DAVID PISARRA

Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

FATHERHOOD DENIED – The REAL Cause of a Father’s Pain

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 at 9:54 am

      I was walking my dog in the park last week, when I struck up a conversation with one of the city workers. He’s a young man who was so happy and proud that he just landed a full time position with the Parks and Recreation department. Now he could support his children better. He’s a young man with a couple of kids that he raises with his ex-girlfriend. Together they have worked out a system for childcare and sharing the responsibilities of parenting. It was a pleasant change from what I normally see.
      I was reminded of a day when I had two separate appointments with men, who were trying to work our co-parenting problems with their exes, and were coming to me after the fact to learn the effects of what they had done.
      One man was an older gentleman who’d raised his first son by himself. In this latest marriage the child was conceived by in vitro fertilization, in the first months, after his wife had left him once and returned, because she wanted a baby, and he thought that would fix their problems. As soon as she was definitely pregnant, she left him for good. It was eleven months into the marriage.
      The second man was a youngster, who was in his early 30s and had just been informed by his non-live-in girlfriend that she was pregnant. She told him that she didn’t really want him to be an active father. She did expect him to pay child support, but didn’t think he should have much to do with the pregnancy or the child afterwards. Though she was fine with him paying for her pregnancy classes.
      Neither of these men were stupid, teenagers or generally impulsive. Both seemed like genuinely decent guys who were just caught up in a relationship dynamic that caused them pain. Neither of them thought they had made a mistake, and both men genuinely wanted to be fathers. The younger one, was actually quite excited to be a father, as it would be his first child.
      I think I understand what drove these women to pick these men. Both were intelligent and good looking. One had a good history as a father and was a strong earner. The other was a good genetic catch in his physicality and emotional makeup.
      Each of these men will eventually get to see their children every other weekend, and once or twice a week for dinners. They might get to share holidays and every other birthday.
      If they pay their child support on time, they can avoid being on the latest Lifetime reality show, “Deadbeat Dads.” A show that is under fire from many quarters for its depiction of dads as uncaring and selfish.
      From where I sit, these guys are getting the short end of the stick. They were used as sperm donors and are now being used as ATM’s. But they don’t see it that way. They see that they are being denied the opportunity to be an active participant in their children’s lives; that they are being denied the rights of fathers for millennia to raise their children. They are cut out of their role as father, and then blamed for not being there.
      Which is a crying shame, because both of them would make great dads given half a chance for more interaction with their children.
      It’s ironic that men like these are the ones who are called selfish and uncaring, because it strikes me that the mothers who deny these men the pleasures of fatherhood, also deny their children the benefits of having a devoted and loving father in their lives. It is those women who so desperately want a child that they will deceive a man into impregnating them, without thinking that he might actually want to be a father, that are the most selfish.
      Which is not to say that there aren’t men who want nothing to do with their children, there are. But for those men who actually want to be a father, and there are a lot of them, when they are used as sperm donors, it’s really painful, and selfish. And the crime of it all, is that the child is the one who loses the most in that situation.

David Pisarra is a Divorce Attorney who specializes in Father’s Rights and Men’s Issues with the firm of Pisarra & Grist in Santa Monica. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.

CHILD CUSTODY RULES FOR FATHERS

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues on April 8, 2009 at 6:50 am

In August of last year I wrote about my belief that parents should be forced to take an equal division of time in their children’s care. I don’t think it’s fair or equitable that the lion’s share of child rearing falls to the mother. Fathers should be required by law to take their children 50% of the time.

Those Republican poster-children, Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston had a child out of wedlock, and are now going through the negotiation process of how much access Levi is to be allowed to his son. He says that Bristol, she of the “Family Values” family, wont let him take his son. We see this type of controlling behavior is all too often in our practice, and it is a detriment to the father/child bonding.

I understand that the Johnston child is only a few months old, but that is no excuse in this day and age for a father to be denied solo parenting time. Frequently the mom claims that the father is not a good parent, or too immature, or too uneducated on how to provide for a newborn. I think those are weak arguments at best and disingenuous at worst. If a man is old enough to father a child, to be required to pay child support, then he should be old enough to take up the mantel of parenting.

Today, as it stands, fathers who want to obtain, or increase, their visitation and custody orders need to keep in mind the following: Proximity, Paperwork and Persistence. They can make or break your chances of getting the orders issued by the judge. Most fathers start out a custody case at a disadvantage. When dad moves out, the children are left with mom, and that becomes the way the court is inclined to keep the situation. The moment that dad moves out of the family home, is the moment that mom gains an advantage in child custody hearings.

Here’s why, the courts don’t want to upset the children’s living environment. They focus on keeping the child stable, and that means in their historical home.

So how then does a man recover from the mistake of moving out of the house? He must show to the court that he can effectively parent the child, with as little disruption to the child’s routine as possible.

PROXIMITY

This means how far or close dad lives to the child’s home and school. This is a major factor in increasing, or acquiring, custody and visitation. The closer dad is to the home and school, the more easily he can be present for the child, and the courts give this great weight. If the choice is for a child to be in a car for five minutes getting from mom’s home to school or a 25 minute drive from dad’s home, the court is going to prefer mom’s home. It is also more likely that the child’s friends and social network are close to the school they attend, which is a factor for the court.

PAPERWORK

Cases are won or lost on documentation. Dads should keep a Calendar or a diary of all the time that they are with their child. In any contested case, mom has something that she will use to show the court how little time dad spends with the kids.

A simple calendar which shows the days that dad took his child, and what they did on those days can make all the difference for a change in custody. If dad keeps the receipts for what he did with his child, it will allow his lawyer to prove that he took the child to see the movie Cars on a day when mom says he didn’t visit. This is a crucial credibility issue, and one that with a little bit of work by dad, can yield big gains. The court will see that dad is truthful, and he’s come a long way towards winning the credibility wars, and that can lead to more time with his child.

PERSISTENCE

The biggest factor that effects whether or not a dad will win more visitation or even equal custody, is his ability to come back, time and time again. The successful dad in family court, is the dad who never gave up, and was willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how difficult it was, or how long it took, to prove to the court that he wants and is capable of being a loving, attentive and present father.

The successful dad who wants to increase his custody and visitation, will live close to his child, keep good records, and never give up when dealt a bad hand.