so much childcare responsibility with women. But, is there also an emotional connection between mothers and their children, absent from fathers and their children, that make it easier for men to check out after a separation? Is that also something society cultivates in men? I’ve met or heard of so many otherwise normal men who seem to be able to tolerate not being in their childrens’ lives. Maybe that’s it; we think them “normal” but the ability to abandon your children is anything but.
I also often wonder about what a mother’s obligation is to keep her children near her ex after a divorce. Assuming there are no abuse issues–it just didn’t work out–but that mom has primary custody, is she obligated to stay nearby? Although I have no intention of divorcing my husband (motherhood is hard enough WITH a partner! And, you know, I love him and all…), we’ve (my husband and I) decided that should the unthinkable happen, we
would make it a point to live in the same city to ensure regular access for both of us to our children, and that if one person has to move for work, then we both move. Of course, life can be a bit more complicated than that, but I think it’s an important baseline assumption.
What you refer to as the “more interesting question” is the reason my piece focuses on fathers, and is the reasonwhy the answer may not be the same for mothers and fathers. Women are still generally thought to be the primary caregivers, and are most often awarded custody (physical and legal) in divorce. I didn’t write this to be gender-neutral because men and women are not similarly situated in custody battles. There are presumptions in favor of the mother that are hard for a father to overcome. You went on to raise all the issues that prompted me to write this piece: do we make it too easy for men to walk away? Thanks for your comments.
ORJ that is such a naive view of divorce ,,, my ex and I also had that chat ,,, but no one can predict what life throws our way,, divorce is not always friendly or amicable ,, one person may start another family and stay in the area ,,, while the other gets an amazing job offer 200 miles away… or meet a future partner from another city… either way its usually the mother left holing the baby and the dad walking away
Yes we all make promises like that when things are good but after a nasty divorce i bet your attitude would change!!..get real!! life is not a sugar coated candy bar divorce is nasty and most of these vindictive nasty pieces of work that deny fathers access after are not fit to call themselves a mother
I don’t think that it would ever be in the “best interest” of the child for a parent to stop fighting to have a relationship with them. No matter what. If you laid down to make them, then you must stand up to fight to be in their lives, no matter what the difficulties. As a child, how awful it would feel to know that your parent stopped fighting to have a relationship with you because it was “too hard” – there should never be a stopping point, an end point – that bond is the most important, after the one with God, that should be fought for with all costs. Shame on mothers who make that difficult, shame on them for robbing their children of that bond. The laws certainly need to be changed to make it more difficult for custodial parents to shut out non-custodial parents if non-custodial parents are not abusive or otherwise detrimental to children; sanctions should put in place to make this type of thing less prevalent. It shouldn’t be easy for either parent to make it easy for the other to walk away – everything should be focused on the child, making it hard for either parent to walk away from him or her.
I tweeted about this at length yesterday. Here are some of my random, but relevant, thoughts:
Society condones absenteeism with fathers.
Absentee fathers are a direct result of sexist social standards. Men worked, mothers were home, thus convincing society mothers are better.
And since society thinks mothers are the better parents, the courts uphold it. When the law upholds that, its disenfranchising. The laws in many states show preference to mothers in family court and men go through hell to have a part in the kids’ lives.
I know a man now whose daughter is in a homeless shelter with her mother. He wants custody. Lawyers told him he wouldnt win b/c she is not abusing or neglecting the child. Being homeless isnt a reason to take a child from a mother. So, as the father, he is stuck.
We have to look back at the way society was before. Until mothers began working outside of the home, men were (expected to be) detached.
Men have ALWAYS had the secondary parenting role. This whole fatherly involvement stuff is modern. Society hasn’t fully caught up yet.
So, we make it easier for men to walk away. We almost allow it, if not expect it, esp among poorer people or people of color.
Without the bind of marriage, fatherhood seems so optional. We even congratulate men who actually stick around. We’re f*cked as a society.
And then by telling women that abortion is THEIR choice and THEIRS alone, society removed men from the reproductive decision-making even. At every turn, society pushes men out of the parenting picture. Why are we surprised when they actually walk away? A man stays home to take care of his kids? His manhood/masculinity is called into question. They have to fight for paternity leave. Etc.
So before we get attitudes about what men are doing with their kids, lets think abt how we might uphold the status quo.
I’m in no way excusing deadbeats. F*ck that. Take care of your children. Period. But we must understand how our culture makes it easier for men to walk away than for women (not saying either should walk away). If a woman walks away, she is demonized. If a woman turns over custody, people look at her like she is crazy. Thats f*cked up…
Im one who believes both people should have equal say in abortions, but I know I’m in the minority. I’m also someone who believes a man should have the right to sign away his parental obligation if a woman keeps the baby especially after they used protection and agreed beforehand that they didnt want it. If they have the “what to do is pregnancy occurs?” conversation, and both agree to the outcome… If he maintains that stance, but she changes her mind I feel he should have the right to sign away any responsibility to rights. But, I know thats a controversial stance.
Yes, people know a baby can happen when you have sex. Abstinence is not realistic, as ideal as it might be. Marriage isnt happening like it used to. So ideally if you have sex, you should be ready to be a parent, protection or not, but it doesnt always happen that way. If a woman has the “right” to choose to abort an embryo that may turn into a child that the man wants, he should be able to “terminate” his parental obligation if the tables are turned.
Parenthood isnt a right, it is a privilege. Some people dont understand or appreciate the gift they’ve been given. Some do, but the stress and frustration can be overwhelming.
My own father spent the last 18 years battling back and for over a son he hasnt seen since he was 6. He decided to walk away, finally. I dont blame him. He did everything he could but the mother was/is a bitter bitch because she was a jump off and he later married someone else. His son believes her lies and takes her side. Only calls when he wants money or sneakers or a new game system. I dont blame my dad for walking away and I dont even claim him as my brother.
on the whole abortion hing: how would that work in real life? everyone would have to sign a contract, and if no contract was signed, then would we say that the man has to take responsibility? or else what: how would we, as a society, know who talked about it before hand and who didn’t? would we have to have civil trials to figure it out? it would be a “he said, she said” problem every time.
and while i understand your viewpoint on abortion re: children as the end goal, i also think abortion is also about bodily integrity – there is still no getting around the fact that women carry fetuses for nine months, the ultimate responsibility for that fetus is on a woman, whatever she does is also done to that fetus, etc. the responsibility is not equal, therefore the choice of whether to carry or not likewise isn’t equal. it’s not just a matter of societal norms – there is a huge biological difference.
I’m not against contracts. Or even recorded conversations/agreements. I’m also in favor of people providing documentation of recent STD/I testing before engaging in sex. How many people actually do that? Not many. It is definitely an idealistic point of few, not without flaws related to implementation.
Yes there are biological differences, but if we maintain that standard, we have to accept the others that come with it, namely the disconnect of fathers. We cannot tell them that the woman has MORE say when it comes to deciding to carry a child and then demand they have equal participation in the child’s life after. Again, we make it optional for men by upholding the “my body, my choice” mantra. If we’re fine with that, we have to accept what comes with it. He might just say “Ok, your choice, you deal with it”
I disagree. The choice to have a child was made when both people laid down and had sex, not when the woman decided (or not) to have an abortion. I think people are very confused when they think it’s at the latter point in time that a choice for mothers to be more in control was created. Before abortion was legalized, fathers had been walking away – giving women the choice over their bodies did not change that! Fathers did not suddenly become more disconnected when abortion became legal!
No one has more say when deciding to lay down and have sex – both parties are equally aware of what can happen when engaging in such conduct. With the current birth control options, both partners have equal control over preventing pregnancy. IF pregnancy occurs, then yes – a woman has more say over whether that pregnancy continues – but that’s the risk one takes when they laid down. Maintaining that standard is biology – and has nothing to do with fathers disconnecting. If a man doesn’t want to have a baby – DON’T HAVE SEX.
I think that the problem Latoya is that the same final phrase could be applied to women who choose to abort. I feel like the unfortunate truth is that somewhere in the midst of this conversation we forget that having a baby is a privilege, not a “responsibility.” We confuse the value of new human life with the burden of a troubled/complicated/abusive relationship with a co-parent. I think men and women are too hung up on relationships with “peers” and forget that the most important relationship in child-rearing is the one you foster with your child. Anyone, man or woman, who walks out of a relationship with a child, because of a relationship with a co-parent, is confused about the relationship he/she was supposed to be developing in the first place.
@Benee.. the friend whos ex-wife and daughter are in a homeless shelter … maybe he should spend less money going to court for custody and more money helping the mother of his child to provide a better life for them both ??????
Although I agree with the consensus that fathers should never leave. This battle is draining him of all resources. Eventually he’s going to be ruined and won’t have a pot to piss on when he finally gets to see his child.
The bigger question is why the courts haven’t stepped in and really put that chick in her place. Honestly, a caring, loving father NOT being able to see his kids? A judge should tell her to slow her roll before she loses custody. Especially seeing that she’s making false accusations about him abusing her/the child. I know how my family gets down and trust, she wouldn’t be safe.
I don’t really think it is fair for us to assume she is lying about the abuse, how do we really know that? Domestic violence is a very silent, pervasive reality.
There is no “assumption” that the abuse claims are a lie. They simply are.
As far as giving up on having a relationship your kids… I’m a mom and I feel that since I wouldn’t ever then no one else should either. #selfcentered
My dad wasn’t around too much and I wondered why I wasn’t important enough to him (to make me a priority). I know that my older kids feel that way about their father…why isn’t he here? is he mad at me? does he love me? Those are hard & hurtful questions for kids. So I think fighting for the relationship communicates that it is a priority but I have no advice on how much one should fight – a year? 5 years? spend $10k? $100K? Does the non-custodial parent save receipts and court documents with the thought that when the child is 18 he can prove that the effort was made? Will that evidence make a difference to the child?
I can only imagine how hard it must be to continually be forced into a defensive position and spend money without getting desired results…but I don’t think that giving up will give any real satisfaction either.
@Carolyn I pray your friend has a peaceful & quick resolution to his situation. It is heartbreaking
@Benee – read your tweets yesterday, appreciate the presentation of the historicial and sociological context that brings us to this point
This was difficult to read.
I applaud the father who is fighting for his child. Wish there were more like that out there.
I struggle with the question of “is it too late to try and be a dad”.
The father and the father’s family were terrible during pregnancy, terrible when it came to seeing the child as an infant. They spent years bad mouthing and putting horrible rumors out there, yet the mother still tried to facillitate a relationship. She was met with rejection and being stood up.
So fast forward to where the child is old enough to understand families….has grown to love his granparents and uncles and family friends who fill the father role. The kid isn’t missing anything.
Do you bring the biological father in now who stated they only want one visit “every couple of months”, nothing more. No in between conversation. Do you confuse the child by bringing in this stranger and saying, “ok THIS is your dad.” He’s only going to see him twice a year (that’s what the father wants…no reason…it’s just easier for him). Court documents for formal visitiation setup have been ignored.
He already calls the only father he’s ever known Daddy.
Is it wrong to just wait until the child can make his own decision… that’s what they want to do.
Is it wrong to say to try and protect the child from the hurt of being neglected.
I feel like a fairweather father is more damaging than one that isn’t present at all.
Is it wrong to just say, “stay gone” in this situation.
Wow! I know it may not feel like it at times to him, but what your friend is doing is honorable and RIGHT. I, too, believe that a parent (either parent) should never give up on having a relationship with their child.
As a mother, I watched it happen to my oldest child, and now I am watching it happen to my 2 younger children (all boys…) I often look at myself and wonder if it was something I did that made it “OK” for these two men to walk away from their responsibilities. My oldest was conceived during college, and after I left to have him, his father graduated and moved to another state to attend law school. His parents found out about our son when a letter from the child support enforcement agency in his state was “accidentally” forwarded to another country. (Divine intervention if you ask me…) Even though he is back in state, he still does not consistently support out teen-aged son in any way. For the record, the only time I have ever said anything ugly to him is when he started standing our son up and when he texted me nastily after the child support agency garnished his bank account for about 3 years worth of support.
I promised myself that I would NEVER put my child through that again, but my husband (still married) is now “living la vida loca” as I call it. He left to take a better paying job (so I thought), and I have watched my marriage and my family unravel from a distance over the last 1.5 years. Not to say that things were perfect, but let’s just say I had NO IDEA how imperfect they were. Now, he will no longer help me with our sons in any real way. He is too busy vilifying me and trying to make me look bad. He claims I am trying to keep our children away from him, but I never have until our oldest son came home crying after a visit in late October. I called to establish some ground rules, and what did he do next time he got them? He took them right back into the situation where our son was hurt. Am I really supposed to let a man who cannot make decisions based on the best interests of his children keep doing things that may harm them? Am I harming them because I told him that the next time he GETS (not sees) them, it would be with a court-order? Honestly, I just want some legally-enforcable ground rules that protect our sons. Am I wrong for that?
That is such a terrible situation for the child. These types of situations will only perpetuate that behavior for generations until more people make the conscious effort to NOT make it culturally accepted. The court systems pretty much accept sometime abhorrent behavior by the mothers, in spite of the efforts of the fathers. I believe they see that as an “easier” solution.
Fathers…fight on! I believe the children will thank you later!
Oh, to have been faced (as a daughter and a mother) with a father who fought so hard to be part of his child’s life!
I think I speak for my daughter when I say that there is more psychological gain for the child when the father continues to put forth effort to remain part of the child’s life, as that connotes a sense of worth and value for the child. Even if the mother continues to make interaction difficult to impossible, a child who knows her/his father desires (and works!) to be an integral part of everything with that child gains in self-esteem. That same child will grow to develop a greater appreciation for relationships and how s/he can foster healthy relationships moving forward in life.
My hope and prayer for the father in this situation is that psychologists will be able to work with the child to establish the level of harm being wrought on the child by the mother’s actions, as it is nearly certain that the mother’s actions are causing an emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual toll on the child, which, if not caught and addressed, will result in a lifetime of challenge and distress for the child.
I don’t think we can come up with a definitive answer about when it’s okay for a father to walk away from a child’s life–particularly since every situation is different and some fathers may be more detrimental to their children than helpful–but I do think that the answer begins in our collective societal expectations about parenting. Rather than seeing parenting as a relationship between two adults, if we took the focus off their relationship and placed it on the relationship each has with this new life they created, then neither parent would be considered as more valuable (or more expendable) than the other parent. Both would be expected and encouraged to be part of the child’s life, and the child would reap the benefits even if the two parents were unable or unwilling to be in a relationship with each other.
Had I seen your comments first I would not have written my earlier replies. I agree with you 100%
In theory I can agree that the father should continue to fight for a son no matter what.
But I agree with AndreaM and Tyrone. In reality, the guy is going to run out of money and energy to fight the ‘good fight’. So, I’m guessing that he should try to consider alternative routes than the courts. And frankly I would like to know if there are any other alternative routes outside of the courts for such custody issues.
Also, I was wondering was the father having such a difficult time in the courts because he is not (was never) married to the mother. I thought courts were starting to recognize more father (former husband) rights.
I’ve been careful not to disclose more facts to protect the identity of all involved. Last thing I want is to give the mom more ammunition to use against him. It is a terrible situation. He has exhausted nearly every available option. And yes, eventually he will run out of resources: money as well as physical/emotional resolve. It’s simply awful.
My dad gave up because the courts did nothing to help him. Not only did she move her son to GA, where the laws are INSANE regarding custody and support, she falsified documents saying they were married (never were), had his wages garnished despite his paying regular support, and then last year tried to sue him for support in NJ where he lives. The bitch wanted support in TWO states!!! Mind you, he began receiving support checks BACK because they finally caught up that she had lied abt them being divorced. It took 10 years for them to catch that. 10 YEARS!!! Only way they found out is cuz she tried to get even MORE money from him. She is a bitter leeching bitch and she will have to answer to God for what she did to her son, all because my father had ZERO interest in marrying a jump off. She was one of those too Christian to have an abortion, but not Christian enough to keep your legs closed with a man you barely know types. Whatever.
To top it off she told his son that he wasnt sending any support and never sent a dime. My dad still holds receipts for DIAPERS from when he was 2! My dad has kept every single thing… you think his son will listen? Nope. The boy is 18 now and bitter because his mother is a dirty liar. He talks to my father with NO respect, like he is just some asshole on the street. Forget that!!
This drained my father, aged him over the year more rapidly. When he said he was walking away, I didnt try to change his mind.
Can fathers walk away from their children? Of course they can…and they do. In my case, my daughter’s father has chosen to ‘walk away’ from her (she’s 9yo). To make a long story short, his wife has been physically, verbally and emotionally abusive towards my daughter, and he has knowledge of this. Eventually DSS got involved and basically told him that it’s his responsibility to make sure his daughter is safe when she is with him and he is to let me know where my daughter is when she’s visiting him. He refused, and at a meeting with DSS, his wife and me announced that he didn’t want to see his daughter again until she was 18. Upon his announcement, our DSS case was closed.
My daughter FULLY understands the situation, and as her therapist said, she know’s who is at fault (the stepmother).
The bottom line is that instead of making sure his wife treats his daughter right, he chose to walk away. This is a decision that he’ll have to live with.
Kim, This is terrible and I’m really sorry. Don’t you think the father is at fault also though? Are you finding ways to help your daughter with that?
Absolutely blame her father also, he always said he’d ‘fix’ the problem, and it’s his responsibility to keep his daughter safe when she’s with him. Alone, he’s a great dad, and takes good care of his daughter. The problems arise when the step-mother is around.
This is fairly straightforward. If the mother keeps showin her @ss, he will bow out. He’s got his family telling him to disengage, he’s bleeding cash over BS, it’s only a matter of time before he lets go of the ghost.
I know what we would like to happen, but the reality is he will eventually tire of this and walk. Everyone will lose but he will see it as he is losing less now than when he was putting in the effort.
I wrote “So ideally if you have sex, you should be ready to be a parent, protection or not, but it doesnt always happen that way.”
I understand that. Your speaking ideally. We know this doesn’t happen so we have to address the reality of the situations. Accidents happen, even when both take precautions. 95% of people under 40 have sex before marriage, I read. Clearly, abstinence is no longer valued.
I agree that men and women should take responsibility when they create a child. But to deny men “choice” is wrong, IMO. If women have choice, so should men. I’m not suggesting the man’s choice will always be weighted equally, but it should come damn close!!
There should be an opt-out clause for men because there IS one for women.
Again, I think we just have a fundamental disagreement. Men DO have an opt-out clause. It’s called abstinence. Men can’t get mad because biology made it so that women are biologically able to choose – that’s biology. That’s not society or anything else other than the way nature made bodies and constructed reproduction. Society is not denying men “choice” – nature is, and always has. A man cannot carry a baby, never has and never will be able to do so. That is nothing new. So his “choice” is when he lays down. I’m not speaking idealistically, I’m speaking practically, pragmatically, realistically. As in this is the way it is, has been, will always be.
Then a woman’s opt out clause should be abstinence and abortion should be illegal if we agree to follow your logic as it applies to men. Abortion is nothing biological. It is man made technology. So if a woman can choose to use external forces to abort an embryo, why can a man, without whom said embryo would not exist, also be able to choose abortion? I don’t agree with a man being able to force a woman to undergo abortion, as it is a serious procedure. However, if the woman didn’t “opt out” with abstinence, why is that the man’s only option? I’m sorry but that doesn’t seem right. You’re putting more responsibility on the man than the woman. Women, following your argument, can freely pick and choose whether or not they want to be parents, while men cannot. And you’re focusing on the abstinence issue while we’re moving forward. They’ve fucked, now what?
As Tanji said, apply the same abstinence pressure to women. If you control for that, and accept that they have fucked, what options does the man have?
None. His becoming a “father” is at the whim of the potential mother. That carries a LOT of weight and all I am saying is that we must look at how THAT itself creates a culture of disconnect and even resentment.
Every situation is different, but every situation has balance point. If that point is accessible and controllable, then through compromise, sacrifice and/or intervention, solutions can be found, adjusted and implemented. But if that balance point is cannot be located, then control or modification is all but impossible. Retreat is the only alternative.
This situation seems like a good candidate for a retreat. As portrayed, the mother is hellbent on being obstinate, destructive and mean. This creates a toxic environment for the (nonexistent) relationship, let alone for any meaningful contact with the children. It wouldn’t be a stretch to believe that said mother is also infusing her evil animus into the children. And since she’s blocking any contact that could provide a perspective apart from hers, the damage will likely be long-lasting. And she’s lying…
My advice to the father: Step out, step away, remove yourself. But don’t walk away. Go undercover. Get guerrilla on the adversary(what else can you label her, at this point?). Do whatever it takes to assure that you have a way to reach the children, not now, maybe not even in 5-10 years from now. But in some way, leave a Trojan horse, a back-door, secret access point. Somehow, plant the seeds of hope in the children (and only the children), for later.
The Children may be to young to understand now, and the pain of a temporarily lost Father will be a bitter pill, but there is simply no sane recourse, until the mother either comes around(unlikely), or is legally out of the picture. Time could be persuaded to be on the father’s side, and time always understands patience.
No matter the situation, the relationship, the connection: It is almost always best to walk away from a liar. Opt out.
I am a 32 year old single father with five beautiful children who ages range from 2 to 6 years old. The above story in a lot of respects is similar to mines. Their mother put me through hell. First, the lies started, then the deception. Finally, the betrayal took place. She brought me to court on false accusations of physical and sexual abuse. It was heartbreaking to see it happened. She made life in the house so unbearable; my children still talk about it still to this day. To make a long story short, I was awarded full legal and physical custody of my children without a lawyer. My children appreciated the fight that I put up for them. They hug and kiss me all the time, and they tell me that they love me all the time. I cook, clean, wash them, help them with their homework, go to school functions (as much as possible), etc. It is a honor and blessing to have them in my life. These are God’s sheep and I am their shepard. Tell the brother to stay strong and not to give up, but do not allow it to consume him. Pray daily!!
As I read your post, I admire your friend what he’s doing and I hope my situation never reaches that point. My wife and I separated 7 months ago and she and my son moved 1,200 miles away, which means I don’t see my son but every two or three months for three or four days as he’s in school. I talk to him at least three times a day and cherish those times when I get to be with him.
There are times my soon-to-be ex-wife has threatened to take my son totally out of my life and when she has, it’s always brought me to tears, because I can’t imagine my life without my son in it. He’s my only son and there’s nothing I won’t do for him, which is why I’m glad he’s in a great school district with people I know. He’s better where he is than where I am now, so for now I have no problem with the custody arrangement. It’s clearly in his best interest. However, when I’m finally about to relocate to a better place that will change. I’ll want him with me more frequently.
It’s too easy to walk away and just pay child support, so your friend is showing what a real father is and his ex-wife needs to wake up and realize what a blessing she has before her. If I were in his situation, I’d keep fighting the fight because eventually a judge will see the truth and grant his request.
Benee – We’ll just have to agree to disagree. Yes, women have another point to choose that men do not. But again, to say that men have NO choice is not true. Men have 100% choice to have a child and be or not be a parent. And that begins and ends with having sex. The fact that women have another choice has little to do with men’s first choice. Both people need to be responsible at step 1. The fact that women get a second chance is biologically-based because the technology affects only them.
My father gave up for similar reasons. It hurt me & him both in the long run. We’re alright now, but it took years of blood, sweat and tears to get past the consequences of his walking away.
Either way that the outcome goes (fighting it out or walking away), situations like this hurt the innocent – the children – the most.
I am a father of 4; my oldest son (13) is from a previous relationship. His mother has fought me every step of the way, I know she badmouths me in front of him. When he was 4 I had to fight for visitation because she and I were fighting and she would not let me see him (she used him as a pawn and always has). I’ve fought several times over the last 9 years to get physical custody without success. Because like someone earlier in this post said, it is nearly impossible for fathers to get physical custody if the mother is not neglecting them or harming them.
A recent court battle was dismissed even though my son was being physically and mentally abused by his mother (because there were no marks on my son DSS also dismissed the case). When the case started my son wanted to spend more time with me, my wife and other 3 children. The day before court, the law guardian spoke to my child at the mother’s house and asked him what he wanted. Of course, with his mother in the same house said that he didn’t want anything with regards to visitation to change.
I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars in legal fees over the years to have an incompetent law guardian who would rather do less paperwork than do the right thing. Since changing his mind, the relationship between my son and me as well as with my wife and other 3 children has greatly deteriorated. His attitude and behavior is an exact replica of his mother’s behavior and the behavior that he demonstrated at her house which started the physical abuse over there in the first place. He now wants to spend less time with us and probably feels awkward when he’s with us. 2 of the 3 previous weekends I had problems picking him up, the first she thought it was her weekend and he was spending the weekend over at his cousins house for the weekend (I went and got him). The second time I had to call the police to have them enforce the visitation order, they did and I got him.
Several days prior to the weekend that the police had to get involved, my son’s mother called and asked if he could attend a function at her house over the weekend. After I disagreed and told her that we had plans, he started calling me repeatedly leaving nasty messages, calling me names and telling me that he doesn’t care what I say he is not coming with me over the weekend. This behavior was never demonstrated to me or in my presents, his mother had told me similar stories of this behavior at her house over the last couple of years but I had never seen it till now.
In the best interest of my other 3 children, I’m not far from walking away. My other 3 children look up to him and are influenced by him. If it’s never ok to walk away what is a father in this position to do? I don’t want them learning this behavior from him and I can’t get the courts to give me enough time with him to keep him on the right path.
I know in my heart and in my head that it is right to continue to fight. But I feel that I’m doing my other 3 children injustice by allowing them to be influenced by him. He is turning into a mini version of his mother. His mother has an 8th grade education and is a recovering drug and alcohol addict who knows how to manipulate people and get sympathy (I know, I picked a real winner). I have a lot to worry about in respect to both him and his future and what my other 3 children learn from him.
I was young and stupid and ended up getting her pregnant at the very end of our 2 year relationship. I wanted her to get an abortion but she refused, but I stepped up to the plate and fought to be part of his life for the last 13 years thinking that I could make a difference in his life. But his learned behavior with her having visitation 60% of the time is taking its toll. It was one thing when I had to deal with just her (I would never stop fighting form him) but now the rest of my family has to deal with a mini version of her. It seems that my efforts are doing more harm than good these days.
When do you say “enough is enough” and shelter my other children?
I have only thoughts, but no real solution. My heart aches for you, believe that, in spite of what I say next. I think it’s telling that this child was unwanted by you (you wanted him aborted), so to some degree, and perhaps unconsciously, you are resentful of having to “deal” with this situation. I wonder if that is unconsciously being transmitted to your son. You have a nuclear family now; he’s this “problem” on the side. I have an opinion, but I’m not in the situation, so take it with a grain of salt. I do not think you should give up. I think you should continue your visitation consistently.
My first thought is that your son is still a child; even at 13, he is not an adult that can make decisions for himself. He needs you. The things he says cannot be attributed to an adult, mature mind, but rather a mixed up kid’s mind that is being manipulated by mean-spirited adults. Or simply an adolescent mind that is rebellious, especially against the parent of the same sex.
My second thought in regards to your other children: we can’t choose our relatives. We especially cannot choose our siblings. Families are messy, things are said that shouldn’t be said. If he were living in your house and was a rebellious teen, you wouldn’t kick him out at 13 because he was a bad influence on your other children (I don’t think.) You would work hard with discipline and consequences and explain to your other children why his behavior is inappropriate. You would acknowledge your part in creating the situation and explain why the relationship is a difficult one. You would show them why their relationship with you is different, and you would encourage them to love their brother unconditionally. I’m assuming your wife knew about this situation when she married you and chose to have children with you. IMHO, the worst thing would be to “choose” them over your first-born. He needs to know that he is as much of a priority as your other children. Right now, it doesn’t read that way. You are more concerned about his “influence” over them, rather than his integration into your whole family.
In the majority of contested custody cases, the fathers get custody, especially abusive fathers. My ex got custody of my child because he had more money to keep fighting me with lawyers, false abuse claims and ongoing litigation. The custody case dragged on for seven years and cost my family $51,000. How many people can spend that much money on a legal case? We couldn’t and my parents had to go back to work from retirement because they ran out of money.
When my ex got custody, he made my life a living hell, until the night he falsely reported to the police and courts that I refused to return our child after a visit. A SWAT team kicked in my front door and removed our child. When it came out that he had made the whole story up, the courts were like “oops, sorry.”
I eventually had to walk away from my child, who was 7. I have moved to the other coast, remarried and have two other children now with my husband. I haven’t seen or spoke to her in over three years. I called her for the first time two weeks ago, and after all these years she said “Mommy I miss you where are you?” I was surprised she even remembered me. I have no intention of re-entering her life, and leaving her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Many nights I did not know how to go on but I have. Sometimes you just have to do hard things in life.
Thanks for your comment.
Why would you think a seven year old – who I presume is now 10 – wouldn’t remember you? She misses you, but you have no intention of reentering her life? Why did you even call? I don’t want to be judgmental, based on what little you’ve told us. But I can’t understand why you would re-introduce yourself after three years just to say you will not be her mother anymore, at any time.
It’s hard for you – yes – but imagine what it must be like for her.
Thank you for telling your story. It validates what happened to me and gives me hope that I can go on despite the pain. I’m a mother of 3 boys that ‘ran away’ from a custody battle. The police, child services workers and courts believed my ex-husband’s allegations despite me having evidence to the contrary. I even had evidence of what he was doing, brought it to them, and they turned it around and said that I did it. My health severely failed (where I now have permanent damage), the case bankrupted me, cost me my reputation, job, car, house and now my children. When trying to hire the 3rd attorney, they all said I would lose. I listened to the last one who told me to run because my life is more important. I still struggle with that decision. I speak to them by phone regularly, but it’s heartwrenching. I know they’re being neglected and abused by my ex-husband, but no one listened or will listen to me. I got the blame for all his actions. I waited to leave until it was going to cost me my life. Now my boys’ lives and mine are ruined. I haven’t seen them since last September. I pay minimum child support since I don’t have a job and am in hiding.
Here’s the problem. Since I gave up and left, he obtained judgements against me in court in absentia. About $5,000 worth, that I will most likely have to pay despite not being able to. So, giving him what he wanted was still not good enough. He wants me completely destroyed. I’m living in fear.
Kandace wow, your story struck me the most out of everyone. I will be extremely brief. I as many military women lost custody of my son when he was 11 months. My ex was abusive, controlling, barely employed and White. I was paying over $1000 monthly in child support and still being denied. Iron does wear out Benee. It was so bad that the daycare stated they would not release any information because they did not know I was the biological mother. Yes even after I sent certified mail the birth certificate and court order. People being cruel to others, getting off on controlling and oppressing others is real. Kandace I totally understand your pain and respect that you loved yourself more than your oppressor loved your child. People like that it is best to distance yourself. When she wants to know who you are she will. When a parent alienates or is emotionally/mentally abusive do you honestly think a person is going to stay around? Even animals can sense if a place is toxic they have sense to relocate and move elsewhere so that they can survive/thrive. Emotional/Mental Abuse is just as damaging as Physical/Domestic Abuse.
I have since completed military service and am pursing a more rewarding career. No parent man or woman should rely on child support as a means to an end. No parent should feel entitled to child support when they constantly deny a court order willfully without reason. No parent should live with their own aging parents, work a minimum wage job, receive social services and then try to milk the other parent who has other children and or spouse for child support. Misery loves company. Money, control and oppression was what my ex spouse was after and he got it. Only the non-custodial parent knows what he or she has done and could do. Life is short and full of trouble. I worry less of those who do not know my battle and worry more about what I have control over. The mental anguish, allowing visitation or communication when he says disregarding the court order or my life is something I no longer entertain. A leopard does not change their spots and it is true the child/children are the ones who truly suffer. I know I have done everything in my power to be apart of our child’s life so I will not bore anyone with the details. I wish the souls who are suffering this tragedy peace.
I know the feelings all too well. My ex and his parents did everything they could to destroy me, after going to the police numerous times, trying counseling together (ha) I left town to save myself. I call my children regularly, he usually tells me they don’t want to talk to me, his parents tried to block my number so I couldn’t call and speak to my children when they are with them (which is a lot of the time) I guess they needed proof I was doing something wrong so that didn’t last long, now they just hang up when they realise its me! My letters, postcards, presents never get to my children, despite being sent by registered mail to their post office box. I can only hope that they see the truth when they are older as everyone keeps telling me they will. It’s an awful thing to say but I honestly worry that with his and his parents influence they could grow into people I might actually not like. That makes me so sad.
for 10 years until a week ago I had primary custody of our two.I have won three criminal,jury trials from My X’s false accusations, Hundreds of thousands of Dollars and lately two swats on the rump caused CPS to clear my good name again! She went for custody and won Despite Two Court appointed Psych. evaluate type professionals, who agreed She ( my X) wasn’t in the best interest of our kids.
Borderline Personality Disorder Isn’t Good enough For Judge Bruce Mcfarling, 362 court Denton Texas
I’m not willing to go to Jail, My X has convinced our Girls that I’m to be undermined and lied to.
Had I known that My getting Custody 10 years Ago would have introduced out kid’s to this much Conflict I in Hindsight would have walked away!
They all have what they think they want, Until they realized I Walked away!
I’m Done with My X and anyone who who isn’t!
I am Emotionally Devastated from two years of custody fighting, and CRUSHED that the two Most Precious, Beautiful people I Love would Make such a dangerous CHOICE to Betray their DADDY!
We will need to become reacquainted if they Choose, When they leave and get on their Own.
I’m All Drama’ed OUT
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