Rebuilding After Family Court: A Father’s Story

A heart wrenching story of divorce, false allegations and Family Court; with a positive outcome. This father pours out his heart and soul about his emotions, feelings and experiences during the divorce process and how this impacted the relationship with his children. Will his daughter and son ever know what he went through? What he sacrificed?   Will his children ever realize what they lost out on? That they missed being raised by a caring, loving and responsible father? 

 

As told by the father:

It’s difficult to summarize 13 years of hell in a short story, especially when you’re past it, you’ve survived, and your heart is at peace knowing you gave it your all.

I married my high school sweetheart.  We fought quite a bit I suppose, but it was what seemed typical amongst our friends at the time.  It wasn’t anything that made me question our commitment to each other especially once we had a child.

At this stage in my life, I honestly don’t remember too much from our relationship.  I actually don’t know the woman, who is the mother of my children.  But, there are 3 memories that will never fade from my memory during that time: the birth of my baby girl, A, the birth of my boy, J, and that frightful day when they were both taken from me.

With no warning signs that I could identify, no reason, and with no explanation, I returned home from work one day, and my family was gone.  I was devastated.  At that time, A was three and J wasn’t even yet one.  I drove to her rent’s that night, but what was once a family who embraced me as their son, suddenly held hate and spite.  To this day, I can’t explain why.

This turned into a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  It’s a pain that I don’t think anyone could grasp unless they have experienced it.  People can empathize and try to imagine what it’s like to have their children taken away, but they don’t live the daily agony, the unknowns, the fear, the helplessness, and the heartache.  It’s enough to drive a person crazy, literally.

In addition to having my kids ripped away from me, I ended up losing my home, I faced false allegations of assault, I was called a deadbeat, and I was threatened with jail time if I couldn’t keep up with child support.  I couldn’t take time to grieve.  Even my own family told me to “man up” and deal with it.  I didn’t have any savings.  I wasn’t educated.  I didn’t have family support in the way I felt I needed.  I wanted to be a father.  But, “manning up”, or rather – becoming a paycheck, was the only realistic option I saw.  That is what I considered my personal rock bottom.

This was the late 80s, and at that time, it was already engrained in our culture that physical custody goes to the mom, dad provides financially, and dad is lucky to see the children every other weekend if the mother and a judge so deems appropriate.  Any venting – such as sharing my story like this – would be considered wimpy, whiney or otherwise questioning my masculinity in some way.

The reason I want this story anonymous is because I’m embarrassed, and I don’t want my children to know this, but after they were taken from me, I wasn’t able to feel like a father, or at least as how I envisioned a father to be.  The little time I had with them initially was awkward, uncomfortable, and faced with fear of more false allegations.  Hugs were distant, and “rough housing” and wrestling ended.  I even dreaded disciplining them out of worry it would be used against me.

Our time was precious to me, and I cherished our time, but, sometimes, just spending time with them brought me anxiety.  I prayed that we’d get through the “visit” without any bruises or injuries that could be used against me.  I was always walking on egg shells, in everything I did.

I also, admittedly, feared that my children wouldn’t want to spend time with me, and they did at times call their mom to say they wanted to go “home” because they were bored.  I felt the need to spoil them with gifts, so they’d want to come see me.  After all, I was taking them away from their full time home, bed, toys, and friends, to come to a small apartment I shared with a buddy.  I felt the need to have to do ‘something’ with them, and ‘something’ always translated into something way above my humble means.  And, though, anxious while they were with me, I was then torn to pieces each time they left.  The emptiness and silence in the apartment when they left, brought lonesomeness that I can’t describe.  And then I waited another 2-4 weeks before I could see them again.  It’s an emotional rollercoaster unlike any other.

They grew, and I felt so detached from their lives.  I knew inconsequential things about them, such as their favorite color, meal and their favorite sport, but I didn’t know them – their friends, their feelings, their dreams and goals.

I put the rest of my life on hold for all those years, trying to ignore the depression, in order to support my kids financially and to have some involvement in their lives.  But, nevertheless, I always felt like a failure, not having the ability to be closely involved in their lives, and to be the father I had always wanted to be.  To some extent I thought my life was over and that the pain would never end.  Everyone I knew going through a similar experience, seemed to have accepted their fate.  So, I tried to act that way too.

To my surprise, when A turned 16, she started coming by more often, by her own choice and on her own terms.  She was craving structure, rules and love.  It caught me off guard at first that she wanted to hang out with her dad.  But, that.. THAT was my saving grace.  That helped me to build my confidence as a person, as a man, and most importantly, as a parent.  To this day, I tell her that she saved my life.  And, I truly believe she did.

In my late 40s, fourteen years after my divorce, I finally felt like a father, I started a new career, I started to build my savings, and I purchased my first home.  My own dad said to me at one point ‘it’s about time you grew up and played adult’.  If my own father, who knows all of the details of what I went through, can’t understand the devastation and empathize, then no one else certainly would.  And, so, I’ve remained silent… until now.

I’m a survivor.  A survivor of the family court system that ripped my children away from me, stripped me of my rights, degraded me, insulted me, labeled me a paycheck – and, what is most unforgiveable, taken a caring, loving father from my beautiful children.  I’ve healed.  My children have healed.  And, our bitterness has all faded, replaced by the close bond we now have.  I couldn’t be prouder of my kids.  One works in education, and my youngest works in the auto industry.  Life is very good.

I share my story now so people know that those of us who have lived through this are not “OK” with it.  We are not OK with having our children taken away from us, with having our right to parent taken away.  We are not OK with our children suffering.  We are not OK with our children “turning out OK” in spite of their broken childhood.  We want their successful outcome to be the result of a happy and healthy childhood, shared with both sides of their families so they can fully benefit from the great relationship with parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins and to grow painlessly into the adults they were naturally intended to become!  We need to band together to fix this now before our society completely crumbles.

#848, Rebuilding After Family Court: A Father’s Story

A Letter About ‘Difors’

 

A child expresses her thoughts on parental divorce.  I hope her parents are talking to her about what is happening.  Children have a sense of how their world is changing.  Talking about the occurrence of events is important to their overall adjustment to the divorce and separation.  

#578, A Letter About ‘Difors’

“Not Our Fault”

 

The words of an adult child of divorce send an essential message for parents and family members: “Our actions can be hurtful and even cruel to our alienated parent and family. We don’t mean to act out, we don’t mean to be so rude. In this case, our actions are not our own. Please don’t take it personally. Someday our eyes will be opened and we will regret the way we treated you. Just love us through this hard time in our life…”

#577, “Not Our Fault”

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/kidofpas/

Link to post: https://www.facebook.com/kidofpas/photos/a.191393044588582/194591397602080/?type=3&theater

Broken Holidays

Holidays and family rituals play an essential role in our memories. One artist shares their interpretation of the how divorce of a favorite aunt has changed their holiday experiences. This artwork was created “after I learned of the impending divorce of one of my aunt and uncles… And the fact that said aunt probably wouldn’t be coming to that Thanksgiving or Christmas with the family. Family gatherings for my family generally means a lot of very delicious food, so that’s what came to mind with the image.”  

Hopefully, this will be a holiday season to remember and this artist will connect with their relatives .  

Deviant Art broken_holidays_by_silvervistani

Deviant Art, Broken Holidays

#1336, Broken Holidays

Love, Me

 

An endearing letter to Santa! An interesting part of this letter is how the letter is signed; Love, Me.    Notably, Me is the most prominent word!  Are her parents aware of how she feels? Is anyone acknowledging her concerns about parental conflict? I wonder how many children (and parents) will miss spending Christmas together as a family this year. Perhaps, we could overlook the obvious and refrain from asking whatever happened to a list of toys for Christmas? I hope Santa can to ‘deliver’ the gift of peace this year!

Deviant Art Dear Santa love me m

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Deviant Art, Family by bahjarox.

Link to artwork: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Family-273867701

#1313, Love, Me

 

 

Before and After: House

Art is a way for children to express their feelings and thoughts.  This artwork demonstrates a difference in how they perceive their word.  Notice how the white and fluffy clouds turn to black scribbles with very jagged bolts of lightening. The sun is sad with tears and the flowers are wilted.  Even the tree is smaller and filled with less color.  This child appears to be experiencing changes in her world.  I hope the parents or teacher reach out to this child.  Divorce is between the parents and about the child.  

#580 Before and After Color

…Bigger Feelings

This artwork reveals how adolescents may be impacted by divorce.  Often, there is  the expectation the teen is old enough to ‘deal’ with what is happening.  He is experiencing a lot of BIG feelings. Hopefully, his parents will reach out and talk about the changes taking place.  

#578, …Bigger Feelings

Kids in the Middle: https://www.kidsinthemiddle.org

Focusing on Solutions

Helping children cope with the divorce is an important part of the process. This offers a guide for children and adolescents talking about how to cope with their emotions and experiences. https://www.wikihow.com/Cope-with-Divorce-As-a-Child

#577, Focusing on Solutions

In Between the Parents

A thoughtful representation of divorce.  Two children in between two parents. Larger objects typically represent bigger feelings and emotions.  Divorce is between the parents and about the child!  An article discussing children and divorce is available at: NPR.org  https://www.npr.org/2019/04/24/716703920/what-if-we-lived-in-two-houses-talking-kids-through-divorce

#576 In Between the Parents

Celebs and Parental Divorce

 

Parental divorce is different for everyone.  Yet, the emotions and feelings are the same. Fame and fortune matter not.  Whether the individual is a celebrity parent or a child of divorce, the experiences and reactions are the same.  Here is what those in the spotlight are saying about parental divorce.  

 

Nicole Richie:

 In a 2004 interview with Oprah,
Nicole Richie revealed how her dad Lionel Ritchie’s 1993 divorce from her mother, Brenda, affected her at eight years old: “When my dad divorced my mom it was kind of like him leaving me also.”

 

Justin Bieber:  

During a 2010 concert, Justin Bieber reportedly broke down after performing “Down to Earth,” a song inspired by his parent’s split, which happened when the pop star was three.

“My parents splitting up is definitely not one of the highlights of my life. It’s sad, the kid experiences feeling like one of his parents left,” Bieber reportedly told Twist magazine in June 2010. “It makes you not feel so good. I think a lot of kids have had their parents split up, and they should know that it wasn’t because of something they did.”
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 Pink: 
In a 2007 interview with the Sunday Telegraph, singer Pink said she morphed into an angry teen following her parent’s divorce. “I was never allowed to go over to any of my friends’ houses when I was little, because I was the bad influence,” she said. “None of their parents liked me and my own parents were scared to death of me — and for me.”
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 Justin Timberlake: 
In the August 2011 issue of Elle, Justin Timberlake talked about the impact his parent’s divorce had on him. “My parents divorced when I was three. I’m humbly and honestly finding out that I have a lot of issues with that,” Timberlake told the magazine. “I’m finding more and more that… I’m going to break the chain because that’s what you want to do, break the chain of your parents. But at some point, it’s in your blood and you have a thing that happens and you’re like, ‘Holy s**t, my parents did that.'”
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Bette Davis: 
Film legend Bette Davis allegedly had this to say  about her parent’s divorce, which occured when she was seven years old: “Of course I replaced my father. I became my own father and everyone else’s.”
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Mary Kate Olsen and Ashley:

A co-celeb shared their observation: “They saw dad and mom fight alot- and then suddenly dad was gone. He stays an active part of their lives, but he isn’t there to tuck them into bed or read them stories.”

“They’re unhappy. It’s sad to see them.”

 

Actor and former footballer Vinnie Jones:

‘I had a brilliant childhood until Mum and Dad divorced when I was 13. That changed my life because it was like one of your parents dying. Divorce makes you rebel – it gives you insecurities and a licence to do what you want, because your mum and dad are always playing a game with you.’

 

Socialite Tamara Ecclestone

‘All I wanted was for Mum and Dad to get back together. I felt like everything I’d known had gone. When they split up, I took refuge in food. I ate and ate and ate. But still I couldn’t fill the void. When they divorced I found it hard to deal with. It was a big change – and I’m not good with change.’

 

Actress Isla Fisher:

‘You can’t underestimate how traumatic divorce is for the children. When your parents divorce, it makes you grow up fast. I’d urge parents to strongly consider working things out. I’d work things out and I’d definitely stay put. Especially if there were babies involved.’

 

Igella Lawson:

‘Because my parents divorced when we were in our late teens, my siblings and I developed strong connections. you don’t live with your parents in the same way.’ Nigella recently divorced her second husband Charles Saatchi on the grounds of his continuing unreasonable behaviour.

 

One Direction’s Harry Styles

‘When I was seven my mum and dad divorced and that was quite a weird time. I remember crying about it. I didn’t really get what was going on properly – I was just sad that my parents wouldn’t be together any more.’

 

Alison Eastwood (daughter of Clint Eastwood)

‘My parents divorced when I was six. I had to grow up very fast. It’s hard as a kid not to take a break-up personally. Even if your parents say, ‘You did nothing wrong’, there’s still a part of you that thinks, ‘Is it me? Do they not love me?’ You feel like the glue that sticks them together, and when that comes undone, there’s always that awful little thing in the back of your mind. I felt rejected and that affects your self-esteem.’

 

Peaches Geldof (daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates)

‘My parents had a very public, bitter divorce and I was old enough to see what was going on. People talked about us and I knew it was horrendous. For us children, it was an environment that was impossible, veering between a week with my mother and then a week with my father. It was like living on a permanent seesaw. Those feelings have stayed with me.’

 

Peter Huhne, son of former cabinet minister Chris Huhne

Devastated over his parents’ marriage break-up, his father’s infidelity and lies about a speeding offence, Peter [pictured with his mother Vicky Pryce] said to him: ‘So nice to see our entire relationship reduced to lies. Do you take me for an idiot? The fact you said your parents were happier as a result of their divorce was disgusting’ You are the most ghastly man I have ever known.’

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News presenter Susanna Reid 

‘I had a choppy childhood after my parents divorced when I was nine. When Mum told me that she and Dad were getting divorced, I cried and cried. I don’t blame them and I know it was the right thing, but it was so sad.’

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Singer Corrine Bailey Rae:

‘My parents divorced when I was a teenager. As the eldest of three sisters, I was my mum’s confidante. You grow up fast working out how something went wrong.’

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TV presenter Amanda De Cadenet

‘I came from a divorced home and displayed all the behaviour of a young woman struggling to find an identity and seeking to fill the loneliness with anything I could.’

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Selena Gomez

“I blamed my mom a lot [for the divorce] because I wanted a family so bad,”  “I wanted to have my mom and dad together. I remember just being angry with my mom. I still feel really bad about that.”

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Jennifer Aniston

“It was pretty crappy, I came home from a birthday party and he was moved out. It was pretty abrupt,”  “Sure, your dad leaves and disappears for a while, that’s pretty brutal. But that’s sort of the beauty of it. Like I said, I would never exchange any of it… Me making people laugh, finding the humor in things, trying to lighten up the mood between disgruntled parents, getting attention… It sort of was a survival technique.”
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Johnny Depp

“I recall hearing my parents argue and thinking: ‘Come on, this is torture. Just split!’ They stuck it out until I was 15, but I’d seen it coming for years. When they finally did divorce, I thought: ‘OK, this is the right thing’.”

#562, Celebs and Parental Divorce

 

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