Tough sledding, these days. Last July, Northampton County’s Domestic Relations Section (“DRS”) seized my emergency reserve. Last week, New York State Department of Labor (“Labor”) denied me the back-dated benefits I sought to help cover that loss.
And, of course, there is the custody conference coming up October 26, which is a great way to kick off the holiday season.
The news isn’t all bad; nearly a month ago, DRS did cut my support payments, but then they turned around and attached my unemployment benefits. Now, I am left with $187 a week on which to live: Hardly gas money.
Gas money is enough to cover gas, which is why they call it “gas money”. It doesn’t cover a mortgage, utilities, car notes or groceries. It buys gas, in my case to drive back and forth to hearings to determine just how much deeper into the well either agency is going to push me. I have to tell you, these agencies together have better stopping power than a Colt .45.
Now that I know exactly how little joy I can expect from life in the immediate future, I can get to work on longer range plans. I didn’t come this far to be tossed out on the street and of no use to my children.
First, I’ll need to figure out money: What are my best earning options? Which will allow me the most time with the kids while covering my expenses? In the meantime, how will I save my home and car and address mounting debt?
Next I’ll need to figure out how to make the most of my time with the kids. This is a tough call because I was a full-time, hands-on dad for 8 years.
Transitioning to a part-time role has caused and continues to cause me great distress. I will need to condense all the joys of fatherhood, sharing, learning and laughing with my two favorite people, into a few hours a week. I have already adjusted to my diminished role, but the pain of having it shoved down my throat by the divorce/support/custody complex will always be there.
My hope is that the shape my new life continues to take will allow for a comfortable balance at some point. More than anything, a successful father needs peace of mind to ply his trade. Peace of mind allows him to focus on the kids.
Blogging about these issues has provided me a communication line with the world to discuss what too few divorced fathers do. Publicizing the blog has helped me discover other bloggers and organizations founded for the same reasons. I have even joined a national class action lawsuit against the family court system of all fifty states and the federal government.
As my hit count grows, my writing skills evolve and my connections expand, I see an eventual coalescing of many efforts to overturn an antiquated, corrupt system designed to attack fathers because, for generations, we have been the “bread winners”, a source of blood to be leached by lesser attorneys and their cronies. Yes, we are easy pickings for this class of people.
I’ve taken my lumps, but I refuse to simply forget the damage done to the lives of my kids and me and “move on”. Rather, I will work with others to gut the divorce/custody/support complex of its power to destroy the relationships of good fathers to the children who love them.