September 14, 2011— Something came over me in court– the same sense of calm that I had felt the night before. It was a feeling that went to my core– I knew everything was going to be okay. I was in court alone this particular day– in the past, that alone would have normally caused me anxiety galore.
Today, it didn’t cause me anxiety. For the first time, I felt like I was in control and I had this one. I did have this one.
I brought up the fact that he was lying about my children’s whereabouts on the weekend visits. In fact, he was lying about the most recent visit. He claimed that they were in San Francisco all weekend. I knew they weren’t. In the past, it would have been my word against his. Not this time.
The judge asked him where the children were residing. He replied that they were staying at his condo in San Francisco. The judge asked him to describe the weekend visitation– what time he picked them up, what they did after that and so on. He claimed that he picked them up at 3:30pm. This was true. He claimed that he took them to Avila Beach for Farmer’s Market. This was true. He claimed that they had dinner and drove to San Francisco afterwards.
The judge pressed more– what time did they get to San Francisco? What did they do Saturday morning when they woke up? What did they do during the day on Saturday? Saturday night? Sunday? You get the picture. Speaking of pictures, he painted a huge mural using a colorful palate of lies. He claimed that they arrived late Friday night– he carried my sleeping daughters to his condo around 11pm. They woke up the next morning and went to a Starbucks in San Francisco…then to a park…and so on…and so on. An entire weekend of fun and games in San Francisco.
I waited for him to finish. I raised my hand and said, “that is not true”.
Ironically, the judge asked, “Does anyone have GPS to prove who is lying”?
“I do” – I answered. ..and I did.
I pulled out my GPS reports which showed my daughter’s location every hour on the hour— all weekend long. They weren’t in San Francisco– they were four hours south of San Francisco. They were staying at his brother’s home the entire time. It was another lie however, this time he was lying to the judge…to the court…and to the attorney.
At the advice of two friends in law enforcement, I had purchased GPS about two months prior to the weekend in question. It gave me peace of mind to know where my children were at all times and he had no idea that I was tracking them. The night prior to court, I printed out sheet after sheet of GPS reports and I was ready.
The judge called a recess. The attorney and I along with the other people in the courtroom were dismissed for a 15-minute break while the judge reviewed the paperwork. The attorney asked me why I hadn’t told him about the GPS and there were two reasons:
1. I had called his office and emailed multiple times with no response.
2. I knew that my only chance in proving him to be a liar was to catch him in the act– in the moment— in the lie.
Court resumed and we were allowed to take our seats.
The judge stated, “Mr. X, I have told you on multiple occasions that you have lost all credibility in my courtroom. Today, you lied to me…you lied to my court and you lied to Mr. (Attorney). There will be sanctions for this. I am awarding full legal and physical custody to Ms. Swithin. There will be no overnight visits– visits are restricted to 10am-4pm on two weekends per month. Ms. Swithin will be able to sleep at night knowing where her children are– in their own beds.”
I stood up and tears started to stream down my face. I could barely see to open the little gate in the courtroom. I looked up through my tears and the people in the courtroom….complete strangers were silently clapping with their hands and smiling. One woman was holding her heart and I could see tears in her eyes as well. I completely forgot that these people were there. I went into a “zone” and I became Mama Bear. These people who I had never met had felt my pain and they were cheering me on.
After 2.5 years of fighting to protect my children, I did it. I succeeded. My daughters still get to see their father and I get to sleep at night knowing that my daughters are safe in their beds. This court battle has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel– when I didn’t understand why the system was failing us time and time again. I kept my game face on and I gave it everything I had.
I never lost sight of the goal: protecting my daughters.
My Girls: Despite everything they’ve been through— they are happy, healthy and they are thriving. They are my girls and until I am confident that he is a healthy addition to their lives— I will always wear my battle gear and fight for the two most important people on Earth.