Thank you all for your good wishes and kind words. The hearing was worse than I could ever have imagined. Getting to this point in custody was a long drawn out process and I will try not to bore you. Suffice it to say that my ex-husband is a pathological, lying alcholic. My son, who will be 15 this month, has wanted to come back to live with me for a year. A guardian ad litem was appointed for him and was supposed to be my son's lawyer.
Long long story short, my ex got ahold of the GAL first and she has believed everything he has said from start to finish. The lies, half truths, manipulations, and twisting reality has astounded me. But somehow, because I knew I was in the right and that my son was truly better off with me, I knew that in the long run it would all work out. I couldn't have been more wrong.
I went into court to change our joint custody with my ex having physical custody to joint custody with ME having physical custody. What I walked out with was, my ex now has sole, legal custody. I have every other weekend, half of all school vacations and two NON CONSECUTIVE weeks in the summer. I am apparently so unstable that I can't be trusted to have my own child for two weeks in a row.
I'm sure you all watch those court shows where one party is having outbursts and is continually reminded to "behave." I have and I always used to laugh at those people wondering why they couldn't keep quiet. Well, now I've been on that side. The entire proceeding lasted 2 hours and for those 2 hours, EVERYONE from the judge, the guardian ad litem, to my ex were just attacking me over and over. Things would be said that would not be true and I wasn't allowed to correct them. On TV, when the lawyers say, "just answer the question," that really happens. The GAL made an erroneous statement with a yes or no response required. I was attempting to correct the mistake, but was told by the judge to just answer the question. That happened over and over until finally I was just blurting things out even when it wasn't my turn to speak. I got yelled at a couple of times by the judge. I actually cried the entire time in court and for the rest of the afternoon. Then the GAL said that she felt my ex should have sole custody because I was unreliable and unstable. I think I actually shrieked or yelled at that point because I had no idea that was coming, I was just blindsided. I asked my ex how he could do this, and he just looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. I was painted as a neurotic, unstable liar who frequently doesn't show up for visitation. The truth is, I am denied visitation with my son by his father whenever I make his father angry. He denied it and no one believed me. I was humiliated over and over again and I wasn't allowed to give my side. I asked in the end that there at least be a stipulation that my ex couldn't drink while he had my son. The response from the judge? "She (the GAL) says that it's not a problem anymore." I was, well, by that point I was so beaten that all I could do was just keep crying. This woman has been involved for a year and has made judgements solely on what she heard from my ex. I was married to him for almost 9 years. Who do you think knows him better?
The kicker. My ex is not my son's biological father. I allowed him to adopt my son when he was four. Now he's got him and I am afraid to pursue it any further on the chance that I could be denied any visitation at all. I just cannot believe that this can happen in this country. Before all of this, I had faith in the justice system and believed that most of the people accused and convicted of crimes were guilty; now I actually believe that most people are fighting a system that is deeply flawed, renders them powerless and has no justice whatsoever.
My son has said that if he has to stay with his dad, he will run away. When I told the GAL this, she just smirked at me and said "he doesn't give me the least impression he's at risk to run away." I feel very certain it will happen. If it does happen, I am bringing down that entire system, people will know about it from one side of the country to another. I have been begging people for help for over a year now, and have had a deaf ear turned to both me and to my son. God help them if anything happens to him.
Sorry this was so long, I really didn't intend for it to be. But thank you all again for your kind thoughts.