|When a marriage fails it is
important to have a
Divorce Lawyer on your side. A good
attorney can help protect your rights regardless
of the matter. Make sure you choose a
specialty lawyer like a
Attorney or a Personal Injury Lawyer to
assist you in your trial.
Kathleen is attractive, successful, witty,
and educated. She also can't find a husband. Why? Because most
of the men this thirty-something software analyst dates do not
want to get married. These men have Peter Pan Syndrome--they
refuse to commit, refuse to settle down, and refuse to "grow
However, given the family court policies and
divorce trends of today, Peter Pan is no naive boy, but instead
a wise man.
"Why should I get married and have kids when
I could lose those kids and most of what I've worked for at a
moment's notice?" asks Dan, a 31 year-old power plant technician
who says he will never marry. "I've seen it happen to many of my
friends. I know guys who came home one day to an empty house or
apartment--wife gone, kids gone. They never saw it coming. Some
of them were never able to see their kids regularly again."
The US marriage rate has dipped 40% over the
past four decades, to its lowest point ever. There are many
plausible explanations for this trend, but one of the least
mentioned is that American men, in the face of a family court
system which is hopelessly stacked against them, have
subconsciously launched a "marriage strike."
It is not difficult to see why. Let's say
that Dan defies Peter Pan, marries Kathleen, and has two
children. There is a 50% likelihood that this marriage will end
in divorce within eight years, and if it does the odds are two
to one that it will be Kathleen, not Dan, who initiates the
divorce. It may not matter that Dan was a decent
husband--studies show that few divorces are initiated over abuse
or because the man has already abandoned the family. Nor is
adultery cited as a factor by divorcing women appreciably more
than by divorcing men.
While the courts may grant Dan and Kathleen
joint legal custody, the odds are overwhelming that it is
Kathleen, not Dan, who will win physical custody. Over night
Dan, accustomed to seeing his kids every day and being an
integral part of their lives, will become a "14 percent dad"--a
father who is allowed to spend only one out of every 7 days with
his own children.
Once divorced, odds are at least even that
Dan's ex-wife will interfere with his visitation rights.
Three-quarters of divorced men surveyed say their ex-wives have
interfered with their visitation, and 40% of mothers studied
admitted that they had done so, and that they had generally
acted out of spite or in order to punish their exes.
Kathleen will keep the house and most of the
couple's assets. Dan will need to set up a new residence and pay
a substantial portion of his take-home pay to Kathleen in child
As bad as all of this is, it would still make
Dan one of the lucky ones. After all, he could be one of those
fathers who cannot see his children at all because his ex has
made a false accusation of domestic violence, child abuse, or
child molestation. Or a father who can only see his own children
under supervised visitation or in nightmarish visitation centers
where dads are treated like criminals.
He could be one of those fathers whose ex has
moved their children hundreds or thousands of miles away, in
violation of court orders which courts often do not enforce. He
could be one of those fathers who tears up his life and career
again and again in order to follow his children, only to have
his ex-wife continually move them.
He could be one of the fathers who has lost
his job, seen his income drop, or suffered a disabling injury,
only to have child support arrearages and interest pile up to
create a mountain of debt which he could never hope to pay off.
Or a father who is forced to pay 70% or 80% of his income in
child support because the court has imputed an unrealistic
income to him. Or a dad who suffers from one of the child
support enforcement system's endless and difficult to correct
errors, or who is jailed because he cannot keep up with his
payments. Or a dad who reaches old age impoverished because he
lost everything he had in a divorce when he was middle-aged and
did not have the time and the opportunity to earn it back.
"It's a shame," Dan says. "I always wanted to
be a father and have a family. But unless the laws change and
give fathers the same right to be a part of their children's
lives as mothers have, it just isn't worth the risk."
This column first appeared in the
Sacks' columns on men's and fathers' issues have appeared in dozens of America's
largest newspapers. Glenn can be reached via his website at
via email at Glenn@GlennSacks.com.