Re: Divorce: shared custody should be mandatory

Date: Fri Feb 23 2001 - 10:06:26 PST

My anecdotal stuff:
Joint custody doesn't mean anything. When Xi was 4-6, I went through a HUGE
custody battle (this was 3 years after I left her father, during which
time he didn't call, write letters, or anything, and yes, he had our
address). Thank <something> that my attourney took my case pro bono,
because it lasted for 2 years. I won. I always like to say that, but the
truth is, noone won anything. We got joint custody, and I think she has
seen her father 3 times. She's almost 18 now. I remembered how it felt
when my mom talked shit about my dad, so I didn't do that. Her first
visit with her dad was cut short when she was 9 because he couldn't keep
thw words "your mom is a whore" out of his mouth, and she could keep "fuck
you, who are you?" out of hers. The second visit went a bit more
smoothly, I don't know why, and the third was nightmarish. My point is
that we had joint custody, and there was nothing joint about it. Yes,
after that he had to pay child support, but her father was largely absent
of his own choice. He wanted custody for revenge, and when that didn't
happen, it was over with. I do know a couple of dads who participate in
their children's lives, but I know way more who don't. In other words,
joint custody isn't something that is going to fix the problem of absent
parents. I feel that if an absent parent really wants to be a part of
the child's life, s/he can do that in most cases, even if the present
parent makes it difficult. It's the responsibility of the absent
parent to get through whatever obstacles are there to see the child.
I've heard so many say that it's not worth it, and that's just never
made sense to me. My father tried to explain it to me. Said that it was
just heart rending for him to leave after visitation, so he just stopped
visiting. Poor thing.

The trend toward single parenthood is less that than a trend toward
extended families, I think. Xi grew up with my mom, sisters, and
friends. She calls my close friends "my <insert name here>," like my
Tara, my Chad, my Jill, and it sounds like she's talking about a member of
her family, because she is talking about a member of her family. I'm not
going to say that her life has been perfect because of this, or that she
doesn't have insecurities or problems, but it's been the best possible
world, in a situation where the other parent was determined to do harm or
else (stay away). I have to say that I'm glad he stayed away, because he
doesn't seem capable of loving her enough to not hate me to her face, but
it's really hard to figure out what to say to a kid who asks "why doesn't
my dad call or write?" I remember one time that he did call, it was to
say that he couldn't see her because I had prevented him from it, legally.
The only thing I could say to that was to give her the court papers and
let her read them for herself. Joint custody.

"Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases, think for yourself." --Doris Lessing,
British writer

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