Non-custodial Mom With Autistic Kids

I was married to a controlling, psychologically abusive man for 16 years. During that time, I had to endure guilt over talking to friends and family, belittlement, and head games. Two beautiful children came out of that marriage, and my oldest from my first marriage had siblings. My now ex made good money, I worked when I wanted (if I wanted), and there were few material things I wanted. Seemed like a charmed life....to everyone else. The ugliness of reality reared its head almost every night.

Making good money came at a price. Family became secondary, and his paranoia over whether I was being faithful came more into play as time went on. At that time, I was faithful to a fault. Despite him developing diabetes and nerve neuropathy that put an end to intimacy for the last seven years of marriage, I remained faithful. When approached about pleasing me, he told me that I wasn't "getting mine" if he wasn't "getting his". After this happened, his paranoia grew stronger every day as he feared I was being intimate with someone else. The suffocation and constant questioning made me feel like a prisoner.

After our children were diagnosed, he worked while I stayed at home working with therapists and going to psychological evals for the kids. It was exhausting, but seeing my kids thrive was worth it. He did very little to help around the house or giving me respite when he was home.

In 2009, I posted a profile on Facebook looking for friends. I wasn't allowed to socialize outside of his sanctioned parameters, so I decided to look up friends I had gone to school with. Even though the contact was in cyberspace, I was talking to people I hadn't seen in years who didn't insult or degrade me. I was happy. Until the hubby found out I was chatting with other people. Then he got REALLY paranoid.

An old boyfriend of mine contacted me. We were both married with families, but the b/f still professed a love that burned for over 20 years. What began as an affair of the heart in cyberspace ended with one night together. Little did I know that I had been followed by a private investigator for quite a while, even before making contact with the b/f. I only found this out when hubby called b/f's cell the next morning. He then called the b/f's wife. It was very ugly. That was the last contact I've had from someone who claimed to love me 20 years after breaking up.

I'm not justifying what I did by any means. I now realize I was extremely lonely and starved for attention. I did the one thing I KNEW I would never be forgiven for. I thought I was free.

During the divorce process in 2010, our son, then 15, decided to live with his dad, and I moved into a place with our daughter about 10 minutes from our marital home. We thought we were being civil insofar as we allowed each other to see the kids as much as possible. I met a wonderful man (who I am now engaged to) who readily accepted the kids and tried his very best to get along with the ex. After a year of only seeing each other on weekends, we decided to move to the next county to have better access to his work and services my kids may need. That's when things went very wrong.

My ex filed for and got a writ of ne exeat, preventing me from moving with our daughter. With a lease signed and a transfer in place, I moved while keeping her over the summer until a custody hearing in the county of his residence.

In August of 2011, my petition of relocation was denied, and he was granted primary physical custody with my visitation set at every other weekend. I cried until I puked. My fiance was equally devastated. We leaned on each other and moved forward.

Christmas was a debacle. The ex said he would NOT miss Christmas morning with HIS kids. I reminded him of our court order, and Christmas fell on my weekend. I had tried to negotiate a reasonable arrangement that allowed BOTH of us to have some time on Christmas. He defied a court order and refused to bring the kids to me until he felt I deserved it. 6 p.m. on Christmas Day until 9 a.m. the following Tuesday (less than 48 hrs) was all I got. Even then, our son didn't come to my house. He has been alienated from me by the ex and allowed to say very vulgar and nasty things to me, the woman who carried him for 9 months and was there for every football game, school party, and school concert. We continue to have a very complex relationship. Despite everything, I love him unconditionally. Following Christmas, I filed a petition for contempt (I represent myself. Can't afford a lawyer and make too much for free or reduced legal aid.) and got the ex convicted for contempt in front of the same judge who took my daughter away from me. He was given a strong lecture. I was shocked.

In January of this year, our son was in a car accident. He had hit a tree, and there was airbag deployment. He called me to tell me just after it happened. He said his leg hurt, and his lip was swelling from getting caught by the airbag. I was sick with worry. While on the phone with him, I could hear my ex screaming at him to hang up and help get the car on the truck. They were sanitizing the scene without calling the police or an ambulance. The next day, my son told me that he didn't remember much before the accident. I asked him if his dad had taken him to the hospital, and he replied "no". I offered to come get him and take him as I suspected a slight concussion. The ex must've been listening because as soon as my son said he didn't remember anything, the ex started yelling and my son started backpedalling, telling me to forget he said it. I called Child Welfare. Who withholds medical attention from their children in cases like that??? Nothing ever came of the situation.

My daughter came very close to failing school after a year in dad's care. I filed another petition for relocation based on the fact that she did much better in my care, and her school district has been given a warning by the Dept of Education for not meeting basic testing scores. We are in a VERY good school district where we live. My petition was denied as the judge told me I should've filed a modification of custody since there was an order already in place. I went across the hall and did just that.

Last week, I attended a conciliation conference with a mediator regarding my modification petition. My ex had been ordered to have the kids there, but they were nowhere. That should've been another contempt charge for him. Nope. It was as if he and his attorney (a very expensive one) knew ahead of time that there were no repercussions. The hearing officer refused to look at one piece of evidence I had and said that it should've been a relocation petition. I explained what happened earlier in the summer, and was chastised and given a scolding for representing myself. The officer called me a fool and told me I had one strike against me for being pro se. I couldn't believe what was happening. My fiance told me to report the officer to the bar association. I can't do that. Why? Because the Vice Chair of the county bar association is none other than the hearing officer himself. Does anyone really believe that he's going to sanction or censure himself? Not in this lifetime.

I decided to turn anger to action. I contacted the media and emailed my federal representative looking for at least somewhere I might be able to turn to. I can do my own legwork, I just needed a starting point. I have heard nothing.

This past Monday, the 10th of September, my ex called me at work to tell me he was taking our daughter to the emergency room of the local hospital from her pediatrician's office. She was in respiratory distress with a severe asthmatic episode. Two weeks earlier, he had her to the doctor saying that she had yellow discharge from her nose. The doctor said it was allergies and gave her meds. After two weeks with no improvement, the ex sent her to school with a low grade fever and made an appointment for later that afternoon. By the time she was picked up, she was fighting to breathe.

The ex called me back shortly after his initial call to tell me that she was being transferred to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. I left work, went home and packed a bag, and headed straight there. She was in the ER when I arrived. From the ER, she was transferred to the ICU in order to have her continually monitored and receive specialized treatments. She remained there for 3 days before being transferred to a regular room. The diagnosis was acute pneumonia that triggered the asthma. The ex tried to blame the pediatrician for a misdiagnosis, but I made sure he understood that it was his neglect over two weeks that was to blame. He fell silent. And here I am today.

I am extremely frustrated that I can't seem to get ANYONE who can help me give my daughter better care and attention than he can to LISTEN TO ME. I'm angry, hurt, and cry like a baby every time she goes back. She also cries, hugs me until I can't breather, and tells me how much she's going to miss me. I wish I knew where to turn to help reunite us. The court system is in my ex's pocket, CYS does nothing, and I can't afford to hire a lawyer. Where do people in my situation turn?

I will NEVER give up fighting for what's best for her. My son will be graduating high school in the spring, so the issue is really my daughter. She's 12 and will be needing me to explain the transition to womanhood. But if the ex has his way, the mother and child reunion will never occur.

Thank you for listening to my story. I hope and pray that we all find peace and the answers we are all seeking. May God bless you.
rainmom rainmom
41-45, F
2 Responses Sep 15, 2012

I hope your situation is better. My heart goes out to you.

I just read your story and it does sound eerily similar to mine both having ex's who are just evil, but hitting a road block with the family court system, thats just an even bigger challenge in its itself...uhg! I hope and pray it all works out for you and your daughter, thoughts are with you.
-Mamabutterfly