Category Archives: The Big Court Date

The Big Court Date: Part Two

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September 14, 2011 Something came over me in court– the same sense of calm that I had felt the night before.  While my little bottle of Bach’s Homeopathic Rescue Remedy Stress Relief helps– it was more than that.  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 hourall 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 momentin 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.

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The Big Court Day- Part One

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September 12, 2011 It was two days before our big court date and no one had been contacted by the court-appointed Minor’s Counsel.  I was anxious once again.  To him I was just a case.  To me, this wasn’t just a case.  This was my case and my daughter’s well-being was dependent on this investigation.  This was what I had been waiting for.

I pictured the “hurdles” in my mind.  Some people have their happy place that they go to in their mind.  My counselor told me to picture hurdles in my mind– jumping over one after another.  Sailing through the wind– hurdle after hurdle.  Ironically, the same week that she had given me this “visual image” I received a letter from my sister.  Inside the letter was an inspirational card to carry in my pocket.  It contained a poem about jumping over life’s hurdles.  In my “happy place”, I am strong, driven and I fly over hurdles with ease.  THIS was the mindset that I needed.

The day before the court date, I received a call from the attorney’s paralegal.  She was asking for the names and phone numbers of people to contact.  I was confused.  They had all of this information.  What was happening?  I felt like I plowed straight into a hurdle.  I gave her the information requested and I prayed.  Hard.

I sat and thought about it.  I was feeling powerless.  Why was I feeling powerless?  I was giving my power and my faith to another person- an attorney and a court system that is overloaded.  These people didn’t have to go home with me and look my two little girls in the eyes.  These were MY daughters and I needed to take control and fight.  I needed to awaken my inner momma bear again.  I needed to go home and prepare myself for tomorrow.  I needed to put on my “big girl panties” and do what I do best: protect my babies.

I went home and I reviewed my paperwork to prepare myself for battle.  I made bullet points of my key issues.  I know from past experience that nerves can take over and the best laid plans can go awry.  I had a burst of confidence and a sense of calm come over me that night.  I thank God for that and I thank two angels who have been in my corner through this process.  These two angels are in law enforcement and gave me a suggestion that ultimately saved my case.  I knew in my heart that their advice was going to help me drastically however, I had no idea of the magnitude.

September 14, 2011– Today is the day.  Court.

I arrived in court and discovered that my ex-husband was not going to appear in person.  He was going to call in and appear via the court speaker phone.  I was relieved about that.  I sat at the table as the attorney reported his findings– he had spoken to my daughter’s school principals along with my oldest daughter’s therapist.  He had also called my ex-husband’s cousin who gave him rave reviews as a father.  He called my ex-husband’s friend who is a local chiropractor and he also gave him rave reviews.  He didn’t call the people who knew us– the teachers, the nannies who lived in our home or the teachers from Mommy & Me classes.  He didn’t call my cousin nor did he call my friends.  I was devastated but kept my cool.  I waited patiently for him to finish– I checked the items off my list as he addressed them.  He closed his report and they asked me if I had anything to add.

I did.  I had many things to add.

I brought up multiple issues:

1. Drunk in Public offenses that the attorney had uncovered during the investigation but didn’t mention– these substantiated my claims of alcohol abuse.

2. My ex-brother-in-law (Brother A) and the disturbing issues that pertained to that topic which weren’t mentioned or investigated.

3. I brought up the fact that he was lying about the whereabouts of my children– each weekend and in fact, the most recent visitation of September 3 and 4th.  He claimed they were in San Francisco.  I knew they weren’t.

To be continued on 2nd Post……