Grace’s comment about her children never staying with her ex, caught my attention because it’s very rare that courts will block a parent from parenting time. So I asked her what their parenting schedule looked like. Here’s Grace:
He was supposed to have them every other weekend and half the summer, every other holiday, the standard custody arrangement but he refused to take them. The week after the divorce was final, I said,
“What weekend do you want the kids?”
“I’m not going to take them.”
“Well you asked to.”
“No, that law is designed to protect my rights, but I don’t have to,”
and he wouldn’t. He never had them.
So when my son decided to go live with him, I thought it would only last two weeks, it would cramp my ex’s lifestyle. Now, I believe that my ex has my son living with him, not because he so loves having his child, but because he believes that he’s winning because he’s got something I want.
In the state of Georgia, the law is that at fourteen years old, a child can decide where they want to live, so my son could tomorrow say “come get me” and we’ve had that conversation,
“You tell me, I’ll be there in five hours.”
So my ex knows that my son could tell him he doesn’t want to live with him anymore.
My children suffered greatly at the hands of my ex, and my girls, they’ve had a hard time, but they’ve come out of it and they’re really, really great people. I think they had to grow up faster than I would have liked, and they were exposed to things that I would have preferred them not to be. I don’t want to stand here and pat myself on the back, but I think I did a very good job of parenting them when they were young and that’s going to stay with them.
My ex lives with the girlfriend who he was seeing when I divorced him, and she’s just not a great person, but I think my son knows what’s right because I did a good job as a mom when he was a kid.
They’ve all suffered but I think they’re doing alright.
The Divorce Coach Says
I’ve had guests tell me that their ex’s sought more parenting time because it meant less in child support payments – read about Megan here and Julia here. Megan also shared that her ex will only help if one of their children is sick if it’s on his parenting time. I’ve had guests tell me that they’ve become more flexible with the parenting schedule over time as they and their ex have settled into their new co-parenting relationship. Read about Holly here.
But I think Grace’s story is the first time I’ve heard of a father refusing to take his agreed parenting time. That must be so hurtful to his children. Maybe at some point in the future he’ll be able to have a relationship with his children but the longer he leaves it, the harder it will be.
When Grace and I talked, she didn’t need to detail how her kids had suffered – I’d just read her post Eviction or Excision and I had a really good sense of the rejection they felt. Please do spend a few minutes and read this post because coming next is Grace talking about her of vengeance.
And I absolutely love that Grace can give herself the recognition for doing a good job as a mom. I love that she can say that out loud, with strength and conviction. Grace – I think your children are lucky to have you in their lives.