A mother’s nightmare made worse by ill-equipped family court laws.
The story below belongs to CT. CT and her ex have been engaged in an ongoing custody battle with little help from the family court, her children’s guardian ad litem or, anyone else. CT’s ex eventually kidnapped the children and moved them out of state. The process of bringing them home has been slow and heartbreaking. #ChangeThisNow
I’m not a writer so this makes me nervous. I can take that, though, because it finally feels good to be able to tell my story. I feel like I’ve been fighting this battle for so long that I’m completely lost and drowning in all the stress from it. So, thank you for reading.
My ex and I never had a lot of money. We didn’t have college degrees and our combined income was less than $40,000 a year. His family has money, though. And they are giving him money to try and get custody of our children. It’s funny because we were never close to his parents but now he is all about them, extremely close and they have joined him in ganging up on me. It’s heartbreaking.
The editor told me I could make a numbered list if I didn’t feel comfortable writing the story and that is what I’m doing here.
Below are the things I’ve gone through with my ex, his parents and the family court over the last 18 months.
1. We divorced 4 years ago. He married a woman who can’t have children 2 years ago and that is when he became very interested in taking the children away from me. Before he remarried he hardly even used his normal visitation schedule to see the children. Now was is all about taking them away from me.
He wants to be able to give her what she wants…children. The children I carried, gave birth to and have raised. I will fight like hell to keep that from happening.
2. He filed for custody claiming I was an unfit and abusive mother. He came to my house yelling and screaming and threw me up against the living room wall. I called the police and they arrested him for domestic abuse. I got a restraining order against him but, when we went to our first custody mediation, the mediator refused to take into consideration that he had been arrested and there was a restraining order.
The mediator told me that was a separate matter. How can a man being arrested for abuse be a separate matter from him having custody of his children? The mediator said it proved he was a danger to me but didn’t prove he was a danger to the children.
3. We got nothing settle through mediation so had to go to court. The day we went to court I was served with paperwork stating that his parents had petitioned the court for “grandparent’s rights.” They saw their grandchildren about every 18 months. Never tried to be involved in their lives and suddenly they wanted every other weekend with the children. My attorney told me they had joined forces to make it difficult for me financially and emotionally. He said it isn’t uncommon and is motivated by an attempt to push a mother over the edge and make her look crazy in front of a judge.
4. At the time we went to court my ex was over $20,000 in arrears in child support. He had a history of not supporting the children, not spending time with the children and an arrest for domestic abuse. The judge, despite all that awarded him 50% custody and reduced his monthly child support obligation. My children had never spent a night at his home and were suddenly going to have to spend 50% of their time with him and his new wife.
5. On their second week of living with them, my ex and his new wife packed up and moved out of state with the children. When I went to pick them up for my custody time, their apartment was empty, and my children were gone. It took me two weeks and little help from the police and family court to find where they had moved to. It was over 2 months before I saw my children again.
6. I filed an emergency motion with the court the day I found them missing. That started the ball rolling on getting my children back home BUT, it’s been 6 months! I’ve had to go to court in the state they were kidnapped to, to and defend myself against accusations in that state that I am a danger to my children. My attorney says we should have my children back home in their “legal” home state within 3 months. If that happens it means my children will have been away for a total of 9 months. I can’t imagine the emotional trauma they’ve experienced because of their Dad’s evil actions.
7. I can talk to my children every day and see them every other weekend until this is resolved. Every time I leave them to come back home they cry and beg me to stay. They tell me their Dad threatens to move again with them before giving them back to me. He keeps them afraid that they will never see me again. I cry myself to sleep every night thinking about the conditions my children are living in.
I have great friends and family and I appreciate their support. But when the court fails to protect you and your children, there is little comfort in the knowledge that there is no one there to truly protect you.
I will get my children back with me where they belong. If it kills me I will do that. Their lives and my life have been torn apart because of my in-law,s money and a family court system that is slow to act and not equipped to take care of people who are dependent on them.
I don’t feel like anything has been done to me. I feel like it has been done to my children. And I won’t stand for anyone failing to protect my children. I just won’t!