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Divorced fathers and "second class citizenship"

It is not uncommon for fathers to feel like they have lost their place and have an uncertain status with their children after a divorce. Fathers may be left out of family events, friend circles and activities with neighbors they used to share their lives with. Fathers in Illinois and nationwide may have a difficult time adjusting to new personal and social arrangements after divorce.

Most divorcing couples try not to share the private details of their relationship with mutual friends. However, leaving the details a mystery can sometimes force family and friends into making assumptions about who did what or who wanted out of the marriage. Even when efforts are made to keep your friends and relatives out of the equation, some will still find it necessary to choose sides. This often leaves fathers as "outsiders" after divorce.

Not only are fathers often forced out of the household and family unit, they may often feel excluded from wider social circles. In addition to being forced to adapt to a "second life" after divorce, they may also feel like they have to compete with their children's mother for love and attention. Moving forward demands adjustment and establishing a new role as a father and in the lives of extended family and friends.

For those who know a divorcing father, it is not always right to assume that he wanted "out." Just as many divorces are initiated by women as men. As third-parties to any divorce, we also should not assume anything about what happened in a marriage and it is usually best not to take sides.

If you are a divorcing father, you may have to establish a new routine and a second life. Your ego and esteem may be bruised, but seeking out help if you need it can help you protect your interests and move forward after divorce.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Must Divorced Fathers Become Second Class Citizens?" Linda Lipshutz, May 23, 2012.

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