To The Many Of You That It Concerns:
Single mothers have been blamed for everything from the (non-existent) increase in crime to the collapse of the family. Be that as it may, many of us are single mothers. No matter how you despise us, we are a reality. And it’s time that you respect that reality, start listening to our plight, and inspire changes in policy. If nothing else, do it for the children, do it for the future of our country.
Here is my story. Financially, I was able to support my son and me rather well thanks to good education, which was a good thing because the child support my ex-husband was ordered to pay amounted to mere peanuts. About $140 a month. Yupp. He did pay it like clock-work. But it only paid about half of my attorney’s fee for an hour of her service. And I needed a lot of her services. Instead of paying more child-support, which he claimed he couldn’t afford, my ex used the legal system to continuously harass me. I couldn’t move to further my education – and increase my earnings potential – without getting the court’s approval since my ex told me I couldn’t move. Heck, I couldn’t even take my son to visit his grandparents in Germany without having a court order that it was okay for me to go on vacation. My ex had claimed that I’d stay in Germany. It didn’t matter that I had a job here in the US and had no intention of leaving that for nothing. The court had to intervene.
I have been accused of so many things by my ex, I’ve lost track. He has promised me so many times to throw me into jail, I stopped counting. What did he accuse me of? Child abuse primarily. Several police officers can attest to the fact that there was no child abuse going on (was, not because there is some going on now but because my son is no longer a child; he is an adult now). Why did he want me in jail? What was the crime I committed? It’s hard to tell but it might be that I filed for divorce. Or maybe he thinks that I created the chasm between his son and him. The chasm that my ex tried the courts to close not accepting that he is the only one in the world who could close it. He could close it by treating his son with the respect he deserves. And maybe even listen to him for a change. But of course that chasm is my fault. Exactly how I am supposed to have created it is beyond me but I do know that I lost more money defending myself against these unfounded charges than I lost in the October 2008 stock market bubble bursting. Maybe I could’ve bought a house with that money. Instead I spent the years my son was in high school protecting us from a mad court case that accused me of undermining the relationship between father and son. The case never actually saw a day in court – except when the lawyers met with the judges – so I never had a chance to prove that it was my son who chose not to have anything to do with his dad. The chasm was there without me doing anything.
Why am I writing this to you? Because the current family law does everything to protect the family even if that hurts the child. A child, especially a teenager, should not be forced to maintain a relationship he or she has no interest in anymore. Yes, even a relationship to a parent. Biology should not trump respect. Children have no rights in family law, they might be protected by the “in the best interest of the child” clause but that protection is unreliable because it depends on the adults’ interpretation. And adults seem to think that the best interest for a child is served by maintaining relationships to the parents no matter what. No matter how much the parent disrespects the child. No matter how messed up the parent is. No matter how bad of a role model the parent is.
This has to change. Children need to have real protections. And they should be taken seriously. If they say, they don’t want to go, the default assumption should be that they have good reasons why they don’t want to go. Sure, there are rare cases where children were manipulated but the parental alienation syndrome is a myth perpetuated by the sexist and anti-child “father’s” rights movement. Respect the children enough to believe that they cannot be manipulated!
This has to change. Single parenting is hard enough. It shouldn’t be made harder through a court system that can be used to harass the other parent. There should be safe-guards in place that can short-circuit the abuse of the court system. Instead of spending more than $150,000 in legal fees, it would have helped to have the court take a stand and stop taking my ex’s accusations seriously. The judge could’ve ended the case by simply talking to my son. But the judge couldn’t do that because he had to follow procedures which seem to be set up to enrich lawyers more than to serve justice. While the judge followed procedures, my son grew up. Case over. The child is no more. Welcome to absurdity.