The Truth About Custody

Today’s post was inspired by news of Pillar Sander’s middle son finally getting to live with her. Not sure if you remember their divorce or not, but in a nutshell Deion Sanders got primary custody of his two boys and she got shared custody of their daughter who was the youngest at the time. Here’s what his middle son just shared:

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The children are caught in the middle of a divorce. I want to share a story with you. I want you to think about something before you go to war in custody…

I have a lot of friends who have gone through a divorce and custody battle with their children. All but two have had to battle it out in the courts for custody. As sad as it is, it didn’t have to be that way.

Marriages start off great. You fall in love. You create a life. You have children. Your career changes. Life changes. You have children. You raise your children. Life goes on. Then there is a shift in your marriage. It could be mental health, infidelity, loss of love and/or communication. But, something is wrong.

You try to fix it. You try counseling. You try to make your marriage work. You didn’t get married to get divorced. Sex becomes non-existent. You don’t understand what is happening. Why can’t you get back on track?

But, you can’t.

Months pass. Sometimes years. You grow distant. You become roommates. You live separate lives. You even fake it for family in friends. You begin to lose yourself in the hell that is your marriage.

Until one day.

One of you decides that you can’t go on like this. You can’t live this fake life for everyone including your children. You want them to see two happy people than grow up with a false sense of family. You decide it would be best to split and divorce.

What happens to the children?

You believe that your children need both parents. You’ve read the stories of children that do better with both parents in their lives. You will make it work. They will have two homes with two beds, but they will have two active parents. 

Then one person changes their mind. They want to take their chances in court. Battle it out. It could be for a number of reasons, but money or vengeance are probably the top. They don’t want to share. They want the children in their homes and in their lives full-time. You can see them occasionally.

You struggle to breathe. You’ve lived with your children 365 days. You’ve woken up with them. You’ve fed them breakfast, bathed them and taken them to school. You’re a full-time parent. They are the most important people in your life.

You look up at the person that claimed to love you and see that this person doesn’t care. They don’t care about what you did or who you are to the children. They are grieving. You fight it out and go to court.

Your children may be old enough to talk to the judge, but no one is listening. Lawyers, courts and money spent becomes your life. You didn’t plan this. You can’t understand how one person is being given your children and you are being regulated to seeing your child 48 days a year with two weeks vacation in the summer.

It’s not fair. 

But, you accept it. You accept the terms you were given determined to make the best of it. You show up at every recital, baseball game and school program. You are going to be an active parent no matter the circumstances dealt.

Your ex who got the kids can’t let it go. They play games. Wreak havoc in your life. Destroy you with their lies. But, you make it a point to keep your head in the game. Live your life above water. This divorce has already cost you too much. You move on.

Then something happens. Your ex is blocking your visitation. Back and forth to court you go. The system doesn’t budge. They tell her/him to stop and they continue. They tell her/him they can’t deny your visitation and they do it anyway. The courts do nothing.

The light in your children’s eyes diminish. They miss you. You miss them. You get another lawyer. Back to court you’ll go. You request a modification to the child custody. You want a 50% shared custody schedule with a 50% schedule. 

Your lawyers try to advise you both in mediation to split up the children. You can get the boys and she can get the girls. You are both shocked. You both are adamant that the children not be split up. They are siblings. They need each other. You need them.

Your lawyer advises you separately saying that you could win custody of your sons based off your ex’s antics. You get to have them the majority of the time. No more blocked visitations. But, what about your daughter?

You agree to move forward believing something is better than nothing. You can’t be without your children anymore. They need you. Your daughter will be fine you think.

You win.

You smile. You thank God. You thank your lawyers. You’ve finally won.

But, your daughter loss.

Your children are now split between two homes. She has no brothers there to defend her. She is now alone. 

Note: This is the reality in many broken families. Going through a divorce and custody can be both brutal and painful for the children. If you’re battling it out with your former partner, think about the children. Don’t split them up. They need both of you. Let them decide who they want to live with. Listen to them. Respect their decision or let them go. Don’t separate them. Remember the story from the Bible of King Solomon who wanted to split the child in half because both women were fighting over him? The real mother said “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.” She was willing to lose her son than see him die. Which woman are you?

 

 

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/.

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/.

4 Things: May 4th

It’s been a busy few weeks and I realized that there is so much that I want to tell you and so many things that I’m working on. Here are four things that I want you to know for May 4th.

  1. This morning, my ex-husband I go back to court for a temporary guardianship hearing. I have no idea what is going to happen or what the heck that even looks like, but I trust God will be in and through this situation. I serve a mighty God and he’s always looked out for Munch and I. Today will be no different. It’s also National Prayer Day so I ask that you please keep us all in your prayers.
  2. Munch’s birthday was on the 30th and I did a really small party. Small in comparison to the other birthday parties that I’ve thrown. A few children and fun at the skating rink. He loves skating and he had a blast. However, I ordered the cake from BJ’s and they messed up his cake. It was supposed to be Batman and they did Paw Patrol. He’s 9. He was hurt. The cake was free and the store manager was so apologetic. I explained to Munch that sometimes your best laid plans will fail, but the key is to wipe the tears from your eyes and keep smiling. The cake was good and that is what truly mattered.
  3. Munch’s swim class is going well and he indicated that he is interested in trying out for the swim team. I’m excited for him, but we have to work on his endurance so that he can keep up his stamina. Tryouts are in July or August, but I’m all for it. I pray that he makes it. It is expensive, but if he makes it then I will figure it out. Anything for Munch.
  4. I’m walking in the March of Dimes – March for Babies event with my sorority sisters this Saturday. This is my first time walking in an event since I did the Breast Cancer walk (not the 3 day one) over 9 years ago. Munch wasn’t even born. I’m excited to help out and I still need your help. Any amount of money you can donate will be greatly appreciated. No amount is too small. Your deduction is also tax deductible. Here’s the link:  http://www.marchforbabies.org/tikeethathomas

 

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/.

Woman to Woman

Let’s have a talk shall we? As I’ve stated in prior posts, I’m in a state of transition..that from married to single. It’s been a long time since I was single and my first time as a single parent trying to have a co-parenting relationship. I will always love my ex for it was he who gave me our son, but I have to say something… this crap gets hard sometimes!

Not that I’m looking to fix a flat tire or repair my marriage, but co-parenting when we can’t seem to act like adults is hard as hell. Yep, I said “we” purposely. I’m not going to sit here and let you believe that I’ve got this all figured out and I’m the best person when it comes to disengaging my personal animosities and trying to co-parent effectively. I don’t.

Most of the time it is trial and error. Many errors, some good things and a lot of okay things happen. I think letting go of old wounds from our marriage is what is contributing to the bad head space we can find ourselves in. Why? Because we’re both headstrong individuals who have to be right. We both want to have the last word. We both hope that we don’t screw up our son.

Our son lives with his dad 50% of the time and with me 50% of the time. His needs come first. Regardless of what is going on in our lives, we put his needs first. Yes, he is six and yes he is aware that his mommy and daddy will not live together anymore. But, more than that he realizes that the two people who gave him life love him more than we ever thought possible.

The reason why I am calling this post “Woman to Woman” is because I needed to get something off my chest. If you are a woman dating my ex and plan on being around there are some things you should know. A list of how to deal with me and my desire to raise an incredibly wonderful little boy in two separate homes. Here you go:

  1. Never, ever listen to us argue. You see if my ex should get reckless and try to prove to you that I’m crazy and hold a personal conversation on the phone with me while you are riding in his car, be woman enough to tell him that it’s not acceptable. What we argue about should never concern you in your preliminary role.
  2. Just because I don’t know you doesn’t mean that I don’t do my research. I’m a protective mama cub. I only have one child and he means more to me than anything in my life. That being said who you are (your first and last name) matter to me.
  3. I don’t want him back. Nope, I don’t. I love my ex because he and I were together so long. We made memories. Some good, some bad, but in the end the greatest thing we ever did was have our son. I’m not trying to do it again. No matter what you hear.
  4. Understand that no one will ever take my place. Not that I think you believe that, but my ex said that to me. He actually said, “No one can ever take your place as our son’s mother.” Dude, I know this. I still have the incision where he was taken from me five weeks early. There is never a replacement for the original. I’m his mommy.
  5. What happens in my home is my business and vice versa. Unless my son volunteers information, I will never, ever question him about what occurs at his father’s house. It’s none of my business unless it affects his well-being. That being said, very little will ever affect his well-being (because his dad adores him) so I don’t care what happens at daddy’s house as long as he is being loved, fed, clothed and nurtured in the best way possible.
  6. Being a part of his dad’s life long term will mean that you will have to meet me. Understand that I bear no ill will or animosity towards you. I am a mother. I am a woman and I believe in the unity of all women. I encourage us to be civil and make the transition for my child seamless and positive. But, understand that you will have to do your part…know and accept that I will always want to do what is in the best interest of my son. No one is more qualified to make important decisions than his dad and I. No one.

One of the greatest things his dad did after we split was rush over to my house because our son had a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop. It was almost 20 minutes of blood gushing and him screaming. His dad called and he screamed, “I want my daddy”. His dad was in a movie and left and said, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” You know what? He was. Not because of me, but because his son needed him. That was pretty awesome and it made me realize one thing…his dad will move mountains for him and for that I am eternally thankful.

I am new to this co-parenting thing and no I didn’t expect to have it figured out, but I’m trying. His dad and I make a lot of stupid mistakes (mainly because we’re pig-headed) but we are trying. We will someday get this right, but I want the temporary (or permanent) women to know that there is no reason to be less than a woman when attaching yourself to the foolishness that may be us. We love our son and we will get it right (hopefully sooner rather than later) someday.

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