Monthly Archives: September 2011

Ohio Senate Bill 5; Truth and Consequences.

If you have followed the news lately in the central Ohio area, you cannot hide from the stories about senate bill 5. On radio and TV, we are hearing the advertisements run almost at every commercial break, either for or against the repeal of the law. There were protests at the State Capital building while it was being voted on. While shopping at the grocery store you can’t help but to notice a sea of bumper stickers for or against SB5. When you hear the news, about 95% of the stories ultimately mention or allude to union labor and “rights” to collectively bargain for state employee’s. But to just mention unions or labor, is a little dis-ingenuous of the news media. Ohio has a larger problem that is at hand, and has been at hand for a long time. Ohio is broke. As a state we have operated on borrowed money. Ohio has a 8 billion dollar budget gap. The whole debate revolves around dollars and representative style government. Ohio has a provision in its constitution that if you gather enough valid signatures from all 88 counties you can have a voted for and signed law, repealed. Now, this begs the question, why? Well this provision is a safe guard against the people getting something they really didn’t vote for, loose cannon governors. Governors who’s same political party has a majority in the house and senate and agendas that do not match the wishes of the population of the state. You essentially have dual systems of governments, representative republican style and direct democratic rule.

This issue touches many family’s in Ohio. My wife and I have had some spirited discussions about SB5. You see we are a couple “unequally yoked” politically right now. Normally we are both fairly conservative but on this issue we disagree. We both held our nose and voted for John McCain last election. You see; my wife works in the public sector, and she has a part-time private sector job, and I work in the private sector. I have a slightly more conservative view of SB5 and my wife has a conservative view of SB5 but doesn’t like the fact that it’s going to directly affect our finances negatively. We have viewed the issue from all sides, and had many discussions. One of the things that really upset my wife is the fact that she hasn’t had a raise in 5 years, and her “great” union has conceded benefits when negotiating the last two contracts. Now many would say “oh that poor little state worker”. But the cynicism would be mis-placed. Let me explain why, my wifes quota of accounts to examine, balance, and update is 250 per 8 hour day. My wife examines 750-2500 accounts per 8 hour day. So needless to say she works very hard for her money. In the last quarter she worked, she was shown production numbers by her supervisor that read as follows: employee A examined 6600 documents, employee B  examined 1700 documents and my wife examined 22,000 documents. Now, because of staff cutbacks and employees that were not replaced when they retired or quit, this production level is kept this high at all times. So when my wife hears she is being rewarded with a pay reduction for busting her rump, she’s let down, to say the least! I look at the situation this way, I am against unionization altogether. I believe they are communistic in nature, and that goes for government employee’s or private sector. I believe they support division of the populus that labors. It sets one set of workers above another, to me that just doesn’t represent equality. One issue we have talked about is the merit pay part of the new law. We both do slightly agree on this, but with one caveat, the dreaded office politics. While we agree you should be reviewed and rewarded on work performance and receive compensation on those merits, we disagree whether that would be reviewed fairly and impartially by the supervisors in charge of performing the work performance reviews. I believe they would be done professionally, but my wife is a little more of a realist. She believes that office politics may skew employee’s reviews, therefore resulting in a lower raise.

I heard on the radio today a small blurb by the head of Innovation Ohio, which is a progressive think tank, complain about the politicians reducing the pay of state workers by asking them to contribute more toward their insurance and pension payments but the politicians do not have to abide by the same law. Now if this is found to be the case I stand with this man, I don’t support that action either, but remember political organizations make political statements. Private sector employee’s pay about 30% -50% toward their health insurance costs annually and 90%-100% toward their retirement, these numbers represent a huge gap.  Either way, if you are for or against SB5, you have a chance this November to have your voice heard, so get out and vote!


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The results are in…. Well for now anyway.

Recently Herman Cain won the Florida Republican straw poll, out of 2600 republican voters, Herman Cain drew 37% of the vote.  This was a tremendous boost to his presidential campaign! What type of personality, background or character does it take to get you “fired up” about supporting a candidate, republican, democrat or other third-party?

Should a persons religious beliefs be on trial before they are seriously considered for public office of any type?

Should a persons personal life be on display for all to see before they are seriously considered for public office?

Should a persons business dealings be investigated before they are seriously considered for public office?

What social issues do you want “your” candidate to be passionate about?

Do you want “your” candidate to be politically correct, or do you rather like a plain-spoken person?

How cozy do you want “your” candidate to be with foreign nations, who should he or she feel are our allies to garner your support?


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Some really good real world advice.

How do you feel about the current state of family law and family courts? I’m sure there are vast differences of opinion when discussing this subject. Many parents want to spend as much time with their children as they can. This makes a split of the family unit really stressful on all those involved, especially children. The courts can only slice the week so many ways to accommodate those parties involved. Also, financial matters come into to play with support orders, alimony and the bickering over who gets to claim the children on their taxes, who carries insurance, etc. A wise man once told me; work as many details out as you can with your ex-partner before either of you ever speak to an attorney. This will save you some money. It may not save you a lot of money, but you’re going to need every bit you can keep. If you are able, have a separation agreement loosely typed up and some idea of what your visitation schedule might look like, you will be well on your way to saving money, and time, if these things are agreed to before hand, it saves the arguing later, thus saving time with the attorney. Any time you can save at the attorney; the better off you are. Time is money! You’re going to find that once you involve the attorney, things usually turn nasty. Attorney’s make money from any deviation they can cause in the case, this includes, but is not limited to, telling you; well you can get a lot more money than you are asking your partner for”, “well you should get to claim both children, instead of alternating years” and of course “now listen here honey, you’ve put in a lot of time and effort into this relationship over the years, now that’s gotta be worth something”! Ideally parents would want to set up an agreeable visitation schedule, an agreeable dollar amount for support and all the particulars of taxes, insurance, etc. Most attorney’s work on an hourly rate, ranging anywhere from $100.00 per hour all the way to $300.00 an hour for “proud” attorney services, of course these numbers can go higher, these are merely the market prices in central Ohio. In any type of “fight”– or “war”; in some divorces, there are winners and losers. The worst part is almost 10 times out of 10 the children are always the losers and the attorneys are the winners and the parents are left somewhere in  the middle “purgatory”.

I was one of those guys who took a referral from a family member for my legal representation for my divorce. Sadly I didn’t do enough homework when it came to researching the attorney before I hired him to represent me. I had mediocre representation at best. I was charged a flat fee of $2700.00 for “divorce with children”. I never received an itemized invoice for services rendered, even after asking for one on several occasions. Whats even worse in my case, I paid for two divorces, just before the paperwork was filed I had given my ex-wife $2100.00 to pay the new house mortgage and incidentals for our children. I later found out, my ex never paid the mortgage, she used the money I gave her to hire an attorney to sue me for divorce. Aint that the luck! Actually she didn’t pay one mortgage payment on the new house she lived in for 14 months, and this is just plain greedy, after being in the new home, she let all her family members throw her a “house-warming” party where she received gifts for moving into a house I paid $2000.00 to have built, that she never paid a dime on for 14 months…. and lived in for FREE. 

Heres another piece of advice I didn’t know until I found myself searching for a “good” divorce lawyer, always; 100% of the time go with the reputable “local yocal” attorney in the municipality where your case will be heard. What this does for you is it  cozys you slightly closer to the judge hearing your case. You really want your attorney and the judge to already have a good working relationship. Think about it. Do you want the guy or gal who has worked with the judge many times over and maybe have shared a drink or a golf game with? Or do you want the guy or gal who has never seen said judge, never! I think you see my point. We all wish justice could be blind, but every now and again; she PEEKS and the scales are tipped! In the real world it really does matter who you know. I know I may sound a little jaded and cynical, but remember folks, I’ve walked the gauntlet already.

When there are children involved in your divorce, always, always, always, involve a family counsellor and a mediator, these two positions are going to be your lifeline! I cannot recommend this strongly enough; because this is where I lost the most ground, I did not do this. Take for instance, getting a counsellor involved, what this does is allows all parties involved to vent to someone other than the person they might despise at that particular moment in time. It saves a lot of unnecessary hurt feelings in what is already a tough situation. Getting a mediator involved will reduce any dis-agreements that pop up along the negotiating process, you know, “bumps” in the road. Also involving a mediator helps with dis-agreements in the future, because if everyone is on the same page and everyone knows exactly what their agreeing to, It’s hard to plead ignorant later over visitation, support, or what ever might be the pressing issue of the day.

You should always use ALL the tools at your disposal! Do extensive research, ask for references from your attorney’s former clients. Use the internet to view forums, and bar association writings regarding certain lawyers. Go to the library, study family law or read books on the psychological effects on children who suffer through such trauma as divorce causes. When you get right down to it; next to a death in the family; there really isn’t any trauma like a divorce. A divorce is the natural world of a child (no matter how bad their environment is) being un-naturally ripped into two pieces. After it is ripped like the tearing of your flesh, then the “distance” of the “divorce altered relationship” begins to set in. Which can cause all kinds of odd reactions from your children, depression, isolating themselves, drawing “dark” pictures and so on.

I will leave you with this, do everything you can to speak respectfully of the other parent in the presence of your child, in their eyes you can “kill” the other parent with just a few careless hurtful words. Always make time to share and talk about how your child(ren) feel, and to an extent how you feel also now, remember divorce is new to you and your child(ren). Take advantage of every opportunity to encourage them to spend quality time with the “other” parent (no matter how devastating your alone time is for you).

I was not afforded many kind words in my divorce, this ultimately destroyed two of the best father daughter, father son relationships you ever witnessed. Now the relationships are dead. I have become as a distant memory in my children’s minds, I have become but a whisper in a hurricane.

Robert E Stage Jr.


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The problems get worse before they get better.

Most people who have went through a divorce in the distant past would probably agree with the title of this writing. When couples are facing the tough decision of reconciliation or divorce court, the problems that brought them to that place in their relationship often times didn’t happen over night. They are usually the culmination of years of fighting over any number of issues; fidelity, money, parenting, work, friends, attitudes, etc.  What many people do not realize is that divorce is the first step to an even more stressful relationship with an ex-partner, family, family in-law, and their children. Sadly, many do not think through every aspect of the divorce before heading in its direction. Many do not weigh all the consequences that will come with the big “D”. Now instead of arguing about income; you argue over two incomes, instead of arguing over parenting; you argue over what your child(ren) was allowed to do when in the care of the other. And the fighting goes on, and on, and on. Whatever their decision, couples need to know that treading into the direction of divorce should not be taken lightly. In the bible, Jesus gave only one legitimate reason for divorce, infidelity; anything lesser than that should and could be reconciled.

With that being said, there are some who have been reminded on what seems to be a daily basis by their wives or husbands, “If you leave me, you’ll lose everything; kids, house, cars and when I say everything, I mean everything!” I myself, hail from this particular group of people. When my ex-wife explained to me that if I ever left her that she would take everything from me including the kids and the house, she used to solidify her statements by adding a little caveat by saying “And if I cant do it, my Mom will see to it happening!” Maybe you’ve heard those very same words. In my case this is actually the only vow my ex-wife ever kept.

Luckily, life does not end “post children”. Every day is a challenge, but I have made it, and in most cases prospered. With the support of my soul mate, my new wife Cynthia, I have since my divorce, gained my self-respect back, went to school and received my GED, I even completed and passed a couple of college courses. Also I went to school and received a State of Ohio license to sell Life, Health, and Annuity insurance. We have a ton of fun raising and playing with our three labrador puppies. Our life is really good.

 I can remember feeling like my ex-wife was extorting me to stay in a destructive relationship by holding me hostage with my great love for our children. In the end, If you are not respected, not loved, treated poorly, or just plain discounted as a second class citizen in your relationship, no amount of extortion will keep you in it. It may keep you for a season, but soon that season will be over, and so will the relationship. Most will say, “stick it out for the children’s sake.” often times this only teaches children to stay in the same destructive relationships when they grow up and are dating or married. This just perpetuates the hurtful vicious cycle in the next generation.

No one can make these hard decisions for you. But if you’re visiting this blog; take this advice, get plenty of input and counselling before you make any decision. Also read the first psalm in the Bible, and follow it strictly, get good solid Godly advice in your situation. Find good moral things to do to fill your time with, help a neighbor, volunteer, bless others with your talents.

Don’t perpetuate damaging behavior because you feel it’s just “best” for all involved.

Robert E Stage  Jr


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A brave new world

This blog has been constructed so that divorced parents who have been kept from seeing their children by the “custodial” parent, have an outlet; a voice that might be heard. Somewhere for you to comment about others, and to lift up others who are going through their ordeals that they face. Somewhere for you to gain encouragement when the future seems bleak, and you’re are not sure if you can take one more step forward. It often times is very lonely being a divorced parent, that loneliness is only amplified by selfish and greedy; sometimes just hurtful ex-partners; who wish to sever the bond between a child and their “non-custodial” parent. What’s even worse sometimes, not only do the “custodial” parents keep you at bay, you also have extra-family members dictating their rules also when pertaining to visitation. Maybe you have found solace in your new spouse as I have, or maybe you have thrown yourself into your career, or a hobby. Whatever it is that you do to dull the sting of the loss of companionship of your child(ren), deep inside you know there is a child shaped hole that is just not filled any longer. Having that hole inside you cuts you to the very deepest parts of your soul. Not knowing if your daughter will still ask you to walk her down the aisle, because she hasn’t spoken to you in more than a few years. Not knowing if your son would ask you to be his best man on his special day. Not knowing if you will see your very own grandchildren grow up, or be a part of their life at all, in any way. These may be some thoughts or questions you ask yourself, or better put, torture yourself with. This blog is to let parents know they are not alone in their pain and agony. It is dedicated to those who have had to “let go” much too soon. It is a memorial to all the children who want to see their daddy or mommy; — but are afraid to speak because they don’t want to hurt the other.

Somewhere tonight; a child and a parent are crying out from the depths of their heart to God in heaven, only wanting to be reunited and to begin repairing the relationship that has been damaged and lost.

Robert E. Stage Jr.


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