The “I’m Free at Last” attitude is one that some men get when they first separate from their wives. I’ve seen it many, many times. It is feeling that you are free and can do whatever you wish to do. This is a dangerous attitude. This attitude will kill any chance that you may have of sole custody or even joint custody. This is why I mentioned earlier about avoiding residency at a buddy’s house. The chances are greater that staying with a buddy will lead you down a road of irresponsibility. This is no reflection on any friends that you may have but I can assure you that if you choose to take this avenue you will most likely find yourself spending less time with your children and more time with your friend or friends. This is just natural after getting out of the “prison” of a bad marriage. Don’t stain your chances; keep your children’s best interests in mind. Avoid giving your ex the opportunity to accuse you of dumping her for your friends and abandoning your children. Whether or not this was the reason for the separation is irrelevant. The fact is that it clouds your intentions and an attorney can take brutal advantage of this situation and a judge will most likely buy it.
Remember, your mission is your children’s happiness and security. It is impossible for you to give them either if you are unavailable to them. Trust me, get your own place and visit your friends like any other adult would, invite them to your place but don’t turn your new place into the local party pad either because this too will backfire on you. You have created this new place as a second home for your children; they need to feel safe there. It is impossible for them to feel safe with a revolving front door. They need a stable home environment from both of you. Keep in mind that if you don’t make your new home a safe and comfortable place for your children, it is possible that your ex could get a court order that would prevent you from taking them there; thereby preventing any overnight visitation plans that you may have. This too will backfire on you when you go to court. You need to be responsible and use good judgment. As a side note, when you set up visitations with your children, don’t bring along your pals.
Your children are looking forward to seeing you and need your full attention, so give it to them.
One of the mistakes that I made during the first phase of my separation was not taking advantage of all the free time that I spend with Douglas and Matthew. If you recall, I mentioned earlier that “fishing was fun again”. Although my fishing and hunting activities were grossly exaggerated in the courtroom, it gave my ex’s attorney something to capitalize on. He made it sound like I was gone fishing or hunting virtually all of the time. He made it sound as though these activities were more important than seeing the boys. Of course this was untrue but it made me an easy target. Sure, I would call them while I was fishing or hunting but the bottom line was that instead of calling them I could have been seeing them. This all hit me in the face despite the fact that we had a visitation schedule in place. This is my “I’m free” attitude period. In retrospect, I should have seen Douglas and Matthew more often at the beginning of the separation and the temporary order to let them go to east coast might never have been granted.
This excerpt from A Father’s Journey To Custody (Trafford Publishing, 2008) by Douglas C. McKee is reprinted here with permission. Douglas C. McKee, a father of five beautiful children; two of whom he was awarded primary physical custody from a previous marriage, knows first hand, the heartache of a divorce that involves children and the benefits of maintaining ongoing contact with them during this rough time. The book is available at Amazon.com.