Lost Children

The world of child custody,  the fight over a child is something I never imagined I would be part of. Much of the terms used in the divorce process, custody, 50/50, ‘my weekend’, or’my time,’ is used to in relation to a child, yet those are words used to describe a possession. Why does divorce turn a child into a possession a thing to be fought over. won or lost?

I have heard so many stories of mothers (and yes I realize this happens to fathers too, but I am speaking from experience) that have lost custody. Abusers, I have learned often seek revenge on the wife by using the children, often seeking custody out of anger . J.D tried. After he told me to leave, after he told me he didn’t want to be a father or husband, he threatened me.  He told me if I didn’t bring back ‘his’ T.V he would charge me  with kidnapping our son.  He tried to blackmail me, give me $3000 and I will let you ‘keep Jude.’ He told my parents that if they wanted me to take Jude out of the state they first had to give him money. He told me he could take Jude and I would never see him again. I didn’t believe him at first, but after being in the world of divorce and parenthood, I believe him.

I think had he had a lawyer and had he said the right things he could have ‘won’ Jude.  Jude wasn’t and is never a person to  J.D. Jude is a possession to be used to get back at me. Jude was all that I cared about and J.D tried to use that. His weapon, his threats, ‘give me money or a T.V and I won’t take Jude from you’ scared me. Those words he said to me several times over the course of 3 months after I left him. I grew to fear that he would take Jude, fear that I would have to make a choice.

For me it has yet (I won’t say never) come to that. As of now a judge has determined I am the fit parent and has awarded me the right to raise my son. But what about those that have lost the right to parent? Did they deserve that?

The Dirty Topic of Child Support

Child support, such a difficult issue in divorce. I have heard the stories of men (some women) paying high amounts of child support and being unable to pay their bills due to their child support. I have heard of  woman (again some men) that are using child support to get their hair and nails done while their children go without.

Neither stories reflect my  experience.

I was a child of divorce. My father paid $300 a month in child support for my sister and I, despite making $60,000 a year. When my sister or I asked him to buy us something his response was often, “ask your mother she has all my money.” My mother worked two jobs to pay the bills. Often dinner consisted of baked beans and bread for several nights in a row. She would often skip meals to make sure that my sister and I had something to eat.  I remember my father telling me that my mother should give me my half of the child support. I was, as he put it, entitled to that money and should be able to  (at age 7) spend it as I see fit. When I dared to ask my other for my $150, I was given a pretty honest look at what it cost to take care of me. Way more than $150 I learned.

In my current situation I am given child support based on J.D’s income of $70,000 a year.  He pays $750 a month, the minimum for his income. Considering I am raising Jude on my own, 100% of the time, I don’t really see it as fair. Last year he purchased a house for $420,000. I can’t even imagine what those payments are like.  He pays child support only because the state garnishes his wages. He skipped out on paying for 2 months. Since he is in the Navy it wasn’t hard for the state to begin garnishing. I hate that I depend on that money each month. I wish I didn’t need it. I know that there are families in situations that are worse than mine. I have read the stories of fathers (and some mothers) failing to provide any support for their child. I don’t get that, it wasn’t one person making that baby. It shouldn’t be just one person providing all the support.

I want Jude to have experiences that I didn’t have as a child, but those things cost and it is difficult for me to provide him those experiences.

 

All Quiet

It’s been quiet. For once in the last 5 years, it has been calm. When I left J.D. I was so afraid, I feared things getting ugly. In my co-dependency I wanted to help and fix. I tried to fix his cheating, help him with  his screwed up new girlfriend, while we were still married. I was so afraid of having him leave my life and so afraid of being a single mother, of being alone and on my own. I feared my son being raised without his father. I wanted to hang on to the image of a family, a mom and dad for my son.

I spent so much time attempting to fix J.D., talking to him on the phone, listening to him cry and moan about his screwed up childhood and his messed up life. I tried to fix his life while he was trying to destroy mine. Oh the irony!

It is freeing to be in this stage of my life. To know J.D’s choices no longer effect me or my son. His inability to hang on to a job or control his spending, no longer my problem. His inability to keep from soliciting strangers on Craig’s List or exchanging phone numbers with anyone under the age of 24? No longer my problem to deal with. I remember after the first time I found a text from a girl to J.D. “Hey sexy, I miss your sweet ass!!” I sat on the floor at 2 a.m. looking at that text wondering who this girl was. I wondered if I should delete the text, but I knew there would be more. I wondered if I should text back, call her and scream at her, but I knew that wouldn’t change anything. It wasn’t this girl it was J.D. I knew that, I knew in that moment, the problem wasn’t me or the girl, but J.D. What did I do with that text? I woke J.D up and listened to his excuse,  ‘She’s just a girl from a college class. That’s how people talk to each other. You don’t get it because you have issues, but that is how friends joke around.’ I accepted that, took the blame. I buried my head, waited for the the next explosion and slowly destroyed who I was.

 

Just One for Me

Jude is my first and only child. I often thought that I would have one more. J.D, my ex-husband only wanted one child, a boy and he was done. I always knew I would be a mother to a son and I rarely wished I had a daughter. Occasionally I was sucked in by all the adorable girl clothes, but a quick check of price tags and the longing for girl seemed to magically disappear.

This year I will be 42, and Jude will be 6. I know that I won’t have another child, most days I am just fine with that, grateful  to have Jude. Today I saw on Facebook (or Fakebook) that a friend is pregnant with her 3rd child. She has two boys and of course is hoping for a girl. She has the ‘perfect’ life. Her and her husband are teachers and what they can’t afford her wealthy parents purchase. When she graduated high school she got a new BMW, diamond earrings when she graduated college and half the money needed for a new home when she got married. Her parents watch the kids while she works and help out with day care costs for the oldest one that just turned 3. I’ve known Gio for about 8 years. Oddly enough my ex-husband introduced us. They knew each other through mutual friends. Gio was just completing her student teaching when I met her.  She used to bring me little gifts at school because I would help her out with things. I always considered Gio a friend, we weren’t real close, but we ran in the same in circles. She came to my baby shower and made me the neatest diaper cake.  I was and have been somewhat envious of her.

A few years ago we were invited to the same birthday for friends of ours. It was the first time she had seen me since J.D and I had divorced. She was surprised when I told her some of the details of my divorce from J.D. She said that J.D had always been a flirt, but cheating just seemed so out of character for him.  She told me her marriage wasn’t so great, that her husband, Ryan had a gambling addiction. A gambling addict in Vegas! She went on to say that her parents were always having to bail them out because he would spend entire pay checks gambling. She said they now have a system where his money goes into an account that he had no access too.  I felt sorry for her, living with someone that you can’t trust. I asked her if she had plans on leaving. Gio looked at me oddly and said, “Like divorce? No, I wouldn’t.” I was surprised. I can’t imagine living with a gambling addict and not being able to trust him.  She went on to have a 2nd and now a 3rd child with this guy. I wonder the price she pays to stay in that marriage. I know I couldn’t pay the price for my marriage.

Silence

Since I changed my number and asked J.D to use Skype we’ve heard nothing. My son asked to call J.D, we did three times and he never returned any of our calls. I am relieved and somewhat sad. Relieved because I don’t believe J.D cared about Jude, but only about hurting me and somehow getting back at me. Sad because I always hoped J.D would be a good Dad or at least try to be.

Having Jude changed me so much, it changed my thinking and my priorities. I wanted to be a better person for Jude. How is it possible that for J.D it did nothing? He used to say that he joined the Navy because of Jude. Jude didn’t come along until 2 years after J.D joined the Navy so that was a lie. Then he told me he spent so much time at work to be a better Navy Seal so he could make promotions and make money for Jude. Yet Jude never saw anything extra in the way of money. I told J.D, what Jude needs is you. Simply you and your time. In reality it is better that  Jude have as little as possible with Captain Narco.

 

I

Case Closed

I got a new number, one that my ex can use to call our son. I can keep better track of his calls since at least weekly he says he calls and doesn’t. I end up wading through my phone bill, to see if he did or not. I got one number just for my ex to call our son.  I also set up Skype so my son and ex can talk on the computer. They were doing Face-Time, but I am not thrilled with giving my 5 year-old my phone. Honestly, better all around if you ask me. I sent my ex the info. on the the new number and the Skype account. This is what he sent me:
I received your email regarding the contact info and understand the change in number for phone calls. However, our times, days and mode of communication will not change. According to the court mandated agreement, Monday and Wednesday at 7pm and Sunday at 930am, I am to FaceTime with my son. If you or I are not able to make the call, texting will be sufficient, also mandated by the court, since while I am at work I do not have access to email. 
This is no longer your decision to make or mandate policy. The court has already determined and mandated this process. I will not revisit this issue again and do consider it closed. 
A few things:  we have no court order about days, times and ‘mode of communication’. We had discussed phone calls in mediation, but  J.D went bat shit crazy when I tried to get him to agree to regular times. According to him he should be able to call whenever. “I can call and she can get my son.” The mediator got us to agree to some times, but at the conclusion of the conversation, J.D got pissed and hung up. So everything in mediation was considered void. He has since asked to to speak Jude 3 times a week, but at least once a week he doesn’t call. The other day Jude and I were waiting for J.D. call. We sat by the phone from 9-10am. The appointed call time was 9am. Finally I told Jude it looks like J.D isn’t calling. On Monday when Jude talked to J.D he asked him why he had not called on Sunday. J.D said, “Oh I called! I always call. If your mom says I don’t call, I do.”  Skype and a phone number dedicated to his call will make this some easier.
His response borders on crazy.  His words pissed me off. How dare he just tell me what I am going to do. No consideration for what is easier for Jude, he has been an absent parent for 5 years, never once  apologized for what he did, simply blamed me. Now he wants to dictate things that concern Jude, a child that hasn’t seen his father in over a year. He demands and threatens, I can’t have a conversation with him. He hates me more than he loves our son.
 I honestly wish he could get help for his issues, take some parenting classes, accept his part in all of this and sit down with and a third party and talk to me. That would require maturity and honesty, something he lacks.

Awesome Dad

I want to be fair to my ex-husband, I really do, but I am pissed. I am pissed that after 5 years he suddenly wants to be a Dad and yet denies he did nothing wrong. He maintains he was and is a great Dad. He has told me at every opportunity that he is an ‘awesome Dad.’  An awesome Dad that started an affair with a 20 year old when he was 32, when his wife (me) was 6 months pregnant, an awesome Dad who moved his son and wife to San Diego and then dropped a bomb in their lives (Um gee honey, I am having an affair and can you leave with our son?). An awesome Dad that visited his son 4 times in 5 years and has never once  been alone with his son for more than 3 hours or spent any time caring for him. Read him a story? How about a bath? Dinner cooked and fed? Nope he’s done of that!

I want to be happy for my son that maybe there is some chance J.D will get his act together and actually be a Dad, but I just don’t see it. We aren’t on the same page or even in the same book about anything.  My son asked J.D where his Christmas and Birthday presents were. J.D had the nerve to say, “Ask your mom.” My son looked at me and said, “I’m supposed to ask you where my presents are.” I said I had no idea where the presents are. I then said to J.D did you even send presents? He replied with, “Son there are two sides to every story and sadly you are only getting hers.” What does that mean? Did he send Christmas presents or not? He’s never sent anything, but child support for the last 5 years and that had to be garnished from his pay.

I hate this, hate that my ex and I can’t have a conversation. I asked him to attend counseling with me, via Skype for him, so we can see each others sides and maybe learn to communicate. I would love for us to have an open conversation, but he blames me for everything. He has no relationship with our son, my fault! He can’t pay his bills, my fault. His lawn got stolen, my fault.  Is it too much to ask for normal???

Mediation

During my court drama with J.D. I got the idea that maybe I should ask for mediation. I did not think that one through at all. I thought that somehow he and I could work everything out in mediation and present it to the court all pretty like.

Why do I think that?? Talk about fantasy land!

The Mediator, or as I like to came to call her the Idiot started off by giving us the ground rules, no swearing, listen to each other, use I statements and remember the purpose of this is the child. She asked us to give her some background information, name and ages (we got that right), then she wanted to know the background of our custody and visitation. She asked me to start first.

“We divorced in  April 2014 after living apart since September 2010. From 2010 until now (Nov. 2015), J.D has visited our son 4 times. He has spent about 15 hours with him supervised. He does not call regularly and has not wanted to set up any regular call times. He agree to 25 hours a year of supervised visitation during our divorce as he said he was unprepared to be a father and really didn’t think he would have much to do with our son until he was older.”

J.D said, ” That’s all lies.” The Idiot asked what was lies, and J.D. said, “I never said I wanted only 25 hours a year of visitation. I tried to visit she wouldn’t let me.”

The Idiot asked J.D to clarify a few things. “What is your current visitation?”

J.D. “25 hours a year, but I didn’t want that she made me sign the paper.”

Idiot, “You signed under duress?”

J.D., “No, but she wouldn’t give me the divorce unless I agreed to that.”

Idiot, “Okay, how often would you say you visit?”

J.D., “Well, I don’t because she won’t let me.”

Idiot, “Have you tried?”

J.D., “She won’t let me.”

Idiot, “You know really we should talk about phone calls.” That was it? I was expecting her to call B.S on that, but she didn’t.

We spent the next hour working out a phone call plan. J.D. didn’t like any of the proposed times and didn’t believe me when I said Jude went to bed at 7:3o.  Um how would he know??  He insisted that he should be able to call whenever and I should drop what I was doing to get our son on the phone. Once we got phone calls set up I requested therapeutic visitation siting J.D.’s lack of relationship with his son. J.D of course went nuts at that. “That’s BS I don’t need a therapist.” He went on to talk about how I refused to let him see our son and how once he saw our son again they would instantly bond. “I don’t need some therapist telling me how to be a Dad. I’m a great Dad.”

The Idiot asked me if I understood J.D.’s position and could I work to understand how he felt. Actually no, Idiot iI don’t understand. She said I was not listening or trying to emphasize with J.D.

I cited several documents I had researched on reintroducing an absent parent. The Idiot did not like this and tried to tell me I could not just read random things on the internet. I explained the document and offered to send her a link.  She said that we didn’t’ have time for that. The Idiot asked J.D how often he would get to WA to see our son, J.D. said maybe once a year. I said, “Great you come here once a year and I will come there once a year.” He said, “No, I don’t want you in San Diego every.” That gave me a smile.

The last hour was J.D. playing the victim and the Idiot asking me if I could understand where J.D was coming from. I guess J.D felt like I didn’t value his contribution as a father. What?? Contribution except for DNA and child support he hadn’t contributed anything to our son.

We finally agreed on a plan and then J.D says, “Fine now what is her punishment going to be?” What?? J.D actually wanted to know how I was going to be punished for moving. He wanted the court to order me back to Las Vegas so he could establish a relationship with our son and then I could move.  When The Idiot explained to J.D that wasn’t happening he became hostile, started yelling and cursing and The Idiot terminated that call and told the court we had not reached an agreement.

That little 2.5 hours cost me $200. When I asked The Idiot how much she charged she said that it was based on our income. J.D and I would each pay a portion based on our income. Great fine, but what is your hourly I asked, The Idiot said she didn’t have one, but that it was based on our income.  That makes no sense what so ever!!

Mediation was a complete waste of time.

 

 

Family Court

I received a copy of final court order from Family Court. That was a joke. The court minutes and documents did not match what was said in court. When I spoke to my very expensive lawyer, she said, “Huh, well sometimes that happens.” Really? I spent $350 an hour for your time and that is your brilliant answer?

The judge asked me what I felt was appropriate for visitation with J.D. and our son. I said 30 days a year, up to 8 hours on non school days and 3 hours on school days, visiting starting in February, supervised until 6 visits are completed every other month in a one year. Once that is completed both parents will agree to meet with a 3rd party to discuss additional visits.  There was also specifics about phone calls, days and times, etc. None of that made it into the record. Supervised visits, every other month and 3rd party after a year are missing.  Nothing about phone calls was put in. I am completely disgusted by Family Court in Clark County Nevada. The judge would not agree to therapeutic visitation or any sort of reunification for Jude and J.D., saying that J.D living in San Diego made it difficult for him to attend those things.

J.D never filed an opposition, to my move, yet we had 3 court hearing where he was able to tell the judge I was crazy (She’s still in love with me and won’t let me have a relationship with our son), and I was a danger to our child (I fear for his safety he went to the emergency in March for an injury. I got the bill, but I don’t want custody).  The judge did tell J.D that he might want to get a lawyer and put all this in writing. To which my ex said, oh yeah he was getting a lawyer, right away. The first hearing he objected to move the second and third he said he’d never had a problem with my move only with me not letting him see Jude.

I was not awarded attorney’s fees. The judge said, “Well you wanted to move!” Yes I wanted to move so why should J.D. be able to deny the move? Why should a person who has only visited his child 4 times in 5 years for a total of 15 hours be able to stop my move? I asked for 50% of child care costs and the judge denied that. My ex never filed his financial disclosure as was requested. All he did was show up by phone twice to two hearings he knew I was at and in person to the one hearing he knew I wasn’t going to be at. Our Family Court system is a joke. I spent a total of $20,000 to get this move.

3rd Time

During all the court room drama, I learned that J.D is marrying the Dog Sitter. They have a date for December. My first thought was I felt so sorry for that poor girl. Second thought was, this is going to be fun to watch. I truly am amazed he would hazard a 3rd marriage. After the first he vowed never to wed again and yet he married and divorced me.

What is funny to me is that he still denies he is with this girl. In mediation he gave this explanation about how when he is deployed he has a friend pick up his mail every day for him and take care of his dog.  I said, “So for 6 months you leave your dog home alone except for once a day visits?”

J.D said, “Oh he is fine.” I said, “Don’t you have a girlfriend living with you?” He denied her and went on to the mediator his dog sitter got his mail and got the certified letter and that was how he knew I was trying to move.  She (the girlfriend)  signed her name on the certified letter card  yet he still can’t admit he is with her.

After mediation he called me and like an idiot, I  actually talked to him. During that 40 minutes of wasted life the girlfriend started yelling at me in the back ground. “Tell your baby mama you want to see your son! Tell her J.D that you are getting a lawyer and she’ll never see your kid again.” He told her to shut up and she yelled back that if he didn’t have his ass in the restaurant in 5 minutes he could take the ring and shove it up his ass.

When I asked him if that was The Dog Sitter he denied said, it was no one and then said it was some girl from Air Force. Then he went into this elaborate  explanation about how he had friends that cared about him. I asked he what she met my shoving a ring up his ass, and he said he didn’t know what I was talking.  Seriously I don’t know why I bothered to speak with. Once he started threatening me and telling me what I was going to do,  I hung up.

I find this so amusing that he can’t be honest. How do I know he lies? He speaks!