Dads, Divorce, and the Battle for Custody

If I may be permitted to speak on a serious topic for a moment…

I’m not sure if you are aware of this or not, my bloggies, but I also write an advice column called “Damage Control” in the Globe and Mail, in the Life section every Friday (tell your friends).

And it seems to get a lot of attention. Because it handles everyday situations, I guess, stuff everyone has an opinion on, it seems to get more comments on its “comments thread” than almost anything.

Also, as the title implies, it’s all about how to handle screwed-up situations, and everyone can relate to that, right?

I never know what’s going to stir up controversy. Sometimes it’s predictable, I guess: any mention of religion usually seems to get people’s blood boiling.

But sometimes it can be something I think is quite “light.” Like last week’s: “I’m 31 and I have a crush on a 20-year-old in my office.” No biggie, I said, basically, you’re both adults, who cares, maybe when “The graduate” came out it was shocking and scandalous an older woman would hit on a younger man. But in 2008? Go for it. “Drop down on him like darkness on an innocent peasant village,” I advised.

This seemed a pretty straightforward situation, to me. Easy answer. No brainer. I expected a couple of desultory hits on the website and that’d be that.

I was wrong. The so-called “inter-net” went nuts. I got more hits, and more comments, on that article than any other. So you never know.

But sometimes you do know. I figured today’s column– all about Dads, Divorce, and Custody– would stir up a hornet’s nest.

And I was right.

I can’t even really comment on the issue, because my knowledge of it is mostly anecdotal. I did talk to a couple of lawyers about it, but they didn’t really want to comment about how men are dealt with by the courts.

So I have no facts, none whatsoever. I admit that up front. But it does seem many men are they are feeling that, in terms of who the courts give custody to, men are not getting a fair shake.

And of course there’s really no way to know the truth. Each of these situations is so knotty, so thorny; and, as one lawyer said to me, “in domestic disputes, everyone has their own version of events, there are no witnesses…it’s hard to sort out what really happened.”

How hard must it be for a court to untangle these messed-up situations, figure out the right thing to do! And of course when it’s a question of child care, the woman’s an obvious choice, right? And perhaps many of the men who feel so wronged are not, shall we say, able to be objective about their role in the situation.

Let us concede all the above. Still– a lot of men seem to feel they’re getting a raw deal. That’s all I’m saying.

And they are in pain. I can feel it. Or, if that’s too “mystical” for your derrieres, let’s say: I can only imagine. Being separated from my children, especially if I felt it were under unfair situations, would kill me.

Not quickly. Slowly, as I went into a destructive, downward spiral, life-style-choices wise, emotionally, and health-wise.

I hope I never have to face that challenge.