Category Archives: 2011- Fighting For My Children

Refusing to Comply with Court Orders

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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.

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$24,958.99 in Arrears

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There is a looming court date in January.  This one doesn’t cause me stress– it’s a date put on the calendar by my X to lower his “current” child support amount.  This is not my battle to fight nor do I care too.  I leave everything between him and the local Child Support Services office.

The long and short of it all: he lost another job.  I should clarify what I mean by “current” child support amount.  Technically, there is no current amount nor has there been since May.  There is a past-due amount that keeps accumulating each month.  In 2010, he hid income by failing to mention large bonuses that he had from his employer.  These issues were addressed in court last year and now he is in arrears.

The past due amount currently sits at $24,958.99

He lives in a luxury condo in San Francisco paying two-thousand dollars per month for a single bedroom.  He always has new clothing, shoes and carries a Blackberry yet he has never asked if the girls need school clothing, groceries or if I need help with their health insurance.  It’s been difficult for me to understand how a man can do this.

I recently read an article by Karyl McBride, Ph.D. in The Legacy of Distorted Love .  Here is an exert from the article which sums up the current issue at hand:

Their entitlement needs get in the way of fairly dividing property and money and in the end they do not think of what is best for the child or children. They think about what is best for them. 

His goal is to hurt me by finding ways to beat the system and to avoid paying child support.  He will inevitably find jobs under the table or borrow money from friends and family.  He really isn’t hurting me.  He’s only hurting his daughters.  In the end, we will be fine and I will make things work just like I always do.
In all honesty, it’s been quite empowering to discover that I can make it without his financial support.

Confirmation- In Writing

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This morning I went to the courthouse to pick up our court order from last Wednesday.  As I already knew, it was pretty straightforward and stated (word for word):

The Petitioner shall email the Respondent 24 hours in advance to let her know he will exercise visitation, if no email is received visitation is cancelled”. 

This new order protects my daughters from the constant disappointment of waiting at the pick-up location when he doesn’t show up for visitations.  My goal isn’t to keep them from their father– he is who he is and they will figure that out on their own without my help.  If he doesn’t email us to confirm visitation then it allows us to make other plans and go on with our life.  My goal is to stop his ability to rule our lives which is what he thrives on.

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To Re-Cap: This weekend, the X and I had a “stand-off” pertaining the most recent court order.  The problem, I didn’t have it in-hand to prove what the judge had ordered.  We were in court on Wednesday and it usually takes a few days for the order to hit our file.  I am well-versed in the court timelines by this point.  In my mind, the order was pretty clear.  I assumed (wrongly) that he understood the order as well.  I knew it wouldn’t sit well with him because it was another rule that he had to follow– he doesn’t like rules.  He doesn’t like being told what to do.

Friday came and went– no email.  Saturday morning, as expected– he was at the pick-up location and insisting that I bring the girls immediately.  Threats followed– he was calling the police…he said I was vindictive…he said that I was “this- that- and the other”.  The email rant followed the voice mails– accusing me of Parental Alienation Syndrome…accusing me of having Lupus versus Multiple Sclerosis (he MUST be smarter than my doctor who graduated from Harvard, right?)…on…and on….and on.

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Music is therapeutic for me and the right song always seems to come on at the right time– Christine Aguilera’s song, “Fighter” just came on and Wikipedia describes it this way, “This video shows the metamorphosis of Aguilera’s slow, yet steady progression of her inner-strength, from being heartbroken, to becoming unbreakable”.

I have inner strength– that’s what got me through this.  It’s been a process.

I feel unbreakable– that too has been a process.

In My Perfect World

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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

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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

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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.

The attorney who represents the girls has a heart and does care.  In the past 24 hours of speaking to him and watchinghim in court– my confidence is restored.  He communicated with me– heard my concerns by phone last night and itshowed in court today.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.