The unwritten rules your ex already lives by:
1. Under no circumstances whatsoever do you agree to being a custodial parent (CP) – avoid all sole custody, joint custody or any form of shared-care agreements like the plague. You must reluctantly (but very willingly) agree to be a non-custodial parent (NCP). Don’t worry about people thinking you’re an ass because you abdicated all parental responsibilities towards your child/ren. They won’t. This will actually garner more sympathy for poor little you because you only get to see YOUR kids every other weekend. (According to DivorcePeers.com the majority of child custody cases are not decided by the courts. In 51% of the cases both parents agreed that mom be the custodial parent. In 29% of the cases the decision was made without any third party involvement. Only 11% of custody cases were decided during mediation with as few as 5% being decided after court order custody evaluations.)
2. Make sure people know that you WANTED custody but the “courts wouldn’t allow it”. The fact that you willingly agreed to this in a separation agreement or court settlement and it wasn’t forced upon you by a judge is totally irrelevant. Besides, the only other person who knows the truth about this is your ex, the CP, and how bitter are they going to sound if they go around telling folks that custody was forced upon then?? In fact, they should be grateful to you for allowing them all this time with the children because “you only get to see YOUR kids every other weekend”. If you are a man – this is a good time to mention how sexist and unfair the system is and how it favours mothers. I mean, “men can be good parents too!” It’s just not fair.
3. NCP Bonus – you get to raise your children on less than 20% of your income. Do you know any married or co-habiting parents who keep 80% of their income for themselves? I thought not! (A Closer Look at State Child Support Guidelines.)
4. Now that you are a woe-begone NCP, the ball is well and truly in your court. Let the good times roll. It’s time to ride the glory train. You now have 100% control of your children and the NCP.
5. Don’t like how the CP is raising the kids? Don’t like the school or church the kids attend? Don’t like the CP’s new partner?? Don’t worry; you don’t have to like anything. You just get your lawyer to write an intimidating letter to the CP threatening court action and reimbursement of costs. You still have 80% of your income, so you can easily afford a lawyer. You can rest assured that the CP is spending more than 20% of his/her income on raising the kids and will be exhausted from working outside the home and being a Double Parent (doing your share of the parenting). So much so, that he/she will be more than willing to accommodate your unreasonable demands in order to save money on legal fees and avoid the stress of going to court. (You could, if you felt so inclined, do this once in a while, just to remind the CP that you are the boss.)
6. We’ve now ascertained that you’re boss and that the ball’s in your court, but what have you really gained so far except and lot more sympathy, power, control, time to yourself, and disposable income? Well, you get the best of both worlds, baby. You get to be the Good-time Charlie of parents. Yip, you have hit the parenting jackpot with this one. You get to show up on weekends and give the kids expensive toys the CP can’t afford and take them to all the fun places that the CP can’t afford – all thanks to that extra disposable income and the fact that you can work as many hours as you like without ever giving a second thought to child-care. Nuh-huh! You were smart enough to take care of all of that in step 1. The NCP also gets to share in all of the children’s significant life-events. You get to go attend graduations, other school events, parent-teacher interviews, extra-curricular activities, medical appointments etc., and that you get equal amount of input into these events. (See step 5 above for instructions on what to do in the event you dislike something.)
7. You lucky old NCP you! You get none of the parenting nitty-gritty that comes with child-rearing and none of the responsibility. No, the school won’t call you if your child is sick and needs to go home. That’s what the CP is for, after all. That is why the CP is the CP and you’re the poor unfortunate NCP. We all know that you totally “would if you could”. You don’t have to nag your kids to eat vegetables, take baths, or do homework. You don’t have to screen your kids’ friends, take your kids to the dentist’s or force them to get flu-shots. You don’t have to cool fevered brows or hold hair away from vomiting faces. (Refer to step 6, for what you do get to do.)
8. Fancy going out with a friend? No worries – no baby-sitting costs for you. Do you need to travel for work, work rotating shifts, stay in hospital, or just feel like a holiday? Guess what? No child-care concerns for you. Ever. And you don’t need permission from the CP either – who, on the other hand, needs permission from you to get the kids’ passports, travel with the kids, or move out of town and will have all the hassle of finding decent, flexible, and affordable child-care (putting the moron in oxymoron) while working to make ends meet. The CP’s whole life will have to revolve around putting the needs of the kids first. Even your needs will have to be considered before the CP makes a major life decision – more on that in number 9. The CP’s needs are always of least importance, and in fact, many CPs soon learn (if you’re doing this NCP thing properly) that they do not have the right to have needs and/or emotions. CPs barely have a legal leg to stand on either. The sooner the CP accepts this, the better it is for everyone.
9. By now you have surely realised that this whole post-divorce/separation parenting thing revolves around you. Some of you more sensitive NCPs might be concerned that your kids will think you’re an ass. Not to worry. Family Law has that one covered, and you can rest assured that no matter how many times you are late for access visits, fail to show up for access visits or extracurricular events, fail to call your kids, or forget birthdays and other special occasions, your children will always love you, idolise you, and see for the fabulously unselfish, dedicated parent that you really are. If they don’t, a ridiculously unproven notion called Parental Alienation Syndrome means you get to blame the CP if they kids don’t adore you. Don’t you just love family law? (This article analyzes every precedent-bearing decision and law review article referencing PAS in the past twenty years.)
10. Don’t worry about meeting your financial obligations to your children either. Although, many countries have government organisation in place to enforce supports they are massively ineffective, understaffed, under resourced and the government basically doesn’t give a damn whether or not you pay child supports. It’s not like putting food in the mouths of the nation’s children is important or anything, and it’s not like you actually owe the government money. Me, you, Willie Nelson – we all know THAT would be a different story. (CTV News has learned that 135,000 support payment cases are in arrears, with a total of $2 billion in payments outstanding. That figure has grown by $500 million in the past three years. And this is just in Ontario!) If not paying support was considered as important as not paying taxes, 99% of deadbeat NCPs would either be paid up or banged up!
11. Also, if you’re kid grows up to be a loser and not a Nobel Prize winning scientist who discovers the cure for cancer… well, you already know who’s fault that is, and it’s not yours! On the off-chance your kid doesn bring about world peace, you have all the bragging rights the CP does. Hey! They’re your kids too! Dammit!
12. Always remember that no sacrifice is a good sacrifice. Post-divorce/separation parenting is about you, your needs and wants and desires. *insert oxygen mask on aeroplane analogy.
There you have it. That’s TDP’s guide to being the greatest parent ever after you separate from the other parent of your children. Remember, custody is a mug’s game. CP’s put the cuss in custody – vote NCP and don’t cuss today.
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PS. If you don’t know what satire is, I suggest you consult a reliable dictionary ASAP.
The truth hurts. But the bitter truth hurts better.
The fact that there are more single mothers than fathers out there is a sign of the power imbalance between the sexes. All the power lies with the non-custodial parent (as the article demonstrates) and the majority of non-custodial parents are men. Therefore, men have more power when it comes to raising the children – while the women do all the nitty-gritty work – just like in the labour force.
The vast majority of family laws are favourable to the NCP and unfavourable to the children. NCPs have the rights to see their children. Children, unfortunately do not have the right to a decent, loving, responsible non-custodial parent. For more on these rights, I recommend reading about how various systems fail children from abusive homes in this great book by Judith Lewis Herman. These same laws, entrenched in patriarchy , give more rights to abusive fathers than innocent children, also fail to protect children from those NCPs who are not fulfilling their share of parental obligations and responsibilities. It takes a heck of a lot more than paying child support and visiting for a few hours a week to be a good parent.