Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Next stop, two more court battles

Did I really write that as my blog post title?  Ugh.  So re-cap, child support has been handled for May, June, and July.  We will have to go back once DD2 ends preschool and starts elementary school, effective August. 

Which is the groundwork for the next battle.  As much as I want to be supportive of our public school system that is working for my older daughter, my younger one is in need of more attention.  And once middle school rolls around, public won’t be an option for my older daughter, because they’re doing away with their honors program, inclining many parents to head for the hills.  (And by the way, I am totally and absolutely more than grateful that I can provide options for my daughters.)

Someone else is not so keen on the options I can provide for our daughters.  Someone else has been Mr. No since August 2014, and here we are, 9 months later, stuck in the same position.  There have been emails, some nastier from him than others, passed back and forth.  I enlisted the co-parenting counselor, who thought it reasonable that I could apply her.  When that didn’t work, five months later, I enlisted my attorney.  We made some progress-- he finally agreed that I could apply DD2 to private school, just hasn’t agreed that if she actually gets in, that we can enroll her.  I’d laugh if it wasn’t such a waste of time.

His hang up?  He wants to be sure tuition can’t be used as child support calculations.  I already told him numerous times that no, I wouldn’t charge him CS, and yes, I would pay for everything. 

Next, he wanted to be sure it didn’t impact his legal rights.  I assured him numerous times that everything he does now to participate in DD1’s school activities, he is free to do and I would expect he would do with DD2.  The only difference is the setting.  I was willing to sign a court stipulation to clarify both the CS and the legal rights issues.

Now, he wants to pick the private schools.  I offered to narrow the choices geographically by where we live and where we work.  That wasn’t enough.  So, since I am the one who will be paying for everything, the answer is no, he can’t dictate the selection of the school.  Yes, participate in the planning, yes, make suggestions (there honestly aren’t that many private schools to choose from), and yes, we would likely agree, but giving him equal say would give him the ability to delay and distract from application to enrollment, and I’d be right back in the same position where I am now.

Which is, I can apply (because I actually don’t need his agreement to apply), but I can’t enroll.

I know I’ve railed on the irony—that he and his brother are products of private school.  That he was adamant that DD1 go to private school (which my mom ended up paying for, once he moved out), and likely DD1 would still be there, had the divorce not happened.  That likely, DD2 would already be preparing to go. 

The private school vs. public school debate is one that mystified me when I moved here 18 years ago. I am a product of public school.  I think I did fine.  The terrible reputation public school has here—and when my good friends who are public school teachers send their kids to private school—well, it makes a difference on how I think about things. 

Cue to today—in an hour or so I will need to go sign a document and there will be a filing in court.  He will not be happy about it.  I brace myself for the needling and manipulative and accusatory emails to come.  At least it’s just emails, hiding behind a computer screen, at least it’s not in my house.  I worry about how he may take his frustrations out on my children.

My insides are getting a little shaky, a little trembly.  It’s the possibility of having to face him again, in an adversarial setting.  It’s the fear and panic, the remembrance of violence and threats and hurt and anger. The unpredictable anger outbursts, breaking toys, choking our dog.  Seeing my DD1’s face crumble in fear and sadness and hurt when he would flail swear words and yell at her, flick her in the head because he was frustrated.  Seeing my DD2’s tears when he knocked her over with a fitness ball.  Yes these memories have receded, but each time there’s an encounter that I know will bring conflict, the memories come back. 

Right now, I’m feeling pretty strong.  When I woke up in the middle of the night last night, worried sick about the questioning and the needling that are coming, or maybe tonight if I wake up again, I won’t feel as strong.  Those are the moments where I have to fill my heart up with strength and support, to combat the fear, to put what’s best for the children first, and my fears second.

PTSD sucks.  But it forces me to gather up what strength I can, and take flight. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

CS Modification Hearing

I think my insides have finally stopped shaking.  Even though I’ve come so far, it’s hard to let go of the fear that is associated with my Ex.  I have a hard time facing him in such adversarial settings, and I did get a bit weepy beforehand, and it took two days for the aftershocks to calm down.  But hey, that’s progress!  In 2010-2011, I would have been cowering for days, sleepless for a week, I can still remember that knot of fear lodged in my chest.  So just keep swimming, right?

The basic rundown of what happened Tuesday was:  his request for continuance was denied.  We settled all disputes on income, child support, and healthcare.  He may save $100/month for the next three months, but it appears he paid three times as much for hiring an attorney in the first place.  Our next step is to prepare the modification effective August 1st, because that’s likely when DD2’s childcare costs will drop dramatically, although he may be forgetting it won’t completely disappear, because she will have costs similar to DD1.

I wonder…

So the part of me that hasn’t grown up just yet, and can’t help but be a big gleeful by the circumstances—apparently, he retained the attorney last week Wednesday.  Who took his sweet time notifying my attorney that my ex was represented and he needed a continuance.  Normally, attorneys will agree to continuances, because everyone is busy, but hey, he didn’t tell her until Friday evening.  In the mean time, I got a phone call from the CS people, saying that at my ex’s attorney’s request they wanted to continue the Tuesday hearing.  Of course in a panic, I wrote to my attorney.  So she was notified that there was another attorney involved because of my email—not because of any communication from him.  (Irritating my attorney was probably not best).  Secondly, on Monday, my attorney told me to call back the CS people to verify exactly what they wanted, and when they said they wanted to delay the hearing, I told them honestly and truthfully that I had known about this for a month and a half, had scheduled time off work to attend, and as far as I knew my attorney had advised me to attend.  Later that afternoon, we learned CS denied the continuance, however my ex was going to appear by phone, and me and my attorney were expected to go in person.

Tuesday morning, after I dropped of the girls and headed to the hearing, I lost it a bit (PTSD sucks!! I was crying and weepy—suddenly afraid he would change his mind and show up in person instead of by phone), but pulled myself together after a heart-to-heart with one of my best girlfriends ever.  (She said:  so he wants to pay less?  What’s wrong with him?  What a baby, he can’t figure out that supporting the kids is best for them?  Just imagine him dressed up in a big ole diaper!!!  Which made me laugh).

Once at the building, I overhear my attorney talking to my ex’s attorney—only it’s not my ex’s attorney.  It’s an associate that my ex’s attorney transferred the file to…the night before.  She had never met my ex before.  And I could hear her asking questions, i.e. why are we here when we have to come back in three months?  Why such late notice?  To which my attorney was responding, I know, it makes no sense, it’s probably a control/anger issue.  They’ve been fighting about private school, and then bam, he hits her with a modification, even though we have to come back in three months.

Then, my attorney has to hang up, because my ex has arrived to the office, and the associate attorney has to introduce herself to him for the first time, explain the issues, and she is certain his retained attorney didn’t tell him the file was transferred.  (that’s the part where I giggled with wrathful glee.)

In the end, he had more income than previously calculated.  There were changes in childcare/healthcare that are normal and to be expected.  And it was done.  We walked out and yet I still felt icky.  That somehow he “got one” on us, by making us go through all this, all this expense, for what is just a simple numbers game.

And then my attorney told me, “You need to consider this a win.”  Maybe she sensed my inner turmoil?  She said, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it’s my job to shepherd people through this process, so they can move on and have a better life..
            Do you know why this is a win?  Because your kids are happy.  You have A.  You have moved on.  Unfortunately for him, he is stuck he is miserable.  And that’s why he loses, and you win.”

            She’s right.  I have to remember that I win, not because I’m at war with my ex.  I win, because my life is so much better now. 

p.s. DD1 is getting an award at her school today, and I get to go to her assembly.  Also, DD2 performs at her preschool tomorrow.  So life is pretty good.  *swoon* 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Work (awesome!) and upcoming legal stuff (not awesome!)

I was offline for a week due to a work trip, and I got to tour the great city of Austin, TX! 

On a serious note, I learned so much at this conference, and my brain is percolating with ideas on how to help people and/or work with people in my state to help people.  It’s exciting that we have the support of our “big boss” in these endeavors. 

On a tourist note, I was able to pass by their beautiful capitol, watch the bats fly out from underneath the Congress Avenue bridge, eat full on Texas BBQ (along with local draft Fireman's Four!), and Tex-Mex, and Mexican, see Barton Springs and tiptoe into Barking Springs, and even get a taste of Texas Honky-Tonk and a quick two-step dance with a man wearing bona fide cowboy boots! 

(The beautiful Capitol)

(The Broken Spoke--The Best Honky Tonk Music in Texas!)

Real Texas BBQ from Stubb's!


And, on a networking note, I stayed up into all hours conversing with people from my state, states across the nation, as well as members on the national level in the work that we do.  It was truly inspiring and such an unexpected experience, for which I feel lucky and blessed.  Life is too short, you know?  So it’s best to tackle these projects with enthusiasm and grace (well, attempted grace, A for effort!).  It’s odd, that I feel like I can do these “grown up” responsibilities, and yet half the time, I still feel like that silly teenager who was always looking for love and fun and hope on the inside.  But I digress.

Just a quick update—next week is my CS modification hearing.  I’m also working with my attorney on sending my daughters to private school…I’m fortunate that I’m in the position to be able to send them without his help.  And even though I’ve made it clear that the legal custody rights that he is entitled to will stand—i.e.keep coming to the school events and participate in the fundraisers and extracurriculars and parent-teacher conferences, the answer from him for the past 9 months has been a big, resounding NO. 

The irony?  He (and his family) are products of private school, and for years before DD1 could start school, he railed against sending her to public.  The public vs. private in our state is quite the debate.  I’m from another state where public is just fine, so this was all a mystery to me when I moved down here many years ago.  To which I was enlightened and examined with careful thought as my children grew older.  

Anyway, he isn’t even on the hook to pay, and yet it’s still no.  I can’t believe we may have to go to court over the fact that I would like to pay for private school all by myself, but every day it looks like it’s coming one step closer. 

Where’s the purse brick, again?