Happy Father's Day!
For far too many fathers, they have limited or no access to their children. Here's a case study that will have you in tears...
If children cry for their Daddy does anybody hear?
"I remember my twin girls first year. I made every effort to be a part of their lives and a fully involved parent, within the limitations of working 40 hours a week. I went to work early and went shopping after work and came home every day and did housework and most often made the meals. I never seemed to have enough time or opportunities with my girls. Their time was strictly scheduled and controlled by their mother while I was kept busy doing housework and chores. If I didn't agree with her, there was going to be trouble, and often resulted in her following me around the house threatening and berating me. I was even kicked in the balls and threatened with a knife. I pleaded with her parents to help me, but they were aloof.
I looked forward to the opportunity for her to go back to work so that I could spend more quality time with my girls without her interference. After they were 12 months old, our pediatrician recommended that they be weaned from the boob and bottle. Well, she liked breast feeding, it was euphoric and she didn't want to lose that bond with our children. Nevertheless, we were broke and I couldn't keep up with her incessant spending, so she had no choice but to get a part time job and pump some milk. I secretly introduced the sippy cup and made an effort to devote my attention to my girls and do chores and housework while they were napping. Well, she didn't like her job and she often took out her anger on me when she came home. I avoided her as much as I could, but she followed me around the house relentlessly harassing
Eventually, I made the decision that I could no longer live with the abuse and I would not allow my children to grow up to learn that it is okay to treat another person that way, especially their father. When I told her that I wanted a divorce, she told me that if I ever divorced her then I would never see my kids again. Then she decided to call FACS and the Police and move out right away with our children to live with her parents, 2 hours away. They were only 15 months old and I'll never forget the sound of them screaming for their daddy.
The abuse was well documented, including her own admission. I went to see a lawyer right away, the best in town, but not good enough. I attempted to serve her 6 days after she left. I brought a witness and recorded everything. She refused to open the door and insisted that I just leave the papers on the doorstep. She then phoned the police and cried heavily. The police arrived promptly and with a big chip on their shoulder attempted to instigate an argument and confrontation with me. After much harassment, the papers were served.
Since there was evidence that I was caring for our girls regularly while she was at work, there was absolutely no good reason to refuse access. FACS, my lawyer and the judge were simply disinterested in the abuse that I had documented. In their opinion, it was not an issue now that we were separated.
I had a few hours access here and there for a few months. It's not easy travelling so far and attempting to maintain that bond with my children in a strange city with few facilities suitable for young children. The first time in front of a judge, the subject of increased visitation including full weekends was raised. She insisted that they were still breast feeding and could not be away from her for more than a few hours. I told the judge that our pediatrician recommended they be weaned after 12 months. My lawyer told the judge that she could pump milk if it was so important. The judge told her to be reasonable and start scheduling increased access.
So by the time they were 20 months old, I had them for two weekends a month, 3 hours on Wednesday evenings and a few weeks for summer vacation. The usual, standard allowances for non-custodial fathers (the 14%ers). Every interaction and question to her was an opportunity for her to insult and argue with me. She quit mediation after she was unhappy about the division of assets, particularly that I would not pay her off for the property that I bought before marriage. She still got a hefty payout for the house that I purchased with my own money before we were married. She absolutely refused to discuss a parenting plan and any possibility of co-operation and shared
My lawyer told me that I would never get joint custody as long as she refused to co-operate. The judges and lawyers repeatedly reminded us that if we could not come to an agreement then it would cost us tens of thousands of dollars to go to court. After many months of her avoiding meetings and not responding to offers and general lack of cooperation, we were finally able to come to an agreement when she was threatened that her legal aid would be cut off. It cost $20,000 in legal fees just to get that agreement.
My girls are turning 6 yr next month. I've had to figure out everything on my own, including what foods they like, what sleep schedule works best and how to deal with their violent outbursts. I still can't find out much about their school, I never see anything they bring home and their teacher only offers to give me a monthly newsletter. Apparently, my ex won't share anything with me unless it is specifically court ordered. She still attempts to create arguments and interfere with my scheduled visitation. I rely on written communication since I am quite shy about asking questions now, as I know what to expect for her reaction. I carry a recording device at all times for my own personal protection.
I know that something is wrong with a system that allows this to happen, but there is nothing I can do about it and nobody will help. My only option is to fight for full custody, which will only cause more arguments and spite, not to mention $200,000 that I don't have. I hate the idea of taking our children away from their mother, even if she is abusive. I only wish that there was a more co-operative system that helped parents deal with these problems.
They still cry when they have to leave home, because they know that it will be a long time until they see me again.
If children cry for their Daddy does anybody hear?"