The Chef Saga--Portrait of A PASout--Alternately Titled--What Fathers SHOULD NOT Do When Getting Divorced--LOOOONG
Note: This does NOT include all the struggles and trials I had with Chef trying to stop the Disney Dad syndrome which are TOO numerous to mention:
Chef dated The Girhippo (nee) in the early nineties. The Girhippo was obtaining a liberal arts bachelor’s degree in Upper Podunk NY. Chef had quit school to help support his aging parents and obtained his G.E.D. The Girhippo came from an environment where she was the only child from her mother’s marriages and was absolved of responsibility—often going on sorority soirees and pulling dangerous pranks. Chef was often “recruited” by The Girhippo’s mother to look after her, bail her out of trouble, etc. He eventually ended up moving in with The Girhippo’s mother and has always wanted the “white picket fence” family ideal. Unfortunately The Girhippo’s mother was wholly psychologically enmeshed with her daughter and lived vicariously through her which remains the case today. This has carried over to the The Girhippo’s style of parenting of the three children of the marriage.
Throughout their marriage, Chef’s now mother-in-law played “referee” and was helicoptering for the majority of time. The Girhippo was a stay at home mother during their marriage while Chef worked two or sometimes three jobs to support his growing family. The Girhippo’s lack of responsibility clearly showed in her household duties as the majority of the time, Chef would come home to a dirty and unkempt house with no meals prepared. Chef often had to cook and clean for The Girhippo, despite the fact that The Girhippo had no outside job responsibilities. After the first child was born, The Girhippo would often deny Chef of sexual activity and “bash” Chef in front of (eventually) all the children.
In the year 2000, Chef was seriously injured on the job and was bedridden for several weeks. During this time, The Girhippo told him that she “couldn’t handle him being around the house all day and that he should go live with his brother.” Chef did comply and stayed with his (now estranged) only brother from his parent’s 2nd marriage brother for a few weeks. Chef suspected that The Girhippo wanted him out of the house so that he could not observe her inactivity and many recreational trips during the day as a stay at home mother.
In 2004, a year after their third child was born to “save the marriage” the The Girhippo became increasingly agitated and often complained about Chef to her then Brother-in-Law. After a particularly bad argument, The Girhippo ordered Chef out of the house. The Girhippo threw all of Chef’s belongings out onto the front lawn, including several firearms of Chef’s, but did not notify him of this. Chef received a call from his nephew (from his parent’s first marriage) stating that his “wife has thrown out all of his belongings out onto the front yard and that he’d better get them before they are stolen or damaged.” When Chef went to retrieve his belongings, The Girhippo attacked Chef from behind, hitting him with her fists. Chef did not retaliate in any way.
Chef took up residence for a time with various relatives and later started a romantic relationship with Thinkthrice. His relatives warned him against sending his entire salary to the Girhippo, but he continued to do so while living with them. Eventually he took up residence with Thinkthrice. His relatives also warned Chef to get an attorney but he did not want to “drag his children through court” as he so naively stated.
Chef continued to have his entire salary with overtime direct deposited to The Girhippo with nothing for himself from July 2004 thru mid-December. With a certain divorce looming, Chef was devastated about the prospect of losing his children, literally sobbing for two weeks straight. He called his children but The Girhippo was monitoring the entire conversation and would often tell the children what to say to Chef--she did NOT do this when Chef was living with relatives.
At this time no paperwork was filed, joint accounts were still left open and The Girhippo ran up the marital debt as well as depleted the entire college funds that Chef had set up for them with worker’s compensation funds that he received while injured on the job. The college funds were funneled into The Girhippo’s defunct bakery/catering business which closed in 2005
The Girhippo also abandoned the family vehicle that Chef had purchased for her (in early 2004) in a parking lot, knowing that he had no way to pay for it other than Thinkthrice’s salary. . Chef learned that The Girhippo had been selling all of his belongings including sentimental personal items that he received from his deceased parents in a yard sale. From July 2004 through October 2004, The Girhippo purposely withheld all visitation with the children. Eventually she “allowed” Chef to see his children but only at the marital home and under her supervision.
She offered to have “family dinners” with Chef, herself and the children, which Chef attended once, but it was extremely uncomfortable and gave the impression to the children that the marriage could be mended. At this time, Chef was living approximately 40 minutes away from the children and made all the trips to the marital home in Podunk to see the children as well as during the week to tuck them in.
The Girhippo started to internet date and instead of first right of refusal, would allow men she had recently met to watch her children for her while she did mundane errands. Later on she would often leave all three children at home alone—at the time 8, 6 and 2 years of age. Chef quizzed OSS (the oldest) on what to do if there was a fire in the kitchen; OSS responded “throw water on it” which was devastating to Chef.
Chef called CPS to report that the children were being left alone in the evenings for long periods of time while The Girhippo was dating. They responded that as long as they are old enough to dial 911, then it was ok.
Over the next five years, Chef provided all the transportation to and from visitation. Both The Girhippo and Chef did not follow any structured visitation schedule; Chef feeling that he didn’t want the children to feel they couldn’t come over on The Girhippo’s time. Chef usually had the children every weekend. Because no structured schedule was adhered to, The Girhippo felt she had extreme leeway and control and would call whenever she needed “non-parental status” babysitting while she was actively dating. The Girhippo provided transport approximately two times during the entire five years of visitation.
She would sign the children up for extra-curricular activities without Chef’s knowledge; he finding out only after being presented a bill for such activities.
Chef found out by accident that The Girhippo’s bakery/catering business had folded a year after it had opened through his middle child when going to drop the children off from visitation at the business itself; something he had done in the past--his oldest child, OSS, was told to “keep it a secret from dad.”
After waiting for well over a year for The Girhippo to file the divorce and after giving her ample opportunity to do so; to the point of even giving her the paperwork so that she just need to get a court date (both Chef and The Girhippo had agreed to going pro se during the mediation), Chef decided to file the divorce paperwork in Thinkthrice’s county where he was currently living. The Girhippo became immediately offended after being served and told Chef that the process server “traumatized” the children, by walking up, knocking on the door and handing The Girhippo the court paperwork. The Girhippo immediately contacted her attorney and started the divorce paperwork herself; Chef dropped his filing. As a condition of the divorce, Chef signed a quit claim deed to the marital home. The Girhippo soon sold the house at a profit and kept all the proceeds.
Eventually the children began to “parrot” age inappropriate speech and actions to Chef and Thinkthrice. SD, at age 6, threw rocks at Thinkthrice completely out of the blue while on a beach outing. On another occasion, OSS, just turning age 8, showed up with orthodontic braces. Chef was surprised about the dental work and said to OSS “Your mother and I pay a lot of money for you so make sure you take good care of your teeth.” OSS responded: “YOU don’t pay for ANYTHING; MOM pays for EVERYTHING!”
It must be stated that no advance notice was ever given to Chef about anything medical, dental or otherwise as per the CO, UNLESS an administrator or court authority was recently looking on; in which case The Girhippo would make a pretense of co-parenting with Chef. At this time, the children were on Chef’s health insurance so the only way Chef would ever know about the children’s medical visits were to look on the insurance paperwork coming in after the fact. Chef did receive a call from CPS stating that the school reported The Girhippo to their agency due to an allegation that SD was being punished by walking in the snow with her shoes off. Chef told CPS that he didn’t think The Girhippo would do something like that and the report was soon dropped.
Chef asked Thinkthrice to sell her home and purchase another home located approximately 15 minutes away from his children, which she agreed to do, despite the fact that the prospective home would need a major gut rehab.
Chef and Thinkthrice moved to the new area in November 2006. For Christmas of that year, Chef respectfully let The Girhippo know that he was intending to buy the children an ATV for Christmas. The Girhippo immediately started questioning the safety of it and inquiring as to whether or not he bought the proper safety helmets, etc., once again believing that only she is capable of parenting the children. Chef asked that The Girhippo keep it a surprise. The Girhippo did not and immediately told the children that “Chef bought you an ATV.” Upon Christmas visitation, the children came bolting in yelling “where IS it?” The surprise was ruined.
The children would often be extremely disrespectful of both Chef and Thinkthrice, calling Chef “stupid” or “baldy” or by his first name. SD in particular would call Thinkthrice “woman.”
On another occasion, both Chef and Thinkthrice tried to get school and extra-curricular information from the various authorities and were told that since “the mother registered the children that Chef would have to go through her.” Many school officials were very rude to Chef and Thinkthrice when they were trying to obtain information about the children that was not forthcoming from The Girhippo. Chef believes this is because the Podunk school district administrative staff are mostly The Girhippo’s contemporaries and friends.
The Girhippo would often withhold visitation when she found out from the children, after grilling them, that Chef was trying to parent them. In July of 2007, The Girhippo (who was now working for Podunk County CPS/Foster Care) contacted CPS and alleged that Chef had given the children “age inappropriate work” (picking up twigs in the back yard and empyting small waste cans). She also alleged that Chef inappropriately punished SD and “split her lip” (it was actually chapped from biting her nails). “Coincidentally” the report that gives a window to dispute the charges somehow did not make it to Chef’s mailbox and the charges went “founded” straight to the NYS Child Maltreatment and Abuse Registry.
Thinkthrice started the appeal process through Thinkthrices's County CPS, lobbied the various representatives and Thinkthrice County DA to have the case appealed.
Upon finding out that Chef was disputing the abuse allegation, The Girhippo refused all mail correspondence from Chef and advised him to go through her attorney or, as an alternative, email her, which Chef was hesitant to do given her past track record of not returning phone calls, hanging up on him or possibly editing email text to her advantage.
After approximately six months, the findings came back “unfounded.” Chef believes this further angered The Girhippo and caused her to accelerate denigrating his character in front of the children. When visitation was resumed, the children stated that they “lied to make mommy happy” and that “mommy made you look like a monster.” They also stated that when they come home from visitation, The Girhippo questioned them intensely about what goes on at their father’s house—including asking OSS to count the number of alcoholic beverages in the mini frig. There were other occasions where if the children didn’t get exactly what they wanted (trips to the mall, expensive eating out) and other “incentives” for coming to visitation, they would either storm out of the house and insist to go back to The Girhippo, or just bow out entirely over the phone.
It should be noted that over the past ten years since the separation, The Girhippo has projected her anxiety and anger over the divorce to all three of the children. The children were doing well in school until the breakup. Their grades significantly declined and as of today, they still receive abysmal grades in school, the oldest having barely passed High School with a 1.7 GPA and with no plans for the future. No consistent rules or boundaries are enforced as far as homework, classwork or school attendance, however, The Girhippo still insists that the children participate in numerous extra-curricular activities (of which she has never consulted Chef on) despite their grades and has, on many occasions, “twisted the arms” of not a few of the administrators to make exceptions for her children despite their poor grades. The Girhippo strongly believes that the divorce is the causation of the children’s “disabilities” rather than her lack of guidance and the role of “Disney Mom” or “BFF” to the children. Therefore, she has repeatedly tested and doctor shopped until she found a physician who would label the children as “learning-disabled--other;” prescribing them anti-depressants, ADHD medication and the like.
During Christmas of 2007, Chef dropped off the children’s Christmas gifts as the CPS charges still hadn’t been overturned yet. Gifts which consisted of “Guitar Hero,” a scooter, etc. The children, at The Girhippo’s prompting, immediately called Chef on his cell as he was pulling out of the driveway stating that they “hated the gifts.” Chef apologized and was sorry they didn’t like the gifts. Like always, all conversations were closely scrutinized by The Girhippo. Often, when Chef would call his children, his calls were screened and never returned. Conversely, Chef always picked up when The Girhippo or the children would call.
During 2008, the older two kept making excuses to get out of visitation, including asking in advance what fun activities would there be and “deciding” whether or not they would come. The children would always have an impromptu “event” on their mother’s side of the family to attend instead of visitation with their father. Eventually only the youngest, YSS, would come to visitation on the terms that Chef would buy him toys and gifts. During the Autumn and Winter of 2008, Chef bought a rather expensive winter hat for YSS with Chef’s favorite sports team logo. When YSS went back home, he was mocked and derided by The Girhippo and his older siblings for having the hat; so much so that in sheer frustration, YSS, at the time age 5, threw the hat out in the snow.
In October 2008, Chef sought a downward modification in that it was medically necessary due to years of construction injuries to change jobs to HVAC. The new job’s health insurance was mediocre at best and very unaffordable due to the new company being a very small business. At this time, The Girhippo had her CPS/Foster Care job with Seneca County and so the children could migrate to her health insurance which cost little to nothing for the Girhippo and had better benefits than Chef’s health insurance at his old job.
It was also uncovered by Thinkthrice that Chef had overpaid the oldest two children’s orthodontia via increased child support above and beyond the standard 29%. He was to have paid 50% of the costs, yet he ended up paying 100% of the costs as the dental bills were going directly to The Girhippo. It took attorney Chef’s first attorney to get the orthodontia bills as Dr. Middle Class Status’s office was uncooperative despite faxing them the court order showing that Chef was to have all copies of bills concerning the children.
The CS Magistrate, did not order repayment of the extra 50% to Chef. The Girhippo wanted extra child support to go retroactive back to the date filed despite her counsel having retained a continuance until Spring of 2009 in “compensation” for putting the children on her health insurance. Chef was somewhat floored by this as he was not anticipating The Girhippo to do this. The retroactivity was denied and a token downward modification was granted in 2009 from approximately $231 a week to $210 a week. The Girhippo asked her counsel, Mr. PittBull, to ask for even more extra-curricular out of pocket expenses, despite Chef never being consulted on any of them. It was agreed between both counsels that this was pushing the envelope and the $210 a week was ordered.
Shortly after the downward modification, which obviously angered The Girhippo, Chef learned of a school play that OSS was in. His ex- mother-in-law (Battleaxe Gallactica) was in attendance and was watching his youngest, YSS. It was fairly obvious that both The Girhippo and BG had told the children that “Chef was too busy to see your play, etc.” As soon as BG made eye contact with Chef while escorting his youngest down the aisle, she quickly turned around, whisked YSS around so he wouldn’t see his father, and headed back for their seat. Later, when Chef called his children, OSS was notably surprised to hear that his father was in attendance at the school play. Chef had a hard time convincing the children that he was in fact in attendance. There were several other incidents of The Girhippo keeping Chef out of the loop, one of which where he saw SD with her ear bandaged due to a contest to “see who could insert a pencil the furthest into their ear” which shows a complete lack of parental supervision, despite The Girhippo’s persona as “mother of the year.”
Soon after The Girhippo was remarried, she began to accept foster children into her home for the $$$$, one of which got into a physical altercation with the oldest biological child, OSS. Soon after the foster child was removed from her home. Chef found out about this only from relatives that still keep in contact with his ex-wife and volunteered the information. It should be noted that The Girhippo asked the children to keep her remarriage a secret from Chef. Chef obviously does not wish to be concerned about The Girhippo’s personal life, but objects to the fact that The Girhippo uses the children as “adult confidants” which is particularly egregious.
Chef made several attempts to parent his children despite The Girhippo’s constant undermining of any parental authority. In September of 2009, Chef wanted YSS to eat a kid-friendly home cooked meal instead of going out for fast food, as is the custom at The Girhippo’s house. YSS became completely insolent and rude. Chef decided to take him back home after YSS demanded to go back to his mother’s. YSS told The Girhippo that he was “thrown out of his dad’s house for eating too slowly” (YSS was known for eating too rapidly without chewing).
The Girhippo completely believed YSS and cut off all communication and visitation from that day forth other than some highly scripted “incite guilt” notes that she had wrote (on behalf of the children) hoping to re-establish her on-the-fly non-parental status child care from Chef.
During March of 2012, Chef tried to re-establish contact with his children via a counselor. He was denied three times after making the initial three appointments with his younger two children. His oldest child met with him, explained the problems he was having at school with bullying but never contacted Chef again.
On or around August 2014, and without notification from The Girhippo, a violation of the original court order, Chef’s eldest son, OSS, moved out of the custodial home and moved in with Chef’s estranged brother.
Annnnd the saga continues with SD19 flunking out of remedial high school classes at community college--the CS rolls on.