My life was finally getting on track and the children were settling into the routine of going back and forth between their two homes. I felt like they were adjusting well and had both of their parents in their lives again. Things were working out better than I thought they could. The abuser had been quiet and my relationship with the kids was healing.
I received an email from the abuser that he was moving almost fifty miles away. His reason was for work but I knew it was for his married girlfriend’s convenience.
The attorney that represented me for the divorce had told me he would help in the future so I let him know what was going on. I received a sketchy reply and was told he would not be helping me after all.
A friend of mine helped me write a response objecting to the abuser’s move. I listed all the reasons I didn’t think it would be good for the children. His move would also cause a change in custody since the children could not go to two different schools and would need to reside primarily within one school district.
The abuser replied with what he expected to happen and began to tell the children that some of them would live with me and the others with him. He then began to send boxes of items to my home with the children when they were on my scheduled time. He seemed to have no awareness that some of the children may have felt rejected by him when he dumped them on me.
He began to withhold the children he had chosen to live with him and I went months without seeing them. I continued to try to work through the problem via email but he would not do anything that was not part of his plan.
At one point he demanded that we come to an agreement about custody and let a lawyer acquaintance of his write up a new parenting plan. He even had the audacity to give me a deadline complete with threats if I didn’t comply.
At this point, I had had enough of his games and retained an attorney with the money I had worked so hard to save so I could buy a larger vehicle. The attorney was sure we could go to court and I would receive primary custody of all the children. My main concern was that all the children live together whether it was with me or their father. I felt they had the right to grow up together even though their father and I had divorced.
One day I was late getting home from work and the kids ended up at their dad’s instead of my home. I went over to pick them up and found the married affair partner outside with the kids. I walked up to help my little ones get in the car and when she turned around it was shockingly clear that she was pregnant. My first reaction was to laugh loudly. No wonder the abuser was in such a hurry to move.
Later while talking to the children they told me that they had just recently been told about the baby and had been sworn to secrecy. It seems secret-keeping is part of their requirement as a child of their father.
After their father moved one of our children did not have a bed for almost two months and was required to sleep on the floor with only a pillow and a few blankets. This child made it known to his father that he wanted to live with me against his father’s wishes and now he was paying the price. Both adults also ignored him when he was with his father and he was bullied by the older children. He was turned into the scapegoat at his father’s house and took the blame any time the younger children did something wrong.
The children told me their father threw away all of their toys, clothes, and other things they had during our marriage. They seemed confused about why they couldn’t keep their things and how many items went missing between their father’s old and new home. He didn't offer to send any of their toys to my home either.
Our parenting agreement required us to meet two to three times a week at 3 p.m. to exchange children and that was our new chaotic normal. I was on furlough from my job for a month due to the pandemic, so I could comply with the exchange times at a local store but became nervous about juggling everything as the date of my return to work drew near.
Here’s the rest of the story.