Escaping a domestic violence situation may have been the hardest thing I have ever done, but my life is 100x better because of it. My ex-husband was a sad, bitter man. The kind of person who always thought everything in life was out to get him, so he took his anger and frustration out on me physically. After 9 long years of marriage, I decided that I finally had enough.
When we got divorced, I thought that most of our problems were over. He had gotten violent with me a handful of times throughout our marriage, it would mostly be open-handed slaps in the face, with the occasional grabbing that would leave small bruises the next day. He hadn’t touched me in a long time by the time we agreed to get a divorce, our marriage had just completely fallen apart. You could say it fell apart when he started hitting me, but we were hardly on speaking terms when I moved out.
We decided my daughter would stay living with him until the end of the school year, another 2 months, before deciding what to do next. I told my lawyer about our agreement and he said that would be fine, any custody agreement could come into effect after school was done for the year, but that he figured nothing would be hammered out before then anyway.
About a week before school let out I went to my lawyer’s office to give him some documents to help him build my case for alimony, custody, and child support. What he told me was truly shocking: MY EX WANTED FULL CUSTODY AND WANTED ME TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT!
What was even more shocking was my lawyer telling me his case wasn’t without merit. I had moved 10 miles away, out of the school district, closer to work, and I was making more money than he was. He worked out of the house and could be extremely flexible with his hours, whereas I could not. My lawyer said it might look to a judge that I wasn’t concerned enough about my daughter’s well being by moving so far away. I was also asked if I had any skeletons in my closet, at all, and that anything could be used against me for the custody hearing. I didn’t think I did, and the first hearing was scheduled.
I wanted to confront my ex so badly about what he was doing, he was trying to shut me out of our daughter’s life.
The morning of the first hearing came and we both plead our cases. I told the judge about the violence, and how I just wanted equal custody, that I would be more than willing to move back into the school district.
My ex told the judge that I smoked weed and actively talked to a convicted drug dealer. Sure enough, he had an affidavit from a (former after this) female friend of mine that I had taken a hit from a joint last year. Before that, I had smoked weed maybe 5 times total in college, and only that one time since then. Facebook wall posts between myself and an old friend who had done some time in prison for selling weed was also presented as evidence. My lawyer and I were both taken back by everything.
Another hearing was scheduled for the next month. Throughout this process, my daughter was spending 3-4 days a week with me, and 3-4 days a week with him. He texted me where I could pick her up a couple of days later. Usually, my daughter would see me pull up, run to me while yelling “MOMMY!”, and we would go back to my apartment. This time though, they were outside of an ice cream shop, and he was talking to a friend.
As I walked up, I heard the familiar “MOMMY!”, but he didn’t let go of her hand. I immediately told him to let her go, but he refused, saying that we needed to talk about where she was going to go the next week. She was trying to pull away so I yelled “LET HER GO” as I brought my fist down hard on his arm. He pushed me back and I tripped on the curb, falling onto the road. I called the police and they were there within minutes. I told them exactly what happened while another officer got his side of the story. We were separated, my daughter was with me, when the officer comes up to me and tells me I need to stay away from my ex. Supposedly since I got physical first, he was within his rights to defend himself.
My ex, who is much bigger than me, pushed me down, after I know I didn’t hurt him, my daughter screaming for me, and I feel as though I am the one in trouble.
We stayed away from each other until the next custody hearing, our only communication was through text, only to tell each other when and where to pick my daughter up. On the day of the hearing, my ex’s lawyer played surveillance video of the incident. He then proceeded to paint a picture of me as a drug-abusing, violent monster, when in reality, my ex was the only person who ever put their hands on anyone during our marriage.
It worked. I now get to see my daughter every other weekend and 4 holidays of my choosing a year. To add insult to injury, I also have to pay him $650 a month in child support. The family court system in America is in dire need of reform. A mother should never have to see her child raised by the same monster who destroyed his own marriage. A mother is always going to be more nurturing and concerned with their child’s well being than the father. Someday, I hope my daughter sees my ex for what he truly is, and knows the truth about who cares about her the most.