Shout out to all the mothers and fathers that co-parent like you’re supposed to. I want to be like you when I grow up. Also, shout out to my child, Alicia’s mother for taking care of my daughter day in and day out. I’m not here to talk down on Alicia’s mother or any mother for that matter. I’m just here to talk about my personal experiences with child support, co-parenting, and visitation. Hopefully, we can figure out a solution together.
Being a father has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. When Ginuwine said “God blessed me, he was so good to me when he sent you”, not only did I feel that but I cried. If you are a parent then you know there are no words that can describe the love you have for your child. Parents will go through hell and back for their child and unfortunately, I’ve been through hell. My hell has been what we all know as “baby mama drama”.
Young, Dumb, & Having Fun
When I was 21, I signed the dotted line to join the world’s greatest Air Force in May 2009. My first duty station was in Texas, where I met Alicia’s mom, in 2010. We were a wreck from the beginning. Just young, dumb and having fun. Alicia’s my got pregnant and everything changed. For me, I knew it was time to man up. I not only wanted to be a good father, I wanted to be the world’s greatest father in the world. The summer of 2011 had several life-changing events for me. My father who raised me passed away, I received orders for deployment to Afghanistan and I was about to be a father.
There is no way to be fully prepared for a deployment, but when I signed up, I knew what I was getting myself into. Military relationships can be hard for families. They say deployments can make you or break you. It broke us! She didn’t understand what I was going through and I didn’t understand what she was going through. We argued every time we talked while I was deployed. She resented me for leaving. I felt like she thought I was overseas partying and living my best life. There were some days that I thought I might actually die and not make it home. Why couldn’t she understand that? I was away from my family for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. It was also my family’s first holiday without myself or my father being there. This deployment was very emotional in more ways that you could imagine. I was only 23. I needed support and love not arguments and hateful words. My daughter was due in May 2012. Alicia’s mom would say things like “you can have your daddy time in August or something.” I’m not perfect and I’m sure I said hateful things to her as well, but I remember what she said the most because it hurt so deep. It hurt so deep because she knew the only way to hurt me was with my daughter. I don’t fully know her side of the story but now, looking back, she was PREGNANT. Why couldn’t I understand this? I wasn’t there for doctor appointments, sleepless nights, physical, mental, or emotional changes, or anything else that comes with pregnancy. I could go on and on but long story short, our relationship was over before I got back from deployment.
And we tried hard, but we failed. When I returned from deployment, I put a ring on it and bought a 3-bedroom 2 bath house near the Air Force base. We decorated the baby’s room, our baby was born, and we became a family… but we failed. We argued constantly and never saw eye to eye.
Let’s Discuss The Elephant Before It Even Enters The Room
I CHEATED!! I was wrong and I take full accountability for my mistakes. Because of my mistake, we broke up and she moved back to her home city. We had court ordered child support and visitation arrangements. I deserve all the bad karma that was coming my way. However, Alicia is still my daughter and Alicia should not be punished because her parents could not make it work. My punishment should not be withholding Alicia. Unfortunately, Alicia’s mom moved back home, ~250 miles away from me. The distance made it hard enough to see Alicia, but her mom’s hate for me and the need for revenge made it worse.
If she was pissed about anything then I couldn’t see Alicia. I feel like if I answered the phone the wrong way, like if she didn’t like my tone of “hello”, then I couldn’t see Alicia. It was always a lose-lose situation for me. I learned quickly not to piss her off because I knew the consequence. Speaking of consequences, what is the consequence if I miss child support payments?
We all know what happens if I don’t pay my child support. If you’ve happened to live under a rock all your life, let me name a few consequences: time in jail, driver’s license suspended, wages garnished, unable to obtain a passport, and last but most definitely not least, dismissal from military service. What happens if the mother doesn’t let the father see the child? In my experience, NOTHING! How many moms do you know that are in jail over visitation? I like to point out that this is just my experience, however, I know a few fathers that have similar or even worse experiences. Help me! Help us!
Where do Good Fathers Find HELP?!
I wanted to see Alicia, you know she’s the one that God had blessed me with. Not knowing where to start, I called the child support office. They weren’t much help at all. We already had a court-ordered agreement on custody and visitation so someone told me to call the attorney general. They were a little bit more helpful. They told me that on my next weekend of scheduled visitation to show up with a police escort.
I showed up at Alicia’s grandma’s house because that’s where I always picked her up at. Two things happen that day and neither one was seeing Alicia. The grandma answered the door and told the cop and me that Alicia was not there. The first thing that happened after that was the cop told me I can’t use them as a “power card” in my visitation problems. I’m just doing what the attorney general told me to do but whatever. If this was a movie you would have heard the famous line from Mortal Kombat, “Finish Him.” Next, I received a text from Alicia’s mom and she said “You could show up with SWAT and I still wouldn’t let you see your daughter.” Talk about the feeling of defeat. I was crushed! What do I do next?
Everyone told me to get a lawyer. Between owning a new home, bills, child support and traveling 250 miles to see Alicia, I didn’t see how I could afford a lawyer. This was that feeling of hopelessness. Luckily, I have an amazing support system and my mom helped me get a lawyer. Finally feeling hopeful, things straightened up a little bit but her mom still used Alicia as leverage.
Just When You Think Things Are Better
Two years later in 2014, it was time for my second deployment. I received a text on the day that I was leaving and it said “I’m moving to Mexico, good luck finding me when you get back.” Sigh, here we go again. Friends of mine didn’t come back from deployment to hold their child again. I had a friend that had a pregnant girlfriend at home and he did not get to come back from deployment. I pray for that child because he or she will never get to see their father. If I’m still alive and I want to see my daughter, then why does it have to be difficult to see her. If I love my daughter and my daughter loves me, then why does it have to be difficult to see her? I would never hurt, harm or put my daughter in danger. Seeing her should not be a problem. I know this sounds like a one-sided story but whatever I did to make her hate me so much, has absolutely nothing to do with me seeing my daughter.
Life As I Know It Today
Now I’m stationed in Arkansas and I live 10 hours away and I don’t get to see Alicia as much. I got a call from my daughter one day and she was crying. I said “baby what’s wrong?” She said “I miss you, come pick me up”. Hearing those words and the hurt in her voice, my heart instantly shattered; I couldn’t just go pick her up. I had to wait to get off the phone to cry. It sucks because she’s not right down the road. Although her mom and I have adjusted to the change, I wish I could see her more and obviously my daughter feels the same way.
My address clearly changed and my child support payments changed but my visitation didn’t automatically change. When I got a raise, my child support payments automatically went up. I get it, it’s a part of the system. It’s just the way they did it that I didn’t like. With a week left in April 2018 I get a call from the child support office that my payments are going up. Okay cool, when? I asked. She told me May 1st. First, let me explain that day one of child support payments we had an agreed number that I was paying.
For 6 years My payments never went up because starting out, I was paying more than I should have. So, in 2018, when it was time to go up, it was a substantial amount that I could not budget for in a week. The nice child support lady told me not to worry because the payments won’t come out until the paperwork is processed. I thought that was a good thing but 4 months later when the payments finally processed, I got a letter that I owed back pay child support. I never missed a day of payments but because of their processing, I now owe back pay. Why not let me know earlier, process the paperwork earlier and keep me from going delinquent on my payments. This was on my credit. Don’t worry though. Lucky for me, they took the back pay out of my taxes.
The Flawed System
Money is money but the point I’m trying to make is the child support office goes hard on the father when it comes to payments. Why can’t there be a visitation office that goes just as hard for visitation for good fathers? I am in the military and I don’t know how many times my address is going to change. What I do know is that I cannot afford a lawyer every time I have to move to help me with my visitation. The child support office is well known. I believe in child support 100%. The system needs some change. I wish there was a visitation office that works hand and hand with the child support office.
Money is important but the time you spend with your child is more important. Why doesn’t the system realize that? Why do I have to spend money on an expensive lawyer to see Alicia? I can make more or less money one day but time is something you can never get back. My daughter will never be 3 again.
I called the child support office who answered the phone in seconds with some questions. I learned that they are only trained up on child support laws. That makes sense, I can’t be mad at that. I call the AG again (which answered in a reasonable time) and they told me the same thing but I was given a number to a visitation hotline. When I called this visitation hotline, I was on hold for 3 hours before I gave up. I have the screenshots to prove it. Also, my co-workers can vouch for me because I had it on speaker phone as I waited. They didn’t even have hold music. It just beeped every once in a while, and an automated messaged said something about someone will answer your call. That never happened. They got to do better than that.
It’s been a 7-year journey and I know we still have a long way to go. I just don’t want others to go through what I have gone through. I am passionate about this cause! My mission is to find a resource and a support system for good fathers in similar situations. If I cannot find it, I will build it. No one (mother or father) should have to go through hell to be the great parent they deeply desire to be. The impact of a good father-child relationship is so important. One thing I know for sure is that “Daddin Ain Eazy” and it should be so please help me help us! I hear there is plenty of help for fathers but we just don’t pursue it. I am open to all help! If you know any reliable resources, please share them below so I can tell others. Let’s make it known to all of the good fathers.
Surprising My Daughter At School For the Annual Father Daughter Dance
P.S this is not for the dead-beat dads. We can talk about them later.
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Tasha JohnsonJune 14, 2019 9:44 pm
Sitting here in tears as I read this. My heart breaks for you and your daughter! Good luck!
CorianaJune 14, 2019 10:32 pm
I hate that you had to go through something like that I’m not too familiar with the child support system but I do know that how they treat fathers is not always 100% right especially the fathers that actually want to be a part of their kids lives! If Every father had the same mentality as you!! but good luck to you I wish you the best God hears you and he will answer your prayers !! It will get easier just wait on it !
AaronJune 15, 2019 10:38 am
Life is life and the decisions we make alter our path. The conscious mind must always keep that in the focal point! However, it’s never how we start but it’s how we finish! Enjoy the journey but be intentional about the finish!
JaelleJune 15, 2019 11:01 am
I loved this! You can tell it was truly from the heart. I respect you telling your truth, the good and the bad…. INCLUDING the part you played in the bad. Things will get better. You are a great father and men like yourself should continue to be respected and celebrated.
NeneJune 15, 2019 11:31 am
Blog written with so much love for his daughter, you can feel it as you’re reading! Alicia is blessed to have a father like you who doesn’t give up because of the circumstances at hand. I hope you’re situation get better for the sake of Alicia!
DameJune 15, 2019 11:35 am
This is heart breaking and is all so true for many Fathers especially military Fathers that are trying to co-parent. This has been going on for years and you are right the system needs to change. Theres too many Fathers out there wanting to be a part of their child’s life but the Mothers are so bitter or mad at the child’s Father that they use the kids as a pawn. I hate that you are going through this and I pray that things get better . Btw, I’m happy you told your story from your perspective and owned up to your part of the downfall of you and your daughters Mother relationship. A child should never be put in these situations. So I feel for you and your daughter. Keep being the best Father you can be!!!
NeneJune 15, 2019 11:39 am
Blog written with so much love for his daughter, you can feel it as you’re reading! Alicia is blessed to have a father that doesn’t give up because of the circumstances at hand. I hope your situation gets better!
Torie Leilani LoveJune 15, 2019 1:36 pm
Being able to see your child shouldn’t be this difficult! The mistakes you made in your past relationship with your child’s mother has nothing to do with seeing your child! & the fact that you don’t want to completely take your child away from her mother shows you just want more time, Because like you said you can’t get that time back. Making a platform to share your story in hopes yours & similar situations get better shows how much you love your baby girl. Keep fighting the system that clearly shows how much work it truly needs for all parents to be able to co-parent their children in a loving & healthy way.
MichelleJune 15, 2019 2:57 pm
Loved this!!! I hope it gets better for you and your daughter.
Ronald MartinJune 15, 2019 3:12 pm
This man ( My Big Brother ) is all around motivation , but the ones whom life seem more fair then other also has its own up and down. & I respect the fact his never gives up on anything i love you bro im praying everything gets better for you an and my beautiful niece bro this is jus the 1st few steps 💯
Adrian MJune 15, 2019 3:37 pm
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I couldn’t completely explain her side of the story but I wanted to make sure I didn’t sound one sided.
DawnJune 15, 2019 3:51 pm
This was great. I read it and was able to feel some of your pain. Fight with everything you have to see Alicia. She is worth fighting for.
NessaBJune 15, 2019 3:51 pm
Always hold onto the fact that your a great daddy and baby girl loves you! Don’t sweat the things you can’t control do your part cause this ain’t your karma and no shade to her but the tables always turn. Keep faith and keep doing your part as a dad and loving that beautiful little girl
KyleJune 16, 2019 9:40 am
Great guy, devoted father, I am hoping this nonsense comes to an end.
William JonesJune 16, 2019 9:52 am
Man I love this post. I understand there are bad dads out there just like there are bad moms, but it breaks my heart when I see a good father torn down by a system that is supposed to be there for the child. A child needs their father just as much as they need there mother and there is nothing and nobody who can convince me otherwise. I am so sorry for you struggle and I hope to God it gets better. Just know, when your daughter grows up she will know the pain and struggle you went through and she will appreciate you even more for it. You are a great man and an even better father. God bless you father to father much love and much respect.
PorscheJune 16, 2019 10:10 am
You’re a great dad and your daughter loves you. Your friends here in Arkansas love you! And we have your back 100% . Your voice is important never give up…. this too shall pass.
ChinoJune 16, 2019 10:30 am
The fact that you haven’t given up yet shows your character. The system we have in place when it comes to child custody and visitation are the same laws that we had many years ago. Times have changed and the laws need to change with it, nobody should have have to jump and leap over this many obstacles to see their child(ren). Continue to fight and do the best you can, the Lord see your efforts and I’m praying one day he will shed some light on your situation.
NeNe WilliamsJune 16, 2019 8:21 pm
You’re a great dad who is doing the right thing by fighting for your princess. The roads my be bumpy now but will smooth out soon. I’m sure this will inspire many dads to open up about their journey to help you. Praying for you!
Donovan StarkJune 17, 2019 10:08 am
Man! I’m sorry that you have gone through all of this! I have 3 kids of my own and I couldn’t imagine not seeing them for long periods of time. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Tyler LewisJune 17, 2019 10:08 am
Good read! So emotional and raw! Hope this works out for both parties in the end
Derek GulleyJune 18, 2019 9:52 am
You are definitely one of the few good men out here. I’m proud to call you one of my closest friends and a brother from another mother. We don’t talk everyday but you know if there’s anything needed I got you and vice versa. I hate that you are going thru your situation, but your daughter know that you love her & will do anything for her love. You don’t deserve what you going thru but like they say “God gives the hardest battles to the strongest soldiers.” The storm will one day pass & you will be reunited with your daughter. In the meantime you just have to keep your faith strong and keep fighting for what’s right. I’m down to help in any way that I can as well!!!
NIVEKJune 18, 2019 11:09 am
Wowwwww! I’m literally baffled at how similar (pretty close to identical) that our situations are… like literally to a tee! Same deployment story & drama. Same threats. Only difference is that we weren’t in a relationship. But I still wanted (and insisted on) co-parenting because my Princess is literally all that matters! Nope! My daughter’s mom realized that the only way to get to me was through the baby. Any time we would FaceTime for me to see the baby, she would throw herself in it. Any time she would send pictures, she would have to send a few of herself. When I returned from the desert, whenever I would come by to spend time with my daughter, she would try and turn it about her asking why don’t I try and spend time with her or touch her anymore. Then immediately upon rejection, she would get physical. Or even worse, call the cops trying to make it seem as if I’m trespassing as if she hadn’t told me to come over in the first place!
(Obviously that’s the short and sweet version but you know how deep it goes)
Here we are, months later, in the courts for a custody battle when all I wanted all along was to co-parent amongst ourselves without all of the courts and stuff involved. Smh.
I wish you well, brother. My Princess is literally the light in my life. I truly adore her and I know with absolute certainty, that you feel the same way about yours!
It’s all going to work out man! Just stay positive 👌🏾
Angelica ShipmanNovember 29, 2020 6:28 am
Wow! As a mother, even on the days I fall short and don’t like co parenting, I always remember who’s actually important and that’s our kids..every single time. Kids NEED healthy parents and a healthy environment to grow up in. I admire the fact that you’re trying to make a difference! Never stop fighting for change. Especially when it’s for your daughter! I love it