Children · Legal · Relationships

8 Things to Know Before You Leave Their Mother

I recently started following a Facebook group called “The Father’s Rights Movement,” which is an organization that purports to support equal rights for dads in the family courts. I have a great deal of empathy for fathers who want to see their children, but keep running into artificial roadblocks set up by people claiming to be acting in the best interests of the children. For reasons and in ways I won’t bother to go into here, the courts are definitely stacked against the dads. It’s worth grieving.

In spite of the unequal consideration dads get in the courts, not everything everyone is seeking from the group is unquestioningly commendable. Nor is all the advice offered by the community always good or helpful. It would be a full-time job to correct all of the bad advice that is offered.

Of course, the questions posed in this forum are frequently so bereft of any actual specificity and detail that it is impossible to know how to advise them. One person who posted—rightfully concerned that, should he leave his girlfriend that he can’t seem to stop arguing with, he might not get to see his child much after they split—sought advice from the group for how to ensure he can prevent losing access to their daughter.

Because I don’t know their circumstance, I refused to offer advice on what tactics he should use to maximize favor for himself in a separation. True reconciliation and healing are always preferable to tearing families apart, when possible. So rather than trying to ascertain whether it’s possible in any specific case, I would like to just provide some food for thought to dads who might be thinking of separating from the mother of their kids, BEFORE they take a step that may turn out to be irrevocable.

  1. Your kids are going to suffer, too, in a divorce.
  2. No matter who is deemed the “custodial parent,” you will never again have the same access to your children.
  3. As a dad, you are generally unlikely to be awarded primary custody.
  4. If you are awarded 50/50 custody or even primary custody, you may still be ordered to pay child support. This is often–but not always–unfair to you. But in either case, things will get harder for you.
  5. If you’re one whose stress from this treatment and the separation from your children causes you to lash out or become distraught or distant, your kids will suffer from this, as well.
  6. The best thing you can do for your kids is BE someone they can look up to and respect at a deep-heart level. This includes being the sort of man who treats their mother with dignity and respect, even when you don’t think she’s earned it.
  7. If you can do #6 above, it may or may not cut down on the arguing or save your relationship, but it still will benefit your children greatly to know that you love and respect their mom (even if divorce becomes, in hindsight, inevitable), and you’ll feel better about yourself, as well.
  8. You don’t have to go through all of this alone, and you shouldn’t. Find a trusted couple to help you with your issues, or get professional counseling (alone or as a couple), or go to a support group like Celebrate Recovery or Redemption Groups. Your soul is mangled in a divorce, and it is more overwhelming than you think to feel whole again. Let others in, appropriately, to encourage you toward family reconciliation and, if it comes to it, divorce recovery.

Did I leave anything out? Sure. But at a minimum, know that you aren’t the only one who has ever gone through something like this, and very likely couples have, with the Lord’s help, overcome much worse circumstances than the one you find yourself in. But even if the worst happens, He can work even that for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

 

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