Taking A Stand: Family Court
Yesterday, I went to court. I got the courage to finally stand for what I believe in, justice. While justice isn’t easily obtained, especially in current events with the senseless killings, I was going to stand up for myself. Since the birth of my child, I have been a 'single' mom, even while in my previous relationship. I did all the work. Too many times people are quick to say, "Well, you're the mother. That's what you're supposed to do." I call bullshit. While having a child wasn't in my plans, it happened and I stepped up to the plate. I love my child, but I did not create her by myself. I'll admit, I was very naive. I thought I could change him. I thought if I stuck it out, like so many women beforehand, things would get better. It did not. I had a child with someone I knew wasn't ready for that kind of commitment. I saw the signs early, and ignored them because I was already too far along.
Here are some real truths: Just because you are the custodial parent (child lives with you), does not mean you can make legal decisions (like obtaining a passport) or move out-of-state, without consent of the other parent. If both parents are on the birth certificate, then you both have equal amounts of jurisdiction over the child's well being. When both parents find that "happy place" to raise their child together, things are pretty harmonious. However, if that is not that case, your hands are tied until you have sole custody, or legal documentation to make any major decisions in regards to the child. As a mother, I needed protection. I wanted to make sure I could make those decisions without having to fight. I believe in fairness, and I've always been open about any decisions considered.
This isn't a post to bash the father of my child, or men (or mothers who don't take care of their responsibilities). This is me letting you know to not be afraid, to go out and get your justice. In my opinion, parenthood was not designed to be put on the shoulders of one person. If you have the opportunity to get help then do it. It took situations like this for me to know my strength. I know I did nothing wrong but give a voice to my child. I've forgiven her father, but that does not change my views on parental responsibilities. It is not for me to pass judgment on a person's character; I can only be accountable for myself.
If this is something you're considering, please make sure it's about the child, and not vengeance. The court system has sometimes failed those who have done right, but fell victim to a parent seeking revenge. Things always work out better when you have taken the higher road. Preparing for court, write down everything. I got some legal advice to write out a "custody plan," and how I wanted it to be. This helped me be clear, and focus on the most important factor, my child. Her relationship with her father is important to me, and I hope they can continue to build. Unfortunately, I did not keep receipts. I advise everyone, men and women, to keep receipts, even just for tax purposes. This will help make everything clear on who paid for what, and the amounts. Court isn't emotional, it's about facts, and facts don't lie.
The process was long. I waited for 6 hours before my case was tried. However, I remained patient. It really takes courage to get in front of someone who's essentially a stranger and talk about personal business. What made it worse was we had to do it in a room full of strangers; our cases were tried together. Both parents are scrutinized. The questions asked are to shake you up, and can make you feel inferior. Like, "If it were that bad, why didn't you file sooner?” I felt speechless at times. I'd never been to court, and I didn't know what to expect. I guess it's a scare tactic to see who's telling the truth. Either way it had to be done. Don't give up hope.
I walked into the courtroom with the strength of all my ancestors, and any parent who've been in this situation. It was not easy, but now I am free.