Divorce & Step Dads

The question has been posed to me in many forms.  When Tom Matlack contacted me about the subject matter to be explored in the Good Man Project magazine, I was torn on how to best express my feelings.   The subject of men getting screwed in divorce is legendary.    One quick read of the tales told by the men writing the articles will shock and appall.   From incredible deceptions played upon us, to unjust financial arrangements and demands by the women and subsequently the courts, most of us have that in common.  

I am one of the many step parents who fly under the radar in terms of rights that are, and or were recognized by the courts, or by the ex-wives in divorce.    Essentially the step parent has obligations to the wife financially, but is considered less than a second class citizen in terms of visitation or the future development of the children they helped raise in the marriage.   I experienced this despite the insistent denial by my ex that she would use the children to poison and punish the other party.   It happens every day. Only as a step parent your rights are fewer, and your ability to combat an injustice is limited by the courts, and by the party you divorced.

The financial ramifications, while huge, are incomparable when weighed against the cost to the heart.   I raised two children, a son and a daughter as my own.   We made the transition from step dad to dad. It was not always easy, and in retrospect I made many mistakes.   However I attended many firsts in both of their lives, from the first day of school to the first car, the first heartbreak and the first graduation. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.

In the end, I like others before and after me, were tossed aside or replaced. My ex went from one relationship right in to another.   I was denied access, lied about, and in the end shunned by her family and the kids I raised, painted by my ex as a bad person.   I endured all of it without the benefit of a trial, or chance to explain my position or feelings.   To further add insult to injury, my daughter died of cancer at thirteen. I was denied access to her in her last months, as she was in hospice in another man’s home. My mother and their grandmother for the same period was treated to the same indignities.

When my daughter passed away, I was asked not to attend the funeral.   Undoubtedly my ex feared my ability to speak with her relatives.   I went from what I believed to be a normal loving marriage to now detesting the person I once called my wife.   But through it all my love for my children did not, and will never waiver.   I know she will have to live with this all of her days.  And while the financial ramifications continue even to this day, no actuary nor court table of compensation can ever calculate the cost and damage to the heart.   Much less the feeling of going from ”Step Dad” to “Step Stool.” I was a good Dad. And I remain a Good Man.

To read more about Dads and Divorce, visit the Good Men Project website.



~ by onthedarkside on March 10, 2011.

5 Responses to “Divorce & Step Dads”

  1. You are a good man JK (not that you need me to tell you THAT) and I thank you for enlightening me on this set of circumstances. You, like I, have had to find our manhood through the trials of fire. Namaste brother.

  2. […] On the Dark Side […]

  3. […] On the Dark Side […]

  4. I have actually been quite friendly with all of my ex’s ex-husbands and fiancés, offering to get their and my kids together as they had formed bonds. Although my ex is completely angered by it, I look at anyone who was involved with her as a fellow victim. One more victim and we can qualify for group insurance!

  5. We aren’t all like that Kevin. My story is the reverse. The husband divorced me for another woman. In the long run it was the most honest thing he did the whole 16 years we were together. He abandoned his birth children, adopted her son and has had little (if you can even call it that) to do with them. Through the years he’s demanded the children – now adults reach out to him for a relationship. When his mother died he flew all the members of his new family and refused requests from our kid for monetary help to attend their grandmothers funeral. I’ve had many “issues” with my son. I even had to take him to court for $1500 of back child support. Told the judge he had a direct payment set up. It was his car payment. I’m better now. Finally, no matter how good or bad a mother I am I can never ever be a dad. You did that my friend – you are their dad. They know.

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