Friday, April 2, 2010

What Divorce Law is Doing to Marriage Part 26

More from the words of Jed Abraham

You don’t want to do your wife what you don’t want her to do to you. You don’t want to cut her off from the kids. For all that you have both done to each other; the children still love their mom and dad. And that’s the way it ought to be.

You and she will disagree about the kids on some things, probably on lots of things. But mostly they’ll be small things. It won’t confuse the kids. It happens in families all the time. Parents disagree. Kids know that. They even benefit from knowing there are alternatives in life. So if you do things in your home a little differently than she does in hers, well, let the kids have the best of both. You won’t tell them that Mommy is wrong. You’ll tell them that there are different ways to cut the cake, that when they are with Mommy they should learn Mommy’s way, and when they are with you they should learn yours. Then, when they grow up, they can decide for themselves what to do.

You’re not the greatest dad in the world, but you’re not the worst either. You’re darn good enough. If, instead of divorcing you, your wife had suddenly died, the court wouldn’t say you couldn’t have custody of your kids, and you couldn’t care for them, couldn’t bring them up right. So now that your wife is divorcing you, why should the court say you’re no longer good enough to have custody, no longer good enough to be their father? Just because she can divorce you for no fault of yours shouldn’t mean she can divorce you from your children, too.

Your wife’s lawyer will rise to cross-examine you. She will get you to admit that your job requires you to travel out of town about two days a month, some months more, some months less. Your travel obligations are unpredictable. You can’t always schedule them to be when the children aren’t with you. Your wife has no travel obligations for her job.

She will get you to admit that you sometimes have to stay late at work. You can’t guarantee there won’t be nights when you get home after the baby-sitter has to leave. You can’t guarantee the children won’t be left alone for a while. Your wife doesn’t have to stay late at work.

She will get you to admit that you and your wife bought the marital house when your wife was pregnant with your first child and that the children have lived there all their lives. They will have to share a bedroom-a small bedroom-in your apartment, but they each have their own bedrooms-large bedrooms-in their mother’s house. There don’t have friends-any friends-on the block where your apartment is, but they have friends-many friends-on the block where their mother’s house is.

She will get you to admit that the children have their own bedroom at their mother’s house, but they will have to share the bathroom at your apartment. With you.

After your testimony, the lawyers will make their closing arguments. You won’t pay much attention. You’ll be rehashing your performance on the stand, wishing you could do it over again, better. You’ll wish the judge could just have come along one Sunday afternoon to see for himself what the kids really mean to you and what you mean to them. Then you will calm down. You’ll tell yourself that the judge will surely see through the maze. He’ll get the picture, and he’ll do the right thing.