“I DON’T JUST WRITE THE BLOG, I’M ALSO A CLIENT” – Fred Campos. One of life’s great truths can be found hidden away in Steve Martin’s comedy LA Story. “Why is it that we don’t always recognize the moment when love begins but we always know when it ends?”
The truth of that statement hit me head on back in 1998. I was on top of the world. I was a software engineer, I’d created a product called Remit Plus, I owned my own company. At 29, I was making 6 figures, driving a sports car, and I’d just bought a four-bedroom house. The roommates and I turned it into Animal House. Between the partying and the shallow relationships, I was losing focus and letting money get the better of me.
One month after a one-night stand with a gal named Cindy, everything came crashing down with those two words a party animal dreads most: “I’m pregnant.” I’d had a pretty decent upbringing, so I slammed on the brakes: cleaned up the house, got rid of the beer, decided I’d better grow up, do the right thing. I was going to get married.
But being a stand-up guy and doing the right thing isn’t the same as being a fool. This marriage wasn’t based on a long term and loving relationship. So it had better be based on a prenuptial agreement.
Thing was, Cindy wouldn’t sign it. Her parents told her not too. And everything went even further south from there. I was in the title role of a paternity suit and I was expected to become the meal ticket. My whole life was crashing down and my business and finances were about to be affected in a pretty serious way.
I joined Fathers’ Equal Rights; I read some books. I found nothing that would help me with the day-to-day details on what I needed to do. I flailed around through a couple months, got an attorney, and began to truly realize that this situation was entirely about the money.
Meanwhile, the greatest thing that ever happened to me was coming at the worst and lowest period in my life. My daughter Caitlyn was born on March 31. So why wasn’t this about her?
At this point, I decided I needed to file and be the custodial parent. I told this to my attorney, who said, “You know, Fred, men don’t gain custody.” Not unless you can prove over and over that mom is unfit, on drugs, criminally insane, tortures puppies, still likes Gallagher: that there’s something Beyond Wrong with her. He told me I wouldn’t have a chance. And I was thinking, “Here it is, the end of the 21st Century, we live in the greatest democracy in the world. This cannot be true.”
Now I had a quest, a real focus. My main reason for doing so was that I had determined that I would probably be the better parent. Looking back on the fifteen year history today, I obviously and unquestionably the better parent. And that is the premise of this blog: that you become, and that you ARE the better parent. There are no tips in this blog that will give you a sleight of hand trick. I believe that the primary custodian should be the better parent, and I believe that there is no predetermined law that that must be the mother.
I want to let you know that I have been in your shoes. I was a single male, involved in a paternity suit over my daughter who at the time was less than one year old. And I got custody. It’s not impossible. Don’t give up hope, but it is going to take some serious work! Kids need good parents. Courts need the BEST parent to be the primary custodian.
Are you that parent? Could you be? Does the evidence of your life say you are the better parent? What do the neighbors, the mailman, the kids’ principal, your kids’ dentist, the school nurse say? Would they say “You are the better parent?”
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