My 1st Fathers Day (June 2004)
Today is Fathers Day June 19 2011, so let me say warm wishes to all the great dads out there, especially mine, Paul Carlin. (Picture: Father/ Son camping trip to Tofino BC 2010)
Today while most people are enjoying a fun and stress free experience with their fathers & children, my heart & thoughts go out to the literally millions if not billions of fathers who have had to fight for their fatherly rights who have been put through the most agonizing & de humanizing experience any person could face; the "Family Court System".
I call this torture chamber "FCS", because that's exactly what most fathers get, "Fucked", when they attempt to maintain, keep, and develop a meaningful relationship with their children during the custody litigation process.
Pardon my language, but this is an emotional subject for me...
Because I, (along with over 50% of other unfortunate men who have ever gotten separated or divorced with children) have also 1st hand experience with this 'system' when they wanted to get custody of their children.
Chances are, or you know someone who is divorced or has kids, right?
In North America today if you get married, their is over a 50% chance that it will happen to you...those are some intense stats.
To set the record straight, I have never been married, (and if all goes according to plan, I never will be, but that's a whole other topic).
However I am a proud parent of an incredible 7 year old son named Ethan that I have done every possible thing within my power (with very little help & assistance from the courts) to remain a big part of his life after his mother and I separated since she has gone on to marry another man. Thinking back on it now, its amazing how a fast a happy family can disintegrate these days...tragic.
I spent the majority of my 20's (23-30) over 6 years of grueling litigation, that I would not wish an experience like that upon my worst enemy).
While I was not spending my time with my son, I was spending my days in court rooms, conference calls with lawyers and meeting with professional custody evaluators, meanwhile my friends spent their masses of free time hanging out in clubs & parties...needless to say I grew up fast thanks to this intense school of Life Lessons 101.
I wish that my story / negative experience in the "FCS" was unique, unfortunately its not.
During my journey I met countless other men who have experienced the same (if not worse) up hill, frustrating attempts when it comes to getting their 'fatherly rights' acknowledged, let alone granted and honored by litigating and lobbying for court orders.
Long story short, the court system (especially the family one) is a business.
Yup, you got that right, its a business, BIG business.
Why do you think that court custody cases & divorce proceedings take so long to "resolve?"
Because no one gets paid when the case is closed.
Universally, lawyers make billions of dollars per year (and Judges make even more), by feeding and fueling the fire of the emotions of their clients. Both lawyers and judges work together manipulating each client like puppets to prolong this process as long as possible because do you really think its in their best interest to close the case?
So why would they?
If they do, then the mountains of cash $ would stop flooding into their sheik offices, that good people who are spending a fortune just so that they can be a part of their children's lives, interesting enough its this desire of parent that pays for those office furnishings. Ironic.
By the way, a case is never "resolved" or 'closed', only 'adjourned' until further notice or evidence...
I will never forget back when this entire process started, I was only 23 years old.
I had just wrote my last university exam, and then the following week I was in a layers office filing for full custody.
As I was waiting in the lobby, there was a man at least twice my age weeping uncontrollably, after talking with him I learned that he spent over 100K and 4 years of his life and savings and still ended up having an 'un resolved' case because his child's mother moved out of the province and if he wanted to proceed he needed to move as well to continue the case. To this day I wonder how his case turned out...
I never imagined when my case opened over 6 years ago that my proceedings would end so similar to that strangers.
I won't go into details, but I was on the brink of finally going to trial to resolve this never ending nightmare, then my son's mother came into the room with her cut throat lawyer and said they were moving, not only out of the province, but out of the country to California!
In a matter of moments after years of waiting...Boom: Case Closed.
No resolution, no order of justice or custody, no nothing.
Everything I worked and waited for now was non existent, and my only choice was to relocate (again) to continue in California (were prices of litigation are triple) or adjourn.
Long story short, this was about 12 months ago. 6 months after they moved I decided I needed a major break from this soap opera and decided to take much needed vacation and come to Asia to take a contract teaching English for a few months to just clear my head...(
BTW, if you follow me on Twitter / Facebook and have seen a little of my 'wild side shenanigans' you now know why I have needed to blow off all that stress that has built up over the past number of years and let loose here in Asia.
I usually don't party this hard, but due to the circumstances...
This has been exactly what the doctor (and my lawyer) had ordered / suggested.
I return to North America in 2 weeks. I have missed my son greatly but we have had great weekly web cam connections together via Skype video which has been great but I can't wait to give him a big hug and see how much taller he has gotten (hes the tallest in his grade 1 class by far...I wonder why? I'm 6'7 and I am sure he will be taller than me, hello NBA lol! )
At this point, I would like to offer the 2 best resources I have found for Fathers Rights and if you know of anyone who is in this situation, please do them a favor and refer these 2 great resources to them:
This book by Alec Baldwin (who paid over 1.3 million for his 5 year divorce / custody case) is the Bible for fathers in court, I wish I found it when I was beginning this process instead of near the end of it as it is an invaluable resource.
And another great website that talks about Parental Alienation Syndrome (as my lawyer said is the main concern / issue of my current case, which is also noted as being the most difficult case to resolve)
I didn't write this article as a ranting sob story to go into the details of my own and other fathers personal experiences, or have people feel sorry for the many other fathers who have been put through this same situation. I have taken full responsibly for my experience and actions and I hope that many of the others have aswell.
My sole purpose is to raise awareness at how screwed up this entire "Family Court System" is when a parent needs to spend 10's of 1000's of dollars and go through years of emotional anguish just to maintain a relationship with their child.
So next time you see a separated dad, or a childless father, or see the array of 'step dads' don't be so quick to cast judgment, and always know that there are 2 sides to every story and you have no idea what lengths that parent went through before they were forced to either walk way, or accept the limited parenting role the "FCS" system offered / granted them...(which I think is absolutely disgusting that the majority of single dads are only granted 'visitation schedules", but once again, that is conversation for another topic.
The question is, is there any reasonable / rational justice that the "FCS" offers?
My hope is that you never have to find out first hand.
I will never forget this Fathers Day as after I talked to my son, I called my own dad and he said "Quinton, I am so proud of you for sticking in there all these years after everything you've been put through at your young age, most guys would have left, but your son Ethan will one day understand everything you did to continue to be his dad in his life".
Hearing my dad tell me that made the last 6 year roller coaster worth it (as well as everytime I hear my son's voice and /or see his smile either in person or on the webcam, it makes all the past challenges worth it...
Hopfully one day when your older Ethan, you will read this letter and realize how much I love you and that you realize that I'd do anything for you, just as I already have...
I'm extremely proud to be your father and honored to have you as my son,