June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day Mom!!

happy father's day to the single mothers who are taking the role of a father in their kids lives.
You should be honored for striving to give your kid the complete set - even though it is hard as heck on you.
Be encouraged, you are not alone. Even if the dad is around, we still have to be the father when our kids are with us.
If the father is around, let him be the father figure also, allow him to take his role, and encourage your kids to see him as such - remember they don't have to know what you know about that person, and whether we like it or not, that dude is or will be their "hero" at some point, let's not tamper with that.
Be strong for your kids, be strong for you.
I am praying for you, and give your burden to God.
Blessings! love your kids today.

June 18, 2009

Split Home Situation

I don't know what your situation is, if your kid or kids are already on a visitation schedule, or you are waiting for one to established.

Whatever the case it is never easy to see the kids go, isn't it?

It is true, it is very important for a child to see and spend time with both parents, whatever the agreement is, but it is very hard to let them go even for a few hours - it is for me at least.
My son is 2-years old, and even though he has been on a split home situation since he was born, he still has separation anxiety issues when he leaves my house (every weekday!) - it is hard to see him cry, or cling to me before going into dad's car. It is hard to get him ready for the leave - meaning having to talk him into going, one hour in advance. He has gotten better, and I know it will pass, but still it is hard - we feel like he is going to be traumatized forever! a friend of mine who has gone through the same situation assures me they won't remember, and will adapt. I know it is true.
One thing is certain though, they will remember the attitude we have when we do the exchange (between the parents).
I encourage you to put your "best face" out there, even if we don't mean it :) until it is just a "ritual" to fake-smile. To truly encourage them to spend time with the other parent, because we know it is good for them - regardless of what we think about the other parent's character, they are in his/her life.
As I said before, unless you suspect abuse - that's when you act in behalf of your child - we ought to encourage that contact and bond - then we can vent with our friends ;)

I know there are plans that are fitted for every stage on a child's life. Infant, Toddler, Early School and High School.
Hopefully there is a smooth transition between all of them, but as the kids get older, it gets easier, because the kids' opinion start to matter to the court.

You should see what your kid can handle and if the other parent cooperates, then establish a plan, or if you are going through the court process, then you have to wait for their decision. Unfortunately, they base their recommendation on the age-guidelines, not on a particular case, so, work it out if you can.

It is OK to sacrifice some holidays I think. I feel like it is better for the kids to spend a whole day holiday with one parent instead spending them rushing off to change houses in the middle of it - yes, you may not get to see them that day, but there is always next year.
You give the meaning to the day, you can make the following day special for them as well, and your kids will have an extended holiday celebration, or something like that - you make it work.

Separation anxiety will pass, more quickly for the child I guess, but in the meantime, fixate your thoughts on the fact:it is good for the kids. Put up a "good" face and keep on going. You be the rational one, your kid will thank you one day.

Blessings and thank God for your kids!!!

June 9, 2009

what is really winning?

I was reading a post about one of the parties bragging about "winning" in court.
If you really think about the tedious process, about the time spent, and about being emotionally drained - who wins?
I hope that when you go into the court system to have the custody issues resolved, you think about your kids only, not about pride, not about you winning and not letting the other party win, etc, because then you will be the one loosing. 
You should be investing in making sure your kids are well emotionally, physically, spiritually, not on winning a case.

On this past court ruling, the situation could not have been better. My child is under my care 80%, I can oversee his education, medical care, take him to my country to see my family and compensate where there is "shortness" (hopefully not as much as before) - Your child's well being, that's winning.

If the other party is responsible, loving and looking up for your child's best, then your child is winning for having your and the other's love. But if another is the case, even after the ruling from the judge, keep on documenting, stay on the lookout, remember - nothing is final, lookout for your child's welfare, don't settle for yourself, don't settle on your kids safety just to keep the other party quiet - honestly, as awful as it sounds, they don't matter. The only way they matter is in their relationship with your kid. I am not saying hate the person (hate blinds you and get YOU ready for battle, and that is not what we are talking about), but THEIR NEEDS ARE NOT A PRIORITY, YOUR CHILD"S IS.
Keep your kid safe from the brawling with the other party, they don't deserve to be witnesses of the shortcomings. If they insist in making the child part of the dispute or use the child to "punish" the other parent, there is what is called Child Protection Services. Talk to them to get informed. I had the mediator recommend I talk to them, and I did - mostly for negligence in care, but they do respond and they are there.

Remember, a bully will use anything and everything to have the sense of control. Once you have served, the other party may have in their mind that you are inviting them into battle - a crushed ego is terrible, specially for a male.
Besides, you know the type of character you are dealing with, indulge them if necessary, as long as they leave you alone. If they want to "win" only. Let them believe they have "won", after all that is what they are interested on, right?
Smile to yourself and hold your child close - he/she is safe, and hopefully moving towards a stable family situation, even with a single parent.
Remember, when pride is the source, it will not stop at nothing until pride is satisfied.

After 3 months of court, the other party still talks about "what is fair to him" "this situation isn't fair to him because the child's schedule affects his commute" when you hear me, me, me, me, me - you know something is wrong ;)

Hopefully a final ruling will give you the freedom to move forward without the harassment. Remember, words are just words until you give them value. Enjoy the precious time with your child and laugh at the tantrums the "other kid" throws at you.
If the harassment continues, you can open a harassment case - hopefully is doesn't get to the point with you!!! and DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!!! and move forward!!
and honey - when the other party finally leaves you alone - you and your child have won ;) 


June 8, 2009

child support

Most than likely if you are in the midst of a custody battle, you also have to deal with child support.
Family court has nothing to do with child support, unless you and the other party have a particular agreement and want the judge to seal on it.
I realized that is better to have CSS (Child Support Services) deal with it. If you have an agreement with the other party, great! but understand that in dealings with money, fights are unavoidable, especially if the parents are in odds.
Child Support issues is hard for fathers. it means having the government looking into your finances, and taking money out of your paycheck, and keep you in record (if you owe more than a certain amount, you cannot apply for a passport, etc) - has a huge impact on the ego.
Well, you're face some fire if you involve CSS in your case (from the other party I mean) but it will save you from a lot of problems later, I truly believe.
Each parent is responsible for the upbringing of the child - and the responsibility belongs to both.
CSS does not charge you anything, and doesn't take fees. It collects past child support owed and are good at follow up, the only downside is that they are very slow if a problem arises.
In my case I had to call them every two weeks for three months when the dad stopped paying for child support, and had to subpoena the dad's employment records myself ($100 well spent), but that did the trick.
Your child is important, but don't mix your child's relationship with money though. Keep those separate. Your child needs a relationship with both parents regardless of monetary support - that sucks, I know - BOTH PARTIES SHOULD BE RESPONSIBLE, but it's not the child's fault and interaction with the other parent should not be denied based on Child Support or lack of it.
You and the other parent should deal with it as adults, if agreements don't work, seek legal help.
There are organizations that offer help in collecting child support, but that don't work as well and charge you a large fee.
Lawyers cannot do much about it - CSS does an estimate and deal with the case until they're done - it takes about 3 to 6 months - as long as they are able to locate the other parent.
There is no meeting of the parties, no agreement to sign, no compromises. The other party makes this much, this much time is spent with the child, the child is this age - that's all they need.
CSS also makes sure the child has medical coverage, and child care if needed.

Blessings!!! and don't forget to thank God for your kids!

June 1, 2009


I am not an expert in the issue, but here are the steps I took when opening a custody case.
Make sure you have the funds.
Before getting up a lawyer, I would imagine you have a "non-official" agreement with the other parent. make it official, try to get a signature, notarize it if possible. That way there is no confusion and he said/she said stuff.

Do your research for a good and affordable lawyer. Custody issues are not that complicated, but they do know the lingo, what and when to serve, and the other parent has to deal directly with them (if they don't have a lawyer) so the harassment is cut in half...
I had to change lawyers in the middle of the process, because my firmer lawyer was more concern with her friendship with the opposing lawyer than with the case, and she moved too slow for comfort - so, look for clues; if you feel uncomfortable with a particular lawyer, state your needs, they do want to keep you around.
My new lawyer was much more aggressive and he did make a point to spot the threats from the opposing party.

Document EVERYTHING. Try to have a type of communication that would leave a record, voice messages, text messages, letters, e-mails, etc. 
Write whatever the other party did. They didn't want to return the child, they were more than 15 minutes late to pick up or drop off, insults, anything and everything.
Keep a calendar and mark the days the child is retrieved, times, etc. Put a date on the documentation, write facts, include times, dates, what happened - period.

If you are the serving party, be ready - you have bruised some body's ego, and they are coming for vengeance. Insults will come, promises will come, friends with "good intentions" will overflow. Listen to people you trust and that know what you are going through as a parent, as a mother, as a single mother.

After filing comes mediation, make sure you attend. Be calm, out emotions aside and present facts. Give the court any documentation you have at least 20 days before mediation day, that way the mediator has a chance to review it. Speak ONLY about what is pertinent to the child, you are not there to confront the other parent, but for the well being of your kid. the other parent will try to get a rise out of you, and what better place than in front of the person who has the most say in this process.
The Mediator is the "battle to win" because the judge generally approves the mediator's recommendations - 95% of the time.
Write whatever the mediator says, there has been times in which the mediators tells the parents one thing and end up recommending another - and you can appeal that.

Court doesn't come right away, the court wants to give LOTS of chances for the parents to communicate (it took me two years from the first filing to come and see the judge) if they don't see them communicate, then they take the ruling and final order.

Needless to say, if you can come to an agreement that would be fantastic, aim for that. Put it in writing, both of you sign it and submit it to court.

My son's dad an I want a slightly different plan form the one approved by the court, because my son will be starting pre-school soon, we live further apart and it is best for the child. We will try it a month (written agreement) and if it is beneficial for the child, we will adopt it - written and with the judge's signature - a must! you never know when someone turns "forgetful" or something...

One more thing, I know many, many are against taking matters to court. I am a Christian, and thought long and hard before coming to this decision. I tried taking these matters before the church - that particular church didn't help, and the situation was getting worse by the minute.
Court helped it getting solved. 
AGAIN, if you can solve it before court - then go for it please!! - if you find yourself trapped and fearful - protect your child, protect yourself - a hurt ego can be very dangerous. 
Seek counsel, do your research - and don't commit to a plan you don't think is best for your kid or kids.
The dad and I are able to move forward now, we have a base - we are not in love with it, but it serves its purpose, and we take it from there.