Tag Archives: Custody

Proud to be a double parent…

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I am single. I am a parent. I have sole custody of my children. I am not a single-parent. I do the parenting work of two people, therefore I am a double parent.

As double parents, we are LITERALLY doing the parenting work of two people. We are 100% responsible for the sum total of our children’s parenting – a task that is normally shared (hopefully, equally) by two people. That’s quite the responsibility.

If we were two do twice the work asked of us by our boss, we would be applauded, promoted and given raises – or at least, we would deserve that treatment.As a double parent, I am proud to do double the work. It’s certainly harder to row the parent boat alone as opposed to a rowing in a pair. It actually seems like you are hopping while everyone else is running – the work is harder and the rests are fewer – but believe me, the rewards are great.

proud

No matter how difficult your journey is I urge you to keep going.

Remember, no parent is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.

Don’t give up. You are enough, and you are good enough! Hold your  head up high and do not let anyone or any circumstance steal your joy. Do not let anyone tell you that your family is broken. You are not broken. 

I am proud to  be a double parent and it is my hope that you, too, will be proud of your double parenting.

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Accept Help and Keep Fighting by Katrina Darrah

TDP Katrina Darrah

Katrina and two of her three children.

I was a single mom to my four month old baby boy when I met my second husband. I had just got out of an *abusive marriage and was in therapy for PTSD/Anxiety. I was always scared. When I met him, he immediately jumped into the role of dad to my son and protector to me. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe – and that made it easy to fall. We got married after six months of dating and a year-long engagement. I Our marriage wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible either.

I got pregnant with my daughter two months after the wedding, and when I was four months into my pregnancy, my son spent a week in hospital where he was diagnosed with a seizure disorder.  Between caring for my son, my morning sickness and my high risk pregnancy, my husband soon realised that he wasn’t the center of attention.  He joined a dating site and met not just one someone, but two! Although, I found out a couple of months later, I made the decision to give him another chance. I really didn’t want my daughter to be without her dad. My husband had some anger issues, but he went to anger management. He became as involved in our church, as I was, and went to a long discipleship training that taught him to be a better husband and dad. Things seemed great.

We decided to try for another baby when our daughter was 7 months. We got pregnant right away but lost this baby. (This was actually the second miscarriage we suffered together). I was devastated but we got pregnant again the next month and I experienced another high risk pregnancy. I was a stay at home mom (aside from being in the air force reserves and working in our church nursery). Balancing two kids and bed-rest was practically impossible. Bed-rest itself was impossible. My husband stepped up more than I could have imagined, but I still did as much as I could manage to do. My water ruptures at 34 weeks 6 days and our son was born the very next day. He spent 3 weeks in the hospital.

In those three weeks my husband came to see him only once after my discharge. He prioritised on everything else over me spending time in the hospital with our sick baby. When our son came home, the struggles continued because our tiny baby had colic and severe reflux. He cried ALL the time, and I was tired and stressed.

For the second time in our marriage, my husband wasn’t the center of attention. I knew something was changing and I suspected he was cheating. I’d ask, he’d chew me out, and then I would drop it and force myself to trust him. He would tell me about how his brother was complaining about how lazy and bitchy his wife was. I asked him if he thought that about me and he said he didn’t. He would tell me I was the perfect wife and he wouldn’t change anything about me. I would ask him to promise me that if he didn’t like something I was doing he would tell me and I promised him that I wouldn’t get mad. At this point, I thought our marriage was as strong as ever.

The next week he had a family dinner for his Sunday school class and I was very hurt when he said he didn’t want me to go. So I took our three kids out to dinner instead. That night, after we both got home and we were sitting on separate couches, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I don’t love you. I want a divorce. I’m leaving.” And with that, he walked out the door, clothes in hand. He didn’t even say goodbye to the kids. Bawling my eyes out, I called my parents and made arrangements to go home to them the following day, which baby’s dedication at church. I called his mom who came rushing over. She was stunned. We both tried calling him with no answer. After a sleepless night and an emotional morning at church, I loaded the kids for the 9 hour drive home to my parents. On the way home, it hit me that he had left to go to the same girl he had previously cheated with. I was able to confirm this by looking at her facebook page.

From my parents’ home, I started the process of calling lawyers. It was only three weeks before Christmas, so it made it a bit more challenging. I had $82 to my name and no job. I had to have my son in Texas for Christmas with his dad (the first one he would ever spend with him). This meant Christmas alone with my younger two. Their dad didn’t even call, let alone come see them. He would promise money and never follow through. I received bills letters showing that he hadn’t paid our cars in months and they were on the verge of being repossessed.  He hadn’t been paying the mortgage either, and the process of foreclosure had begun. Church members were buying us groceries and paying our bills while I searched for a job. And this is when I decided to move home to Missouri. I gave him a month’s advance notice of my move. Although he only came to see the kids twice for twenty minutes, he was quick to tell everyone I was denying him visits.

After I moved, we got out first court date for temporary orders. He showed up with no lawyer, so a lawyer sat down with him. Since he was expected to do 100% of the travel for access visits, he said he only wanted one Saturday a month for four hours, and he gave the impression that that was all he wanted. A couple of weeks later my lawyer was served – my ex had filed for joint custody, regional restrictions, 50/50 possessions, and costs. I was devastated, but I was also angry. We had already set up a life in Missouri. He hadn’t seen the kids since we left and he had not called them once since HE left before Christmas. We went back to court. We sat down for mediation before we went into court, and I said flat out we weren’t moving back. I offered him standard visitation and to only meet him halfway for extended visits. I said he could visit them anytime he wanted to, and for as long as he wanted, and that we would do opposite holidays etc. He agreed.

I was also awarded all of our possessions.  He agreed that he would take the house debt and the vehicle debt. He was told to move all of my stuff into a storage unit and put the unit in my name. I had moved to Missouri with just some clothes and a few toys. He was to pay for the first month. A few months later, I called the storage unit and after fighting them to get them to tell me where my stuff was, they informed me it has been emptied a month and a half before. I asked him about this and he told me he gave it all to Goodwill – couches, toys, clothes, everything. My entire house-full of stuff was gone. Hospital bracelets, footprints ETC – all the keepsakes were gone. I have filed a police report and I am in the process of taking him to small claims court.

In the meantime, my kids and I are working hard to start our lives over. He doesn’t call them. He doesn’t visit them any more than the court order says unless I bring them to him. He doesn’t send them anything. He quit his $20/hr job for a minimum wage job so that I would only get a TOTAL of $300/month for child support. This doesn’t even cover day-care. I think that the family court system could better help people in my situation by holding parents accountable. There should be legal repercussions for somebody abandoning his family to the extent that they had to rely on others to pay their electricity bill and put food on the table. Parents need to be held accountable for their family and their responsibilities they helped to create.

The best advice I could give to others is to accept help. I am a very independent person, but I had to swallow my pride and accept help in so many ways from other people. Without their help, I never would have made it through. Also, fight for what you and your children deserve. Do what you think is right. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re wrong for doing what you need to do.

*For more about domestic abuse and violence – please click here.

About Katrina: Katrina is a mother of three – Ryan is 5, Gracynn is 2, and Eli is 1. She has sole physical and legal custody of her oldest son. After four years of not being involved, his father has finally stepped up and practices visitation as often as possible. She has joint custody of the younger two but their Dad only visits as little as he gets away with and has NEVER called them since he left them in December of 2012. While she tries to have a good co-parenting relationship with her younger children’s father, it is a continuous struggle as he is not interested. Katrina is currently on active duty orders with the Air Force Reserves and is waiting for the opportunity to get hired into the position as a civilian. She is also currently enrolled in school full time pursuing her Bachelors in Criminal Justice, and is working towards a career as a Criminal Investigator with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. In addition to full time work and school, she runs two small businesses (one with handcrafted items and one as a distributor of a well known product) to make extra income to provide for her family.

Click on the links to find more of The Double Parent on facebook and Twitter.

TDP – Your Stories is a safe space for readers to share about life as double parent.  I call this space “Your Stories” because I hope many of you will be brave enough to share your stories, questions, inspirations, struggles, tears, triumphs etc so that we all may glean from and contribute to the collective wisdom. Please feel free to comment and if you would like to share your story then please contact me by clicking here.

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TDP’s 12 steps to being the greatest post-divorce/separation parent ever!

TDP 12 stepsThe unwritten rules your ex already lives by:

1. Under no circumstances whatsoever do you agree to being a custodial parent (CP) – avoid all sole custody, joint custody or any form of shared-care agreements like the plague.  You must reluctantly (but very willingly) agree to be a non-custodial parent (NCP). Don’t worry about people thinking you’re an ass because you abdicated all parental responsibilities towards your child/ren. They won’t. This will actually garner more sympathy for poor little you because you only get to see YOUR kids every other weekend. (According to DivorcePeers.com the majority of child custody cases are not decided by the courts. In 51% of the cases both parents agreed that mom be the custodial parent. In 29% of the cases the decision was made without any third party involvement. Only 11% of custody cases were decided during mediation with as few as 5% being decided after court order custody evaluations.)

2. Make sure people know that you WANTED custody but the “courts wouldn’t allow it”. The fact that you willingly agreed to this in a separation agreement or court settlement and it wasn’t forced upon you by a judge is totally irrelevant. Besides, the only other person who knows the truth about this is your ex, the CP, and how bitter are they going to sound if they go around telling folks that custody was forced upon then?? In fact, they should be grateful to you for allowing them all this time with the children because “you only get to see YOUR kids every other weekend”. If you are a man – this is a good time to mention how sexist and unfair the system is and how it favours mothers. I mean, “men can be good parents too!” It’s just not fair.

3. NCP Bonus – you get to raise your children on less than 20% of your income. Do you know any married or co-habiting parents who keep 80% of their income for themselves? I thought not! (A Closer Look at State Child Support Guidelines.)

4. Now that you are a woe-begone NCP, the ball is well and truly in your court. Let the good times roll. It’s time to ride the glory train. You now have 100% control of your children and the NCP.

5. Don’t like how the CP is raising the kids? Don’t like the school or church the kids attend? Don’t like the CP’s new partner?? Don’t worry; you don’t have to like anything. You just get your lawyer to write an intimidating letter to the CP threatening court action and reimbursement of costs. You still have 80% of your income, so you can easily afford a lawyer. You can rest assured that the CP is spending more than 20% of his/her income on raising the kids and will be exhausted from working outside the home and being a Double Parent (doing your share of the parenting). So much so, that he/she will be more than willing to accommodate your unreasonable demands in order to save money on legal fees and avoid the stress of going to court. (You could, if you felt so inclined, do this once in a while, just to remind the CP that you are the boss.)

6. We’ve now ascertained that you’re boss and that the ball’s in your court, but what have you really gained so far except and lot more sympathy, power, control, time to yourself, and disposable income? Well, you get the best of both worlds, baby. You get to be the Good-time Charlie of parents. Yip, you have hit the parenting jackpot with this one. You get to show up on weekends and give the kids expensive toys the CP can’t afford and take them to all the fun places that the CP can’t afford – all thanks to that extra disposable income and the fact that you can work as many hours as you like without ever giving a second thought to child-care. Nuh-huh! You were smart enough to take care of all of that in step 1. The NCP also gets to share in all of the children’s significant life-events. You get to go attend graduations, other school events, parent-teacher interviews, extra-curricular activities, medical appointments etc., and that you get equal amount of input into these events. (See step 5 above for instructions on what to do in the event you dislike something.)

7. You lucky old NCP you! You get none of the parenting nitty-gritty that comes with child-rearing and none of the responsibility. No, the school won’t call you if your child is sick and needs to go home. That’s what the CP is for, after all. That is why the CP is the CP and you’re the poor unfortunate NCP. We all know that you totally “would if you could”. You don’t have to nag your kids to eat vegetables, take baths, or do homework. You don’t have to screen your kids’ friends, take your kids to the dentist’s or force them to get flu-shots. You don’t have to cool fevered brows or hold hair away from vomiting faces. (Refer to step 6, for what you do get to do.)

8. Fancy going out with a friend? No worries – no baby-sitting costs for you. Do you need to travel for work, work rotating shifts, stay in hospital, or just feel like a holiday? Guess what? No child-care concerns for you. Ever. And you don’t need permission from the CP either – who, on the other hand, needs permission from you to get the kids’ passports, travel with the kids, or move out of town and will have all the hassle of finding decent, flexible, and affordable child-care (putting the moron in oxymoron) while working to make ends meet. The CP’s whole life will have to revolve around putting the needs of the kids first. Even your needs will have to be considered before the CP makes a major life decision – more on that in number 9. The CP’s needs are always of least importance, and in fact, many CPs soon learn (if you’re doing this NCP thing properly) that they do not have the right to have needs and/or emotions. CPs barely have a legal leg to stand on either. The sooner the CP accepts this, the better it is for everyone.

9. By now you have surely realised that this whole post-divorce/separation parenting thing revolves around you. Some of you more sensitive NCPs might be concerned that your kids will think you’re an ass. Not to worry. Family Law has that one covered, and you can rest assured that no matter how many times you are late for access visits, fail to show up for access visits or extracurricular events, fail to call your kids, or forget birthdays and other special occasions, your children will always love you, idolise you, and see for the fabulously unselfish, dedicated parent that you really are. If they don’t, a ridiculously unproven notion called Parental Alienation Syndrome means you get to blame the CP if they kids don’t adore you. Don’t you just love family law? (This article analyzes every precedent-bearing decision and law review article referencing PAS in the past twenty years.)

10. Don’t worry about meeting your financial obligations to your children either. Although, many countries have government organisation in place to enforce supports they are massively ineffective, understaffed, under resourced and the government basically doesn’t give a damn whether or not you pay child supports. It’s not like putting food in the mouths of the nation’s children is important or anything, and it’s not like you actually owe the government money. Me, you, Willie Nelson – we all know THAT would be a different story. (CTV News has learned that 135,000 support payment cases are in arrears, with a total of $2 billion in payments outstanding. That figure has grown by $500 million in the past three years. And this is just in Ontario!) If not paying support was considered as important as not paying taxes, 99% of deadbeat NCPs would either be paid up or banged up!

11. Also, if you’re kid grows up to be a loser and not a Nobel Prize winning scientist who discovers the cure for cancer… well, you already know who’s fault that is, and it’s not yours! On the off-chance your kid doesn bring about world peace, you have all the bragging rights the CP does.  Hey! They’re your kids too! Dammit!

12. Always remember that no sacrifice is a good sacrifice. Post-divorce/separation parenting is about you, your needs and wants and desires. *insert oxygen mask on aeroplane analogy.

There you have it. That’s TDP’s guide to being the greatest parent ever after you separate from the other parent of your children. Remember, custody is a mug’s game. CP’s put the cuss in custody – vote NCP and don’t cuss today.

Click on the links to find more of The Double Parent on facebook and Twitter.

PS. If you don’t know what satire is, I suggest you consult a reliable dictionary ASAP.

The truth hurts. But the bitter truth hurts better.

The fact that there are more single mothers than fathers out there is a sign of the power imbalance between the sexes. All the power lies with the non-custodial parent (as the article demonstrates) and the majority of non-custodial parents are men. Therefore, men have more power when it comes to raising the children – while the women do all the nitty-gritty work – just like in the labour force.

The vast majority of family laws are favourable to the NCP and unfavourable to the children. NCPs have the rights to see their children. Children, unfortunately do not have the right to a decent, loving, responsible non-custodial parent. For more on these rights, I recommend reading about how various systems fail children from abusive homes in this great book by Judith Lewis Herman. These same laws, entrenched in patriarchy , give more rights to abusive fathers than innocent children, also fail to protect children from those NCPs who are not fulfilling their share of parental obligations and responsibilities. It takes a heck of a lot more than paying child support and visiting for a few hours a week to be a good parent.

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