custody

Why We Are Going Back to Court Sooner Than Expected

It has just dawned on me that as of yesterday, it’s been six months since my ex was granted what was supposed to be temporary custody, and he took our kids and moved out. Six months of seeing them only every other weekend, and six months of nightly phone calls.

It hurts even typing that out.

When the order was originally put in place, my then-lawyer assured me that this was only until we got my hospital records, and then everything would go back to how it was. 3 weeks of back and forth with the hospital to get my records, only to be told they didn’t use the specific wording he thought we needed to be done with this in one go. Nothing wrong with what was said, but he wanted specific phrases before he would even try to get this in front of a judge. Fuck me.

“Go get a psych evaluation done” he tells me, so off I go to be questioned and analyzed. The result? Same thing we knew all along- I was under extreme stress from my divorce, and made an impulsive decision that the psychiatrist does not feel I will repeat.

Great! Let’s take this back to court!

“Too close” he tells me, “Wait until the divorce hearing in a couple of weeks. This will all be over then.”

Frustration, anger, confusion. I just want my kids back home.

Then the day before court, he takes himself off my case. A solid year of telling me ‘do not go back to work’, a year of me pushing him to get the Status Quo order enforced (and him not doing it), and he drops me because I can’t pay him. There is some kind of serious irony there I think.

The day he is notified I have no lawyer, the ex files to have me kicked out of our house, and a hearing date is set for that. Job-hunting proves unsuccessful, and it very quickly becomes obvious a new lawyer is out of the question and I am going to have to defend myself.

Which I did, successfully.

Months of emails from the ex telling me that I was a shitty mother, calling me an unfit parent, and threatening to not let me see the kids for whatever reason he felt like that day had taken their toll on my confidence, but it was that small victory that made me realize that I wasn’t as helpless as I felt in all this.

A couple of weeks ago, with the help and support of Paul, I went to the courthouse and filed two motions with the court. One asking the temporary custody order be dissolved, the other asking the ex be held in contempt for his refusal to follow the Status Quo order that had been put in place a year before.

A solid year I have been locked out of the bank accounts, had no access to the credit cards, and since he moved out of the house, have been given only money for gas, $20 a week in personal spending, and $30 a week for groceries, which has to cover all meals, cleaning supplies and personal items like razors and tampons. Let’s not forget the extra meals for 3 kids and a supervisor 2 days every other week as well, which also has to come out of my $30 a week. No extra money for that.

For all my previous lawyer’s hemming and hawing and talking about how he was ‘trying to get a court date’ for months, within two weeks I heard back from the court with a date.

On October 2nd we go back to court, specifically for the purpose of dealing with these two issues. With any luck at all, my kids will be back with me when it’s over.

The last bit of advice my previous lawyer gave me when I left his office was not to do this on my own, under any circumstances. The person who represents himself has a fool for a client.

Maybe I’m wrong, but all things considered I have a lot more faith in my therapist, who says I’ve come a long way in learning to take control and stand up for myself.

This clearly isn’t going to change unless I take action, and if looking foolish is the worst that can happen I’ll gladly take that risk to have my kids back with me where they belong.

Aftermath

I’m sorry for keeping everyone waiting on the continuation of my story, and thank you to everyone who has reached out in support in a time I’ve needed it so badly. You guys mean more to me than I can ever tell you.

For the 98% of you that don’t know what’s going on, I suppose it’s time to fill in the gaping void that has been my blog for the last month.

I know I promised I would tell what happened that night, and with a little more patience that will come. I think there’s a part of me that needs to talk about it. Just not yet. Right now there’s a much bigger part of this situation going on, and it has changed everything.

After attempting to overdose myself on the Saturday in March, I was in the hospital for 3 1/2 days. (They actually would have released me after 48 hours, but I was on a medication that had to be taken every 4 hours to prevent damage to my liver from the Tylenol in the Nyquil.)  During that time, I was in ICU for about a day. When they got ready to transfer me upstairs to the psych ward, we realized I didn’t have any clothes there with me. The nurse called the ex to ask him to bring some up. He brought up a bag for me, and while neither of us wanted to talk, I immediately asked him how the kids were. He tells me that they are with his parents right now, and he is taking the day off tomorrow (Monday), but that after that he’d see about other arrangements.

Color me stupid for not seeing this coming, but I honestly had no idea what he meant. The nurses had said I’d likely be home in a day or two. When I asked, his responce struck me dumb- “Sara, you just tried to kill yourself, you are dangerous and you can’t be trusted around our children.” I don’t know if it was the shock of his words, or the disgustingly smug look on his face when he said it, but I looked him right in the eyes and told him get the fuck out of here, NOW. I didn’t want to see him back up there, that he could not be walking in there and threatening me when I hadn’t even left ICU yet.

His responce?

“Fine. Find your own way home, I’m not picking you up.”

I should have known then.

I got home on Tuesday, and being before lunch, the house was empty- kids at school, the ex at work. He’d left a note on the counter telling me if I got home early enough and wanted to pick up the kids, I should call his parents so they’d know not to make the drive over. I took a shower, trying to relax and get re-orientated after the trauma of the weekend and hospital stay.  When I got out, I checked my email, to find several frantic messages from my lawyer.

There was to be a hearing with a judge and the two lawyers the very next morning. While I was in the hospital, the ex had seized the opportunity and filed for an emergency hearing to get custody of the kids.

The next day, the judge granted his request. the ex was given temporary custody of the kids, and I was given supervised visitation every other weekend. 2 days later he took the kids and moved into his parents house.

Let me say at this point, with nothing else to go on, I understand why that happened. The court has to protect the kids above all else, and with nothing else to go on but the fact that I’d tried to commit suicide, they had to look out for the kids best interest. I get that, and I don’t hold that against the court.

From what I understand, the judge said that if we could get a hold of my hospital records and they showed that I was considered stable and not a danger to myself or anyone else, the temporary order would be resolved. I thought no problem, just get the records, right?

Apparently with all the lawsuits and HIPAA and everything else, getting hold of medical records takes nothing short of an act of god these days. First I had to sign a form and have my lawyer sign it. Then we had to wait for the chart to be put together (ER records, psych records, discharge, blah blah blah), then the doctor on the case had to provide his signature allowing the records to be released. I am not exaggerating when I say that I either called or was in the medical records office every. single. day. for over 2 weeks. Finally we get to the point the doctor signs off, but informs them we need the other doctor’s signature as well. I couldn’t wait another 2 weeks, so I called him myself, and explained the urgency of the situation. Bless the man, he had it done the next day, and on that day I picked up my records. My lawyer has been after the judge to get an office conference scheduled for the matter of my records and he expects to hear back about that this week.

While all this was happening, the ex continued trying his best to make my life miserable. Smug does not even describe the what I have had to deal with where he is concerned. I have never seen someone take so much pleasure in someone else’s suffering. Even after moving out, he continued with his constant demands and cruelty. One day when bringing the kids over for a visit, he says that since the kids aren’t here, I should give the house a thorough cleaning. I just smiled, not wanting to get into it with him. He mentions it again, and I don’t really say anything. He then goes on to tell me that the kids are only there out of the kindness of his heart, and since HE is the custodial parent, he doesn’t have to give me any time with the kids outside of what the court order states. He has since made a point of raising hell over the state of the house, namely that after one visit with the kids I’d missed a chip they dropped on the floor, and another time I’d missed some crumbs under the barstools. (I finally got nasty with him today after this sort of email exchange and told him when he comes and vacuums the clumps of dog hair that he left *covering* his bedroom floor, or the pubic hairs he shaved and left all over the bathroom floor, THEN he can bitch about my housekeeping, until then, fuck off and leave me alone.)

In the meantime I’m killing time, waiting on the court stuff to get straightened out. I have a therapist now that I’m seeing, she’s pretty awesome, and has great taste in shoes. I got a couple of hamsters for the kids for Easter, but truthfully they are more to keep me company. One is a sweetheart, the other is a nippy little fucker, but we are working on getting to know each other.  I suspect we’ll come to an understanding in time

And the question everyone seems to be wondering about? Yes, Paul and I are back together.

He and I are working on things, not without a few ups and downs. There are wounds, and there are trust issues, and none of that is going to be ‘fixed’ overnight. We are taking it one day at a time, but we both want to make this work, and are committed to doing what it takes to make that happen. He has been a huge support to me during all this, and has probably taken more shit from me than anyone deserves lately. Ok, sometime’s he’s deserved it, but even when he doesn’t he understands what I’m dealing with and puts up with me anyways. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Special mentions should also go out to my friends Amanda, Christy, and Diane who have listened to me bitch, whine and cry, and somehow still love me anyways.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning something I *totally* did not expect coming out of all this…I’ve actually been spending more time with my family. Not my mother or my crackhead aunt, but the more normal ones.  Without getting too much into it all, there is a LOT of dysfunction on that side of the family tree, and unfortunately to stay away from the bad apples, I’ve had to kind of seperate myself from all of them. I didn’t want to be sucked into the drama, and so it was easier to just stay away.

The fact of it is my grandfather’s health is not what it used to be, he’s had a number of surgeries in the last year, and I’m starting to realize we aren’t going to have all the time in the world, and that’s also led to me wanting to repair things with my dad. I don’t know, it’s weird, but sorta good.

I could probably say a lot more right now, but it’s nearly 3am and the random case of insomnia that’s popped up tonight seems to be leaving. Will try to make the updates more frequent from here on out.