US states parenting after divorce

Divorced Parents: Why the War Over Who Has It the Hardest?

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I’m a bit frustrated by the toxic divorced mom culture on social media. For some reason (I’m ready for the backlash) women feel they always have the harder road after divorce. They claim to have a harder road in marriage, parenting, and basic living roles and responsibilities. Is it because all dads, all men, are lazy jerks? I don’t think so. But why the divide?

The Whole Dad

There’s a reason I don’t call my website the Whole Dad or the Divorced Dad or the Single Dad. I believe BOTH parents are equal. I don’t disparage my ex-wife for the divorce. I am frustrated and angry with her for not co-parenting like a loving and conscious parent, but that’s water under the bridge. In my daily life, I fight for men to have an equal voice after divorce. In most states men do not get a fair shake in the divorce. The laws (such as Texas, where I live) are stacked in favor of the mother getting primary custody, 70% of the kids’ time, and a hefty child support payment. I don’t think it needs to start that way, but it’s an uphill battle.

Why do moms always feel like they are the better parents? Why is divorce blamed on the dads most of time time? And why do our states give moms custody and child support in 85% of the cases?

The answer is easy: MONEY.

US states parenting after divorce
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When custody is awarded in most states the Attorney General’s Office is rewarded with financial compensation by the federal government. This arrangement was put in place in the 50s and 60s. Dads were far and away the providers while moms were the homemakers. This is not how things are in our modern lives. But the system fights for more money. Over half of the AG’s budget in the state of Texas is used for child support enforcement. So, dads, like myself, who were not at fault in the divorce and not in default as a parent are thrown into the AG’s collection system by an angry and vindictive wife, to punish me. It worked. It was horrible. My credit suffered. I lost my first house. I was barely able to keep a house over my own head, much less afford a house where I could be with my kids every other weekend.

Moms Entitlement

As they did in marriage, moms claim they are the hard workers, the better parents, and the more responsible parent, even when this is not the case. In my divorce, my wife didn’t have to argue any of her reasons for wanting primary custody and 70% of the kids’ time, she just went for the standard divorce package. Which includes the poorly named Standard Possession Order of custody. Dads get every other weekend and one weekday on alternating weeks. When you do the math (as I have) moms get way more than 2-to-1 days with our kids. Why?

Why did I get marginalized by the state of Texas and then by my ex-wife as she refused over time to co-parent with me? It wasn’t anything I did, it was just her bitterness and lack of compassion for me. Shouldn’t we have been given 50/50 shared parenting if that’s what we wanted? Well, it was what we agreed to when we began the divorce discussions, and then my ex backed out of the deal and went for the divorce package from the state of Texas. And when I was one week late with my child support payment she sent the decree over to the AG’s office for *enforcement.* Yes, that was her right. But isn’t the AG’s office supposed to be used for deadbeat parents and not compliant and struggling parents? Isn’t it an abuse of power when the mom reports the dad to the AG’s office just to hurt and limit their future opportunities?

Moms are just as important as dads. I agree with that statement. But dads are not treated fairly in most systems in the US. And deadbeat moms are the ones who are attacking their former husbands by turning them over to the AG’s office. At one point my ex-wife tried to console me, “Everyone does it. It’s like a simpler way to keep the accounting straight.”

No, Karen, that’s not how it works. The AG’s office is for the enforcement of parents (dads or moms) who do not live up to their obligations financially or physically. My wife had no reason to think I was going to skip out on any of my payments. I showed her the letter from work where they apologized for delaying my paycheck for a few months while we tried to replace a departing client. I was transparent and cooperative. I was not at risk of skipping out of my parenting role. But my ex was mad and used the opportunity to punish me for the divorce she wanted. I think she was angry that I was happy and she was not.

Divorce and Resentment

There’s no reason for my wife to have been given 70% of the time with our kids while I was relegated to a weekend dad. In cooperative divorces with two healthy and compassionate parents, 50/50 shared parenting is the only real option. We agreed to have children with a 50/50 shared plan, why would that change because my wife suddenly wants a divorce? It’s as if, moms are rewarded for asking for divorce with money, two weekends off a month, and most likely the family residence.

But, again, we should be equals. I don’t come out swinging about how dads do all the work around the house. I don’t claim dads are the ones who really take responsibility for parenting. It’s a dumb premise. Dads and moms should be treated fairly under the law. As the courts in most states see it, however, is about the budgets and money associated with AG’s offices and child support enforcement. If everyone agreed to 50/50 shared parenting, with shared expenses but no child support, the AG’s budgets and *enforcement* division would get substantially smaller. The AG’s office would be used for deadbeat parents and not for punishing cooperative co-parents who are trying to do their best.

When I see Divorced Moms railing on the injustice of divorce I laugh. When I notice that the site is founded and funded by a woman who earns money teaching moms about divorcing a narcissist, I wonder at her motivation. I wanted my wife to play fair. I wanted my wife to abide by our 50/50 shared parenting agreements. My wife chose the selfish path and grabbed the hefty child support and then proceeded to attack me with the AG’s office and tell my kids lies about what was going on. How could she report that her actions were the reason their dad lost his house and their bedrooms? She is the reason I had to move back in with my mom for six months while I looked for a new job that could support me, my child support payment, healthcare for my kids, and a place to live with room for my kids to visit.

Today, I know I am walking the righteous path. My ex-wife did many things wrong. Most importantly she should’ve recognized how selfish the imbalanced SPO was and abided by our 50/50 co-parenting plan. Then, had she been a better person, she would’ve willingly stayed connected with me in co-parenting and supporting our kids. As it stands, my kids are 20 and 22 and their mom is still not a reliable source of support or information for them or for me. I can’t talk to her about anything without alerting her hackles. It’s not worth it, to try and co-parent with a vindictive and angry ex-wife. It’s too bad she can’t recognize the loss for our kids.

This site is called The Whole Parent. I will continue to support both moms and dads in divorce, in positive parenting, and positive co-parenting if divorce happens. I believe moms are just as important. I believe the laws need to encourage a more balanced approach to parenting and finances after divorce.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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