In my family law practice I have noticed a disturbing trend. I have noticed that many mothers who get primary physical custody of their minor children through divorce will then set out to completely alienate those children from their father. It is done in sneaky ways. I’ll give a few examples.
Let’s say the mother has got primary physical child custody and the father has every-other-weekend visitation with the children. The mother might enroll the children in activities that take place on the father’s visitation weekend. So, does the father accomodate the plans made by the mother or does the father make plans contrary to those the mother has made? The children are caught in the middle and the father is in a difficult spot. The bottom line is that the mother is still exerting control of the children, even during the father’s weekend visitation, whichever choice the father makes. And, if the father does not allow the children to participate in the activities planned by the mother, then the mother will make him out to be the bad guy.
Or, the mother has primary physical child custody and she is obliged to notify the father of events that take place involving the children during her custody periods, the idea being the father can attend. School activities are a good example. The mother will fail to notify the father of these events. The mother then allows the children to believe the father just doesn’t care about their activities.
Or, the mother has primary physical child custody and the father has every other weekend visitation and a longer period of visitation during the children’s summer break from school. The father plans some super vacation for himself and the children during the summer visitation and the children are very enthusiastic.
Then, one week before they are all to leave on vacation, the children, in the custody of the mother, suddenly change their attitude and don’t want to go. The father ends up on the phone with the mother who is telling him the children don’t want to go on vacation with him. Does the father insist on the children going, or does he change his plans and scrap everything? Either way, the mother has control and, the father is either the bad guy or he loses out completely. (Most of the time when this happens, it turns out that the mother influenced the childrens’ attitude and changed their mind about going.)
Or, take this scenario. The father plans a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. He has a condominium for his children and himself during their summer vacation. The children go with him to Orlando. The children and the father are at the supper table in the condominium and beef stew is served. The children refuse to eat it and ask for something else. The father is old-school and insists that the children eat what they’ve been served. (The mother fixes whatever the children want while they are at her house and will not make them eat, or even try, food they don’t want.)
So the children throw a fit at the supper table and the father send them to their room. Spoiled daughter grabs her spoiled-daughter-cell-phone and calls her mother. Does the mother tell her to suck-it-up, obey her father, and eat the beef stew. Oh no, of course not. The mother clucks her tongue in sympathy and gets the father on the phone and chews him out for being so cruel. Then the mother DEMANDS that the father return the children to her, immediately.
Does the father tell her to leave him and the children alone? If so, rest assured that the mother will be on the spoiled-daughter-cell-phone with the spoiled daughter during the rest of the trip, undermining the father’s attempts at discipline and ruining any chance the father had of making the vacation work out.
Does the father take the spoiled-daughter-cell-phone away from the spoiled daugther. Oh, Hell No! If he does, there will be a knock on the condominium door and the Orlando Police Department will be doing a “wellness” check on the children at the behest of the mother. Then, when the father gets back to Georgia with the children, the mother will drag him into superior court alleging that he mistreated the spoiled daughter during the vacation.
So, the father responds to any of the above scenarios by taking the mother to superior court with a contempt action because she’s interfering with his visitation. Believe me when I say that a superior court judge is likely to see such a case as a nuisance, hardly anything more. It is difficult to get a superior court judge to understand that the mother really is evil enough to intentionally interfere with and, in fact, is seeking to destroy the father’s relationship with his children. Sometimes the father gets significant relief in court through a contempt action, but the mother will just keep on doing such stuff as time wears on and, in some instances, her manipulation of the children over time will ultimately destroy the father’s realtionship with them.
I have met these men. I have worked with these men in contempt actions after divorce, fighting to preserve their relationship with their children. It is heartbreaking to witness the cruelty and the evil of the mothers who want to prevent these men from participating as father to their own children.
My best advices is as follows. If you are a man married to a mean-spirited, vindictive woman; or if you believe that the woman will use your children as a weapon to hurt you in the future; or if you simply believe that you are the better parent for the children, fight like hell during the divorce to get primary physical custody of your children. Don’t just lightly decide to give the mother primary physical custody of your children. You might live to regret that decision more than any decision you’ve ever made in your life.
So, men, don’t assume that the mother should have custody of the children after divorce. It just isn’t always so. It might cost you some money, and it won’t be fun, but if you fight hard enough and if you have a good attorney at your side, you just might end up with primary physical custody of your children after divorce. It is worth the effort.