Going to court is scary. If your ex has personality characteristics of a sociopath or narcissist, like mine, you most likely find yourself in court a lot. Attorneys are very expensive, no matter their hourly fee. The preparation they do, meetings and phone calls with you, every minute billed is more money you won’t have for your kids, or sometimes, to even pay bills. I have had to declare bankruptcy from my divorce. $60,000 in bills to two different attorneys and about $4000 since, and I know I am not alone.
About two months ago I received my umpteenth certified letter that my ex was taking me back to court once again accusing me of being in contempt over 2015 summer parenting time. I believe he files his “contempt” charges because the templates for contempt are free on the website for our county court. All he has to do is fill in the blanks with inaccuracies and false allegations, and pay his $5.
When I received the paperwork in the mail and read the allegations, I just thought “No.” No, I am not paying yet another attorney to fight this when I have emails to prove every single sentence to the contrary, besides the fact that I couldn’t be in contempt for something that had not even happened yet. The thought scared the hell out of me, as I have been warned by attorneys to never go up against my ex alone.
I spoke with my support group and filed a formal “answer” to his allegations. There were instructions on our county court’s website how to file a formal answer, but no template. I found and downloaded one for free online. It had suggested wording and my support group helped me with the rest.
The morning of the contempt hearing came. Our judge is the same from our last hearing in August 2013…the longest span without him taking me to court. The judge was instantly furious. He stated he ordered all matters to go to mediation first, and reminded us how he threatened to make us “both unhappy” at our last hearing if he saw us again. I stated facts and reminded him I was not the one who filed the paperwork. He told me I was holding up the process even though it is stated in our state guidelines I did not have to have an answer to my ex for 2 more weeks.
The judge told me he hated when people follow the guidelines to the letter and don’t work together. I wanted to scream. My answer was all right there proving my ex committed perjury in his contempt allegations and I don’t even think he read it. He ordered mediation in his court for a week and a half later, and told me to “make it happen” by attending no matter what, and he recommended us both to have it worked out before then.
On mediation day, we were met outside the courtroom by the mediator. She explained this is a free mediation as it is a way for the law students at the local university to learn about mediations. We were met with a panel of 4 law students with the mediator, one of their professors, in attendance the entire time.
As far as mediations go, this is probably the best scenario when dealing with a narcissist. Unfortunately, we were in the same room which usually doesn’t happen in mediations, but it is much harder for this personality type to fool an entire panel. But, boy did he try. The whiney exasperated voice came out and he added his jabs from every angle he could. He informed the panel “why” the judge in our divorce ordered me to do certain things (all his interpretations and lies) and tried hard to convince the mediator of his interpretation of summer parenting time. She put him in his place with his interpretation and we ended the mediation with everything I asked for, which was total complete fairness in the summer parenting time split.
Did I win? I feel it was the first time a court visit worked out fairly and it didn’t cost me a dime. I don’t care about winning, I only care about fairness. This has been carrying on for 7 years now and it’s old and tiring and working three jobs on top of caring for elderly grandparents in what little free time I have has left me drained. Will I go back to this mediation? In a heartbeat. The judge issued another order (his third or fourth now) that all matters must go to mediation.
Two weeks later I received another certified letter….contempt hearing is set in the middle of my vacation/parenting time this summer in between my ex’s two lengthy summer vacations. He wasn’t happy with the outcome of his previous allegaions so he invented more contempt charges. Now, apparently I am refusing to pay court ordered expenses. Here we go again. I need an attorney this time though, because I am not stopping as he has since started stalking me through my employers.
To be continued…..