Down with the System

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last two months, it’s that the system is not there to stand up for you. It is not there to give you a voice when you haven’t got one. The defenseless and the tempest-tossed will probably not find justice within the system.

I thought I had a voice, but the system effectively removed it from me. If I want to make the system work for me I literally have to make my life worse. This formless monstrosity that is “the system” taught me how to avoid a beat-down by giving me a beatin’ I won’t forget! I feel like I sat there in court holding my breath in hope and expectation, a little bit of naïveté and trust misting my perception, and watched the judge who spent more time looking down (at his cell phone?) than he did at me when I sat on the stand, proclaim the equivalent of a bitch slap to the face. I could just envision him all dandied up in a cowboy hat and leathers with his bored little dusty voice, shake his head at me and saying “You shoulda known better, kid.”

That was the system’s lesson. So my question is: whatever happened to justice? I thought justice was supposed to be treatment according to each person’s situation? Fairness just means everyone is treated exactly the same. Well the ex and I are not the same! I have pushed and prodded, cajoled, manipulated, begged, pleaded, sacrificed, questioned, accommodated, compromised and any other adjective that applies – to get him to realize that he doesn’t stop being a parent on the days his son is with me. He relegated himself to the status of visitor vs parent for 3 years but somehow this is my fault?

I understand that in the eyes of the law everything must be black and white, the standard must apply uniformly to all, regardless of race, color, gender, etc. But every situation is not black and white and the law needs to be specifically interpreted as it applies to these occurrences. Isn’t that very the whole point of going to court? Because your situation needs special attention, unique interpretation??

I suppose I thought that although my “rights” as a mother are equal to his “rights” as a father, since he has voluntarily chosen to either ignore those rights and responsibilities, or abuse and take advantage of those rights as he saw fit for the entirety of our son’s life, I thought the judge would see that and say that if The Ex himself didn’t value the privilege and responsibility of being a father, then why should the courts value it?  But no, I guess I was wrong, because what the courts said instead was “Here’s a free ticket to be an asshole and just because you donated sperm and every other weekend we’ll go ahead and make your son and his mother revolve their life and livelihood around you and your needs.”

So here is what I learned.

Lesson 1: Your ex calls you a whore because he doesn’t want to “babysit” his kid so you can go to a baby shower and “whore around.”  Document, document, document. Maybe even file a restraining order because of his antagonistic, threatening, and harassing behavior. “Oh my” you say, but doesn’t that seem out of proportion to his petty little insult? The answer is no, because two years later when you land in court over custody and relocation, and you try to establish the utter lack of respect he has always had for you as a person, a woman, and a mother, and for his own son because he would rather not spend time with him to punish you, his lawyer will ask “Well, if it was such a problem why did you never try to stop it?”  And you will look stupid, and realize they don’t care if he is disrespectful and doesn’t put his kid first.

Lesson 2: Your child’s father repeatedly refuses to pick his child up any earlier than the time stipulated in the divorce decree, because he simply doesn’t have time and can’t put his whole life on hold to accommodate you. What do you do? Keep a log book and write every little damn thing down. Because two years later when you land in court and he’s polishing himself up to look like Father of the damn Year, and you say “But wait, he refused to spend time with his son when offered!”  His lawyer will look at you and say that he always picked his son up at the agreed upon time, and that is all they care about when deciding if he should have more time, unless you can demonstrate his intentional un-involvement in the child’s life. And there you will be, looking stupid again, because if he was really so uninvolved and uncooperative, you would have done something right? RIGHT?

I have about 20 more lessons I could write down….but what’s the point? Like I said, now my and my son’s needs must take a backseat to his dad’s.  Score 100 for the system, score 0 for me and my little boy.


4 responses to “Down with the System

  1. Ditto, zero faith. It is so discouraging because it leaves you feeling without recourse, and attorneys are just a giant waste of money. The only thing I strive to do is love my son, and try to keep it civil between myself and The Ex. I attempt to guide all my actions with Love (I fail often) and to constantly ask myself “Am I putting my son first?” “Is this my anger over a personal issue coming out, or anger about something relating to my son?” “Is my heart in the right place?” “What will the consequences of my words, my actions, and my decisions be to my child and myself?” And ultimately I ask myself daily, hourly – is it worth it? It really is about choosing your battles sometimes.

  2. I completely agree with that unfortunate truth: more money, more power, right? At least in today’s world…and it’s sad and disappointing because when it comes to being involved with your children’s emotional, physical, and mental growth, simply being a part of their life and fostering peace in their surroundings, it shouldn’t matter if you’re the parent with the most money to throw at an attorney to demonize the other parent. To me, what it boils down to, is that my kid’s dad is a part of his life because he WANTS to be…because if he doesn’t want to be a part of it and he’s only doing it to “steal” him from me or to “punish” me in some ridiculously backwards way of thinking, then maybe that would do more harm than good…. I don’t know. But hang in there, love your child(ren) with all your heart and sometimes that is all you can do! At least I can be comforted by my belief that the Father’s Love can heal all things, and redeem all mistakes.

  3. Sadly I have learned a very similar lesson while dealing with the court system. Needless to say I have zero faith in “the system” now.

  4. Very well written. I feel the same way, except I’m the Dad. My voice is never heard. The one with more money wins… That’s the lesson I’ve learned. I don’t have near as much income as she does, so in the eyes of the system I obviously can’t be a good dad because I choose to spend my time rather than my money.

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