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.

The Twisted Middle

After the birth of my son, I no longer had a 9-5 job to go to every day. I had a 24/7 job of keeping this tiny human alive, happy, and healthy. It’s both a terrifying and wonderful thing. After about three months, I started to feel like I had a grip on keeping the bundle of needs thriving, and I started to get stir crazy.

Longing for my old life, I started inviting old friends over. I could finally have a drink again! After all, I deserved it. Well, this is when I began down the path that would lead me to the rooms of AA. I knew I used to drink a lot. I classified myself as a “partier” in high school and college. I became a bar fly while my then boyfriend and I were dating. I was a connoisseur of fine beers. The bar we used to go to had 40 different beers on tap and a revolving door of new kinds. There was always an excuse to go. I thought it was normal to go there every day. It didn’t phase me when we weren’t able to afford the pricey micro-brews anymore and just ordered draft light beers that were cheap. None of it gave me pause.

It was only after I had my son that I started to realize it was not normal. I was home alone all day, every day. I was lonely and simultaneously dreaded my husband coming home. We fought all the time. I was exhausted from doing everything to take care of our son and home. He felt working all the time was doing his part and thought I was unappreciative. I began to drink every day. I got sick and was living off of soup, cold medicine, and beer. I realized I had a problem looking in the mirror one day. I saw a soulless, selfish person unable to stop herself. But I tried anyway and stopped cold turkey. I went through such bad withdrawal I had to go to the hospital over night. It was a wake up call.

I found two AA meetings with babysitting and never looked back. My husband resented this new part of my life. We grew farther and farther apart. My shame of being an alcoholic kept me from leaving him sooner. Every fight we had he would drag it up to sling in my face. A couple times he told me to go buy a bottle in anger. I stayed in the relationship out of shame until I finally forgave myself. I had healed, had a beautiful son, and decided to give my marriage one more truly all in chance. I let down all my guards and recommitted to being a partner to my husband.

The morning after we were intimate for the first time in a long time, I found out he was having an affair with his employee. Good ol’ Facebook Messenger tipped me off. My husband was asleep, he hardly used Facebook, and I was confused why the Messenger “ding” went off on his phone. It was a reply. “I love you too. Have a good day too,” followed by a mess of kissy faces and hearts. The words and hearts blurred, my husband woke up and snatched his phone before I could read much of it. He tried to play it off, but I’m no idiot. I was done.

I turned in to a paranoid creeper for a few weeks. Checking our phone text logs, his social media, etc. He met with her the night after I found out. He said he had to meet her in person “to end it.” That was a lie I wouldn’t find out until several months later.

Queue round two of marriage counseling. The counselor, although intelligent and compassionate, seemed hell bent on keeping us together. I was over the marriage at this point and was buying time until I could afford an attorney. I started a bartender job at a snooty Italian joint so I could save money from my tips without him knowing. He was very controlling and hated that I had a job. He eventually caught on to my motives for saving money.

I had to start recording my phone calls with him. He would threaten me with anything he could and deny it all to anyone else. I finally accepted that if I was ever going to get away from him, I had to be okay with the worst he threatened to do to me. It was a micro-step of faith in something outside of my miserable little world. Then, I was free. I was free of that horrible fear based grip, and he was pissed.