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Dear Chump Lady, I’m meeting his bitch-ass lawyer

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Dear Chump Lady,

I’m going tomorrow to meet with my ex, his bitch-ass lawyer (seriously, she’s evil), my lawyer (who might be too nice), and the guardian at litem. He’s trying to take primary custody because I moved an hour away. And also trying to stop paying spousal support. (Agreement said I needed to live within an hour while receiving support… my new place is literally 1 hour 1 minute because I needed to actually get to a decent neighborhood where my kids would be safe and have a good school). My ex seems to have slightly won her (the GAL) over, which is upsetting to me. I guess a guy that goes to a school performance twice a year, hugs his kids, and pays his support is like gold. And I’m the mean one trying to take the kids away from him. I’m trying to not be defensive about my choices… but it’s hard because I feel like none of them understand or agree. I was just supposed to stay in that small town and get whatever job I could manage to land while my ex continues to make the big bucks and I shuttle kids back and forth for him. Instead I went back to school, investing a significant amount of money, and dared to try to build a career for myself. They’ve been bullying me since the move and yet somehow are righteous about it… that I deserve the hell they are putting me through.

Anyway, I know you’ve been through all this horrible legal stuff before. How do I get through it? How do I act during these conversations/in court? Any tips at all?? I’m feeling alternately defensive and angry, and that’s probably not the best way to go in. But at least I’m past my woe-is-me stage…

AnotherErica

Dear AnotherErica,

First ((((HUGE HUGS)))). This shit sucks donkey balls.

Next, let’s get right down to strategy. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT act defensive and angry in court or around his bitch-ass lawyer. I know this goes against every natural impulse (which would be to gouge your ex’s eyes out with a red-hot poker for trying to take your children from you) — but you need to project an air of calm competency.

Because these assholes are trying to throw you off balance and get you to appear to be a crazy bitch. See? We can’t reason with a crazy bitch! She’s making this all personal, when really it should be All About the Children.

GAH!!!!

Yes, the colossal fucking NERVE of some cheater asshole part-time idiot parent trying to play Parent of the Year is enough to make anyone insane. But tune him out, because YOU have the evidence. YOU have the better argument. You just have to present it in language the court understands.

Caveat — I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. This is what worked for me. 

Everything you did, you did for your children. The neighborhood, the degree to advance yourself, the 24/7 day-to-day parenting you do to care for them. You do it all for them.

Now, as a mother, you think this shit is assumed. But you need to make your case. YOU are the one taking care of them, were a stay at home mother until his infidelities, and have ALWAYS been the primary caregiver. You DOCUMENT this. All the hours spent. All the decisions made. And when you explain yourself, you do it with that air of calm competence.

Yes, even though you feel like your world is falling apart.

The next thing you do is you say (even though your tongue will feel like lead) is that you recognize and support your children’s right to have a relationship with their father, and you will accommodate that any way you can — short of moving back to that town. (For the It’s Best for the Children arguments you’ve already made.) And expect that is where the court might split the baby (Solomon, Biblical reference there) — you get to keep primary custody but you’ll have to do the schlepping to him.

Next, when making your arguments, about What Is Best for the Children (never get off message) — do bring up his infidelities. If they say, well you created this mess for divorcing him and moving away, point out that you didn’t move THAT far away. And also put the responsibility for the divorce on Mr. Cheaterpants. “My then-husband refused to quit cheating on me, and I could not let my children grow up in that environment.”

CHILDREN. Not how disrespectful and gutting this was to you — or they’re going to go with Bitch Has a Personal Vendetta Against Me — but the KIDS. You’re a wholesome person with good morals and he was a dreadful influence and was creating dysfunction in your home. You sensibly removed yourself from the situation.

THAT is your TRUE narrative so OWN IT.

He will try and spin this that you moved away to spite him. Do NOT give credence to that crap. Do not act in any way vindictive. Just STAY ON MESSAGE.

The truth of the matter is he’s a person who clearly doesn’t give a shit about his kids, because if he did he wouldn’t be a guy with affairs and he wouldn’t balk at paying spousal support for destroying your family. (Sorry is as sorry does.) No, HE is the spiteful asshole.

When you’re classy and calm and the bullying doesn’t work — it underscores his crazy.

Look, Erica, I know this is so very hard to do. Really. My prayers go out to you today. As a loving parent, nothing strikes more terror into your heart than someone trying to take your babies from you. And a good lawyer can’t tell you which way a judge will rule. Anything can happen with judges (not what you want to hear, I’m sorry). BUT my experience was that judges are not inclined to take children away from their primary caregiver (do emphasize your years as SAHM!). You just need to not let this asshole get to you.

The last time I went to court, my son’s father (who is mental — truly, found as such by the courts) brought my cheating ex to testify for him. Oh yeah, that was delightful. Bitch-ass lawyer? The lawyer he chose (usually he represents himself, but he got this guy last minute) had TOURETTES. Seriously, he twitched and stuttered through the entire trial. Said I was “peripatetic” and had MINIONS.

The cheating ex had to take the stand and grin like a fool while he discussed his infidelities. The judge dismissed his testimony when he didn’t disavow that he’d threatened me.

Okay, we can laugh about this now (maybe… I’m still pissed off), but at the time it was awful. How can these people who have been such total shits to me and my kid try to fuck with me in court?!

Anyway, my point is — disordered people must save face. They want to punish. They get secondary gain even if they lose. They want a forum to say terrible shit to you because they cannot face themselves. If I make Erica out to be a Terrible Mother then I’m not the cheating asshole who fucked up his family.

You can’t understand it because you’re not crazy.

All you can do is bring your A game and fight. Endure it. When you go into that room imagine you’re charging head first into a buffalo herd. Bring your MIGHTY.

And please report back. We’re all here for you today. Chump Nation (((HUGS)))

 

 

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Best of luck AE and ((hugs)). Chump Lady’s advice is brilliant, but I want to add one thing. The courts here hate it when you say “MY” children. Always say “OUR” children. It shows you acknowledge the importance of both parents (even if you gag when you say it).

  • Anywhere in the letter did it say the ex cheated? Didn’t see that, just assumed. Probably a safe assumption based on her letter to this site…

    Having said that, I can’t agree with her 100%. She did move over an hour away. Still, I have a lot of empathy for her.

    My advice. Stay calm and reasonable in court. Make your case by showing all your decisions were made with your children’s well being in mind.

    Good luck.

    • well, the original document said 2 hours, but he freaked out about that, and we had discussions that it was supposed to get me to this metro area or to the metro area on the other side of our town. Guess I should have insisted on 1.5 hours at least, but I stupidly thought he wouldn’t hold me to the specific minute.

      Plus, I thought it was just about spousal support, not that I could never ever move further away. They can take the money for all I care (even if I think it’s ridiculous that one minute would do that… and I should have lived in the ghetto downtown I guess to be safely at 45 minutes or something) but there’s nothing about changing custody over moving.

      • AE- what has your lawyer said? If they don’t have a backbone can you get a new one? I don’t know law, but my guess would be that if the hour was specifically addressed to spousal support with nothing about custody, that he can’t play the custody route.

      • I wonder if he is only bringing in the kids in an effort to make you accept a compromise where you don’t get spousal support from him?

        I don’t know if you can switch lawyers now, but if your lawyer is too nice, you should think about it.

        The whole thing with being just over one hour away sounds ridiculous to me. Is it possible to amend the agreement to make it two hours at this point?

        If you look at it logically, living two or three hours away still allows parents to share custody. It’s not like moving out of state.

        Anyhow, CL’s advice sounds good to me. You moved so that your children could live in a good neighborhood and so that you could have a job that supports them.

      • Somehow, I don’t think him pulling his support payments because of ONE minute, is going to make him look like anything but a jerk in front of the judge. Keep that in mind while you keep your calm and let him make a complete ass himself.

  • Would it make sense to emphasize the current stability of the children’s lives in their home, their school, with friends? That they’ve been through enough upheaval, thanks to his disruptive behavior?

    Should you be prepared for the accusation that you’re responsible for his cheating? I think when you’re tempted to defend yourself–don’t. Just present facts, and stay calm. Don’t try to win an argument, because it’ll make you look argumentative.

    How about that calendar of time he’s (not) spent with the kids up to this point? How can he suddenly be primary when he’s basically been uncle-dad up to this point?

    Did they talk about what to wear? Is it true that you don’t want to show up in a suit, looking like an absent working mom, but instead wearing a modest dress, looking like loving, wholesome mom?

    • supposedly the cheating should have little bearing on this… we’re already divorced, we went through a mediator so there’s no official record that says he cheated. And the only thing that matters is what has happened since the divorce was finalized.

      Therefore I’m a little afraid to mention it at all because they could possibly deny it (I don’t put lying past them). But if the question is directly asked or they are trying to blame me for the divorce I will state it. I think he might be too afraid to lie because he knows there are people that could prove he’s lying.

      Yeah, I think I will wear a conservative skirt and blouse or something? I’m going to ask my attorney.

      • Wearing conservative clothes is always a good idea. My current job is about 1.5 years old. I wear what I fondly call “don’t fuck with me” clothes. Obviously I use the clothing as a kind of weapon, but also I like the psychological lift that the look gives me. Wear something that you think makes you look as if you’re sane, responsible, and in control of the situation. You’ll also feel sane, responsible, and in control of the situation.

      • Maybe you should ask your lawyer about the issue of cheating. It might depend on the judge. It certainly seems to me to make a difference if you were an at-home mom who was cheated on and now is supporting herself and her kids.

  • AE – I also moved away from the ex with our son. He agreed at the time, then later when he took me to court over something else, all of a sudden he “had never agreed for us to move”. Regardless, I covered my bases by making sure I was offering the same amount of time for him and splitting the drive. He didn’t see our son much to start, so every other weekend was an improvement. Can you construct an offer where you suggest additional time in the summer & split holidays, to make up any difference if he goes to every other weekend? Best of luck – and I agree with CL, it’s rare for the primary caregiver to lose custody.

    • I’m offering him a bunch of summer time (we flip to me getting every other weekend in the summer) and every other weekend. He is still technically losing a little time because he saw them once a week (granted I fetched the kids for him for these weekday visits) and every other weekend starting Thursday night. We are going to say he’ll be getting more quality time though and I am open to additional visits.

      But he could come up during the week and do a dinner or something. I don’t know, he hasn’t come back to me with any kind of reasonable request. He has offered either he gets them every weekend or he gets primary custody.

      • I would doubt that he’ll get either full custody or every weekend based on what you describe; those are pretty unusual when the status quo is on your side, you haven’t attempted to keep the child from its father, and there’s no pressing reason for all the weekend time to be away from you.

        Just make sure you get the specifics into the agreement–the vaguer the terms, the more arguments are possible based on it.

        I would

      • Of course, he will NOT want them every weekend, and your kids will not want to be there every weekend, either.

      • I don’t know if you should mention this, but it seems to me that as your career has ramped up, you don’t have time to transport the kids for him.

      • He’s bitching about the distance when you’ve done the majority of the carting?

        Make a list of each visit, and how many times you’ve provided the transportation. He’s making a fuss about privledges he’s failed to exercise.

        You have been more than accommodating. Be confident in that.

  • If the agreement is court-authorized, the problem is that it’s not your ex who’s insisting on the terms, it’s the court; in general, you’re better off going back to court to seek to change an order than simply going against its terms. As the saying goes, it’s a court order, not a court suggestion.

    That being said, if it’s genuinely one minute out of an hour’s range in the opinion of the court, and you’re otherwise compliant with orders, the judge may consider this fuss about nothing. But once these things are entered as court orders, it’s no longer just between you and the ex, so take it to the court rather than to him if you want it different.

    • hmm, I consulted my lawyer before I moved. She considered it not material… in fact, I didn’t even think I needed to be as close to it as I got (I considered myself extremely lucky to even find such a good place that was so close to meeting the radius). Because, like I said, the general thought behind it was that I was to get to the metro area and the terms were kinda vague – like it’s not like it listed a specific distance it was “travel time”.

      • And hopefully your lawyer knows how the judges there tend to rule. It doesn’t sound like a material difference to me either (and I am not a lawyer, I should point out), but any time you’re doing something different from the court order you’re making yourself vulnerable to a challenge from the other side–as you’re finding out. That’s why it’s good that you’re really thinking through the visitation details, as it could save you a lot of strife later.

      • Again, I’m not versed in the law, but “travel time” sounds so incredibly vague. My usual 15 minute trip took 45 min the other day because of traffic. I don’t see how it can be ruled in favor of “travel time” when it’s a such a huge variable to begin with. If your lawyer thought it was not material then there’s either a solid reason behind that or you need a new lawyer. Figure out what that solid reason is.

  • Thanks CL for posting!

    I wasn’t sure what I should do… part of me feels like you should look like you’re upset and fighting for your kids. But the courts see this shit all the time so I’m sure they want it to all be orderly and don’t need hysterics. And yes, I don’t want crazy behavior on my part to overshadow that I am the one who is actually being reasonable and rational. I wish I could just turn off my emotions and put on an act like the ex can. Seriously, he acts like he’s my best buddy when he sees me even though he is simultaneously doing the worst thing in the world to me.

    So, yes, try to be calm, state facts. And let the lawyer do as much of the talking as possible since she is probably much more able to do those things. And I gotta try to find diplomatic ways to phrase his cheating just in case the opportunity presents itself.

    I’ll let you know how it goes… and I appreciate all the good thoughts and any additional tips from my fellow chumps 🙂

    • I think there is quite a lot of good advice here. Obviously, the main issue is to appear calm, collected, rational–even despite the shark of the lawyer retained by your Ex.

      If you don’t trust your ability to remain calm in face of the button-pushing you expect to receive from your Ex and his lawyer, try to rehearse the likely scenario in order to stay on message.

      Spend some quality time in front of a mirror and with any kind of recording device. Now explain your position to yourself. Go over the main talking points you went over with your lawyer. Then listen to how you sound. The more you rehearse your lines, the more you’ll be comfortable sticking to that particular narrative.

      Go over the documentation you have for your case. You say the new neighborhood is safer. How much safer is safer? If the police reports for the old neighborhood indicate that people have a 1 in 20 chance of being victims of a violent crime and the new neighborhood has a 1 in 50, that’s safer! Are the schools better? How much better? These data are readily available to the public.

      Concede that it takes your Ex 61 minutes to drive to the house. Recognize that the court order was for 1 hour. However, if I remember from the post you wrote on the forums, that you’d looked at the house on your mapping software and saw that it was still within the 1-hour limit. Document that! It shows that you were cognizant of the court order, and you believed you were compliant, given the mapping data. Your Ex, though, has opted for a 61 minute drive. He will squawk, but hey! Facts!

      But let the lawyer do most of the talking, unless you are directly asked. Then answer with the prepared answer and repeat the major talking points, and finish with your main objective (this is best for our kids). I think this is very hard, but it’s why you pay lawyers the big bucks.

      Hope things work out for you!

      • agree with this – if it is that close, I’d think you could make the drive in an hour. If it’s say, 15 minutes, then I’d offer to cover those 15 minutes and meet him “an hour” away from him. Just make it look like you’re trying to do what’s best for the kids and be fair. And make those offers through your/his lawyer so they’re documented. I’d think at worst the judge might say he can have every weekend (doubtful) and he won’t want it anyway.

        • This sounds like a good suggestion – if you drive the kids for five minutes and meet him, he won’t be an hour away from his kids!

          • Although you probably don’t want to end up tied to an agreement like that with him. It just underlines how ridiculous his claim is if you could drive the kids to the corner and meet him there.

            If only you could require him to show up exactly on time!

  • All great advice as usual. To physically stay calm it was suggested I meditate. I didn’t know how but anytime I was to meet my Ex, lawyers, etc., I would go in a quiet room and sit. I set a timer for 10-15 minutes and just paid attention to my breathing. The second time I did it was almost miraculous. I just tried to relax all my muscles and breathe deeply. It worked.

    When I went to full on meetings with forensic accountants, lawyers and the whole shebang, I practiced yoga intensely right before the meetings. Then I walked into the meeting in my yoga clothes, which combined with the unintentional divorce diet, said more than I could have spoken! I was calm and confident. Any kind of exercise will settle the nerves. It worked wonders.

    I have since become a yoga teacher and my life has calmed down in an unbelievable fashion. Any kind of exercise physiologically settles the nervous system, giving you more ability to pay attention, stay calm and convince others of your sanity!

    Just an idea, good luck!

    • Chump Lady is right. Be calm. State your case as plainly as possible, and keep repeating it. Be clean and tidy. I had a meditation tape on my ipod for any down time. This turned into a couple of hours when the judge told the lawyers to go and work it out, then bring us back in. Remember you are mighty. You didn’t say how old your kids are. Do they have a voice in this at all? I had prepared a five minute ‘speech’ in case the judge asked me to speak for myself. You might want to have something rehearsed so that you stay on message. And maybe say it takes between 45 mins to just over an hour drive, depending on traffic and time of day. Be as reasonable and together as possible. Remember, you can no longer be fooled as to what is real. You know it. Stay confident and present. Do not look at the cheater or even his lawyer. You lose energy that way. Head down, keep focused. You can do this. Keep a vision in your head of you and your kids smiling and happy. (((hugs)))) and may the force be with you SkyWalker.

      • kids are 5.5 and 3 (almost 4). So not yet. No traffic the trip is 1 hr 1 minute. with traffic google will adjust and it’s 1 hr 7 min or something like that. Many websites have been consulted now.

        That’s good advice about the speech. Also will help me get focused on the main points even if I (hopefully) don’t get to say it.

  • Good luck, Erica! Just remember he is taking you to court over 1 MINUTE of additional travel time. There’s no way that will look good to a judge. Calm and rational is definitely the way to go. You haven’t done anything wrong. He agreed to everything you have in place and now won’t come to an agreement with you because of a technicality? I know court can be unpredictable, but try to focus on the rationality of your position. To the right judge, he’s going to look like the vindictive one.

    • But…but… but that’s 2-minutes round-trip! lol. 52 weeks a year, that’s 1 hr and 44 minutes of his precious time wasted possibly driving to get his kids.

      Yeah, I think this is not going to go so well for him in court. It won’t take much to make that go from not good to bad, so you can always hope he does something to piss the judge off, and it gets entered into the record.

      • This!

        I just went through a variant of this (still recovering) — anothererica, I remember reading your post on the forums earlier this summer when my own tangle with my child’s dad brought me back to the planetcrazy that is an entitled cheater-ex’s worldview.

        Lots of good advice here — especially, from my experience, the advice to keep to the front of your mind and prominent in all verbal responses the *reality* that you are making decisions that are for your children’s best interests.

        There was a surreal point in my hearing where the opposing counsel began to drill down on the point that, although I had already had to make the decision to move for reasons entirely unconnected to my former spouse (i.e., entirely job-related and ultimately financially driven in timing), wouldn’t it be better if I had not done so? wouldn’t it be in the best interests of the child for me to somehow (sprinkle magic fairy dust?) stay in place, though I could not afford to do so?

        Because this lawyer was the twat who also represented my now-ex during the divorce, for which I filed due to cause (adultery) with cheater-ex’s now wifestress (sitting down the hall in solidarity with coward ex who was apparently afraid to be in the room with me), and because twat-lawyer knew all those names and all that background, it was CRAZY enticing to wonder aloud if it would not have been in the best interests of the child for his client not to have conducted an exit affair with wifestress and dissolved the marriage? wouldn’t that have been the best option, speaking in terms of the child’s needs?

        The cheater’s side will tell the tale with all the bits that imply willful intent to harm on your part, and all the bits left out that supply the context in which your rational and lucid decisions (OMG — one extra bloody minute of travel time! how will cheater ex survive the trauma?). Just keep returning the narrative to the truth: you were put in the position that you are now in by circumstances that you did not initiate (adultery, divorce); you are now constrained to support your children and support your own career in a tight economic market as best you can; at the cost of effort and labor on your part you have found a place that is entirely in keeping with the spirit of your agreement and are working to facilitate your children’s continuous contact with your ex, as is in their best interests (from the point of view of the court). This is not a slippery slope to absconding with them, it’s a path to security and stability for their relationship with their father as well as their own growth and flourishing as they adapt to the conditions of co-parenting in the wake of the divorce.

        I wish you the best of luck and support as you carry on with this path, which is fully logical, appropriate, and healthy for you and your dear daughters.

        • You are providing great language here for making the obvious case for “a path to security and stability.”

      • He’s going to look like he’s trying to weasel out of support for 1 minute, which he is. Judges aren’t stupid, and most of them have kids they’d gladly go the extra minute for, especially when it means a better community, better schools, and a better job for their primary financial supporter.

        You might want to have some documentation available concerning the income potential for you in Cheatertown vs where you are now. I am assuming as the custodial parent, you are bearing the majority of the child rearing expenses.

  • I agree with everyone’s comments. Keep calm at all costs. Also, if you can stick to the one thing that they are against, that also helps. In other words, don’t get sidetracked on visits or halfway driving or dinners mid-week or summers, etc. as an initiated topic. If it comes up, respond to it but try to stay away from bringing up extra things into the conversation if the conversation on the floor is about the hour and 1 minute. It will show that you and him are not just arguing for control over many things. If you have to go back to court to alter the visitation schedule, then, do that later but if this court hearing is for the specific issue of the travel time, stick with that on the table unless the judge or your ex brings it up. It will keep things from going down the path of ……. and, another thing…….. and, another thing, etc. which just exhausts the judge and it looks like the two sides are combative and just trying to control or win over each other. Good luck!!

    • we’re talking about everything. I had to file for a change to visitation because he wouldn’t work with me outside of court. Then he filed for change in custody and to stop spousal support and that I violated a court order. I’m not sure of the legal terms.

      And we’re talking about all of it at one time. But yes, I will try to stay as focused as I can. Thanks you.

      • Sure sounds like he doesn’t actually care about seeing the kids, he just wants to win and to not pay you the money you earned caring for his/your kids while he was out cheating on you.

  • Never been involved in a custody hearing, but I was sued once (turns out anybody can sue anybody for anything, and you have no choice but to show up and defend yourself or lose, so?), and I have done Jury Duty, and my take on most judges is that verifiable facts (documented) go a long way, and judges don’t really care about a lot of emotional hand waving (probably comes with having almost everybody try that on you?).

    So if you have correspondence that reveals nefarious motives, use it. I don’t think a judge is going to upset the whole apple cart over an alleged 1 minute of travel time, though. That’s going to come off petty, and that works for you, so keep that in mind.

    You aren’t inflexible, you are just trying to do the best you can for your kids in terms of the right neighborhood, right schools, and to better provide for them.

    Let him be the inflexible one.

  • How is the travel time even measured? Try some different options (Google Maps, or the superb Waze app) – if you find one where the travel time is >1 minute shorter, you have a good argument there!

    Good luck!

    • Do you seriously think a judge is going to be that inflexible anyway? 1 minute is ridiculous, IMO. If your whole legal argument rests on travel time allegedly being one minute longer than agreed on, that’s a pretty weak foundation, IMO.

      Heck, a traffic light is longer than a minute usually.

      • I know… it’s a pretty lame argument! But I’m a geek who would be thrilled to show up with something that proves him wrong on that one stupid argument.

          • Well, there ya go: round trip is 2 hrs, or about 1 hr each way. LOL.

            Unless and until another traffic light is installed or something. I find it hard to believe a judge is going to care about that “minute” for that reason alone: if the judge were to be consistent, then the installation of a traffic light could alter terms of custody settlements. Can’t imagine anybody not thinking that would be silly.

          • I would think reverse trip of 59 minutes still counts for something. What that says is that the “there” trip might have one extra turn because of a one-way or something. Seriously, the 1 minute addition is bogus IMO. Who’s really going to completely overturn something because there’s one additional turn? Or one additional stop sign/stop light?

          • Show that reverse trip. Say very specifically that you understood and negotiated the 1 hr limit and did everything you could to stay within that parameter. I don’t think that anyone with a working brain would say you aren’t an hour away. I would also bring pictures of your house or apartment complex, if they are attractive, as well as whatever you have that shows the schools are better than the ones in your previous town.

          • I think this is very important. Travel time is one hour, with a variation of one minute depending on route. Every statistic requires room for standard deviation.

  • I’m going through this same sort of situation. Need major advice/comfort. Here are the major facts:

    1. We have a temporary custody agreement in place from a Temporary Restraining Order hearing from a TRO I filed against him for beating the piss out of me when I found his phone with all of the texts, pictures, videos, fucking sonogram photos of his ‘love’ child, drug use and sales, and other general evidence of that he is a Bad Person. He beat the crap out of me for not giving back the phone. He was arrested.

    2. At the TRO hearing, he asked for week-on, week-off custody of the kids, despite the fact that he left in January, and as of the hearing in May, he never once asked to see the kids in that time. My lawyer (who is a lovely and sneaky woman with a plan and person who herself was married to a cheating narcissist) had the plan to give him enough rope to let him hang himself. And he did.

    3. In the weeks he has the children, ages 2 & 3, he drops them off with his 74 year old grandmother, whose husband has advancing Parkinson’s disease. He doesn’t stay with the kids at all. On the weekends, his mother picks the kids up and takes them to her house about 1.5 hours away, and across the state line–without my permission.

    4. In the 5 years we were married, he never once took the kids to a doctor appointment, the park, read a story, played a game, or took them to the grocery store. I was a stay at home mom or work from home mom from the time our youngest was 6 months old.

    5. He is currently being sued by his former employer for taking about 300 privileged business documents and patient case files to a competitor to open up a competing office down the street from the former employer. He took the old company’s exclusivity contracts, financials, business plan, etc. AND took patient’s medical files on cases that were “evidence” of his boss’s “incompetence.” He has had a HIPAA complaint filed, as I found a stack about 6″ thick of probably 50 patient files in my garage among his things, and called his boss to return them. So, I have been subpoenaed by the former employer as a witness in their civil suit against him.

    6. When I subpoenaed his work records, of the things that my lawyer would share with me (she said I should just trust that he sucks and didn’t need to know everything she found through her discovery), she told me that while I was hospitalized in ICU with severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome while pregnant with our first child, who was delivered 14 weeks premature by emergency C-section after my liver and kidneys failed and my placenta abrupted, the STBX husband was written up by his boss for getting caught getting a BJ in his office by one of his direct reports.

    7. He left in January and has yet to pay the first bill or give me the first dime to support our children or pay our household bills or community debt. Thank God for the Bank of Mom!

    8. I found out in June from my STD workup and pap smear that at some point after my negative HPV test and pap smear in 2011, that he had given me HPV-16, which has resulted in some stage of high-grade intraepithelial neoplasm in my cervix. After 2 painful biopsies that did not have any healthy margins, now I have to have an outpatient surgical cone biopsy next week to see if the doctors can see how deep the cancer cells go. Joy….

    9. He has gotten 2 employees pregnant since January that I know of, one is due in December and another had an abortion.

    10. He’s an alcoholic–drinking 10+ beers a day, and takes pills, smokes pot, takes and sells steroids, and God only knows what else. I have photo evidence (from Facebook posts) and text messages proving the drug use and drinking, and some are dated when he has had physical custody of the kids, others when he didn’t.

    11. I don’t drink, don’t do drugs, work a regular job, stay home with my kids, take them to the doctor when they are sick and he refuses to, carry them on my insurance, take them to the park and the library, don’t date, don’t leave them with babysitters (unless for work/dr appts, etc). I kept the house. I meet every single requirement of the state’s guidelines for determining who is the primary care giver.

    Since we now have enough evidence to nail him to the wall, metaphorically speaking, we have filed for sole custody with him having “reasonable, supervised visitation,” and the hell storm of harassment from him, his family, etc., has begun in earnest. I guess I am just looking for reassurance that it will all be ok. I feel like I will never get untangled from him, which is the only thing I truly want. I’ve gone NC, and have been for months now with him. But, I have to drop the kids off at his grandmother’s, and she is a bitch. His mom videos me dropping the kids off each time with her iphone. It’s insane.

    Has anyone else gone through this with their wingnut in-laws, and if so, how do you deal with all of it? I have just been ignoring them, or sometimes, my mom will drop the kids off for me. I’m always polite if they speak, or just kiss my girls and tell them I love them and goodbye, and ignore the in-laws completely if they don’t. Does it ever get better?

    • Ugh. He’s a disaster, and you’re doing the right things.

      He sucks; you don’t. So it is going to be ok.

    • You are mighty.

      He sucks epically.

      This is one where your sneaky lawyer will do the talking and your X will get emotional and stupid. If you are asked anything, stick to the facts and enjoy the fact that you look way better for being the sane parent instead of the crazy one.

    • Everything will be fine! In the heat of the custody battle it feels like it will never end. But it does, and people settle down, and you’ll be SO relieved. It feels like nobody understands, and you (if you’re like me) tell these things ^^^ to anyone who accidentally makes eye contact with you because you want to know that other people see it too. They do, don’t worry, and when it’s all over with NC is 1000 times easier. My ex and I speak approx. 2-3 times a month, to send a text saying I’m running a few minutes late or be there at 2. In the middle of the court stuff he was sending me hateful texts almost every day (I kept them and used them). It gets better, just hold on for a few months!

    • Wow. Your lawyer was right, he had enough rope to hang himself and he did just that. As a practitioner in the education field and a mandated reporter, there’s no way the actions he’s taken or the environment he’s set up are going to be found as good for the children. If I enter a home and drugs/alcohol are present with the kids around means I’m calling CPS. Whether or nor they pursue further action is on them but my duty is to report that. You also have it documented that he physically beat you. That is also not a good indicator of a safe place for the kids to be. If the hell storm of harrassment has begun from his side, document it, keep anything that comes your way in writing as evidence to further your case. AE is getting advice to stay calm despite all urges to defend herself b/c she wants to come cross as doing what’s best for her kids. It sounds like he and his family aren’t doing that. So if it’s not going to work for AE, is it really going to work in his favor? (and seriously, he’s got so much against him he’s going to reap what he sowed).

      • Thanks for the love and support. I can’t put into words how much it helps to FINALLY have someone say he sucks versus having it all turned around to somehow be my fault.

        The latest and greatest: My neighbor was outside while I was today, and asked how my criminal child abuse charges and CPS investigation was going. She said that disordered fucktard told her I was being investigated by police for child abuse and the detective has reported me to CPS, and that’s why she hasn’t seen the kids at the house very much lately.

        So, next week, on top of the divorce, custody, and the personal injury suit for the cancer he gave me, now I’m filing a defamation suit. He has the civil and criminal charges against him from work, the divorce, custody, and personal injury suits from me. Now , we are adding defamation.

        It’s a strategic move to cause his legal fees to continue to skyrocket. His mom and grandmother are financing his legal bills. 🙂

    • Kelli,

      I’ve told you before and I will tell you again – if I didn’t mind a starring role in my own version of Orange is the New Black, I would personally see to it that your X became the strange smell coming from the trunk of a car. To call him a piece of shit would be an insult to shit.

      • I’ve often had that very same thought. So often.

        I actually spoke to my attorney today, and turns out, he may be starring in his own real life version of Orange is the New Black very soon! In which case, there won’t even need to be a custody hearing next month, woohoo!!!

        And I think after everything he and his wackadoo family has done, I think my answer to their requests to see the kids after daddy goes to jail will be, “You may absolutely see the kids… Just as soon as you drop $10k to fight for grandparent’s visitation, and I’m required to let you see them by a judge” 🙂 I visualize this conversation every time I see them. It helps!

    • Yes, it does get easier. He sucks. His family sucks. Rise above and don’t allow them to bring you down. Easier said than done, I know. But you can do it. Let your attorney fasten the noose from all the rope he’s provided you.

      One thing that has helped me is the old adage, “kill them with kindness.” Learn to use the phrase, “bless your heart” liberally and often. Be polite, accommodating (within your agreements, no extra favors) and calm–they’ll have absolutely no way to pin anything on you. Even when they try to ambush you with their crazy, remain calm. http://www.highconflictinstitute.com helped me formulate powerful responses. Simply is best–Yes, No or Maybe. Also worked for me: “Gee, my attorney wants me to run these things by her first…..”

      Don’t be surprised if there’s an uptick in crazy behavior at first. That’s a normal response. They’ll just make themselves look like the disordered fools that they are. Hugs to you!

    • As the kids walk away from you and towards Grandma, pull out your phone and videotape HER taping you. Don’t speak.

    • Kelli – He sucks big time and I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. He sounds like a true a-hole and so does his entire family. You would think at some point they’d get exhausted from all of this and stop. It’s “good” that at least there are official records of the horrible things he has done. When is your next court date? I hope that your kids will be back with you for the majority of time soon!

      • Thanks, Erica! You know what feels best about coming here is that you can say X, Y, Z happened, and it sucks, and then PEOPLE AGREE! They confirm your assessment. This person sucks. What they do sucks. I swear if I have one more person ask me, “Are you really sure there’s just no hope for you two to make it?” I will seriously just laugh in their face and walk away. Argh!

        Next court date is September 11, and this is for the work lawsuit. I’ve been subpoenaed. The first hearing is a C&D to shut down the office he opened up using all of the stolen documents. Once that office is closed, then the business will press the criminal charges. My attorney says that he could very well be arrested leaving the court house from the hearing. So, then we would do an emergency custody hearing, poof, done! That’s what I am hoping happens.

        But…

        As we all know all too well, Narcissists won’t be “told” what to do. I filed interrogatories and production of documents last month, and they were due Aug. 1. He has yet to produce documents or answer the questions. In my state, there is a process to getting the contempt charges. So, if he still has not turned them in by next Friday, we file the motion for the hearing, get a court date in 2 weeks, and if he still hasn’t done it, he goes to jail. Otherwise, the next custody hearing isn’t until early October.

  • Erica,

    Don’t look at him. Don’t look at the lawyer if you can help it. Keep focused on your attorney and your judge. And LISTEN to everything with full attention but don’t react. If something strikes you as needing addressed – write it down for your attorney to see. Let him/her make the call.

    I thought I’d die when I had to go to court to fight for every dime I needed from my incredibly unremorseful morally and financially bankrupt cheating husband at the time. But I found that by putting up that wall of not having to make eye contact – I was able to keep feelings (never good on open display in court) under wraps and came out on top in the decision.

    If you feel like crying – dig your fingernail into your thumb as hard as you can until all you can think about is the pain of that. It is the best tear-stopping tactic I have ever had.

    Good luck, girl – and go get him. You are doing what’s best for your kids – it will work out.

  • Good luck today, AE. Add me to the list of your invisible supporters standing behind you in the gallery.

    I echo what CL says, and add one more thought to weave into the discussion or into your spiel (which your lawyer will be on top of):

    1) best interests of the children;
    2) you are in substantial compliance with the separation agreement/parenting plan. Substantial compliance, not absolute breach. In my experience a judge does not want to have to relitigate an otherwise functioning agreement over small details like this. (Caveat – I haven’t had to face custody issues, just speaking generally).

    You’ve got this.

  • AnotherErica,

    Listen to all the good advice you’re getting here, but also take heart that the overwhelming majority of courts in this country will do almost anything else before they take custody away from the mom and give it to the dad. It’s just as simple as that. Short of perhaps active alcohol or addiction to hard drugs or physical evidence of violence or a handful of things like that, you will have a day of squirming in court at the hands of your douchebag ex but in the end you will prevail. Living one extra minute away isn’t going to make a difference.

    In my case, my serial cheating ex-wife moved my son 1,700 miles away so she and her new hubby (her final affair partner from when she was married to me) could live near his family. I was told I didn’t have a shot opposing it unless my son testified he didn’t want to go (she bribed him with false promises of a swimming pool, unlimited video games, etc.) and possibly not even then. I went from having custody of my son half the time to seeing him a few days every six months or so. Oh, and I got to pay my ex and her new hubby child support for the privilege. And I’m a lawyer, so it wasn’t like I got steamrollered.

    The bias in favor of moms worked against me, but it will work in your favor.

    Good luck.

    • Agreed, just awful.
      The lesson for all STB divorced parents is to put a “move away” clause into the divorce agreement. My STBXH announced 1 month before divorce finalization that he planned to move overseas. I wish we had addressed his moving at the time; custody reverted to me, but now we are fighting over visitation.

      Jedi hugs, nomar. I am sure you realize that most women are not like you exW.

      • Yeah, I had a move-away clause. That helped when when the boy was small but once they get to be 13 or 14 whatever child says he/she wants to do trumps pretty much everything else. In my case, my son wasn’t going to tell a judge he *opposed* going with his mom to their Fabulous New Life in California so I had no chance to stop it.

        BTW, I don’t mean this as an indictment of the system. I believe in most (NOT all) instances if the Court has to pick between parents kids are better off with their moms, and that kids should have a voice in their living arrangement once they’re teenagers. The legal system can’t possibly weigh character the way we would like. It’s just a sh*tty situation.

      • I agree, that IS awful, Nomar! But sometimes, kids need to vote with their feet, depends on their age, and the actions of the Narc parent. Myself and DD have moved overseas, because the back and forth to Uncle Dad’s was killing her, particularly since what was supposed to be ‘his’ time with her ended up with Schmoopie looking after her while Uncle Dad went to the dealer. Doesn’t help that the AP is the mother of her cousin (cue Deliverance theme).

        Now there is distance, she is much better-he still gaslights and manipulates, to the point where she goes into fight or flight for a few days after she speaks with him, pukes, feels dizzy and sick, but that nothing compared to what it was like before we moved. That may seem extreme, but, genuinely, it is in her best interests to keep Dad at arm’s length, because he does not give a shit about her except she maintains his image as a good man.

        I appreciate this is sensitive, but….Regardless, that is what is working best for her, and I appreciate not everyone will agree-every situation has its context, and the kids do ‘get’ it, after a while, as to who was the real parent, but it is a hard road…..

        I wouldn’t have been happy with a no moving away clause. Our child is a dual citizen, and if there had been such a clause, I would regard that as a serious breach of MY human rights, never mind hers. Her Dad actually DIDn’t have any legal parental rights-as he ‘forgot’ to do the appropriate paperwork when DD was born, but he sued for them. I spoke to DD about this, and she was okay for him to have said rights, but HER only condition was that he could not tell her where to live. I am glad she did, I think she would be dead by now otherwise. Oh, and if she wants to move back to Europe before she is 18, I will re-relocate.

        I appreciate there is a cultural bias toward the mom as primary caregiver, Nomar, and that must have sucked, big time, your ex playing on that. The law is really an ass at times.

    • Nomar- (HUG). Further evidence that there needs to be major system changes. Use actions rather than lip service (I don’t care how much they (mom or dad) say they want to be involved. If they continually cancel/not show up/are late/flaky/unreliable etc and then complain that they don’t get enough time with their kid they shouldn’t have any leverage over the other parent). As a mom I realize the bias could work in my favor if I’m ever in this predicament but the bias isn’t right.

    • Nomar, what a kind and graceful answer. You give me hope in the decency of most men.
      So sorry that we all got mixed up in these people.
      One thing I have really noticed: that the enduring marriages of my friends and family have a huge basis in FRIENDSHIP, and that they STARTED OUT SLOWLY. In other words – they got to know each other.
      Mine was love at first sight and deep intensity. So the hollywood version is a huge red flag.
      It is also why I can’t blame ‘my’ OW too much – I know he targeted her and let her know she was the key to his lost soul. [except that she had to get round he was married – that’s on her]. But the intensity of being the sole focus of a hugely good looking and ‘successful’ man? I can’t blame her for that. I fell for it too.

    • Nomar, if CL does a TED talk, I think it should be on changing the way both society and the courts deal with cheating partners. I understand that “domestic relations” grows out of the notion that the marriage contract is different from a business contract, but it’s hard to find any other circumstance where someone can lie, cheat, and steal and still walk away with 1/2 of the assets of the marriage and the kids–and THEN can move 1,000 miles away. The law should reflect that breaking the marital vows and contract should be penalized–that the non-cheating partner should have the advantage in terms of deciding custody, support, geographic location, etc. For many cheaters, who think that no rule applies to them, the consequences would be late coming but severe. But you should not be the one who doesn’t get to live with your son. Just sayin’.

  • Any way you can get an expert ( policeman) or friend to drive the distance and file an affidavit it is an hour?

  • Good luck, aE!
    From what you’ve said, I agree with the other comments– going to court over 1 minute is ridiculous. I cannot imagine a judge who would rule you were acting against the spirit of the agreement.

    I recently consulted with a court family law mediator. He emphasized that in my state, courts focus on what is best for the kids. Not what the parents want and/or think they deserve. I have not been good about emphasizing that our email correspondence in the past, but have definitely started focusing matters using those terms.

    My exH and I probably also headed to court soon, over 3 weeks of summer vacation. He wants 90% of the summer vacation. I do not think that is in the kids’ best interest. He moved overseas without changing child visitation, and wants to change it a year later. He says the courts will look favorably on him (he pays support, etc). True, but he also hid his salary, refused to revisit child support, and ignored our divorce agreement as to how the kids would be introduced to (now) OWife.

    Sigh. I need to exercise to reduce the stress (currently injured, exercise is off limits)

  • I will be routing for you. You mentioned your attorney might be too nice. Please mention this to him. He needs to know that you are his client needing the best he can bring.

    I also agree with a post above. Make no eye contact and be as courteous and professional as you can to the judge. If you go in with the conviction that everything you have done is for the well-being of the children your ex-husband abandoned when he cheated, you will stay grounded.

    Good luck!

  • I like the idea of not looking at him, nor at his lawyer.

    He could be coached to serve up anything, from being an aggressive asshole, to being the laid-back friendly one who’s just trying to get along. Better to keep NC.

  • Go Erica Go… all good advice here. You already know that I am your biggest cheerleader, but I’ll say it all anyway. You are amazing and have done so much to put your life back together after your fucktard blew it up. The courts will see this when you and your lawyer are cool, calm and collected and you present the FACTS. You may end up having to shuttle your kids more than you had hoped, but regardless, you are still a million times better off just putting this asshole behind you. You already left a cheater… now you are gaining a life. And he doesn’t like that! Too bad asshole!!! Big hugs today! – D

  • Another Erica – count me among your supporters too.

    I doubt that the court will quibble over one minute. The judge may be angry at your ex and his lawyer for wasting the court’s time. If it does become an issue, make it a generalization that it takes 45 minutes to an hour or so depending on traffic. The move gave you a better
    job, better living conditions and a better school district all in the interest of your children.

    And in the end, it’s all about the children. So stand your ground! Good Luck!

    • I wouldn’t recommend saying 45 if it isn’t. I don’t think the court will consider the 1 minute egregious. They’ll see dickwad as being vindictive, stingy and petty. Sounds like she did everything by the book, including seeking her attorney’s advice. The only person who is going to look bad is the cheater.

      You’re 100% in the right, Erica. Go forward with confidence.

  • So many big hugs for today… Stand tall, shoulders back, remember that you are the BETTER person. Say what you have to say with as little emotion as you can… just the facts, Ma’m. Be calm about it, he will take whatever kind of emotional energy he can suck up and he will keep churing you so he can get more. If you are calm, he will be off looking for new supply in a flash. If the compromise is that you have the schlep the kids back and forth take it. Very shortly, he will lose interest in the kids, and the kids will lose interest in coming to him. As we all know, one thing about the day to day of taking care of the kids is that it is bloody hard work, no one give you attaboys. He will only want ot be the hero, so be prepared for that. Let him be the Disney dad. Document everything… every single thing from here on out, if you haven’t before. Until the day your kids turn 18, he will, in his demented way, try and fuck with your brain and theirs.

    In the end, you would be doing all of this AND living with him, had he not fucked up. My ex, covert narcissist famous scientist that he is, really messed with my older daughter’s head while we were married… Got rid of him when my younger daughter was in 8th grade. He shows up for two hours a week for his daddy duty, texts some times but my younger daughter is so much more emotionally healthy than my older, who at 29 is just starting to sort it out. In the end, your kids know who REALLY loves them. My kids do. Be strong a turd in suit still stinks.

  • Oh, the bitch ass lawyer. My ex hired some cute little puppy-eyed lawyer our age to represent him who apparently was “really nice” and “well-liked” by other lawyers. Except every time I got a letter from her, she was a real asshole, so I just assumed he had her twisted around his little finger too.

    Toward the end, though, I saw what was really going on. She was merely copy and pasting thing he wrote. She was not even editing the material.

    The point is, he was her client. She may have been a perfectly nice woman who thought he was a total dick, but he was paying her good money to represent him. So she did the dance. I still hate her though.

    As far as facing him during the process, my ex and I had a legal power meeting at one point when things were ugly. I refused to be in the same room with him. I was not being obstinate, but rather, I knew I would be better composed, articulate, and analytical without his face across the table from me. I also wanted him to gather NO information about me from my expressions, speech, or appearance. So I had Ms. Puppy-Dog Eyes and my lawyer work their magic between two conference rooms.

    May not work for you because you have children (we did not), but I am all for limiting face to face interactions in stressful situations where your composure and critical thinking skills are essential.

  • Erica, sending strong thoughts your way. I think CL nailed it. Stay calm and just talk about the kids. Please let us know how it goes.

    This really strikes home for me, because I just received a summons to appear in court in October. Ex petitioned to have child support waived. I received a copy of his financial disclosure and wow, he is good. Nothing at all about being an actor, none of his “entertainment” schemes, nothing about what he actually spends his time doing. Instead, a sad, sad story of how he is homeless, is desperately trying to find a good job, only works part time for 20 hours a week (well, that part is true) and generally has the sadz. But of course, I know perfectly well he has CHOSEN to be underemployed for years, spends all of his time on his crazy videos and will NEVER get a real job if that means I might get any of the $41 child support arrears he currently owes me. Heck, he told our son many times he wasn’t going to get a job. Unfortunately, I doubt the judge will care about any of it, beyond he doesn’t make much money, and that will be that.

    I am absolutely sick about having to see him in court. It’s been almost three years since I have seen or spoken with him. Just thinking about it makes me anxious and sick. I’m dreading that court date.

    • Sending Jedi hugs, Glad.
      We are in adjacent counties, I believe. I hope the courts in your area are reasonable. I will be thinking of you!

    • Good luck Glad. My attorney (in California) said that if dickwad wouldn’t get a job, that they would impute income from what he could be earning. So if you have any evidence of what he used to earn, or what the going rate for his skills are (personal trainer, no?) then you can bring that.

    • Glad,

      In the ongoing contest for the title Biggest Asshole on the Planet, your X is really vying for a spot in the top 10 for pure assholery. Considering all of the assholery we hear about on this site, he really is one Anaconda-sized, S-Shaped, foul smelling piece of shit.

      Bless you Glad and May The Force Be With You.

    • Well, in your case, it’s a good thing that your ex plastered his crazy all over the web. It’s all evidence! If he states in his videos that he’s such as successful actor and has had sooo many acting jobs, then that supports your cause that you deserve some child support.

    • Take the evidence from his videos online, among other things and nail that bastard to the wall in October.
      You’re mighty.

      • Bring the videos if only to prove what a complete douchebag he is to the judge. I swear you will see your honor try to hide a smirk. That will be priceless!

    • Ugh Glad. I swear they do it just to get our attention – just like a 2 year old who shi&^% on the carpet.

      My exH also took me to court after I hadn’t seen him for 5+ years. He owes over $80,000 in child support and has had himself declared indigent (despite having just purchased a $400,000 home…but that’s another story). Our trip to court was because I filed to have the Protection Order extended. He fought it because it “made him look bad”. Sigh. I vote with everyone else here – just let them do their crazy dance. I had an attorney and sat with a sad, calm look on my face as he represented himself, lied to the judge, said ridiculous things, and then tried to flirt with me. If I hadn’t been so completely creeped out and sick to my stomach, I might have laughed out loud. Pathetic. The CPO got extended for two more years, and he still owes $80,000 (he makes a little payment every few months to avoid going to jail), but I looked normal and he looked completely crazy. You’ve got this.

  • The law turns on facts. Here are the facts as I observe them from your letter.

    You had an agreement that you would not move over an hour away if you wanted spousal support to continue. Well, it sounds like you earned a degree and got a good job, so you don’t need spousal support to continue anyway. Agree that it’s appropriate to end it, no matter where you live.

    The kids’ custody doesn’t hinge on where you live, at least not from what you said. If it was also linked to where you live, then your argument should be that you carefully measured the travel time and it is about an hour on average, as specified in the agreement. No need to change anything.

    Just keep in mind that you have to argue the same thing for both. If you need to argue that the move is under an hour to keep child custody, then you must also argue to keep spousal support, because your argument is that you are still within the hour away clause.

    Though I bet if you agreed to lower or cease spousal support, his argument about the custody of the kids would evaporate. Always be open to negotiation!

    As for handling yourself, just take lots of deep breaths when you find your emotions getting the best of you. Pause often to collect yourself. Pauses make you look thoughtful anyway.

    • I think she earned the spousal support. AE took time off from her career to care for their kids while he built his career. They were a partnership and she invested her labor and deserves her share of the returns.

      The cheating just makes it worse – her decision to take time off from her own development as a wage earner was based on the understanding that they were married and would stay married and would not have other partners.

      So I don’t think it’s appropriate to give up spousal support just because you have a job anymore than you would give over your share of the house just because you have a job now.

      There might be a tactical reason for EA to give up spousal support, but it would be terribly unfair if she had to. It really looks to me like her ex is just using the custody issues as a way to bargain her down and not have to pay the money he 100% owes her.

      • In Alabama, spousal support is awarded as payment for lost wages on investment of the marriage (the woman who sacrificed her career to raise children). It is awarded for X number of years, and what the woman ends up making doesn’t have anything to do with it.

        He OWES her that support, because he reneged on the deal they had.

        • yes, I am definitely fighting for the support as well – definitely feel as though I deserve it; though obviously I would take losing the money over losing the kids. If it did go away, I would at the same time get child support ramped up because of the loss of income on my side. Though I also have additional income that I’m earning, but I also have work-related day care costs that would go into the calculation as well.

          I’m sure child support calcs will be changing as well as a result of my job if nothing else. But apparently those guidelines are pretty set in stone.

  • Hang in there, Glad! A lot of what you have said has really helped me in the past. You can’t get blood from a stone, though. Fact is, he can’t give what he doesn’t and never will have, which is CHARACTER. Financially, it sucks-I was underemployed when in the Narkles, and unemployed now. Shit scared……but….At first I was resigned to being a solo parent, now I am resolved. My ex does pay child support, about half what he should, buys DD jewelery in the hundreds, but not new gym shoes, yaddayadda…If we had stayed in our relationships, we would be doing it all ourselves, any way.

    You might be pleasantly surprised to find you feel nothing on seeing your ex, or have to bite your lip to keep the guffaws in. And dopoint your brief toward exies videos…..if there are ads on the sites, he is making money….but otherwise, would it be so bad if he were off the hook? Yep, it sucks, and is unfair. Asking to waive child support is like just admitting to being a deadbeat….funny he doesn’t realize that! Is there a pattern of him taking you to court? In which case, he is just winding you up, in it for kibbles, etc. I found that as soon as my expectations of Mr Fab as a grown ass man, partner and parent were correctly calibrated, ie, set to zero, I felt a lot better.

    A sperm donor with a Napoleon complex. That is what Mr Fab has become. Responsible to no one, not even their kids. All you and your lawyer need to point out is your kid’s needs, not His Majesty’s wants.

    Keep in touch as it draws near. Your are the mighty Glad. You’ve got this.

    x-Meh.

    • “A sperm donor with a Napoleon complex….” Yes, or fucking King Henry, who eliminated wives but “kept” the kids. You know my narc ex never disclosed his financial docs either, was in contempt, had to be pursued in court by Children’s Services to pay child support (while at the same time had no plan to pay any of our joint expenses-hey, he didn’t live at the houseso that is exactly how we “lost it ) but that still didn’t get him into trouble with our family court. A good ol’ boys network, or perhaps a bunch of mediocre workers…. SAHMs got the shaft every time, especially in long term marriages. I interviewed six lawyers, four men and two women, and they ALL knew spousal was a hard sell but didn’t have the balls to say anything directly to me. Just declined my case. One woman was so fucked up that she didn’t think affairs affected outcomes. Really!?!?! I only wish I could go back and pursue dissipated assets. That “whole cheating thing” makes any financial settlement lopsided. Equal, what a joke. It strengthened my ex’s “story” when he spent the last two years of our marriage working in the family court in the next county over. The lawyer from our legal aid worked there too. Hmmmmm. I was a lot paranoid. AE, I would absolutely do your homework. Your jerk off ex is a weasel. My spousal was for five years. A pittance. There are formulas for this but no one knows fuck. Twenty year marriage. SAHM, because we both wanted that, his job required one parent to be present 🙂 if important, and it was convenient for my ex to have the good wife taking care of our children and everything else. The court wanted to give me 70 dollars a month (my ex’s income at the time exceeded 100k/year with all the perks: State car, state gas card, free gym membership, travel expenses, and yeah they will pay him all his accrued vacation time-at the limit then- the day he retires. He did not need to take vacation time during our marriage either. Peace officers in the State of Ca are quite wealthy and tricky you know. None of these perks were included in his income) One good thing, I knew his fucked up secrets because at the exact moment I discovered he had another woman, all the pieces (of the puzzle that had become our life together) fell into place. AE, if you know your ex well you know what he wants. So take ALL the great advice here, know YOU are MIGHTY, be strong and go in there and fight. Sweetly. Judges are biased and the good lawyers know how to argue a good case. Get your lawyer to work. Your case is just one of many, your lawyer will work harder when he knows you and your family. Ask your lawyer what her approach is. My lawyer was so inept in dealing with a Narc (and his unethical asshole lawyer) that she was not a lot of help (understatement there); although she only ever really knew half the story. I was scrambling behind the scenes to be sure ex wasn’t going to blow up our children as well; they are adults now but we all still have to deal with King Crap. I did not want to lose my retirement either and am still wrestling with issues there. :/ A wing nut ex is scary. Mine once told me, many years ago out of the blue, that while he was always going to love me he wanted to divorce so he could marry x and then you know lose her so he could inherit x’s property. It was one random minute moment in years together but I had an awful feeling then. I don’t know to this day if he was just kidding at the time but I certainly did not think it was funny. Fast forward and his new inlaws have disinherited their daughter. Which I kind of think they both deserve. 🙂 Glad, yes, your ex wins for one of the biggest losers on the planet. (And not those fabulous dieters losing weight. Lol) Sending good karma your way too. Remember you got this. Take the power back. Oh, saw your last post too, AE. Do not listen to his lawyer “talk.” Listen to yours. Ex’s lawyer will pull all the dirty tricks before the hearing. Call their bluff. You should not only have your documentation lined up but a solution to the “problem” as well. And yeah I don’t believe a reasonable judge will punish you for that ONE minute. Your lawyer should state very clearly that while you appreciate ex’s spending time with “our children” that in this day and age (and tough economy) it is more important that you are able to support your family and that your future financial stability depends upon your ability to pursue lucrative jobs no matter where they are. So FILE that motion back. (As to the idiot ex who blew your family up and is crying about those fucking natural consequences, I think fucking around while married has those—-just don’t say this, in parenthesis, out loud). Hugs all around. Started up work again and my first check posted today. A whole week’s wages for a month. 😉

  • Dear AnotherErica,

    You’ve been a lovely, insightful, kind, honest contributor here for ages, and I am so sorry you are having to face this battle in court. There is so much good, practical advice here from other lovely fellow chumps, and you sound like you’ve got this! I’m so impressed with the way you have taken control of your life and have dealt with things so far. You are, as they say in these parts, definitely MIGHTY! 😀

    Please excuse me while I have a rant on your behalf – 1 hour 1 minute or even, God forbid, 1 hour and 7 minutes! AARGH!!!!! When, oh when, will this sort of obvious spousal abuse become illegal – when??? What the hell does it matter how far away you live? Who cares if you have to fly the kids for shitheads visitation ‘rights’ – who cares if you have to invent teleportation to make that possible? So long as the kids are there handed over on time- what the hell does it matter? Grrrrr! and lots of swear words beginning with F and ending in K!

    Ok, sorry about that – had to vent! AnotherErica – you’ve got this – heartfelt good vibes coming atcha from Liverpool 😀
    xxxx

  • “My then-husband refused to quit cheating on me, and I could not let my children grow up in that environment.”

    AbsoFUCKINGlutely! That is the message! CL has the greatest advice here and nails it with this phrase. I’m convinced this is what got me equal custody without having to go to trial. In my case, my STBXW’s lawyer knew she couldn’t win because of THIS.

    Best of luck, AnotherErica!

  • AnotherErica,

    I am sending you big, strong hugs and a fist bump. You’ve got this. You have been such a strong and sensible voice here – you’re THAT girl.

    I relate to your anxiety and everyone has given you excellent advice on how to handle things, particularly the part about not acknowledging him or his bitch-ass lawyer and the 15 minutes of meditation and focusing on breathing. You’re an hour and one minute away? Sigh. If you have a decent judge, he should reach down and slap your X and his bitch-ass attorney for wasting the court’s time.

    From my perspective, these mutton-head narc-buckets, when they cannot directly control you, resort to using whatever they can find in their arsenal to get you wound up in order for them to do a number on you. Kibbles and Kontrol. The kids are always a handy-dandy way to get at you and make you notice them. For you, this is about your children and what is best for them. For him, it’s about attention and fucking with you. My children are adults, and the way with which McNarcilicious Turdbottom can get to me is through manipulating the children. He knows I care about them above all else. Kibbles and Kontrol.

    I am sending good energy to you AE. With Chump Nation behind you, no mere mortal Asshole or his mere mortal bitch-ass attorney can intimidate or defeat you.

  • Oh, Erica! I am so, so very sorry that you have to deal with this. The advice already given is pretty awesome so I will just add one thing – a technique my STBX has used to great advantage. He would sit in meetings and just repeat his line over and over again no matter what was said to him. Seriously, true or not, valid or not, relevant or not, he stuck to his position like nothing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Nothing shifted him off his position. He didn’t really argue because he didn’t address what others were saying – he just stated his position in response to whatever else was being said. It was extremely effective for him in the beginning. When I got tired of looking like a crazed maniac because I was arguing with him – while he sat there smug and completely calm – I started doing it, too. And it works because others do not know how to respond to that. It shifts the narrative and forces all of the sane people in the room to look argumentative in the face of the idiot’s refusal to go off message.

    Quick example: we were arguing over who would schlep our daughter back and forth from his parenting time. He wanted me to do it 1/2 the time. Well, he has no parenting time (by his choice) with our disabled daughter so she is with me 24/7 AND it is very difficult for me to commit to a driving schedule because of her disability. So I felt it was fair that he should do all of the driving for our one daughter. My lawyer and the divorce “coach” agreed. He did not. So he sat in the mediation meeting and said, “She isn’t taking responsibility for our daughter. This is not fair. I should only have to drive 1/2 of the time.” I said, “that’s not true. I am responsible for A all of the time and you never are so how am I not taking responsibility? You aren’t taking responsibility and should be glad to drive back and forth to be with L.” What did he say? “She isn’t taking responsibility. It’s not fair and I shouldn’t be burdened with the drive all of the time.” And that’s how it went literally for 45 minutes. I grew increasingly frantic trying to make my point and he sat there saying some variation of those three sentences over and over. I ended up agreeing to drive L back and forth once a month just to make him shut up. He won because although he didn’t get what he wanted in the end, he did control the conversation and he did get me to compromise when I shouldn’t have had to do that.

    Might be worth a try. Praying for you and your kids. Be the strongest you have ever been and completely rooted in how right your cause is. Hugs and more hugs!

    • What kind of father chooses to spend ZERO time with their disabled child? I can’t begin to comprehend such a choice. What a completely horrible and worthless parent. And you have to co-parent with . . . THAT?

      You are mighty, lissa.

      • Thanks, nomar. It is pretty hard to believe. But that actually was the choice he made. Our daughter has multiple disabilities but is also just an amazing, funny, loving girl. When we were creating the parenting plan I talked with several of the professionals we work with around her care and came up with a step by step process for getting her comfortable with going to his place for a day – overnights will probably never be possible. He sat across from me in the conference room and said that no, he didn’t think he wanted to do that. I was shocked. I started explaining how it would work and that it might take years to get to that point but I thought we could do it. I offered to let him spend time with her – with no interference from me – in my home. Nope. That would make him “uncomfortable.” I kept explaining and offering solutions until his lawyer said to him, “It’s okay. They can’t force you.” That was the end of that. Now I live with my two girls and he has parenting time with only one of them. And even that’s no more than 15 hours per week. A real winner this guy. And I am stuck co-parenting with him, yes.

        • Lissa, Ex’s behavior just about says it all. What a horrible human. My best friend’s beautiful little girl lived for three years. My children and I loved her; any chance we could we spent time with her, just gathered her up and took her with us. We have so many good memories. She was such a blessing to us all. We ALL have different abilities, and yes, some of us have real challenges, but stupid people, they will never know the joy that comes from loving others and being loved in return.

  • Erica, one more thing: as many people have said, do NOT look at him or his bitch lawyer. Find some place else to focus your attention. It still can make me hyperventilate sitting in a meeting with the STBX and that cold-hearted bitch of a lawyer. So I don’t look at them and that helps. I look at my lawyer when I need to speak, as if just the two of us are having a conversation. When I need to listen, I cast my eyes down and forward a bit and try to look thoughtful and as if I am really listening to them.

    Good luck!

  • I keep thinking that what he is after here isn’t his kids, it’s getting out of paying support and/or punishing you.

    AE, I just want to emphasize that you deserve that support. You took care of your kids in good faith, expecting him to be faithful and build a lifetime partnership with you. He moved ahead and now he can pay you back. He owes it to you.

    This whole thing brings up something I’ve heard before which is that it can be better for a wife to get a large lump-sum or assets rather than monthly support that he can try to duck out of and/or use to make your life difficult. I don’t know if it’s too late to change the terms of your agreement now, but if you could, it might be good.

  • Another Erica, sending you love and support today and all days. You can get through this and you will. Let us know how it turns out.

  • Another Erica, Chump Lady gave great advice, I just wanted to emphasis documenting everything!! and Stay calm, calm calm. Do not let him bait you by twisting your words, and bullying you. it is a favorite tactic of these assholes, they are all calm and self assured and the woman is a basket case because she is so afraid of losing her kids. He slings some mud, she gets flustered, she gets emotional, judge looks at his calm demeanor and the emotional, crying, flustered woman and the ex says”See? you can’t talk to her, she is a mental case.”

    There are ways to prevent this from happening. It may seem unrelated but trust me. What you wear is very important, for the image you present and how you feel. Wear something subdued and classy; it doesn’t have to be a power suit, just black slacks and a nice jacket. Something that you have worn before and felt good in, we all have that outfit that we know we look good in and we feel good in; wear it! There is nothing worse than going in front of people who intimidate you and you are having to pull your pants out of the crack of your ass, your boob keeps falling out of your blouse, or you have a big stain on your blouse. You won’t feel confident and you will exude that lack of confidence. trust me.
    You don’t want Tammy faye mascara dripping off your chin either. Also don’t fidget, if you are a hair twister pull your hair back in a pony, if you are a nail biter put tabasco on your fingers. It is distracting and makes you look nervous (you are) and guilty (you aren’t)
    The documenting part is so very important. don’t rely on your memory, write down everything you want to say so you are not kicking yourself later because you forgot something. When you are under pressure and dealing face to face with him your mind may go blank, have notes! You know him better than most and have a pretty good idea what he is going to try to say about you so be prepared by writing out your arguments to his accusations.
    You say you moved 1 hour and 1 minute away. Use Google maps and chart the route from where you were to where you are now. It always gives the approx time it takes to get from point A to point B. Print it and take it as evidence.
    You said it is a better school – why was the other one not as good? Is there a lot of bullying? a bad neighborhood? get proof of your claims, news articles, surveys, do schools in your area get assessed and graded, ours do in Canada, if they do, get a copy as evidence, prove your case, don’t assume everyone is going to know. Educating yourself and providing a better home for your children is an admirable thing use it to your advantage, have the financial records that show what you have invested, show the awesome after school care you have found for your children. You might not need it but he might say that you are working and you don’t have time for the kids now that you are advancing your career (just guessing) Have a calendar where you mark everything you do with the kids and if their grades improve keep the report cards and take them as evidence. I advice anyone with children with an N to document everything always. That way when he decides he feels like screwing up your day and he’s going to take you to court for custody 2 years down the road you have FACTS and evidence to prove the contrary. make note of every time he cancelled his daddy time or was late for pickup etc. it isn’t that much work and it could save you a whole lot of heart ache later.
    Judges love evidence. anyone can say anything they want but nothing can argued like a piece of paper proving what the person is saying.
    A narcissist will lie his face off to his own detriment if you can catch him in a lie or obviously trying to slander you it is not going to go over well with the judge.
    Also the more evidence you have the more confident you are and the easier it is to stay calm and rational and not get flustered.
    Good luck, you can do this. Everyone is always afraid of the N in court because they are so vicious but I know of several women who have won, big time wins by having evidence and remaining calm.

  • I am sorry I know I already did a huge comment but I said it before I read the other comments. (I also try to put Ikea furniture together without reading the instructions)
    It seems the 61 minutes is a big issue, I find it hard to believe a judge would side with him for one minute or 5 for that matter. Where did you measure from, is it supposed to be from his house to your house? his office to your house? his house to the daycare? It might be 57 minutes for one and 63 for another. I know they aren’t in school right now but will be soon. How long does it take to get to the school?

    • Right. If one minute were such a problem, just drive 5 minutes in his direction to a neutral meeting spot.
      It’s a control issue and spite issue, always.

  • I can’t understand how these cheaters get 50:50 custody when they have been the absentee parent well before D-day. Yeah, I live in a 50:50 no fault state! Wonder if many of them request/demand 50:50 for CS reasons. Sad for my kids but happy for me — final decree: kids’ dad has what equals to 15% custody. Two overnight weekends a month and two dinners during week. Ugh. Really????!!!!! But I get my kids the rest of the time. 🙂

    I thought once you’re divorced, it’s settled but guess things like this erupt just to let you know your EX sucks! (mine too. Divorce just finalized and three weeks later EX wants to introduce his out-of-state MOW to kids since he’s moving in with her and HER kids! Kids are in emotional turmoil because they knew she was reason for divorce (online schmoopie). He’s an a**wipe! He claimed I had all sorts of violations to divorce agreement in a nasty email to me after the kids indiv told him they weren’t interested in meeting her. His claims of violations were all false, READ the divorce agreement JERK! ….(sigh) Due to all the support here on CL, I decided it didn’t warrant a reply from me.

    Good luck Erica…. Keep us posted and stay strong. No emotion. No kibbles for your EX or his lawyer!

    • My ex tried quite seriously to recruit my son to going with him (look at your new house with your new big bedroom!), leaving my daughter with me. The custody mediator just sighed and said “Sooner or later, they all do the math. This is fairly transparent to the court”, and then informed the ex that the State doesn’t like to see siblings separated, and that was that.

      I also had the kids interviewed by the mediator, who then turned around and told the ex “The children are not interested in having a relationship with your girlfriend” That actually took his breath away. They really do think everyone else in the world exists to affirm how wonderful they are.

  • Erica, I was in court all the time because of my job. Sadly, every judge was a little nuts. Go figure. Anyway, I learned quickly to remain neutral, calm and educated. Have a respectful demeanor toward the judge or any other court official. Don’t let opposing counsel get you upset. They are trained to do that. You need a pit bull. I know cases that should have been won and were not because of wimpy lawyers. For some reason the jackass is trying to get you to “lose” it but it usually is money, ot power or just because. I wish you the best of luck.

  • Another fact to present (if it can be managed) is to draw a 1hr circumference around his place. Then, put pins in all the places to live that meet the criteria (rent in your budget (one third of your income including spousal support), minimum rating on greatschools.com (if in America), crime statistics, community opportunities (great aftercare programs: scouts, sports, IB programs), doesn’t exceed what is safe for you to commute (need to be no more than 30 minutes away in case of emergency), availability at the time of your move (it may have been a great place to live – they just didn’t have any openings at the time), put all the things that the responsible parent in you gravitated to (kids can walk to school, close to: horse barn, community garden, skating rink- whatever).

    By your description, there won’t be too many pins in that circumference anyway. And it puts facts in front of the judges eyes. It also tells the judge that you are thinking of these things – like the wonderful parent that you are. You don’t have time to sulk like Mr. PoutyPants over there – outraged over a minute. He is lucky to have someone like you raising his kids. Seriously. Your kids are lucky, too!

  • AE,
    My heart and my prayers go out to you. This is one of those difficult things that you
    need to do to get through this process.
    What helped me, was thinking of it as an acting role and I was going to play the part
    perfectly. You will be very happy when you win the Emmy, with your pride and children in tact. Good Luck.

  • Whew! I’m finally home and am exhausted… so can’t reply as much as I would like, but did want to send an update. Though unfortunately there isn’t much to update. His lawyer was shockingly nice to me… in that she told me that I was a good mom and actually sounded like she believed it. I even made eye direct contact with her and didn’t want to kill her.

    But then she talked about how she sees this going two ways… that there were two possible outcomes and they both essentially were that I’d be stuck moving back and my ex would have custody. Um, or what about the outcome where I keep custody?? Is that just crazy-talk?? There was again mention of every weekend. She asked me if I would consider moving back if my ex got custody… or even worse than moving back, moving to an area right in-between that is the real boondocks. So I’d be halfway between work and the kids but not actually close to anything. So, because they weren’t willing to work on a compromise that didn’t include me moving back, we ceased the discussion. But at least we did work out the visitation for the next week prior to court. Maybe I’ll get a chance to enjoy the weekend a little? And my oldest starting kindergarten. I’m kinda pissed bc probably forever I’m going to remember this more for the custody battle than kindergarten. I don’t even get a chance to feel sad about my oldest going to school because I’m too busy worrying about this.

    Couple things: I actually think my lawyer is effective, it’s just hard for me to see because I think I would probably be the worst lawyer in the entire world. I don’t think I can have a civil disagreement… at least not about something like this. I do get too emotional. And maybe I just might be too direct and honest. Not like lawyers aren’t honest, but I don’t have too much of a filter. Anyway, my lawyer got the visitation accomplished that I wanted and was the one that stopped the conversation pretty quickly since it wasn’t going to be worthwhile for us.

    But in general, I had an epiphany, that hopefully will at least last until court. I’m going to try to let go of control. I think that is why I’ve been so freaked out because I don’t have any control over this outcome; and I even want to control my lawyer, like I want to know exactly what she’s going to say and ask me and what is his lawyer going to ask me, etc. And apparently it’s impossible to know these things… who woulda thought?? 🙂 So, I’m going to turn myself over to the court. I’m going to state the facts (and yes, I will do some thinking about the best way to present some of the main points… but that is about the only thing I can control now) and just rely on the judge being a reasonable person and that after he hears the facts he will make the right decision. I have to believe that. And if the worst happens, I will deal with it.

    • So glad to hear you are feeling empowered to deal with this. I wonder: why not suggest that he do the moving? I’ve lived in the “small town boonies” as a kid and in a big city with moderate traffic. It sometimes takes me an hour to drive downtown (15 miles) if traffic is bad. So it’s likely you live within 50 miles or so? What’s his issue? That’s really not far at all, and a creative parent could make the drive fun by stopping for lunch or trying different routes so the kids might see new things.

      There’s something off about this. I think the lawyer is trying to spook you to moving back with this custody thing. I think you should get your documentation ready and hold your ground. Be willing to literally meet 1/2 way to transfer the kids. One of the things I notice when I travel is that the airport is kind of an “in-between” space–you aren’t at home but you aren’t where you are going. Maybe you can use that 1/2 hour to prepare the kids for the handoff. You can talk about your schedule while they’re gone and what they are looking forward to. You can ask them what they want to tell their Dad about their week when they see him. And for your X, the 1/2 hour is good “captive” time to just talk. You might present travel time as an advantage, not a problem, that allows the kids to make the transition from one home to another. Or your X can pick up the kids at your place and you can get them at the end of the visit. This just seems like a non-issue. What is it that he REALLY wants, I wonder?

      And you can always say, “While I don’t understand why X is not willing to drive an hour to pick up his kids, I am willing to

      • That bitch ass lawyer? She’s not getting full custody for your freakazoid ex. Only two outcomes and both benefit her client? Yeah, right. I’m willing to bet that if your attorney thought this was a remote possibility, she/he would’ve played along with negotiating custody. The fact your attorney ended the discussion is very telling.

        There is so much good advice here. Document everything! Stay calm. Something that helped me was to repeat a mantra to myself silently: calm, present and strategic. Meditation, yoga, exercise, prayer–whatever it is you need to keep calm, find it now and begin consistently practicing it before you go into court. Consistency is key. Fill that reservoir of strength and calm right now, so you can draw on it when you need it.

        Trial prep–everyone here was spot-on. Don’t look at your ex in court. Wear something you feel good in, and present yourself as the wholesome, sane parent that you are. Record yourself giving testimony, in case you need to speak in court and need to fine-tune your statements. Stay calm and don’t fidget. You can do this!

        Another resource: Bill Eddy’s advice for dealing with shitheads & narcs, ie. “High Conflict People.” You can check him out at http://www.highconflictinstitute.com.

        Great idea about letting go of control. Reminds me of the Serenity Prayer:

        Grant me the serenity
        To accept the things I cannot change
        The courage to change the things I can
        And the wisdom to know the difference

        I don’t know you, but I’m rooting for you! Chumps gotta stick together.
        GO! FIGHT! WIN!

      • “And you can always say, “While I don’t understand why X is not willing to drive an hour to pick up his kids, I am willing to”

        But he IS willing to drive an hour; he purportedly isn’t willing to drive an hour and one minute, so maybe instead say “I don’t understand why X isn’t willing to drive ONE MORE MINUTE to see his children”.

        Since it appears he is just using that minute for leverage to get whatever it is he really wants, if you offer to move back–as long as he pays to break your new lease and will put the deposit down for a new place–the song will likely change rapidly.

      • I live exactly 60 miles from my old place – there’s a big stretch of highway that makes it travel fast. So, I agree that it’s not that far. In fact, one benefit to the car ride so far has been that my oldest has gotten to work on his reading. I’ve suggested he move, or rent a cheap apartment downtown where he doesn’t need to worry about school districts, etc., to have a homebase here. Maybe he will end up doing that eventually. He won’t move because his practice is another 30 min the other way past where we lived. This is probably what pisses him off as well is that he wanted to move that way eventually which would put him even further away.

        And yeah, I was gonna post above that I believe his motive is to essentially blackmail/scare me into moving back. Sure, he’d take custody too if that were given. He’d figure out a way to outsource the hard work involved. And he would consider any reduction in his payments to be a significant bonus, but I think his main motive is to prevent me from moving on and also to be there to continue to make life easier for him. You know, like I did when we were married. I do the brunt of the work and with very little effort he can see them a lot. And I’m sacrificing my life for him. But if he got custody, or if the judge literally told me he thinks the kids need to go back, I would figure out a way to move back so that I could be close to them. I know what I will do if the worst possible thing happens, so that is helping me to feel less afraid of it. The worst case scenario is essentially no worse than where I was a few months ago and that wasn’t that bad.

        But yes, for now, I’m also focusing on that one minute. That we had agreed on something and that one minute is making him try to change everything and essentially take the children away from me. I’m hoping the judge sees how ridiculous and almost vindictive that is.

        • It’s not “almost” vindictive, it is vindictive.

          To an outsider it seems very strange that he wants you to move back so badly. I suppose if he wants to move himself and still see the kids, then having you so far away creates problems for him.

          Tough, he cheated and now you have to go back to work and find a house you can afford in a good neighborhood for your kids. He doesn’t get to move where he planned to.

          I think, though, that this is mostly about control and winning for him. Hopefully, that will shine though at the trial and you will be calm and reasonable and just taking care of your kids.

        • The judge is going to see it. Does your lawyer see it this way? That woman needs to fight for you and have your back!

          AE, my experience of judges is they see this shit all the time — and they’re on to it. Just put forth your REASONABLE arguments and don’t let those assholes bully you. His lawyers is a bully — oh, you can have sucky option 1 or 2! It’s fait accompli! And (pat, pat, pat) what a nice mommy you are (that’s why you’re trying to take my kids from me, bitch?) She SUCKS. Bullshit. Ignore them. Go in there with the strength of your SANITY and goodness. And dear God, work his infidelity into the story line. Big hugs and let us know when that trial date is!

          • she does, she says she thinks “this is coming from a place of him trying to control my life”. But she also thinks his lawyer is giving him bad advice and he is buying into it. This is why she says she’s frustrated. She’s also told me no one respects his lawyer, etc. At least everyone thinks she’s a bitch-ass apparently. I told her there’s a reason he picked her though. I think around the non-legal circles she’s known as a “father’s rights” bitch-ass. So, I don’t think she thinks he sucks as much as I do (only my family, closest friends and you guys see him that way), but she thinks he sucks enough.

            She has my back, I do believe that.

            Yes, sanity and goodness. And just remember why I did this in the first place.

            • It’s true that some lawyers are not well thought-of by their peers. My lawyer warned me that if STBXH retained a couple of specific lawyers, I should be prepared for a very unpleasant, needlessly high-drama divorce. Your Ex may have retained one of those. The other option is that she’s merely repeating the line he’s paid her for.

              From your lawyer’s remarks, it looks as if your Ex’s arguments aren’t fooling anyone. His lawyer’s attempting to get the points for trying, though.

            • I like how you talk about how your son is using the car ride to work on his reading. While I think the judge will see through this ridiculous attempt to control you, it won’t hurt you to have the best possible narrative, the best possible documentation and exhibits. You might be prepared for the “my practice is 30 minutes further” argument by making the point that you have NOT asked him to sacrifice his practice or move to make things easier for you, that you understand it’s important for him to be able to make a living–and even HE can’t do that in the small town.

              • oh, actually he does… his practice is actually even more rural than the town we lived in. Must be nice to be a dentist and be able to work wherever you want, but we don’t all have the luxury of that. Us living in the town we did was the closest thing I got to a compromise. But the “plan” was to eventually get to where he works. I never wanted to move there, wanted to find a decent-sized city (that still had the precious water he needed so that he/we could eventually get a house on it) but he basically threatened to end our relationship if I didn’t move there. And I was 6 years into the relationship looking to get married and just gave in. “location is much more important to him and I don’t care THAT much… I love him!” I know, I know… ugh. I am a dumbass. At least I found my self-respect eventually although it took the cheating to make it happen.

    • Ahhh, the good ol’ steamroller of narcs worldwide – including this lawyer.
      Only reason she was acting ‘nice’ to you is so you’d drop your guard so she could then flatten you (which is what the two bad options were – choose between bad and crappy!). Don’t buy into that crap.
      I don’t see the problem with the feelings of wanting to control your lawyer – after all, you’re going to have to live with the end outcome, not her.

    • What a jerk – pretending to be nice just so she can be completely unreasonable. Sounds like she’s a good fit for your ex.

      You have more control than you think – you can control how you act and what you say. If worst comes to worst, you can, as you say move back closer to your ex.

      One thing to add for the best interests of the kid – your child has now started kindergarten. Surely your ex isn’t heartless enough to want her to change schools just so he won’t have to drive an extra two minutes?

        • yeah, he said the other day in the meeting he wishes our court date was a little earlier (it is on his 3rd day of school) so he wouldn’t have started school yet so that if he gets custody he wouldn’t have to change schools. I did say to him then that that’s another reason why he should stay where he is.

    • P.S. His first day of kindergarten! How wonderful!

      Give yourself some time to enjoy it and feel a little sad. Don’t let your ex control you.

    • Well, that was a weird-assed meeting, at least the way you have presented it. From your description it appears he is more interested in tell you where you can live than anything else.

      Things I think are important to note:

      1. He will sue you over a technicality. Any opening will be exploited.

      2. If this is about telling you where you can live, then you need to cut all unnecessary contact and maybe even give one of those scheduling sites like cozi a try for managing kid exchanges. Keep all communication at a strictly business only level going forward. Be the DMV: these are the rules, this is what I can do, and I can’t change the rules.

      • Oh, and for the purpose of documentation, it helps if most communication is in writing. That’s one advantage of those scheduling sites.

      • Good point on the technicality. One minute over 1 hour and he is wasting the court’s time about it.
        Most judges I know would be pissed.

  • You are mighty indeed, AnErica!!!!

    Massive hugs, bubble bath, glass of wine, what ever you need to have a well deserved chill out.

    x-Meh

  • Erica – first, my heart goes out to you. CL gave solid suggestions. Live them, breathe them, now – and when the hearings come it will be a familiar transition. Second, my fists go out to you. You’ll need a punching bag in-between the zen because this bullshit is infuriating! It is beyond maddening. If THEY (the mediator, the judge, the GAL, his co-workers) only knew the truth, right? You”ll want to shout it. The big THEY do this all day-every day, THEY’RE jaded, and sick and tired of the pissed-off finger pointing. There is much appreciation for calm, on-point (the children). Remember, personality disordered people love this. Oh, but they love to punish. He will be more pissed off that you’re not bouncing off walls than the fact he’s lost custody. Here’s hoping he looses his cool. All the best to you.

  • I’m so glad that this day ended on a fairly positive note for you. You were mighty today! Take care and keep us posted as this process moves forward.

  • So now I’m thinking that he had some weird idea that he would pay support and you would go on being the at-home mom – kind of his wife without the sex.

    It’s very nice if someone can be an at-home mom after a divorce, but it’s not realistic for most people.

    By the way, it should go without saying, but congrats on having done such a good job of getting yourself educated and back into the work force!

    • I would not even allude to his cheating, though. Your lawyer might work it in as an aside. Do not go there on your own, though.

  • Here’s my update: I got fucked.

    Again.

    A couple things happened. The most important was the I was ambushed completely by the GAL (guardian at litem who is supposed to represent the best interests of the child) in court. I guess the gist is the judge didn’t think the 1 hour radius agreement applied (he asked me stuff about how I was technically represented but my ex was not… because I was the one that hired a lawyer to simply file what our mediator had written up), so then I guess we were supposed to prove that I really needed to move and that the move was in the best interests of the children. And clearly the bitch ass GAL did not think so. She was a million times worse than his lawyer and carried a million times her weight with the judge. I guess I should be expected to commute an hour each way each day and my ex can’t be expected to drive that far every once in a while to see his children. The judge pretty much sucked as well. He even started off saying the whole thing was pointless because he can tell we’re going to spend a bunch of money and appeal it anyway.

    So, guess what happened? The judge said the kids were going to have to go back so I’d either have to move back or my ex would get primary custody. And we could take some time to talk about it. So, we talk about it. And obviously I was going to move back. But I just wanted a couple weeks to figure out where I was moving and be able to register the boys for school and the ex and his bitch ass lawyer wouldn’t agree. And then we go in and ask the judge for the two weeks… and the judge literally responds by giving my ex custody. Like we then tried to say oh, you won’t give me two weeks? Fine. I will be there by Monday … He wouldn’t even listen. So, we filed an appeal immediately. And I had to go home knowing that my boys will be taken away from me. The only thing that got me through was the knowledge that no matter what that fucking piece of paper says I will go back and be in his face and bugging him to see the boys as much as possible outside the assigned visitation schedule (I got his old visitation which amounts to about 1/3 of the time). But right now I don’t even have a place to live there and the boys go there today.

    The judge basically said that unless the dad sucks and is completely uninvolved, you can’t move. So, he wins because he’s held to some much lower standard??? (so nomar, too bad you weren’t divorced here) He did at least recognize that my ex is being “unreasonable” and can’t expect me to live 7 minutes away forever. But now I apparently fucking will be. He then said we should try to “work this out amongst ourselves” now and try to be reasonable. We’re smart people, blah blah blah.

    So, I’m trying to figure out why this happened to me. I guess I’m back to the bargaining stage? It literally felt almost as traumatic as Dday… I’m trying to figure out if the judge has some strategy for giving them to my ex… I’m almost even back to some stupid fantasy I had WAAY back soon after leaving my ex that we’ll be these awesome coparents sharing duties, etc. Even while I simultaneously fucking despise him more than anything in the world right now.

    Now I am resigned to just hoping for 50-50. I don’t know if it’s even worth it to try for primary physical custody or just revise the visitation schedule to 50-50. And pray to God that my fucking ex will be reasonable FOR ONCE. My only other remaining goal is that HE not then be allowed to take the kids and move to the town where he practices, which is even more rural and would be at least 45 min away… hopefully this hearing – including his testimony where he was asked about any plans to move and he also testified that he would have had a problem if I’d moved just 30 min away as well). I don’t even know if I can handle more than 50-50 and still commute an hour. I recently started talking to someone about a job at my old company which would only be about 30-40 min away. That is another conundrum because I really did not like working there, don’t find the people there or the type of work as stimulating; but this job would be a promotion over the one I left, pay more, and be closer. I know I at least need to pursue it but it almost feels like I HAVE to take it if I get it.

    The hardest thing is that I have to admit that maybe the move was selfish. Sure, I don’t think it was going to hurt the kids and it didn’t need to affect their relationship with their dad if he hadn’t been a total selfish asshole who again didn’t honor a promise he made to me. But maybe it wasn’t technically in their best interests. My brother and his family just moved to the small town too (yeah, when that ended up happening I thought it could be a sign but I went ahead and moved anyway). And I’ll admit I moved for my career and to have a fuller social life (and because I’d never wanted to live in that town in the first place). I didn’t think it was bad to want a bit of happiness for myself, especially since we’d already agreed I could move. Guess I was wrong. And I’m paying the biggest price possible for that mistake.

    • Oh Erica!!! (((HUGS))) What a CLUSTERFUCK! What an incredibly shitty, shitty outcome. What does this mean for your education? Look, you did NOT act selfishly in moving away. Woulda coulda shoulda — you probably should’ve asked the court before you moved. Woulda coulda shoulda — you should NEVER have mediated with that ass. You’re a living example of why folks need tough, adversarial lawyers — your lawyer should have had chapter and verse about why the move was good for the kids and you’re the fit parent, instead you got shoved into the 50-50 box.

      I’m sorry, it just SUCKS. SUCKS!!!!!

      I’m wondering if you can’t move 45 minutes away and still be within the order? Still get away from that town?

      I fucking HATE the assumption of “why can’t you all get along” — like the blame is divided equally. He sued YOU over 1 minute outside the radius.

      Yes, APPEAL, and I hope you get a sensible judge next time. But for the love of God, maybe it’s time to get a different lawyer?

      I’m so sorry AE — I hate this guy for you. I really, really hate him. Just document how much he shoves those kids off on you (which he will). This is just a power play.

      • Yeah, I did consult a lawyer who said I could go ahead and move because I was simply following the agreement. Guess I should have consulted another lawyer about that, but it really seemed so incredibly cut and dry at the time. I thought what my ex was trying was ridiculous.

        I’m looking into another lawyer to see if I should even go through with the appeal and see what it could get me, or if there is a way I can accomplish what I need outside of court… but the thing is… I don’t care enough about moving here to risk this shit again. Definitely not immediately. And I definitely don’t want to live anywhere less than the radius. I’d either be in the middle of nowhere or right in the city which wouldn’t be safe for the kids, etc. Now that I’m a few days out… I can also admit having a kindergartener and another in daycare while working full time and having no help was going to be extremely difficult. I was only a week into that school schedule and I was exhausted (though some of that could have been custody battle stress as well) Yes, people do it all the time. But if I don’t need to, should I? Maybe that is also why the damn judge asked if I was living with someone, etc. Which I also found vaguely offensive at the time. But maybe he had a point.

        The other thing is, unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the kids, he’s not actually a bad father. Is he as good of a parent as me? No. Is there any possible way they could learn about empathy, integrity, or morals from him? No. Does the court seem to give a shit about that? No. He shows up (as long as it’s convenient of course). And he loves them and takes care of their needs and enforces some rules, etc. I also don’t think he’s stupid enough to pawn them off on me if he knows I could use it against him. He’d pawn them off on his parents first. And I’d MUCH rather he pawn them off on me.

        Yeah, I can’t go back in time and go with the hardnosed lawyer I met at first back in the day. And it does me no good to think about that either. I stood up for myself and got the hell out in the way that felt right to me at the time. Maybe I was too nice. Maybe I’m still too nice/naive. But I still choose to believe that all of this happens for a reason and eventually I’ll figure out the reason for this…

        • How absolutely awful.

          I don’t think you were being selfish to move. You had a job and you have two small kids. The less time you spend commuting, the more time you are with them and the better for the kids. In addition, the areas that were closer to your ex had bad schools; your kids need to go to good schools and live in a good neighborhood.

          Yes, you could stay in your old town working part-time or being a full-time mother for a few years. The problem is that you’re divorced now and you have to think about what you can do to financially support your kids long-term. You can’t just assume your ex will do it forever.

          At this point, of course, you have to move back. Get a tough lawyer and figure out what to do.

          The judge sucks and the guardian sucks and you’re in a terribly unfair position.

          The end result has been disastrous for the kids whose best interests they are supposed to be protecting. They’ve been yanked from their home with the parent who has been their primary caregiver. They’ve been turned over full-time to a guy with a very demanding career who can’t compromise about one extra minute of travel time – all because you wondered if you could move back immediately, even though you were willing to later???

          You need to get a tough lawyer, but they may not be able to do anything for you.

          Can you get a different judge? What about a different guardian?

          So, you might want to think about manipulating your husband. I’ve seen comments here from people who used techniques to get narcs to do what you want while feeling like they won. I don’t remember the details, but it’s something you might want to think about.

          I think you definitely need to do everything you can to make the guardian like you. I don’t know exactly how to do that. Talk to your lawyer, talk to other people in your town, etc.

          I can only give common sense advice – don’t say anything bad about your ex. Do talk about how hard you’ve tried to do what’s best for the kids and to avoid court. Do say you thought the commute would work. Nothing about what’s fair to you, just how hard it is to take care of your kids now that you’re divorced.

          A lot of what you should say depends on the people involved and what they think about what’s best for the kids, etc. So get lots of advice from lawyers and anyone who’s been through the family courts where you live. Is the judge you got generally hard on working mothers? Is the guardian concerned about father’s rights? Have any of them cheated or broken up their own homes? Are any of them friends with your ex? etc. etc.

        • So did you end up having to quit your new job? or are you commuting now?

          Who is actually taking care of your kids during the day?

          Can you offer to take care of them instead of having him pay for day care, etc.?

          How bad would the other paid job be?

          • I’m commuting. Staying at my brothers (I mentioned they just moved to my old/new town, right?) most nights but generally living like a nomad. Begging to see my kids at any extra opportunity. Found a place in my old town that starts oct 1. Trying to unload my new place, so am stressed about money. Went for a job interview last week at the company I worked at pre-kids while living in that small town but the opening had already closed up before I even came in (why they still had me come in to interview is an annoying mystery).

            I am happy that they seem to be happy with me at my new job. And the hours are relatively flexible. And I have an inappropriate crush on my boss that at least is a fun distraction from all this mess. I have a meeting w a hard-ass lawyer in 1.5 weeks. He’s the guy that I thought was “too mean” and scared me back when I first kicked the ex out. Figured he’d be perfect now. I’d still like to negotiate outside of court, I know my ex would be willing to at least go 50-50. But now he also wants to reduce spousal support because I have a job. and he’s cutting back on hours to take care of the kids more. he was incapable of doing so to come visit them occasionally during the week an hour away, but not now I guess. Dick.

            That’s the latest. I’ll prob update in forums in future since this is old and buried here. Thanks for checking in!

  • So sorry Erica! I was really hoping you would have a reasonable judge. Unfortunately they seem to be few and far between from what I’ve heard from other people. And here we all were telling you what a slam dunk of an argument you had. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s definitely not fair. I hope your great attitude gets you through this and that the appeal goes your way.

  • I know this is from a while back, but I’ve been reading through the posts, and this one really caught my attention because it was so unbelievably unfair. It frightens me to think that something like this could happen to me, just because of unreasonable people involved in the legal system. I pray with all my heart that you have had custody restored to you, and that you are living happily with them, while achieving meh with your ex.

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