Common Mistakes Fathers make in Divorce

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Common Mistakes Fathers make in Divorce

Lots of men are angry and hurt when faced with divorce papers. Due to these emotions, fathers make common mistakes in the divorce process and end up hurting their wallets, their children, even themselves. With a little forethought and preparation you can avoid these hazards and help make the transition as smooth as possible for you and your children.

Lots of guys for instance use litigation as a force for revenge. They drive up the cost as a tactic to try to make their ex crack. Everyone in the process suffers because of it and you come out looking like the bad guy. Some states even have laws against this. If you purposely make moves in order to drive up the cost you could be hit with a pretty hefty fine. Instead, think of your overall goals. Don’t be led astray by an attorney who would want to take part in such practices. Do your research and pick an attorney that’s right for you. Keep your emotions in check and don’t use the legal process as a vindictive device, or a way to throw a temper tantrum.

Another problem lots of men make is financially stretching themselves too thin. There is alimony, child support, and your own expenses. You could easily work yourself to death and not get anywhere in the process. Make sure you plan out your financial goals and strategy with an attorney, perhaps even an accountant. Having a financial game plan in place will help you manage your life properly. You’ll also want to consult with an attorney concerning your goals in regards to your children. Do you want joint custody, visitation or what? Know what you are aiming for, what is reasonable, what emotional state your ex is in and what she will likely go for. The most important thing of course is the children. But a lot of couples get caught in trying to hurt one another and the kids get caught in the middle.

That said, it’s also important not to give in too much and miss out on having the kids in your life. Children need love, support and attention from both parents regularly. Don’t compromise them out of your life. Do not use the children as leverage in any way. Not only is this despicable it will hurt your relationship with them. Lastly, don’t let child support payments pile up unattended. Or else, with penalties and fees, you’ll soon find yourself in the poor house. For more advice read, Fathers’ Rights: Hard-Hitting and Fair Advice for Every Father Involved in a Custody Dispute by Jeffery M. Leving and Kenneth A. Dachman, Ph.D.

Divorced Dad 101

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Divorced Dad 101

Going from a chaotic, kid oriented household into a new place can be an awfully strange transition. You go from tripping over toys and a highly structured, kid-centered world to an adult world devoid of all of that. It can feel liberating but also lonely. You might end up missing the kids. In fact, it can even feel like you divorced them along with their mother. You can feel a deep sense of loss. You may even question your status as a parent. With that, a sense of the loss of your old identity can follow. You want to know who you are and what kind of dad you will be now that things have changed so dramatically. When a stepdad comes on the scene, it can feel even more awkward. It seems like they spend more time with your kids than you do. You may feel as though you are cut off from your children but you aren’t. In fact, one rule of divorced dad 101 is that this dramatic change in your family interaction could be a chance to connect in a more meaningful way with your children. Really, if it’s up to anyone, it’s up to you. Whether or not you are together with the mother of your children, they are your children. You have a right to see them, be there for them, spend time with them and teach them the things only you can bestow upon them.

Commit to regular and responsible time with the kids. Put your differences aside and co-parent in the best way possible. Do your best to set up the same rules and consequences in both houses. Attend parent teacher conferences together. Show solidarity and let the kids know that just because you two aren’t together, you are still their parents. You both love them and encourage a relationship with the other parent. And you will both be there for them, for the long haul. Though some things change, like the living arrangements, if you can set up good structure and communication with your co-parent the kids will make the transition better, as will the two of you. The thing is you both have to be able to compartmentalize things. Let parenting be one thing and conflict about the splitting of assets be another thing entirely. Don’t use the kids to find out what their mom is doing or who she is dating. Don’t put them in the middle and don’t let your ex do it either. If the kids become a weapon of war, they also become its collateral damage. The ones that lose the most is them. Having a good parenting relationship that is professional, logical, courteous and straightforward will be in the children’s best interest. So no matter what happened between the two of you, it has to be put aside. The children must come first.

Lots of guys feel marginalized after a divorce. They feel out of the loop with the kids. But un-marginalize yourself. Coach their sports teams. Be a scout master. Find out what the kids are into a do it with them. Build a culture of what you do when you hang out together. Having familiar activities that the kids enjoy and want to take part in with you are a great way to make them feel comfortable and to bond. Hiking, biking, playing sports together, comic book collecting or collecting other items, building models, chess and so much more are available. Don’t lavish the kids with gifts as a way to allay guilt or buy their love. Your time, energy, commitment, thoughtfulness and concern will be the most important things you can give a child. Really listen to them. Allay their fears and give them the skills and strategies they need to be successful. Always leave the door open for them to come and talk to you. A divorced dad is not the only person who has limited contact with the kids. Doctors, soldiers and others. But it isn’t the hours and minutes you spend but the quality of the time you spend with them. It’s the impact you make on them and the one they make on you.  Father’s Day may be once a year, but fatherhood lasts for a lifetime. For a unique and funny look at being a divorced dad read, The 40-Year-Old Version: Humoirs of a Divorced Dad byJoel Schwartzberg.

Higher Suicide Rate Among Divorced

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Higher Suicide Rate Among Divorced

Evidence is mounting from several studies that show that the divorced and separated suffer higher suicide rates. The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health recently published a study that showed that the separated and divorced were 2.4 times more apt to commit suicide than those who were married. Critics say however that the study did not enlighten us on whether or not there was a differentiation between genders. A University of California study piggybacking on this earlier study occurred to see if there was a difference between the suicide rate of divorced men from divorced women, using data of non-Hispanic white men and women culled from the US National Longitudinal Mortality Study between the years 1979-1989. This study found that, “divorced men were over eight times more likely to commit suicide than women.” Men were 9.7 times more likely to kill themselves than divorced women who had gone through a similar circumstance. That means there are nine divorced men who kill themselves for every divorced woman. The plight of the divorced man in America is difficult indeed. But why is the suicide rate for divorced men so much higher? Some researchers believe society has ignored this phenomenon and has failed to search for reasons. A summary for this study states that two leading psychologists in the field believe that, while social, psychological, and even personal problems facing women are readily denounced, societal institutions tend to ignore or minimize male problems as evident in suicide statistics.

Another issue is the natural estrangement due to the supposition in many parts of the U.S. where it is thought that the bond between a mother and child is stronger than that of a father and child. The wife is therefore far more likely to gain custody of the children during the divorce settlement. So now he has not only lost his wife, perhaps his house but his children as well. This is a dramatic shift in the man’s lifestyle and can feel like a terrible loss. Men may feel betrayed by the ex-wife or the court system. This will begin to be a heavy emotional burden and he may feel intense anxiety, or suffer from depression. Depression and suicide often go hand-in-hand. There is a societal difference too between the genders. While women are expected to deal with psychological and social problems while going through a divorce and therefore are extended sympathy, men in our society are supposed to “man up” or control their emotions. It may be this lack of an emotional outlet that creates a situation where men let the pain of a divorce build up inside and with no outlet, the raging torrent within him turns him toward suicide. Still, researchers say that this topic needs more research and more targeted studies to gain more results.

There are many things you can do if you suffer from post-divorce depression. Know that there is help via support groups for men, women, and anyone suffering the pain and loss that is divorce. Counseling with a mental health professional that you trust and can gain a rapport with can also help through this trying time. There are many things you can do on your own besides going to counseling. Taking up an exercise program can help lift the fog of depression. Exercise is one of nature’s most potent anti-depressants. Reach out to friends and family and vent, let them know how you feel. Get hugs. It sounds silly but it helps quite a bit. Watch funny movies. Keep a journal. Write a goodbye letter saying all the things you want to say and letting it all out.  You can write essentially a “Good riddance” letter about all the things you will no longer have to deal with. Make a dream board. Practice yoga. Take up a musical instrument or an artistic hobby. Start playing a sport. Take a road trip with an old friend. Travel to a country you’ve never been to before but always wanted to go to. Practice transcendental meditation. Go back to school. Get a second job to save up for something. Keep yourself busy. Allow yourself to grieve. But don’t wallow there. When the time is right, step out of the darkness and into the light. For more on this read, Divorce Is Not The End But A New Beginning: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide to Help You Deal With Your Feelings and Move On by Kate Foster.

Dating as a Single Dad

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Dating as a Single Dad

Fatherhood isn’t easy, especially when you are a single dad. Most guys know all the general dating tips for men. But when you are a single dad you have to keep the kids in mind. Schedules can be crazy, especially if you have joint custody. Many dads also wonder how to balance the interests of their children, and avoid freaking them out while still enjoying a healthy love life. Of course everyone deserves the right to date and find someone and there are ways to do it while still being a spectacular dad. Here are some ways and things to do, and things to keep in mind while dating as a single dad. Remember that you don’t have to rush into the dating scene. Instead, take small steps and get acclimated to it, particularly if you’ve been out of the game awhile and aren’t feeling so confident. Widowers often have the most difficult time knowing when the right time to get back out there is. In this situation but also after a divorce everyone seems to have advice for when the particular right time to get back out there is. But really it’s all up to you, how you feel and when you feel comfortable making that step. Some divorced dads feel dating guilt because the time with their children is so limited. One good indicator if you are ready to date or not is whether or not you want to badmouth your ex-wife, or talk about your previous relationship all night instead of focusing on yourself and your date.

Have a conversation with your children about it if you are ready to date again. Address any issues. Some children secretly harbor the feeling that perhaps their parents will get back together. Often a dad or mom getting back into the dating scene makes it difficult for them as it deflates their fantasy. Have a long talk about it. Let them know that they are your number one priority and they will always have the biggest piece of your heart. That said, as much as spending time with family and friends is fulfilling, you desire friends you can go out to dinner with, go see a show with or go to the movies with. Of course consider the age of the children and tailor your message so that they understand it completely. Make sure you select the proper person or people to date. Let them know upfront that you are a dad and that your children automatically come first. Ask Mr. Dad columnist Armin Brott says, “You never know when there will be an emergency, when you’ll have to leave a date or cancel—and that might make her jealous.” Oftentimes, single dads want to date someone with kids. But single moms aren’t necessarily looking for a man with children. Though you may think a single mom would be more understanding, supportive and perhaps better with the children, a childless woman may be great with the kids as her attention will be solely focused on them, and you rather than her own.

You don’t have to tell your children every detail about the person you are dating. Don’t tell them too much.  Ask the children if they’d like to meet them. If they say no, respect their decision but let them know that if you two are getting serious it would probably be a good idea. They should be open to that. Don’t introduce the children to a series of people you are dating or one right after another. It will make them jaded about dating in their own life and may hurt their future relationships. Don’t leave the kids with a sitter or drop them off at your parents to go on a date. It sends the message that the date is more important than the children. You don’t want the kids feeling that way. Be careful what you share with your children. Don’t tell them the details of your dating life even if they are teens. Wait until you are serious about someone special before introducing them. Don’t have a sleep over with the children around unless you and your date are serious. Take a look and see if your ex-spouse is dating. If she isn’t watch out as former spouses try and discredit new lovers in front of the children. This puts the kids in an awful position. They have their loyalties split between mom and dad. Further, they may not want to bond with your new girlfriend or fiancée for fear that they are betraying their mother. Talk to your former spouse about it if this happens. When it’s time to meet someone you are serious about make it a relaxed meeting in a quiet and comfortable place. Never assume your kids don’t get it. Even young children get when dad is dating again. Be honest with them and they’ll be understanding, and will in the end want you to be happy. For more, read Dating for Dads by Ellie Slott Fisher.

The Difference between a Single Father and a Divorced Dad

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The Difference between a Single Father and a Divorced Dad

There are lots of single moms and dads out there nowadays looking for love. It’s about finding someone who they have chemistry with, have fun with and who fits their own wants, needs and desires in a mate, in addition they have to like, interact well with and be a good role model for the children. This is particularly true for single moms. But many women, although finding men they like, feel there is a difference between a single father and a divorced dad. In this view a single father is one who has custody of the children and takes care of them full-time. These women thus believe that a single father understands what they go through and so can relate to and blend into their lifestyle much better than a divorced dad. A divorced dad on the other hand gets the children every other weekend and perhaps one day during the week. In this, they have all kinds of free time and don’t have to act like a responsible parent at this time. So women assume that he may be irresponsible and in fact a bad influence on the children. Furthermore, since he doesn’t have this as a full-time responsibility he may not understand nor be able to commit to the rigorous lifestyle she is accompanied with.

The trouble is many men are offended by this compartmentalization. Many don’t get a choice in what form of custody they are assigned. They also wonder, does not having your children full-time really make you less of a father? According to the U.S. Census 6.1% of fathers had full-time custody of their children in 1993, but that number jumped to 18.3% in 2011. So why are women generally given custody of the children? Basically because it’s our tradition. According to Attorneys.com, “Traditionally, men worked and women stayed home to raise children. Although that is less frequently the case these days, there is still a bias toward women in child custody cases. From a biological perspective, we are more inclined to think of the mother-child relationship than the father-child relationship. Many people make the automatic assumption that women are more nurturing as parents than men.” But today with female employment up to 47% and the increase of stay-at-home dads, it’s clear that men can be nurturing parents as well. According to a recent article in the Huffington Post author Doug Zeigler writes of what his attorney told him when he asked about getting custody, “Well, in this country, you’re not going to get custody. It just doesn’t happen unless the woman is a drug addict, a danger to your kids or a mental patient. You’ll be in the minority if you get more than every other weekend with your sons. My advice would be to do all you can to keep her happy, so that she’ll be easier to deal with when it comes to custody.” But that’s easier said than done during a divorce. Men shouldn’t be stereotyped by women like this, especially from the dating pool of single moms, and particularly when the system is geared for dads to end up this way. If you’re considering dating a divorced father, read Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide if He’s Right for You by Christie Hartman.