It’s been said that for every hardship that you face there is someone, somewhere that is much worse off. I found this to be true to life last week. I am currently “fighting for my rights” as a dad to be respected. On last week I created a status on Facebook that stated “It is a shame that two adults have to involve the court system because they cannot agree on how to raise one child” to which a good friend of mine responded “call me now”. She beat me to the punch and called me first. I hadn’t spoken with her in a while and was happy to finally catch up with her. She proceeded to chronicle the saga of how she’d recently lost her daughter. Not lost as in death, but lost as in hadn’t seen her in about a month because her daughter’s father kidnapped her. I was flabbergasted. You hear about that kind of stuff on T.V. but I never thought I would hear a story like this first hand.
My friend, Kenya, let her daughter, Kaiden, spend a few weeks with her dad at his request. The agreed upon duration of Kaiden’s stay was approximately 1 week. Towards the end of her stay, Kenya received a call from her daughter’s father where he stated she would never see Kaiden again and that he was changing his [phone] number. Of course Kenya was frantic. But she soon found out that there was nothing that she could do about it, short of hiring a personal swat team to bring Kaiden back. Because of the custody laws in Alabama, where the family resides, Kaiden’s father is not required to give her back, let Kenya know where he is or where he has moved, without a custody court order. Kenya’s lawyer wants a $2000 retainer before he makes a move. Who has $2000 sitting around like that? I definitely don’t have it.
It’s sad that the system is rigged the way that it is. But I understand that all the laws are in place to protect everyone who has a stake in the situation. In my situation, I am fighting to just have access to my daughter’s records. I called my daughter’s school and was denied any information regarding my daughter because my daughter’s mother had explicitly denied me access. How does that work? I will tell you. The “custodial parent” has the power, and anything they say goes until a court says otherwise. Is this right? It doesn’t matter if it is right, it is the law. And apparently becoming the custodial parent is as easy as kidnapping your own child [I can't lie, the thought of doing the same crossed my mind as a fix for my situation when Kenya told me her story]. So now Kenya and I have to get lawyers, go to court, spend money that could be better used raising the child in the matter, and drag our families through an entire ordeal that is completely unnecessary.
You would think that adults, people with jobs and responsibilities who have lived long enough to make conscious decisions like laying down with someone to have unprotected sex, would be able to talk situations like these out; come to some sort of resolution on our own. But both parties have to be willing. The thought that blares in my head is “it doesn’t have to be this way”. None of this is necessary, and yet here we are.
It seems that we as a society have come to a place where we are governed by our parents until the age of consent and then governed by our nation because we never grow up or develop the ability to govern ourselves; and that is sad. The morale of this story is grow up. Be considerate, treat others well, and be careful about who you lay down with. But saying that is pointless. Everyone knows to do these things, but if we actually did them this post wouldn’t exist. Go figure.
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Sigh…recent developments concerning my “Child Support” case are bitter sweet. I will soon be gaining more rights and “say so” thanks to Georgia’s laws, however I know this fact will do more damage to the relationship between my daughter’s mother and I. As a non-custodial, attempting to be active parent it is taxing on my mental health. I just want to be with my little girl and make her childhood great, but having to “fight” to get to that point is totally unnecessary. I am willing to tell my story because I want other parents in similar situations to know that at the end of the day it is about the child; Not your failed relationship that brought along the child, not what you feel “ought” to happen, or about control of the parenting process. It is about fairness to the child and the child’s best interest. I feel Georgia [where my daughter was born and where her mother and I met] does a better job at basing their laws on “best interest” as opposed to Texas’ [where my daughter and her mother currently reside] “custodial rights” based laws. Each parent should have equal opportunity at raising a child no matter the distance, financial circumstance, or relationship status; should they not?
Also, I feel parents should be transparent in their dealings concerning the child, especially so in separate house hold, custodial/non-custodial parenting arrangements. A wise man once said “A person who has nothing to hide, hide’s nothing”. What are you hiding and why? Check yourselves and your ego’s. Ask yourself “am I doing this for myself or for my child”? Fear of embarrassment or being judged by others, as was stated by my daughter’s mother when questioned as to why I am being denied access to my daughter’s school records, is not an acceptable answer [my daughter attends a private school that is operated as a part of a prominent church]. That is a “me” based decision.
Lastly, I feel that non-court appointed agreements between parents are best. It shows that both parents are working TOGETHER for the best interest towards the child. Prior to recent dealings, my daughter’s mother was having her cake and eating it to. I was paying approximately 45% of my wage to her in child support for my daughter’s first 3 and half years of life. That percentage decreased to approximately 33.3% when my wage decreased by 65% [I definitely did the math]. There is no state laws that I have come across that will grant any custodial parent close to that much of a non-custodial parent’s wage except in cases of delinquency. So in essence I was going above and beyond for my daughter, even though to date I do not have any rights or say so concerning her. My daughter doesn’t even have my last name, in spite of my wishes, and that sentiment speaks for itself.
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