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When “In the Best Interest of the Children” is Weaponized

How did my then-wife imagine that a 70/30 split of our children’s time was best for everyone concerned? I’m certain, she did think it would be best for her. But a ton of assumptions have to come into play for her to imagine that:

  • she was the better parent
  • she was more responsible
  • she deserved more time with the kids
  • my time with the children was less important
  • her decision to split up the family was “in the best interest of the children”

I don’t think that she believed any of those things. I do think she convinced herself that her love was more critical and more essential for our kids’ growth and support. But she knows, she still knows, this concept is a lie. She had to have convinced herself, to believe, that she was the better parent and deserved the majority of the time with our children. When we divorced our kids were 6 and 8 years old. Just finishing 3rd and 5th grades. She decided she wanted a divorce. She decided during the final cooperative negotiations to toss our 50/50 discussions aside and go for the gold.

The Lie of Mom’s Decision

I don’t have to understand my ex-wife’s actions. I don’t have to seek understanding. There is nothing else for me to understand. I’d love to hear from her about these choices, but the damage and anger still continue. This is the part I occasionally try to get my head around.

Tonight watching the devastating natural disaster in Kentucky, I noticed how sad I was that these people lost their homes, their livelihoods. And as I went outside shortly thereafter, I got a glimpse of my own home and my own blessed life. The gut-punch came when I put these images of loss and misery together with my own experience. How did my ex-wife think that attacking me, a year after the divorce, and effectively destroying my ability to refinance or maintain my home was a good idea? What was her point?

I was sad for the people on television tonight. And then I was curious about how my ex metaphorically aimed the hurricane of destruction directly at my home, the home of her children every other weekend. How did that make any sense? How does a co-parent EVER decide to target and strike at their former partner? Wasn’t I still a parent? Didn’t she understand that attacking me, killing my “starter home” attempt would also hurt her children? I don’t think she was thinking of anything but herself. Maybe this was the same answer during the breakdown of negotiations in our parenting plan and divorce decree.

Still Angry, Still Self-righteous

I’m fairly sure my ex-wife has no regret over her decision to divorce or attack me. I can only imagine that she also feels her actions to turn our divorce over to the Attorney General’s office was a good one. She liked to talk about the support of our children. “It’s not personal,” she would say in email after email. I still have them. “This is not about me. This is about what’s best for the children.”

I suppose, that my writing about this hurricane of hate is part of why she’s still angry. She didn’t like it when The Huffington Post picked up this blog. She didn’t like it when the books began to come out. And of course, she has a new husband and a new last name, so perhaps she’s a bit removed from the shame. But is she?

Are parents blameless when they attack their co-parents? FOR? ANY? REASON? Maybe a deadbeat dad (defined by their avoidance of responsibility, both financial and logistical) would require a parent to request the “enforcement” of the decree. But this is not what was happening in our co-parenting relationship. I was a week late on my child support payment. I was communicating with her about my job and how I would get caught up over the course of several months.

“Sorry about the timing,” she said, on that day. “But I’ve already sent the documents to the AG’s office.”

Here Is My Post-Divorce Request

If you need the full assistance of the Attorney General’s office to enforce the child support you were awarded in the divorce, please make sure that is the only solution you have. If your co-parent is

  • doing their best
  • not avoiding conversations or accountability
  • being transparent about their financial situation
  • providing time and attention to the children
  • still a responsible partner in parenting

Please work it out. The pound of flesh my ex-wife went for in opening the “deadbeat dad” account with the state of Texas, has wreaked havoc on my life for over 11-years. And I was fortunate enough to keep landing well-paying jobs that allowed me to catch up and complete my child support obligations when my last child turned 18. Many parents are not as fortunate.

And if you’re going to have kids, I think both parents should agree to co-parent after divorce in the same manner that they agreed to co-parent as partners even before they have children. I am doing my part to move family law to begin at 50/50 with shared parenting, rather than the current law that gives the moms the custodial role 90% of the time in Texas.

Share equal parenting responsibilities at all stages of your kids’ lives.

Namasté,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
Facebook  | Instagram | Pinterest |  @wholeparent

How I Can Help

I am a relationship coach and a dating coach. I coach women in 1 x 1 zoom or facetime calls. I work in monthly blocks (4 sessions). We establish a relationship. I become your wingman in navigating and sorting through the bullshit of dating and relationships. If you are here, you’ve probably already read some of my opinions. If we’re a fit, we will both know on our first call.

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