The founders of this country were, at their core, activists. They, their families and contemporaries suffered systemic abuse at the hands of a depraved British monarchy concerned only with sustaining its own extravagant lifestyle at the expense of any and all who could be compelled to support it. The monarchy wanted to reap the benefits of colonialism without regard to the concerns of the colonists; they demanded taxation and would brook no colonial representation in Parliament.
Our founding fathers took exception to this idea of “Taxation Without Representation” and spoke up about it. British Parliament was not impressed. They stripped the colonies of their right to self-govern and tried to assert control from across the Atlantic Ocean. In the face of this ugly, untenable attempt by the British to sustain dominance, colonial leaders banded together, pooled their resources and bided their time. The rest is, as they say, history.
We loving fathers routinely denied equal parental rights while being compelled to cough up our lungs in support are in a similar situation. While I do not suggest or advocate armed rebellion, I do implore any father in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania who finds himself forcibly alienated from his offspring by the courts to join hands with his fellows. We need to present a united and cohesive front to state government and the entire nation in order to address a long-standing social injustice. Our mission must be to peaceably protest systemic bias against fathers practiced by the courts in matters of custody and support. We need to do it for ourselves, for dads across the country and for our daughters and sons who suffer mightily when we are not around.
I once posted that guys facing RICO prosecution had less to fear than fathers going through divorce in Northampton County. I was joking, but just barely. I got no love at 669 Washington Street and based on discussions I’ve had with men who’ve preceded me, that’s not unusual. If you find yourself facing divorce here, try your best to avoid getting dragged into court of any kind because, buddy, once you get through the metal detector, you’re a marked man.
In the event that you must go to court, here are some key things to remember:
- Make your court dates, regardless of the utter disgust you will feel at having to be party to some dopey dog and pony show. Even if you were so good a husband and father that Christ himself offered to be a character witness, an opportunistic lawyer will use your reluctance to participate in proceedings against you. Count on it.
- Do not appear in court without representation. The three judges I have encountered at that courthouse hear pro se respondents like the rest of the world hears adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. No matter how valid your argument, if you try to present it to a judge yourself, it will carry as much weight in that court room as it will in a cattle pasture.
- Hire a good divorce attorney. Do your research. I have found that, as of now, the internet offers precious little information on attorneys in our area that they themselves have not posted. Ask friends or family if they know anyone. Gather your contact information and set up appointments with the attorneys on your short list, preferably for the same day. Take a day off work and interview them all before making a decision. I do not recommend that you hire any purported divorce attorney that works out of the office of or with a bankruptcy attorney. I have hired two lawyers who work under such an arrangement and my financial interests were not best served by either. Look at it this way: Would you go to an obesity clinic run by Ben & Jerry?
There is so much ground to cover, but alas, so little time. As promised, I will continue to post what I’ve learned first hand in addition to intelligence gathered from knowledgeable sources. Cheer up, boy-o…your marriage might be over, but your new life has just begun!