Tag Archives: child custody battles

Divorcing a Narcissist: Waiting on A Judgement

Divorcing a Narcissist: Waiting on A Judgement

I sit here waiting on a Judgement and I am thankful for a really busy work day (and week) to keep me distracted.

My X admitted to Minor’s Counsel that he has taken the girls’ cell phone during visits.  He admitted to doing this once and when this statement is processed in the Narc Decoder, it means once every singe visit.  I received a call from Minor’s Counsel on Friday night and he said that my X’s excuse from taking the cell phone from the girls was a result of my constant interference in his parenting time.  According to him, I am texting or calling constantly during the visits.

I had a simple solution: I would do actual screen prints of every time my daughter used her phone dating back to January 2012.  I logged onto the phone website and was delighted to discover that the texts and phone calls can be broken down for easy reading and printing- very user friendly.  I took all of the records and the actual phone to the attorney’s office and dropped them off on Monday morning.

Upon review of the attorney’s summary of the current issues this morning, here is what he stated, “The records provided by (Tina) are not consistent, with the (X’s) recitation of the number of contacts between the children and their mother, during visits”.

In other words: He is lying. Again.  Shocking.  I know.

Summary of past four  months of these “constant” interruptions of his parenting time:

  • June 2012: One call and one text from my daughter.  One text reply from me.
  • July 2012: Zero phone calls from either of us.  Two texts from my daughter- one telling me how many books she had read and another saying they were going to a park.
  • August 2012: One call that my daughter made at her father’s request to see if they could stay late at a party.
  • September 2012: No phone calls- no text messages.  At all.

Minor’s counsel went on to suggest that a new Custody Evaluation is probably in order.  Cheers to that!

Our last parenting evaluation was done in the beginning of 2010.  I didn’t know what I was dealing with and it was my word against his.  Now there are mountains of evidence, declarations, affidavits and I know exactly what I am dealing with.  There are also two new alcohol offenses and more lies than I can count.  There are two child welfare reports.  The most important part: the girls are old enough to speak up and voice their opinions, fears and desires.

Fingers crossed.  Still waiting on the Commissioner’s final decision.  ###

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Looks Can Be Deceiving

Looks Can Be Deceiving

By all outward appearances, he was normal.  His appearance and the image that he portrays has been the biggest challenge through this court process.

About a year ago, I was sitting in Starbucks working on my laptop.  There were three older men at the table next to me shooting the breeze– they were talking about their wives, the stock market and whatever else older men talk about over coffee.  One of the men mentioned his wife’s shoe addiction and what he would do with all of the shoes if she died.  I laughed because it was funny.  At that point, they included me in their conversation.

While talking to these men about “life”, one noticed that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and made mention of his observation.  I explained that I was a single mother going through a hellish divorce.  I didn’t go into details about my story but explained that I didn’t have an attorney and was representing myself.  We continued talking about the divorce and marriage in general– about the fact that you can be married for years but never really know the person.  I told them that there was extreme debt, huge lies and that I didn’t even know who I was married to.

I live in a small town– everyone knows everyone.  I didn’t quite realize how small my town was until that day.

One of the gentleman said, “we should introduce you to a fellow named (X) who comes in here often.  He is also going through a horrible divorce and has even hired people to follow his x-wife.  She’s sleeping with everyone and is just a mess.  I feel bad for the guy.  His daughters are as cute as buttons– they could be child models”.

My jaw dropped.  He was talking about my X.  He was talking about my daughters.

The other gentleman joined in by saying, “Poor guy– he has a lot of money and was Pre-Med before shifting his course.  He is pretty tore up about the whole situation.  Found out through friends that she was cheating on him”.

I just stared at them.  I opened my mouth and the following words came out, “You are talking about my X-husband.  The only thing I can say is that you can’t believe everything you hear”.

Silence.  Awkwardness.

They couldn’t believe it.  This nice girl sitting in front of them was the harlot that they had been hearing about.  The monster that they have conversed about for a year over decaf coffee.  They mumbled.  They asked questions.  They couldn’t believe that this “nice young man” who told them tales of almost becoming a doctor, tales of his fortune and his woes was my X.  I could see it in their eyes– they felt incredibly bad and didn’t even know what to say.  What can you say?  They too had been conned by him.

Truth be told–

  • My X wanted to be a doctor but confessed while intoxicated one night that he changed his course after being caught cheating on an exam in college.
  • I never cheated on him although I was so starved for affection by the end of our marriage that an innocent stranger offering me a simple hug could have been my target.
  • He didn’t have money- he didn’t even have a car at that point.  He drove a company mini-van because all of our vehicles had been repossessed.  Ironically, just a few weeks prior I watched a tow truck drive through town carrying our Toyota Tundra as I ate my lunch.

I left the coffee shop and these kind gentleman wished me well.  They went on about their day.  I went on with mine.


Another Missed Visitation

Another Missed Visitation

This weekend was suppose to be my X’s weekend with the children.  He refused to comply with the orders as they are written even after being lectured by the attorney representing my daughters.  The result: visitation cancelled.

I made the decision to cancel Saturday’s visitation for non-compliance and gave him the chance to see the girls on Sunday.  It’s such a simple order– email around ten am the day prior (24 hours notice) confirming in writing that he will exercise his rights to visitation.   He has a Blackberry and he has internet on his phone.  He also has Gmail.   Last night I described it best: it’s like having a stand-off with a two-year old.

If you are having a stand-off with a two year old then there are resources available to help.  There are parenting books and television shows like the Supernanny.  When you are having a stand-off with a 37-year old man, it’s just plain frustrating.  Like another single mommy who I admire recently said, “Actions = Consequences”.

The bottom line is this: his defiance caused him to miss time with his daughters.  That is sad.

Saturday afternoon, the girls and I went to a New Year’s Eve celebration at our local Children’s Museum complete with a 12pm countdown, balloon drop and apple cider toast.  We made party hats and noisemakers and had a great time.  We went on with our day and that’s what we will continue to do —whether he chooses to participate in their lives or not.

This morning I was talking to the girls at breakfast about the new year and my aspirations– to have more joy in my heart and to live each day in gratitude.  We talked about things we each hoped for and wanted to work on.  My 6 year old daughter looked and me and said, “Do you know what I wish for but I don’t think it will happen?  For Daddy to be nicer to you“.  I didn’t know what to say– I just leaned over and gave her a hug.

There is no manual or script and there are no cue cards or Cliff Notes.  Sometimes I don’t have the answers– just hugs.

Refusing to Comply with Court Orders

Refusing to Comply with Court Orders

When you are dealing with a person who refuses to follow orders, it gets to the point where you just want to bang your head into a wall.  That’s how I was feeling this morning.

He is still refusing to comply with a very simple order: email 24 hours prior to a visit to notify us if he plans to exercise his right to visitation.  He doesn’t like following rules.

This morning, I finally reached out to the attorney who was ordered to represent my daughters.  He was also frustrated and doesn’t understand why its so difficult to follow a very simple order.  He called my X directly and read him the order verbally.  He assured me that there shouldn’t be any future problems (yes, I am knocking on my wooden desk right now).

The attorney also confirmed the bottom line: if he doesn’t comply then there is no visitation.  Period.  I knew this but it also helped to hear it from someone else– especially someone who was appointed to work in my daughters’ best interest.

Merging Forces

Merging Forces

As I mentioned before, Christmas Eve (yesterday)  was our “new” annual tradition and we decided to spend the day in Morro Bay, California.  We ate breakfast at a little small-town diner called, The Coffee Pot and lunch at the Otter Rock Cafe.  We spent the day walking the boardwalk, shopping for prized shells and then letting the girls play in an awesome little park called, Tidelands.

This was our third year celebrating our Christmas Eve tradition however, it was different this year.

This was the first year that Glenn joined us on our adventure.  In our 2.5 year relationship, we’ve taken things very slow.  He didn’t meet the girls until we were about six months into our relationship– we both wanted to be sure that this was a solid, stable and long-term relationship before we involved the hearts of two little girls.  We got a lot of raised eyebrows from people who thought that we were being overly cautious but I’m glad that we choose the path that we did

This is also the first year that Glenn, the girls and I have woken up in the same house– and celebrated Christmas together.  We’ve very recently merged forces– a single dad and a single mom combining two completely different worlds under one roof.  Glenn is the father of 3 boys (17, 20 and 22) and I have 2 girls (4 and 6).  It’s a huge step filled with learning experiences, growing experiences, patience and understanding.  It’s also filled with love, mutual respect and companionship like I’ve never known.

It was nice to spend Christmas with someone who wasn’t waiting for the last present to be opened so he can slip out the door to embark on a long distance bike ride.  It was nice to spend Christmas with someone who was present in the moment rather than just giving presents.  I yearn for more than material items.  This Christmas, I have gifts that money can not buy– love and happiness.  That is an amazing feeling.

The girls are with their father’s family from 12-7pm today and I have time to reflect on where my life was three years ago and where it is today.  As difficult as the past three years have been– I’d do it all again to be where I am today.

The lesson I’ve learned: while I couldn’t understand “why” while I was in the moment— having faith gets you through the moment and into a place like this.  My heart is happy and content.

In My Perfect World

In My Perfect World

I received a very kind and heartfelt email from a friend who read my blog today for the first time.  Then she asked me a good question– “In your perfect world– what do you want?  What is your desired custody arrangement if the court stepped aside and you were in control?

Great question.

In my perfect world…what do I want?

I want to know that my daughters are safe (physically and mentally) when they are being cared for by their father.  In my perfect world, their father puts them and their best interests first.  In my perfect world, my X gets the help that he needs so that he can be the type of dad that my daughters deserve.  In my perfect world, my X is an active participant and co-parent to the girls.  In my perfect world, my daughters are never held to the standards of perfection that was expected of me when married to their father.  In my perfect world, my daughters feel happy, loved and accepted no matter who they become or what they do in life.        

Until that happens, the perfect visitation arrangement (in my opinion) is the one that is currently in place: four days per month from 10am-4pm.  This allows the girls to know their father and have a relationship with him but there are limitations. 

My goal isn’t to keep my daughters from their father— it’s to protect them from the dysfunction and shelter them from the things they’ve endured for the past three years.  They get to spend time with their dad but they get to sleep in their own bed each night.  For now, this is my perfect world.

Torn

Torn

We were in court just last Wednesday and I asked for the current court orders to be modified.

He fails to show up for visitation a lot lately and it is very difficult on my daughters.  I asked that he be required to call us when he is actually at the pick-up location (Starbucks) and that we would drive down there at that point.  The judge made slightly different orders.  His orders were that “He” was to notify us 24-hours prior to each visitation if he planned to have the girls.  This allows us time to make plans or to alter our plans if needed.  It saves the girls from being disappointed constantly.

I emailed him Wednesday night with the dates for the 2011 visitations and re-caped the details from court– specifically the 24-hour notification order.  He was supposed to notify us by 10am on Friday morning.  Friday morning came and went– no notice.  I finally sent an email on Friday afternoon (4pm) asking whether or not he planned to pick up the girls– no response.

I checked my email several times this morning– still no notification.  A complete violation of court orders.  Scheduled pick-up time was 10am.  10:05am– he began calling my phone.  Several times.  10:30am he emailed– one of his normal, attacking rants.

I was torn.  Do I follow court orders or do I let him continue to operate with no regard for the judge, court or orders?  If I do not hold him to the orders then in essence, I am also violating the orders.  His mother began texting me.  He began denying the order existed and created his own version of the order.  I sent him an email stating that I would make an exception this time however, moving forward I planned to follow the order as stated.

I sit here listening to Pandora radio as I type this blog.  A song came on that is very dear to my heart– John Mayer‘s “Daughters“.  It makes me cry every time I hear it.  Fathers have such a huge impact on the lives of their daughters.  In our situation, that isn’t a positive thing.  It makes me want to work extra hard to be a strong role model for my daughters– to counter the negatives that lie ahead of them.

Sometimes it feels like it will never end.

It feels like he will never change– and always feel above the law and above court orders.

Family Court Services- Today’s Court Date

Family Court Services- Today’s Court Date

Today was another day in court.  I woke up.  I felt confident.  I felt strong.

I had three items on the agenda:

1. Change our pick-up/drop-off location.  It’s not fun to drive one-hour round trip when the other party doesn’t feel that showing up for visitation is a great priority.  I asked for the location be moved to a coffee shop less than five minutes from our home.

Verdict: Granted.

2. I asked that he is ordered to notify us if he plans to show up for visitation. I would rather not subject the girls to disappointment and waiting at a coffee shop if he doesn’t plan to arrive.

Verdict: The judge ordered him to notify us 24-hours in advance if he plans to attend his scheduled visitation.

3. T-Rex.  I spoke to the attorney who was appointed to represent our daughters and he agreed that this is harmful and must stop.  At today’s hearing, the attorney passed out the emails in which “He” admitted to calling me this name in front of the children.

Verdict: The judge agreed that it needs to stop.  The attorney agreed that it needs to stop.  I agree that it needs to stop.  The judge then went on to voice his concern by saying, “Nothing that I order seems to matter.  I’ve already set this order into place.  The orders are not followed and on top of that, ‘Mr. P’ sits in my courtroom and lies to me (referencing the last court date and string of lies)”.

We all agree that it’s harmful.  We all agree that it should stop however, the judge doesn’t even have faith that “he” will abide by orders.  What’s the point in more orders when the initial ones aren’t followed?

What I learned today:

Have patience.  The truth will eventually prevail.  It took 2.5 years but the courts (Judge and attorney) now see through him.  There were times when I felt like giving up– when the odds seemed to be stacked against me.  I did what I do best- forward march.  The truth is clear to everyone involved.  The Family Court System does want what’s best for children but it takes a while to sift through the “muck” and come to the truth.

What else I learned today:

“He” announced that he has once again been fired from a job.  I learned that I have one person in the world that I can count on to financially provide for my daughters– myself.

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Parental Alienation Syndrome

My ex-husband’s “Aunt N” works as an advocate for special needs children in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She is the person who has given him legal advice, encouraged him to lie (see previous post, “Steps to Ponder“), falsified stories and documents while encouraging him to drop legal terms such as Parental Alienation Syndrome.

I don’t doubt for a moment that there are parents who fall into this category.  When they first started dropping the term, I looked into the syndrome.  I fit none of the criteria.  I have never once bad-mouthed him to my children let alone tried to turn my children against him.  It’s absurd.  In fact, I deal with the exact opposite: him speaking poorly about me in front of the girls.  It’s escalated to the point that my oldest daughter brings it up daily because it bothers her so much.  She has expressed that she doesn’t want to go to his house because of these issues.

I want to repeat– I’m sure this syndrome exists.  In my particular case, it does not.

###

Joan Meier, Executive Director of Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), said, “PAS was invented to defeat child abuse claims – and it has been remarkably successful in misleading family courts into believing that women who are sincerely trying to protect their children and themselves from abuse, are just seeking to end the children’s relationship with their noncustodial father.”

Meier states that research has shown that children become “alienated” from a parent for a variety of valid reasons, most often resulting from the parent’s own negative behavior and relationship with that child.

“The proponents of ‘parental alienation syndrome’ are purveying invalid junk science that is not even legally admissible.   PAS has been emphatically rejected by the Presidential Task Force of the American Psychological Association and by the National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges.  Leading researchers in the field of custody have agreed that PAS has no scientific validity and the only courts to address the issue have found it inadmissible,” said Meier.

###

So, if Parental Alienation Syndrome exists in our case, it is not in the way he is claiming.  He is personally starting on a path to alienate our daughters from ever having a healthy, loving father-daughter relationship with him.

He alone is creating this syndrome by his own actions.

  • My daughters are learning that they can’t depend on him when he doesn’t show up for visitations.
  • They are learning that he speaks poorly of their mother in their presence.

I want nothing more then for them to have a healthy, stable relationship with their father.  I want him to be healthy for them.  I want him to get help and be emotionally available.  I don’t know if that is possible.  It’s what I pray for.

T-Rex Strikes Again

T-Rex Strikes Again

I am woman (and mother); hear me Roar. 

My daughters had their visitation with their dad again yesterday– 10am to 4pm.  Such a brief window of time yet damage can be done in that small amount of time.  We met at the normal coffee shop for the exchange at 4pm.  As they got back into the car and said, “Mom, dad was calling you ‘T-Rex’ to Poppi (his father) again yesterday and they were laughing and saying mean things“.

I have many feelings on this subject.

1. My daughter’s should not be in this situation.  They are so young and this is extremely detrimental to them.  I don’t know what the right response is when they do “report back”.  I don’t want them to feel like they need to tell me these things but more importantly, they shouldn’t be hearing these things.  At all.

2. I pulled out my calculator.  There are approximately 720 hours in one month (30 days).  He sees his daughters for a total of 24 hours per month– 10am to 4pm, every other weekend.  Such short windows of time.  Mathematically speaking, he is free to speak about me however he chooses for 696 hours per month: 720-24= 696.  That’s a lot of time for bashing, ‘woe is me’ and negative energy.   I do not understand the urge to waste a single moment of his limited father-daughter time on openly bashing me to two innocent little girls.

So– they got in the car and told me that he spoke poorly of me.  I chose to not turn it into a huge ordeal.  I quietly said, “That is Dad’s choice to do that however, I don’t think it is nice nor should he be saying those things in front of you.  I also don’t want you to feel like you have to tell me these things.  If you want to talk about it then I am happy to do that however, it isn’t your job to worry about this.  Your job is to have fun and be a kid- not to worry about adult things“.

I struggle with a response to these things and others.  I don’t want them to feel like they are messengers but I also don’t want them to hold things inside and not talk about them.