The Weekend Before Family Court

After all of our dealing with the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and the psych evaluator, I was convinced that I was about to lose custody of my children.  My lawyer said there was a good possibility that my family would even travel a thousand miles to testify against me in person and, if they did, I would be sunk.  He said that even though I had only seen my family once a year for a few weeks, their words would carry more weight than my friends’ words. Even though my friends had seen me at least twice a week for the past couple years, my family mattered more simply because they’re the children’s family.

I had the weekend to prepare to say good-bye to my children while simultaneously trying to work out a last minute settlement with Bubba about our possessions (which were already divided), our debt, and alimony.  Child support would be based on a worksheet and wouldn’t be negotiable.  We weren’t going to talk about custody because we’d wait to see what the GAL and psych evaluator had to say.

Basically, everything that Bubba proposed in our settlement, I accepted.  That meant that I’d be taking on the debt from his retainer, all my own lawyer fees (even though he drove up the cost by fighting me tooth and nail for the previous 6 months instead of working with me on any one of the five settlement offers I gave him when I filed), half of the GAL’s and psych evaluator’s fees, and zero alimony.

It wasn’t worth it to me to fight him on anything.  The only thing I cared about was getting custody of my kids.

As my lawyer talked to me that Friday afternoon about what we were going to fight for, I told him I’d accept pretty much whatever Bubba wanted as long as it meant I’d get to keep my kids.  He knew we were in a tight spot.  We could fight for Bubba to take on some of my lawyer’s fees and for him to pay alimony but it was a crapshoot.  Bubba could already have my family on their way to testify against me.

My lawyer asked what my bottom line was.  It was the same thing it had been the first time I met with him.  Custody of the children.  I would take on whatever debt I had to, be dealt the crappiest hand in the divorce – nothing mattered to me except keeping my children safe.

Since I thought this would be the last weekend I’d have with the kids in safety, I pretty much spent the weekend curled up with them, watching movies and just enjoying being with them.

Inside I was grieving my freedom and my safety.  I was mentally making lists and preparing to move back with Bubba, if the judge gave him custody.  I would rather live with Bubba and my children that have them with him full-time, unprotected.  I could feel myself retreating into my head and it scared me.  I started making plans to drive to Luke’s.  If I was going to go back to Bubba, I was going to give myself a few days with Luke so that I would have some good memories to get me through the next decade of my life.

I thought that I’d get Shane to adulthood then divorce Bubba once my children were safely out of Bubba’s hands.  I didn’t even share any of these plans with Arcadia, Maria, or Endellion.  I held these thoughts close to my heart because I knew my friends would try to talk me out of it and all I cared about was my kids.  My life meant nothing if they were in harm’s way every day.  I kept quiet and I planned.

Bubba and I came to an agreement the day before our court date.  We also got the GAL’s and the psych evaluator’s reports which were absolutely ugly.  It was very obvious that I was not believed, the children were not believed, and Bubba came out smelling like a freshly blooming rose.

The GAL was recommending custody to me although she had “grave reservations” about that recommendation because she believed I was actively trying to turn the children against their father.

The psych evaluator’s report was unbelievable.  She twisted everything that my friends had said into things that made no sense and were sometimes the complete opposite of what my friends had said.  She absolutely believed everything that was said about me by my family and former friends (remember the ones I hadn’t seen in five years?)  She stated in her report that I had homicidal and suicidal ideations and that she thought I was depressed.

The psych evaluator blamed my alleged depression for the break-down of my marriage – even though Bubba admitted to being on anti-depressants and being under a psychiatrist’s care.  Her closing paragraph was the most confusing of all.  After her entire report she concluded that Bubba had anger issues and domestic violence issues but that she was concerned about me having custody.

Neither of these so-called professionals assigned any responsibility to Bubba.  Everything was my fault.  It was mind-boggling.

I spent the weekend soaking up time with my children.  I was saying silent good-byes to them.  I was grieving my freedom.  I was preparing myself mentally to put the part of myself that had worked so hard to heal to sleep so that I could get through another decade of living with Bubba.  I knew that if it came to it and I moved back in with him, he would escalate to unimaginable levels of abuse.

I was trying work out in my head how I was going to be able to let Bubba touch me.  The very thought of him touching me made me want to vomit and I knew one of my punishments would be in the bedroom.  I knew absolutely that I’d never be allowed to say no again – that the punishments would escalate into physical violence.  I had no doubt about what I was preparing to walk into.

I was preparing to live in hell.  What other choice would I have?  I couldn’t let my children go live with him without me.

If my children had to live in hell, then I would go with them and protect them as much as I was able.

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