Archive for February, 2020

Facebook + Difficult Marriage = Divorce

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Ok, I already know what you are thinking.  How can social media alone lead to the downfall of a marriage?  Afterall, there are indeed many people who use Facebook solely to keep in contact with old friends and family.  But let us be totally honest.  Most single  and some married users of Facebook are simply making an attempt to broaden their pool of potential mates (guys, I am especially talking about you). 

There is no question that Facebook does add some positive attributes to one’s social life, but is the unrestricted communication interrupting the sanctity of marriage?  Is it too easy to vent problems with your spouse to any listening ear when we need one the most?  Are the people we “friend” truly able to give us objective and moral advice about a crumbling marriage?  Do they have your best interests at heart, or their own?  Let’s break this into pieces and explore some of what may be obvious but needs to be emphasized.  Emotion without logic never leads anyone to a good life result.

For those of us who grew up as teenagers without cell phones, we remember the simplicity of communicating with the people we held dear.  It was not as easy as it is today…we had to actually call a landline, and for me, I had to make nice with mom or dad before getting on the phone with the young lady I had a crush on.  It seems in some ways that this is the way it should be.  Is it?  Well, to say it succinctly the internet, for all of the benefits, may be more dangerous than valuable. 

It is clear that some of the benefits of wide-open communication are also impediments to the sanctity of personal relationships…marriage in particular.  Not only do we open ourselves to voices that should be distant from our most intimate experiences, we allow more easily anyone to chime in via social media.  I will attempt to break down the reality of social media’s impact on marriage in two ways.

First, it is understandable that when we are dissatisfied with our partner to vent, and what is easier than doing so online?  Gone are the days of landlines and some degree of separation between our marriages and those people who, possibly with good intent, want to tell us how best to decide our paths forward.  Fetching quick advice from a friend online is tempting for everyone, but tread lightly because they are only hearing one side of the story. 

Secondly, that attractive member of the opposite sex does not necessarily have your best interests at heart.  They likely have an agenda…to wedge themself between you and the person you hold dear.  Again, if you sense that they are not supportive of your marriage, they are not supportive of you.  Your spouse is one with you and the law also recognizes that your interests are sacrosanct…they are one in the same.  

Facebook and social media in general have dramatically changed the landscape of divorce.  Even though accounts may be designated as “private”, the bulk of information contained in them is a simple subpoena away for an adept lawyer…that may change quite soon.  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook C.E.O., recently announced a plan to encrypt all messages sent via their messenger feature.  This basically means they will be nonexistent once they are read.  Talk about a way to cheat in private with no one being able to know a paramour exists.  My suspicion is that most cheaters are looking forward to this feature rolling out in the near future.

As a final thought, divorce rates are down in sheer volume, but have spiked in relation to percentages with the onset of social media.  Divorce trials are inundated with Facebook posts as evidence of adultery.  The personal and intimate nature of romance seems more and more elusive when we are open to unfettered communication.  While it may be a well-meaning friend or a new love interest that interferes in marriage, there does not seem to be any improvement in sight short of people ditching social media outright.  That is a scenario no one can fathom and simply will not happen.

Winning at Work, Losing in Custody? The Sad Truth

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

So many men (sometimes career women, too) lose a custody fight because of their career obligations.  I want to share a few typical scenarios in which a very good parent, maybe even the better option to be the primary caregiver in most respects, is going to lose regardless of the grand scheme of things.  First though I want to reference a previous post that was written in October, 2019 entitled “Mom Has The Advantage With The Young Ones”, (it can be found in our archive) wherein I concluded the following:

“Is there truth that dad doesn’t have a chance?  Not necessarily, but he usually has a taller hill to climb to obtain custody of a young child than mom does, and that’s not written law, it is likely cultural more than anything else.  The Albright analysis does afford some advantage to mom, particularly because of the continuity of care when dad is at work.”

It is well settled that men (or working moms with stay at home dad husbands) are technically supposed to start on an even playing field with one another in a custody dispute…courts are mandated to be “gender-blind” in deciding who gets primary custody of a child.  Let’s look at two different, common scenarios where the hard worker has almost no chance of winning in a custody fight because of their job responsibilities.  

Scenario #1.  Husband and wife have two young children.  Mom isn’t happy in the marriage and hires a divorce attorney to initiate a divorce.  She hasn’t worked since the birth of her first-born which was several years ago.  Dad has always been the income provider, the breadwinner so to speak.  He wants to be the primary caregiver and that wife have visitation.  He believes that, since he has family close-by, that they can stand in his shoes while he works long hours.  Dad is incorrect and will almost certainly lose.  He is upset, feeling punished for being a great provider.  The reason he will almost certainly lose?  Because unless mom is unfit or has a work schedule more taxing than his, the capacity to provide child care is vested in natural parents first…not the relatives who live nearby.  Is he being punished?  The argument can be made, but the logistics of caring for kids takes precedence over how dad feels. 

Scenario #2.  Mom and dad have been divorced for a few years (or broken up).  A court order is in place giving mom primary custody, but dad gets a generous dose of visitation, more than standard every-other weekend visits.  Dad lives in the same town as mom, or even the next town over.  Dad gets offered a significant pay raise, but the job is in Texas.  He believes full well that he is the better parent.  He is placed in a scenario wherein he must choose to leave Mississippi and risk the difficulties of traveling…a LOT, in order to see the kids as much as he does now.  But, he wants to be a great provider, because he loves them.  Can a happy ending follow?  Unfortunately, probably not.  He either has to suck it up and follow the existing order and live out of his vehicle or petition the court for a restructuring of visitation.   Most likely, and 99.9% of the time, this fact alone will not tender him a foot in the door to seek custody…even if he has proof that the Texas schools are superior.  Is he being punished?  I’ll let you decide, but clearly our lives are full of tough choices.

My final thoughts are twofold.  First, it does seem that we often get the short end of the stick when doing the right thing.  Secondly, no matter how much better-off you may be financially than the other parent, how much nicer a home you have and so-forth are of no concern to the courts.  That is what child-support is for…to simply equal the playing field.