You Will Not Believe This

I told you all about how my ex and I are going back to court for custody and that when we arrived to have our custody hearing we were told that we were still married. No? You can read about it in Failure of the Court and in Divorced Again. Long story short…we were both shocked as hell.

We went to a Pendente Lite (temporary custody) hearing on May 4th only to be told that nothing can be done because the second divorce hadn’t been signed off. Yep, another day off work. Another day of time wasted. Another day of stress. The magistrate then said that we have a custody hearing in August so it would wait. What the hell? More delays. More stress. More time off work.

I was beyond frustrated and barely holding on with all this back and forth. I felt like the courts had failed me. Could no one do their job? Would I have to continue in this state of unknown until August? Yep. Apparently.

I was a wreck a few days after the hearing as you can imagine because I was mentally and physically tired. I allowed myself a couple of days to focus on other things and to get my mind right. There were still things that I had to do and Munch still needed to be taken care of. After a few days of moping around, I got up and moved on with my life.

Well, last Monday when I went to get the mail I had three notices from the courts. Not thinking it was anything other than the second divorce paper and update on the August trial, I was shocked to read:

The Scheduling Order dated April 20, 2017 and the Magistrate recommendations of April 11, 2017 and May 4, 2017 are stricken. The Judgment of Absolute Divorce dated March 17, 2016 remains in full force and effect. The parties’ respective Motions for Modification shall be scheduled for three hours on the earliest available date. Notice to be sent to the parties.

What? Was I reading this correctly? That meant that a judge had reviewed our complicated file and decided that all that extra BS we were going through was not necessary and that the original divorce stood as is. Custody remained as is. We were legally divorced back to the original date granted.

I ripped open the other two envelopes and one said to schedule the Motions for Modification hearing on June 21st and to remove the merits hearing scheduled for August. The final was the hearing confirmation from the court house calendar management division. It was real. It was happening. Sooner rather than later and I didn’t have to wait until August.

What’s the big deal? Nothing really. Time. I am tired of all the back and forth and the courts are stressing me the hell out. First we’re divorced, then we’re not divorced, then we can’t have a hearing on custody because the second divorce hadn’t been signed off and then we’re really divorced (my bad) let’s go to court next month.  It is exhausting. Heck, I’m exhausted telling you about it.

But, thankfully a judge reviewed the file in it’s entirety and upheld the original divorce and decided that we didn’t have to start all over. Again. I appreciated that. I don’t know what will happen in court next month, but I’m convinced that God’s will will be done. So, I ask that you keep us all (Munch, my ex and I) in your prayers because truthfully we need it.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

the gf

I really enjoyed this read by a fellow blogger, Staci Beth over at From He Double Hockey Sticks and Back about co-parenting. She really discusses her struggles and I could relate on so many levels. Ideally we would like to think that everyone can have a great relationship with the other parent, but in many cases this doesn’t happen. What do you do when it happens? Check out her great post about her struggles:  Source: the gf

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Divorced Again

I told you in yesterday’s post Failure of the Court how we went to court for a modification of custody to find out that we are still legally married to each other. The court failed us. We thought we were divorced, but the divorce wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. It was a sham.

In Maryland you can have both your divorce and custody tied together if there are no issues. It’s simpler, more effective and cheaper. I chose this route since I filed for divorce. It saved us time and money. However, because our custody was tied to the divorce and not separate. There was no custody agreement because there was no divorce.

You see the dilemma?

We were both having mini-breakdowns and trying to navigate what happens now. The magistrate explains that he can’t discuss custody because we’re still legally married and that divorce we were given is invalid so we can’t modify the custody as part of the divorce because the divorce is invalid. Basically, no one has custody. Are you freaking kidding me? What?

We were trying to digest all the information that was provided. The magistrate informed us that he was upset over the situation as well and wanted to get out of meeting with us because he couldn’t bear to hear that one of us had remarried and what that meant because he had defended a woman that had a similar situation in another county.

In Maryland, bigamy is a felony that can result in an individual spending up to nine years in jail.  The only way out of it is if your “ex-spouse” has been gone for seven continuous years or you don’t know where your “ex-spouse” is living at the time of your new marriage. That meant that if either of us had been remarried we would have been charged criminally with a felony because the courts screwed up our divorce. They don’t care if you knew about their screw up or not because you are charged criminally and divorce is a civil case.

This is getting more frustrating.

To learn that even if you didn’t know that your divorce was invalid and the courts were at fault and you get remarried you could still catch a felony case? To put it in perspective, our magistrate then tells us a story of a client he had a few years ago that went through this. She went through a bitter custody and property divorce. Her ex was upset because it wasn’t favorable to him. They settled custody and property and then the woman’s attorney filed for divorce. The divorce was filed 11 months after their separation and they were granted a divorce.

Fast forward two years and the woman is remarried and just had a baby with her new husband. She receives in the mail a bench warrant for her arrest and a notice vacating her divorce as invalid. Her “ex-spouse” had went to the state’s attorney’s office and requested that he check their files because their divorce wasn’t legal because Maryland required a 12 month separation not 11 months. The state’s attorney found out it was true and then the woman’s life became a two year nightmare of having to fight a felony bigamy charge, getting divorced, getting remarried and getting her life back.

We sat there dumbfounded.

I said “I don’t understand how the state can charge someone for something they did. The state is at fault because you can’t marry or divorce yourself so if documents aren’t valid then the state is at fault for that. How am I to be criminally charged with their poor hiring choices? That’s not my fault.” He responded “It’s not your fault and you did nothing wrong. But, Maryland law is firm.”

Thank God neither one of us remarried.

The magistrate then asks us do we still want to be divorced. Umm, yes. However, I said that I don’t want to pay for it. I paid the first time and it was a waste of money so everything should be free.

So, he has us go to the paralegal’s office down the hall and have them print out a complaint for absolute divorce and an answer to an absolute divorce. I then requested a complaint for custody and an answer to complaint for custody.

We completed the forms and I asked for sole custody in all paperwork. Both sole physical and sole legal.  I wasn’t going to stop his visitation, but I needed written confirmation on how we’re supposed to do this. We went back into the court room and the bailiff let him see my forms so he knew how to respond in answer. The bailiff gave the forms to the magistrate.

We asked questions on how do we proceed not having a signed custody agreement in place, he said as a lawyer I would advise you to keep things as they are until you go before a judge. No matter how you want to change it, the courts care about how the child is coping with things now.

We sighed.

He included a line in the decree to untie it from the divorce and we would get a separate custody agreement. He turned on the recording and then proceeded to divorce us.

We were divorced again. We left feeling somewhat defeated. This ordeal was working our nerves.

We then met with the scheduling coordinator and turned in our custody paperwork. The coordinator then scheduled all of the things we needed to do including the temporary hearing for 3 weeks. It was overwhelming to say the least.

We go to court again for a hearing on May 4th. My ex-husband (I pray this is in fact legitimate) and I will go to discuss a temporary custody agreement, attend parenting classes and mediation and then have a final custody hearing in August. It’s a hot mess.

We are trying to meet and work some things out on our own prior to our May 4th court date. The more that we try to do on our own and just have the courts put it in writing the better off. There are no winners in our battle for custody. I know that. Ultimately, Munch will be the loser, so knowing that allows me to try to meet with him and work some stuff out on our own.

At this point I realized and began to accept the silver lining in all this. What silver lining you might ask? The fact that he wanted a modification which got us back in court to realize that our first divorce wasn’t real and then actually get divorced again. This allowed us to not have to catch a felony case or sue the state for negligence.

You see? God was in it.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

I Broke

I’ve always been honest with you about my co-parenting struggles. The relationship with my ex-husband is sometimes unnerving, antagonistic and dysfunctional to say the best. I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting.

I received a certified notice at my house in January. It was a certified letter from my ex’s cousin. I opened it up and in it was a Writ of Summons. He was petitioning the court to modify the custody arrangements. I cried.

I couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t even send me an email or try to communicate with me about his wishes before trying to take me to court. Nine months after custody was finalized he was trying to change it. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t object in March of last year.

I called Mr. C. I was a wreck. Between tears and anguish, I poured out my heart. I screamed “You see why I don’t trust him? Why would he betray me like this?” He said “Babe, calm down.”

I couldn’t. I couldn’t be calm. I had to get a handle on my life right now. I struggled to breathe. How could he do this to me? This is ridiculous.

I have physical custody of my son. My ex-husband has a visitation schedule with joint legal. I talked about this in my post last year entitled Closed. He knew that I was filing for sole physical custody. It was in the best interest of Munch. I never hid that from him. I wanted to modify the visitation schedule we were doing with every other week due to his health issues. He agreed.

I told him that I would give him time to let me know what he would like and proposed a Thursday to Monday every other week. I told him that I was open and to please let me know what he wanted to do. He said “Okay. I’m going to trust you. I’m going to trust that you’re not trying to keep my son from me.” I’ve kept up my end of the bargain.

I’ve never kept him from his son. Never. He came back to me a few months after the divorce was final and said he didn’t want to adjust the schedule. He wanted to keep it as is. Trying to appear fair and level headed and not the controlling b*tch that he’s called me, I agreed.

Best of interest of Munch. I allowed him to keep Thanksgiving and Easter. I offered him the opportunity to spend time with his son on Christmas Day too.  Any additional times he wanted to take Munch out of town or just be present in his life. Yep. I have no problem with that either. That’s his dad.

Best interest of Munch.

That is what I kept telling myself. It is in the best interest of Munch. The many arguments, the threats, the name calling. I’ve endured it all. I never harass him about payment for expenses and I don’t ask for child support. We agreed to equally support Munch. It’s not equal. I pay for medical expenses, dental expenses, swim lessons, tutoring, guitar, soccer and any and all equipment needed.

His response was “You never tell me how much stuff costs.” I sighed and responded “You know it’s not free. When I asked you before you said you didn’t know when you could give me the money.” I let it go. I didn’t worry about it.

Munch was my responsibility. I had primary physical custody. I can’t complain about the many expenses outside of the $150 a month he pays towards Munch’s childcare. I would take care of it. I adapt. I adjust my spending. I adjust and keep it moving. Allow my son to learn and love both parents equally.

I don’t say no to the things he needs or the experiences he wants. I figure it out. Alone. I just make sure that my son has the experiences he wants. I didn’t have that when I was growing up. My son would never know what that is like.

I submitted my response to the courts last month. I had 30 days. New information was presented to me. I amended my response and submitted it to the courts. I mailed everything to him. Now, we have to do what I thought we never wanted to do…allow the courts to decide what is best for Munch.

Today is the day that the courts have to be in our business and choose for our son. Am I happy about it? Nope. Am I surprised? Honestly, nope. Did I wish for better? Yeah. But, this is the luck of the draw. I chose this situation when I ended my marriage and this is where I find myself. Accepting responsibilities for my choices and fighting for the best interest of my child.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Dating Parents – Part I

This is going to be a two part post because I have to tell ya’ll what’s going on and I don’t want it to drag out. Please bear with me because I will want some advice in the end. Here’s what happened…

Last month, Mr. C and I took our children to view the National Christmas tree and to dinner afterwards. His son is 18 and Munch is 8. Two different decades and nothing much in common. It was my first time meeting his son and getting to sort through the emotions that I amassed as to whether or not he would like me or how he would feel about me dating his dad.

I’ve never seriously dated a man with a child. I was always adamant about being the center of a man’s attention and children didn’t allow that to happen, so I avoided men with kids. Until…

Until I became single with a kid.

I realized that I didn’t want anymore children so I really wanted to date a man with kids so he wouldn’t ask me to have any. Pregnancy wasn’t that great and I’m over it. I’m too old to try and have another baby and I wanted to spend my life loving someone and the family that we built together through love and determination.

I also needed someone who could get the fact that I’m a  working mother. That I have things that I have to do at work, at Munch’s school and with my friends and then understand that I wanted one-on-one time with my son. My son is my priority. I needed someone who could appreciate that. I dated some men that couldn’t appreciate or understand when I had to cancel a date because my son was sick at his dad’s house.

Others that said that they understood, but wanted me to have more children. Umm, nope. I’m done. I’ve closed up shop and decided that no more children would occupy this womb.

Those men were the worst. They really believed they could convince me to abandon my beliefs and bear them heirs. Yeah, like that was going to happen.

And then there was Mr. C.

He came into my life not wanting more children. Loving my ambition and encouraging me in a way that I never thought possible. His love was real. It was healthy. I was truly happy and at peace.

So, it was only inevitable that I would fall in love with a great man that didn’t want anymore children. He was willing to love me and my son as though we were flesh of his flesh and would help me raise Munch when we got married. He didn’t mind starting over. He would have a child in college and one in elementary school. I loved that about him though.

In this space that we are creating and building I’m trying to merge our lives more. Not just as a couple, but as parents. Letting the kids get to know each other and spend time with each other. We’re not rushing an instant bonding session, but we wanted our children to know how we feel about each other and share our respective lives.

But…I didn’t expect that to have an impact on Munch.

Why?

Because Munch has met his dad’s girlfriend. He likes her. He spends time with her. He speaks of her often. I had never introduced Munch to anyone that I was dating. Ever. So, him having experience with his dad’s girlfriend should let him know that I was serious about someone right?

Munch has met Mr. C a few times. The first being this summer for all of about 5 minutes in an informal setting and then he off he went to play with his friends. Then a couple of times at the house. I wanted to slowly introduce Munch to the man that I had fallen in love with. I wanted him to know that here was a man that I thought worthy to introduce him too.

Seeing as where I had taken things slowly with Mr. C, I thought that Munch would see the importance of this man in my life. That he would be able to understand that this great man is a good guy and wants to get to know him. That he would feel that man’s love ooze all out and be able to process that mommy wanted a future with Mr. C.

However, that didn’t happen. Munch is 8 after all. I was wishing on a star and I thought he would be cool. But, he wasn’t and I just wasn’t prepared for that. It started when I picked him up and I told him that we had a big day and that we were hanging out with Mr. C and his son that evening and he sighed. What? What is the sigh about I asked. He responded, “Can’t we just spend some time alone me and you?”

I was hot. Really? I explained to him that he spends time with his dad and his girlfriend all the time and it’s never a problem. I told him that I limit the amount of time I spend with Mr. C when it’s my week with him because I want that alone time with him. I said, “You can’t act like it’s cool for you and your dad to spend every waking moment with his girlfriend (I’m probably exaggerating, but I was emotional) and when I want to spend a couple of hours with you and Mr. C it is a problem.” I had to catch myself. I was having a mommy meltdown.

 

5 Rules to This Co-Parenting Thing

This is a follow-up post to my 3 Truths About Co-Parenting. I, along with many others struggle when trying to find a balance with child-rearing and dealing with our exes so I wanted to share my 5 Rules for co-parenting. This is not an inclusive list and please understand that one size doesn’t fit all.

Co-parenting for lack of a better word is when two partners who had a child together are no longer together whether through break-up or divorce and they have to parent separately. Co-parenting assumes that both adults will parent jointly and thus create a harmonious situation for the child and/or children.

In all honesty, that rarely happens. The reality is that it takes two adults to move past the pain in their relationship. My best friend said to me “No matter how much the other person didn’t want to be married, you become the enemy because you ended it.” I thought that was crazy as hell, but listening to the things that my friend’s endure, I see there is truth in that.

The problem is that we, as adults, have to be willing to put aside our pain, anger and frustrations about our ex for the sake of our children. Again, this will take time. However, how long before you destroy each other and time won’t heal that wound and you continue to hate each other for your entire lifetime? It’s not healthy. It’s not healthy for the new partner who embarks on this situation.

The new girlfriend/boyfriend who may become the new wife/husband of your ex will be walking through a battlefield. They may not know, understand or care for the whole story. In reality, people only know what you tell them. But, you know that there are often 3 sides to every story…his, hers and the truth right? The truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

This acrimonious environment that adults find themselves in allows for you to breed contempt for each other and that hatred can and will boil over. Think of it like a boiling pot of your favorite sauce. You add too many ingredients (years of anger and memories from a failed relationship) into the pot and then heat it up on high. The heat is caused by the miscommunication or lack there of, lack of respect, lack of similar beliefs and values. What do you think is about to happen?

You’ll be surprised the number of things you thought were a given when you were married, but realized that you didn’t know the stranger who you are now forced to parent with. Things you took for granted…shared beliefs, values, morals, etc. You are often wondering what the hell happened? How could I have not seen that?

You have to stay strong and do what’s best for your child and/or children. Does that mean you lie down and be a whipping post? No. Does that mean that you have to do the things you did when you were married? No. But, it means that you need to step back and do at a minimum, these 5 things.

  1. Parent in the present. The past is gone. That relationship is over and dead. You aren’t reviving it or trying to get back together, so you should never say “You’ve always done… or You’ve always been this…” You can’t do it. You’re living in the past and you can’t parent in the present if you’re living in the past.
  2. Seek therapy. Parenting is hard as hell if you’re married. Add a divorce, anger, an affair, money issues, moving expenses, etc and you are bound to lose your cool with your ex. It happens. Normal as hell. But, you know what? Your anger over your ex leaving you or moving on will create problems when you try to co-parent. I believe in therapy for yourself and then learning how to co-parent with each other.
  3. No Child Left Behind. Don’t forget your parenting responsibilities in all your every day life. I get that you may now have to work or get two jobs to pay for child support, but you can’t neglect the important task of spending time with your children. They need you. You need them. Don’t neglect them if you start dating again. Don’t force your new partner down their throats either. Let them sort of lead the process.
  4. You have the right to say no. Don’t allow guilt to set you up for being a doormat to your ex’s whims or requests. You have the right to say no. If you can’t pick up your child from school for the 3rd time because you have plans…let them figure it out. You don’t have to provide them with information if you don’t want to. Now, I’m not talking about giving them the information and access to any on-line school accounts, but it is their responsibility to pay attention to the school calendar and not depend on you. You’re not married anymore.
  5. Boundaries are Beautiful. I realized that I didn’t have any boundaries when I shifted from married to separated and eventually divorced. The same things I did in marriage, I did in divorce. Copying him on emails to the teachers or following up with him about things I learned and that communication turned around and bit me in the butt. It backfired. I felt like that I was doing a lot and he was acting like I owed it to him to do it. I don’t have to do the things that I would have done as a wife. I have to set boundaries about what I will and won’t do and vice versa.

Parenting is hard as heck when you are married and more so when you are divorced. In the beginning you feel as though you don’t know the person you were once married too. It happens. It’s normal. It’s your new normal. You’ll struggle to find balance and let things evolve naturally. Some days it will work and other days it won’t. Does that mean that either parent is wrong? Nope. You just do the best you can and pray that your children will be okay.