By Matt Allen
William E. Brooks turned his nightmare of a child custody situation into an aptly named book that described his role as a father to two small boys ripped away from him: “My Life In Exile.”
His experience with a system devoid of father’s rights pushed him out of his children’s lives and nearly ruined his subsequent marriage. His goal now is to raise awareness of the inequality of the child custody.
“Those unaware of this terrible problem need to be made aware. Those suffering at the hands of this system need to be encouraged to fight for change knowing they are not alone,” Brooks said. “My hope is that my sons never have to endure the pain and suffering I had to endure as a father and that their children never have to suffer as they did when they were young and innocent.”
Below, read Brooks’ divorce article about the flawed family court system and why a logical shared parenting arrangement would work.
There exists within our court system, specifically the family court system, a fatal flaw. This flaw can be found in the vast majority of the family court systems in each and every state.
This flaw is the fact that there is not equanimity between fathers and mothers in a divorce matter concerning the custody of their children.
Most know of the famous Lady Justice who stands blindfolded holding in her hands balanced scales. She is usually absent from most family court proceedings.
During the marriage, the father is seen as trustworthy, capable and dependable to care in the rearing of his children right alongside the mother. At the time of divorce however, suddenly he must prove his heretofore fitness as a father to be involved in the life of his child.
There is a default status awarded to fathers that they receive secondary physical custody, as the presumption is that the mother is the most fit, best choice of primary caretaker for their child. This may happen, as it did in my case, where the father happens to be the one who cared for the child primarily during the marriage.
The father is “awarded” every-other-weekend visitation, scheduled times to call during the week, and if he is lucky enough to receive this benefit, a little extra parenting time at holidays and in the summer.
This visitation schedule relegates the father to weekend-visitor status. Complete strangers have more of a right to access to his children than he does.
This system slowly, inexorably separates a father from his children. This gap between father and child only grows over time. In addition, the father’s ability to have a positive influence in the molding and shaping of his children is diminished to the point of being ineffective.
The result is devastating to both fathers and children. And worse, this damage is extremely difficult to mend or repair later when the children get older.
Our system as it exists, destroys the relationship between fathers and their children. This has a harmful effect on the fathers, but the effects on the children are much worse.
Statistics show that children who lack a substantial, meaningful relationship with their father are more prone to be sexually active at a younger age, be in a gang, commit criminal activity and be imprisoned. This is senseless and does not have to be this way.
There is a viable solution: shared parenting.
Shared parenting is the principle where both parents, mother and father, share equal time with their child(ren). For example, say a husband and wife both live in city A. They divorce and get separate domiciles, however within the same city A. They both can be awarded equal custody of the child(ren).
The arrangement can be handled in a variety of possible scenarios. The child could stay with each parent every other month, every six months. The child would go to the same school, the same church, have a plenitude of friends, and most importantly, the child and parents would both benefit from equal time with each other which would encourage and support substantial, healthy, meaningful relationships.
There are detractors who would criticize this approach. Like every other traditional divorce, the details would have to be worked out in court. But it would be so much more equitable to all parties involved if everyone started off on a level playing field. This would truly be “in the best interests of the child.”
Unfortunately for me and my sons, this was not the case. I divorced when my sons were 6 and 8. Right off the bat, my ex-wife interfered with my parenting time.
She then moved to another state where I did not learn of my son’s whereabouts until almost two years later. By this time a lot of damage had been done.
I moved with my new family to the state where my sons resided. I engaged in a fruitless child custody battle and was given fewer rights than in the state where I had moved from.
This was not only devastating to my current family, almost causing my new wife and I to divorce, but further drove a wedge between my sons and me. After the dust settled, I wrote a book about my experiences entitled “My Life In Exile.”
My ultimate goal is to raise awareness of the inequality of the system and the need to reform the system. Those unaware of this terrible problem need to be made aware. Those suffering at the hands of this system need to be encouraged to fight for change knowing they are not alone.
My hope is that my sons never have to endure the pain and suffering I had to endure as a father and that their children never have to suffer as they did when they were young and innocent.
You can visit the “My Life In Exile” website to view an author bio, book summary and chapter excerpts. The book is also listed on Amazon.com for purchase.
3 comments on “Child Custody Book: “My Life In Exile””
Response to Good Man
This issue is not one-sided. My cousin in Iowa is a mother, and she went through a similar situation with her two daughters. It is not about male/female, mother/father. It is about both parents putting the needs of the children first and allowing all concerned, father, mother, and children to have a meaningful, loving relationship.
As for myself, my ex was engaged in an affair and chose not to be with me. I did work a full-time job during the entire length of my marriage. The full-time parent part came in after I got home every day and on my off-days. I took my sons to school before going to work. I picked them up from school after I got off of work. I cooked for them, helped them with their homework. I bathed them, played with them, taught them their prayers. I am not a super-parent. Just a dad doing what any other father would do in similar circumstances.
Yes, I do want attention. I want all to see the hell my sons and I went through so that no parent or child should ever have to live through the same again. That is what a strong man does. He tries to make sure his children have a better life than he did, and in this case, that means doing everything he can to make sure his sons and daughters have a close, loving, meaningful relationship with their children, regardless of what happens between the mother and father.
This is truly being a good parent, putting what is really in the “best interests of the children” before anything else.
‘be a man – work for a living’???
So being a man is only about having a job, bringing in money, is it? Being a man isn’t anything to do with being a good dad or anything of the like?
It’s bigoted sexists like you that send good men to suicide – you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself… sexist little feminist creature.
I agree that fathers need to be involved in their childrens lives as it makes a big difference in how they grow up to become well adjusted adults. The family court system needs to stop being one-sided in child custody issues. I read My Life In Exile and it was very informative about how fathers are treated by the Family court system. I strongly recommend this book.