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Just another rant against the court system

NeverEnough321's picture

After 1.5 years, BM and SO still don't have a holiday schedule. BM has drawn it out as much as possibly, probably because she doesn't want to lose any CS, but she also hates the thought of SO getting any more time. 

SO and BM went to court in July for modification with this holiday schedule being the top priority because she refused to agree on a schedule based on a Jan 2022 CO. The judge (who specifically mentioned that she did not have time to read SO's declaration) only ruled on Summer Break and sent them back to mediation for the rest, telling BM to "be more open-minded". This is after 2 failed mediations with BM refusing to acknowledge school vacations. So they went to mediation and BM pulls her shenanigans saying that the judge only allowed for Summer Break, so Spring and Winter don't count. Even the mediators were dumbfounded. She demanded to wait until the minute order came out, so mediation was a fail. Once the minute order came out, it specifically said that both parties were to come to an agreement and that if they couldn't agree, they could go to mediation, but it wasn't mandatory. At this point, the lawyer said we didn't need her anymore.

The series of events that have brought us here are just so odd. The original judge who ruled on the CO from Jan 2022 was removed from family law due to some crazy bias on one of his cases. The new judge that was assigned in his place comes from business or civil court. Here we are, in September, SO got 2 mediation dates and sent them to BM because he knows she won't do it. She refuses to respond to SO's communication with her, but maybe she is figuring out if the dates work for her. If she does not respond, SO filed modification paperwork and got a mandatory mediation date and court date.. but its for 3 months from now. Even the legal aid help that SO went to felt bad for him.. they normally kick people out after they used up their 15 minutes, but they ended up helping SO for over an hour because they didn't understand how his case got to this point. They didn't understand why the Judge refused to give him more time, saying it doesn't matter what job he works, his hours were not unusual. They didn't understand why they would send them back to mediation after all the previous failed attempts and that the judge should have made the decision in court based on their history. They didn't understand why the previous mediators allowed for BM to end mediation because of a minute order. 

It seems that so many people within the system can see these faults, but no one can actually do anything about it. SO just wants this to be over with and I don't blame him. How has this been allowed to go on for so long? Honestly, I'm pretty sure BM doesn't want to go to court anymore either, but she refuses to do what is needed in hopes that SO will just get tired and let it go. I'm so fed up with this and the fact that it could take up to January of next year for this to be over... if the judge doesn't just send them back to mediation AGAIN. BM will look stupid for not working on a holiday schedule, but the judge didn't give her shit for it the first time, so we don't think she'll really get in any trouble for doing it again which might make BM more inclined to draw it out even more.  

CastleJJ's picture

This is a typical HCBM tactic. If she digs her heels in and refuses to compromise, she hopes that her ex will cave and just give her what she wants to stop the fighting. 

We took BM to court in 2019 for extra visitation, joint legal, and to bar her from meddling in DH's parenting decisions during his visitation. BM was pissed when she was served because her preferred method of court was mediation, where she could beat down, threaten, and abuse DH into compliance and then claim "well you agreed in mediation." About 7 months into our year long court battle, BM emailed DH saying "Can you please just drop your case against me? We have both spent a lot of time and money on this and it's not getting anywhere, so just drop your suit so this can be done with. We will just maintain the previous CO." Of course, no accountability from BM and she gets to maintain the CO she wants. We ignored her and pressed on. While we didn't gain much from court and spent a crap ton of money, the audacity for BM to think she doesn't have to compromise at all and can just wish everything away baffles me. 

You're never going to win with a HCBM. Your best bet is to get the CO to a place you can live with and let the rest go. Do what it takes to make it clear and get the holidays sorted and move on, even if it isn't the ideal schedule. Family court is biased against Dads, so they are always fighting an uphill battle. 

NeverEnough321's picture

"BM to think she doesn't have to compromise at all and can just wish everything away baffles me"

It feels like we have the same breed of BM. 

I am SO SICK of mediation. BM just has to say she does not agree and it ends everything. SO has never gotten anywhere with it, but we are betting on BM wanting to avoid court and looking bad to the judge because agreeing on the holiday schedule was in the order.  Unfortunately, the judge did not make it mandatory. In our area, we have mandatory mediation before court, so if she doesn't agree to this voluntary one, she will still need to go to mandatory, and then court. She complained about missing too much work last time, so maybe this time will work? 

SO can only message BM so much, she just chooses not to respond. He asked that they take care of this now so they don't need to return to court and discuss making these visitation easier on the kids, and even for BM. He is choosing not to mention CS right now because he doesn't want it to be part of the conversation right now. We accept that the holiday schedule will not be ideal, that we won't get a full week because the judge told SO he needed a 9-3pm job before she would give him overnights. SO is really just looking for something to establish long weekends, alternating holidays, and SOME vacation time that BM can't mess with. it's definitely an uphill battle... and I'm ready for it to be over. 

CastleJJ's picture

The point of mediation is to try to reach and agreement, but if they can't, then it goes to court. If the judge didn't provide an alternative, I would think filing a motion to modify could get you to court and the proof of BM refusing to actually try mediation could support the case, especially if you have a different judge. 

What have legal aid and other resources been saying? 

Many parents work normal jobs so denying overnights because DH works 9-5 is irrational and grounds for requesting another judge. I've never heard of overnights being denied, especially for kids of that age. And not getting any holidays. All of this is so bad, I would be working to get this resolved and then drop rope and stick to the CO. 

NeverEnough321's picture

We will most likely have the same judge from last time (2nd modification). The judge from the first modification was removed from family law due to proof of bias :/ Also, just a note, BM always requests to be separated for mediation. Theres no history of DV at all so I don't get what that's about. 

The judge from the last hearing told SO that having a 6-2:30pm job was not going to work for having the kids overnight during the summer because he wouldn't be around to spend time with them anyways, which led her to MWF 3-8pm. I would be there because I have the option to WFH when necessary and we all know that kids sleep in until who knows when. She said that if he got a job that was 5hrs a day that allowed him to drop them off and pick them up from school, she would give him overnights. Trust me, I know it makes no sense. Even the lawyer argued that this is for SUMMER, not the school year. The kids have NO school and SO has me and family. The judge just said that it would mess with their "routine". As for the holidays, the judge admitted to not reading the declaration, so she was very unfamiliar with BM's history of not agreeing to anything. Again, the lawyer argued that mediation wouldn't work and that was why they were in court to begin with!

I personally think that the judge just wanted to be done since this was the last case of the day, but I do think there was a little bias. SO showed up with a lawyer because we saved money and thought that it would help us. BM represented herself. We asked for more time (extended weekends, 5th weekends, half holidays/school vacations) and she made it out to be like we were asking for the world. I considered bringing up appealing, but the lawyer never considered it and from my research, it's not against any legal code, it was just a bad ruling that we didn't agree with. 

Sorry, I misspoke on legal-aid. It was the self-help people that the courts provide to help with filing papers. They were the ones helping SO file and find mediation dates. They pretty much said what our lawyer had expressed, SO should have been allowed more time, the judge should have ruled oh holidays since, clearly, mediation doesn't work, and having a job shouldn't prevent a parent from having overnights. They did their best to give SO the earliest mediation date they could find since the schedule is so packed, but told him that if BM doesn't respond to the mediation request, they would need to pretty much start over with the modification again. 

I've researched a bit and was wondering if its just that we didn't show a significant change in circumstance. I thought SO getting a job and having two full rooms for them with a schedule that allows at least pick ups would have sufficed, but apparently their "routine" is already set at BMs home. We weren't even trying to get them on school days! They are not abused physically, they are not in danger, no one has relocated. There is no real way of having the overnights on school vacations resolved, but we're hoping the holidays will be. 

Survivingstephell's picture

Yep, AND don't deviate from the CO either.  Make BM stick to it, no compromises.  If she screwed herself over, then let her feel the pain of "winning".  You and SO go on to live a fabulous life in spite of all of this.   How many more years until the skid ages out?   Dropping the rope (tug of war image) is a valid solution to the drama.  It's called putting your own mental health first.   It's not an easy choice but eventually can lead to a better quality of life.   SO made a poor choice for mother of his kid.  That's a bitter pill to swallow.   My DH has to live with that choice.   Therapy helps immensely.    

The court's system wants money.  It's the perfect playground for bitter HCBM's.  

NeverEnough321's picture

Skids are 14SS, 13OSD, and 10YSD. A few more years for the older 2, but a while for the youngest. SO definitely made a poor choice in BMs, but I also blame the courts for allowing this issue to drag on. We are definitely letting her feel the pain of "winning". She has full legal custody and complained to the judge that SO doesn't deserve more time because she does all the school drop off and pick ups (3 different schools) and that she takes them to doctors and dentist appointments.The judge said, yea, that's your job as custodial parent. One of the only few decent things the judge did that day. 

Normally, I am glad when we don't hear from her at all, but this issue is important. SO is ready to be done. Nothing in his filing or court papers mention BM or her unwillingness to coparent/agree to a schedule. SO is ready for mediation to fail and go back in front of the judge who doesn't like him. He's ready to get the bare minimum. I have (mostly) dropped the rope. I started therapy a few weeks ago and I think it helps just to have a safe space to vent. I am still working through some stuff. 

The courts are definitely not getting much from BM and SO. BM is low income, underemployed, on food stamps. She gets her fees waived. SO was unemployed when this started in 2022 and also had his fees waived. We saved up money for a lawyer (feels like a mistake) and even she said after the last hearing that SO shouldn't waste any more money on lawyers if its just over a holiday schedule now. 

Rags's picture

Even the dipshit slinging the toddler's Fisher-Price wooden hammer at our Custody/Visitation/Support hearing almost 30yrs ago at least made a ruling.  While our pespective was that a serial statutory rapist with a notable arrest record had no business with visitation, the robed dipshit at least did something and proceded to do exactly what he said he always did.  Which he actually said "I hope everyone feels better. Now, I am going to do what I always do".  No consideration of the 8hrs of widnesses, reams of arrest records, LEO testimony, etc..

In hind sight, 7weeks of long distance visitation/yr was a solid middle ground ruling.  They wanted full custody, we wanted to retain my DW's previously awarded full physical and legal custody and for the SpermClan to get zero visitation.  Before court the SpermGrandHag's idiot lawyer had offered to drop the custody portion of the case for 50/50.  Nope, DW offered 9wks of visitation. They countered with 26wks of visitation. DW offered 9wks.  They dropped to 15wks.  DW offered 9wks.   

The next morning we went to court.  They got 7wks.

We were then able to box in the toxic opposition and defend SS from their crap.

Not once in the intervening 30 years have I ever thought or "said" this.  Until now.  It actually makes me grind me teeth to come to the this realization.

I hope that you can ring an actual order out of the Judge.  At least with a CO, you will have structure to build your blended family.

Now, I have to flog myself for my new perspective on the dipshit Judge from our distant past.


NeverEnough321's picture

Sorry to make you relive that! It's just so infuriating! I hope SO never needs to see this judge ever again.

What are the chances BM will just work with us? *cray2* I'm ready for this to be over. SO has had a few coworkers who have said 2 years in court is nothing.. that they go on for 5 or 8 years. I don't think I would last. 

Rags's picture

The toxic opposition rarely will find the character to become reasonable.

Once you have a CO, the frequency of court action should fade or end.

No need to appologize.  The epiphany that the Judge I have detested for 30+ years may have done us a favor with the visitation element of the order by allowing us to use it to box in the SpermClan is a notable eye opening for me.  

Just maybe, even this old dog can learn a new trick.  Though it has taken 30yrs for it to happen... on this topic.