February 28

Losing Hope

i know that this song is about lost love, but it felt right. Going through this process of family court makes me wonder just what my kids will think of me when it’s all done. Will they still love me. Will they still be mine in any way that matters. Am I just having the longest, most horrible good-bye ever. This weekend should have been mine, instead I get 8 hours with them, but with restrictions. Its cold, and snow is coming. This limits what I can do with them when we are out. I don’t know how long my teenagers will put up with this schedule. I also don’t know if they will take the easy out and just not want to go, or are they going to make a big giant stink that can’t be ignored. I just don’t know.

Since the events of my last post, I have had a therapy session with my son. It was fairly uneventful. After that I spent the evening with all four of the kids. We went to my mother-in-law’s house and watched a movie. My wife made dinner for us, and I heated it up for us. We didn’t do a lot, but at least we were in a place that was comfortable for most of us.

The following Saturday my kids and my ex-wife had a therapy session together, then the therapist met with me and my wife and my ex-wife. I was told that my oldest will not be left out. I was also told that he had issues after our evening together, and that I shouldn’t have taken them to my mother-in-law’s house. There was a picture that didn’t include my oldest son, and it upset him. I was also told that I should have taken them out for dinner or cooked the meal myself. It was inappropriate to have a meal ready for us.

My case keeps hinging on my oldest son. The easy road would have been to leave my wife before we were married. To leave her kids, and not worry about the outcomes for them. I am left to choose whether to allow him to reintegrate completely, and before my step-son is ready, or lose my kids. I sadly will stand by my principles, and lose my kids. I would rather face them and explain my choices than set a different example.

I was supposed to have a therapy session yesterday with my oldest son. The therapist told me he wasn’t up to meeting with me, so it didn’t happen. This entire process hinges on him. A kid who thrives on power is being left in charge, and people who have his best interests at heart are willing to hurt others in his stead. There are so many things wrong with this. In my next post I will go into some of those issues.

I have nearly lost hope . My kids are nearly lost to me. I have fought so hard to maintain my relationship with them, but in the end, I may be the only person who has a say that cares about their relationship with me. I hope I am wrong, but I fully expect that within the next few months I will have even less contact with them, and I will be lost to them. I hope for a better tomorrow, but I expect the worst.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 23

Daddy’s Gone

This song isn’t really about my situation, but the pain and desire described in the song is the light version of what I feel, and my kids probably feel right now. I certainly hope things get better, but my hopes are pretty small. This song made me cry the first time I heard it, so its one that tugs at my heart. Be prepared, this post is likely going to be long and jump around. My thoughts aren’t clear and there is a lot I want to say. This blog is as much for me to get rid of some of my angst as it is for me to convey the very real issues I observe and experience.

I haven’t written in a while. I was preparing for trial, and then having to deal with the results emotionally. I don’t know that I will ever be able to recover from what has been done. I don’t know that my family will recover. If it does, it will most likely do so without me. It is clear to me at this point that there is no justice in the USA. The freedom and justice that our forefathers fought to protect was lost generations ago. Maybe from the beginning. In a letter to A. Coray on October 31, 1823 Thomas Jefferson wrote:

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life if secured against all liability to account.

I consider Jefferson one of the most astute of the founding fathers. It seems whenever I have disagreed with him, life teaches me that he was correct. I now take all his words to heart as I examine this grand experiment called the United States of America. I am going to break this up as much as I can into sections.

The Trial

Pre-Trial

I approached my ex and asked her if she would stand with me to have the schedule that she had agreed to before. She told me that she wasn’t in a position to go against the GAL’s recommendation. At the time, I thought it was a strange wording, but didn’t think too much about it. I now believe that she asked the GAL to step in, because she had given me a schedule, and that they were working together. Otherwise she would have expressed that she wouldn’t stand with me, not that she couldn’t. I have to remember that she parses words more adeptly than the best attorneys.

My Exhibits

I had presented a number of alternatives to the proposal that would allow me to retain my overnights with the kids, and to spend time with my oldest on a limited basis. He would not have overnights with me. I would spend an evening with him alone and a weekend afternoon with him alone, and I would spend an evening with him and his siblings and a weekend afternoon with him and his siblings. This would be on a two week cycle, so there would be 4 encounters with him and me. Two of which would include his siblings. We also had many pictures with us as a family. This last one should have been compelling, but it was really just one other thing for the GAL to latch onto that excluded my oldest.

Testimony

The GAL

He described a man who abandoned a son. I understand how that is the view of some. I have reasons for my behavior that have been discussed in this blog. I also have had many roadblocks that I simply could not get across, some financial and some put there by my ex, and some self imposed for the sake of the other kids involved. He described my home for the others being a Cinderella story. Not the good part, but that they were treated as the slaves in our home. Made to do unreasonable chores, and sent away without care. This is far from the truth. Again as I have discussed in this blog, they have very few responsibilities at my house, and I felt like I really couldn’t give them many without being accused of being a slave driver. He talked about a few examples of issues at my house. Each one was out of context, and a singular issue not an example of an ongoing issue. He presented his recommendation for parenting time. It gives me a few hours every Tuesday, and every other Thursday. I then have eight hours every other weekend.

The Ex

Her attorney only called her. She kindly made me look like a horrible person. She made a point that I made my daughter go to the daddy/daughter dance with my step-daughter, and got her there when it was half over because I took her to my wife’s grandmothers to get a picture. The truth is that I had told my step-daughter that we couldn’t go to the daddy/daughter dance at her school this year. It was the same night as my daughters. My step-daughter will have three more opportunities to with me. My daughter asked me to bring her. I told her that she didn’t have to do that. She still wanted her to come. I didn’t realize that a good chunk of the high schools where I was planning on having dinner were having a dance that night. After my first few attempts at getting into a restaurant, I took them to a nice bar and grill that I knew they would like the food at. To make things more frustrating, they lost my ticket and took an extra 45 minutes to get us our food. Instead of arriving at the dance less 30 minutes after it started, we arrived 75 minutes after it started. I felt horrible, and then it gets twisted in court to make me look bad on top of it. My lawyer challenged her with a few things, but all in all she didn’t say much. I should have encouraged him to call her as our witness as well, so he could get her more on edge. He was playing by the cross-examination rules, then when I took the stand the other two attorneys asked to have those tossed aside and tried to make my lawyer look silly for thinking they should honor cross examination rules.

Me

I was on the stand for over an hour and a half. First my attorney questioned me. I explained my position on things the best I could. He asked me mostly open ended questions. My ex’s attorney then asked a couple questions. She really didn’t seem to have any focus other than you shouldn’t like this guy, but she seemed a bit befuddled. I suspect she had heard a story that I don’t talk well and expected something very different than I presented. The truth is I don’t talk well when confronted by my ex. She is one of the few people who can set me to stuttering. I am thoughtful when I speak, but that doesn’t mean I am unable to speak off the cuff. My thoughtfulness tends to mean that on many topics I have already put a great deal of thought into what is being talked about. Next the GAL questioned me. Pretty much every decision I made, he twisted into being a poor one. He shouted at me, and badgered me. I did a fair job of answering the questions, even when he didn’t really want me to. At one point he shouted at me “They are just step-kids.” This pissed me off. If I haven’t shared my philosophy about kids here, then I must now. My answer was that I have adopted 3 children, and have had a few more as foster kids. Blood does not tie me to the child, and I did not take it lightly when I had my wife and her two kids move in with me. When they moved in, they were now one of my children, lacking only the legal piece of paper naming it so. I won’t treat them differently (at least intentionally) than I do the other kids. This is why I struggle so much with this. I honestly still don’t believe he is safe to be in the home with his siblings. He hurt them too. It became apparent to me that the GAL was focused on the wedding ceremony we held that wasn’t legal. We were not able to get married because my ex would not allow the bifurcation to happen. We were married a little over a week after the divorce was final. Funny, my wife has the same legal anniversary for both me and her ex. We will celebrate the date we made the commitment.

My Wife

She was rushed through, since the court needed to finish. My lawyer called her and had her talk about her relationship with the kids. My ex’s attorney then cross examined her. Again I was not real sure what her point was. It was an odd mixture of questions. The witnesses were told to wait in the hall, so they couldn’t hear the other witnesses. A partner from my law firm was in the courtroom, and left. She tried to insinuate that my wife’s testimony should be thrown out because she talked to him. She merely introduced herself. The court had no issues with her. It would have been an ethics violation for him to say anything regarding the testimony since he heard the instructions, and he too is an officer of the court. The GAL attacked her on treating the kids poorly and having separate rules for the kids. There are, but they he has them flipped. Her kids are held to more accountability than they are, even though they are quite a bit younger. He also went after her for the wedding ceremony, and so did my ex’s attorney. They were picking at her words. She did get angry and lashed out a bit, but she kept it pretty much under control.

The Judge

The judge ruled in favor of the GAL. She gave an eloquent speech that this was only temporary and that it should be looked at as a reset for me and the kids. My wife and her kids are to have no contact with my kids. My lawyer told me she was leaning that way in chambers. Apparently in another case this worked. I doubt that the other case actually resembled ours. It was probably an absent father, who was then encouraged to be active with all his kids, or some other issue that wasn’t a direct result of his child’s actions. I also got a hint that there was something not being said. I will get to that in a bit. She handed over the decision making to the therapist that has been working with my oldest, and now the other kids. The GAL has less authority than before, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a factor.

The Take Away

There is a small hope the therapist will have a different view of things. The focus is largely on my oldest who is 15. We will see how things go from here. Every time I turn around, I get smacked in the face, so expect no less here. I actually will address this in my next post. I got the distinct feeling through the GAL that the story that is in his head is the one where I ran off with a new young wife and left my family floundering. That I stopped caring for them, and treated them poorly. The timeline does not support this, but his direction of questioning and his atitude seem to indicate that is the story he has bought. Or at least a story of I didn’t let the kids adjust at all. Our separations was 18 months before I ever introduced them to anyone, and that was my wife. I was not incautious in that decision. She wasn’t the first woman I dated. I did not want to cause havoc in their lives. I really do think it is just a matter of time until I lose my right to contact with my kids. The process is just whittling away at what I have. There isn’t much ore that can be taken away. My kids are pre-teens and teens, they aren’t going to be happy with the schedule that is being proposed for long. Pretty soon they will be asking to not have to do it.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 6

Justice for All

Our Lady Of Justice

This song says a lot about our legal system. There isn’t much point looking for justice in this system. It is a system that feeds on itself to ingratiate and enrich those that are in the legal profession. It really is a den of thieves, and if you have never had to participate in courtroom hi jinx, count yourself lucky.

I am going to stop hoping for my case to be near an end. At this point I have to accept that it will continue for the next 7 1/2 years. It won’t end until my children are all grown, and that isn’t going to be until June 2022. I used to think that was a long time. Now I know that it will be here in the blink of an eye. Too bad when I blink, I get sucker punched every time. Court has been a scary place for me. Sadly, I am not afraid anymore. I also have no expectations that I will receive fair treatment. In criminal court, lawyers may play fast and loose with the law, but ultimately they have to find some boundaries within the law. In family court, the law is a flimsy thing, and the room for interpretation is so large that a judge is given the leeway to do whatever pleases them, so long as there is a motion, and a child to rule in their best interest to justify the decision.

First the positive. My divorce was bifurcated on 12/31. Nearly two years in court and 18 months of asking for this, it was finally granted. I am now married to my new wife, who I had a ceremony with a year before to the day of my divorce bifurcation. To add to the irony, we eloped and were married on the same day she was married to her first husband. I hope this one turns out better for both of us. There won’t be any children to complicate things. Right now we spend most of our time dealing with the all the fun my ex creates. I still believe that marriage can work, but I also have the common sense to know that I can’t make it happen by myself. Too bad I didn’t have that sense during my first marriage. I would have ended things before we had kids together.

The GAL had threatened to recommend something less than standard visitation if my ex and I did not agree to something different. She and her lawyer had come up with a parenting plan and threatened that we would go to trial if I did not accept it. It was pretty poorly written. I offered some edits and corrections for holidays and such. No major changes. The plan allowed for me to have the kids for a 5 day stretch every two weeks. I wasn’t happy with it, but the block of time being contiguous allowed for me to have some good time with them. She seemed okay with the deal. If you recall, my oldest son cannot come to my house, because he sexually abused my stepson. So the schedule had to do with my other 3 kids. I struggle pretty much everyday with what my relationship can be with my oldest considering what he did, and the fact that he said he did it because he didn’t want to live with me at all. He is now the crux of the arguments used to judge me as a poor father. My oldest son is back at his mothers. The GAL decided that he needed to chime in on our parenting plan, even though he said he would let us alone if we had agreement. He thinks I should have one evening a week, and 8 hours every other weekend. My wife should have no contact with my kids, and no overnights. This is not a plan that could work in the long term, and for me to have any real time with my kids, they would have to miss their activities. Which if you have been reading this blog for long, you will remember that the GAL has a real issue with my kids missing activities for family things when they involve me.

I was told that the GAL has been having regular conversations with my children, and that this is inline with how the feel about me and my wife. My wife picked up the kids from school the day we heard about this. She had gone to the orthodontist and picked up some wax and rubber bands for my son. She had also gone to the pharmacy to get him some cold sore treatment. My son made a point that he wanted to leave some of the stuff at our house so he didn’t have to take it back and forth. My wife started crying. The kids wanted to know why she was crying. She told them what the GAL was recommending, and that there is a real risk of us losing our time with them. The court won’t like the conversation that we had, but over time their mother has had a chance to expose them to what is going on in court without any reprisal, and at this point we had nothing to lose. I told the kids that if they wanted their voices heard, that they needed to make sure that they were sending whatever they wanted considered to the GAL. I told them to make sure that their voices were heard, and that not me, their mother, or the GAL were filling in the blanks for them. None of them remembered communicating with him anytime recently.

To add to my suspicions that there is something wrong, there was a weird texting incident the other weekend at my house. My two oldest and my ex all share an apple account for their iphones. My daughter was having great fun, because her phone was sending and receiving texts as her brother. She was messing with her brother by sending texts to his friends. He wasn’t getting them either. I suspect that my ex was tinkering with the apple account so she can send texts as the kids while they are at my house. It is a fairly simple thing to do, because apple wants you to be able to use any of their devices to communicate as yourself. I can do the same for my step-kids with the apple tools or with the google tools, since they are using google voice for their phones.

With nothing to lose, I am forcing this to trial. The judge will ahve to rule on the issues. She is going ot have to put herself on record regarding the issues. She is going to have to leave herself open to appeal. She also is going to appoint another party to interview the kids, because everything is hearsay regarding the kids. In my state you cannot cross examine a GAL, so you need a third party to verify what the GAL is saying. Recommending that I essentially get no time with my kids makes it so I must challenge everything he is saying. It is possible that with enough crap exposed I could get my time back to 50/50 or better. There is also a risk I could lose it all. Pray for me and my family.

Ten-Foured,

JeD