My ex-wife and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. But one thing we've kept relatively clear over the last 5 years of divorce is THE KIDS COME FIRST. Always.
The non-custodial parent is treated a bit like a second-class citizen in the legal system. If you want to go for 50/50 divorce parenting, I think you'll need an attorney. I also think it's worth it, if you want to spend as much time as possible with your children.
I felt like I had a pretty good idea of the way the divorce was going to go, once I agreed to actually get a divorce. We went, eyes wide open, into the negotiations about parenting rights, money, schedules, and I also felt like I had a cooperative soon-to-be wife who was not going to try to destroy me. The first part was true, the second part, well...
If you put your kids first you may need to fight to get what you want. And by putting your kids first, sometimes you may have to fight their mom. But to be the best dad you can be, you have to be there, you have to spend time with your kids. All of that time that was taken away is now water under the bridge, but today it's much more clear for me. I take every offer to have the kids an extra night or to support my ex when she has to work late.
When the other partner decides to ask for divorce there is very little the committed partner can do. The fracture has happened. The other person has declared they are considering divorce. Then that option is forever on the table and could be used as leverage.
When you ignore your kid's messages and voicemails you are giving them a very powerful message about their priority in your life. There is nothing you can say afterward, the exasperation has already taken place. This is never a happy response, "I don't know, I can't reach her and she's not responding."
In disappointment, I withdrew into my Buddha-like head and perhaps developed a Buddha-like belly at the same time. She withdrew into more anger and disappointment, and perhaps into an escalating spiral she could not see a way beyond.
Hitting delete instead of send can make all the difference. I had another one of those moments this morning. An email from the mother of my children saying some passive-aggressive things…