Navigating Illness, Fatherhood, Divorce and Faith with Attorney Fred Haiman

Meet the extraordinary Fred Haiman, an attorney whose story is anything but ordinary. Fred lets us in on his journey of survival and faith, recounting a time when he was in critical condition for 10 days after his intestines ruptured. This life-altering event not only challenged his faith but also strengthened it, leading him on a path of closer relationship with God. Hang on to every word as he unravels his personal tale of resilience and how his upbringing shaped him. We take a sharp turn into Fred's personal life where he discusses the impact of his divorce on his two daughters and their faith. Feel your heartstrings tug as he explains how he and his ex-wife's commitment to their faith helped maintain a strong spiritual bond in their daughters, despite the demise of their marriage. Our conversation winds down as Fred delves into his own struggle with shame and redemption, triggered by his divorce. We explore how his faith interacted with these emotions and guided his decision-making when it came to his relationship with his daughters. Fred’s story is a testament to the depths of the human spirit and the transformative power of faith. Join us for an episode teeming with inspiration and life-affirming truths.

Byron Ricks, Brandon Ricks, Josh Warmbrodt and Fred Haiman

7/5/202322 min read

Byron: 0:02

Hello and welcome to our podcast series, the Father Factor Podcast. I'm your host, byron Ricks, and joining me is my co-host and good friend, josh Wombrod. The objective is to give a voice to fathers who are not able to be with their kids, mothers who are raising kids without fathers, and children who, unfortunately, are growing up without fathers in their lives.

JLove: 0:25

It take more than names to be a man oh yeah. It take more than sex to be a dad oh yeah. It take more than good to be the bad oh yeah, it take more. It take more, more, more, more, more.

Byron: 0:45

Hello everyone and welcome to The Father Factor. My name is Byron Ricks. I'm your host. My co-host today is Josh Wombrod, riding shotgun. Brandon Ricks, brandon Ricks, what is all that? sex and stuff lately.

Brandon: 0:56

It's provocative. You gotta make people want to listen. You trying to get us some sponsors.

Byron: 1:02

We after some sponsorships.

JLove: 1:04

I think that's what he's attempting here.

Brandon: 1:06

Old spice commercials.

Byron: 1:09

Okay, Today we have a special guest. He is an attorney at law, Fred Heyman. I've known Fred for I don't know how many years quite a few years And we used to get together and have breakfast, and he's a believer, but he's also an attorney, That's not an oxymoron.

Josh: 1:35

I know right. He's an attorney he's a believer, right An attorney.

Fred: 1:41

I get that all the time. How you doing, fred, i'm well. I always tell people I'm an attorney, but don't hold it against me, okay.

Byron: 1:51

So, Fred, I know that you we're gonna unpack your life a little bit, because I know that you are recent divorcee. I know that you are a father of two daughters, And let's start with Fred. Where was Fred born? Where did Fred grow up? Let's talk a little bit about the beginnings of Fred.

Fred: 2:15

All right, i'm on Air Force Brat. My dad was a major in the Air Force during Vietnam. He retired when I was six at the end of Vietnam, 1970, and moved us from the beautiful beaches of Destin, florida, and Eglin Air Force Base to the middle of the desert, el Paso, texas. And I remember growing up and being a teenager and getting mad at my dad saying, hey, how come you moved us from the beach to the desert And I could have grown up a beach kid. And my dad in his funny sense of humor said you are a beach kid, el Paso's got lots of beach.

JLove: 2:54

Just didn't have any ocean.

Fred: 2:56

So I grew up in El Paso, graduated from high school there. I call El Paso a black hole because I've left three times and it sucked me back in three times. Because I left after high school, went to college, came back after that. After I graduated from college, i got on the El Paso Police Department. I was a police officer for over five years Before I dove in and went. As my chief of police said, i went to the dark side and went back to law school. But growing up in El Paso was great. It's a very secluded area. I didn't grow up around what a lot of people did. I didn't see discrimination. I didn't see a lot of this stuff because El Paso is really a melting pot. It's a majority Hispanic until I became a police officer, until I got away from there.

Byron: 3:50

I led a real sheltered life, so you were a police officer for how long?

Fred: 3:53

A little over five years, from 1989 to 1994. In El Paso, yeah, and I didn't realize what a sheltered life I'd led until I got on the streets Became a police officer.

Byron: 4:04


Fred: 4:06

I lived in a middle upper middle class family. My dad was retired from the Air Force. They owned their own business and ran their business while I went through school.

Byron: 4:15

So what kind of relationship did you have with your dad? What kind of man was he? My dad was a real rough around the edges guy.

Fred: 4:21

He was a military officer From the military.

Byron: 4:24


Fred: 4:24

So he had that, but he grew up in the ghettos of Chicago And he grew up a real rough life. As he put it, he was a star football player. He went to that's how he and my mom met. They met at New Mexico State University in Los Cruces, new Mexico, and my dad was a football player And he always said that the football in the Air Force saved his life, because all of his friends growing up were either dead or in prison. He grew up in Chicago right after the Al Capone era And it was real rough, so he was a pretty rough guy.

Byron: 4:56

Well, i can relate. I grew up in the ghettos of Chicago myself, so I can relate to that.

Fred: 5:02

Well. so he was rough. I mean he cussed like a sailor. I didn't grow up in a home of faith I never. when my dad passed away, i didn't know where my dad went Because we never talked about faith and his belief and all. And he was a good man. He was a great father, great supporter. Did he love you? Yeah, in his own way.

Byron: 5:26

Did he ever say it? Yeah?

Fred: 5:27

he did. He was just very he pushed me a lot. Being an athlete, i started out baseball, basketball, football, little league and all, and he was so, he pushed so hard that by high school I was burnout.

Byron: 5:43


Fred: 5:44

And so I quit. Actually joined bands.

Byron: 5:47

So you were burnout on sports all together.

Fred: 5:49

I was burnout on sports for a few years Yeah. And so I stopped for a few years And then, when I got off to college, i started playing rugby again. I played collegiate rugby at Southwest Texas State University for a couple of years, but that was after. My heart and desire coming out of high school was I grew up on horses. My sister was big on horses, so I got into rodeo and I rode bareback broncs for about four years.

Byron: 6:15

Man Man life. I know right, i'm learning a lot about. You're looking at police officers.

Josh: 6:20

He's out here doing side missions in life. I've got police And it's hurting.

Fred: 6:24

Yeah, man And my back and neck are telling me about it every single day. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Byron: 6:29

Now, bareback means without a saddle.

Fred: 6:33

Yeah, there's saddlebronc riding and bareback bronc riding Bareback. You have a what's called a rigging that you hold on to, ok, but there is no saddle. You're not. What makes someone want to do that. I've always been a little crazy, kind of an adrenaline junkie, And I just I loved horses and I loved doing being around horses. I love rodeo And my middle sister actually married a ranch foreman And I worked out on ranches, run cattle and working goats And I got into rough stock, really just with friends. And my very first ride was at the very big pro rodeo and that is an El Paso called the Southwest Livestock Show in rodeo, And I used to work it every year And my senior year in high school I was 17,. They came up and said we got an extra horse, Does anybody want to ride it? And I volunteered And that was the very first horse I got on And I rode it the full eight seconds. As I got thrown off though, I got kicked in the back And it ended up fracturing my shoulder blade and dislocating my shoulder And I couldn't wait to get back on.

Byron: 7:42

Oh man, Get me in there, fred, fred, fred, i don't know man, i can't do that. You know, i won't even get on that bull, that electric bull, i'll do that.

Josh: 7:55

I'll try that I won't get on a real wilded creature. Better have an engine or off switch or something. No, i'm not getting on it.

JLove: 8:03

Some of the brain if it's on mine, now I'm going hey, i'm cool, i'm a little too big.

Josh: 8:08

They be like nah, you get to get off right.

Fred: 8:11

I got lucky to ride with guys like that. There's a guy named Tuff Hiedeman who became a national bull riding champion for many years And I got to ride with those guys. But I realized very quickly that Tuff was going to make money doing this and I wouldn't. So I did it for about four years, had a lot of fun doing it, but it is. It's a rough life. Cowboying is a rough life, ok.

Byron: 8:33

So you were cowboying and you was a police officer and then you decided you were going to go to law school.

Fred: 8:41

Yeah, 1984. So I got my master's degree. I got my bachelor's master's and now my law degree. But I got my master's while I was a police officer. So I was going to night school at UTEP in El Paso while I was on patrol And when I got my master's they pulled me off the street and put me in the chief's office And at the time, of course, i thought that was an amazing opportunity. I was put in charge of designing, developing training on these regional commands that they now have in El Paso, and so it was a great opportunity. But after being in there a year, the political hell that you're dealing with mayor and city council and all- that it made me realize I didn't want to make a career in law enforcement, Because if you want to make any money in law enforcement to survive you've got to move up, And when you move up you're not a cop anymore. You're an administrator, and so that's what really was the deciding factor for me to to go back to law school.

Byron: 9:39

Okay, So you to tell us a little bit about your practice.

Fred: 9:44

Well, i started out my first 10 years of practice. I was a litigator, i was a trial attorney And I did employment law. First three years I actually was a cops lawyer. I got drugged back to El Paso for the third time I was living in Austin at the time after law school and got drugged back to El Paso to represent an agency called CLEET. It's called the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas And they provide legal representation for law enforcement detention officers. I had border patrol agents, i had DE agents And I had every everything from middle of no death west.

Byron: 10:19

Defend them.

Fred: 10:20

I would represent the police officers whenever they were three three scenarios whenever they were sued for doing something on the job, whenever they were criminally charged for doing something on the job, or whenever they were disciplined employment wise, they got suspension or terminated. I represent them And I did that for about three years until one day I represented a officer who had gotten off duty and went and beat up his girlfriend while in uniform, got fired, And I represented him because I had to. I had, you know, everybody got representation And I won And I got this guy his job back And I walked out of the arbitration thinking what did I just do? You know, i want to represent cops, but I don't want to represent bad cops.

Byron: 11:03


Fred: 11:04

And this kid was a bad cop, and so I switched from that to doing employment litigation for a while And then I went to insurance defense litigation and did that 10 years.

Byron: 11:15

So you were a lawyer with the conscience A little bit, yeah, a little bit, and that's a that's a tough thing to do in litigation.

Fred: 11:22

I'm not gonna lie, litigation is a very gray area, a lot, and and it does challenge your, your, your character.

Byron: 11:31

Wow, you got a police officer off that beat up his girlfriend in uniform.

Fred: 11:40

Man Yeah, I couldn't believe I won.

Brandon: 11:42

I mean, and that's the thing. What kind of argument do you make for that? I mean, i know right Well.

Fred: 11:51

I mean, arbitration is kind of a weird animal because, unlike going to court, when you go to arbitration both sides pick the arbitrator. So so we agree on an arbitrator, and a lot of times we say that the arbitrators like to split the baby because they want to keep both sides happy. So he got a big suspension, but he got his job back, and so the arbitrator's rationale was he didn't deserve to be fired, he deserved to be punished, and I, i didn't agree.

Byron: 12:22

Okay, so today I met you, though you you practice a different kind of law, so we probably don't have time for my transition story because in 2007, I almost died after practicing law for about 10 years. Tell us, tell us the story.

Fred: 12:41

Well, if you can't. About five years into my 10 year practice I got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis And for those not familiar with that, it's a severe autoimmune disease of your large intestine, your colon, and so for five years they treated it with every medication they could And I was working 80 hour weeks I was just killing myself working And it got worse and worse and worse And at the end of 2006, the doctors said we either remove your colon or you're going to have colon cancer. Ouch, and I was. I was 42 at the time And I'm not ashamed to say now, but then I was such an arrogant, a matter of fact trial lawyer that my only question was how long am I going to be out for work?

Byron: 13:22

Oh, wow. And we're going to take your intestine. How long am I going to be out for work?

Fred: 13:27


Byron: 13:28

I get back two days, three days.

Fred: 13:30

Well, they told me minimum of three months And I told myself, oh, that means I'll be back in six weeks. You know, I had control of my life. I was in charge. I thought, You thought. But I always say, if you want to make God laugh, you got to tell him your plans because, he had a different plan Because the doctor messed up my operation. My intestines ruptured, Ouch. I was in critical condition for 10 days. I medically should not have survived. I was so full of infection and sepsis that I medically shouldn't have made it Five days. So when it ruptured the doctor opened me up, cleaned me out, couldn't find the rupture and sewed me back up And I leaked for five more days, Five more days in. One of the doctors came to my wife at the time and said we either open him back up and he might die, or we don't and he will die. And so they opened me up again Five more days. I was in critical condition. I was in the hospital 37 days.

Byron: 14:25

What city were you in?

Fred: 14:27

I was in El Paso Okay, and the medical in El Paso needs a lot of work, you think. So I was in the hospital 37 days, the first time I was out of work for over eight months. I ended up having to have six surgeries. The last two they shipped me to Cleveland, to the Cleveland Clinic, to put me back together and save my life. But although it was eight months of physical hell that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, it was the best eight months of my life because it made me realize I'd gone to law school for all the wrong reasons. I had gone to law school to make money, and for 10 years I did, and eight months later I'm broke again. I was athletic. Eight months later I'm learning to walk with a walker again, and I realized during that time that everything of this world can be taken from us in a split second And the only thing we have control over is our integrity, and our integrity has to be given away. And so God put that on my heart and really changed my direction, and I didn't even know if I was gonna practice law anymore. But I got introduced to what I do now, and that's the state planning and elder law.

Byron: 15:37

Now let me ask you before that, when you went through all of that, is that when you began to? is that, when you'll walk with God started or not? I mean? what got you through that.

Fred: 15:53

I would say that's when my walk with God got strong. I found Christ when I was in high school, Even though my family wasn't of faith. I had a friend that introduced me and I accepted Christ when I was 17, 18. But I was a Christian of convenience. I say now that I had a personality that you couldn't tap me on the shoulder. You had to kick me off my feet to get my attention, and you did So. Now, god get me through this.

Byron: 16:29

I think that personality was a result of your dad and how he brought you up tough and rugged. I think that had something to do with it?

Fred: 16:38

I think I did. I was taught kind of our age, our generation boys don't cry and suck it up And you're not hurt, get up there and get out there. And yeah, i think that's part of it. I think part of it was I was a good looking young man, I had attention to girls, i have a real outgoing personality, so I was very popular in high school. So all of that put together makes for a very arrogant young man.

Byron: 17:11

Wow, wow, okay. So you say that. I remember when I was teaching Brandon how to ride his bike. It was on Easter Sunday And well, his grandmother had bought him a bike that was much too big for him at his age, so I had to bike in the garage for about a year And after that year my wife said it's time for you to learn how to ride this bike. Go, take him. I don't know what I was doing. I said no, i'm not ready to do that. So she takes him out and whatever, teaching him how to ride his bike. But she comes back in. He was crying, his knee was scraped off, and she said well, no, he's not ready to ride the bike yet. And I said, yes, he is, come on back out here. And I said you'll be all right, his knee bleeding, but guess what?

Fred: 18:10

He learned how to ride that bike that day.

Byron: 18:12

You remember that, Brandon.

Brandon: 18:13

Yeah, I do actually.

Josh: 18:15

I do actually. It's one of the things we need to talk about.

Byron: 18:19

I know right. So I was just when you said, i guess I was that kind of dad too in a way, because I wasn't looking at his knee bleeding And I was like, hey, you can ride this bike.

Josh: 18:30

But I mean, I think you were looking at his knee bleeding and knew that it was serious enough to prevent him from progression right Rather than all right. Well, let's let it heal first and we'll try again. And then now there's a sphere. Oh, i had to stop because of this.

Byron: 18:46

Well, but his mother does what mothers do, right Nurture. She went to put something on it And I think I let her put I don't remember now, but she was oh, my poor baby. And I'm like oh, you're a poor baby, all right, heal it.

Josh: 18:56

Enough of this.

Byron: 18:57

Let's go, let's go, let's go You know that's what we do as fathers, right.

Fred: 19:03

Well, and then God has such a funny sense of humor. He knew that I needed to have two girls. because you don't do that with girls. I've got two beautiful girls And when they have issues you don't just say, suck it up and get up and get in. It's a whole different way.

Byron: 19:19

Oh yeah.

Fred: 19:20

It's very interesting.

Byron: 19:21

I have a daughter as well, so I can relate. When they're growing up, i used to tell my son I was sleeping in on Sundays and I've told the story before. And I tell my son. He comes to the door dad, dad, dad, can I come in? I said no, and he'd knock again. I said get lost. And he'd leave. Five minutes later he'd come back. Dad, dad, dad, can I come in now? And I said no, boy, didn't I tell you to get lost? He said yeah, but you didn't say for how long.

JLove: 19:54

My daughter.

Byron: 19:55

Dad, dad, dad, can I come in? No, get lost. And I get up how much later. And I'm looking for my daughter. She is so hurt that I told her to get lost. She's sitting in her bedroom closet on the floor. And I learned then oops, i can't do this with my daughter. She's a little different And maybe it's girls, but I just learned that I had to treat them the same as they are the same, as different as they are different. And I think, as a parent, we have to learn that even if you have two girls, you've got to treat them the same as they are your daughters, but different as their personalities dictate.

Fred: 20:34

Oh, yeah, most definitely, most definitely.

Byron: 20:36

So you now are an attorney. You lead into that after the sickness and that brought you closer to your belief. Very, very much closer to my belief yes, now were you married to your wife, yet Yes, we married in 89 when I was a police officer.

Fred: 20:54

So I was in a 35-year dysfunctional relationship, 32-year marriage, and it was dysfunctional the whole time. But there's many reasons why. But For I held on to a marriage many, many, many years more. Then maybe I should have because of my faith, because I didn't want to disappoint God, and I think that one of the things that it's getting better. But I think the Christian community You know they divorce is bad and don't divorce and don't divorce to the point where you're in a relationship That's horribly abusive and horribly dysfunctional. So I stayed in a long time because of that. I stayed in at a long time because my daughters right. So, yes, we were married through this whole process and You know, one of the good things I guess you know, because every marriage has its pluses and minuses is my wife was with me through my sickness and One of the things that she did that absolutely saved my life was After my near-death, after the fifth ten days of critical and I was recovering. But I was sick. I mean I was. They're pumping me with high-end I antibiotics. I'm throwing up every day. I'm cut open from top to bottom. It was just as bad as I could get. I had quit, i really had gotten to the point where I was ready to die. I just didn't want to fight anymore. And my daughters were five and two at the time and my wife apparently since that and she snuck my daughters up to the hospital and I I have trouble telling the story because it still chokes me up, but I was laying in bed feeling sorry for myself and I see these two beautiful faces peek around the corner and I see my daughters and all I could think of was You're being selfish, you want to die for you, but you need to live for them. All right, and it completely changed my my battle, i started fighting to get well and and from that moment Forward, and I'm blessed and a lot of dads don't have this blessing, but I was blessed to have that moment and realize that I would never, ever be a dad that wasn't there for my daughters every Step of the way.

Byron: 23:16


Fred: 23:17

So from that moment forward, i never missed a single thing. My daughters did I. I closed my office at two in the afternoon so I could go pick them up from school and take them home. I mean, i dedicated my life for them because they saved my life.

Brandon: 23:30

How old are?

Fred: 23:31

your daughters now. They are now 18 and 21, and and I can't brag enough because my 21 year old is at Alabama never thought I'd be a Nick Saban fan. Roll time but you start writing those checks, you become a fan quick, you have to. So she is finishing her pre-med degree, about to go to medical school. All right and then my 18 year old just graduated from high school and is on her way to the US Air Force Academy.

Byron: 23:58

And she is a top-notch swimmer.

Fred: 24:01

She is a diver. She's a competitive springboard diver right.

Byron: 24:04


Fred: 24:05

She's gonna dive for the Academy, right?

Byron: 24:06

That's when they do all those things platform She's gonna be doing platform diving.

Fred: 24:10

She's doing good. Be doing springboard diving Wow.

Brandon: 24:13

How are your, how are your daughters, handling this Divorce life transition here Um?

Fred: 24:21

It's hard on everybody. I Tried to wait as long as I could, you know, because I actually was doing everything in my power To wait until my youngest daughter graduated before I did, and I just it got so bad I couldn't and so I. It was real hard on my, my youngest daughter being Through it during her senior year high school. My oldest daughter is dealing with it differently. You know she's away from it, so she's off at college. But that and I tend to kind of downplay that I, well, you're lucky you're away from it, well, she's not. You know she's dealing within her own way. So Everybody's having to cope in their own way. I think both of my daughters know That this is best, that dad and mom are both better off Not being together, um, but they still don't want to accept that because they're, they're their parents And so, yeah, it's been, it's been rough.

Brandon: 25:16

Hmm, do you? How do you think that it's perhaps impacted their view of you or their mother?

Fred: 25:25

Um, my, my relationship with them is probably as close as it's ever been. Their mom has issues, and I won't go into the details, but she has issues that I begged her to get help with and she would never get help. I think my daughters are realizing that dad Is a stabilizer, he I'm the stabilizing force in our thing, and when we were together I wasn't like I should because of the dysfunction, and so now, being away from the dysfunction, they know they can lean on me for anything and everything that they need. I'm the, i'm the rock When their mom isn't.

Brandon: 26:02

Hmm, you mentioned a very important element about you as an individual, um, about your faith, and you talked about, uh, let's, let's call it the brick and mortar church, um, and view of divorce and those kinds of things, and you said you wrestled kind of with that And you stayed longer because of your faith belief. Yes, how do you think this has impacted the faith of your daughters? Uh, in their understanding of A divorce and the reasons why one should or should not, um, you know, even for a concept like, well you know, um Forgiveness and grace and in these kinds of things and um, how do you think, how is this negatively or positively impacted their Relationship, their personal, individual issue with the Lord?

Fred: 26:50

They both have a very, very close relationship with with God and and that's one of the things that Their mom and I did, Right is we Got them involved in church and we, we got them Going and and we started that talk and we were both on the same page in that regard. Um, Now the divorce. I think it's a little too early to tell how that's going to impact their view on divorce and everything and their relationships. I really don't know yet, but it has not affected their faith walk. They both know. my youngest daughter is a church camp right now as we speak. They both know who their savior is. They both know that God's in control of everything And they know that just because bad things happen, that doesn't mean there's not a God and that he didn't love us. So their walk is very, very good. My oldest daughter sometimes I wonder, because she's my intellect And sometimes I think intelligence gets in the way of faith because you overthink things, And so I see her questioning things a little bit more, but at the same time she makes comments about classes. There's a lot of university classes dealing with evolution and are very not to this, I would say to the point of anti-God.

Brandon: 28:22

Yeah, they are yeah.

Fred: 28:23

And she talks about that and how wrong that is and how science and faith don't have to be against each other.

Brandon: 28:30

No, they're not yeah.

Josh: 28:31

And Dr Caroline Leif is a great example of that right. She loves to use science to prove.

Fred: 28:38

God. Yeah, i've always said that I believe scientists spend their life trying to figure God out.

Josh: 28:45

Yeah, yeah, So I do have we got a wrap, but I do have a final or a final question, for me at least in regards to kind of what we talked about in the previous episode.

Brandon: 28:57

Just this episode.

Josh: 28:57

Right, we're not we're not Like the shame. was a shame for you with God about the divorce, or did you feel like you felt it beforehand by staying? Or would you say a little bit of both?

Fred: 29:13

I would say exactly a little bit of both. What my turning point was is I read a book by a gentleman named Mark Gaither. He's the son-in-law of Chuck Swindall. He wrote a book called Redemptive Divorce And part of that book he talks about how much emphasis we put on legal divorces in the United States And he says that's about like putting emphasis on a birth certificate You got. You're not born until you get a birth certificate. Well, a legal divorce and a divorce are two separate things. And he points out that you know there are spiritual divorces and physical and emotional and mental. And as I'm reading that section of the book, i thought I've been divorced for 15 years, you know, i just haven't been legally divorced. And that was the turning point to make me realize that my daughters have been living in a relationship that is so dysfunctional that we're not a marriage. They're not seeing what a marriage is. They're seeing what two people who live together, who don't get along, is like, and so that's what made me really pull the trigger and say I've had enough. But yes, i still deal with the shame of staying too long and the shame of not staying long enough. Right, right.

Josh: 30:24

I was curious just because of the. That is a struggle, especially for us as believers.

Byron: 30:29

Okay, we're going to pick this back up in part two with Fred. We're going to talk a little bit more about divorce And because you said something about being dysfunctional in a dysfunctional relationship, and though you were physically married but you had divorced a long time ago, i want to unwrap that a little bit more. Okay, you have been listening to the father factor. Why? Because fathers count Your dads, all your children are equally yours.

JLove: 31:30

You take more than sex to be a dad. Oh yeah, you take more than good to beat the bed. Oh yeah, you take more no-transcript.