Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From Doormat to Pit Bull

Saturday morning, Ant and I were loading the kids into their car seats to do some shopping, which is a rather stressful endeavor that usually involves at least one temper tantrum, a lost shoe or two, three or four trips back into the house for a forgotten sippy-cup or blankie, and one toddler darting for the street while we’re strapping in the other two. Needless to say, I’m usually ready to march all three of them back into the house for nap time by the end of the whole ordeal.

So, while I’m wrangling the trio of terror, Ant was tending to a far more pressing matter: checking the mail. Because, God help us, we all know it couldn’t have sat in the box another two hours until we arrived home. Never mind the young girl fighting three toddlers in the driveway, please be sure to check the mail, honey. After strapping the children into their car seats like mental patients to their beds and muttering under my breath threats of throwing myself into oncoming traffic, Ant handed me a cream-colored envelope. I could tell by the almost buttery hue that this was my lawyer’s trademark stationary. After the last letter I received from LawyerLady that was leaning towards bad news, I wasn’t terribly excited to open this envelope. But all of the frustration and tension of the day were lifted from my shoulders when I laid eyes on the letter.

Now this isn’t a huge jump of progress in this divorce/custody battle, but just to know that things are looking to go in my direction is good enough to keep me smiling until court.

Dear Amie:

I reviewed your lengthy diary and history regarding the problems you have had throughout the marriage with W. While I have indicated to you that it is very rare that the Court would restrict his visitation indefinitely, I believe that based on what you have presented your case might be one of the cases the Court would consider as far as restricted visitation. If you wish to present testimony, we should wait until the pretrial which, as you know is scheduled for April 7, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. At that time, it is likely that we will be assigned a trial date. On the day of the trial, we can present testimony from you and any other witnesses that you would like to bring in to address the issue of W.’s visitation.

As of this date, I have checked the docket and W. has still not retained an attorney nor has he filed an answer. He has, however, completed the parenting class as was previously ordered.

It is probably not necessary for me to see you before April 7th. However, after that date, we should get together to prepare the testimony for you and your witnesses and to gather in any documents that will be used as exhibits in your trial. I will look forward to hearing from you.

Attorney at Law

The moral of the story, boys and girls, is to journal, journal, journal! Keep track of every little piece of bullshit that gets thrown at you. The second moral of the story is not to become discouraged. When your lawyer tells you that he/she doesn’t think things will go in your direction, don’t be afraid to speak up and remind them exactly why you feel it should go in that direction. The final moral here is that if feels fan-freaking-tastic to stop being a doormat and start being a pit bull.  Finally standing up for Jellybean and, yes, for myself too, is the best feeling I've had in a while.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Divorces, Drug Tests & Court Dates, Oh My!

Something I have been too furious to think about lately, let alone blog about, is court.  We went back to court on February 8, in an effort to settle the divorce and the custody issue over Jellybean.  Again, W. showed up completely unprepared.  The drug and alcohol evaluation that was supposed to be completed in January, was not taken by him until the morning of our court date.  Really?  I mean, really, I don't understand how that is even remotely okay.  Way to wait until the last minute.  And why--oh, why!--would anyone want to wait until the last minute to prove that they are not on drugs...?  Hmmm   :-/

So everything was postponed.  Again.  Ugh!

Last week, I received a letter from my lawyer regarding the results of his drug and alcohol evaluation.  Of course, he passed.  (Why wouldn't he have?  He had from January--when he was supposed to have taken the evaluation--until February to get clean.)  What fuels my frustration further, are the lies that he provided the instructor of the evaluation.  These lies lead my lawyer to believe that the best thing we can do at this point is prepare for W. to receive Schedule A.  (In Ohio, Schedule A is where the noncustodial parent receives every-other weekend unsupervised, overnight visitation.)

I have found that sometimes your lawyer needs to be reminded of the situation at hand.  I understand that she sees hundreds of cases a year and after a while they may all begin to run together.  I am sure that she just wants to get this case over with at this point, as do I.  But I know that what I am fighting for is right and I will not back down.

I gathered up my journal information, and wrote the following letter to my lawyer:

"Dear LawyerLady,

I received a letter from you enclosed with the full report from W.'s drug and alcohol evaluation.  The report stated that W. did not begin drinking until the age of 21.  It also stated that he used to smoke marijuana, but has not used since 2009.  It was your advice that the court will probably try to move us into Schedule A based upon this information.  As I'm sure you have encountered situations like this before, it is not difficult to lie to someone about your drug/alcohol use.  It is my argument that Will was not being truthful in these statements. 

I have attached my journal, in which I have gone through and highlighted all of the dates in which I have already stated that W. came to visit with Jellybean while he was under the influence of marijuana or alcohol, or admitted that he needs to go to rehab to clean up.  I have also highlighted a couple of dates during which he was drinking at our home with his friends, before he turned 21.  This may prove that the information he provided the agency who performed the drug and alcohol information was false.

The report from the evaluation also stated that W. has been employed with {Auto Shop} for two years.  This is also untrue.  At the beginning of 2009, W. was employed with {Automall} in C.City.  That summer, he was hired by {Towing Company} in N. Village.  By the time our daughter was born in October 2009, he was already employed by {Muffler Shop} in A. City.  He was at {Muffler Shop} for quite a while, but went through spurts of getting into fights with his manager and quitting then going back.  I would have to assume that he has a lengthy employee file at {Muffler Shop}.  Sometime in 2010 he began working at {Auto Shop} in A. City.  Again, he went through spurts of getting into fights with managers and coworkers, quitting, getting fired, etc.  In October 2010, he was fired from {Auto Shop} and to the best of my knowledge, began working at {Muffler Shop} again under a new manager.  In December 2010, your office informed me that he was no longer employed with {Muffler Shop}.  When he appeared in court in February, he was once again working for {Auto Shop}.  If we can subpoena these places of employment and at least see his start/end dates for these various jobs, we should be able to prove that he was being untruthful in his evaluation.

The information you will find in my attached journal makes it pretty obvious, as you have stated before, that W.  has a record of mental instability.  The reason there is less and less evidence of this instability as time goes on, is that I have cut off all but necessary contact with him since October.

If, after reviewing this information, you still think that the court will find Schedule A in his favor, then you are right that we should get an agreement ready so that we are not unprepared.  I would like us to make it clear to the courts that we are not trying to rip W. out of Jellybean's life.  I definitely think that she should be able to see her father, and if anyone will take the time to read my journal, they will clearly see that I had been fighting tooth and nail to get him to pay some attention to our daughter during her first year of life, to no avail.  However, Will has always been violent and unstable, and I am truly scared of what could happen to her when I am not there to protect her.  She is my life, and I'm sure you understand that I just want her safe.

In addition, I would like to ask--wasn't he supposed to have that drug and alcohol evaluation completed before the end of January, via court order?  And regarding the parenting class that he is trying to get out of, am I correct in assuming that it is the same class that I have already completed?  It was my understanding that these things were supposed to be taken care of in a timely matter, but he seems to be able to get away with taking them whenever he damn well pleases.  I am a little frustrated that I busted my ass to make sure that I comply with everything the court asks of me, but he can take his good old time and still be given chance after chance.  I am, as I'm sure you are, completely furious that he didn't take his drug and alcohol evaluation until the morning of our court date.  I think we all know why someone would wait until the last minute to pee in a cup.

Thank you so much for all of the time and attention you have paid to this matter.  I really appreciate what you are doing for me and my daughter.

Amie (Blanketyblanklastname)"

I feel so awesome for being able to pull that information together, I think I  should have been a lawyer.  What is saving my ass right now--the detailed journal I have been keeping since W. and I were still together in July.  I encourage anyone who is in any sort of a sticky situation to journal your ass off!  Because at the end of the day, it's his "uhhh I don't remember" against your detailed desription of events.  And that, my friends, is your #1 tool in a custody battle.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Freak Show!

I haven't written much about my relationship with Ant, other than when he was there for us during my daughter's hospital stay.  I tend to keep things like this to myself until I am sure everything is working out.  And it is :)

He is amazing.  He is a great dad to his two sons, Ace, who is almost three, and Dango, who is almost two.  The boys are ten months apart.  Almost physically impossible, but Ant pulled it off.  Since his ex, Ed (E.D. stands for egg donor) is about as useful of a parent as W., we both have our children with us almost all of the time.  Which means that now that we are living together together, we have three children under the age of three.  Together.  At the same time.  Every day.  It is definitely... interesting.

When you have a toddler, just one, even the simplest things can be challenging.  Going to the grocery store, walking through town, or just visiting friends--when people see your toddler acting like a toddler they smile to themselves and think, Wow they really have their hands full!  Try to accomplish the same tasks with two toddlers and people will tell you, "I just don't know how you do it!"  But add a third toddler into that display and you become a walking freak show.

Birth control is crucial at this point in our relationship because a fourth toddler would mean we are barely even people anymore.  If I happen to get pregnant, we may as well sign an agreement with TLC and call it a day.

Ace, Jellybean, and Dango  -  2011

The Last Month In A Nutshell

So basically, the last month of my life has been:

  • Work.
  • Making sure Jellybean attends every supervised visitation with W. 
  • Building an amazing relationship with Ant, a friend of mine from high school who has grown into an amazing man with two awesome little boys.
  • Building a step-motherly relationship with those two little boys, Ace and Dango.
  • Finding a home for my lazy-eyed beagle.  Between raising a toddler by myself and working full time, I couldn't provide much for him.  He now lives with a shop-owner who takes him to work every day and gets all kinds of love and affection. :)
  • Moving in with Ant!  Which means we are living--with our three toddlers!--in my tiny apartment.  Luckily, my apartment had a spare living room downstairs, so Ant and I are using that as a bedroom and the boys have my old bedroom.
  • Preparing for court.  When we went back in February, we found that W. was unprepared so we had to postpone... again.
  • Finding healthy ways to deal with stress.  My latest therapy?  Vacuuming.  I seriously love to run the vacuum cleaner.  It zens me out. 
That's the story!  I plan on updating much more often these days!