January 8

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

September 13

Riding The Wave (Sometimes The Wave Rides Me)

In this process there has been very little to cheer for. I had hoped for many things. People told me to be prepared to not get all of what you want. That never prepared me for not getting any of of what I want. What did I want, you might be thinking. Well that is pretty simple. I wanted access to my retirement money without the 10% penalty for early withdraw, so that I can pay off the mounting debt created by this process. This is money after I pay her what is her legal due. I wanted her portion of the debt paid to me, so I can pay off the retirement loan that takes $800 a month from my paycheck that I so dearly need. I wanted to have significant time with my kids, and be allowed to directly provide for them like a normal father. I have not received any of this. I still don’t have a final settlement, or a permanent parenting plan. I have no overnights with my kids, and am allowed less freedom with them than people who are strangers to me.

Let’s start with the easy stuff. The settlement isn’t done. Her attorney has no motivation to settle, and seems to want to go to trial. I am not sure what she gains from doing this. There just isn’t that much money involved, and the majority of it by any legal standard does not belong to my ex-wife. I really just want it done. It would be nice to get more cash out without the 10% tax penalty, but at this point, I just need it done, so I can move forward. I would like to start adding to my retirement again. Someday, I might get to retire. We long ago divided physical assets, and have no real property to speak of. Neither of us have vehicles that were owned when we were together. There just isn’t much to debate. She wants to regain a bunch of money that she thinks I owe her, and I won’t argue with it within reason, so long as we get a settlement.

I am going to have to accept the parenting plan as it is. She will have the right to demand supervised visits whenever she likes, and can tell me no to seeing them on her whim. She has expressed that she will let the kids determine what they want. This idea makes me so angry. It goes against all legal precedence, and against the idea that they are children and not capable of making decisions that belong to the adults. What makes me even angrier is that she has nothing that compels her to abide by these statements. The parenting plan will give me little or no rights. I can’t even be the emergency contact for my kids at school.

Those are the two things that I need to move on, and get out of court. I am afraid that we are going to trial. My attorney has informed me that so long as I am delinquent in my bill to her, she can’t afford to go to trial. I completely understand this, and am somewhat prepared to represent myself for these issues. It doesn’t really matter what the result is. In the spring, I will get my $800 a month back. In another year and a couple of months I will get child support back for my first child, and then the rest over the next 5 years. It will be a net gain of around $35K a year net. I just have to survive until that point. Right now the prospects aren’t so great. I have mounting debt including tax debt, and no further money or means to increase my income. Finding ways to increase my income is something that I currently am working on. Winning promotions and freelance work are my best bets.

So far I have been ridden hard by the wave. I have fought it and been knocked down every time. I have to learn to ride the wave. It doesn’t matter what I think the wave should do, it only matters what it does do. I have started to do this a little with my kids. Its hard. It hurts, but the further we are from court, the more opportunities I get to spend time with my kids. I can’t figure out what motivators she has for when she decides to say yes, but I keep asking, and have to refuse to get angry over her saying no. Riding the wave means accepting whatever I am allowed to be as what fatherhood is for me. It means not plotting what I can do next to get an advantage, so I can petition for what I should have a right to. It means biting my toungue a lot, and praising things that she should be doing as if they were unexpected, and incredibly generous.

Its time I really figured out my budget. I can’t live the way I am. I will die of a stroke if I get too many more knocks on the door from utility bullies threatening to turn off the power or water. I have no patience for them. Its the first time in my life that I have ever felt what it must be like to be poor. I am not poor, but I have to live in a community to be close to my kids that is fairly affluent. That is something, I might have to rethink in the coming year, if I can’t get things straight. Right now I benefit from having a landlord who either doesn’t pay attention or doesn’t care much whether I pay rent. I count it as a blessing that may not last.

I guess the point that I am reaching is that I must give up relying on my beliefs of right and wrong, and just go with the flow. Not that I should stop fighting for what is right, but in my life with my kids, I can’t win that fight. I have to take the fight on for future generations. I don’t know where to start, yet. I think I will solicit the stories of others, and compile them into a book. Something I can use to demonstrate the problems, and something I can use to raise the money needed to get the attention of the people who can change the status quo. It makes me sad, but fighting to fight just isn’t going to make things better.

There is hope for me though, and I will write about that. It doesn’t come in court. It is a hope rooted in who my kids are. Sometimes I don’t trust who they are. I have been cut out the last couple of years, but they still have a lot of me in their past, and I need to trust in that. It may be different for each kid, but I don’t believe that they are all lost. I do have to accept that some of them could be lost. That hurts, but it is a reality that I may have to face. A reality that means that even as adults I may have lost them.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

March 25

Bitch!

This is not a nice post, I am pissed, and I don’t give a crap how people take it. The past few weeks have been shitty. Its been her fault, and I don’t give a fuck about being nice right now. She is determined to fuck every part of my life, because she is a soulless bitch who cannot attract anything to her for a real relationship that is worth having around.

Now that I am completely shit when it comes to everyone involved in the court system here, she wants to just agree to keep things the way they are. That is supervised visits and a no contact order between my step-kids and wife, and my kids. The plus side is that it gets things out of court. It leaves the possibility that she could allow things to change by agreement, but then again she could choose not to, and there is really nothing I can do about it either way. She could let me have more access to them, then she could take it away because she got pissed off. It really leaves me as not much of a father at all. My attorney and me agree that there isn’t any changing the court’s opinion of me, and this would make it possible that if I have to go back to court, I may not have the same judge anymore ,and the GAL would no longer be assigned to the case. If a new GAL were assigned, then it is likely we could get a completely different one, and with a new judge we could argue for that. I won’t say that I have hope anymore, but giving in to this isn’t quitting.

What makes me so angry about this is she isn’t thinking of the kids in any way shape or form. This is all about her having power over me. Its about her not having to parent with me. She will talk a good co-parenting game, but its not really what she wants to do. She wants to do whatever the hell she wants to do. It doesn’t have to do with the kids. At one point I called her a good mother in most ways, but now I call her a pretender. She puts the kids through hell, just like me, to get her way. She is not a good mother. She is a monster masquerading as a super-mom. Its bullshit that the courts and their entourage see her as a star, and me as a looser. Her interference is seen as being an engaged mom, and I am somehow an abuser. The system may allow it, but it doesn’t change the fact she is a monster. It might seem harsh to call her a monster, but the mere fact that she is pushing me out of the kids’ lives makes her a monster. The fact that she used tragedy in my home, and issues with my oldest to win advantage in court and trash me makes her a monster. I had nearly 300 pages of documentation of her bad behavior with the kids, particularly my oldest, and I chose not to use it, because the kids need their mom. I don’t regret it, but I was foolish to think that there was a possibility of her working with me to parent in even a most rudimentary way.

I have been reduced to that of the financier of my children’s lives, and she is the trustee who gets to choose how to spend those funds. I haven’t been given a choice to control how spending happens or what they do. The less time I spend with my kids, the more they become distant from me. I used to think if I could just hold on to something small for a few more years, that maybe I would have a good adult relationship. Its possible, but the probability isn’t all that great. I know plenty of people it has been true with, but they had a malicious ex-wife who trashed them to the kids. Mine manages to get others to believe things about me, and then moves on like she didn’t do anything. Its not the anger that becomes so transparent as children get older. It is the manipulative gas lighting that rallies my mother and sister into her circle, and they think it is okay to keep me out of the loop of what they are doing with my children.

As I said above, my family has chosen to take her side. I never asked them to take sides regarding the children, but I did expect that they would favor me under times of stress. I expected that they would at the very least come around once I was told I am not allowed to see my kids unsupervised. My only conclusion can be is that they don’t disagree with me being supervised. They have to have fallen for her stories about me, or decided that it is better to have access to my kids than to be in my good graces. I really think it is the former, because they would have told me if it were the latter. I will give my kids grace for buying into their mother’s bullshit. I will not give that same grace to my adult family members. They don’t deserve it. They knew exactly what she was like, and have expressed such to me, so they have chosen this path. It was not chosen for them.

I don’t expect much to change. Sadly the driving laws have changed here so that no child really has a full driver’s license until they are 17. The motivated can get it by the time they are 16 1/2, but not many are that motivated anymore. I had hopes that they would get their license and could see me whenever they wanted. My oldest hasn’t gotten a permit yet, and my second has just got it at 15 1/2, so he won’t be any earlier than 17. My third has a chance to to do so earlier. When I was their age, with the different laws, and my motivation, I would have not only received the highest license I could get, but I would have procured a car so I would have the freedom to see my Dad. I never had to face divorced parents, so I don’t know how that changes your motivation. I tried to express to them the importance of getting that license early, but I couldn’t tell them why I thought it was so important. That would have opened me up to more criticism in court. I am pretty sure that their mom figured out what my motivation was, and slowed things down because of that for the oldest ones.

After a meeting last week with her and our attorneys, my attorney said “Well, at least she is admitting she is just being a bitch.” To get financially flush I have need her to receive money in the financial settlement and then pay it back to me. Its pretty normal stuff, and for the most part not something she should be worried about so long as her increased taxes are covered, and they would be. I am not asking her to take any risk, and am offering her between 7K and 10K depending on taxes to do so. This would pay off her car. She basically said that she didn’t want or care that I am okay financially. I had hurt her financially, so she was going to hurt me. She has cost me 10s of thousands of dollars compared to a couple of thousand dollars are her side. I am not even counting the money spent on attorneys at this point. Its the last area she can use to control me. I didn’t do what she wanted with the kids, and have refused to behave as she prescribes through the process. This is the only thing I haven’t lost yet, so she is going to try and leverage it to exact some control. Every other item, I have tempered how I did things to avoid the conflict and try to come out with at least a little of what I wanted on the other end. I don’t give a shit at this point. She will do whatever she wants regardless. I will simply put the offers and the table, and she can choose. That is it. There isn’t anything to fight over. There aren’t a thousand ways to cut things up. Its money that is tied up in retirement. She is the only way to extract cash, so either she does or doesn’t do so. She probably won’t.

I have grand plans on telling the kids the truth someday. They may not want to hear it. They may not have a relationship with me at all. Once I have this case out of court, I will not hold my tongue when it comes to these issues with the kids. My kids will know that their mom has the power to allow us to have a relationship or not. They will know that I would be financially better off if she had chosen to help me, and so would she. This would have been good for everyone not just me.

For 19 years this woman’s opinion has had influence over my every decision. Her anger has kept me from behaving in ways she would object to. My fear of what she might do has made me process my every action through a filter designed to avoid negative reactions from her. I am finished with this. I deserve better. She took away my youth and squandered it, because she wanted to be married before she turned 30 and didn’t think anyone she was actually attracted to would ever marry her.

I was going to say more, but I am running out of steam. I cannot continue to talk about her, it hurts too much. I was going to talk about the things she has taken from me, but that will wait for my next post.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

February 19

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

October 1

The Dystopian Fantasy

Even before I knew what a dystopia was, I have loved movies and books about them. They are a great backdrop for thrillers that build great characters. Most of them in the past were things that geeks and nerds enjoyed, and yes I count myself among that crowd. The common theme in these movies has been in the building of a utopian society the powers that enforced the rules of the society begin to use the utopian ideals to feed their desire for power. All these stories have one similar idea. That for the utopia to be built the society has to be tightly controlled, and that the people will appreciate the results more than they resent the loss of freedoms. These societies are almost always covertly totalitarian in nature, and their citizens are mostly sheep who avoid thinking of the realities of the society that they live in. To do otherwise would require action on their part.

One of the things that seems universal in these stories is that the children are indoctrinated into the ideals of the society at a very young age. Sometimes they are taken from the parents to be raised by the government at young ages. Other times they are used as spies to report on their parents after daily indoctrination in their schools. The indoctrination continues with continual messages on futuristic video screens throughout the society, and other things sprinkled throughout society. There are rituals of the society that are reminiscent of religious rituals. These rituals not only help indoctrinate, but they help expose those in society who are opening their eyes, because they resist the continuing the rituals.

The fantasy of these stories is that there are heroes that break the dystopia by not going along with it, and are able to hide within the dystopia without being noticed. That is until they are ready to be seen, then they create such a clamor with the people that the dystopia cannot continue to control the lives of the people. A few anarchists can change the world. These anarchists come from one or more of three prototypes. The coming of age teenager who sees the world for the first time with new eyes, and chooses to not go along with the status quot; or the egalitarian in the ruling class who can stand by no longer and watch their peers take advantage of the masses for their own benefit; or the someone from the lowest class who is ignored by society, because they are an artifact the utopia itself creates, and they lead an uprising from the bottom of society.

As a fan, I love the recent excitement surrounding dystopian society stories. As an avid reader, I love that young people are racing to read the stories before the movies come out. The past couple generations have not been avid readers, and it seems that we are raising more readers now than we have since before I was a kid. These stories like “Blade Runner” were on the fringe in the past, and struggled to be successful. The current stories are huge best sellers. My kids love them, and this is something I truly enjoy on my own and can be shared with them. The modern dystopian society story almost exclusively revolves around a coming of age that brings with it an awakening.

Why now do these stories resonate? Why are our youth drawn to stories about broken futuristic societies? Why do these stories have so few adults heroes? Is this how our youth see society? Are the adults so week that our children see no hope in their parents? These questions are important. The stories, the music, the personalities that resonate with our youth tell us a little something of our future. Does this particular class of stories predict a future that we should look forward to, or one we should fear. What part of these stories resonate with our youth.

I believe that these stories resonate with our youth, because they see how broken our society is. They may not be able to put it into words that society is broken, but they feel it. They can sense where things are moving. They don’t have the faith in the past that we have. I grew up in a generation where very few kids experienced divorced parents. The police officer who acted like a jerk had a name and everyone knew it including his peers. The homeless epidemic was filled mostly with men who suffered some form of mental illness. The idea that you could be more successful than your parents was an expectation with hard work. Today our kids nearly all experience divorced parents, or parents who might as well be divorced. The police are to be feared, even when the ones wearing the uniform are not bad people, they tend to view the rest of us as a threat when they are on the job. Our homeless have grown to include men who do not have enough income to pay the court ordered support and take care of themselves, and many of our youth know someone who has had that happen to them. It seems impossible for them to do as well as their parents. This is in part due to their shortsightedness of the years it took to get there, and part is the truth that high paying jobs are shrinking while costs are increasing. They see their parents lose jobs and have to take lower paying equivalents more than anytime before.

Why are there so few adult heroes in these stories? That one has a couple of answers. The first is people love to read and see stories about heroes who are like them. They want to believe that they can be the hero of their own stories. In most past stories with young heroes there is a mentor that will help guide the heroes on their path. Someone who in their own time had been the hero of their own story. These new stories lack that aspect. These young heroes are making their own way. Today’s youth don’t see the adults as being able to change what is going on. Nearly all their parents have either been put under the thumb of the court or have used the power of the court against the other parent. Neither of the parents demonstrates having any power once the government is engaged. Beyond that, we try to pretend that the actions happening through the courts in their lives are just decisions being made by the courts, so neither parent or themselves have any power in the situation. They have professionals asking what they want, and then telling the court to do something else. The feeling of powerlessness has to be incredible. I know as an adult, it is overwhelming.

What our youth see, but we want to ignore is we already live in the beginnings of a dystopian society. The idea that our kids have rights that supersede the parents rights even in what should be considered normal parenting decisions is normal in our legal system. It also considered that though the children’s wishes should be considered, they also are not capable of expressing those wishes, so a government official is going to interpret what they desire for us. This creates a situation where the government is able to impose their will on behalf of children without any real concern of the legalities of the decisions they are making. It has been said that there isn’t anything you can do anymore without breaking a law. If the government wishes to put you to trial, all they have to do is find the laws that you are breaking to do so. It is reasonable to say in our current society, that it is impossible to be a law abiding citizen. The ultimate control a government has is the ability to arrest its citizens anytime it wishes and look like it is still living by the rule of law.

All these stories share the idea that a rebellion is needed, and that these heroes become the leaders of the rebellion. The truth is the world won’t change without a general uprising from the people. One or two people will not lead the charge. The leaders of the world learned after the U.S. Revolutionary war that you have to smash the underground communications. Small uprisings are fine, but a general uprising cannot be allowed. Communist China demonstrated with force when Tiananmen Square was overrun with protesters. The world saw how one man can inspire a political movement to take over the world during World War II. These are all things in our modern world that can be monitored and squashed. The amount of force the government can bring down on its citizens is unprecedented compared to any other time in history. The U.S. fought to keep soldiers from occupying its lands, including its own. As time has continued, we have replaced our police forces to handles domestic law issues with soldiers. We are now living under military occupation of our own governments.

My hope for my kids is that they find in them what we do not have. That they can overcome the inertia that keeps us moving down this road, and change the world. I hope they can escape this dystopia and discover what our founding fathers had dreamed of. I and many I grew up with saw the changes coming, but we thought that we could change the world at the polls. The problem is some were excited for the changes. They thought that the government taking care of us was going to be a blessing, and many still do. We are heading into dark times. My children will suffer more than they already have. Will they be strong enough to find a way to make the world better, or will they just go with the path that has been laid before them.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 31

The Great Paradox of Family Court

There are so many paradox in family court, that it might be hard to single one out as the great one. Perhaps my view is skewed, because this is the one that is used to beat me about the head and chest until I submit, well at least get pushed back. Every man might have a different idea of what qualifies as the “Great Paradox” in their case, but this is my bog, so fuck them. You get to hear my story. If you have your own ideas, I would love to hear them. Put them in the comments.

The paradox that I m talking about is that you aren’t supposed to talk to the kids about what happens in court. The majority of decisions made in family court dramatically effect everything about their lives, but we aren’t supposed to talk to them about these things. We aren’t supposed to tell the kids that mom and dad don’t agree on things, and that they are fighting over things in this mysterious court somewhere. Decisions are made that change their lives, sometimes dramatically, but we as parents are supposed to not talk to them about these things. We are simply supposed to say that the court decided that they are no longer allowed to see their dad regularly, or you are now going to stay with your dad full time who is moving 800 miles away, so you won’t see your mom very often. These are the things that we are not supposed to talk to your children about.

On top of the fact you are not supposed to talk to your kids about these things, their are “professionals” who do talk to your kids about these things. The GAL, therapists, and custody evaluators all are allowed to use their judgement to talk to your kids about these things in your stead. They can say whatever they want, so long as the court is willing to listen to what they are peddling.

I can understand this position if divorces and custody were determined within a couple months, but the truth is that most cases stay in court until the last child is 18 years old. This makes parenting your children difficult at best and impossible in some cases. Courts like to pretend that kids are somehow too naive to understand what is going on around them, and too stupid to understand. They often worry about the harm done to children by understanding that their parents are not in total agreement about things, while not realizing the kids knew that long before the divorce proceedings started.

In the “Land of the free, and home of the brave,” we are supposed to parent as the family court likes or risk losing the right to parent. We are not to exercise our constitutionally protected rights or we risk losing the right to parent. The battle cry of those who are conquering our rights is “in the best interest of the children” said in calm tones before or after each statement they make. All it takes is some time in family court to realize that your rights don’t matter at all. They don’t matter, because we have built a system the requires great means to protect your rights.

I am left with the options of parent my kids as I see fit when I have time with them, and potentially lose my time with them, or to be a father in name only. I can choose to not parent my kids, but have time with them(maybe). That isn’t even a given. The core argument is that me and their mother are not supposed to disagree, and if we do, then the court needs to pick who is right even on issues where there isn’t a right person. They will choose the same person almost every time, because that is the most likely way to get the other person out of court.

I finally watched Divorce Corp. a few weeks ago. The statement that stood out to me as absolute truth is that it doesn’t matter how good the parents are. They could be two of the worst parents who together can hardly care for their children or two of the best parents who would both excel at parenting alone or together. When they walk into court, the court will decide which one it judges better by standards that are not always obvious. Gender bias plays a role here, but this isn’t always the case. All too often you have one parent who has no problem trashing the other parent, and by doing so, they end up looking better to the court, especially if they are clever about it. Once the court judges the parents and decides which it will support, from that moment on the chosen parent might as well be in the top percentile of parents and the other parent might as well be in the bottom percentile of parents. The reality doesn’t matter. This is why in court the most aggressive parent wins.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 25

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

May 8

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

March 20

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

March 9

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.