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the high cost of endlessly riding the legal merry-go-round

the custody issue is settled. my children now have a court-appointed parenting time advocate: their therapist. I feel like that's a huge win in this resource-sucking war.

I have no illusions about how this is going to work out, however. I used to dream that my narcissistic ex would consider the kids feelings. that he would try to get to know them. that he would realize, maybe, that the world doesn't revolve around him.

I don't hope for that any more. these days I merely hope the state will collect enough child support that I can pay my son's therapy bills and afford some nutritious groceries for the kids... that when my ex tries to circumvent the Rules of Parenting that he gets caught so the kids' therapist and I can take damage control measures... that my ex won't manipulate the kids so I don't have to confront him and document his infractions for the next time we go to court... and I sincerely hope that there won't be any next time in court.

but I am resigned to the fact that he will always use our kids to create conflict, because that's what he does. I'm resigned to the fact that he blames me for our divorce and that he still uses it, six years later, to obtain pity over the fact that I terminated our joke of a marriage. I'm resigned to the fact that if I push back when he's disrespectful, when he lies, or when he manipulates the kids that I'm inviting a shitstorm of passive-aggressive hatred.

whatever. I'm resigned.

what I am looking forward to is getting off this legal merry-go-round. I'm looking forward to using my money to go to school instead of on legal filings and attorney fees. I'm looking forward to focusing on helping my kids grow up to be self-sufficient. those are the things I want to think about.

first, however, a few more spins on the merry-go-round.

he's obstinately refused to voluntarily correct a child support error, so that's been on the list for over a year. he refused to credit money toward my child support obligation that he received due to my disability during the time our son was living with him, so that's been on the list for a over a year. once we get to court, those will be sorted in my favor.

the greater challenge will be determining his income. when I was unemployed for a period of time before I was declared disabled, the court imputed my previous income to me, with the added insult of not deducting what I would have paid for childcare. although I was able to reverse that ruling on appeal, at the time my ex was quite happy with the decision regardless of the impact on our kids. but now the tables are turned. now that he's on unemployment benefits, he wants the court to base his income on his unemployment benefits without imputing his potential wages. the thing that's so pathetic about that is that he has job skills in multiple professions. he's unemployed in one, but there are job openings every day in the other. he just doesn't want to work.

I don't feel like giving him the freebie. I don't think that the kids, or I, should finance his long-term vacation. after his refusal to correct the errors in mediation I filed a motion to have them addressed in court. then he filed a response countering for full custody of our son and increased parenting time with our daughter, which necessitated going forward with the parenting evaluation. he refused to take part in the evaluation unless I paid the retainer, so I borrowed the money at 30% APR and paid it. on top of all that, during disclosure, his attorney went fishing for information to determine if they could file to terminate my tiny spousal support award, contrary to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. our case files are so thick it's ridiculous.

I've depleted my retainer multiple times over the last two years. I'm tired of spending money to fight over things that shouldn't be issues. I'd rather spend my money going to school so I can eventually start a new career. I'm also really tired of my ex changing his mind every few months about where the kids are on his priority list. it'd be nice if he decided what role he wants to play in our kids' lives and actually stuck with it.

and what I'd like more than anything is for my kids to have a real dad, someone who puts them somewhere near the top of his priority list. not some asshole who comes and goes and creates conflict and uses the kids to fulfill his own emotional needs.

even though I want off this merry-go-round almost as much as I love my own life, I'll ride it as long as it takes because I love my kids a whole lot more than I do the idea of throwing up my hands and walking away, as tempting as it is.

Comments

Hang in There

Mia,

I can SO relation to this and certainly feel your pain. Although it is not as common from the custodial guy's point of view, my Ex is exactly the same way. What is it with these non-custodial parents not growing up, not acting like mature people, and trying to use our kids as pawns against us?

Oh the court merry-go-round! Definitely the way to describe it. My case is 11 years old and my files are so thick I just shutter at the amount of wasted time and money that has gone into it.

The courts are so slow and don't really enforce anything. I just got an email judgment decision today awarding me 27k in back child support and fine my Ex $300 for not tell me where she lives. Hello, she's not going to pay and she's still not going to tell me where she lives. The merry-go-round system just doesn't get it.

It's a tough process, hang in there and know you are doing the right thing--especially for your kids!

@FullCustodyDad

thanks for the kind

thanks for the kind words.

from the kids' point of view I don't think it matters whether it's dad or mom who does the hurting. they want to be loved and accepted by both parents, and they deserve to be supported by both parents!

the family court system really doesn't get it. in one place they'll let the deadbeat NCP off with no penalty, and in another they won't recognize the contribution of the parent who spends less than 50% of their time with the kids, even if they're tucking them in at night and taking them to doctor's appointments.

it's so very, very unfair to the parents who are really trying, and to the kids.

I feel like I'm lucky that I can go after my ex's trust income. it helps pay off the debt every year. otherwise I'd be in the same boat as you and so many other single custodial parents, saving up the money awards until they can be garnished from social security.

I'm not sure anyone reads my blog, I'm so bad at posting to it, but I'm going to give you a shout out...

parents (moms or dads) looking for practical custody tips whether you're in a custody battle or not, @FullCustodyDad (http://twitter.com/FullCustodyDad) is a good person to follow on Twitter.