I was on the phone with the high-priced lawyer I sometimes consult the other day to ask if I could move 15 miles from here so that our daughter could attend the public schools in the next county.
Because this would be good for our daughter for a number of reasons, the lawyer told me that I had a decent case but that the modification would cost $35,000. He also mentioned that, because the standards for a relocation modification are pretty subjective, I might lose.
What the fuck.
We’re talking about a move that would have no impact on my ex’s visitation time or ability to attend school functions. The school in question is a 20 minute drive from his house. The school he is counting on her getting into is actually a longer drive for him.
I don’t mind her going to that school, actually. That’s not the problem. The problem is it’s a competitive magnate program, and I just found out there’s a good chance she won’t get in.
Hence, my scramble to find an alternative.
Meanwhile, I haven’t discussed this with my ex except through an unproductive email exchange. We are supposed to sit down and talk Friday.
I am dreading it. I called the lawyer just to find out what the worst case scenario is so that I could gird my loins in preparation for this confab.
It is really hard to talk to Duane. He’s not flexible. He denies any reality he doesn’t like.
When I was going through the divorce, both my lawyer and the parent coordinator I consulted with told me not to give him the right to make educational and medical decisions for this very reason.
This was a tough one for me. First of all, I think both parents should have these rights. I think that divorced parents should work together. It would have gone against my values not to give him these rights.
On the other hand, I knew what the outcome would be if he shared these rights with me, that he would stonewall and obfuscate and leave me to find a solution that worked for him. I knew that I would be triggered by the same sense of isolation and uncertainty I felt throughout the marriage. I don’t want that feeling in my life anymore. It is not fair to have that feeling now that I don’t even have the legal or cultural protections that come with marriage.
After agonizing over this for months, I let the attorney leave these rights off when he drafted the decree. He assured me this was the right way to go because I would negotiate a better financial settlement if I asked for as much as possible up front.
He was right; I did get a lot more money.
The downside is Duane found a way to get me back for attempting to restrict his rights. He hired an attorney who slapped on the geographical restriction as part of the negotiation process.
Here’s why I say this was a punishment.
The agreement we had when we initially moved to this city was that living in Texas would be temporary. That was a non-negotiable part of the deal for me.
My ex lied to me repeatedly.
And when I finally called him on the lies, he left.
Now I am stuck here.
Understand that my ex could move to accommodate me if he wanted to. He has made a great career, but career is not important to him. He has an in-demand set of skills and could find a job with a comparable salary in just about any high-tech sector.
When I find out that I can’t move 15 miles without his permission, ultimately it makes me wonder why his life is so much more important than mine.
This is not just a personal question. Ultimately, divorce is a political question. It is a feminist question.
For just a second, I am asking you to think outside the box. Forget about the “best interests of the child.” Why are “father’s rights” more important than mother’s? Why are men more important than women?
These are questions no one seems to be asking. Maybe I am missing something.
Where is the national conversation about these issues?