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.