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Monday, February 22, 2010

The lies.

The amount of lies that I've had to sort through during this whole ordeal is mind-boggling. Especially coming from a pastor, his wife and the slanderous ways she talked about me with her mom and friends on a public forum. By the way, I'm just a 'bio' mom that was just a womb, I'm not a real mother. Very Christian.

Despite the fact that I haven't lied and do not lie and did not lie at any point during this whole situation- Danny's dad wanted to claim that I used sriracha hot sauce and gave Danny a whole teaspoon full, claiming that Danny said so. I tried to explain that Michael uses sriracha on his food and that he often has the bottle on the table at dinner but at no time did I ever use sriracha as punishment, that I used Texas Pete and ONLY two drops on a spoon that Danny put in his own mouth. He still contends that I used sriracha and even had his attorney challenge me on the stand to eat the amount that my ex claims I gave Danny (I told him I would if he required it). They (my ex and his wife) made Danny pick out hot sauces at a grocery store! Of course I can't say that Danny is mistaken about the hot sauce because then I'm telling my ex that Danny is a liar.

"to say otherwise is to call our son a liar.  Is that what you are doing, calling Danny a liar?  Yes, I did that and would not hesitate to do it again.  I want you to know that, so hopefully, that will keep Danny safe."
I do not recommend using hot sauce in any form, any amount as punishment for anything. In fact the only forms of discipline we use are time outs, loss of privileges and grounding. I will not allow any lack of communication and lack of involvement from the other co-parent damage our son in any way shape or form. I will continue to encourage a healthy relationship between Danny and his father. I will not put up with being mistreated or manipulated any more.

I've (and my attorney) uncovered more lies than I even anticipated I would. My ex lied on the witness stand so many times I stopped writing "not true" for my attorney and just kept circling the words. His father, another pastor, lied on the stand as well.

(Flashback 2009) I never did write about how I left him. My ex had two back surgeries within the last year of our marriage. He became dependent on the pain medicine and when his doctor cut him off, he started drinking up to four beers a night. For a normal person, that wouldn't be such a big deal although four beers is a lot in my opinion but he was self-proclaimed recovering alcoholic and attended Alcoholics Anonymous for years. Back when we were dating he said that I needed to attend Al-anon meetings just because I was dating him. When I realized he was drinking I became very concerned, especially since he is very verbally abusive as well. Not a good mix. I separated from him, moved him out of the master bedroom and into one of the other bedrooms in the parsonage we were living in. (The one we used for our schoolroom in fact.)

One day he was gone from the house but had left his computer on and his email logged in. I found an email from him to his younger brother asking for a quarter ounce. I was shocked and scared. I was working part-time at night so I could afford to leave him and I was very worried about the kids when I find an email where he's asking his brother for dope. I bought a digital recorder started recording conversations and I left the recorder on while I was at work so I could at least know what was happening while I was gone. I found his stash when I was cleaning the house one day, in a man's shaving kit in the hallway bathroom. I took pictures and found an attorney immediately. Not only was he using, he had brought it into the parsonage! I was trusting him to take care of the kids when I was at work!

For two weeks I took pictures until I could hire an attorney and get in front of a judge to get him removed from the house with an Ex Parte. It took me a week to get in front of a judge with an attorney whereas it took him hours to find a judge to do his bidding. I had to go to court, I didn't go to the judge's house and have papers signed outside of court.

Ex's wife wrote on her forum, "It was signed by the judge at his house, actually."

He denied the email he wrote to his brother, "that's not mine, I've never seen that before in my life," he testified. Then when my attorney showed him the pictures of the dope, he knew he had been caught, "yes that was mine." When my attorney asked where he got the dope from, he replied, "I plead the 5th."

Both my ex and his father (both pastors) testified that the district superintendent was the one who said for them to contact the judge on a Saturday. They accepted no personal responsibility for turning Danny's life upside down, it was the district superintendent's fault. What I would like to know is why the church is getting involved in such matters? Why does members of the ministry get access to public officials that the general public doesn't get access to? Just because you're a pastor, does that mean you're truthful? That you're not going to stretch the truth to suit your own selfish wants and desires?

Custody was not changed. Danny remains in my primary physical custody and continues to visit his dad every other weekend. The judge dismissed the petition, DSS has closed the case and life resumes. I continue to endure ex's rantings and lack of involvement in Danny's life. He interrogates Danny nightly about what is happening at our house. I'm in the process of trying to recoup the $4080.00 he owes me in back child support because he was supposed to pay for Danny's preschool year at the private school last year but refused to, court is next month.

This is the only area of my life that I have any strife. Camille has a wonderful supportive father and we co-parent Camille together. My husband Michael is fabulous, I couldn't ask for a better man, I can't say enough about him. He is my best friend, favorite companion and my Prince Charming. I have a wonderful job that I love and wonderful supportive friends. I have good solid relationships with my family, my husband's family and I am very grateful for all the blessings in my life. I would be more worried for Danny but he has strong, solid, good men in his life as father figures that teach by example as well as spend quality time with him. 

Writing about all this has been so healing. I didn't write about it for the longest time because I struggled with writing about someone else's sins. I didn't write about it because I didn't want my ex's actions to reflect upon the ministry as a whole. I didn't write about it because I was afraid of how he would use my words against me. I'm done being afraid. The truth is the truth is the truth. I've prayed for my ex and his new wife who is pregnant with their first child, I wish them happiness and health. I don't wish ill upon them at all although I may have been angry with them. I don't understand why things have to be so hard, I will continue to love and care for Danny with all my being and pray that he turns into a responsible loving man like my husband, Michael.

I will continue blogging at Our Blended Family. The chapter has closed on Trivium Academy and I'm leaving the blog up to be a resource for other homeschoolers. Thank you for reading. Murphy has left and life continues.

Co-Parenting Resources : Getting Free : Custody Battles



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tuesday, December 7th

Where did I leave off? Let's see, Friday's nightmare, the weekend and now the next week. I forgot to mention that on Monday morning, my ex sent me a text message that he'd put a stop payment on the child support check I had just deposited into our account. It seemed obvious to me that money was playing a large part of why he was doing this.

Wednesday night, we met the caseworker from the Department of Social Services. When I introduced myself to him I told him, "I don't think I've ever been so happy and scared at the same time to meet someone." He laughed. I was relieved to actually have someone to talk to about this insane situation and get some concrete answers as to what was going to happen. I knew I didn't have anything to worry about, I'm not a child abuser, no matter what my ex wanted to claim. Let's call the caseworker David. David came into our home, sat down in our living room and we talked for about 30 minutes about the events that had transpired. I showed him the documents, the stop payment text and he said right away that my ex was doing everything he could to get out of paying child support and that this was a legal case. He asked if I had a lawyer and if I was fighting him and I told David, "you betcha."

I asked David if he wanted to see the house, see Danny's room and he said yes. I took him around, he said- "it is obvious this is a very loving home and the kids are well taken care of, unfortunately I have to do my job but I don't see a reason for this case to be open at all." He said he felt it was a waste of time. I was relieved but also upset at the same time. My ex had contacted the Department of Social Services, emailed the director to get the ball rolling. He really didn't care about due process or the fact that the department of social services would NEVER have removed Danny from my custody. Yet, Danny was in Georgia being told that he was going to be living with Daddy (and his new wife) from now on.

My ex wouldn't even let me speak to Danny on the phone for almost a week. It wasn't until his lawyer told him to that he allowed me to speak to Danny and he made it known he was listening in and even recording the conversations. I tried to be normal with Danny, I talked to him about his day but didn't want to hear about his father- I read him his favorite books over the phone and tried to keep the conversation light. It was hard. From what Danny was saying, he was being told that he'd be living there from now on and how wonderful life would be at his dad's. His dad immediately got him involved in the church Christmas play, enrolled him in basketball but waited a week or so before enrolling him in school.

He actually asked me to WITHDRAW Danny from the elementary school he was attending here in South Carolina so he could enroll him in Georgia. Yeah, let me jump on that one...

I was a little busy doing research. It seems the judge that signed Petition of Custody is a member of same church Danny's dad's dad (Poppa) was a pastor of for six plus years. We had a hearing set for December 17, 2010 in which we would appear before the same judge and argue our cases. I was ready to fight but the fight had to be delayed when it was obvious that we wouldn't have a fair trial based on the fact the judge had some type of personal relationship with my ex or my ex's father. We had the hearing moved to another county in Georgia which only delayed the hearing.

Once the case was moved, I had my lawyer file for a dismissal of the Order of Nisi (the temporary custody order) and allow Danny to come home since my ex had just allowed Danny to visit unsupervised with us the week after Christmas. (Yeah, I'm that much of a threat...) The judge quickly reversed the temporary custody order and on January 5, 2011- Danny came home. One month after being gone! Almost a full two and half weeks of school missed. Tons of lies said and the list goes on. The final hearing was scheduled for February 4, 2011.

to be continued...



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday and Events After

Friday, December 3rd seemed like an ordinary day. The kids went to school, Michael and I went to work. Michael and I were working full time and so the kids would go from school to afterschool, which is where Danny's dad would pick him up to begin their weekend visitation. Around 2:40pm, I received a text from Danny's dad that he was waiting for Danny's school bus to arrive.

Around 6:40pm I was driving home from work and I received a call from Michael. "Babe, there's a police officer here who wants to talk to you." I asked to speak to him and was told that the officer wanted to talk to me in person. I told Michael I was still about 20 minutes away and would be there as soon as I could. I hung up the phone with my hubby and my mind started racing. Was Danny & his dad okay? Had there been an accident? I didn't want to start calling people to make sure they were alright just in case that isn't what the officer wanted to talk to me about. I thought about the woman whom I had to file a witness report about a few weeks earlier, wondered if it was about that.

By the time I got home, my mind needed a break. The officer has told Michael to call dispatch once I had arrived home so he could return knowing I was there. We waited and waited. About 20 minutes after I arrived home the officer returned to talk to me, I met him in the yard. "Ma'am, do you have a six year old son?" Gasp. "Yes." "Was he picked up by his father this afternoon?" Another gasp. "Yes, are they alright?" "Yes, ma'am. Did you give your son hot sauce as punishment?" I looked at the officer wondering what he was getting at but answered honestly, "yes, last night." "When was the last time you saw your son," he asked. "This morning at 6:45am when I kissed him good-bye for school. Why," I replied. "Did you son have a rash on his face at that time," he asked. "No he did not, there was nothing on his face. It was 30 degrees out this morning, he might have some chapping underneath his lip because he bites it but there wasn't anything on his face this morning," I answered.

Then he and I talked about using hot sauce as punishment and whether it was the same as using soap to wash a child's mouth out. The officer shared that one of his fellow officers puts hot sauce on their children's fingers to keep them from biting their nails. I asked him if I had anything to worry about and he said no. He was just told he needed to come ask me about Danny and file his report. The school hadn't called me, the afterschool place hadn't called me, what was this rash that the officer was talking about?

I called Danny's dad at that point. He asked me if I had given Danny hot sauce and I told him yes. He then exploded in an a "I got you!" way, throwing accusations and labels of abuse at me, "I have you on tape!" He was recording our phone conversation. I told him that he was blowing things way out of proportion and that he should have called me before calling the police. He then told me that he didn't call the police, a physician did. A physician? I asked him if Danny was alright and he said yes, except for the rash he had on his mouth that Danny was saying that came from the hot sauce I had given him the night before. I asked to see a picture of Danny, his dad refused. I asked to see the physician report, his dad refused. I told him again that he was blowing the situation way out of proportion and that all that was needed was a conversation between him and I about parenting techniques.

It was about 8:30pm at that point and Danny was three hours plus away in Georgia at his dad's house. I couldn't decide if I needed to go get him or not, I didn't want to cause Danny any stress by showing up to reclaim him because his dad was acting off his rocker and not giving me any information. I called the police department where his dad lives and asked for them to go to the house and check on Danny. The police officer went and called me back, said Danny was physically fine and a very happy child. He said that Danny asked him about being a police officer and said that Danny was watching tv when he arrived. Okay, my momma bear could calm down a little, he was fine although his dad seemed to have gone off the deep end.

The next day (Saturday), I went to work. I only work until about 2:30pm on some Saturdays and when I left that day I saw that I had a voicemail message and text message on my cell phone. The text message was gibberish sent by Danny's dad. The voicemail was clear, "I'm calling to inform you as per my attorney, Mr. Blankety Blank name of City, Georgia, that I will be in front of the Honorable Judge Whatshis where he is going to sign Danny over to me, full custody. You can fight it if you wish but until then, Danny is all mine." ON A SATURDAY AFTERNOON! I listened to that message about five times before it really sank in what was happening.

I called my parents and told them what was happening. They didn't understand how custody could be signed over on a weekend either. I called every government agency I could find in Georgia and South Carolina was unable to reach anyone. I called all day Saturday and Sunday and all I could reach is the police departments. The Georgia police department said that if my ex had been able to get a judge to sign a paper that it was legal.

In the Superior Court of                  County
State of Georgia

Civil Action, File # _____________

              , Plaintiff

              r, Defendant

Petition for Change of Custody

l. Comes now Plaintiff and files the following petition for a clange in custody of his
minor child, namely Daniel                , DOB               , which child is now
located in                , Georgia in a state of deprivation and abuse, and this court
has jurisdiction over the welfare of this child.

2. The parties were divorced in                , Georgia on or about                , 2009, a copy
of which is attached to and made "part of this petition" as Exhibit A.

3. The parties were awarded joint custody of the child with Defendant designated as
primary custodian. The child is now in the custody ofthe Plaintiff during regular
scheduled visitation and is found to be in a state of physical and emotional abuse,
suffered at the hand of the Defendant. The minor child was found to be suffering from
corporal punishment and Defendant has admitted to Plaintiffand to                ) that she administers hot
sauce which causes the child to break out in red splotches as a consequence. Plaintiff
contacted Defendant who readily admits that she administers hot sauce as punishment,
which conduct is abusive to the minor child and contrary to the appropriate care and
welfare of said child. Plaintiffis awaiting a complete investigation of this matter by local
authorities and is in need of an Order of Protection, pending such investigation requesting
that the minor child will remain in the custody of the Plaintiff pending further inquiry.
Petitioner shows that there has been a substantial change in circumstance, materially
affecting the welfare of said minor child. Plaintiff requests that the Defendant be ordered
to show just cause why said child has been placed in a state of deprivation and abuse and
why custody should not be changed to remain with Petitioner, wherefore Plaintiff that an
Order Nisi requiring Defendant to be and appear and show cause why custody should not
be awarded to and continue in Plaintiff and the Plaintiff have other relief as said best
interest in the child.

Sworn to and subscribed before me
this 4th day of December 2010

Signed by my ex, with Pro Se under his name and the Judge's signature. No civil action file number, no stamps of notary, no court stamp or anything to indicate it happened IN court. The police departments in Georgia and South Carolina said it was legal, it was highly unusual but legal.

This was emailed to me finally at 10:28pm on 12/4/2010. My ex still hadn't provided any pictures or physician report of Danny and was not answering my calls. He told me to direct all communication to his lawyer. A man that I called on Saturday afternoon and had no clue about a hearing with a judge but had talked to my ex earlier that day.

I called my police department and asked to speak to the same officer I had on Friday. He came back by our house and I showed him the Petition and what my ex was saying that I and he had said. The officer looked at it and said he didn't say those things in his report. He advised me to get a lawyer right away and to also go to the police station and get his copy of the report. He said that my ex had argued with him on the phone to arrest me on Friday night. Monday, I called around in Georgia to find a lawyer and to get as many answers as I could. I called all the government agencies again, only to find out that Georgia Department of Family Services didn't have a case against me, and that most people thought the entire situation to be out of the norm and very odd how a child's custody could be changed on the weekend.

Tuesday, we drove to Georgia to meet with lawyers. We hired one around 3pm on Tuesday. When we returned home from driving all day, we had a notice on the door that S.C.'s Department of Social Services had visited and wanted us to call. I called 4x and received no answer but left 4 messages. I got a call back a few hours later and made an appointment for the following day at 5:30pm to speak to the caseworker at our home.

to be continued....



The Door that let Murphy in

The story I'm about to tell is true. If it had involved different parties, maybe the story wouldn't need to be told at all because it would have been resolved quickly and would have just been a parenting misstep.

I don't think I'm any different than other parents that wish to raise responsible and caring children. I read parenting books, I've probably read more books about raising children, teaching morals & values, how to's of parenting than most. I still have a parenting book arsenal, one that I refer to when I feel the need.

Danny has always very spirited, I've written about getting fat lips from him head-butting me and his outbursts at times. He has a very strong will and a one-track mind. Last November, we were having one of those periods when he wants what he wants and he wants it right now and discipline with time-outs, grounding, and taking privileges away were not being very effective.

Danny can be very physical, a few times he and Camille had gotten into a physical argument over something trivial like who gets to use the #1 Wii remote. Camille being older (not much bigger) would rather just engage in a physical fight than to get me involved- the only time either of them like me to be involved is if one of them gets hurt and they want to stop and start pointing fingers at each other.

Danny has speech issues, he gets very frustrated when he's in a hurry to communicate or when things are happening faster than he can object to. Yelling is common when he is rushed or he feels some type of immediacy is needed. He also will flat-out refuse to listen and argue with having to stand in the corner or go into a time-out. In about mid-November, I had reached the point where the corner, time-outs and grounding was not very effective. The three months before Christmas is rough for us. Danny is very toy obsessed and it's only gotten it's very worst in the last year.

As a child of divorce, Danny gets to have two households, two separate families and on his Dad's side- that means a LOT of toys. He gets toys just for being at Dad's house from Dad, Poppa (Dad's dad) and even his stepmom's parents. I'm very conservative when it comes to toys, birthdays and Christmas with an occasional 'surprise' every now and then but not because a child demands a toy. Poppa is old-school, he equates loves with money and the more he can buy you, it means the more he loves you. Although I objected to the toy buying due to Danny's developing toy-obsession- my requests went ignored. What's wrong with getting him a toy? He's a good boy? He's my _______ and I'll buy him a toy if I want to.

Well Danny turned into a little Veruca (Willy Wonka). I want ____ and I want it right now! His impatience for waiting for Christmas was growing thin and my patience for his increasing outbursts was growing then as well. I reached into my parenting book arsenal and pulled a book out that I hadn't used in a long time.

Creative Correction
I had always appreciated the 'toolbox' organization of this book. I looked up a few different things to help me try new discipline techniques with Danny. As I read, I saw where I had already used quite a lot of the techniques such as if a child didn't wish to take care of their belongings, put them away for them (for awhile...) and when the child missed it, tell them they could have it once they showed they would take care of it.

To skip all the other techniques I tried in November from the book, I'll get to the one that created so many problems in our life. On page 151, there's a suggestion to spank your child's tongue with hot sauce for lying or disobedience of the tongue. It says to put a few drops on your finger and put your finger on your child's tongue.

Given that Danny's adversarial reaction to discipline was to yell at me and have a fit, I thought I would try it. I didn't feel comfortable sticking my hand in Danny's mouth or somehow forcing the hot sauce into his mouth in any way. I put two drops of Texas Pete hot sauce on a spoon and handed him the spoon to put in his own mouth. I had a glass of water on the counter for him ready. It worked. He didn't like it but it was quick and effective. Danny and I talked about what had happened and why he was being punished and what to do better next time like we always do. We hugged and he went back to playing.

Over the next week or so Danny had hot sauce one more time and the last time was December 2nd, Thursday night. Let me say that hot sauce was not my 'go-to' discipline, I tried time-out and taking privileges away first if the yelling and temper tantrum kept on that's when I would use the hot sauce. On Thursday night, the kids were playing in their playroom and I said it was time to clean up. Camille listened and then I heard yelling between them- Danny wasn't doing his share. I went to Danny and told him to start helping and he didn't want to but he did want Camille to get out of his way of the tv. He started yelling at her to move, she defiantly stood in front of the tv to block his enjoyment and then I turned the tv off and told them to clean together.

A spat or two later, Camille came and told on Danny for not only not helping but creating more of a mess because he didn't want to clean up. I put Danny in the corner and he wouldn't stay. I took away some of his toys which he then tried to rip out of my hands while yelling at me that they're his. Let's go to the kitchen...I gave him two drops of texas pete and he calmed down. He apologized and we hugged. Off to bed with the monkeys and the next morning I kissed Danny on the mouth twice at 6:45 am before sending him off to school.

to be continued...