I am in the end stages of a divorce, so they tell me, but I cannot help feeling the system is incredibly bias when looking at child custody. My story is unfortunately like many military members: I was in Iraq, upon my return I received the “Dear John” call, found out she had a boyfriend, etc.
I have two daughters, now ages 4 and 6, that I love dearly. I spend as much time as I can with them and want more – we currently have the great California mandated 50/50 plan. Throughout the entire process she has continually lied and violated every restraining order or stipulation that has been put in place and there have been no repercussions.
I have sworn to defend our country and Constitution but when it comes to my rights as a father, I feel like I have none.
She lives with her boyfriend, has for over 14 months, and I still have to pay spousal support because she denies it. I have proof of her living arrangement and her deliberately under reporting her income but I continually get told “we’ll work that into the final settlement.”
I filed for divorce in May 2008, in June 2009 petitioned for bifurcation so she could be divorced in title but still leave the financial pieces outstanding. I was advised that I should sign because she could try to hit me up for legal fees if I didn’t. I signed. The reason she wanted the bifurcation was twofold, her boyfriend was a military member and it could impact his career and she was 8 months pregnant! To recap, she had an affair, left me with all the bills, I pay spousal support and child support, she lies about her hours, lives with her boyfriend, is pregnant…
In our child sharing arrangement we have a four-hour right of first refusal, so if they are going to be out of either one of our care the other parent must be allowed to care for the children. Throughout the process I have argued that she leaves them with her friend or boyfriend for a couple hours and then they drop them off at the babysitting place where she works (she is a trainer at a gym) and they watch my daughters for a few hours – in my mind this is against the order. Of course my ex-wife tries to twist it and she has been successful.
This past weekend she sent her friend to pick up the children from me, she texted me to tell me this after she was already late to pick them up. I refused to surrender the children; she threatened to call the police but knew that I was right. She told me that the doctor had told her she was not to walk or drive until she was seen at an appointment the next day, I told her I would keep the children that night and take them to her tomorrow. She refused, so I offered to take them to her home. I dropped my daughters off at her home and left after they went inside.
The next day I asked her what her plan was for the children when she went to deliver, she refused to tell me – none of my business. Today I picked up my daughters and they told me that the baby was here! Apparently she texted and called me Sunday from the hospital, she delivered Saturday night / Sunday morning. My daughters spent the night at my ex-wife’s friend’s home – her boyfriend was the only one at the house when I dropped them off… so nothing but lies the entire time.
I have read several articles about Parental Alienation Syndrome; luckily my daughters have not displayed any of those symptoms yet. Though my ex-wife continually probes my children about what they do with me at my home and then attacks it. She uses the children as messengers: “Mommy said we can’t do that…” etc. She has even gone to the extreme of telling them that I do not want them. She has continually ignored my rights to be with my daughters and has gone out of her way to make things difficult. The hardest part about all of this to accept is that I put on my uniform every day, I have sworn to defend our country and Constitution but when it comes to my rights as a father, I feel like I have none.
I did not mean to rant on about this or try to make anyone feel sorry for me; I am just a frustrated father that is tired. I am tired of dealing with lies and seeing nothing done. I am tired of drying my daughter’s tears when I have to take them to spend time with their mother. I am tired of telling lawyers and judges things and having the evidence ignored or not seen because they only have an hour for me. I am tired of feeling like anything she accuses me of or says is fact, I have to prove it a lie and anything I accuse her of, I have to prove is true… it seems like the courts give her the benefit of the doubt in all cases and it is exhausting. I have shared some of my experiences on my site, http://batteredwarrior.typepad.com/a_battered_warrior/, feel free to visit or comment. I know I am not alone, it is just frustrating dealing with a system that is so incredibly biased and the children are the ones caught in the middle.
I am a Marine Officer and a single father. Though I am a Marine, I do not let my title define me. I am a romantic and have the scars to show for it. I love being a daddy – any man can be a father, but you have to want to be a daddy.
God, my children, weight lifting, football, motorcycles, writing, poetry and painting are my interests.