August 10th, 2017
some names have been omitted in this post
this post contains language
"How's it going?" He asked me in the shadows of the hallway. His dark eyes piercingly waiting for a response.
Tears formed at the corners of my eyes..." Not good. It's all shit. I lost. He got almost full custody." I told him.
He made a low guttural sound from somewhere within and went like he wanted to smack the wall with his hand.
"Damn... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He told me sadly.
"Yeah... It's completely unjustified." I told him.
"Isn't there anybody who can do something about him?" He asked.
"Ha... "I replied blithely, "Probably somewhere." What I needed was someone with some clout in the community to step in and do something but I didn't see that happening. All the money in the world wouldn't make him go away. "He's enjoying this too much. He wants to break me." I told him. What I wanted was for him to step up and be the person, father he needed to be and not a psychopath... I didn't see that ever happening. This could go on forever. Or as long as I allowed it. They say when someone keeps pecking at you often the only way to make it stop is to leave and remove yourself from the situation. I had no judgment for the people who are in this and finally throw up their hands and walk off. People can mentally and emotionally only take so much for so long. People who haven't gone through it don't understand the huge daily stress levels parents are living under dealing with all this toxicity. It's not healthy and certainly not long-term. Many people turn to alcohol, suicide attempts, slip into depression.... many people develop long lasting chronic illnesses due to long term stress and their body turns on them. Not everyone who walks off from their kids is a bad parent. Some people just simply can't deal anymore. Were human.
"Yeah....." He told me.
"This is why people kill themselves." I said bitterly.
"Hey! You stop that!" He told me angrily and grabbed my shoulder like he wanted to shake me but didn't.
"I'm not..."I started but he cut me off...
"No... you STOP talking like that!!... You hear me?! Don't even go there." He half yelled at me.
"I'm not going to do anything!" I told him indignantly... "I'm just saying this is WHY people go over the edge... it's happened. I've seen it. This is too much for anyone to go through. And it's all unnecessary. It's evil." I replied. "They take my kid when he's already turned our son against me. And then they have the audacity to blame me and say 'I abandoned him'! They just completely turned everything... twisted it around and didn't even acknowledge most of the stuff I submitted. I'm just sick of this shit!" I snapped angrily.
"I know, I know..." He nodded understandingly, "I just want you to know I'm here for you... any time day or night you can call or text me. I'll be checking on you."
I believe the toughest situations in life test us to our max or beyond. That stupid saying of God will only give you what you can handle? No. Not true... my plate runneth over. And it's that way for many others. The situation I'm in now has me literally backed into a corner. The final decision on child custody came in this past week from Judge Patricia Bennett in Tarrant County Family Court here in Fort Worth. Her decision to give my ex husband more custody with me going from alternating weeks of 50/50 to now two weekends a month and basically alternating Thursday nights and some holidays without her birthday included is completely unjustified. With over three hundred blog posts with ninety percent of them related to my ex husband's toxic behavior either as a husband or dad or both.... plus the journal entries of my daughters that span the course of three years... plus the messages exchanged between my ex and I on Our Family Wizard it's clear to see that a large amount of hard material evidence was submitted. You can't write untruths about people yet so much of what I have written about regarding his character, his behavior and WHO HE IS was completely ignored and dismissed.
The amicus we had on this case; Susan Duesler who was supposedly there to represent the children did not do an adequate job in looking out for THEIR best interests. Upon my mother telling her "I hope you aren't falling for all this" referring to my ex husband's ability to twist and spin the truth and outright lie she responded with "Oh, I've seen some things.." Really? What? I'd really like to know what specifically she has "seen" because it very clearly appeared in court as she flitted back and forth between opposing counsels table and her own and having hushed conversations with them during our entire two day trial without conversing with me that she was biased. It was clear from the very beginning on this case she was biased and my ex husband already had her loyalties. When I met with her the ONE time; when she came to my home to do the home visit she never ONCE asked me about my relationship with my son nor asked about the circumstances leading up to why that failed. She had literally just been to my ex husbands home for their home visit (which for some reason she made two homes visits with, as my daughter told me, unlike with me) and obviously did not feel it necessary to ask me any background questions to what has led us to the current situation we have now. I emailed her a handful of my daughter's journals to which she supposedly told my attorney she "never received". I have the delivered email to show it... it really doesn't matter though because my daughter's journals were never taken into account or taken seriously as they tried to say her writings had been coached. Susan Duesler and Judge Patricia Bennett turned their heads to all the hard evidence I submitted and have taken all the lies of my ex as gospel. He is a liar and a manipulator and lied on the stand that our daughter had read the blogs... the judge took both children into chambers and asked them separately if they had ever read the blog as their father stated both children had. I don't know what my son stated but I have a pretty good assumption that regardless of whether he read them or not he would lie for his father. (My ex husband is a technology wiz and never put parental controls on the children's devices regarding my blog yet I was raked over the coals by the court for writing about my and my children's experiences) His father in the past has coached our son and had "private talks" with him according to my daughter who has zero reason to lie. Our daughter stated to the judge that she had not read the blog... and to which she incredulously told me later "Why would I need to read them??!! I've been living this!!!!" She shrieked. Duly noted. Yes. Unfortunately she has. She is smarter than these adults I'm dealing with. She told the judge she wanted to live with mommy more but this judge failed her and refused to do what she wanted and what was in her best interests.... even though my daughter is old enough to know what she wants. Upon taking her to her fathers home on Friday night she sobbed the entire way and upon hearing the initial news of the judges decision. She knows this is not in her best interests and I worry for her emotional health over there in his toxic environment. Her new step mother married my ex who she knows lies and cheats.... and I do not believe her to be a positive role model for my daughter. The amicus Susan Duesler stated in court that my ex husbands new marriage will fail and there will be many new women rotating through his life and home. Yet they placed my daughter in that situation. I cry outrage and disgust at this Judge Patricia Bennett. My daughter's new step sister is not a good influence either as she shows through very narcissistic-type videos online about herself and flaunting her material things. I have explained to my daughter that a social media platform is fine to have as long as it is doing good.... otherwise it exists simply to fuel ego and image.
It's so unbelievable... the judge is stating that I "abandoned my son" after I sat on the stand and endured all the demeaning bullshit and ugly untrue statements from Susan Duesler and opposing counsel. As we discussed the fact I had deleted my personal Facebook page it wasn't acknowledged that it was because my ex-husband's friends and co-workers were ruthlessly stalking it and I was sick of it. Instead opposing counsel asks me "Ms. Gafford... are you taking medication for your paranoia?" As I retorted "I'm not paranoid!" they successfully spun the situation once again. Susan Duesler stated "Isn't it true that I care more about your son than you do?" Lie, lie, lie. This woman has to be one of the MOST ugly-UNPROFESSIONAL people of the court I've ever met in my life. She is completely willing and happy as her demeanor showed in court as she skimmed off one shitty statement/question after another ***gleefully*** to me and the judge REPEATEDLY asked her to SLOW down (her rollercoaster of terror) because the court reporter was about to have a coronary trying to type so fast that Susan Duesler had an agenda. She had a personal issue with me and was unable to keep it under wraps and conduct herself in a professional and unbiased manner FOR THE CHILDREN. Because of her inability and unwillingness to truly put the best interests of the children first and the toxic mindset of the judge who would NOT acknowledge the fact my ex husband alienated our son from me as I described in detail on the stand the night he came to the house after one of our sons fits and instead spun it to be that I was the problem because "I have rules" like brushing your teeth, taking a shower and doing your homework.... Judge Patricia Bennett did not acknowledge the fact that I DID try to reach out many many times to my son in the attempts of continuing our relationship with activities to do like bowling, going to eat and get ice cream, etc. I did that for a long time with my offers being turned down and then finally my number being blocked on his phone and him no longer willing to answer his dads phone. Instead it was "he's afraid of you" and my ex offering "family dinners" where he would be present. What really gets me about this situation is my ex married a woman July of 2016 that left her daughter back in the UK to come into the US and marry my ex. Nowhere was it stated that she "abandoned" her daughter yet they are taking MY daughter away and placing her in that home with that woman. The dysfunctional irony here does not escape me. I protest Judge Patricia Bennett ruling my daughter being placed in my ex husband's home more.
When I spoke on the stand of how he was an abuser and I wasn't going to sit with my ex at a family dinner as we were no longer a family I was severely scolded by Judge Patricia Bennett as according to her on some level we were still a family, I'm wondering what the point of going through a divorce was if were still a family. I spoke of how my daughter has been witness to our sons fits for years and it's not right for my daughter to believe that abuse is okay. I had stated that during one of his fits and where I had called the police for help I told our son "This is what will happen when you're grown if you hit your wife. She will call the police and have you taken away. You can't go around hitting people." The court was aghast at my doing that and how I was just terrible. (It's like what world have I entered into???!!!) That's called BEING A PARENT. That's called telling your child that their actions have consequences and being a responsible parent. I don't care if he has Asperger's or not... at some point you have to let your child know when he or she enters the grown up world their fits, acting out, abuse, whatever you want to call it will not be tolerated. He threatened a girl at school with the talk of bringing a gun to school and shooting her... yet they ignored that fact and are placing my daughter at her dad's to have more time under the same roof as her brother. I'm not trying to raise an Ethan Couch... enabling our children is detrimental to all of society. The world of the family court room is one where level headed normal thinking goes out the window and EVERYTHNG you say is spun and twisted around and you're made to be the problem. It really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter to them how much you try because you will be made the scapegoat and it will be spun that you didn't try at all. You cannot win.
The multiple videos I had submitted to my attorneys from during our marriage that showed our son's fit and my ex yelling at me to "get back" so I wouldn't get hit were not even acknowledged during court. I don't even know if they were submitted on my behalf because when I asked about them I was told "Don't worry about the videos". During our two day trial we did pretty good on that Thursday but come Friday it was all hell breaking loose with me getting annihilated on the stand. Opposing counsel and Susan Duesler asking purposeful questions where you really cant just answer yes or no because you need to give some background to the why and yet being shut down and told no, you cant explain yourself. Then when it came time for my attorneys to ask the questions they needed to and follow up it was not done as it should or could have been. Yet in that I question if it even matters how hard your attorneys try.... I know this case meant a lot to my attorneys but only so much can be done when it comes to corruption. A lot of information was missed and the journals should have been discussed... like why on the trip to his family reunion in Oklahoma my ex and his new wife were having sex in the same room in the bed beside my daughter's. Like why my daughter got pushed up against the tailpipe of the car and her leg severely burned yet my ex did nothing about it as she cried in pain. Like why our son was allowed to push and grab our daughters arm on several occasions and say ugly things to her about me like "Jennifer's not my mom", "If she dies I'm not going to her funeral", and "She didn't really give birth to me". Instead her father enables this behavior and the alienating remarks are merely an extension of my ex husband's about me. My daughter has stated "Daddy hates you"... yes, we can see that. Through his continued actions and aggressive litigation and filings. Her journals which should have been taken seriously were instead dismissed and stated as having to be coached by me.
And as if it wasn't bad enough to lose 50/50 custody of my daughter when I should already have her more than that and my son too if it wasn't for the alienation and fits they completely take away my child support. I went from $800 a month (which should have been more based on his 12k a month income that he is willing to report) to nothing overnight. Yet I am still expected to pay for the out of pocket medical expenses for both children. My ex has been and continues to take our son to a therapist who charges $140 an hour and does not take insurance (how great for him and shitty for me) and all his prescriptions and my daughters and doctor appointments and who knows what else because I know he will gladly rack up as many expenses as he can just to put me in a pit of debt. I cannot afford all these expenses in addition to my own living expenses when I make less than $15 an hour. Judge Patricia Bennett has put me in a scary and bad financial situation where I see no way out of. I will not be able to afford these expenses and I protest them. The court wants to give him most of the time and along with such a huge disparity in income make me pay. I find this unreasonable and downright financially abusive. I am looking at selling my home. I had purchased a four bedroom home in the hopes that one day my son would have a relationship with me again. I had chosen a neighborhood with pool access and now cannot afford these expenses. Me having to now go backward instead of forward financially along with losing so much time with my daughter does not bode well for me or my child.
I protest these unjust rulings of Judge Patricia Bennett's. She had court recommended a reunification program between my son and I, Which I am willing to do. My ex must pay for the first 12 sessions at which point in time he is encouraged to pay but not ordered. I do not foresee the counseling going well as I know my ex husbands ability to manipulate and coach my son by the alienation. However, I will try. But as the past has proven by it's outcome I am not hopeful for positive change; both parties have to really try and I do not doubt i will be somehow set up to fail in this as well. We will see.
Last.... I hate to say it... but it must be said. All of you new brides and grooms newly married and just on the cusp of your happily ever after. It may not end that way. You don't know yet what can happen. You can be just like I was at one time... innocently going about your merry way in life, getting pregnant, starting a family, caring for your babies... only to be discarded, cheated on and the mask of your spouse removed.... and you will see who you really married. It happens. I would tell anyone who wants to have a child just go to a sperm bank or adopt... because the risk of having a baby with someone and having your babies snatched away is more than any parent should have to endure... man or woman. I would say that you need to be informed about your county and what the state of the family law courts are in. I would say take a day off work and go sit in on some of the cases... it's open to the public and see what your local judges are like. Do some research before you just go vote for whomever. This all matters. Know who you are voting into the courtroom. Take the blinders off and realize that until all parents not just the ones who have been affected by the damage and destruction of sociopaths and corrupt judges begin to take a stand and become outraged by good parents losing their kids we will all fail the children in our community, in our country... in the world. We must get fired up about these issues because each day more children are being placed in the wrong hands and homes... and some of them in severe cases lose their life for it at the hands of abusers who were erroneously seen as fit parents or enabled by a toxic system.
I hope for change. I will fight for change. Our children are counting on us.
God Bless and love,