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Post # 00000068
From: David Every
Time: 1:39:54 PM
Remote Name: 18.104.22.168
I have a four year old daughter whose mother has custody. After she and I separated three years ago, she refused to let me see Elena, my daughter. As I was not married to my ex, there was no custody agreement. When I threatened to court action to obtain visitation rights, she sued me, falsely claiming that I had not been giving her child support, that I had beaten her, etc etc. The legal battle went on for 8 months, without my being able to see my daughter.
Tensions and tempers escalated on both sides, and the situation became very difficult. I decided on a change of tactic and used a little psychological manipulation. During the trial, my ex said to me that I couldn't see my daughter because I was a terrible person and that it would be bad for my daughter to have contact with me.
Even though I had no intention of giving up on my daughter, I got in touch with my ex's lawyer. I told her that the trial was having a serious effect on me psychologically and physically, and rather than risk having some kind of mental breakdown, I was going to give up all of my rights to my daughter and move on with my life. I told the lawyer to tell my ex that I had no hard feelings towards her; that I was doing it for my own well-being. I told her that I would sign away custody, give up visitation rights and sign a consent form to have the child's name changed to that of my ex's if she wished. I was surprised by the reaction of the lawyer. Even though she was defending my ex, she said that my decision was a great shame, as children should be able to be with both parents when possible.
I was even more surprised when two days later my ex called and asked for us to meet. When we saw each other, she said that in reality she didn't want my daughter and me to lose contact, and suggested that we come to an out of court agreement regarding visitation, which we then did.
The conclusion? During the court battle, all of my moves to obtain visitation were met with fierce resistance from her. By me saying that I would give up everything and "get out of town", she no longer saw me as a threat. Her behaviour during the trial was not due to her not wanting me to see my daughter; the fight was not about this - she was fighting me because I was fighting her. It would not have mattered if the fight was over a dollar bill, her negative conduct would have been just the same.
I think a lot of the trouble in custody disputes is an extension of the anger and resentment that stems from the breakup of the relationship. The atmosphere of dispute and disaccord is already there, it's just that the subject of the fighting changes and becomes focussed on the only thing the couple still have in common: the children. If that adversarial element can be removed, as I managed to do, then I think a path towards cooperation can be made.
I have reached these conclusions with the benefit of hindsight, which is 20/20, but also in most cases, completely useless. On a visit last year, my daughter told me that her mother's boyfriend had been hitting her. Instead of rationalising, I flew off the handle and called her mother and accused her and her boyfriend of abusing the child. I immediately filed for custody. The "you vs. me" situation was instantly created again. Since then I have not been able to see my daughter. In this second trial my ex has been more bloody-minded than ever before, ignoring court orders instructing her to let me see my daughter and even spending time in jail because of this. I wish I had handled the abuse incident in a more diplomatic way as I did in the first trial; maybe things would have turned out differently.
I hope my experiences are of use to those in the beginning stages of a dispute. My advice is for you to defuse tensions and agresssions before they take over the situation. The alternative is years of suffering. (Last changed: February 26, 2006)
Post # 00000069
Re: Why fight?!?
Time: 7:07:02 AM
Remote Name: 22.214.171.124
David, I commend you for your bravery and for taking a risk. I would try your advise the only problem is that initially when my exboyfriend and I realized that things were not going to work between us I asked him if we could both work out a shared custody agreement being that our child is less than a year old. He beat me up and kidnapped our child and I have been in a custody battle since. I don't trust him I have tried reasoning with him on the phone only to find out later that he was tape recording my call to use against me in court.
I will never stop fighting. My case is filed in federal court as a civil lawsuit against the judge that ignored my custody order and my police and report and against him for filing for a fraudulent divorce. Him and I were never married and the dates on the divorce action are a fraud because I was not living in his town and with him and he was still married to his ex wife. The judge that he has known for years because he counseled him for his divorce has given him temporary custody of our now 8 month old son who is also named David. I had the same custody order and unfortunately it was fueled by months of abuse and being thrown through a wall and almost miscarrying our son. I am a "bio Mom" But I can sympathize with "bio Fathers" as well. I am not a drug addict, I am college educated and successful in my career. I just have a weak heart and I stayed loyal to my ex for too long. Good Luck, don't give up every child deserves to be a part of both of their parents lives regardless of how the parents feel. I grew up with both of my parents and my parents are still together and I couldn't have made to be the person I am today without them. (Last changed: February 26, 2006 )
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