We have a divorce problem in our country.
The inequitable results of our family courts hurt fathers in very real ways. As a result, dads are often marginalized and discounted as deadbeat dads, when, in fact, they are doing all they can to stay above water after the divorce.
When you got married and decided to have kids, I’m imagining the relationship was fairly balanced in your duties, authority, and loving respect for one another. I know that when my then-wife and I decided to have children the decision was not made lightly. We did not accidentally have kids. We set our intention, we reaffirmed our vows for each other as parents-to-be, and we opened our lives up to the total transformation that we knew would be a part of becoming responsible and conscious parents. We did not start off with a 70/30 split of duties, or a 70/30 split of authority about what direction our lives would take. We decided to become parents in an absolutely balanced relationship. We asked for children as 50/50 parents to be.
Today, June 10th, I’m announcing my intention to launch a non-profit organization to fight for divorce equality. It is my belief that today parents should split the parenting duties after divorce in the same ways they split the duties during the marriage. And, more importantly, if fathers seek a 50/50 parenting agreement, that the court and the judges of any state, recognizes the modern research that shows each parent has an equal value in raising the children. (Site research)
Here are some myths that need to be debunked.
- Mothers are more important during the infant years
- A mother’s love is the most essential part of growing up healthy
- Dads are focused more on earning a living and less on raising the kids
- Moms are the emotional center of a loving family
- Dads don’t know how to take care of young children
- Moms just know things that dads could never know
- There are things that only moms can do
- Moms should come first in the legal deliberations of divorce
I know a lot of people who would argue passionately that one or more of these myths is actually science-supported fact. I’m here to set the record straight. I’m here to advocate for 50/50 divorce, 50/50 parenting, and 50/50 custody. It is too late for me, but it’s not too late for the dad who’s just about to get served his walking papers.
Today, I believe there are infinite right answers when approaching divorce. I also believe that our divorce, the breakup of my marriage and my children’s family home, was a choice that should’ve been discussed and agreed upon by both of us. In the same way, we agreed to be married, in the same way, we agreed to have children, we should’ve come to the same negotiating table to discuss divorce.
Today, because of the decree I signed and the adverse actions of my ex-wife I am a deadbeat dad. (Update: I have paid off all of my debt to my ex-wife.) That status, however, is more about the unfair family law traditions that give moms the “custodial parent” role, the child support obligation, the marital home, and typically the lion’s share of time with the kids. All of those traditions of divorce need to change.
I will work to establish a non-profit advocacy group to support 50/50 divorce as the starting point for negotiations. Sure, even with a 50/50 starting point my then-wife and I would probably have ended up breaking up. But today, had we divorced evenly and fairly, the same way we parented, we would be working together to support our kids. She would be forced to collaborate with me because we’d both be obliged to pay our own share of the future costs.
Today, I can begin fighting back for future fathers. And, today, I can work towards a tiny balance of power surrounding the child support debt I owe.
Just for today, I can do a better job at being a parent to my children.
DADI has two initiatives:
- Dads Group – begin a program of supporting dads to engage in their kids elementary school education.
- Legal initiative to influence family law in the state of Texas, where I reside, with the goal to start intial divorce negotiations at 50/50 rather than the current 70/30.
My hope is that DADI can move to make the voice of equality heard in family courts across the country. If you’re an advocate or have experience establishing a non-profit and are interested in getting involved, please contact me directly using the contact form.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, on the Facebook page, or via email. Together we can do divorce better. It’s about the kids.
image: happy family, creative commons usage