Father’s Day Focus: Top 5 Ways to Be a Deadbeat Dad
Given that it was recently Father’s Day, I thought I’d take a moment to point out that not all dads get celebrated, and frankly not all of them are worth celebrating. Especially in circumstances involving separation and divorce, there are plenty of ways that dads go wrong in how they conduct themselves. Here are the top five ways to be a Bad Dad:
1. Default on your support obligations.
You may have suffered a reversal of fortune (e.g. job loss), or you may have experienced an unforeseen turn of events (e.g. unanticipated health issues). But sometimes a default of a month or two can turn into a year or even more. Who suffers the most? Your child, of course. Always do your best to fulfill your support obligations, even if you have to borrow to do it.
2. Neglect to exercise access your rights.
When you and your child’s other parent separate and divorce, custody and access will be one of the matters that need to be dealt with. Ontario family law operates on the presumption that having access to both parents is usually best for a child. Yet some dads do not bother to exercise their full access rights. Everyone loses.
3. Be unreliable.
Custody and access schedules can be difficult to manage at the best of times, so it becomes all the harder when one or both parents don’t show up on time, skip visits altogether, or generally make it difficult for the other parent, whether inadvertently or deliberately. Again, it is the child who suffers most from the unpredictability and chaos.
4. Vow to “work the system”.
The legal system for family law in Ontario has many processes, procedural safeguards, and steps that help parents resolve their issues. But you can easily double or triple the time and cost to come to a resolution by failing to negotiate reasonably, by needlessly adding legal steps, and by taking a hard-line approach to even the most routine matters. Not only does this lengthen the process considerably, but it also sets the tone for your future interactions with the other parent, and eats up funds on both sides of the equation. That money would be far better spent on setting up and maintaining a lifestyle that has the child’s best interest in mind.
5. Focus mainly on “getting back at” the other parent.
Almost by definition, most separations and divorces are acrimonious. But you must remember that the demise of the relationship is not an opportunity to “get even” or make the other parent “pay”. Again, your child’s best interests must be uppermost at all times.