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/.

Real Talk: You Chose Him

Can we get real for a moment? Have a real talk? Discuss something that’s been on my mind for a minute.

Okay, here goes…

Girl, you chose him! Stop acting like the man that you laid down with and had a baby with is unfit to see his dang child. Was he unfit when you were sleeping with him? Was he unfit when you gave birth? Was he unfit when he showed up at every doctor’s appointment, sporting event or school performance? No.

No, he wasn’t. He was there being a partner with you. Loving you. Being excited for his blessing that was growing in your womb.

We have to stop this backward thinking when it comes to raising our children. We don’t need to raise our children alone. Nor should we have to. If you have a man that is a father and wants to be a father then why make it difficult?

It’s not about you. It’s about your children. They deserve to have both parents in their lives.

Do you know how many men I meet that tell me that I’m an incredible mother because I don’t deny my son the opportunity to see or visit his father whenever he wants to? Should I get a medal? Nope. I’m doing what’s right.

Right by who? My son. His father.

My marriage didn’t work, but that didn’t mean that his dad was a crap father. He wasn’t. He loves his son. Does he make mistakes (in my opinion)? Yes. But, so do I. No one is perfect.

I didn’t use my son as a pawn.

Neither can you. Even if the father is a questionable individual he should still be allowed to spend time with his child. Even if supervised. Children grow up. They learn who was there and who wasn’t.

But, this isn’t a competition. This is parenting and this s**t is real. We have to do better. We have to learn to co-parent and get along for the sake of our children.

This pettiness, bitterness, I don’t need you to do a damn thing for me attitude has got to take a backseat for the children. You may not need him to do a damn thing, but he should still be able to be a father.

My male best friend went through a divorce 7+ years ago. At the time, his ex wife decided that he would be better as an every other weekend dad. She (along with the courts) stripped his rights and limited his visitation. He was devastated.

She then went two years without letting him see his kids every other weekend. He filed motions of contempt and back and forth to court. The judge caved and made excuses for her. He said, “Tikeetha, I give up. The courts are siding with her. If she wants to do it all then fine. Let her. I’m tired of fighting a battle that I will never win.”

It hurt to hear that. I begged him not to give up. These were his children too. They deserved to have their father and mother in their lives. He couldn’t afford the continued expense. He would show up at the designated meeting spot every other weekend hoping she would be there. Every other weekend for two years. You know what? She wouldn’t be there. Until one day.

He flagged a state police officer down. He showed him the visitation schedule. The officer called her and told her she had 30 minutes to bring the children or he would arrest her. She showed up.

Ridiculous huh? The bitter truth is that she hates him. She’s using her kids as a pawn. Their son is now 15 and very disrespectful to her. She wants his father to help her. He asked her “Why? You did everything in your power to keep me from my kids. You can’t play the hero and victim. You did this so deal with it.”

Do I agree with his response? Nope. But, I understand. I’ve talked him off the mountain and said “Your son will never be happy because how a boy treats his mother is how he will be judged. You need to address that behavior.” They are going to family counseling next month.

However, the worst part of all this is that his son said, “Do you know how embarrassing it is for me that my parents don’t even speak? That my mother and father hate each other. The only time there is ever a conversation is if she’s calling to complain about me.”

Wow! Out of the mouth of babes. Doesn’t that just break your heart?

We’ve got to do better women! We chose them. They have rights. More importantly…our children need their fathers.