Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pt. 2 Hated Father

*This is not anti-woman, mother, female or even ex-wives. It is anti-child abuse, gender bias, stigma, and parental alienation.

"Hello, my name is Michelle (fake name), I'm with the Child Protective Services (CPS) of Oklahoma Department of Health Services. Can I can come in for a few questions?"

After a year of my ex-wife conjuring up excuse after excuse to keep our kids from my visitations including at one point moving without telling me where for a few weeks. I had to track her and my kids down. This investigation became the first of 5 total investigations against me. That visitation, or intrusion, occurred three months after I remarried and three months before my ex-wife remarried.  I later discovered, during that investigation, that before we had even divorced, at the time her soon to be husband's mother had already been referring to my ex-wife's and my kids as "her" soon-to-be-grandkids and even had pictures of them.

Why am I mentioning all of this about her? Motives. And to establish a better understanding of how our family court systems are and how they can be fueled by lies, stigma, deceit, greed, money, bias, and most importantly personal agenda. You see there were no forms of abuse. There never had been. As a matter of fact the split caught me off guard. Maybe I should've expected it. Seen the signs coming. I had been in the hospital for three days for an illness. Upon returning home within 15 minutes she asked me to move out. And that was it. I could have told her I wasn't leaving and that if she wanted it to end she could, but for the sake of the kids to have a home I left. Little did I know she already had an agenda that included someone else and the attempt to have the courts terminate my parental rights so he could adopt my children.

The custody battles that were based on false child abuse allegations against me lasted at least two and a half years. There were two of them, one from my own ex-wife and the other from my current wife's ex-husband. At close to two years my ex-wife began to feel she wasn't making any headway in her case against me. I guess she felt she needed a new tactic. Something that would make a real impact. So she contacted my wife's ex-husband and convinced him and his wife of her allegations even though he had never had any reasons to be suspicious and his kids had never spoke ill of me.

In spite of how I struggled during that period and how I tried to escape with alcohol and developed an eating disorder I focused and relied on a set of scriptures in the Bible. I read them frequently and accounted them as God's promise to get me through that time not for my sake but for my kid's sake.

            "Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before       governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they   arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will      be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.     Mat 10:17-20 (vs. 19-27 to follow)

Three weeks after CPS showed up I was served with a restraining order from the sheriff's office. It was shock after shock. "How could she be doing this?" "How could she be getting away with this?" The CPS interview questions were vague that didn't focus on any specific form of abuse. As a matter of fact what her attention did focus a lot on was my bipolar and regular household routines. No specifics. How can someone be scrutinized over nothing? The premise her allegations were that in addition to currently hurting our children I was a danger to our kids and one day I might snap and seriously go "crazy" and really do some damage because I'm bipolar. Now after by her own efforts to keep the kids and I separated she was taking her first step to legally keep them from me. For what was to come were various legal motions after motions orders that required me to go to court to fight to prove why I shouldn't be kept from my own children. With every one of her failed attempts her next set of allegations would be more extreme than the last. I don't know which emotion I felt stronger, shock, anger, hurt, desperation, fear, helpless or whatever else I felt. I could not grasp how the court could let it continue let alone handle it the way it did.

She never believed I was abusing our kids so her allegations in her restraining were frivolous and nonsense. Apparently you can get a restraining order just for wanting one. You just need something to write down as a reason no matter how stupid it is. Apparently, though not true, some good reasons are, not bathing your kids, sending them back smelling like cigarette smoke or dirty diaper (even if it dirtied on the way back to their mothers), and other general caretaking ways that your ex-wife doesn't agree with can get a restraining order as long it sounds she makes it sound like abuse .

As a father going through a divorce it's likely a restraining order will be issued against you. If hit with a restraining order, you could lose your freedom and access to your children without even knowing what is happening until you are ordered to appear in court. And if a CPS investigation has already begun, it's more than likely the judge will grant the accusing attorney's requests to postpone the restraining order's court date until the findings from that investigation are received only prolonging your separation between you and your kids. That is one of their reasons.

In the mean time you wait. You've never had to wait like this before. You have no choice. You wait and wonder, "how long" until you hear from CPS. You pray that not one person misinterprets anything. You've never worried like this before. The very idea of not being allowed to contact your own children is not only appalling but also carries some of the most painful emotions. They are your own children. Your flesh and blood. For years you've cared for them. Stayed up with them during their sickness. Rocked them to sleep. Dressed them. Fed them. Bathed them. Kissed their booboo's and put band-aids on invisible scratches. You laughed with them. You picked them up when they fell. Sent them to school and participated in their activities.

Now if you so much as utter to them, "I love you" you will be placed in handcuffs and taken to county jail until the court date for violation of restraining order and automatically be found guilty and violent. And so you are angry at our family court system wondering how they protect the guilty and punish the innocent.

There are ulterior motives behind the restraining order. It's not just about keeping the father away. It alone is a preparation. It's the appetizer to the motion for full custody. It's that first step into the full custody battle to remove the child from the father. Or better yet, to remove the father from the child. How so? Without thinking about what is best for the kids or what they want here are some reasons this tactical move is made:

1. It's more about being a "winner" as much as the law will allow.  Family courts are driven by gender bias against men. It should go without saying that if any person is an actual abuser, then yes a restraining order should be served and enforced and criminally charged with children taken away immediately. But if there hasn't actually been a crime committed then every party involved is getting hurt; especially the children.  And in truth, the one doing the false accusations is committing child abuse. But to the accuser's advantage our court systems has continued to fail to recognize psychological and emotional abuse; let alone address it with consequences.

2. The ex's attorney gains an advantage in court. This is used as the same tactic as the CPS investigation. We discovered my ex convinced a daycare worker to contact CPS to report child abuse allegations even though she had never seen me and I live 82 miles away. If there were real signs of abuse as far as she could have known it could have been from the kids mother or her husband of whom they spend 90% of their time with. Yet she specifically accused me. Besides, if my ex was truly concerned you would think she would've contacted CPS.
The motives behind this is to give the impression that there must be a reason to grant full custody to the mother no matter the impact it would have on the live of all parties.

3. She watches you suffer. For some reason my ex was furious with me during our custody battle. I'm not sure why. Our marriage didn't end in a battle. She was the one that wanted to end the marriage Maybe it was because I refused to give up.

4. For many ex's, mine in particular, strived to be in control and manipulation. She saw our kids as "hers" and not ours and at the time referred to them as "my" kids when speaking to me as if they were possessions.  She rather enjoyed and preferred to be asked for permission. She preferred that I was kept in the dark about the kids personal lives such academics, activities, medical, etc. I was kept off of documents being listed as the father. Sometimes being listed as "biological" father while their step-dad was listed as their father.

The attempts to legally alienate my children and I were fruitless. But only after our courts and legal systems were more than happily and conveniently be at her beck and call.  As expected there were no findings from the CPS investigation which resulted in a drop  of the restraining order. That resulted in the recommendation for my ex to adhere to the prior visitation schedule. "Finally, hopefully this is all over." I thought. 

Less than a week later I was served with a motion for Temporary Emergency Custody due to even more outrageous allegations. With each of her failed attempts the next one would be more severe.

 By statistics our family court systems allows a parent to remove a child from the other parent and dissolve a marriage without any grounds. What's even more profound, the accuser who does this cannot expect to be punished by the courts; on the contrary, he or she can expect to be generously rewarded with custody, lavish child support (not meaning responsible), and other financial rewards. Not surprising, a disturbing numbers of children are routinely separated from loving, responsible parents or reasons that have nothing to do with their wishes, safety, health, or welfare.

Shame on "those" mothers who use the laws to their advantage in family courts to bring fathers to their knees; and go to great lengths to eradicate them from the lives of their own children! Unfortunately false allegations by women claiming child abuse, domestic violence, and stalking are almost never questioned by judges and other public and state employees for fear of imprisonment.

I was handed over to the councils and beat in their synagogues." (Mat 10:17-18) I had no choice but to go to court and stand before the judge in his court room. Giving up on my children was not a choice. It was never was. I stood there in silence while being mocked in a court room full of people being stigmatized and labeled. The judge and the attorney's were the council. The court house was the synagogue. It was the supreme law.  So supreme that what they believed, fought for, what was said and agreed to in that building during those days must still be adhered to until our youngest child turns 18 years old. They believe those in laws as if a religion. And I was beat with attack after attack....lie after lie, over and over to the point they left scars.

Looking back I realize I didn't speak much. (Mat 10:19-20) My ex did and so did her attorney. That was probably their mistake.    "They never taste who always drink; They always talk who never think."  Matthew Prior

From the beginning my ex called the shots. Reality tasted like broken glass. Months had gone and things had only gotten worse. I had wept like never before. Reality sits in rather quick. There was a strange if not "unsupportive" support from those who cared around me. "You should do this...Yould've done this...Yould've done that.." some angrily boasted at me. But just the same as me these were the words of individuals who had never experienced a custody dispute let alone one that involved high profile nasty child abuse allegations along with constantly being denied their kids going weeks, sometimes up to two months.

As painful as the whole experience was and no matter how angry I got it never compared to the hurt I felt for my kids. For the lies they were being told. The manipulation they were subjected to. The coaching they underwent. The culture shock they underwent. The inconsistencies they endured. The many rules they were given by their mother in an attempt to assimilate them to "this" new life. A life with a replaced father. Having to put up with this new man who over zealously was trying to be this perfect family dad. I'm still not sure who's idea it was but my kids were instructed to call me by my first name and became such an issue that it had to be addressed in court.

It was my son's own words that got me ordered six months of supervised visitation....

"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  Matthew 10:21-24

Follow part 3 of "Hated Father...." Selfish and desperate parents will psychology and emotionally abuse the very children they claim they are fighting to protect from child abuse. How I am now ordered to reward my ex for the financial burdens, mental and emotional anguish, parental alienation, stress, and marital strife and continue to do so....

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A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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