Divorced RN in custody battle

  1. Hi everyone, usually I'm just "lurking" on the board with an occasional post but I would like to share a problem. All of you have been "friends" to me through the compassion and advice you give others, so I thought I'd ask for some....
    I am the proud Mom to a beautiful, intelligent daughter named Katy. Her Dad and I divorced in 1996. We have joint custody with me being the domiciliary parent. We had an amicable hearing in 1996 with the Judge complimenting us on being so nice. Because I was so nice I told my ex no child support would be ok because all I wanted was for Katy to live with me.
    Fast forward to now....I have been remarried for 3 years to an incredible man who had just received custody of his 2 kids. We aren't perfect, but our kids are much loved and cared for. We have dealt with the ex-spouses the best we can, with each of them seeing the kids when they want to and so forth.
    My ex-husband is now sueing me for change of custody claiming it will be in the best interest of the child. The papers do not give any reason, although the lawyer filed an interrogatory "Disclose the criminal background of my current husband" My spouse has no criminal background, so it is laughable. It is stressful because of the fear of the unknown. I know I am a great Mom, but I am angry that I will have to defend my life. I have been a nurse for 14 years, 12 LPN and 2 RN. I was the major breadwinner in my 1st marriage and about 50-50 now. I am involved in my children's school activities, carry medical insurance, take to MD and orthodontists, and all things kids need. I work 12hr day shifts. My ex and I recently had a huge arguement which ended in each of us threatening the other with court/child support. I filed for child support 1 week before my ex filed for change of custody. My daughter is 11 years old, and my lawyer told me today the particular Judge we will see interviews the kids and puts alot of stock into what they say. Katy is like most kids of divorce and just wants to make everyone happy. Right now she says she wants to live with her Dad since she has been with me for a while because that would be fair to him. Then the next minute she is happily planning for next school year. I'm frustrated and on edge.
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   live4today
    Hi Cindy,

    Boy, does my heart go out to you right now! (((HUGS))) and :kiss to you!

    I went through a divorce from hubby number one in 1988, we had three daughters, two told the judge they wanted to stay with me, the middle child told the judge she wanted "daddy". He wanted her, and only her...so sad and sick, I know. Well, since the courts listen to the kids and not to the parents, my middle daughter got her wish. She was with her dad all of six weeks before running back to me. He tried to force her to return to him, but the judge said "It's the child's choice!"

    To make a long story shorter, this same daughter had us back and forth in court for change of custody, due to her change of mind, at least three to four times. The stress was tremendous, to say the least. She was thirteen at the time of the divorce, and at that age kids are so impressionable. What they say they want, isn't always what they want, but try telling them that.

    Looking back at what I went through with that one daughter, if I had it to do over again, I would've said to her "Daughter, this is the last time you get to change your mind and put me through this court system. The next time you decide you don't like Mom's rules, and you run home to Daddy, that is where you will stay until you are 18". I didn't have the heart to do that then. I loved my girls so much that I would have done anything to make them happy. I didn't mind her living with her father...if that's what made her happy, but it didn't make her happy. She played us both against the other, and didn't like either one of our rules.
    Teenagers...especially from divorced homes...don't fare well emotionally when those hormones are raving throughout their bodies.

    IMHO...state your heartfelt feelings to your daughter about you not wanting her to leave your home and your protection. After sharing your heart with her, allow her to speak and say what's on her mind. If she still wants to go live with daddy, and you don't think she will be in harms way by living with him, let her go. Sometimes our kids have to find out for themselves certain lessons, especially when they are pre-teen and teenagers.

    I'll be praying for your situation, you, and your daughter!
  4. by   CountrifiedRN
    Cindy, I feel for you being in this terrible position. It's my worst fear.

    I divorced in '96, and my ex fled the state to get out of paying support. For 3 1/2 years he remained in hiding, having no contact with the kids. Then in '99 the District Attorney finally got around to doing a social security check and they found him through his job. They put him in jail for a night and then garnished his wages. After he was being made to pay, he decided he "might as well get his moneys worth" and have a relationship with the kids. Well the kids had been through hell dealing with abandonment issuses, and now they are so excited that he is back in their lives. A couple months ago, my son told me he wants to live with his dad. Of course I don't want him to, but he called his dad and asked him anyway. At first my ex said "no way", it would be too much trouble for his young and naieve girlfriend to deal with. But about a month ago, my ex changed his mind and now wants my son (who is 15) to come live with him. (But he doesn't want my daughter, who is 12). I absolutely refuse to let him go. I have been nice so far about visitation, because there is no current order for visitation, but I try to work around the schedule their dad asks for. Anyway, I am terrified that my ex might get smart enough to go back to court. If he does, and the judge asks my son, I know I will lose. I have reasons not to send him to live with his dad, just one being that during the kids last visit he gave my son and his younger cousin beer, and told them it was ok to drink as long as they are supervised by an adult (what a moron).

    Anyway, sorry to ramble, this subject really strikes a nerve! Your ex seems to want custody to get out of paying support. It might work in your favor that he filed for custody a week after you filed for support, and he never had a desire for custody before that. But still it is scary. I wish you the best of luck, and hope and pray for a favorable outcome for you. Please keep us updated on how things are going. I hope it doesn't get too ugly.
  5. by   CindyJRN
    Thanks guys for your insight. I was really feeling alone and beat up over this issue but the more I talk about it, the more I find out how many people have been through this. See, that's where being naive got me. I really thought the court system would help keep people from the bouncing back and forth unless there where extreme circumstances (i.e. drugs, abuse, etc.) The fact that a woman chooses a professional career can be a factor if the judge sees it as "abandonment". It's not the money that keeps me in nursing but reality is that if I weren't a professional, where would the health insurance, braces, clothes, etc come from?
  6. by   CANRN
    Gals, I've been there, done that and it stinks!
    I divorced my first husband in 1980. Times were different then, but not that much.
    As the boys (ages 3 and 5 at the time of the divorce) grew, their emotions changed concerning the divorce each year.
    One thing we as mothers must realize is, just because we divorce the father of our kids, no matter what kind of jerk he is or isn't, does not change the fact that there is a bond between our kids and their father. It's there if two parents remain together, but more porminent when parents are apart, which makes sense. To be with one or the other, the kids have to make a choice of where to live and it effects everthing, where they go to school, who they hang out with, etc.

    It's hard on them just like it is us. I vowed I would never make my children stay with me if they really wanted to be with their Dad, I promised myself I would never bad mouth him to the kids, and I didn't. Only because I knew it would back fire in my face! LOL

    Both of my sons, went to live with Dad, First the oldest, it lasted 5 months, the ink was not even dry on the custody papers yet! It cost me $1800 in legal fees to fight something I had no chance of winning!

    A few years later, the younger boy wanted to go, I let him, no court crap, no lawyers, I called my ex- and we worked it out. The child support agency did the calculations on support.

    It took Joshua a little longer, he was there 7 months!

    It killed me! I lost weight, I couldn't sleep, I felt like my boys kicked me in the stomach! HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO ME????? I cried all the time, but sucked it up when they came to visit with me. I HAD to!

    Kids NEED to find out for themselves. We can't hold them or they will resent us! Mothers go through heck and back with kids, especially when your divorced from their Dad.

    They will come home! They always do. Today they are adults, and we share wonderful times together, they blessed me with three beautiful grandsons, and now I have to share them with my EX, but that's okay too! It never ends! Divorce solves some problems and creates new ones and they are LIFE LONG!!!

    Hang in there, better days are ahead...OH.. I almost forgot, the court system does let kids have a say, BUT...when the kids start to use it as a weapon the way RN2's child tried, that is when you say,, You go AGAIN and you STAY! I did it with my older boy, and it worked, he didnt' go back!
  7. by   live4today
    So eloquently and honestly written, CanRN. If we could only have had the wisdom before we ever said "I do", we would be so much better off, especially the children. Divorce is worse than death, to me. I would have much preferred widowhood than divorce any day. You're right about us exchanging one set of issues for another. No amount of money in the world can erase the pain of divorce and what it ends up doing to all parties involved...especially the children.

    There's a 19 year old who started a thread the other day titled "Is getting married in nursing school a bad idea?" She should come to this thread and read up on what her future MIGHT be like if she doesn't stop and think, think, think about all she is willing to sacrifice so young. Young people who are so "in love and googly eyed over one another" tend not to want to think about the "gloomy side" of marriage or divorce until they are faced with it. No one listens until it is too late. We all think we've got our marital relationship "in the bag" - so to speak. It would be great if that were always the case, but millions of divorced homes today are proof that the bed of roses sprouts a lot more thorns than one cares to address BEFORE the "I DOs" are spoken.

    Cindy, I wish you well! If your daughter does go to live with her father, never cease to pray for her during her time with him. She'll be back! Rest assured of that! :kiss
    Last edit by live4today on Mar 16, '02