I Miss You …

I have put off this post in hopes that I wouldn’t really need to write it. The sad truth is, that hope is based on ideas and principles that just simply will never be at play in my case. I go back and forth from being damn near suicidal to overly optimistic. No one would have ever described me as manic, but the thoughts in my head are just that. I know I am not unique in this. I read stories everyday of men who are walking the line of life and death in their heads. Only they know the darkness that surrounds their thoughts. Its sad, but one of the things that keeps me kicking is that idea that somehow my ex-wife would find a way to get at my life insurance, and metaphorically piss in my grave. The idea of the harm that it might do to my kids is hard to even consider, since I have died to them many times already as the courts and their mother have taken me from them. I have no idea what they really think about the situation. Someday I might hear from them what life was like. I will probably be heart broken regardless of the answer, for they will either share my pain or they will have judged me as unworthy. I spend too much time thinking about the things that they might be thinking, but I never hear. I miss my kids everyday. There is no way for my heart to be full again. I cannot love my step-kids or my wife the way I ought to be able with them so close, but so far away. In a strange way, it seems that it would be better that they have died, because I would not have the constant reminder that they are so close, but yet unreachable. I know this sounds crazy, but it feels true right now.

I am honestly shocked at how few men have turned violent over the loss of their children. I don’t think its good for society that we so readily accept this as normal, and even try to internalize this such that our hearts don’t hurt quite so much. We were built to love by providing and protecting our families. There is fine line where we are treated as dangerous for this, and relegated to provider, but its not really the role of provider, but one where we are enslaved to the mother until such time that the children are released into adulthood. The line between provider and slave is often a thin one, but it is one that every divorced man has felt the difference at some point, even if they have not been relegated to simply a means of financing that which they have no authority. The emotions surrounding this situation is almost impossible to describe to anyone that hasn’t been through it. Its not something we are supposed to experience in the land of the free, but after a couple trips to the county courthouse, you realize that we don’t live in the land of the free, because anytime someone else’s well being can be used to take away your rights and property, you are not free. Most men want the best for their children, and will do the right thing in regards to the children. That is the right thing from their perspective. The court has inserted itself into the family in a way that makes it the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong when it comes to raising your children. Usually this power is used to make decision making simpler or to expedite the process, but sometimes it is used to tear the kids completely out of a family that is perfectly capable of taking care of the kids. The dangers come from one key legal phrase – “The best interests of the children” This phrase is not defined as it is read. There is a legal definition that implies a whole lot of power to the courts once you walk through the doors.

Growing up, my dad and I had a special relationship. One that I cannot imagine would have happened had my parents divorced, because then more than now, fathers were relegated to weekends. We would stay up late and talk and yell and debate. I would stand in the garage with him while he smoked his cigarettes on cold nights. He taught me to drive, and how to do so many things that are required of a boy becoming a man. He taught me how to love without pandering to those you love every whim. He taught me how to put up boundaries in my life, even with the people you love most, and to demand the treatment that you expect. He also taught me that sometimes you let down those walls for no good reason other than you love the person, and you don’t want them to feel unloved. At the core, he taught me how to balance your needs in life with those that depend on you. I rarely thought about the expenses of our life, though he made it clear that there was a budget, and some things weren’t in that budget. If I wanted it in the budget, then I had to contribute to that budget. He was a warm man, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a strong man. He was always capable of exuding warmth even when he was actively disciplining one of us.

It is taking me weeks to finish this post. A part of me keeps hoping that it won’t be necessary, or that it will have a happy ending. It doesn’t I see my son who lives with his mom periodically. He likes to come by, but he has replaced his soccer with a lot of work. I feel that his mother pushed him to do this. It lowers her expenses, and she finds ways to make him pay for things that should be paid for by her. He is slowly developing into a man. Slower than what I would like, but he doesn’t spend enough time with me to develop faster. My oldest daughter doesn’t see me much. She still seems to have a strong connection when we see each other, but she doesn’t go out of her way to ever see me. My youngest seems to be figuring out that she can see me, but she is in middle school and can’t get herself anywhere. Sometimes she uses that to see me, but I try to limit that to times that she can spend more than just taxi time together. I honestly see my oldest son the most. I get a four hour visit with him at Teen Challenge once a month. He is growing into a pretty good man, though I can’t claim too much credit for that. There are other men who deserve that credit.

Nothing hurts more than to want to turn tell your children that you love them every night, and know that they aren’t going to be at your home for many, many nights for you to get to do that. To go from being a part of their daily rituals to an awkward silence when its time for everyone to go to bed. It hurts to know that they have beliefs about me that simply isn’t true, but they aren’t mature enough yet to share those beliefs with me in such a way that I can share my point of view. I find myself at the verge of tears all the time. Its a hell of thing that we do to our families in the United States. I do hope that our children can do better. I hope they learn the lessons their parents and grandparents did not.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Day 683

That’s the day The day that I finally had my kids all spend the night at my house again. It was 12/30/2016. Nearly two years after that damned ruling. Things aren’t all peaches and cream, but this is a big day. My oldest is away at Teen Challenge. I think this is going to be good for him. If its not, I don’t know what is next. I have had some nights with my other son, and my youngest over the last few months. Not many, but some. I had them for 4 nights, but my middle daughter didn’t spend the night here, but at my mother-in-laws the first 3 nights. She is afraid of my dog that bit her. That in itself was a major deal. Time gives me hope now. It may take until they are adults for me to have the full relationships that I should have with my kids. My heart is fuller, and I have had more time, even without overnights in the last couple of months with my kids than I have had in a very long time. The parenting plan still sucks, but my ex-wife is not holding to the plan, and that is a good thing. As a matter of fact, things have been pretty good with her for the last couple of months. I will count that as a blessing. It may not last, or it could get better. Time will tell. I will start blogging more again, now that my personal story isn’t one of constant defeat. I will tell more of my stories, and my ideas, and how I decided the best way to fight was to not fight anymore. As for the graphic, I love “Bleach,” so why not?

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Let The Kids Decide

There are so many things wrong with my current scenario, but it could play out better than I would have hoped. My ex has told me that she will let the kids decide when they want to spend time with me. The GAL has told her he won’t stand in her way on these decisions, but he won’t encourage them or support them. He has given up on me as a father. That’s some shit. He creates rules that don’t let me parent, then judges me for not being a model parent. The big catch is of course that she isn’t telling them that they have this new found super power. She explained to me that she expected my youngest to want to come over often, and that my middle two probably wouldn’t want to come over much or at all to spend the night at least. My oldest has a lot of work to do that makes all of this too complicated to dig into for him, so we will not talk about him right now. I might dig into things with him in a separate post.

The fundamental problem of letting the kids choose at any age where they are still dependent on their parents is that it creates a competitive environment. Even if the parents don’t compete, if the child chooses one parent over the other, then they risk hurting the other parents feelings. It places the child in a position of power that should not belong to them, because they are not ready for it. They don’t understand the law of unintended consequences at all. They are being made responsible for relationships that they aren’t mature enough to be responsible for.

This weekend, a lot of things have happened. I would call most of the weekend progress. My youngest stayed the weekend. I went to take pictures of my oldest daughter before homecoming. My younger son had dinner with me and my wife after the pictures. He and my youngest came to a family dinner with my wife’s family on Sunday. Notice my oldest daughter chose not to come to dinner.

So first to my youngest. Its awful how she ended up spending the night for three nights, but I am forever grateful for her doing what it takes. I would never encourage her behavior, but I am not surprised at all by her behavior. She has been more and more reclusive at her mom’s house. She spends most of her time in her room. She only comes out to eat. She reads like a maniac (which makes me very happy), and watches a ton of TV and movies, which doesn’t bother me because she is an active reader and athlete. Its background while she does life. She has become nastier and nastier with her mom, and when her mom talks to her about it, she is very clear that she wants to be with me. I don’t believe she is saying live here, but that might come if her mom continues down the path she is on. She means that she wants to be with me in my space, where I can be her father and not some strange friend or baby sitter for them. So I got the phone call asking if she could come stay with us, like I would say no. My kids could call me and say “Dad I am coming over” and I would race them to the house if I wasn’t there.

Now for my son. I took him out to dinner after we took homecoming pictures with my daughter. He chose not to go this year. He didn’t have much fun last year, or so he says. I think he protects his older brother’s feelings a lot more than we ever know, and he didn’t have a date either. I have written about how he has spent most of his life protecting his brother and protecting the world from his brother. At dinner he asked why his sister was allowed to come stay with me for the weekend, and he wasn’t. He said “I don’t understand the rules.” My answer since we are still in court, and can’t speak as freely as I would like is “You need to start asking.” I hope he does. I love when he is here. Some of my fondest memories growing up is the late night talks with my dad. We would often argue and debate. It made me think through my ideas, and it brought us closer together. We did it on into adulthood, and I miss it with him. Maybe me and my son won’t have that same relationship, but we haven’t had a chance to develop it. I want to develop what we might have for the rest of my life. He came to the family dinner, and it was great seeing him interact with the adults and the younger kids. There weren’t any kids close to his age. He is such a great kid. He tends to carry the world on his shoulders. I wish he didn’t, but he did grow up with me, and I tend to do that too.

My older daughter chose not to come. She had homework. This was just dinner from around 5:30 until 8:00. I wouldn’t be so bothered, except this is the fourth time she has chosen to not spend time with me, when given a chance. I don’t know if she is protecting her mom from being alone with my oldest son, or if she has some problem with me. I need to find out. It worries me. It makes me sad. I love her personality, and she doesn’t seem angry with me, but the longer this goes on, the more awkward I feel.

I have wondered for a long time if I ever get a relationship with my kids again. With my youngest, I don’t doubt she will be around forever. She is also my only biological child. I don’t know if that makes a difference, but I suspect it does. I have little doubt with my younger son, he says he wants to spend time here with me, and plans on doing so as he can drive on his own. I don’t know with my other daughter. Time will tell with her. I do think there will be something with my oldest, but I don’t know what it will be. He still desires one, but we have a lot to deal with. That will either be the end or the beginning of what is to come. I hope its a beginning.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Being Gollum

I hear stories of men winning after years of losing. I don’t see hope of that happening in court. I don’t have it in me to the horrible things that have to be done in my case to win in court. I was a highly competitive athlete, and rules and fair play matter to me. This isn’t how the law works. Its dirty, its imprecise, and values the ability to manipulate people. I loved the game play in sports. Getting in the head of a stronger opponent is one of the great thrills of life. In court opinions matter, and they affect the end result of cases. Getting in everyone’s head changes the rules. The judge isn’t a referee, but a player on the field with a different set of rules. Its all a grand game, and its bigger than any single case. They like to think of it as real life chess, but it doesn’t have rules like chess.

I used to respect what it took to become a lawyer. I used to think their was some nobility in the profession, but the more I am around attorneys, the more I realize that they for the most part have bought themselves into a club that trades favors with each other. This allows them to be overly expedient with a system that is not intended to be expedient. Family law might be the worst case of this. I have seen in in the juvenile courts, child protective courts, and divorce courts.

If you have read my story, then you know that divorce court has not been friendly to me. Like the Gollum in LOTR, I am not given the benefit of the doubt. I am looked at with disdain, and my actions that they approve of are attributed to motives that are other than noble. Their is no winning. It is simply a matter of how I will lose next. I fear like the Gollum that my pursuit of my ring will land me in the fires of Mount Doom. My ring would be actual freedom to be a father.

The Gollum transitioned as a despicable character to a pitiable character throughout the story. You felt sorry for him, but never trusted him. He was a creature to be feared, even when you needed his help. The Gollum was mistreated out of hand by the more noble characters, and to them it seemed the right thing to do. As I watched the movies and read the books, I always became upset by how the Gollum was treated. He was never given a real chance at redemption by those he traveled with. He was simply a means to an end. He knew how to reach the fire of Mount Doom without being detected.

As a father in family court, I am treated with distrust for wanting to have my kids a significant amount of time. That distrust allows the court without any evidence to prove I am not in the best interest of my children. I am feared because I don’t think like a mother. I am mistreated for not accepting whatever I am given as being a victory. I am given no path of redemption, just further restrictions, and those causing it feel justified, because I am despicable in their minds. I am not to be trusted and must be controlled. My value is mostly in the money I can provide, and I have very little more of that. I may burn before I get the ring again.

The other trait that I was most aware of in the Gollum is his jealousy. He was forever jealous of the other characters, and in particular Frodo. Frodo had what he wanted. It ate away at him. He was on the edge of murder multiple times. His internal or not so internal voice was telling him to kill Frodo and take the ring.

Now my jealousy hasn’t driven me to think of murder, but its constant and real. I see other Dads who have their kids on a regular basis. They don’t miss out on teaching them to drive. They don’t miss out on first dates. They don’t miss out on late night talks. I get none of these things. I spend a lot of time wondering what I am missing today. I just took a road trip, and I missed the conversations we would of had while we drive, if they had been allowed to go with me. The pain is at times unbearable.

The Gollum also believed that everyone would get theirs. They would someday get what they deserve, and he would relish in it. It never happened. In middle earth, there was no karma, and there is none in the real world either. Sometimes good people are bad with no consequences, and bad people continue down their wicked path without even a hint of things coming their way.

I too find myself dreaming of when everyone gets theirs. Perhaps the judge gets judged. The GAL loses his kids and has a GAL frown on him. My ex-wife would be accused of something horrible and have to live with the shame of it, and lose what she loves because of it. I think of the time when child support starts falling off, and she struggles without all my money. She will lose starting in just over a year nearly $4000/month. That is the equivalent of $60,000/year in earned income. I expect her to fail financially, and to do so hard. The problem is, I am looking forward to it.

I may not be able to change other’s looking at me like the Gollum, but I can stop being the Gollum. I have to change my internal dialog. I can’t walk around mad all the time. I have to find some place where the Gollum can be the hero, but I can’t do that while I actually think like the Gollum.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

One Year, And Four Empty Beds

It has been one year and two days since the court decided my home is not fit for my children. I wonder just when it is acceptable to take apart their rooms that they have never slept in, and put them away? At what point do I put truth to the GAL’s words that I have traded in my previous family for a new one? A truth that is created by his actions, not mine own. AT what point do I give up the fight to maintain my sanity?

These questions are ones I really can’t answer. I live my life under the microscope of court officials. Microscopes are neat tools for seeing things very small, but my life with my children is not small. Its big. To see it all, you have to take a step back, and just watch. It can’t be seen in an office with me on the other side of a desk. It can’t be seen in the office of a therapist. It can’t be seen in through the eyes of my ex-wife, who would love nothing more for me to be a bad guy, because that makes her strong for staying with me so long, and a hero for walking away. No one in the courtroom will be looked at as making a bad decision if they give the kids to a loving mom. That man over there could be dangerous. He doesn’t love his children the way their mother does. This is the safe answer.

I spent the first five months since that court order taking my kids out to do activities, but never home. I was not allowed to let them share my life. They merely got a few hours with me, and I am told that this is enough time to be a good parent. I don’t need more than this, and that it is my selfish desire to have it. Bullocks on all of that. I cannot be an effective parent driving around looking for things to keep kids now between 12 and 16 years old entertained. Yes, I selfishly want my kids under my roof. I want to know that they are safe. I want to know that they are protected. I want to hear about their pain and their happiness. There is nothing wrong with this selfish desire. It is not only natural, but it also my right. Every time a case makes it to the Federal courts, the courts come back and say that raising your child is a protected right under the constitution. I know that this isn’t what you see in the family courts, but the family courts are not held accountable to the law.

I was ordered in July to only have supervised visits with my kids. They continued the no contact with their step-family. I have only done two visits. There is nothing interesting I can do with effectively four teenagers and keep them all happy. I can’t do things I love with them, like cooking and watching movies at home. They aren’t allowed in my home. Perhaps I am wrong for not doing more visits. I know the court thinks so. I do go to as many of their events as possible, but it’s hardly a replacement for living with them. I want to live life with my kids, not visit them. Life isn’t about some brief amount of time to catch up with their world. Its cleaning the house together. Its working in the lawn together. Its going to the store together. Its helping with their homework. Its taking the time to talk to them about things in life one on one. These visits don’t give me any one on one time.

My a few months ago was hurt in a soccer game. His mother wasn’t there. I could have gone to jail for taking him to the hospital if things had been worse. The court has decided that it is better for my kids to finish growing up with a single mother, than to share a part of their life with me. I am supposed to prove to the court that I am worthy of being their father. This is an outrage. I am guilty until proven innocent, and I am always subject to being brought back in to prove it again and again and again. There doesn’t have to be any proof that I am harmful in some way, just the mere suggestion that I am.

Early in the fall my ex-wife called me out for not doing the supervised visits. I challenged her on asking for them. Her response to me was that the court agreed with her, and why did I say anything at all to the kids. I responded to her that I am their father rather loudly right outside the soccer fields. Probably not my best moment, but I just about popped.

This past weekend my youngest asked me to work with her on her soccer crosses. I would love nothing more than to do this. To do this, I have to find someone in the potential cold of February that is acceptable to my ex-wife to come watch me play with my daughter. I mostly tried to talk her through how to work on them, and held back tears that I couldn’t just come get her on a nice day and take her to the park to play.

I am not quitting. I don’t know how I would quit. I am trying to find a new tactic. I want to see if we can get out of the fucking court room, and figure some of this shit out without all the extra people. I really don’t understand why she wants all these people involved. She is smart enough to know that they can turn their opinions as quick as they came to their conclusions about me. I don’t understand why anyone wants the court in the middle. It was pretty simple working things out together before we went to court.

I know this post is a bit all over the place. That happens when I don’t write more often. I will have to write more often. There is a lot more I wanted to write, but then my post would have become a book.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Judged Unworthy

I have tried to write this post for a long time. I am dumbfounded at the results. Put simply at the end of June I was restricted to supervised visitation, and that my mom and sister were the approved supervisors. I will talk about the whole experience down below. I have lost every motion in court. Not most, but every motion. I have yet to file a motion on my own behalf beyond the counter-petition for divorce. In a dispute like this, no one is actually wrong all the time, and the other isn’t right all the time. This is at its core a selfish dispute, so neither party is looking out for the other. By definition each party is trying to take some form of advantage of the other for their own benefit.

The Motions: It was fairly straight forward. It said that I should no longer have my out of home visits with my kids without supervision. That I didn’t have appropriate boundaries when talking with my kids. It specifically says I continue to have inappropriate conversations with my children and confuse them. The other motion was for there to be a redistribution of GAL fees, because I have caused the largest share of the expenses, and should be responsible for a greater portion of the fees.

The Trigger: When I told my son, and the other kids that I didn’t believe that he belonged locked up. I created a conflict between what their mother has told them, and what I was telling them. I am assuming they were upset and went to their mom and made a big deal about the fact I don’t tell the same story as her. I thought it was important that the kids know that my son was not as bad as they had been told, and more importantly that he isn’t bad just because he has done bad things. Those things don’t define who he will be, but are a bread crumbs on the trail of where he has been. My step-daughter said this to me before I could get it out of my mouth when I was telling her what I had talked to him about, and she’s eight. I just want him to understand he is always becoming the man that he will be, and that others don’t determine that for him. That he has a chance in this world.

The Hearing: Well there was talking. Very little of it had any content of matter. Opposing counsel insinuated without evidence that I am hurting my kids by parenting them. The therapist stood up and recommended that I have supervised visits in part because I was undermining her relationship with her clients. The sole way I was undermining her was by not allowing her to undermine my relationship with my kids, in particular my oldest son. The GAL made a few grand statements that amounted to know real facts or evidence, but a final opinion that he agreed with the position that I should have supervised visits. The judge talked to my ex-wife and her statements were basic comments of she only wants to protect her children and that she believes they should have a relationship with their father, but … Its always the “but” that gets you. When the judge talked to me, I explained what I had said and why. The GAL interrupted me intimating that I don’t have the moral authority to father my son, and that I owed him an apology for what I did in the past, when he sexually molested my step-son. I told him that I had apologized to him, and had talked at length with him about the whole situation. He spit some nastiness my way that if I said something similar would have landed me a contempt charge.

The Results: The judge ruled that I should have supervised visits. Only my mother and sister were mentioned as supervisors. Neither one talks to me, but goes to church with and socialize with my ex-wife. I haven’t had more than a few counseling sessions with my kids. My ex-wife is trying to end those as well, because we talk about inappropriate things there. This is the word to describe what I do and say. It has been the narrative her attorney started from the beginning. My first attorney told me it was to get under my skin and to ignore it, but he was wrong. It was setting the tone for the future when she planned to take my kids away from me in any meaningful way. The court has heard it so often, that it doesn’t even ask for an explanation about how it is actually inappropriate, but accepts that is who I am. I have each of my three kids for an overnight visit for exactly one night. My oldest not at all, since he has been in state custody for the majority of this time. I get to see him twice a week. At least him being in custody allows for me to see him unhindered.

The Takeaway: This is tough. I have to figure out how to see my kids. I don’t trust my sister and mom. I am afraid that they are going to do whatever it takes to stay in my ex-wife’s good graces, so that they continue to benefit from contact with my kids. My mom recently had two of the kids overnight, and chose not to try and include me. This isn’t the first time she has done this. My sister has my girls on a regular basis, and has never attempted to include me while I am going through this. Not that school is in session, it is very hard to figure out how to do therapy appointments. I am going to have to figure it out soon. Somehow paying the therapist that is trying to remove me from my kids lives is of the utmost importance to the court. My attorney walked out of court and said to me that she didn’t think she was going to take another case in my state. This was the second case she has had that just didn’t make sense how the judge and everyone else behaved. It didn’t follow normal protocol from our neighboring state that she normally practices in. She also confirmed that the appeals courts in my state have a tendency to not set aside trial verdicts but to provide the judge with instructions that allow them to keep the verdict that they gave. GALs can’t be cross examined in my state and he hasn’t thus far been made to issue an actual report. I believe that he doesn’t want to put a report in writing, because the weakness of his case will be exposed when someone reads it and isn’t compelled by his emotional response to everything.

The Chaos: I had asked for someone else to supervise. Opposing counsel said that wasn’t an option. I asked for someone my attorney knew, and my ex-wife knew. My ex-wife called this person and told them that I as a delinquent dad, and that I could have scheduled to have her supervise at any point. I told my attorney this, and her response was that I cannot control her behavior. The thing is, I need an answer and I am getting mixed signals. I think I should be able to use this person after that phone call. I am afraid my attorney has given up right out of the gate.

The Future: The judge decided that we should have a limited custody eval. After she was done lecturing me about my wife, who hasn’t had any contact with anyone but me in the case for months. This is a court services professional that will do an investigation of their own, like the GAL, but has a different legal definition. This person will make their own recommendation to the court. I of course will be paying more of these fees than my ex-wife, because that is how things go for me. I hope that there is a difference in what this person’s opinion of me is.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Things Are Looking Up

This is somewhat of a strange post. Things have been hard the last few months. To some degree my perspective is shifting and I am able to see things from a different angle, but I have also lowered my expectations of the circumstances around me. Lets play a little catch up, before I get into all of that.

In my last post, my oldest son had been arrested at school for battery against his mom. She also handed over a tablet to the police that was filled with child porn and other gross, inappropriate, and illegal material. I was crushed as I prepared to make space for him at my home to find out that everything really wasn’t going to work out. I was at a hearing for him. He wasn’t there, and mom wasn’t there. His attorney didn’t really understand where he was, and no one had communicated to him where my son was living now. He is in a county run group home. He asked me to walk with him after he got a new hearing date. He told me that this case was a clear case of self defense and that the strange relationship between his mother and him is why my son is reluctant to defend himself in court. He also told me that there was nothing interesting on the tablet. If there had been, then he would have been charged, or his previous probation would have been violated. Everything that shattered my hopes was a lie. This changes everything. Not only is reintegration in my home a possibility, but his mother essentially has tried framed him for two crimes. One that never happened and one that she committed against him. I still can’t wrap my head around doing that to my own child. When I was dropping off the other three kids at their mom’s house, my youngest waited until the others were in. She asked me if she wrote a letter to the judge, would I read it to her. I told her I probably would not be allowed to do that. I said if she wanted to write one, then I would give her an envelope with the address and a stamp. I also told her that it probably wouldn’t be read by the judge unless it became evidence, but the GAL, my attorney, and her mom’s attorney would get copies, and it would force it to be talked about. She is still pondering if she wants to write it. She is afraid that no one will do anything, or it will make things worse. She had asked me while we were at the group home, that if all this was about them, then why doesn’t anyone really care what they think. The three kids all told me that they haven’t talked to the GAL in close to 6 months. That means he didn’t even talk to them before he he pushed for the current schedule.

I am not sure what happened when they got to their mom’s. They either confronted her or she interrogated them. Both have happened in the past. The therapist who has caused me so much trouble was involved. She believes that this is dangerous for my son, and that he needs to take responsibility. I firmly believe that it is dangerous for him to learn that he is bad, and has to take responsibility for the actions of other. He is not a scapegoat. I found out that even before I took the kids to see their brother, that she and their mom had met with the kids. They told my kids that because of my behavior and inappropriate conversations with Jon that there were 1 of 3 things that could happen. They might not be able to see me at all; they might have supervised visits with me; or they nothing will change. This conversation should never have happened. They are attempting to alienate me from my kids. My 14 year old told them that he wouldn’t do supervised visits, and that he would figure something else out. They challenged him, and he just repeated himself. My 11 year old said she wasn’t happy with that idea, and that she would be able to speak freely with me with someone writing everything down. I think she said the idea was just stupid. My 13 year old said she thought it was all stupid, but that they didn’t actually think anything would change. My 8 year old step daughter said the other day “He isn’t bad, he’s just done bad things.” I told my son this when we were there, and he almost cried. I repeated, and told him I think he needs to hear it, because he doesn’t believe it about himself, and he agreed. He struggles a lot with that idea. His mother and therapist aren’t helping.

I am working at bringing my son home. He doesn’t belong where he is. When I found out the truth, I called my wife, and before I could say anything, she was thinking of ways to bring him home. The idea scares her a lot. Fortunately my step son’s therapist now works for the county youth detention center, and I think she can work with us for reintegration. She was truly great with him, and I think will be able to navigate the pitfalls that we may be facing.

The therapist for my son has recommended that I have no contact or at least supervised contact with the kids. She has placed her relationship with the kids over mine. The GAL has yet to pipe in on these things. I think it is a great sign that my ex filed a motion to modify parenting time. I think it stands out that the GAL is not supporting this, and they are desperate for a change. If my son stands up for himself, it is likely to change custody for the rest quickly, especially if I am asking for him to return to my home. They are claiming I told the kids their mom made it all up to get my son out of the house. I made no such claim, but I am sure that my kids are smart enough to put together as I did that if all of the lies are actually lies that is the only option. They also don’t seem to know that my information is from my son’s attorney, and not the kids. My new attorney is ready to go after this with way more aggressive tactics than my previous one. I think we are going to file a counter motion to give me primary custody and her the standard schedule, and for me to have sole legal and residential custody of my oldest. Next week, I may have good, great, or horrible news. We shall see.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

There Is No Logic

If this were not happening to me, I truly would believe that this is all an exaggeration. My oldest son was the primary reasoning for my time being limited. His victim lives in my house, and that prevented him participating fully in my household. It was made clear that he would not be left out of anything. Me and my wife pushed ourselves to figure out how to make room for him in our household, because to not do so was clearly going to prevent me from having my other kids in any significant way. We worked with my stepson’s counselor and got to a point where she was comfortable with reintegration starting.

We pushed to go ahead and start the process with my son. We were told that he couldn’t handle it. That he was not ready for reintegration. Yet still my time is limited with my other kids. My oldest son has been taken back into state custody. He physically assaulted his mother, and most probably has violated his probation in other ways. I still have not been granted more time with my other children. The therapist that is making recommendations has expanded the scope of why the kids are not spending as much time with me. In part they are not allowed to spend as much time with me as before, because they aren’t receiving the kind of time they want with me. So they say. Less time with them, means less time of any kind, and it means that the time we have is less comfortable. I am being fed with circular logic that makes no sense. If what you just read looks like I didn’t proofread, then read it again. That is really the type of reasoning I am dealing with.

So I have had a few overnights with my kids, and had been able to bring them to my home for the past few weeks, but still very limited. There has been some email communication back and forth between myself, the therapist, my wife, and my ex-wife. The discussion wasn’t a pleasant one. The therapist, a social worker of 2 years experience, decided that she thinks my wife is delusional and paranoid and is imagining risks to her children and herself. To be clear, my wife thinks reintegration of my son into either household is risky. He has sexually abused 3 of the 5 other kids. He has physically attacked his mother, and viewed sexually inappropriate material on the internet while on probation for a sex crime. It might be arguable about what his risk is, but it is not unreasonable to believe there is a risk.

I have a new attorney. She specializes in high-conflict divorces. She herself has been through a pretty nasty one. She sees a lot of issues with the case and the current situation. She is working towards remedying some of the problems my previous attorney has caused or allowed, and fixing the current situation.

I am dumbfounded at the lack of reasoning that is involved by the people making decisions that affects other people s lives in significant ways. The therapist enjoys telling me that she will not defend her therapeutic interventions, and that the kids are her clients. She needs to explain whatever I ask, I am the parent and legally I am the client. The kids can be her patients, but they are not the clients. They cannot legally be the clients, and this is something that can affect her license to practice. I am sending a formal complaint to the state licensing board. It is quite thick.

I am convinced more than ever that court and its hangers-on are not capable of determining “The Best Interest Of The Children.” The best interests cannot be determined by people who don’t have to live with the decisions that are made. The parents, even ones that can’t agree to which way is forwards are more likely to be able to get there. They have to live with the results.

My hope is that through all of this, that the relationship I have with my kids is not permanently damaged. Its damaged now. As far as everyone is concerned who makes decisions it is more important that the therapist who continually creates a larger and larger integrity gap with me isn’t undermined in the kids eyes. It is fine to undermine the relationship with me though.

It is also clear that not only is alienating a parent overlooked by the court, but encouraged. Every decision I make is questioned, and my ex-wife is never questioned. My children see that what I decide doesn’t matter. They see that time with me isn’t important. They know that my authority is meaningless in their life. The GAL, the therapist, their mother, and the judge have all affirmed this with their words and actions.

This is all bullshit. I ask myself how long do I continue to fight. I can’t make myself quit, but I don’t know how long I can keep going and not lose all that I am.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

The Little One

She is my little one. She isn’t so little anymore. She is bigger than quite a few adult women, but she is just finishing up the fifth grade. Unlike her siblings, she is my biological child. Whether people like to admit it or not, there is a unique connection between us. One that cannot be explained through our experiences. The GAL had made the comment that the younger one would have a hard time with his recommendations. Of course I knew that they all would, but she would have the hardest time. The older ones are at an age where branching out from your parents is natural, so they have just accelerated this in their lives. They are acting more like older teens than they are.

I was on a trip with my wife. We took her kids to see their dad, and we combined her expanding business opportunities and a beach vacation for us. The night before we left the little one called me. She asked to have lunch with me when we return. She said she wanted to talk. I of course was curious, but looked forward to spending a little time with her. She is one of the few people in the world who I feel loved by regardless of our mood or temperament. In this way she reminds me of my great grandmother, a woman that she never had the privilege to meet. As I was driving back home the next day, I get an email from the therapist. She wants to meet us to continue the conversation that my daughter wants to have. This made me suspicious of what was to come out at this lunch.

We had a nice lunch. She didn’t really bring up anything of consequence. She told me what she had been doing over the break. When the therapist showed up, she and my daughter told me that at family therapy earlier that week with my ex-wife that my daughter became very upset. She told the therapist that the current arrangement makes me more like a friend and not like a dad. She wants her dad. There was some hint that she seemed to think that I liked the current arrangement, but I know that I have been clear that this is not the case. I suggested that there should be some overnights starting, and if they cannot do them all together, because my oldest would feel left out, then why not one-on-one with the other three. The therapist thought this was a good idea, and also thought that the girls could come together as well. We will see what is figured out for an actual schedule. Nothing is in writing yet.

I told the therapist that this schedule would not allow me to be much of a parent. She wanted to tell me that I could parent at the mall or wherever we were. She didn’t grasp that all the situations she gave me required that I have the influence that comes from intimacy, and without just spending time together doing nothing but life, there isn’t intimacy. I guess in this bizarro world that I live in, it takes the voice of a child to open the eyes of these self serving adults.

I hope that the rest of the kids take notice that there are ways that they can affect what is going on, and take action. Its sad that I don’t have the power as the parent/adult involved, but the family courts have stripped me of that. They have lots of power, because the courts have decided it should be that way. Its not healthy, but it is what we face as men in the court system. Our power comes through the kids, just as it is taken away in the name of the kids interests. The kids actual interests and “the best interests of the child” have to be expressed in terms such that those who are making the decisions see that they are in opposition to each other. There isn’t any guarantee that it will matter to these people. They like to be innovative and creative. They want to be remembered for the impact that they have. They measure success in the short term, and by things that they have defined. None of these people will follow the outcomes into adulthood for the children. They won’t see that ripping a father out of their life, even a pathetic one is doing far more damage than allowing him to remain and forcing the father and mother to figure things out.

I have commented on the system a lot over the past posts. It is severely broken. There are lots of ideas about fixing the system, but no one is asking if the system should be making these decisions. The system should have a check in system. It should ask some questions to determine if a case belongs there at all. There should be very clear circumstances that don’t allow the parents both be involved equally for any case to be heard. Any allegation of abuse needs to be criminal and substantiated by a conviction or a plea bargain. All other cases need to be handled either by agreement or by standard rules set by elected officials not judges. Child support needs to be removed from the equation. Any required expenditure for the kids should be split, and all other expenditures should simply be handled by agreement. If parents don’t agree, then the parent who wants the expenditure, can pay for it. Courtrooms are a poor place to resolve conflict between parents. Parents have to move forward after court. Courtrooms are generally where a relationship is ended not changed. As the separation of parents gets farther away without a courtroom for one to gain advantage over the other, the new relationship as simply parents living apart will develop into something that is functional and perhaps even healthy.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Conflicts of Interest

A conflict of interest is something that not everyone understands, it is more complicated than simple self motivation. It is more than than someone not being able to represent opposing parties. The basic definition according to Wikipedia is

A conflict of interest (COI) is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests (financial, emotional, or otherwise), one of which could corrupt the motivation of the individual or organization.

In the most innocuous of cases, the parties in a divorce case have multiple COI. The system creates these severely divergent parties. The pain that one or both parties feel as they head down this road is not usually enough to drive someone who is not otherwise so utterly destructive down the roads that divorce drives so many people. Usually both parties have some care for what happens to the other person, especially in long marriages. They care what happens to the things they have acquired that have memories attached to them. Selfishly each wants the things they like, and there is probably some considerable overlap in those things, but again most people can figure out that given a little space. Both parties care for the children. They want the best for their children, and they believe that given a chance they can provide that. Its not that hard of a path without outside influences to understand that taking away the other parent is going to hurt the children. Without a conflict based system, the majority of divorcing couples even in high conflict divorces will find an equilibrium that is functional and fair. Many will argue that the system allows the weaker party a chance to have their say in the process. The reality is that the court system gives more power to an aggressive person over the less aggressive person. I don’t know that there is a way to change the power balance in a relationship to something more equitable in any process. I would chalk up the inequity to the fact these people chose to have children with each other, so they are bound to each other and the balance that they have created until those children are grown. Its not something for anyone else to fix for them, unless there is physical violence involved, and as much as this is the argument for all cases, it is a select few cases that it is actually a factor in.

The lawyers from the beginning have some COI. The largest one is their pocketbook vs helping their client resolve the case in the shortest amount of time possible and with the least conflict. Conflict drives up their rates. They have to spend more time preparing for hearings and trials, and arguing their points. They have to handle discovery issues. In a simple no frills divorce, the parties come together, and the lawyers will have a punch list of things to go over, and they sign off on the division of assets and a plan for continuing to raise the kids. If the lawyers were actually protecting their clients interests, they would do their best to settle conflicts with compromise, and would communicate with each other when the clients are struggling to do so. There would not be posturing and mudslinging. The system clearly demonstrates that it is the lawyers pocketbook that wins in most cases, but because the system is centered on the fact that you might go to court, it is impossible to be prepared for that eventuality without engaging lawyers. They have created a bubble to trap divorcing couples that the lawyers control to their benefit. Its all cloaked in professional ethics to make it all look legit.

The judges have nothing but COI. They don’t want to be overruled, so they engage third parties to make recommendations, and then support those as if they carry the weight of facts. These third parties are often lawyers themselves, or other court hangers on. The family court system is largely funded on having conflict that requires the parties to show up at court and have court costs. The judges are employees of the state, so they benefit from the child support that moves through system with collection fees attached. Family court judges are either on their way up or on their way down. The ones that are on their way up, want rulings that are not overturned, but get the kind of review that shows how clever they are. This allows them to have some basis to seek promotions, especially if they are seeking appointments that involve public elections. They want enough notoriety to have their name known without a cloud of controversy hovering over the decisions. The ones who are on their way down simply want to avoid controversy, so they don’t get dumped to traffic court or some other obligatory system to keep them employed. Avoiding controversy is ruling in ways that uphold the status-quot in the court system. Making ruling that may be constitutionally correct are not to be favored over making rulings that are inline with your peers.

The third-parties that are involved in family court present with the most COI opportunities that I can imagine. Custody managers, mental health professionals, GALs, etc are all people who are given a significant amount of power over people’s personal lives. They quickly become a means for the court to micro-manage how you live. The profit by being involved, so they are never going to go back to the court and state that they are not needed. They are most likely going to make a case for their ongoing involvement in the case. In a family with multiple children there are further COI that can happen. In my case, I have one child who’s circumstances are very different than the others. He is not able to come to my home at this time, because he sexually assaulted my step-son. I have a healthy relationship with the other three kids. The GAL in my case should have almost immediately asked for separate GALs to represent the kids, because they can’t possibly have the same interests in this case. That is a judgement that he chose not to make, and there is very little recourse for me to take. His recommendations came down to what he considered best for the one child and applied to all of the children. The judge appointed this same child’s therapist/social worker to be the custody manager for the kids, and the exact same conflict of interest exists there. Her concern for my oldest child and preventing him from offending again at least while he is a minor overrules the interests of the other children. When looked at as a singular entity rather than individuals, the greater good is served by serving the needs of the only the most needy individual. Since she doesn’t have the legal status of custody manager, just the role, she isn’t held to the standards of custody managers. Those standards state that she couldn’t sit in this role because of a prior significant treatment relationship with one of the parties involved. When the judge is being creative, these types of things don’t really matter.

The children are often left in the worst position with their COI. I don’t usually say that children suffer the most, because there is a lot of suffering to go around in divorce. In this case they are stuck between loyalties to each parent, to the family unit, to their siblings, and their own self interests. The emotionally needy or demanding parent will get the child’s loyalty out of guilt. Meeting this need is quite probably the worst decision the child can make. It enslaves them to that parent and ties their own emotional well being to that parent’s well being. The desire for a whole family unit is a big driver for the kids, and it can often lead to destructive behavior with a parent who is moving beyond the marriage into their own life, perhaps with a new partner. I think these two combined with some emotional manipulation by my ex-wife led to my oldest son doing what he did. The kids don’t want to hurt their siblings, so they try to figure out what each other are thinking and make decisions and opinions in line with what their siblings will approve of. They tie each other together, even when their own self interests would be served with a different or individual decisions. Their own self interests are the thing that so many kids will look past. They will ignore them to the perceived good of others. When one child doesn’t ignore them, it is often in the worst possible ways. They get what they want with bad behavior. The siblings will often try to make it all okay, but over the long term, they learn that bad behavior leads to results. The children in families where one kid has had significant issues in divorce often have all the children develop issues to gain the same advantage. I see some of this with my kids already. In the end they are likely to resent each other over time. This makes me sad.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

P.S. I leave you with this, because it showed up when I was looking things up and I liked it.