REVIEWED AND RECOMMENDED
(particularly for those starting on the separation process in the U.S.)
A Family Divided
A Divorced Father's Struggle With the Child Custody Industry
by Robert Mendelson
"I went to court to divorce my wife, not my children. My wife seemed to have other ideas."
-- Dr. Michael Nieland.
Dr. Michael Nieland seemed to have it all: a graduate of Harvard medical school, with a passion for music, he met Dr. Nancy Wagner when Dr. Wagner's first marriage was in the midst of falling apart. At first life was perfect: two doctors, two large incomes, the homes, the cars. Dr. Nieland treated his stepdaughters as his own, and we follow the two doctors as they advance through his career. Dr. Nieland and Dr. Wagner even found the time to have three children of their own. However, the all too perfect life soon showed signs of falling apart.
This book is a detailed account of Dr. Nieland's struggle with the gender bias that he experienced in the Alleghney County, Pennsylvania, Family Division Courts. The name itself "Family Division" speaks all too clearly. This book proves that possession of assets really is nine-tenths of the law, and the book also goinds into great lengths and detail on parenting plans, access schedules, letters and court testimony. This book is heavy in detail, especially in detailing the (American) court terstimonies. Dr. Nieland describes his efforts in holding the various "professionals" accountable to their professional ethics boards.
The book points out a few things:
- The less "important" parent (father) better be happy just to have his children every other weekend or he will run the rist of losing them altogether.
- Good parents with significant financial resources have, at best, limited changes of success in the Family Division courts, when they are opposed by adversarial former spouses. Wwhere does that leave good parents of limited financial means -- and could those parents be the so-called "Deadbeat Dads"?
- The vast amount of child support that changes hands is bewildering. This should not be regarded as a benchmark of success for the system, but as a measure of its failure. Studies are quoted which indicate that children are more likely to grow up as drug addicts, have unwanted teenage pregnancies, and become violent criminals where their DAD is not around. Name the results of your worse nightmare parent, and it is more likely the result of DAD not being around. The courts support the break-up of families and the growth of social problems.
In the end, Dr. Nieland spent ten years fighting the "system" for the right to see and parent his children. We have no-fault divorce, and Dr. Nieland just wanted no-fault custody. In the end, Dr. Nieland has his children grow up without him. After a ten year struggle, Dr. Nieland loses even his youngest daughter who is sent away to a boarding school at the age of 13, some 500 miles away, and Dr. Nieland could do nothing about it.