To the State of Ohio legislature, every Ohio magistrate in family court, and the lawyering minions:
This is a story of a guy who filed for divorce and thought there's no way what ensued could happen to him. If you tried to write the works of deadbeat dad's across the heavens, and all the water on earth were ink, you could drain the oceans dry. As divorced men, we must accept a certain amount of skepticism. The assumption by the courts is that you will not take care of your children. You will leave them with your parents or friends to venture into the inevitable rebound relationship that is doomed for failure. Or you'll try to recapture your youth by hanging out in bars, and possibly pick up some bad habits along the way. The other assumption is that the mother is infoulable. She's incapable of making mistakes. Her judgement outweighs yours because of the perceived, however minute, motherly bond created by nine months of pregnancy and painful delivery. You, as the father, are unimportant.
The courts treat you as if you committed a crime. It doesn't matter who files for divorce. If you're a man then you are the problem. Your first instinct, as a man, is to feel like you need protect your ex-wife. You may not love her (or ever did) but you don't want anything bad to happen to her either. You make the mistake of giving her the lawyer in the dissolution. Having done this, you've just said you don't want your children and you have accepted your children's mother as the chief decision maker in their lives. You just don't know it yet. But, her lawyer is telling her that. You often get generous with cash and paying for things. You do her favors and go out of your way to make the transition easier for her. By the time your divorce hearing is over, you've agreed to acceptable terms. You may even feel like the book on that relationship is closed. It might be, but she's writing a new one and she has some ghost writers (lawyers, friends, the Ohio Family Court system) helping her out.
Since when did the standard order become one night a week and every other weekend? Who drew that up? The one thing you don't realize is, being away from your kids that much is taxing. It's an emotional drain. You begin asking for extra time. A night here. An afternoon there. You realize that the standard order was created for the deadbeats. It's a minimum. But, you didn't have a lawyer. Now you're left with a dilemma. Option A - speak to your ex and work out a schedule that works for the kids, her, and yourself along with a reasonable support reduction to coincide with your added time. Option - A is never and option for the mother. This is where you learn your real function in the lives of your children. You are a walking talking ATM. That is all. The moment you speak of reducing child support in conjunction with spending more time with the kids.......you only have Option B. Option B doesn't work either, but for the purposes of being thorough, I'll inform you anyway. Option B is hiring a lawyer to sue your ex wife and forcing her to change the agreement.
Lawyers, judges, and adjuncts of the court all in cahoots with one another. They illegally discuss your case and divulge attorney/client material. They discuss the terms of your case with a judge behind closed doors and you're left with making decisions based on second hand word of mouth from someone you're paying $250/hr or more.
Guardian Ad Litum is a fraud. It is merely a second stream of income for lawyers. They come to your house for an hour or so then they go to your ex and do the same. They produce a report that basically holds your fate in their hands. You don't realize how much til you get that report and realize you were judged on where you live and how much money you have. As a divorced father, you will never be given the benefit of the doubt. They always side with the mother. You will never get shared parenting. If your ex has re-married, and you have not, you stand even less of a chance of seeing your kids more. The GAL decides for you what's best for your children. You get the added benefit of paying for the bad news that they publish to the courts.
Lawyers are the perceived cliche'. Biggest mistake you can make is to tell a lawyer your budget. They will bleed it dry as quickly as possible with filing paperwork and sending emails. Then later, when you need them to do their job, you're nearly out of money and they give you substandard performance. I couldn't get my lawyer to get my income adjusted to match my W2 on the support worksheet and ended up paying support based on an inflated income. I had mentioned it twice. Lawyers are in it for the money period. The majority waiting to be put out to pasture on a judge's bench somewhere, but we'll get to them later. If you dip below a stated minimum on your retainer then they will not return your phone calls or emails till you replenish it. The important thing to know is that they all state that they do not practice this, but in reality they all do.
Judges are useless. They see the injustices done to deserving fathers, yet they sit there and do nothing about it. Greedy, and in some cases, lying ex-wives are actually rewarded for being that way. Judges sit idly by while your ex reviews you every year and takes more and more of your money. You end up living on the same income from the date of your divorce until your youngest child turns 18. When you get a raise......it goes to your ex. Remember when gas was $1.50/gal in 2008? Now it's $2.89 and you're still making 2008 money. Gas, utilities, and food prices all increase, but your income never does. You begin to feel as if you've committed a crime. Judges treat you like a criminal. Get behind on your child support and you'll spend more time in jail than a heroin dealer.
Your ex becomes someone you don't recognize. By this time you're a couple of years in. You realize that your financial future and your future with your children are firmly in the grasp of your ex. It affects your job performance. It affects your ability to trust another person in a relationship. You can't believe the person you married now bows at the alter of money and no longer respects you as a human being. Your ability to provide a home for your kids is immaterial. Your ability keep your emotions under control is a daily struggle.
I can live with a greedy ex. What I can't live with is a system that treats me like a deadbeat before I even leave the courtroom. Lawyers, GAL's, and judges have no vested interest in changing the system. It's a great little racket they have going. We are told the law works for those that have no guilt. It's the biggest lie.
Gentlemen, if you can't make your marriage work, understand what you're signing up for. She will not be happy with the money she's getting now. She will always seek more ways to extract it from you.