February 2010-June 2010- I waited for months for the Parenting Evaluation to start through Family Court Services. He finally completed his paperwork and it was underway.
I was shocked when I discovered that he had rented a home from someone (a local business owner) who we both knew and respected in the community. He had rented a home which he completely staged for the parenting investigation. I knew this at the time yet I couldn’t prove it. I knew it to my core. It was hard for me to listen to the evaluator speak about how “cute” his place was and how it was completely dedicated to the children. This was not the man that I knew– the man I knew wouldn’t allow children’s toys anywhere in the home. The man who needed everything to be “perfect” and perfect definitely wasn’t “child-friendly” in his eyes.
The evaluator dug in– she spoke to people who knew us (nannies, doctors, etc). She came to our home. She met with both of us and she pointed out the issues she saw with him…anger and dishonesty. She said that he seemed to go out of his way to torture me– to keep the girl’s whereabouts from me. She stated that it was unnecessary and that he needed to let go of the anger. She was preaching to the choir.
- She uncovered lies– he had claimed in court that he was in “intensive therapy” to deal with his anger. She spoke to the therapist in the Bay Area. The therapist saw him one time and also found him to be angry.
- She was the one that reported him to Child Welfare Services when my oldest daughter told her that he left our youngest daughter locked in a car alone after her seizures. She seemed to take this very seriously.
- She seemed concerned that he was driving the children without a license, knowingly.
- She was concerned about his alcohol issues and went so far as to subpoena his records from the local athletic club where he drank while watching the children.
- She also felt my concerns about his older brother who had talked about raping and murdering women in the past. She documented an incident where he beat tiny puppies in front of our daughter.
- She was concerned about the incidents where he left our daughters unattended.
The investigation was completed on June 24, 2010. We all met in a room to go over her findings and her suggested parenting plan.
These were the main items:
1. The father will not transport the children until he shows proof of a valid driver’s license.
2. 1st, 3rd and 4th weekends of the month from 9am Saturday until 7pm on Sunday.
3. The father will participate in weekly parenting classes for 4 months and will show the mother proof of completion. The father will also file in court a copy of proof of completion.
4. Father will participate in individual counseling to address personal issues specifically related to anger management, stress, and communication with the mother. Father shall file with the court proof of his attendance in therapy, inclusive of number of sessions and name of therapist.
5. The father will not drink alcoholic beverages until parenting classes and counseling is completed.
6. The father will ensure that the children are not left unsupervised at any time in the presence of (his older brother) and they are only permitted to be in his presence on the following holidays: 4th of July, Christmas Eve/Day and Thanksgiving. Seth and his mother had to be present.
7. Father will provide the address where the children will reside by the Monday prior to his visit.
I signed the document-– I didn’t feel like I had a choice in the matter. I was told that if I didn’t sign it, it would go to the court and the judge would inevitably enforce the recommendations. I was also told that if I challenged the report, I would have to pay $3,000 and the judge would adopt her recommendations anyway. I didn’t have $300 let alone $3,000.
I wanted to have faith that he would follow orders. I wanted to have faith that a simple parenting class and counseling could “fix him” but I didn’t. I knew that his entire portion of the investigation was staged. I didn’t have faith because I knew him– I was married to him for almost eight years.
Update One Year Later: 2011
- He transported the children without a valid driver’s license.
- He didn’t complete the parenting classes.
- He didn’t attend any therapy sessions.
- He fails to show up for visits.
- He drank alcohol around the girls.
- He took the children to his older brother’s house when it wasn’t permitted.
- He failed to tell me where the children were residing.
My frustration with the system in general: Everyone is over worked and doesn’t have “time” to really dedicate themselves to what is most important: the well-being of the children. What is the point of a 4-month parenting evaluation if none of the orders were followed and there were zero ramifications for non-compliance?
I learned early on that I am my own advocate. I can’t depend on the courts– their case load is too big. I can’t depend on the people who are supposed to protect my children because they are too worried about being PC and splitting custody down the middle. I learned early to document, document and document. I started my own system and it was a part-time job but it paid off.
Side note: I have recently re-connected with his former landlord who confirmed that he had staged the home for the Parenting Evaluation. Every ounce of it was staged. He even had my picture hanging on the wall and told her that it was so that the girls know that I love them no matter where they are at. That made me throw up in my mouth– because I know him too well and the Evaluator bought the story. …why was I not shocked?
Because I know him and I also bought the story at one time.
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