The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Happy Holidays

That's my hearth over there. Doesn't it look festive? I dig on the nutcrackers, btw. Let's chat a little about the holidays, k?

You Tube has, once again, helped me set the mood here. I've always liked this song. It's a kinda fitting in terms of this post. So, today it's doing a little double duty.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon

Some of you know that I had court yesterday. Some of you don't. My ex had filed a motion to make changes to the previously established Christmas visitation with the kids.

The quick version is that the kids didn't want to make changes to the Christmas visitation. Primarily because they are aware of which parent considered it a priority to share Christmas morning with them...and which parent did not. Not once in a while. Always. Those things make an impression.

So, when the child support came down, as I knew it would, and it went pretty deeply against him (despite me offering some pretty generous options along the way that he sneered at), he decided to file a motion to hurt me back. At least, that's certainly how it came across. Not only to me, but to the kids.

When [Kid 1's] therapist called me into his office during a session with her, I had assumed we'd be discussing [Kid 1]. The therapist advised me that he'd gotten a call from my ex. And that he'd assumed my ex was calling about [Kid 1]'s progress, but that he'd (as usual) had "his own agenda". (Worse, that he'd never once asked about [Kid 1]'s progress.) My ex, apparently, had called the therapist to advise him he was filing the motion and ask him what he thought about it.

First words out of my eldest daughter's mouth..."He's just doing this to get back at you, because he's mad about the child support." Hey, I know where the smart genes come from. But with the motion filed within days of the child support order (AND a pretty significant emotional issue with his oldest daughter), it was clear that he wasn't doing this for the kids' sake.

The therapist then proceeded to tell us that he'd advised my ex NOT to file the motion. That he'd advised my ex that it was not in the children's best interest to make the change, and that "a court-ordered Christmas was not a thing of joy." Finally, that he'd, once again, advised my ex that he should form new traditions with the girls. To build on their happy Christmas memories (and not try to tear them down). That his job, as their father, was to make them happy and healthy.

At that point, I hadn't heard anything from my ex or from my lawyer, so I was hopeful that the advice of the professional treating two of our daughters had deterred him from breaking the promise he made to me nearly three years ago.

Of course, I was entirely too hopeful.

He didn't ask his children what THEY wanted or how THEY felt about it. (Well, technically, he asked them over the summer and they told him they didn't want to change it.) So, of course, when the motion was filed (a couple months ago) and my lawyer contacted me, the children, once again, felt as if their father had little or no respect for them.

The first words out of [Kid 2]'s mouth were "Are we finally going to be allowed to talk to the judge ourselves and tell him how we feel about this stuff?" [Kid 2], who was, for so long, his biggest cheerleader. It was then followed with a chorus of "I can't believe he could do this without talking to us about how we feel about it." But, of course, he can. And he did.

Without regard for their wishes.

Without regard for [Kid 1]'s recovery.

Without regard for the promise he made to me that I could trust him on this.

Without regard for how his missing so many Christmas mornings when they were his for the taking would play in court.

Without regard for the express advice from the therapist indicating that it was NOT in the children's best interest.

Without regard for how the judge would interpret a father who deliberately disregarded what he was told was the best interest of his children, and what the children themselves had told him they want.

Without regard for how his actions would be viewed, given the timing.

So, once again, more legal fees mounted, as we prepared for court. And, once again, his daughters felt that he was making decisions that affected their life and that he neither wanted, nor needed, their input. And they deeply resent that.

I asked my daughters how they felt about making some kind of compromise and they were reluctant to do so. I persuaded them to think about going to his house earlier on Christmas Day. While it was met with some resistance, eventually, they decided it was better than letting things get all heated up again.

Baron was not interested in the compromise. Perhaps because it was so much less than what he was seeking. Perhaps because it would make him look bad in the eyes of others. Perhaps because he has imagined this as some kind of competition and he sorely hates "losing" to me.

So, time went on and we prepared for court. The girls were ready to testify. The therapist's deposition was scheduled. I sent off another check to the lawyer. (More money that could have better been spent on making a happy Christmas for these kids...::sigh::)

Then, I got a phone call. Baron and I talked for a couple hours that night. And I explained to him that he should accept the compromise. That he should listen to his children. That the judge was charged with acting in the best interest of the children. And while I heard a great deal of "but it's only fair" and "it's my right as their father", I think it started to get through to him that those things are secondary to what is best for the kids. I would imagine that having a professional therapist testify that it was his opinion that it was not in the best interest of the children to make this change...and further that he'd advised their father of this and then he'd promptly disregarded that professional advice and done what he wanted to do...may have had something to do with it.

I know I asked him, at one point, if his attorney was aware of not only the therapists' information, but also the timing with regard to our oldest daughter's episode. He didn't respond. I said, "Baron, your lawyer cannot provide you with the best legal advice if you don't give him all the information. And if you don't, it's only more money out the door for both of us." I reminded him that he'd regretted not accepting a compromise previously and that I'd hoped he would do it differently this time. He ended the call by saying he'd think about it.

Monumental progress.

After some legal fiasco's around here last Wednesday (when his lawyer simply had taken some time off without drafting the paperwork) and yesterday (as everyone scrambled to offset that grievous error within a couple hours of when we were supposed to be in court), the compromise has been put in place. For this year.

I'd asked that the agreement be worded that "no further changes will be made at this time", and he didn't like "at this time". He insisted that it needed to state Christmas 2006. Of course, visitation can be revisited for any number of reasons, despite previous orders, but I checked with my lawyer (to insure that I wasn't signing one change for this year and another change for years thereafter), and signed it as he'd had it written.

Then he called me and asked if I would honor the agreement next year...even though it wouldn't be legally binding. ::sigh:: I suppose I should appreciate that he knows he can trust my word. Knows that I wouldn't lie to him or break a promise.

It's getting harder and harder to find the good in these situations. But for this year, the good is that I didn't have to go to court, my legal fees (while completely avoidable) were somewhat minimized, and the kids will have a happy Christmas spending the time with both of us that they choose to spend.

Honestly, I'm holding tight to that, and, greatly looking forward to (what is always for us) a bustling holiday season.


Blogger MJ Norton said...

If you can take this as an up-side then how can we do less?

That said, having seen the aggravation go as far as it has, part of me was hoping that it would go through to the court proceedings just so that the matters could be settled with some force. That's probably more the criticism of a reader of a tale than anything, listening for the satisfying snap of briefcases being locked shut, the season's business done. We want something as neat as fiction, not some sloppy reality.

However, as almost anything decided in court is open to fresh appeals (and fees), what you've ended with is more realistic. After all, the kids are at different ages but all still kids, and oh, what a difference a year can make. Hopefully this compromise will work well enough that it can remain a civil nod for next year and not be translated into yet another layer of winter fat for the attorneys to pack on.

11/28/2006 1:29 PM  
Blogger Highlander said...

Most of the the things I'd like to say I probably shouldn't, and anyway, I'd just be repeating my comments from the post about some idiot emails you've gotten recently.

Obviously, we both know where Baron's real hopes are -- he'll bide his time, clear our older two kids off the docket, and then go for changing the holiday schedule when it's only SuperAdorable Kid he has to contend with. I think he may get a surprise; regardless of how he spoils her (and how bad an idea that is, from the viewpoint of good parenting and her own long term development), she's very very sharp and I suspect she'll start seeing through him much more quickly than he anticipates.

Still, we'll have to wait and see. I'm glad this nonsense is resolved for this year, anyway.

I doubt it ever occurred to him, when he was rolling over in bed and going back to sleep on every Christmas morning for the duration of his marriage, that it might some day come back to bite him on the ass. Probably not. Some types simply cannot comprehend that their actions have actual consequences... even for themselves, much less on other people they supposedly love.

I better go. Nice post, though. Glad to see it.

11/28/2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

Mike -

If I don't at least try to see the up-side, I'm doomed to mope and make Christmas a miserable thing. That's just not gonna happen.

And, yeah, I'd have loved to have had "on the record" that he's disregarding the kids, but going through court, again, and putting the kids through it (risking further trauma that they don't need), just isn't worth it for my satisfaction.

I fully intend to allow the same compromise next year, as well. It's what I told him I'd do and he knows he can trust in that. Because I haven't lied to him. It's why he knows he can ask me and not have it go through court.

H -

I know...that you know...that we'll keep focused on what's best for the girls. Not always an easy thing. The girls and I are lucky that we have you to help with it.

11/28/2006 2:51 PM  

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