However bad family courts are in the United States, they’re better here than in some other countries. Yes, our courts are pro-mother, our child support laws draconian, our support for visitation weak as a new-born kitten, but for frank disdain of fathers, I think we come in second behind Canada, England and Australia. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my take on the situation. After all, in the U.S. “only” 83% of child custody goes to mothers; in those other countries, it’s more like 90%.
Then there’s Israel. Every once in a while, we get a glimpse of the cruelty, the torture visited on Israeli fathers whose wives and partners have decided to cut them out of their children’s lives. And when we do, we see that things can be so much worse than they are here.
Read this. (The translation isn’t perfect, but it’s very readable.) It’s by a woman named Adi Vaxman and it’s as maddening and infuriating an account as I think I’ve ever read. Vaxman, you see, is that most devout of converts to the cause of fathers’ rights, the second wife. She and her husband have two children, but he also has two by his first wife. That gives Vaxman a front-row seat to the tragedy of Israeli custody law and its naked hatred of fathers. And yet, even though Israel’s custody laws are worse than those here, every word of Vaxman’s narrative strikes an eerily familiar chord.
When a mother decides to divorce or separate from the father of her children, the system rolls out a red carpet for her.
The State of Israel, the family courts, the social services systems, the court appointed Child Protection Officers for parental evaluation – these all are for use by the mother of your children, your ex-wife who you once loved, pawns in her relentless vendetta. Perhaps she is not yet aware of this power, but the moment she will discover it, an intoxication of revenge may blind her and the snowball will begin to roll. If so, you, the father of her children, will be pressed to a corner on a crash path foretold, a flight of despair, pain, loss, grief and helplessness without bounds in a doomed war for your children…It begins with her suit for custody and in the blink of an eye, everything in the dad’s life changes, including his assumption that the courts give a tinker’s ‘damn’ about him, his rights or his children.
For more than two years his divorced ex-wife has mounted a revenge war against him, with the sole object of breaking the connection between him and his children. The children are now her only weapon against him. The ex- conducts this war with the blessings of the State of Israel, a war which hurts all and everyone. We entered this conflict with an attempt to reach an agreement, but the other side does not want an agreement but only wants revenge. And it’s the State of Israel that supplies her with weapons, funding and legitimacy to act this way.
She submits a suit for custody; and without one question being asked the ex- receives immediate, temporary custody, for the duration of proceedings. The children are hers. She is able to do with them as she pleases. And you? You don’t interest anyone, get that already. Erase immediately your racing thoughts that I am their father and I have rights. Forget it. You have no rights. From now on you will plead, beg, grovel and this will also not help you. She received the temporary custody. It takes time for you to understand what this means. You cannot pick them up from nursery school, you cannot visit your kids. If she does not allow you to see them that is her right according to the law. If you try, you will go to jail.That’s right, even an attempt to see his children by that loathsome creature called a father will land him in jail alongside the armed robber and the murderer. Then he learns that he can’t leave the country and neither can his kids. That’s because he’s assumed to be running away from his child support payments that are shortly to be ordered. Does he need to travel for his employment? Too bad; he can’t. But there is a way to free himself to leave the country; he must deposit hundreds of thousands of shekels on which she can draw for the remainder of the children’s lives with her. Does he not have the money? Again, that’s his problem and no one else’s. In Vaxman’s narrative, her husband went to his aged mother and asked her to put up her house as security. She agreed, but the court rejected it saying it would be too difficult to sell.
Think about it. If he doesn’t have the money to deposit everything he owes until the child reaches 18 (and how many dads do?) he’s a prisoner in his own country.
By now, it’s been a year and a half, and Vaxman’s husband hasn’t seen his very young children. His daughter barely remembers him and his son has no concept of what a father is.
These two little children are being used as weapons, as means of extortion. Just now in a rare phone call your daughter does not recognize you, your son does not know what a dad is. You have not seen them now for a year and a half. Suddenly you stand aghast, you understand that no one cares: not your lawyer, not your judge, not your CPS officer, no one else. Every passing day is critical, every day they remember you less. In their heads your picture is already beginning to disappear. You wonder when your kids will forget you. The idea that you will be erased from their lives troubles you, terrifies you. But you are helpless. A friend who experienced a similar story says to you with utmost sadness that you should let it go, “Put it aside.” Continue forward and focus on what you have, because what was is lost. Don’t destroy your new family on this struggle, which you’ll never win. This breaks your heart but no one hears your cries.Ever read Kafka’s The Trial? Sound familiar?
Then the father learns that the judge will not decide his case; a social worker will.
A month later you submit a suit for joint custody or for visitation arrangements. A few more months pass, there is a session and the judge requests the receipt of a Survey by a CPS officer (the parental evaluation assessment of a court appointed child welfare/protection service senior social worker). Until now you have never heard of a CPS officer. Welcome to a father’s worst nightmare. If you thought that the judge would determine your future, you have no idea what awaits you. Your lawyer coldly explains to you that the judge will not decide anything without a CPS officer’s recommendations. This means, “the CPS Officer is god. What she says is what will be.” You’re explained that you have to control yourself, not to pass criticism, to show restraint, to plead, to flatter, to grovel. And be careful, the lawyer repeats to you, the CPS officer is god. But you still do not fathom your disaster.And what does the CPS worker’s investigation into Vaxman’s husband’s case consist of? A 40-minute long-distance telephone call after yet more months of waiting, months during which he had no contact with his children.
In one forty minutes telephone call she seals yours and your children’s fate for at least the next 15 years. “I am sorry. That is unacceptable. I cannot recommend visitation arrangements. You have a problem visiting Israel? That’s your responsibility. I cannot solve your legal problems. I’m not an attorney.” All that concerns her is the your divorced wife’s insult and the total amount of child support you are paying. And the children? Who takes care of the interests of the children? Who care about them having a father? Who will save them from a mother who abuses them under the protection of the law? No one. And you, get lost, best keep quiet. The CPS parental evaluation officer is god, and god has said its say..Following that phone call, here’s what Adi Vaxman saw:
Never did we think to ourselves that this struggle could happen here. That the custody evaluation officer would not show any concern; that she would side with the mother without even questioning; that in fact it did not matter to her, she would decide one-sidedly, arbitrarily, without checking anything: decide that there was no access, no visitation. Even in our worst nightmares, we never considered such an outcome, at all. But here it is.
I will not forget the night of this phone call. Never before did I see my husband in this state. The light in his eyes went out. I saw him die from inside. I was sure that the next moment he would leave the house and go lie on some train tracks. We did not sleep for a second. All the tranquilizers, the pills for ulcers and for blood pressure, did not help. On that night I understood why divorced fathers commit suicide.“The light in his eyes went out.” Courtesy of the State of Israel. On behalf of misandry and father-hatred everywhere. To make sure the children are emotionally and psychologically damaged because they’ll never have a dad.
Vaxman recounts how, during the holocaust, families were literally torn apart, children ripped from the clutching arms of fathers and mothers.
We saw what this did to them, to their children, to all who lived near them. Yet here we are sitting in our warm chairs in nice houses, and no one is banging on our doors – and yet on our own we are doing this to ourselves. In the name of a biased social bureaucracy we are tearing children from their parents with a cold, incomprehensible, terrible mechanicity.Yes, it’s worse there than it is here. But every word rings true. Every word is familiar if not the same. And yes, it has to be stopped.
This is a holocaust – The holocaust of divorced fathers. The victims of this holocaust are me and you and mainly our little children. A holocaust which has to be stopped.
Thanks to Yohanan for sending the link.