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Dear Absent/Divorced Father:

Although we have never met and we don't really know each other, I understand that you are
involved in a messy divorce involving one or more children, and I do know something of what you
are going thru. I have been divorced three times myself. I was involved on the sidelines of divorces
involving my two brothers and two sons a total of !". I was involved on the sidelines of #uite a few
divorces involving my friends. And when I was a lawyer, I handled a$$ro%imately a thousand
I really do know something of what you are going thru.
I am sure that you want to be a loving and involved father to your wonderful children& and you are
frustrated because you can't live with them. 'hat is e%actly what ha$$ened to me, one of my
brothers, both of my sons and some of my friends.
(ased on my e%$eriences, described above, I have some advice for you. )ome of this advice will be
difficult to hear, and even more difficult to follow. I wasn't always able to follow it myself. And yet, I
know this advice is com$letely correct.
First lesson: to be a loving, involved father in the lives of your children as I am sure you want to
be" you absolutely must not try to tear down or hurt their mother.
*very hurt suffered by her hurts your children. It is im$ossible to hurt her without hurting them.
*very $ain she feels, every inconvenience or disturbance she e%$eriences means that she is that
much less able to be the +oyful, attentive, loving mother they need to $ros$er and develo$. )he is a
strong woman, but nobody can conceal sadness or $ain from children.
If you want your children to be ha$$y and you certainly do", then you ,-)' also want her to be
ha$$y. If you want them to $ros$er and you certainly do", then you ,-)' also want her to $ros$er.
.ne without the other is im$ossible.
(ecause you obviously" don't want to hurt your them, you absolutely must swallow your $ain and
anger. /ou have to roll with the $unches. /ou 0A1* to. /ou don't have the choice of hurting her
while being a loving father to them.
)econd lesson: involved, loving fathers $rovide for their children. In today's society, 2$rovide for2
means money. It is .3 to buy gifts for your them& toys, video games and the like. (ut you also
,-)' $ut food on their table, contribute to their rent, hel$ $ay for their socks and underwear.
)ince you are not rich, you can't give her them" large sums of money. (ut you can give her them"
some money. And you can not give money to them without giving it to her.
And it ,-)' be regular. *very week or every month does not matter. 4egularity does. .ur love does
not come and go, so $roviding funds can not come and go.
/our children will remember the toys, but they will better remember that each and every
week/month, their Dad came thru with some money. It does not have to be, and it $robably can not
be, large amounts of money. 4egularity is much more im$ortant than si5e.
'hird lesson: involved loving fathers are in regular contact with their children. /our right to $hysical
visits might be limited, you might be too far away for regular visits to be $ractical, but you can write
letters, send emails, and call. As in the case of the money, the visits and these other contacts ,-)'
be both as regular and as ha$$y as you can $ossibly make them.
Ask about school, friends, homework, hobbies. 4emember s$ecial days im$ortant tests, friends'
birthday $arties and so on" and ask about them. 6omment on clothes, movies, haircuts, books and
other things. )how that you know about their lives. And make every comment and #uestion loving,
ha$$y and su$$ortive. 7hat ever the conditions of the contact, make each one something they
fondly remember and look forward to doing again.
Absolutely never say one bad word about their mother. 6om$letely hide your anger from them. A
child who knows feels" that the two most im$ortant $eo$le in their lives their mother and father"
are fighting is a scared, confused, unha$$y child. 8othing good can come from that.
Final lesson and maybe the most im$ortant one": be really ha$$y. Find a +ob you en+oy and work
hard to be good at it. 9et a hobby, and have fun doing it. 'he 2high2 from drugs, alcohol and other
addictive behavior for me it was gambling as much as anything" is false no sur$rise there".
6onsider getting into a :;<ste$ $rogram and if you do, go to meetings every day, even twice a day,
if necessary. (ut most of all, turn yourself into a ha$$y $erson.
It is e%tremely difficult, maybe im$ossible, to be a loving, involved father if you, yourself, are dee$ly
unha$$y, angry or otherwise filled with negativity.
(ut if you are a ha$$y $erson, lessons one, two and three will suddenly become easy to follow&
automatic even. /ou will follow them because those are the kinds of things a ha$$y, loving, involved
father does.
=.). *very single word here a$$lies to the mother, as well as to every $arent, regardless of marital
7e can fairly acknowledge that governmental agencies, such as child su$$ort divisions and services
for children and families, will convey to us that they 2do not2 own the right to designate $rotective
care or guardianshi$. 'o a certain degree they are correct. 9overnment agencies cannot designate
2legal custody.2 .nly a >udge in the 6ourt of ?aw has that authority. 0owever, governmental
agencies do designate 2administrative custody.2
7henever a government agency or the welfare system $rovides services to a family with a child, the
agency is acknowledging that the a$$licant $arent @!A single mother households" is in $ossession
of the child !B.:A of the time, which means $rimary custody. 0owever, because the governmental
agenciesC $olicy on fraud is seldom challenged or investigated, there is no $ositive $roof if the child
is actually in the residence of the a$$licant $arents.
Due to the fact that government agencies, child su$$ort divisions and welfare services have the
right to designate 2administrative custody,2 this causes the mother or father of the child to race to
the welfare office, the agency waits to see which $arent will get its foot in the door and claim the
child first. 'he $arent who won the race in claiming the child is the $arent who receives, not only
assistance money, food, housing et cetera" but at the same time, the agency will, immediately,
2$rotect the a$$licant.2 7hyD (ecause if the government, welfare/child su$$ort divisions and
services were to discover that the a$$licant committed fraud lying about the child living with
her/him !B.:A of the time" the s$otlight would show how either badly the agency mishandles
verifying whether the a$$licant is truthful or not when she/he $rovided re#uired information in the
written declaration made under oath. 'he $rimary message that moves forcefully through these
$aternity acknowledgment $rograms is res$onsibility. Although, in reality, these $rograms $romote
2selective res$onsibility,2 since the $rogramsC ma+or concern is on child su$$ort only, while ignoring
data information. 'his is inadvertently saying to fathers that they are merely considered financial
>ust follow the money also a$$lies to $aternity acknowledgments. 'he Federal government is aware
that the )tate child su$$ort enforcement $rograms need money to control the functioning of a
$rocess. 'he government hel$s to bring about the $rocess by funding the state child su$$ort
enforcement $rograms, and of course, only after determining how much child su$$ort is collected in
each )tate. 'hese e%cessively abusive, morally offensive tactics against fathers" has motivated
most states to increase their child su$$ort collections so that the state enforcement $rograms can
de$end on with full trust on meeting the re#uirements for additional monies from -ncle )am.
If we leave this matter strictly in the hands of the government and state agencies, it is certain that
they will discover ways to gain financially from child su$$ort collections. 'his is called, 'he Float."
For #uite some time now, )tates have worked to the fullest e%tent $ossible to transmit the
continuous $rogression of all child su$$ort monies into their baskets. In their view, this is the most
$roof $ositive way of kee$ing efficient accounting and disbursement of $ayments in $lace. 'he truth
is that the )tate holds on to the interest from the child su$$ort $ayments that linger in the bank for
more than EB days. In .regon, the state collects a$$ro%imately ;! million dollars in child su$$ort a
month. 9o figure, the interest from this amount. (y far, this is not 2chum$ change.2"
'he definition of family has changed considerably over the $ast few decades. 'he traditional role of
the father in the family has evolved from being one of being the bread winner to a more shared role
with the mother in terms of $roviding care for children. It is an ideal situation for children to see
their $arents working together as e#uals for the benefit of the children.
What happens when the marriage breaks down?
7hen a divorce is amicable, the $rocess is fairly straightforward. 'he two $arties can hire lawyers or
they can attend mediation to settle financial and custody matters. If the divorce isn't amicable, the
$arties have a tendency to dig in the trenches and leave the children in no<man's<land to cower
amidst a $rotracted war of words. .ccasionally family lawyers are more than ha$$y to feed ammo
to the combatants because it makes for more billable hours. In light of this, it is ideal for the
children's $arents to settle their differences in a way that will minimi5e any long term effects on
them and to reduce unnecessary legal costs.
What if one parent wants to mediate and the other parent refuses?
-nfortunately for the $erson who wants to mediate, it means that they are going to court. 9oing to
court means that you will likely be $aying for a family lawyer to s$eak for you and you will be airing
your dirt in front of a +udge in an emotionally charged atmos$here. For fathers it means that you
will likely be fighting a stereoty$e that the adversarial system has a tendency to $er$etuate. For
fathers who were intimately involved in the rearing of their children, chances are you are going to
become an every other weekend Dad. 'he message it sends to sons in this situation is that their
future role as a father will be dis$osable. 'hat is an unacce$table outcome.
'he role of women in society has $rogressed tremendously in the $ast century. It isn't e#ual yet but
it should be. 'he $endulum of $ower doesn't need to swing $ast center in retribution for the $ast. It
needs to be in the center where we are all e#uals in all facets of our lives. =articularly for those of
us who are res$onsible for the rearing of the ne%t generation.
I am a father who has been in an ugly unnecessary battle with the mother of my sons for the last
four years and I want it to sto$. ,y sons need their father in their lives and more im$ortantly $eace.
I love my sons more than anything in this world and like any reasonable father, I want them to grow
u$ confident, ha$$y and secure in their future.
11 spoken minds - speak your mind