Thursday, March 26, 2015

An unexpected update....

We have entered this strange, foreign place where my son and I communicate with each other. He lets me know when he needs things and when he does, I provide the things he needs. I am humbled at the workings of the Universe and how it has brought us to this place, even though I am sad that he had to experience getting rejected by his grandmother in order to get here, but I'll take it since that was going to happen eventually anyway.

I haven't updated in a while, life has a way of keeping me busy. But basically the police located my son at school (thank goodness he kept GOING to school even though he had run away) and the school deputy held him there after school one day until I could get there. The deputy was basically giving him a reality check on what things I could do (as in, remove him immediately, never to return) and that I seemed like I was trying to be reasonable so he suggested that my son work with me if he wanted any chance to stay where he was.

Not to say that boarding schools didn't enter my mind, they most certainly did. I have a seven year old at home to consider as well, and I can't have a teenager demonstrating how to climb out windows if I can help it. I've already had to explain that once. So yeah, boarding school was an option I considered. To the point where I was googling different ones and even called and spoke to a few. But he WAS still going to school, and he did still have an A in ROTC (though not in much else) and I was hesitant to be too disruptive since I know that all of his adult career goals involve the military. I decided to extend the first olive branch, mainly because I realized he had ROTC drill that day and he would miss it if I dragged him away. I asked him in front of the officer if I could trust him to come with me if I came back after drill. At first he said no, but he did change his mind and give me his word that he would go with me. Surprisingly when I came back, he DID. With no complaining or anything. In fact, he gave me an apology for his previous behavior as soon as he got in my car.

We just grabbed some dinner and kind of got caught up on things. After dinner I met the parents of the friend he had chosen to stay with. I actually slightly knew the mom from ROTC booster meetings and I recognized her son as one of the harder working cadets. After learning more about the schedule my son was living there,  and after double checking on the school website and realizing that my son's Missing Assignment list had stopped growing (at 37 missed assignments) pretty much as soon as he moved in there, I decided it could be beneficial to leave him there at least temporarily while he and I took some time to reconnect after the years of alienation and bullshit we have both been through. 

As time has passed I am more satisfied with my decision, as my son has remained polite and respectful and has done pretty much anything I ask of him and then some.  He seems to be coming around to seeing/believing more of who I actually am, as opposed to who he was told I was.  I have experienced the simple joy of him living in a house where the adult he stays with communicates with me about his needs. I was able to get him some clothes when it was cold, and some follow up doctor appointments since he had apparently been diagnosed with scoliosis (which again, his custodial grandmother did not feel it had been important to share this information with me) I am very glad he took it upon himself to tell me because I really dislike the idea of him going without anything he needs. I also think it gave me a chance to show him that I do care about him. I wonder if he'll ever realize that he has been on my insurance all this time while she has been using only the medicaid coverage that she has for him and letting him go without some things because she didn't want to just LET ME KNOW what was going on because she didn't want me to be able to help. 

It's not easy.  The torture was dragged out for five years. I still struggle with just trusting what is said at face value. I'm sure he is still struggling with this too, because I am an adult and the thoughts still creep in. In two years he will be a legal adult and could stop talking to me completely if he chooses to. I hope he doesn't, but I can't control or worry about that.  I'm too busy being happy about his turnaround.  I had honestly gotten to a point where I doubted he would ever come around. For years I have parroted the things the therapists told me to say when he is disrespectful in email/text and felt SO ridiculously stupid at times while I was doing it. Like, this isn't going to work, he just thinks I'm an idiot.

And I must say; I was wrong.  I'm happy that I was, and that I said all the stuff even though I felt stupid. It totally was working I just couldn't tell at the time. So many times I wanted to say screw it and just say exactly how things were making ME feel......and instead I just took a deep breath and practiced what I learned in therapy and said I love and miss you regardless of how you feel about me and I wish you well and hope that one day you can know that and I'll be right here when you do. 
And suddenly now he's here....reaching out to me, having ordinary conversations.  It's just so different.

In the end, as through all of it, I know that I have done all that I can possibly do to give him the best chance at being a successful adult.  I know it was twisted to him for years that my motives for fighting for him were purely selfish but I hope in time he will see the sacrifices I have made that make that theory impossible. 

As the dust settles and the chaos is behind us, I have a bit more time and can focus more on being a voice to make sure that this isn't allowed to keep happening to other parents. The length of litigation, the inaction by the court, the irreparable damages done to both myself, my son, and even to my mother and the rest of our family that was affected…..none of it is ok and there should be some kind of system in place checking to make sure that it isn't happening. There should be accountability after the sheer volume of hearings and cancellations/continuations that I experienced, and that I am certain other parents have experienced (because in my journey I have met a few other victims of Seminole County Family Court). 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

This post is Yesterday I got an email from my son's father. I sent him a copy of the final judgment revoking temporary custody from my mother and giving m sole custody. Turns out he had a child support hearing yesterday. My mother showed up, pretending to still have custody of my son.  When his father mentioned she no longer had custody she denied that, but luckily he had printed the order to bring with him. She claimed to "not know about that hearing or the order revoking her custody", which is funny because I only got the order because she filed a motion withdrawing any objection to me revoking temporary custody so even if she didn't know about the order yet (although a copy was provided to her attorney on Monday, same as mine) she DID know that she had filed withdrawing her objections, so why was she in support court demanding my ex give her more money or go to jail when she knew she had essentially relinquished custody anyway?

I'm happy to say she was unsuccessful at getting him thrown in jail, or at getting more money out of him. In fact, she'll get less now since she gets no current support from him moving forward, and will only be getting $25/week towards arrears for at least a while. 

This makes me reflect to about 4 years ago. I was still near the beginning of this long drawn out legal battle, and I found a document while searching at the records building. I was adopted by my maternal grandmother in 4th grade. In 5th grade I moved back with my mother and she tried to take my father to court for child support. He came with the adoption papers and she left with nothing.  So I am not really surprised that she tried this, but I am extremely disappointed in a system that doesn't do anything punitive to someone so obviously trying to defraud the system. 

Penalties would discourage others from lying moving forward. Letting her get away with it encourages the idea that you can do whatever you want and get away with it, even defrauding the system.  If even one person is getting away with this kind of activity completely consequence-free, then there is a serious need for both family law reform in Seminole County, and child support reform in the state of Florida.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


So what just happened? It's been a crazy week, that's for sure! I have to write this out now, just in case it gets crazier!

For those of you just tuning in, I have been in high conflict family court litigation with my biological mother for over 5 years in Seminole County, Florida. We went through several judges, including the "facebook judge" Linda Schoonover, who gave me custody 2 years ago but then vacated her order when my lawyer presented her with a final judgment revoking my mother's temporary custody that opposing counsel (Vicki Levy Eskin) had "no objections to" (I suspect that she did, and that she voiced those objections to judge Schoonover in ex parte communications outside the courtroom, but I will never be able to prove that, so they get away with it)

ANYWAY, The judge vacated her order and my son ran away to my mother's home (on the same day, but that's just a Coincidence) and every visit and family therapy session since then has been difficult to schedule or enforce. I haven't seen him outside of therapy in over a year, and I haven't seen him in therapy since right before last Christmas. I email him that I love him and he emails me to fuck off.

Last week, out of nowhere, my lawyer called and told me that my mother had withdrawn all of her objections to my motion to revoke her temporary custody. THEN I was told that my son had actually run away from her home 3 1/2 weeks ago (yet nobody bothered to tell me?  I know there is more to the story than I was told) and was refusing to return, even after she threatened to stop fighting me for custody if he didn't return. Supposedly he told her to go ahead, so she did.

I still wasn't buying after 5 years of "almost over"s. This morning I got a copy of my final judgment, and I am STILL having a hard time believing it.  I have custody of a child who is missing, my mother supposedly knows where he is staying (with a friend from school and his parents) but instead of just telling me where that actually IS, she says "the school has the information"

It all seems so crazy. What am I supposed to do next? I'll need to go to the courthouse and get a certified copy of the order so that I can go to the school and change his info in the system and see if they actually have the address where he is staying and if they do, if they will tell me what the address is.  And then what? THIS is what Seminole County finally gives me, and my son, after YEARS of turmoil? An essentially non-enforceable judgment for a child I can't even locate that has less than two years until he's 18. I began court proceedings asking for assistance with visitation when he was TEN. I find this to be completely unacceptable. And if they'll do it to me, they'll do it to others. How many other lives has Seminole County ruined in the past 5 years?