The business of divorce

Preface:

I have worked in the United States and England as a researcher for most of my life, I am Italian and a few years ago I became the father of a beautiful daughter. Unfortunately, for reasons beyond my control, I separated from my ex and from that moment a judicial ordeal began that led me to see how much injustice there is in Italian family law and why separated fathers are potentially the most mistreated and abused social class in twenty-first century Italy. I can affirm that my life and career have been destroyed by the same judicial system which, in any other country that defines itself as ‘civil’ and ‘democratic’, should protect me as a parent, citizen and honest worker.

This article is written in a deliberately easy and accessible language with the intention of making it easier for everyone to read and to give as little space as possible to interpretation and exploitation (even if there will still be some).

Regardless of the website where you are reading these words or the person who is proposing them to you, try not to think like this: “I don’t like this site / person, so the contents will all be false”, because you would fall into the very common logical fallacy of ‘”Ad-hominem” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem): please judge these words with your head and with a critical spirit.

Art. 3 of the italian constitution

All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinion, personal and social conditions.

In the 21st century, in Italy, this statement sounds more false and hypocritical than ever for a separated parent (overwhelmingly for a separated father).

Italian judges and magistrates do not always behave like this. Business interests of ‘divorce professionals’ & co. are not always what prevails instead of the real ‘interests of the children’. Fathers are not always so mistreated. But truth is: this happens often in Italy. Too often.

Let’s get one thing clear right away: this document does not engage in sexism. No misogyny. No misandry. It just takes a snapshot of real life in Italy: there are lousy mothers and lousy fathers. But justice, in italian family law, currently benefits only one side and this injustice is no longer acceptable.

Justice should protect a divorced / separated individual because the truth is: you can find yourself separated even if you have given your best to a relationship, even if you have been the most honest, hardworking and caring person in the world. Those who think ‘that person is separated because they chose the wrong person, they deserved it’ judge without knowledge of the facts or life experience and generalize stupidly: people change, problems change and even mental disorders arise in late adulthood, sometimes without clear signs (see bipolar disorder in adulthood): the person with whom you have chosen to form a family will not always want to remain part of it or will be willing to make sacrifices for your children and the family itself or will remain the same person you knew before. In the 21st century it is no longer acceptable in Italy that a wrong choice destroys a parent if a child is involved (even worse if there are more than one) and it is no longer acceptable that in the overwhelming majority of cases the court favors the mother rather than the father. It is common knowledge (Italian statistics’ institute – ISTAT does not report data on how many mothers are the custodial parent and which receive a maintenance allowance for their children or as an economically weaker spouse – also notice: the incomes of the parents of the spouses are almost never counted!) that a separated italian father will never, let aside extremely exceptional circumstances, be preferred to the mother as a custodial parent.

The terribly wrong and unconstitutional principle of ‘maternal preference’ (i.e. preferring, especially with young children, the mother as the custodial parent during separations since ‘the best parent for the young children’), expressed by the Italian ‘Cassazione’ Supreme Court on some occasions, generates gender racism (sexism) against the father figure (and it is not valid even at a very young age as there are fathers who, due to the inability or disinterest of the mother, have nursed and fed their children with synthetic milk, love and a lot of patience – once again it is NOT possible to generalize). Just as it is not fair to consider all immigrants as thieves, rapists or criminals, even if by absurd statistics said that 70% of newly-landed immigrants had committed crimes (those 30% immigrants who came to work, are honest and abide by the laws should NOT be condemned), it is equally not fair to generalize and always consider the mother as the best parent for the children and to be the child custody “winner” in all cases.

A separated father, even if loving and loved by his children and logistically capable of looking after his child or children for at least 50% of the time, will hardly be chosen as custodial parent because of the ‘prevalent orientation of the court’, i.e. ‘this court has always done like this and you should just accept it’.

A separated father (or more rarely a separated mother) finds himself fighting an unconstitutional and irrational system justified on the infamous and highly exploited ‘for the superior interest of the minor’ which too often is NOT the real good of the child but guarantees an avalanche of appeals and recourses as consequence of unfair sentences.

The first thing that a judicial system should do, exactly as it is done in the rest of Europe, is to attempt mediation and separate a conflicting couple without generating harm for the minor. But economically destroying and frustrating a single parental figure (the father usually) is the recipe for generating discontent, disagreement and NOT doing the good of the child. And the doubt remains that this kind of pattern is systematically enforced to generate more conflicts and recourses and appeals for money reasons..

From the document ‘Child maintenance systems in EU Member States from a gender perspective’ (https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/note/join/2014/474407/IPOL-FEMM_NT(2014)474407_EN.pdf) it is noted that Italy is the only European country in which the judges don’t follow any guideline, assign parenting times and child support with inscrutable criteria and without even consulting the parents (sometimes without even reading the pages and pages of appeals embellished or deliberately long & prolix to hide important elements from the respective lawyers)

The following points are no longer acceptable:

  1. It is not acceptable that in the applicable cases (i.e. where the geographical distance between the parents is small, neither of the two has been judged parentally incapable due to violence or psychological problems or other reasons, etc.) a “custodial” parent is elected. This figure, invented from scratch by the judiciary system, justifying it with ‘the minor must have his own routine, a single bedroom and a single town where to go to school and have friends’, effectively makes the children fatherless. Nor does the theory of ‘postal parcels’ where it is argued that children must not have two residences (with their father and mother) in order for their travel to be minimized: with the fairly standard practice of giving the “air hours” to fathers (i.e. alternating weekends and two afternoons a week) the minor often travels equally or even more, loses the paternal (or maternal, but much more rarely) parent and all relevant decisions are made by the custodial parent. Even government subsidies such as the babysitter bonus can be requested ONLY by the custodial parent due to the minor’s residence. These are OTHER unacceptable discrimination. Once again: the italian law does NOT mention a ‘custodial’ figure anywhere. Law 54/2006 (opposed by racist or sleazy individuals who push for even more gender racism and by a lousy business that makes money on parental conflicts) is too general, reductive and is constantly ignored or interpreted at random by magistrates.
  2. It is not acceptable that child support payments are unaccounted for and should not only cover the child’s food / lodging / clothing, but should make the child a ‘great equalizer’ by making the parent with higher income pay in an attempt to make the life of the minor equal in both families. This principle in itself is not wrong: if a parent earns more, he should pay more for his child, even when separated. Its application sucks: NO accounting. If the father earns € 2000 net per month and the mother € 1400 net and the son is held 50% of the time by both, NOBODY should owe ANYTHING to the other. Under these circumstances, if the mother is not in poverty and if the father does not live in a huge estate, NOBODY should have a potential criminal charge (failure to pay even one month of child support – immediate criminal lawsuit) on their heads, often with sums that cover much more than the basic needs of the child. This generates infinite contrasts and discontent on one side only because the disproportionate sum (and unnecessarily given since the minor will consume LESS than that sum) will be used at the total discretion of the custodial parent (and maybe the mother will go to the SPA / the father will buy a new motorcycle for himself). Failure to account the money received is UNACCEPTABLE. Unless it can be demonstrated that the other spouse has voluntarily sabotaged their career to be with the children (the mother would have sufficed to quit her job with a dismissal letter where she said ‘I’m quitting to stay closer to my children’), neither should receive any monetary support from the other “because in our former family we agreed that I would take care of the children”. It is logical and acceptable that the parent with the highest income (again: there must not be a huge disparity between the two incomes and neither must be in poverty – but REAL poverty, not for example ‘poverty’ by receiving 3 different child support checks from 3 exes which are not even considered as ‘revenue’ for taxing purposes, even if excessive, because they figure as ‘social assistance’) will pay a higher percentage of EXTRA expenses. This point is fundamental: those who earn the most (still ad nauseam: if neither of them is in REAL poverty and if neither of them is a REAL rich man/woman) should rather pay a higher percentage of the extra expenses (or pay them entirely). What difference does it make? EVERYTHING changes: the extra expenses are not clothing, food, accommodation … but they are expenses that must be agreed in advance and approved as well as accounted for and reported (and you would CLEARLY know that the money spent REALLY goes to your offspring and not to a person with whom you do not you want to have anything to do with, to do whatever this person prefers). This would finally give fathers (and more rarely mothers) the sacrosanct right to choose how to allocate their hard-earned money (a parent can justify the disapproval of an expense for his / her child – and if a parent is a bad person and despite the financial availability refuses to pay necessary medical expenses for the child, it is very easy to demonstrate this in court with messages / emails / evidence at hand that the parent is failing to meet the welfare obligations) and approve an expense rather than another and would avoid a life-long ‘criminal charges cleaver’ on their head (and there is always the doubt that even all criminal complaints for failure to pay child support will, in fact, fatten the purse of the usual characters and ‘professionals’ of the family rights system). A non-custodial parent could keep their hard-earned money and rebuild a life again: buy a house for themselves and their child, buy a house for another family, set them aside for old age (the pension system in Italy has been in deep crisis since several years and we hear more and more about supplementary pensions) or for your child at the age of majority. What he/she does with his/her money, other than paying the basic needed support of his children, is his/her business. We point out (unverified sources – Facebook ‘separate fathers’ group) extreme cases in which a parent with sole custody of the minor must still pay a child support allowance to the other party because the child must have the same standard of living in both places. If true, this is totally nonsense and proves the injustices that can be given birth to by the judiciary system (and other avalanche appeals/recourses). Furthermore, ‘calculating’ a child’s food and living costs is practically impossible for a judge since there are too many variables: the judge knows nothing about the so-called ‘standard of living prior to separation’, he cannot quantify a normal amount because in a normal family ‘scale economies’ on food, heating, rent / mortgage and even clothing take place. And blindly giving a sum to the custodial ‘winner’ does not ensure that that money reaches the minor, as already mentioned. It is just the best way to generate endless contrasts. And appeals and recourses. And maybe that’s the exact goal of this practice.
  3. It is not acceptable that a separated parent should be afraid of losing their job by being told “you will have to pay the child support money ANYWAY EVEN WITHOUT A JOB, otherwise you will have to defend yourself in a criminal trial .. even if you don’t work and you don’t earn you will have to pay that money. And if you lose your job you will have to request an immediate review by going through the judges again for the recalculation of the child support. ” The review times are almost always long and in the meantime the separated parent is WITHOUT work, WITH rent and own expenses (he/she must eat) and with the HIGH maintenance that had been ‘calculated’ when he still had a good paying job. This is dementia and completely erodes the savings of the separated parent. And the recalculation may not necessarily be retroactive. It all depends on the judge’s judgment. And you also have to spend money and gasoline for the car to pick up your child otherwise you are a bad father / mother! And who knows maybe they’ll raise your child support because you don’t go to see your kids.
  4. It is not acceptable that the passport of a separated parent can only be renewed with the signature of the former spouse(s) (Law 21 November 1967, n1185, art 3 / b). If the ex loves to provoke conflicts (or with undiagnosed personality disorder – see narcissistic personality disorder NPD) he/she will not consent to the signature for the sole purpose of creating conflict, the requester will have to turn to a judge to obtain the signature also having to PROVE that he/she does not want to flee to Mexico to escape child support (stupid presumption of guilt regardless of any withstanding evidence). This violates individual freedom, assumes that every separated parent is a potential convict, and there is currently no firm data showing how this law has been successful in preventing child abduction abroad (requesting passport signatures are fine for the CHILD’s passport, not for the ex’s! And immediately block the passport of the minor after a separation!). It is very possible to lose well-paid job offers abroad due to this disastrous and wasteful process. Once again one wonders if this stupid law is still in effect because it suits someone…

For information to readers, a petition to the European Parliament is trying to repeal this nonsense and discriminatory law born in ’67 when probably no one was thinking of a parent traveling for work or working abroad:

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/petitions/en/petition/content/0610%252F2018/html/Petition-No-0610%252F2018-by-Marinella-Colombo-%2528Italian%2529-on-the-discriminatory-practice-of-the-Italian-State-in-relation-to-the-issue-and-renewal-of-the-passport-of-the-Italian-parent

You are strongly encouraged to sign it (although it probably won’t do much).

  1. It is not acceptable that the non-custodial parent (in the vast majority of cases the father) should – this is usually not explicitly written in the sentences but in fact it is almost always like this – drives up and down to get the children by spending more money, gasoline, stress and time for commutations (and the other spouse – often the mother – doesn’t even have to pick up the kids). That money, stress and time are not calculated in the famous ‘child support’ wisdom.
  2. Or if they are calculated, how do you know? It is not acceptable for magistrates to come up with a random number out of their hats. If they followed a reasoning (or algorithm, if you prefer) this must be made public to justify any appeals or justify the number itself (and also to prevent mistakes – errare humanum est, or maybe the error is intentional …) . Transparent justice, just like transparent administration. Anything else is stupid or just plain sleazy.
  3. It is not acceptable for the joint home to go to the custodial parent. The house should be sold and the split between the ex spouses (as it is done in many other European countries). And each for himself: by his/her parents, with another mortgage or with a rent. Leaving the house to the custodial parent and the other to pay for it, it is an unacceptable and unjustifiable choice, again feebly justified with the ‘higher good of the child’. Only if the father (or mother) exhibited economically disruptive behavior (e.g. spending all the money on prostitutes and lacking any interest in their children) this would be justified. And this must be demonstrated or it’s just other nonsense to generate conflicts and destroy the other. If both parents have a place to stay (or could afford to rent it after the house is sold), the house should be sold. Period. Italy is the only European country where an honest man, hardworking and good father of a family can find himself, by UNILATERAL decision of his wife, having to pay a higher than needed child support for life and having to see the house that he himself has paid (and still pays with a mortgage) where another man, new partner of his ex, will live and be father to HIS children and together with his ex and the infamous ‘standard of living of the minor’ will enjoy HIS money. This is now unacceptable crap and the judiciary system MUST stop mocking people by saying that it is for the greater good of the child (unless there are TRUE AND OBJECTIVE elements that attest this). In theory (but it happens once for every Pope’s death) this could also happen to a woman with reversed parts. And even with switched sides it is EQUALLY unacceptable.
  4. Once again: it is not acceptable for the child support to be higher than needed to guarantee the minor ‘the same standard of living in both houses’. It is acceptable to have the parent with the most income pay in percentage the extra expenses reported, accounted and subject to approval. A separated father (more rarely a mother) finds himself paying a large amount of child support and cannot afford a rent or a mortgage (or ANOTHER one) to live alone. His/her lawyer will tell him/her “well you can open another mortgage and ask for the maintenance recalculation, the judge will perhaps reduce your monthly allowance since you have another expense later”. And who gives you the certainty that the judge will do it? And if he/she opens a mortgage TOGETHER with the maintenance allowance to leave his parents’ house (perhaps to be closer to his children) and then the judge does not lower (or even raise) his allowance? He (or she) is screwed. Therefore, the fear, uncertainty and depression that arise from ALWAYS having to rely on the goodwill of a judge in order not to have one’s life destroyed is no longer acceptable.
  5. It is not acceptable for the child support to be paid until the child’s economic independence. At 18, you can give the allowance directly to your child but you have to go through the judge once again (and another appeal and money). Only when the son / daughter finds a job (and thank heaven for that because maybe he/she will slack off at the university for 15 years), and also this must be a STABLE job (and double thank heaven in Italy’s depressed economy) then it will be necessary AGAIN to go through the judge to have the maintenance allowance removed (and other money and appeals). From the document cited a few paragraphs above it is clear that Italy is once again the only country to do such a thing. All other countries cease maintenance payments when the child is of legal age or at a threshold of around 21. Once again Italy is a champion of bureaucracy, wasted money, injustices and the generation of conflict and discontent. One really wonders if this is on purpose.

These are other answers, among many, that can answer the question “why birth rates are so low in Italy”, because anyone who has seen the social, economic and parental destruction of a parent who is not a ‘custodial parent’ in Italy, will certainly be VERY careful to make children in this country where conflictual separations are the sweet spot for some parasitic and disgusting ‘professionals’ who thrive on conflict.

The proposal to change the law, the so-called ‘DDL735’, had started very well few years ago but was probably sunk for purely political and economic reasons: whoever takes the side of the overwhelmed, the great losers, the great discriminated fathers in Italy, knows well that for the N votes of the separated fathers he will find N votes against by their exes (or equally with reversed parties, even if the fathers are usually those with a shared ‘fake’ custody and with an immediately-criminal cleaver fee practically for life) and will also find themselves against all those who make money from the separations business. Politically, it probably doesn’t pay off. Humanely, it’s the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the economic interests at stake are enormous: not only the business of the ‘separation leeches’ but also all those who profit from depicting the Italian fathers and, more generally, Italian men as violent individuals (see the also thriving business of anti-violence centers and supporters of ‘Italy has a women-murders emergency’) will oppose this change towards civilization and constitutionality. And then the separated fathers are frightened because any public demonstration could reach the eyes of the magistrate who will not let them see their children and will destroy them economically (besides the divorced fathers are also busy working to support themselves and their families): they are the perfect cattle for slaughter. Perfect for making money.

Let’s also be careful not to mention the word that begins with the ‘S’ again: parental alienation Syndrome (PAS). Do not use the word with an ‘S’ and do not call it Syndrome because whether it is a syndrome or not, the important thing is to call it only ‘parental alienation’ (in order not to fuel stupid diatribes on its existence). Because it means ‘conditioning a small child’. And it’s something that even donkeys know it is possible, syndrome or not.

The four blasphemies

The four blasphemies, the four terrible and heretical words that must never be uttered nor must ever be law and imposed on a magistrate, are:

DIRECT MAINTENANCE and EQUAL TIMES, i.e. joint shared physical custody and no monthly child support (again: proportional extras are logical and fair). In Italian: “mantenimento diretto e tempi paritetici”.

The equal times are also supported by scientific and documented studies (an example also on the wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_parenting#Scientific_research while for the supporters of the theory of ‘postal parcels’ there are neither studies or common sense that hold up). To those who answer “but the minor must have only one room, like all normal children” we reply: only one room (since they can have friends in both places) does NOT justify the parental and economic destruction of a parent. There was a separation, this is a fact: the child will suffer from it in one way or another. Let’s stop doing injustice to only one party (and perhaps for economic reasons) and saying nonsense in the best interest, supreme interest, of infinite magnitude interest, [other stupid adjectives] of the minor. The interest of the minor must be done respecting the human dignity of both former spouses, who have the right to rebuild their lives and detach themselves from conflicting people because they too are persons and have dignity as persons (and regarding conflicts and appeals you should MINIMIZE them, that is the TRUE higher good of the child).

These four words would not rewind the clock by 50 years (as proclaimed by the indecent biased Italian press) and would not cause Italy to sink back into an unspecified patriarchy, but would advance it humanly, socially and ethically by at least 150 years. A serious DDL (proposal to change the law) should make only these four words law (except in cases of inapplicability of course). And the magistrates should follow this law as the ‘prevailing orientation’, again and to the limit, except in cases of objective inapplicability. This time the body that needs to be corrected, because in many of these cases rotten to the core, is that of the judiciary system.

Anyone who will fight for the article 3 of our beautiful Italian constitution and advocate parental, economic dignity and equality between mothers and fathers will have to fight fiercely the hordes of divorce-professionals, the stupid gender racists and all those who make money by exploiting the dogma of the ‘violent father male’ (often the anti-violence centers and their advertising apparatus) and also of all those who benefit from social inequality (including many women and some fathers who intend to take advantage of a parasitic monthly lifetime revenue to the detriment and destruction of a now-hated figure in their lives – sadists more concerned with their own well-being than the much-heralded superior good of the child).

But anyone who fights for this will be an honest person, and we haven’t seen many of this kind in Italy in recent years.

P.s. in spite of other ‘people’ who believe they have the best opinion in every circumstance of life, this document does NOT make such a claim. Errors, corrections or oversights could be added to correct and modify this document (and I apologize in advance for having said falsehoods or having supported a thesis which later proved wrong). After all, only idiots never change their minds even in the face of evidence towards the contrary. Who knows if the judiciary system will ever change this ‘prevalent orientation’ to a ‘perhaps not prevalent but honest orientation’.

2 thoughts on “The business of divorce

  1. Hi friend, I just wanted to say as a child who saw this happen first hand to my own father, who spent all his money 3 times trying to gain custody of me, the same kind of injustice happens to fathers in the US often as well. My mother knew lawyers and judges and I saw first hand how corrupt that system is. I don’t think it’s unique to just Italy, but it makes me wonder why that is? Regardless, I am sorry for what has happened to you, and I think the best advice I can give is to be the best example you can be to the child, despite the hardships the legal system is putting you through. If you do that, the important part is done: a child sees through to the soul of parent much more clearly than the parent ever realizes. I would also say this, start recording every interaction with the mother… if she is doing this out of spite and not for love of the child, that will come out eventually, and after some time you are much more likely to have a stronger case built up.

    Stay strong, and keep your head up!

    Like

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