YOU'VE BEEN HURT. If you don't act now, the wound may get worse. For most men, it's the first time such a massive shock has hit them -- they're off balance, reeling. The persons who have hurt them are probably preparing to take advantage of this imbalance to get in another shot.
PLEASE STOP AND THINK CLEARLY! No matter how stable the situation now seems, no matter what other advice you've received, the clock is running faster than you think. YOU MUST ACT NOW! This First Aid Kit has been assembled by men who have survived the same crisis you're now enduring -- your problem isn't unique. By recognizing the predictable aspects, you can take control of the situation, but you must DO IT NOW!
IF YOUR DIVORCE IS JUST BEGINNING If your wife is taking the initiative in a "no-fault" state, consider the inevitability of a divorce. She has absolute, unstoppable power to do it to you. Seize that initiative yourself. Get an attorney RIGHT NOW, and file as plaintiff yourself. If you want custody of your children, convince your attorney to get an ex-parte order granting you temporary custody, effective immediately, and pursue making that order permanent.
DON'T SIGN ANY PRELIMINARY AGREEMENTS Many men, in a misguided attempt to stop the divorce have signed documents which their attorneys later found impossible to break. Men have, in the first day, even hours of despair, signed away all their property, their children, their rights.
DON'T MOVE OUT OF YOUR HOME It's yours, too. If at all possible, keep the children with you in the family home. Not only will this be the most emotionally stabilizing thing to do for your children, it will help immeasurably in obtaining permanent custody, if you want it. Once the children and home are no longer directly under your control, your chances of getting either back drop drastically. If a babysitter/housekeeper is needed, do whatever you need to do to provide one. These few days or months may be crucial in later proving to a judge that you are the more responsible, caring, capable of the two parents.
FIGHT TACTICAL COURT ORDERS IMMEDIATELY She may have finagled an order throwing you out of your own home, seizing or freezing your assets, etc. Don't let someone talk you into collapsing now under the weight of such common tactical burdens. You must fight such orders when they are fresh.
EVALUATE YOUR ATTORNEY CRITICALLY Listen for phrases like, "You don't have much of a chance for Custody", "Let her have it (property or custody) now, we'll get it back later", "You don't have to be present at the hearing", etc. Beware! Such statements are indicative of attorneys not skilled in representing the man successfully, or possibly just out to get what they can, with no real intent of fighting what is, for nearly every man, the more difficult side of the case. If, for any reason, you suspect that you're not getting the strongest advocacy possible, seek another lawyer.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY Nobody is ever really prepared for the expense of legally seeking his rights, but no matter what your financial situation, now is not the time to be cheap. You'll lose much more in the long run. Most lawyers will take a woman's case on the expectation that you'll lose, and have to pay them, too. You don't have that presumption, and may have to come up with "front money", and eventually dip into your assets. If you want Custody, it could cost you between $3000 and $10,000. Stop. Think. What is important to you now? What will be important to you years later, when all this has been cast in cement? If you have control over assets and income which she could use for legal expenses, can you tie these up yourself?
SEEK HELP NOW You need every bit of support you can get now, from your family, friends, the Fathers' Rights movement, your Lawyer, Neighbors, public opinion, your employer, your banker, minister, physician. You were probably dependent on your wife for much of the emotional support you're going to need right now.
SHE'S NOT THE SAME PERSON ANYMORE She is, unfortunately, an adversary, being advised by an attorney with only her interests in mind. Be courteous, but don't let the natural tendency of most men to be "gentlemen" destroy your future happiness. You may still care for her, but she's picked up a weapon far more powerful than even she may recognize -- the Divorce Court and its practitioners.
BE YOURSELF- DON'T BE BAITED Resist your wife's provocations to irrational or even violent reaction; she may have been advised by a lawyer or her friends to make you look like the "bad guy" in court. Consider the consequences of everything you put into writing, everything you say to her on a possibly recorded phone or in the presence of witnesses.
BUT MOST OF ALL, GET HELP NOW! (If you've progressed beyond the stage where this advice is directly useful to you, don't despair. There is hope at every phase of the process.)
(c) July 1983 by SINGLE DAD'S LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE Permission to copy THIS DOCUMENT ONLY, freely granted in the interests of the Fathers' Rights Movement by the author, Bob Hirschfeld.