Divorce Survival Training: Being Strong-Armed

By DadsDivorce.com reader Big D

Note: This is part 1 of a two-part article on how to deal with being strong-armed in your divorce. Part 2 addressed common divorce attacks and what your rebuttals and actions should be.

Have you ever felt as if you are being manipulated, forced into a corner, pushed in directions that you prefer not to go? I surely hope not, but with an ex-wife, I am sure these are common feelings for divorced dads.

Women learn early in a divorce, typically from their divorce lawyer, that they have the upper hand in many cases and should leverage their situation. The problem is that many divorce lawyers don’t educate these ex-wives on when the leverage ends. I can tell you the leverage does end, which is a bit of silver lining on the situation.

Potential Issues

The areas of leverage typically are what ex-wives love to claim as their “passion” and “only reason to live,” which is the children. Children for ex-wives become board-game pieces, which can be used and abused at every corner. In my world, I see it all too often. It seems like the more money the husband has to “obtain,” the more leverage the women typically opt to use.

For example, about nine months ago a friend of mine was trying to see if braces were the right option for their 11-year-old son. Both he and his ex-wife took the boy to an orthodontist to get opinions. One orthodontist said to wait a few years, as this would not hurt the boy and would save money in the end. The other orthodontist said that braces would be ideal at this age, although he would need to have them for nearly twice as long due to his age.

My friend told his ex-wife that he wanted to wait due to the opinions of both orthodontists. One Friday the boy came to my friend’s after being with the ex-wife for a week with a mouth full of braces!

This type of behavior is becoming typical. I know this because it happened to me, too. I was in the midst of asking for documentation regarding the first opinion from an orthodontist when wham! One Friday my oldest daughter came to me with braces attached!

You might also experience this behavior around activities such as gymnastics, karate, baseball, football, volleyball, etc. When one parent wants a child to be involved in one activity and the other in a different one, it can cause some serious issues.

You might experience this in areas of both health and dental. There are many “optional” services that both of these industries provide. When one parent says yes and the other says no, you will find issues arise.

Finally, there are areas around school that can also cause issues. Private vs. public, mother’s school district vs. father’s school district, after school care vs. alternate parent, etc. There as many areas that can cause conflict and issues as there are divorces in the United States!


Correct Ways to Address Issues

As you might imagine, there are correct and incorrect ways to handle these situations. As I am not a lawyer, I would strongly encourage all of you men to get the divorce advice of your lawyer in these very delicate situations.

If you do decide to go it alone, here are some things my lawyer suggested that I do in order to protect myself, act in a manner that was beneficial to my children, and to show I took the appropriate action in case I was taken back to court for the collection of money.

First, work together as co-parents! You are both parents of these children and if you were still together, you would sit down and discuss the good, bad, and benefits of each option you are discussing. Everyone has the option to disagree with another human. That’s fine. What is essential is that everyone has the right to be heard. So don’t just tell your ex-wife that her idea is bad. Listen to her points, listen to her experts, and then make a decision. You might even change your mind!

Don’t let yourself be railroaded. Always be calm and courteous, but you can say no and state your own points in a discussion. The worst thing you can do is allow for a bad idea to become reality and end up in a bad situation for months or years to come.

In my own experience, my ex-wife wanted to put my youngest daughter on medication when there was no cause for it. It was just so she did not need to be a parent and say “no” to her. The only person that my daughter behaved poorly around was my ex-wife! I did my homework, went to the doctor, and expressed my version. I left the doctor office with the doctor telling me there was no way she would allow my child to be on medication.

As a successful businessman, good negotiator, good consumer products researcher, and in my opinion, good father, decisions take time. Well, good ones take time. How many times have you said “if I would have just taken a little more time” or “if I would have just considered that” after you made a hasty decision? Time is an excellent method for making decisions.

Decisions also require both parents approval! If this is not in your divorce decree, it needs to be. Mine clearly states that only routine doctor visits and dental visits, as well as emergency care, are shared. Any major medical, non-routine procedures, elective procedures, etc., are shared. If one parent moves forward with a procedure that is not agreed upon by both parents, that cost falls solely on the parent that made the independent decision.


Note: This is part 1 of a two-part article on how to deal with being strong-armed in your divorce. Part 2 addressed common divorce attacks and what your rebuttals and actions should be.

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