MSA

I don’t know how to feel right now. I have to be in court in two and a half hours to submit a marital settlement agreement (MSA) to hopefully avoid a full on trial. All I can really say for sure is that I feel tired. All of this legal crap has been very draining, and I’m ready for it to be over. However, even after the divorce is finalized, my legal journey is not over. I must then file for bankruptcy to wipe the slate clean and try for a new beginning.

I have learned from my mistakes, and I know I am a different, stronger person today. I have the support of a loving partner, my mother, my sponsor, etc. Still I feel alone in this at times like these. I am the one who has to walk the path, and there is no denying that it is scary. I worry that I am doing the right thing filing for bankruptcy. I am scared not knowing where I will be living soon. I am sad for my soon to be ex-husband and troubled by the effect it may have on our son. I do not doubt my decision to get divorce in any way. I remember the hell we used to live in, and divorced parents is a million times better than that. Still, he will be different from his friends growing up. He may harbor resentment, hide his sadness, bottle up anger or who knows?

I would think as a child of divorce myself that I would have the tools already equipped to handle this with my son. The situation; however, is very different. My father never put up any fight for custody, and I was glad when my parents got divorced. I was nine and I hated being around the fighting. They were clearly miserable, and the divorce was a necessary relief to everyone. My son is only three and a half. He has two parents who love him and want to be involved in his life. He probably won’t remember the fighting, hopefully, and may not have perspective on why his parents split up. His father will never say it was his decision; therefore, I will be to blame when my son gets upset about it. What do I say to that little boy? I’m not going to say that his father was abusive and we were both miserable and treated each other poorly. The generic “sometimes mommies and daddies want different things” explanation seems like an insult to his intelligence even at his current age…

But this is all worries about the future, and I know I cannot predict or control it. I know I have to stay in this day, but today sucks. I am scared and sad. All I can do is pray, and hope it goes well and is over with quickly.

Gloves Off

I don’t know what I expected. Nothing was ever easy when it came to dealing with my husband. I was hoping he wouldn’t be a complete a$$hole when it came to getting through this divorce. That was a stupid assumption.

The judge has appointed a GAL for our son, which is not inherently a bad thing, but I have literally no money to pay for this third lawyer. $5000 retainer off the bat. I have to come up with half of that, and I cannot even pay my own lawyer. I’m not sure where the judge expects me to get this money. You could turn me upside down and shake me to see if any change fell out of my pockets, but it would be a waste of your time.

As I have said, my credit cards are maxed and closed out. I make just enough to pay for the mortgage, association fees, car payment, car insurance, and my son’s daycare. I buy clothes at Good Will. I shop for super clearance items as Big Lots and Jewel. I spend very little on anything besides the bills I absolutely have to pay. I am constantly searching for a second job, and I’m just flabbergasted at this point. My husband lawyer proposed he only has to pay $98 in child support a month… Um what?! I take care of our son 99% of the time. How did his lawyer pull that calculation out of her backside? My lawyer estimated $610. Something is severely off about both his lawyer and this judge.

I have been trying my very best to compromise, against my wishes. I do not want to drag this out, but you can only push a person so far. The gloves are off. Let’s go to trial. I will be in debt for the rest of my life, but I’ll be damned if I am going to let him/his lawyer go about this like he’s some poor, mistaken father that everyone should feel sorry for. He is an abuser. He is a master manipulator. He thinks the world is out to get him and he has never done anyting wrong in his entire life.

No. Just No! I’m not going to just take it for the sake of getting the divorce over with. I have way to much self respect these days to let that happen. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to fight this, but I will find a way.

Court: Money for Justice?

Today is yet another court date. There is always a 50/50 chance whether or not opposing counsel will show up, or the judge. My attorney is always there, which is good, but it also means I get charge regardless if anything gets done or not. Every phone call, e-mail, court appearance, proposal drafted, motion created/submitted, all of it I gets charged. I absolutely think that my lawyer should be paid for her hard work. But some the charges seem like I’m being taken advantage of. What can I do though? I absolutely need her services.

So we do this slow, painful, stress inducing dance called divorce proceedings. I have broken down in to tears countless times in frustration and feeling powerless. The judge has made it clear that since there was no direct abuse by my husband to our son, he should keep his parental rights despite never exercising them. Never mind that he fought with me in front of our son as I constantly begged him not to; hours on end, almost daily. Never mind the knife he brought in the room with us. Never mind throwing my phone against the wall. Never mind trapping me in his car, or the bathroom, or the bedroom so I couldn’t move freely and was forced to engage him. Never mind threatening to kill himself in front of our son and I so we could “watch,” and then deny it to anyone else.

I have hours of phone calls with this asshole recorded so people would believe me. None of it is usable in court. His ex-girlfriend even reached out to me on Facebook, completely unsolicited, to apologize and detail how she had no idea how manipulative and dangerous he was. Again, it is not directly connected to my son. So, according to the judge, none of this matters.

I wish he would have been physically abusive instead of committing so much emotional torture. At least if he hit me, everyone could see with their own eyes what a piece of shit he is. Oh well I guess. It is what it is, and all I can do anymore is try to take the best care of myself and my son as I can.

The Twisted Middle Part Two

One minute he would threaten to take everything away, the next, he was going to leave and never return. It was exhausting and it felt like I was watching some animal caught in a trap fighting for it’s life. But he was fighting for control back, not his life. He constantly threatening to kill himself if I left him. After saying it so many times, his mother, our second counselor, and I managed to get him committed. He was not happy about it. He took all the money out of our joint account and said he would only put it back if I got him out. I felt sad knowing he wouldn’t take advantage of the help provided in the hospital.

I knew it was only a temporary reprieve. It was a holiday weekend, and on January second, I went to court for an emergency order of protection. Since my husband was in the behavioral health unit, the judge did not see an imminent threat and did not grant it. However, a plenary order of protection was set for status.

It was granted by the skin of my teeth. The sheriff had attempted to serve him with the notice many times, but he was never home at his parents. I finally got a hold of the Sheriff’s office and gave them his work address. He was served at noon the day before court. Two years he was ordered to stay away from me, my home, and could only have supervised visitation with our son. I could breath again. I bought a new car since I didn’t have one, got a job, put my son in  the best daycare I could find, and spent two months trying to get free legal representation through the county. Free legal aid in my county is overburdened, and I realized nothing was going to happen quickly if I went down that path. So, I asked my dad for money to pay for a retainer, selected a lawyer I liked, and filed for divorce.

I was told in my consult, that I had a very good chance of getting soul custody of my son. This did not turn out to be the case. Since the abuse was only between my husband and I, the judge believed he should have rights and access to our son. I never kept our son away from him, but he would never spend time with him if I wasn’t there. If I was, it inevitably turned into a fight, and my son witnessed all of it in our small, one bedroom condo. No, my husband did not directly or physically abuse my son, but indirectly, he sure as hell did. In the eyes of the law, however, that doesn’t carry any weight.

So here we are, almost a year later, there have been multiple court dates for status, visitation proposals, unsuccessful mediation, and the money is all gone to fund my representation. What has been accomplished? Nothing. No parenting agreement, no debts nor assets divided. Only more court dates and fees to pay. I don’t know how this will all turn out, but the one thing I do know is that I am a million times happier today after taking that first scary step to get away from my abuser.