names have been omitted in this post
this post contains language
We sat in his dark blue king ranch pick up truck parked on the street. Cooling September temps were upon us and I couldn't believe another year was almost over. Time was flying and we had no pause button. We were in a semi residential neighborhood with small homes yet with tiny cafes and eateries nearby sprinkled in. Across the street was my attorney's office, an older brick crimson storied building that had been renovated inside. Seated inside the truck I sat with my hands clasped nervously in my lap in the passenger seat with him beside me... the man I had been recently dating and thought I had the potential for a serious relationship with.... unbeknownst to me at that time that wouldn't come to fruition. He sat beside me with his sandy hair dressed in a casual shirt, the sleeves rolled up and jeans. He draped his arm across the steering wheel like men do and sighed... "Baby, why don't you just let me help you with this... let me give you the money to fight him." He told me, referring to my ex. I was about to go in and meet with my attorney as my ex had just had me served in September in the attempts to gain more custody of our daughter.
"No... I'm not going to let you do that." I told him firmly.
He appeared frustrated. "Why? Why are you not letting me do this? I have the money...." He reassured me... "Look, it's not an issue. I have more than enough for you to fight him and win. However much... ten grand, thirty, fifty, a hundred, whatever you need. Money is no object here."
That last remark he made struck a nerve. I shook my head and smirked with irony "Oh really? I remember my ex telling me the same thing once upon a time."
He took my hands and gently cradled them. "Hun, you know what I mean... let me do this for you... let me give you whatever you need to fix this fucking mess. I want to help you." He told me, seeming so sincere.
I wanted to believe him. I wanted to. But past experiences told me to be cautious and not go there. Past experiences had taught me that as my ex used to say: "Men don't do anything just to be nice. You always owe." I wasn't about to owe any man anything. So I held my ground and told him no. I needed the money but unless I won the lottery I saw no other way than to struggle to pay it myself. The truth was... if the situation was different and I had been married to a kind and wealthy man who happily wrote a check to solve the problem that would have been different. But that wasn't my scenario. I had only recently begun dating this man and although he didn't have to work and was well off and had already begun talking the idea of marriage and rings I knew he was speeding things along much too fast and that in itself was a huge red flag for me no matter how much I liked him (which I did very much) ... and I had every intent to delay any engagement and wedding for at least a year if not two. I wasn't going to be pressured or bamboozled again. Luckily I was further warned by those that knew firsthand he would not be good for me and I immediately cut the relationship short. I knew better than to accept anything from a man... because one day payment would be due. And I wasn't having that.
some names have been omitted in this post
this post contains language
I had worked that evening.... an event I'd assisted with; a man had thrown a surprise birthday party for his wife. Now home and in the kitchen I tossed leftover bagged salad back into the refrigerator. "It was so nice... "I called out to my mother who sat in the nearby den. "She was so surprised," I told her, referring to the wife... "It was really the sweetest thing ever. What a thoughtful thing to do... I wish I had that... " I said wistfully. The television was playing Beachfront Bargains on HGTV low in the background. I had prepared a quick small salad for dinner and fresh from the shower my hair hung in wet waves... wearing a pair of terry shorts and a oversized top I took a sip from my glass of ice water and walked into the den with my plate, joining her on the couch.
"Wow, that's really nice." She commented and I sensed her quiet reflection... likely of how she wished she'd had that as well. I was happy for men and women who had their happily ever after's. It was wonderful seeing other people who were married actually show their love for their partner in thoughtful, meaningful and positive ways. I just think some of us wish there was more of that to go around... sometimes it feels like there is a deficit of it in this world.
"Did you send the judge's signed rendition to the therapist so she can start the reunification therapy for you and your son?" She asked me.
"Yeah..." I replied with a sigh... "My attorney sent it to me by email. I sent over the form for them to withdraw as my attorneys. I can't afford to keep them on retainer. I'm just glad it's behind me now." I muttered.
"You need to stop seeing your attorney for who you want him to be." She told me with a stern look.
Silence. Finally I spoke "Yeah..." I said wearily.
"I'm serious. I don't know what the heck happened but when you were up on the stand that second day and the amicus Susan Duesler started talking ugly to you, saying all those nasty untrue things that's when your attorneys should have stood up and intervened. They should have stopped it. Susan was being abusive in her interrogation. Then when they asked you if you'd be willing to have a photo taken with your ex and his new wife at all events for the kids and you told them no... your attorneys didn't state how you shouldn't have to do that and why. They didn't question your ex on the journals. All of those should have been pointed out when he was on the stand. Basically you had two attorneys and lost. And THEN they have the gall to send you another bill for ANOTHER five grand." She told me.
"I was screwed from the beginning... I have no doubt money exchanged hands somewhere... or promises must have been made. I think the outcome was pre-decided. I'm over people who think I should be more worried about kissing the courts ass than the job they do. The court wanted me to agree to a photo with my ex and his new wife... what the heck for? It's unnecessary. Then the judge admits she can't rule for me to do it anyway. Then she states in the unsigned rendition she won't include that recommendation in the final signed order but then she does anyway. Instead of my attorneys showing the court I've provided a stable and loving home for our daughter since 2012 and why it's not healthy for her to be around her brother and father by USING the journals I provided... instead they ask me if I'm willing to bend and have a photo op done... which as we all know really means bend over!" I sniped.
"That's what I'm saying. If it had been handled correctly it might have had a different outcome.... but I doubt it... " She shook her head with frustrated disgust.
"I agree... I just don't appreciate being told to bend to the point of being abused. I don't need that. Please lose my phone number." I replied then added with a grimace, "I want to know where God is in this mess."
"I don't know... but your attorney, she was hired to do a job and then he joined in to help and you'd think with two of them it'd be a slam dunk. But it wasn't. It was the biggest freaking mess and circus show ever in that courtroom. You were raked over the coals and demeaned for zero reason. They were allowed to attack you on every level... the fact you have ADHD, your job, your blog, your faith, everything they could attack they did." She said.
"I know it's not over. He's GOING to file something else." I said, referring to my ex, "Either because I'll be in contempt on the out of pocket medical expenses I can't afford and or to finish it off and pursue full custody of our daughter. Which might be possible considering how corrupt the court is. That Judge can't even do simple math shown by her ruling... I can't afford the expenses she's ruled for me to pay. This whole thing was a massacre. They don't seem to understand... I don't HAVE to stay in this three ring circus. I can move away and walk off any time." I told her, "People are only willing to put up with so much. But he'd love the satisfaction of being able to then say I 'abandoned' both kids... he uses that as deflection for what he's done."
"He won't stop... he won't ever stop. It will be some new sack of shit in a few months or year. I have no doubt." She pointed out.
"No, he won't. He's already demanding the money I owe this month. I don't have it. I haven't even paid my attorney yet. If I have to go to court again I'll go pro se and I'll have the court date posted to the public on the blog. I need witnesses. Next time I'll have Protective Parents of Texas there to be watchdogs and take notes."
"I'd do all that for sure... but it will all be for naught... right before they put you on the stand the court will kick them out." She replied. "They don't like witnesses to their abuse. That's why they kicked out those couple of people sitting in the courtroom at your trial right before they annihilated you on the stand."
We may want to give up... and admittedly maybe we need a break. But no matter what God is there for us... even if we have those doubts... He sees everything you are going through... and despite that mountain of mess He is for you and will help you through to the other side of light and freedom. Stay strong, lean on Him and keep praying... it's not for naught... He has not abandoned you.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
A Plea For Help Regarding Child Custody: An Open Letter To Tarrant County Family Court Judge Patricia Bennett
this letter has been slightly modified to omit some names
Judge Patricia Bennett:
You recently heard my family law child custody case regarding my children. I have once again reviewed all of the material evidence I submitted to the court for your review and have again found that you did not act in my daughter's best interests. This suit was brought to you by my ex husband and was frivolous. I submitted over two thousand pages of hard evidence to you including posts from my blog www.gracepowerstrength.com in which ninety percent of the posts describe in detail my ex husbands poor parenting choices. I also submitted to you three years worth of journal entries made by my daughter ranging from 2015, 2016 and 2017.
These journals include many FACTS regarding what my daughter has been living in regards to her father. She has journal entries ranging from getting burnt on the tailpipe of his car and enduring a burn and him not giving her the first aid and medical attention she needed, to her older brother physically hurting her and telling her ugly alienating remarks to her (that stem from their father) like "Jennifer's not my mother", "Jennifer didn't give birth to me", "If Jennifer dies I'm not going to her funeral. In addition to the MANY other entries my daughter wrote in her journal was an incident where my ex husband and his new wife from the UK were having sex in the bed beside my daughter's in a hotel room in Oklahoma during a trip to a family reunion of his. These three incidents are merely a small window into the unhealthy and unfit behavior my ex husband is allowing under his care. I PROTEST your ruling. I also submitted Our Family Wizard messages sent between he and I which show complete ignoring of how I have tried many many times to get him to change the birthdate of our daughters to the correct year as this has caused much frustration upon picking up her prescriptions. I have not been given back my daughter's passports when he returns from a trip out of the country as he has been instructed to do and is in contempt. These issues you did not address nor did you address the many many incidents in my daughters journals. It is not legal to write untruths... I have blog posts after blog post detailing my ex husbands behavior. He lied to you in court and on the stand and stated that our daughter had read the blogs. A few days later she tells me she's never read it and that she told you that. She also told me that she told you she wanted to be with her mommy more. I have provided a very loving and stable home for her since our divorce in 2012. Unlike my ex husband I have been her emotional rock and always listened to her and been there for her. He does not listen to her. Whenever she tries to tell him anything that is bothering her, scares her or upsets her he tells her "Tough!" or "You're fine!"
Tell me how this environment is going to be healthy for a girl in her teen years with hormones rising in her and not being around her mother as much in middle school. Tell me this is just not completely wrong. I had hopes that as a woman and as a mother you would have empathy for my little girl and our situation but I do not feel we were properly heard and I do not believe you have made a decision in HER best interests. It was never once brought up in court that her brother does not spend any time at my ex husbands home with the exception of sleeping at night due to escaping to the neighbors home and has been for a few years. He goes to school and then comes home only to immediately go to the neighbors house all evening. My daughter eats alone inside the house while my ex husband and his wife drink and eat on the deck outside. Tell me how this is better for her? I love both of my children more than any other people in the world. You never acknowledged that my ex husband had a hand in alienating our son from me. This has broken my heart and then to have you tell me I "abandoned" my son .... that is just atrocious and hurtful to the core and untrue. I have tried to do the best I could in a very frustrating and challenging situation. I tried many many times to reach out to my son and do invites of dinner, bowling, ice cream, etc but my ex husband kept saying he was "afraid of me" and then our son blocked me on his cell phone. Then slowly as things began worsening our son would no longer take my calls on his dad's phone. I tried... I truly did but my ex husband did everything he could to prevent my attempts and spin the truth. I went and had a parent consult with our son's therapist Gina Galloway who has seen him for a few years now and I recorded the conversation we had. In it she talks of how with our son's black and white thinking due to his Asperger's it might be easy for someone to prey on that; meaning my ex husband could sway him. In that conversation I recorded she talks of how our son told her "my dad lies". But when she was put on the stand no one confronted her on these issues. My attorneys did not follow through as needed. She was paid for by my ex husband to take the stand. Susan Duesler the amicus did not look out for my children's best interests and certainly not my daughters. She never once acknowledged all of my ex husbands poor parenting in the journals. My ex husband married this new woman from the UK who left her daughter there to gain access to the US to marry him and yet you are not stating she "abandoned" her daughter. I am so upset this new woman is the female figure and influence in my daughters life especially at such an impressionable age and yet you have now misguidedly given her even more influence and time. His new wife's daughter has a social media platform in which my son is mentioned by name. This alarms me very much. I was not made aware of this video until just a few short days after court trial. These videos are very narcissistic in nature and my son is very upset in the background by the recording as you can see numerous times my ex husband is asking him if he's okay or telling him he will be okay and his new wife is leaning to her daughter at one point saying something to the effect that she needs to do her video later that my son is "acting funny"... meaning that he may throw a fit. Immediately you can sense her daughters uneasiness and jittery behavior.
I am asking you to please reconsider your decision on custody. I am completely willing and happy to do the reunification program with my son and have already reached out to the two therapists. I am setting up appts to see them. I am hoping this works. But please do not punish my daughter by taking her time away from me. She needs her mommy. This sweet girl has been through more than she ever should have been as well as my son. I am hopeful you will take a second look at her journals and realize how detrimental this change of custody is for her. I am hopeful you will set aside any personal bias you have toward me and look at the actual parenting. She has three girl cousins (my sisters daughters) that she needs that female bond and time with. She has my mother as a warm and loving grandma who lives with me. She has two friends both girls; daughters of close friends of mine that are her exact age that she won't see as much on this new custody schedule. She has a loving home with me where we eat dinner together every night and I help her with her school homework and peer relationships. I make sure she has what she needs when she is with me and maybe through the reunification program I can begin that process of rebuilding with my son. I am hoping he is willing to participate and his father not coach him or prevent a positive outcome. I would ask if you are not willing to reinstate the 50/50 then to please at minimum terminate your ruling that I must continue to pay for the children's out of pocket medical. With zero child support and no education due to being primarily at home during my marriage to care for a special needs son and daughter and since my husband at the time traveled extensively for work I did not work but some and at that part time.... I am now due to your ruling not only losing time with my little girl but having to sell my home as I will not be able to afford it. I am unable to pay for the expenses you have ruled for me to pay. It's simple math... and as it stands now I will barely be able to live month to month. I make $12 an hour. My ex husband makes 12k a month. I do not believe I should be held financially responsible when he was the provider during our marriage and my earning ability will never be optimal. I would ask that you terminate any ruling of me having to pay for out of pocket medical expenses; I protest them. I protest your ruling that my ex husband should have more custody. It is not justified and my ex husband has shown in extensive documented evidence due to his behavior that he is not a good influence on her. I ask you to please reconsider. I ask you based on my daughters best interests.
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, ugly and untrue statements from the amicus and also 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. The amicus 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 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 the amicus 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's of 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. 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 the amicus asking purposeful questions where you really can't just answer yes or no because you need to give some background to the why and yet being shut down and told no, you can't 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.... a lot of information was missed by them 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 bleak financial situation where I question what to do. 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,
names have been omitted in this post
this post contains language
"Girl... what are you eating?" My mother asked me from the other end of the couch.
I was curled up on the opposite end with a slice of chocolate cake adorned in colorful sprinkles. "Chocolate cake." I replied happily.
She raised an eyebrow "I thought you were trying to be good."
"Oh, I am... I had broccoli for dinner." I said and took a bite of cake. She looked at me incredulously so I added, "It's all about balance. I'm on the extended plan on cutting out sugar completely. Baby steps." I explained.
She shook her head with amusement but I knew she had just as much of a sweet tooth as I did. It was in our genetics... chocolate addiction. She turned on the tv and selected the DVR scrolling through the listings to find the latest episode of the Bachelorette.
"I like this season of the Bachelorette. I love Rachel... she's so strong and has a great spirit about her." I smiled as my mother turned on the television "She's by far one of my top favorite Bachelorette's."
My mother agreed "Yeah, I've enjoyed this season more as well. I liked that guy Bryan at first but that home town date was awkward... his mother is very protective." She grimaced.
"Yeah, there's no way I'd sign up for that. I like Peter." I said, "He's attractive, appears to be kind and I like that he's such a deep thinker. He'd probably write you poetry." I smiled and she laughed. "I think it's good he's wanting to take things slow, "I added. "I know she wants a ring and engagement but I like that he's 'on the fence' about that right now and just wants to date awhile. He just wants to be sure." I took a sip of my cranberry juice and smiled "If she doesn't pick him maybe he'd like company on that fence... I can be 'on the fence' a long time... " I grinned and she laughed at that.
"I can't wait to see who she picks." She replied as she fast forwarded through the initial commercials. "I wish we'd hear something on a final decision from the judge on custody." She told me with a concerned glance.
"I know... me too. It's taking longer than expected." I said and then added, "But then again... I submitted what? Over two thousand pages of evidence. Between the blog and Our Family Wizard messages."
"I hope she's reading it all. There are a lot of things that have been issues that weren't covered in court. Like the fact he keeps her passport and won't return it, he won't change her birthdate with the insurance company and the day after court he took your son to see your dad and left him unsupervised after being told she didn't recommend him doing that. He has a history of just doing what he wants in regards to the kids. " She pointed out.
"Yeah... true. She was like 'Well, you two can't co-parent.' I wanted to tell her 'Look, if you'd give me more custody that wouldn't be such an issue'... No, he controls everything... he makes it impossible to co-parent. Instead of focusing on the real key issues in court the amicus was focused on social media. Instead of her looking at his behaviors. If she had done her job correctly and effectively she would have gone through the blog posts and made notes on each of his behaviors and then called him out on them on the stand. But she didn't do that. Instead she's asking if I'm willing to have a family photo taken with him and his new wife at each event from here on out... and go meet his new wife. Talk about not addressing the real core issues of the case. Talk about not adequately representing the children. Dang I could do a better job at that job.... it's ridiculous. They were all indignant that I had deleted my personal Facebook account. 'Spoilage of evidence'... whatever. Focus on what's f-ing important." I replied as I took another bite of cake. "Look at what he does and then ask yourself if you were dealing with this bs how you'd feel. Ask yourself what your child would need. I realize it's a lot to go through but once you do this isn't rocket science."
"Yeah. Well, it was past time to delete your Facebook with all the issues." She replied.
"Yeah.... I really hated losing all my connections. Some people I had re-connected with from grade school. And I hated losing all the posts about the kids. But I just got sick and tired of the harassing and stalking from people who know him." I told her referring to my ex. "Granted, some were blog readers that popped up... that didn't bother me."
"I don't blame you, " She replied "It was getting to be ridiculous. You had blocked dozens of people. In court no one was pointing out his Facebook or his new wife's daughters social media all over Youtube."
"Yeah I know. I'm just ready for all this to be over with." I replied.
"Well... we will see what the judge decides. But he lied on the stand... he said she had been reading the blog," She said referring to my ex and our daughter " ...and then later we come to find out she never has. This better go in her best interests... meaning you get more time. Because time and time again he gets away with his behavior. We can't know if she's reading everything you submitted or not... I hope she truly is." She told me.
I sat there a moment in silence then spoke, "Let me put it this way... "I replied as I carefully plucked another bite of chocolate cake with my fork, "It better be the right decision and I get more time. Because NO ONE can read everything I submitted and believe for a split second it would be in our daughters best interests for him to have her more. It's not possible. If this doesn't go in her best interests I will cry foul, I will raise such hell... I will blog, I will write letters, I will do everything need be to expose the system's corruption." I took a sip of my juice and carefully set my glass back on it's mosaic tile coaster, "That's the thing about living this hell for so long and worrying about the narc's effects on your child... you don't shrink anymore. It's more like...buckle up... it may be a bumpy ride."
When it comes to personality disorders I've said it time and time again.... the family court system should have to take continuing education classes on these types of disorders.... narcissists, sociopaths, all kinds of manipulation and abuse they need to be schooled in all of it and understand it thoroughly so when they see signs of it in a case they will recognize it. The court system may not like those of us writing about the cases... but what they may be failing to recognize is the ROOT of the issue... this person's continued unrepentant purposeful behavior that is not in the child's best interests, that is causing the other parent much grief and stress not to mention the child... who is undoubtedly suffering... granted, they love the toxic parent and want to spend time with them... but at what cost? At the cost of peace of mind, of emotional health and well being? The other parent cannot force them to behave. If I was capable of making my ex behave we'd likely still be married... but I can't keep him from cheating anymore than I can get him to hand over the passport when he's back in the country, give me a detailed itinerary when he travels, stop blocking our daughters phone calls and texts, actually eat dinner with her instead of drinking on the deck and leaving her to eat alone, stop our son from bad-mouthing me to our daughter and actually encouraging a relationship between us, change our daughter's birthdate on the insurance and actually listen to her when she speaks instead of shutting her down... plus a litany of dozens of other behaviors. Man or woman we can't make someone change. They have to want to. And we know that those of a personality disorder cannot be rehabilitated. I read somewhere the only time a woman can change a man is when he's a baby. That is so true.
It's a tale as old as time... the whistleblowers, the talkers, the fighters, the dreamers and doers... the ones who believe it's worth it to speak up even if their voice shakes are often the ones who are ostracized, scolded, told to sit down and shut up. But with those voices change is possible... perhaps the only way change is possible.... either with spoken words or written. Regardless of the receiving of those words they are important... as they represent an outcry-need for change, justice, evolvement, insight, awareness, understanding and more. Shame on those that enable the poor behaviors of those with personality disorders, turn their heads or act like the target is the issue in the situation. In a world where no matter what you do no matter how well-intentioned you are then deemed in the wrong as you react to these toxic behaviors... that should not be happening.
The perpetrator needs to be and must be held accountable for his or her continued abusive, lying, manipulative antics... there must be real hard consequences to their behavior... they have to pay for all the costs leading to court and attorney/ trial fees for both themselves and the other party. They should be fined for perjury in family court and then their time with their child should be less. There need to be more real consequences to send a clear message to these abusers that their behavior will not be tolerated. Until that happens this crazy cycle will merely continue much to the dismay of the other parent and unhealthiness of the child.