Divorced Dad: An Interview with Derek, Part 2

divorce1Welcome back to my interview with Derek, a divorced dad of two.

Click here to read Part 1 if you missed it.

DB: What is it like trying to have a relationship? How much more difficult is it now that you have kids?

Derek: Having a relationship is much more difficult with kids involved. First of all the person that you are dating isn’t really your number one person in your life, your kids are.

If I would have a date planned or the kids have something going on that I want to be at, say a school event, the woman I am dating takes a back seat to them. Of course if the relationship was progressed to a level where the kids have met her and feel comfortable, then she would get an invite to come with me to the event.

So if I choose to be in a relationship then the woman first of all needs to enjoy kids in general and can’t be to needy or jealous of the time that I spend with my children, without her. When I decided to have a relationship after my divorce, I wanted to fined a woman that loved kids — that either had her own kids, or was willing to get to know my kids.

So before anything else I need to know those things otherwise it isn’t going to work. My schedule revolves around my kids, then my girlfriend which makes it hard to have a relationship at times. So planning things can get hard at times especially if it’s spur of the moments things. It also helps to date someone that is in the same stage of life as you are, mainly because they will have friends that will have kids usually around the same age.

DB: Your significant other also has a child. It seems like planning a life together is exponentially more difficult and complicated. How do you do it? Do you have any advice for other divorced dads?

Derek: Right now my girlfriend and I have not done anything together with our kids. So when I have my kids and she has hers we do our own thing. We are currently planning to start doing things together so I would probably be able to answer that question better then.

DB: What is the hardest part of being divorced?

Derek: I would say finances have been the hardest part to manage. With all the money you have to pay the lawyers and your ex spouse it really makes things hard to be able to afford to do certain things. But I would say that is the most stressful, and I will see better days as time goes on.

The hardest part for me is not seeing my kids enough — every other weekend during the school year is not enough! I travel on my non-weekends to see them but it’s a lot of running around on my part, which is very tiresome.

DB: What is the easiest?

Derek: Is there an easy part of being a parent? Regardless if you are married or not? I would say no, but the most enjoyable part is the time I have with them, even if it is not enough.

DB: If you could have the children full time, would you do it?

Derek: Without a doubt I would have my kid’s full time. No question asked.

DB: Do you feel you are still making a substantial impact on your kids lives? Or is your influence undermined by your ex?

Derek: Well to be honest with you I do feel as if I am making in substantial impact on their lives. But I do feel that my ex in some way will always undermine me. It’s really hard because if I don’t ask what is going on with them at her house I will never know. I have been the one to communicate issues that we need to work on with them in both households but she seems to not really think they are big enough issues to concern her.

She always thinks she has the upper hand in everything when it comes to the kids’ issues and what’s best for them.

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I’d like to thank Derek for sharing, and you for reading.

If you have a story or situation you’d like to share, let me know.

And remeber, you are not alone…

Related Links:
Fathers Help Hotline
Child Support Savings
Fathers For Justice

Divorced Dad: An Interview with Derek

divorce1One of the main goals of Daddy Brain is to help build community with other dads. Part of this process includes giving dads who don’t have a blog the chance to be heard. It’s always a great honor when a dad agrees to carve out some time in his schedule to share his story with us.

Derek and I have known each other for about two years now, and over the past year or so we’ve become pretty good friends. He’s a divorced dad with two kids (5 & 7 years old), and he’s been divorced since June of 2007. Derek has been kind enough to answer some questions about being a modern day divorced dad. This is his story…

Daddy Brain: Can you describe to me what it was like after you and your ex-wife decided to get divorced?

Derek: It was a relief for me mentally to finally have made the decision…well at that point it was a mutual decision. Every week was different as far as the emotions that I went through, and I second-guessed it all. I wondered if I could do everything on my own and be a good dad.

We set up a schedule for the kids to come see me, every other weekend. The first couple of months, when I would pick up the kids, my ex wife was very angry with me   sometimes yelling or saying certain things about the situation. Of course this made the kids (2 and 4) upset and made for some long rides home by myself with them.

But I stuck with it, almost having to prove to her that I was serious about things and that this was the way it was going to be. I wasn’t going to give in. I made the best of the situation, knowing that someday all of this was going to be well worth it for everyone.

DB: What transpired with the kids? How did you explain what was happening to them? How did your ex-wife handle it?

Derek: The first couple months I traveled up to where they had move to with their Mom, 2 ½ hours away. I decided that they needed to start coming to my place so we set up a schedule and a half way-meeting place for the drop off.

It didn’t go over well with my ex wife but about four months later things were very routine. She handled it awful at first, being very rude with me, making me feel guilty about everything I had done, but over time it got better.

My daughter, 2 1/2 at the time didn’t understand any of it, which I thought was good. But my son understood it all, and asked a lot of questions — but seemed to accept it.

I explained that mommy and daddy loved them both very much but we just couldn’t live in the same house together anymore. I don’t know if he got what I was telling him or not…or if it was the right thing to say, but looking at both my kids now I’m certain that they know mommy and daddy love them a lot despite the fact that we don’t live together.

DB: Do you think you got a raw deal with the divorce proceedings because you’re a man? I have another friend that’s divorced, and he has told me that he felt taken advantage of  both by the system, and his own lawyer!

Derek: My divorce went on forever! One and a half years later I sat in the court room listening to some bullhead judge tell me what was going to happen from here on out…I had 3 different lawyers throughout the whole process because no one would work with me to go after what I wanted for custody for my kids. 

The whole process was unfair and so twisted that it makes me sick to think about it right now! Basically my lawyer did as little as he had too to help me because he knew that the judge wouldn’t go for anything I wanted.

My lawyer told me that to my face and told me that no matter what lawyer I would get it would make no difference.

I fought everyday to try to make 50/50 custody work but in the end I got what most dad’s get: an every other weekend schedule, paying an ass-load of child support, and giving her half of your retirement.

Every case isn’t the same. But some dads deserve more than the “standard ruling” (which some fathers seem just fine with) of being an every other weekend dad!

In the end I figured out, piecing things together that were said from my lawyer and my ex wife, that I was a little puppet from the start and they had all been working together to get this case off their desk and put money in their pockets.

DB: Do you feel that you’re treated differently (by teachers, coworkers, whomever) when it comes to your kids? Are you updated by the kids’ schools?

Derek: Well, I feel that some people are going to have their stereotypes about divorced families in general and there is no changing that.

For instance, one of my daughters pre-school teachers had an ugly divorce 20 years ago; she was also good friends with my ex wife’s mother. She would never talk or make eye contact with me. I thought it was unprofessional but what was I going to do about the way that she felt? Nothing. I know that sometimes people will treat me differently but I know what kind of dad I am.

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I’d like to thank Derek for sharing, and you for reading. Click the link below if you’d like to read Part 2 of this interview.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related Links:
Divorced Dad: An Interview with Derek, Part 2
Fathers Help Hotline
Child Support Savings
Fathers For Justice