Dad’s Story: Collateral Damage of Child Custody Decisions

divorce and child custodyBy William E. Brooks

Author, “My Life In Exile

Years ago, at the inception of my divorce, a judge ruled that my sons would be better off in the care of their mother, my ex, who was awarded child custody.

During this time, I was awarded basically the weekend visitation status one would give their uncle whenever my ex decided to allow me to exercise this vestige of contact with my sons. The once strong, primary caregiver bond I had with my sons was still there, but was starting to unravel piece by piece.

All the while, my ex was feeding them a daily diet of poison concerning me, their father. Slowly, this poison occupied the spaces in their mind where the memories of the times we spent together in the past used to reside.

With little to no contact with them, I could not combat these lies, which were slowly becoming their truth. And they grew, gained years, and changed in appearance for time waits for no man.

My sons had moved across country, and this physical separation became in essence a great divide in emotional attachment between my sons and I.

In frustration and desperation, I moved to be closer to them, to try to salvage what I could and rebuild upon the still standing, though eroded foundations of the past.

I raised funds, hired an attorney, and waged a yearlong campaign to bring my sons back into my life, and to restore to them their father. At the end, after thousands of dollars spent and months in-and-out of court, I was left empty-handed.

The court battle had caused my ex to erect an iron wall around my sons, and during this time she kept feeding them their constant diet of poison, but as they got older, the dosage increased. The sands of time continued on in its relentless erasing of memories past, which faded in their intensity until only vestiges remained.

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My Life In Exile

By the time my sons were in high school, they had spent years without my influence and guidance. It seemed the only thing we had in common were our blood type and the titles we shared: son, father.

Anything I tried to say to them at this point carried no authority or weight. Their desire to spend time with me was greatly diminished and the few brief encounters we shared were awkward. No parent or child should ever have to feel this way in the presence of each other, more like strangers than family.

But this is exactly what decisions by family court judges do: in the name of looking out for “the best interests of the children” they set up a system that over time separates fathers from their children, making them of no import in the molding of their children, turning them into strangers, and worse, enemies, in the eyes of their own children.

This is what collateral damage is, the future fall-out and consequences of a past decision. I know I am not alone in this. Tens of thousands of fathers across this nation suffer the same fate as me, as do their children.

There is a simple solution to this problem. Mothers and fathers deserve to share time with their children at the inception of a divorce, and the children definitely deserve this at a bare minimum.

Shared Parenting arrangements mandated during a divorce proceeding is the solution and one we all should be fighting for, for ourselves as fathers, and for our children.

It is so important to remember one thing. Despite all the emotion involved in a divorce proceeding, one should never forsake the future for the sake of the present.

Ensure future rights and responsibilities by establishing your right to them now. Obtain your right to be a part of your children’s lives now and into the future. There should never be a compromise on this matter.

Don’t wind up like those of us who look back on our relationship with our children in terms of what could’ve, should’ve been.

Fight for what is yours, and obtain attorney representation that will help you in this fight each and every step of the way.


william brooks authorYou can visit the “My Life In Exile” website to view an author bio, book summary and chapter excerpts. The book is also listed on for purchase.

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