Divorce: From A Man’s Perspective

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Have you seen Chris Rock’s Netflix Comedy Special – Tamborine? It’s hilarious. It’s great to see him back on the stage again.
As he mentions, he took some time off to spend with his kids .. that he had to fight to get custody of. He went into the divorce process thinking it would be smooth and simple. In the end, he was a bit embarrassed with a noticeable dent in his wallet.
As a divorce attorney I am thrilled that he painted his divorce picture for all to see. We don’t always get the men’s perspective of the process. To be honest, can be just as painful and traumatic for men as it is for women, and sadly the men don’t always have a strong support system to help them pick up the pieces.
So let’s go through the picture he paints. First things first – he admits that his marriage ended because he cheated. Big whoop. You would be hard pressed to find a judge who hasn’t heard that story sung time and time again. In a no-fault divorce it doesn’t matter so don’t bother harping on it. Unless you cheated with a child molester who might prove a danger to your kids, the judge is not going to care. If you have children, the judge is looking at your case through the lens of “what’s in the best interest of the children?” Parents divorce, date, remarry, and the children generally adjust.
Rock purchased a home in close proximity to his ex-wife to make the children’s transition a bit easier, yet it wasn’t enough for the courts. Admittedly, this is a really good start. Most people cannot (or do not) do this. However, the courts will often ask for more information to ensure the children have a safe environment to grow up in. Rock mentioned that he had to provide pictures of the children’s bedrooms and of the fridge/cabinets. All this to ensure the children would have beds to sleep in and food to eat. Your ability to parent may come into question and it may not be as easy as providing some pictures. The judge has the right to order a complete social study where a social worker visits your home to evaluate the surroundings and interview those who will have access to the children. This service is often at the expense of the father, the parent who is usually fighting for more than standardized visitation. In the long run it’s worth it, especially if you win joint custody and equal access to your children. Don’t let cost be your reason not to fight for your children.
Lastly, Rock mentions how expensive the divorce cost. This doesn’t always have to be the case. If both parties are able to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce trial will not be necessary and the case can be fast tracked. In Texas, there is a mandatory 60 day waiting period which begins the day the initial petition is filed. If the parties are in agreement, the divorce can be finalized any time after that waiting period by simply presenting an agreed order to the court for the Judge’s signature. When parties cannot agree and a trial becomes necessary, that is where the costs can quickly rise. The judge can order an array of hearings and services, and depending on how packed the court’s docket is, you could be looking at a year or more before your trial date. Depending on the circumstances leading up to the trial the judge can order that each party pay their own fees, the person who makes more money to pay all legal fees, or the person who has been sanctioned for disobeying court orders or laws can be ordered to pay the fees.
Divorce is, in many ways, similar to death. It is the end of life as you know it, and can symbolize the death of dreams you had for your family. It’s important to allow yourself time to move through the grieving process and properly heal so you can be the best possible father to your children, and the best possible mate for your future mate. Although it can be difficult to ask for and seek out help, many people find relief in talking to a spiritual advisor, counselor, or attending support groups. There are many avenues to aid in your healing. It doesn’t matter what tools you use, it just matters that you do something. You do not have to suffer in silence. Use your resources to get the help you need. You can, and will, get through this.