There are certain things Mothers assume. If you assume that you will be awarded custody of your children because you are a good Mother, you are dead wrong. I thought I had custody in the bag because my now ex was fired from his job for sexually harassing a teenager, had been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and reports for domestic violence at our house over the years. He pleaded for us to stay in the same house while we contemplated divorce. I was being set up. He documented everything that happened twisted to his favor. When it was his weekend to have the kids, I would drive to see my Dad in Texas who didn’t feel well. The day of Court, there was sitting on an easel, a chart showing all the dates that I had "abandoned" my children. The Court believed the diary entirely. Most of my family resides in Florida. We lived in Florida. We moved here so that my ex could find work and get experience before returning to Florida where jobs were much harder to come by without experience. The move was temporary or so I believed. His family paid for the best attorney. I had no money for an attorney. I wrote to every Pro Bono Association you could think of including organizations that receive grants to represent low income people. There was not one single person willing to help. I ended up representing myself. I had to fight to protect my children from him. His attorney set my deposition which I appeared for. I set his deposition and his attorney objected and so I didn''t know how to respond to that. Trial is nearing and reality is setting in that he is very confident and that I might lose my children. My youngest was not even 2 at that time. I gathered notarized statements and Affidavits from every one that I could think of that could verify my good parenting or his bad behavior. Upon arriving at the courthouse, he had a line of witnesses. I had not one. My affidavits were not admissible. No time to call people as witnesses the day of trial. The Affidavits that would redeem me would never be seen. There I sat alone on the 4th floor of the courthouse while he sat on his side with his entire clan. The Trial seemed to go on forever. Everyone said he was a great Dad. It took the Judge 3 months to rule. In that time, I learned my Father was terminally ill with cancer. I received something in the mail while I was in Texas caring for my Father from the Court. I fell to my knees as I read that he prevailed. I received visitation at his discretion. He was awarded the home, everything therein, the cars and everything else we owned. The Court made no provision for me to gather my clothes, heirlooms or personal property.
I was ordered to pay $900 per month beginning immediately and I had not worked real full time hours since I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. After the Order, I was put in jail at my Father’s bedside for failure to turn over the children as my Father wanted to spend his last days with his grandchildren and it would not be long before he was gone. The court then entered a protective order enjoining me from contact with the children. My ex now approached and told me that I could come and live with him and the kids if I agreed to be the live in maid. No problem, I was so glad for the chance to raise my children. All he wanted was the support and as long as I continued to pay it, I could stay at the house. After 2 years of this, I took him back to Court and won custody of my children. After I got my children back, we have not heard from their Father. If you are facing a custody battle, fear can either paralyze you like it did me or you can get 2 or 3 jobs and hire an attorney. Don’t count on free legal resources available to you. Favor swings in the direction of the person who can afford the better attorney. In other words, our children are awarded like trophieso the person willing to pay more for an attorney. For most men, they use the children to strike at the woman for leaving them. I had to fight, my children were in danger. Some women never do. My children are wounded from the exact scenarios I warned the Court their Father would expose them to. Survival without your children cannot be compared to any other human pain. Phone calls to my children always included them wanting to know why they couldn''t be with Mommy. My baby would promise to be good if I came and got him. I just hope that anyone having to go through losing their children reaches out to someone for some assistance, guidance and help. I shut myself in for a year without any human contact. Stay strong for yourself and stay strong because the process does fail and when it does, we have to fight ever harder until the truth is told and justice served for the children, our children.