After discovering her husband was a crossdresser, Andrea knew she needed to get away, she needed time to think. So she left with her two children and went back to her home town. There she made the decision not to return to her husband. Five months later, Andrea was in court arguing for child custody. She lost the first round but three months later, following a custody evaluation, she got her girls back. It’s impossible for me to include all the details but the following will give you enough to be able to put yourself in her shoes. Here’s Andrea:
Even though my attorney had raised the crossdressing issue, the judge ordered the girls back to where we lived and the judge said to me,
“If you want to come back up, you can have primary custody and you will share custody 50-50.”
I said, “Nope, I’m not coming back.”
She said, “This is your last chance.”
I said, “Nope, not coming back.”
Then someone said something to the judge and she immediately ordered a custody evaluation. She said,
“I’m granting respondent’s order for a custody evaluation,”
and his attorney at the same time said,
“I’m withdrawing that request.”
She said, “Well I’m ordering it on my own, then.”
My ex and his attorney both said it was too soon, it wasn’t needed but she said,
“Well you thought you needed it up until five minutes ago. I’m ordering a custody evaluation and anyone who doesn’t cooperate with this custody evaluation or tries to delay it, I will find them the unfit parent.”
So the girls went with him, and they spent eleven horrific weeks with him.
I would see them on the weekends, and he never once gave them a bath at his house the entire time, because it was too expensive. They would go to school without lunch, without having eaten breakfast. One time the school called him and said “you need to bring (my middle daughter) lunch” and he brought her a banana that had been half eaten. I’m not talking cut off, I’m talking he had been eating it when they called and he stuffed it in a bag and brought it to her, and that was her lunch that day. They would go to school without uniforms, so they were digging through the dirty clothes because you can’t go to class unless you’re in uniform. He’s not really interested in being a parent, he’s only interested in saying he’s a parent.
They did the custody evaluation and came back and said that
- he has borderline personality disorder and is a narcissist,
- he was not an involved dad on any level,
- he needed to work on his parenting skills,
- he seemed not to know what the kids need,
- the girls had always relied on me for everything and that it was damaging to both of the girls to have been away from me for as long as they were,
- the girls should be returned to me, basically immediately,
- he could have two weekends a month, four weeks in the summer, a week at Christmas and half of Thanksgiving.
My attorney said she’d never actually seen another parent who doesn’t live there get so little custodial time. So he got pretty much slammed.
When I left, my husband cut off immediately all my access to any money, credit cards, any money, and I didn’t get any money from him until about three days before we went to court in March. How heartbreaking is that, too? Literally, if it had not been for my dad, I would have been forced to go back to that, and can you imagine my life after that? It’s shocking, isn’t it? What women have to go through?
The Divorce Coach Says
What would you do? Would you have gone back to be with your kids? Each situation is different but Lisa had to move to another state before her ex stopped his stalking and harassment and Grace also had to leave her son.
This is an impossible situation and one that I fear any woman in an abusive situation faces. Andrea hadn’t disclosed her whereabouts to her husband – she was afraid of him. Moving back, even if she rented temporary accommodation would have increased the probability of him finding out where she was. And yet the judge orders the children back to her husband? I’m sure there’s a basis in law for the ruling but this just underscores how some custody arrangements, even temporary ones, make no sense.
And there’s the money issue again … if you know or suspect your marriage is in trouble, you must start taking steps to protect yourself financially.