D.M.

My Custody Battle

My divorce took place in Tennessee on October 29, 2001. That was the worst day in my life as I lost custody of my two sons, now ages fifteen and twelve.

The first time I filed for divorce was in 1995 when I had learned of his first affair. I had one of the best lawyers in Nashville so things were a lot better for me then; my sons were very young and we both accepted that I would get custody. At that time he paid the bills and gave me child support of $1,100 monthly. Then we reconciled, until December of 2000.

In January, 2001, when I told him I had enough with all his affairs and I wanted a divorce, he vowed that he wouldn’t let me take “his” money this time. At first he told me he would go into hiding until the boys were older so he wouldn’t have to pay me child support.

This time around he had a better attorney and he wouldn’t leave our home. He made my life hell—walking around with a small hidden tape recorder, keeping a diary (which I found) and having my then thirteen year old keep a diary of me. My ex convinced my older son that he shouldn’t live with me and got his family, to whom my son is very close, to convince him that if he lived with me I wouldn’t let my sons see his grandmother and grandfather and other relatives, whom he had been spending summers with ever since he was very young.

In June of 2001, my sons went to Florida to spend their usual summer vacation with my ex-husband’s parents. 1 ½ months later their father went to Florida to bring them home. At that point I had already filed in the court for a restraining order, but it didn’t go through until three days after they returned. So my ex wouldn’t leave our home and he got very angry about the restraining order and made my life a living hell by calling the cops on me all three days he was there, until the order went through and he was out of the house.

Once he was out of the house, my sons were finally living in peace and they were very happy with the visitation schedule they had with their Dad—every other weekend and Wednesday night. My older son even said to me that he wished things would stay that way and he would live with me.

Unfortunately, shortly after that my Nashville attorney resigned from being my lawyer, saying he was being bothered by my ex and his attorney and me also. Feeling very confused and not knowing what to do in this powerless situation, I retained another lawyer, but one in whom I had little confidence. Because of my finances, I stayed with this attorney and I could honestly say I would’ve done a better job representing myself.

The guardian ad-litem changed his story also, altering the original evaluation he had written after my younger son called and asked him to let him stay with me. That would have split them, since my older son preferred my husband, and the guardian ad-litem wanted to avoid a split.

I used to be so close to my sons and of course everything has changed. I tried living in Tennessee but my ex attempted to put me back in jail as he had done during the summer. I spent 26 hours in jail for something he started, but he was the one to call the police. In Tennessee, when couples have a physical fight, the person who calls the police is likely to avoid arrest, unless the other person’s injuries are severe.

Before the October 29th court appearance, my attorney never mentioned that I could lose my kids. It never dawned on me that I would be separated from my children and miss all these years of them growing and changing and becoming young men.

How can a mother who has always been there for her children and loved them more than she loves herself have this happen to her—TO ME!

An injustice was done to me and my children by a judge, a man who doesn’t even know me or my children! He, in one instant, changed our lives forever…How could this have happened!!!???

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