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As explained in earlier blogs, my husband’s ex-wife loves to go to court. Every time we turn around we’re getting a notice about appearing in court for something related to her. Our recent experience, however, is turning out to be a little different. I firmly believe the outcome will ultimately be the same, but the process is going a little differently. This time we went to court only to be ordered by the Judge to go to a mediator before coming back to court.  Huh?? I thought mediation was to prevent you from going to court in the first place. Usually if mediation isn’t successful, you go to court, right?? Well apparently this particular Judge had a different idea.  

 

Although I can’t go into detail about this particular issue, I will say that we are fighting because K (husband’s son) did something that was a definite cause for concern. As such, we (my husband and I) wanted him to attend counseling. Often times a child will tell a third party, who he doesn’t know, something that he won’t tell his parents. We just wanted to be certain that he could communicate his feelings without feeling embarrassed. His mother was completely opposed to the idea; stating that it would make him think that he’s crazy, thereby causing long-term damage to his mental health. However, we felt that ignoring (acting like it didn’t happen) the situation could result in long-term damage to his mental health. After 8 months of arguing about this, both in and out of court, what are 2 hours with a mediator going to do to drastically change the opinions of either party?? It’s a big waste of time and money!

 

What is mediation?

The mediator remains neutral between both parties. That means the mediator can’t give advice to either party, and also can’t act as a lawyer for either party.

What the mediator can do, though, is to point out in open session to both parties things that each of them should be aware (They are aware, but they just don’t care) of about what they’re trying to accomplish. That open and free exchange of information frees up both parties to negotiate with each other in confidence. Because both parties are working with the same base of information, it usually takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense to both parties. 

Yeah, right! Whoever came up with this obviously doesn’t know my husband and his ex-wife. Mediation may work for some couples who are having issues with divorce and co-parenting, but it definitely isn’t a one size fit all approach to resolving these types of issues. That definition above mentioned that because both parties are working with the same base of information, it usually takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense. Are you kidding me?? The problem is rarely misinformation; it’s usually how the parties interpret that information that presents the issue. I just don’t think mediation works if both parties aren’t willing to be the least bit reasonable. The problem with most divorced couples is that unwillingness to let go of emotional baggage in order to resolve the real issues. Often times holding on to this baggage allows certain people to make every issue about them, instead of focusing on the real issue – co-parenting the child/ren. Therefore, if those individuals can’t let go of that baggage, then compromise can’t and often times, doesn’t exist.

 

I’m in no way suggesting that mediation doesn’t work. I am simply saying that it doesn’t work for everyone. I actually believe that mediation would work for me and my ex because our relationship isn’t and never has been as volatile as my husband’s relationship with his ex. He (my ex) definitely has done and does some things that I don’t agree with, but, at this point, we are both still willing to try and understand where the other is coming from. Additionally, we both know that being at each others’ throats IS NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR CHILD. No matter how often we disagree and how different our approaches are to parenting, we know that we owe it to him to ALWAYS put forth the best effort that we can to communicate our issues in a civil manner. Children of divorce and blended families deserve parents that will always consider their best interest. They deserve parents that communicate with a level head, in a civilized manner. They deserve parents that will let go of the past in order to help their children move toward the future. They deserve parents who get along! I guess sometimes, even reasonable adults need a mediator to tell them that. For now, read my blog and save some money…LOL!!

 

It seems as if my husband and I are always confronting some type of legal issue because his ex-wife frequently throws temper tantrums. They are so frequent that if we don’t hear from her or her attorney for a couple of months, our extended family starts questioning whether or not she’s feeling okay. I swear she makes it her life’s goal to ruin our lives. She does this every time she doesn’t get her way.

Before I start giving you examples of her childish behavior, I should mention that we live in separate states (about 3 hours away from each other).  In the beginning my husband and I would sign both of our children up for extra curricular activities (basketball, baseball, tae kwon do, etc). Well when she found out she started complaining that she was not invited. She said that she is his mother, and should be invited to all of her child’s activities. Keep in mind that her child (we’ll call him K from now on) does the same sort of activities where they live, and she and her husband attend those activities. So, she is not missing out on K’s extra curricular activities. Furthermore, we can’t be in the same room with each other without arguing, mean mugging or just good old fashioned tension, and lots of it. So why would she want to come to the activities that we plan for him? Why – because she wants to be difficult, and that’s the only reason why.  Trust me when I say she is not that in love with her child. She wasn’t concerned about these things before I came along. We attended several activities, without her, prior to her finding out that I was here to stay. However, she threw a temper tantrum, and took us to court demanding that she receive a schedule of all of his activities that we sign him up for. I should also mention that she’s an attorney so it’s easy for her to draw up a legal document, call one of her friends and have the Judge rule in her favor. The justice system is not as just as you think it is, but that’s another story. As a result, we just stopped signing K up for extra curricular activities. She thought she was hurting us, but in the end, as you can see, she only hurt her child. Now he watches my son (we’ll call him M) while he participates.

We are still battling it out in court (about 5 years now) over visitation. She gets one month in the summer and we get 2. We initially we got him in June and July and she got him in August. However, when she realized we were happy with that arrangement, she had to make sure she put a stop to that. I think she sends out a “happy radar” every now and then. If she sees that we are all content in our neck of the woods, she has to stop it. At any rate, she petitioned the court to request that she get July and we get June and August. Her reasoning behind this ridiculous request was that K had to attend summer camp (not summer school). We were confused as to why he couldn’t attend summer camp with us like he had been doing. But, she claims that he needed time with his friends. I could have sworn that he spends time with his friends all year, and time with friends shouldn’t be priority over visitation with your father, but once again, the Judge ruled in her favor. So we don’t see him in July or August, and we only get him in June. Once again, she thinks that she’s hurting us, but she is hurting her child more.

  Before you start assuming that we are being difficult, let me explain. Our state starts school at the beginning of August (7th), and K’s school doesn’t start until the beginning of September (after Labor Day). So, for an entire month there is no where for him to go. M is in school, we’re at work; our mom’s are both teachers so they’re in school; my dad is dead; my husband’s dad lives about 18 hours away; and there are no summer camps. As a result, don’t you think it makes more sense for us to have him in June and July and she get him in August? Because the rest of the kids, where they live, are out of school one would logically assume that there is somewhere for him to go there.

Having said that, we still tried to compromise. She suggested that her grandparents and parents keep him during the day, and we get him at night and on the weekends. I countered that by suggesting that we just get him on the weekends. Our children are now both 11 years old, and the beginning of the school year is difficult for any child. You have to get back into your groove after being away all summer. So, having K return after being gone for a whole month would pose a distraction for M. Keep in mind that they are both the same age, and are only children within their respective households. So, when they get together they want to play because they haven’t seen each other for a whole month. I didn’t want my child’s sleep patterns to suffer due to  the excitement. Furthermore, the fact that we are having to compromise is ridiculous. There’s no need to go through all of this when there’s a better solution – we get him in June and July and she gets him in August.

And so, the battle continues, and honestly, I think K will be out of school by the time this matter is solved.  I hope that those difficult baby mama’s out there will read and learn from this. Your tactics do more harm to your child than they do to your ex. K misses out on extra curricular activities, and has minimal time with his father because his mother can’t deal with her own issues. 

I realize that this situation is tough as I experienced certain feelings when I realized that my ex and I were definitely over. Even though I was with a man that I was completely in love with, you must realize that I shared a strong history with my ex, including our child. I also had to face the fact that I could no longer give my child what every child wants at some point in their lives, and that is for their parents to be together again. When he said he was getting married, that was confirmation for me, and it kind of hurt. However,  as stated in my Wives Wars article, “you must deal with your own issues in a way that doesn’t affect those around you, especially your children.”  I knew that I couldn’t let my feelings affect me doing what’s best for my child, and that was to help him get used to another type of family – the blended family. I wanted him to realize that everyone of his parents (mom, dad, stepmom and stepdad) share a special place in his life, and although things would not be as they were before, they could still be really good, maybe even better.  This means that the adults have to realize their places in the child’s life. You won’t be that full-time father if you’re not in the house full- time.  You have to share those responsibilties with the child’s stepfather. Additionally, as a mother, you can’t be fully thrusted into every aspect of your child’s life because you have to share him with his father and his stepmother. As long as everyone respects each other as parents, and realizes their respective place in the child’s life, the child can and often will adjust.

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