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The Fallout of 'Winning' in Court

amodernstepmom's picture
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I'm using the word 'winning' very lightly here.

Last week, DH and I attended the RFO hearing where the judge addressed our cases with BM. She had requested spousal support, racked up bills with our lawyer by forcing a motion to compel when she refused to provide financial discovery, and DH responded by requesting a decrease in child support. We only made the request for reduced child support after it was clear that his income went down by 25% (!!) and we were persistent and didn't drop it because she has been able to conduct a much higher standard of living, including the ability to purchase a new car and a motorcycle for her fiancé (oh yeah, she was asking for spousal support but had a live-in boyfriend to whom she's engaged). Long story short, we found out about the car and the new job shortly before a court date last month, but our attorney continued the case after we didn't get the full discovery response and clearly there was more to contemplate. We also happened to find some good evidence of cohabitation, which was aided by her comments in court that the judge decided she gets 'enough' support from her fiancé staying at her home (she claimed it was only a few nights a week, and really she was just trying to pad the lie she had put forth in court by misrepresenting the nature of their relationship). 

Anyways, she was denied spousal support, sanctioned for the attorney's fees, and the child support was reduced. 

While it may technically have been a win, we're already worried that it will result in much worse things than paying more child support. We have been worried about that from the start of this. Today is SS6's birthday (an upgrade from SS5!), and DH was able to reach BM to talk to the boy, but I was not. A text was unanswered and a call was immediately declined.

I think this is only the beginning. I've told DH that we need to keep writing down what happens with the kids. I'm certain that parental alienation is going to increase as there's already been plenty of it. For instance, DH asked SS11 how his mother likes her new job. He replied, "She likes it, but she said that now that she's making more money, you don't want to pay her anymore." She also showed SS11 her bank account, and that it had $0.99 in it; except, well, she'd got 3 bank accounts, and one of them is for the sole purpose of exchanging money with DH. Of course there wouldn't be much in the joint account.

If she did these kinds of things *before* the outcome of the hearing, I can't imagine what her ragey, bitter attitude is going to drive in the weeks and months to come.

Has anyone else suffered the fallout of a court victory? Any wise words? We're going to be doing our best not to let the situation get out of hand, and while we don't believe she deserves more of DH's paycheck, we're going to be purchasing what we can for the kids at every opportunity. 

Any thoughts or suggestions would help.

lieutenant_dad's picture

Not winning in court, but lies about money.

Once, BM was raging against DH to her XHBF (yep, they divorced but are still living together as BF/GF), and OSS heard her. Whether that wad intentional or not, I don't know. Anyway, the rage was about how DH wasn't giving her enough CS.

OSS asks DH at the next visit why he isn't paying enough CS. DH explains that he has been paying for BM's rent, car insurance, utilities, and cell phone, and once he pays all that (way more than the CS order), he doesn't have enough left over to just give her cash.

OSS, always being a logical child, comprehend this - to the point that the change FIL gave him for his piggy jar was handed over to BM with the statement, "here Mommy, I think you need this more than I do."

Cue BM calling DH to yell at him, to which DH asks if she is done then proceeds to chew her out for discussing finances in front of the kids.

My advice to you and DH? For you, don't try to contact outside Dad's time. Buy a birthday card and gift, and say Happy Birthday the next time you see the kid. Your DH can tell his son Happy Birthday on your behalf. For your DH, stop making small talk about BM. It just gets more awkward at the kids get older and they don't know how to cover for BM's lies anymore (I watch that happen now; DH and I just say never mind, shake our heads, and change the subject).

Additionally, DH can show OSS that he pays child support into the mutual account, and can show when withdrawals are made. He can also have a chat with SS about your househols finances (not accounts, just a general chat) explaining that, out of the roughly $X amount he makes, $Y amount goes towards bills, food, the SSs, etc. Showing SS that you all have bills like BM and that you're not living some "high on the hog" lifestyle while BM wallows in poverty provides a good perspective. Plus, BM already knows your DH's income, so it's not like there will be some secret shared with BM. Your DH can also mention that he works FT and you work FT, which is why you can afford what you have, same with BM.

Basically, take all the bite out of her claims by meeting it head-on. If the kids think DH is swimming in money while BM is broke, show them the truth. Don't talk bad about her. Don't whine about how expensive they are. Just talk about how their needs are budgeted in to your lifestyle. It takes the wind out of BM's "woe is me" sails, and if your OSS is smart, he'll get annoyed with her behavior and merely placate her moods to make things easier.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

with the caveat that documentation is a must, especially if you plan to discuss anything BM related with the kids. You'll need to CYA, otherwise BM will accuse you of attempting to alienate her.

 

amodernstepmom's picture

Great advice, thank you. We're usually certain that SS11 understands. We also try to avoid anything that makes him feel bad; as in, we ask him how it makes him feel when his mother says the things that he reports back to us, and we do our best to avoid turning those back on her. And we certainly don't whine about how expensive the kids are. Really, if BM hadn't gone to the trouble of going to court over something she didn't deserve in the first place, I don't think DH would have entered the child support reduction. She could've kept hold over her extra $350+. I will make sure to accomodate the lack of communication and make it special when I do get to talk to them. Thank you!

nengooseus's picture

Like the subject says, there will always be punishments when things don't go her way, whether it's you all "causing" it or not.  Heck, we get punished because BM is unhappy in her life all the time!

And lieutenant dad is right that you have to counter her BS with fact.  "The judge says that Dad needs to pay Mom X amount each month to help support you when you're there."  That's not disparagement, it's just the facts.  And exjuliemccoy is right that it's best to document those moments to prevent claims of alienation.

If you haven't read the book Divorce Poison, it's a good one.  What your BM is doing is alienating behavior.  My guess is that this isn't the first time she's done it, and it won't be the last.

Ispofacto's picture

In my experience, these HC people do their worst regardless of what you do, so you might as well defend and protect yourselves.  BM was alienating SD long before DH stood up to her.  Never try to placate a terrorist.

I agree with providing proof of what BM receives.  I also would make a point of giving SS some critical thinking skills.  Ask him why he doesn't give his lunch money to his classmates, why he doesn't do their homework for them, etc.  Ask him if DH should be paying the neighbor's bills.  Would that be fair?  No?  Why?  Because it's not our responsibility to take care of people we don't live with and aren't related to.  And it hurts them too, because they don't get the pleasure and empowerment of having a purpose in life and doing for themselves.  

Now, of course that's not the same because it is DH's responsibility to support a child he made, however, he shouldn't have to pay ALL the bills for that household, because DH is not responsible for supporting BM.  BM is an adult and should be able to take care of herself.  And certainly it is not DH's responsibility to support BM's BF.  

Maybe show him what the incremental cost is of having an extra bedroom.  If a one-bedroom costs $500/month, and a two-bedroom costs $700/month, the incremental cost of housing a child is only $200/month.  And since both parents are responsible, the cost should be $100/month each.  Then show him what a typical food budget and utility budget and clothes budget looks like.  In all likelihood, the total DH pays will be much more than the TOTAL cost of raising a child.  Both shares.

We also played the Wants vs Needs game with SD when she was younger.  Okay, is this a want or a need: Food?  A big TV?  Pets?  A place to live?  Painted nails?  Vacation?  Air?   They start to see that money for wants is being spent before money for needs.  Also, we correct incorrect language.  No, you don't "need" a cookie, you "want" one.  If you don't get a cookie, somehow you will survive.  You don't "have to" see that movie, you "want to" see that movie.

And people have choices.  We never tell GD she is being bad, we tell her when she made a bad choice.  And bad choices have consequences, for everyone, even adults.  And adults have to do things every day that they don't want to do, because that is life.  So if "someone" goes tanning or gets a tattoo, and doesn't have money for the electric bill, that is a bad choice, and that person needs to learn how to make better choices.  Otherwise everyone else, who works hard and makes good choices, ends up paying the consequences of other people's poor choices.  We even went into how we both work hard, and our taxes go to paying the bills for families that had children they couldn't afford, and it makes it harder for us to pay our own bills and do the things we want to do, and that isn't fair.  We shouldn't have to work harder so they don't have to.  And if we keep helping them out of their bad choices, they'll never learn how to live right.

Iamwoman's picture

"Never try to placate a terrorist." - THAT bore repeating! I love it.

Yes, there will always be fallout. Narcissists don't like to lose, and when they do, winning again becomes their obsession and sole objective in their life. They will quite literally focus all of their attention on defeating you.

Example:

I won again HCBD when DD was a baby - got a much needed restraining order in place, and supervised visits, etc. (he did the usual stalking, gun to my head, knife threats, "I'll kill you if you leave me", etc). 

Fast forward 6 years, and he comes back into our lives, and because my guard is down (I am a normal person who thought it was all over, and he would not try his games since he got slapped down in court already), and because my attorney was, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, completely senile (he just stared at a wall in the courtroom, and didn't seem to know where he was...ugh), I was framed for PAS even though I had tried for years to construct a relationship between DD and HCBD (HCBD never put forth any effort and simply didn't seem interested). He was out of state and got standard out of state visitation rights, starting with sending DD to his house for Christmas for a week even though she didn't know him. This first visit was where his quest to traumatize DD began to blossom.

Fast forward another 6 years, and HCBD decides to PICK UP AND MOVE HIS ENTIRE LIFE to my state, under the guise of wanting to "better his relationship with DD." We all know this isn't the case as he has done nothing but make it worse and further traumatize DD. In addition, he has dragged me through court again, this time ongoing 3 years now. We have a GAL, court-ordered counseling, etc.

Fast forward to last fall - GAL and counselor flat out TOLD HCBD that I'm not an alienator and never was. Since this analysis doesn't fit with HCBD's agenda, he continues to grasp at straws to "prove PAS" and one of his tactics is to continuously set DD up in failure type situations where he knows she will react. He still thinks that her reactions to his abuse (physical, mental, and emotional), are going to convince everyone that SHE is just a bad kid, and that HE is the victim...

The GAL has reduced his parenting time, not once, but twice now due to his abuse of DD.

A normal person would say to themselves, "Hey, I should probably stop being such an abusive, manipulative prick, because I'm destroying my own child, and this sure is a lot of time, work and effort on my part to keep up this charade."

However, these HC people are NOT normal. Their whole life is a charade. They have no soul. Everything is an act, so to become obsessed with and make their life goal to be simply just torturing and screwing with one person for years on end is actually quite amusing to them, and provides them with a self-satisfying sadistic purpose.

So, yes. She will continue to play games until your skids age out at 18 (or whatever the age is where you live).

Keep in mind, that for HC people, it is NEVER about being a good parent. NEVER about the child's well-being. It is ALL about the power and control they feel from screwing with you and making your life miserable. Any time, they feel they need another dose of power and control, they will reach out and screw with you until their need is satisfied. They are sick bastards who can't just live in peace unless they are hurting another human being.

Document everything. Don't talk on the phone unless you are recording conversations. Save every single email, text, social media message, etc. You WILL need these pieces of evidence eventually (don't think it is over at any point in time, even if they are nice to you for a year. - that just means they are happily screwing with someone else for a year's time, and will eventually get back to screwing with you when they feel like it). Even will all of your evidence, if your HC person is intelligent enough, they will still have a case against you. While you are documenting real evidence, they will be working just as (if not harder than) you to create false evidence against you, or to come up with excuses for your evidence or to cover their tracks.

Never forget that screwing with you IS their life. They love it. They would do it all of the time if pesky things like sleep, job, and other distractions didn't get in their way. While you are out living life like a normal person, they are plotting against you. Don't ever think they are not. Any and every interaction you have with them can and will be used against you by them. It's part of the game.

They are not your friend and never will be no matter how wonderful or nice they are in the moment. DO NOT EVER FORGET THIS. This advice may save you someday from the trauma and turmoil we have been through.

amodernstepmom's picture

Thank you for the reminder. I agree that she's never going to be our friend and she'll never do anything to benefit us. She really has shown us how toxic she is. I am sorry you had to deal with that. 

amodernstepmom's picture

I'm so with you on how to talk about bad behavior vs. being a bad person. Thank you.

I'll bring this up with DH. We have been mulling over how we handle the next kids' visit, coming up soon. We're sure we are going to hear some crap of hers via the kids.

Rags's picture

Even when we have won in court... and we have always won... I have always felt like I needed a scalding hot shower after court to get the skeeve off of my body from the process.

That said.. .quit worrying about what might could  possibly get worse and focus on the facts. You won, BM lost, the Judge handed her her own ass.... Now start confronting her crap and the PAS she is slinging with facts. She shows SS-11 her bank statement with $.99 in it... DH shows SS-11 a statement with all of the CS and other financial support he has paid BM... EVERY PENNY!.. and also starts seasoning SS-11 with reviews of the CO... Keeping Skids abreast of the facts in an age appropriative manner is the cornerstone of keeping the toxic opposition under control and a key element of effectively parenting and preparing the Skids to be able to protect themselves from the manipulation of a toxic parent.

This is what we did with SS-25 during the 16+ years we lived under our Custody/Visitation/Support order. The CO and the facts are the best tools for keeping the blended family opposition (in our case that is my SS's SpermClan) pummeled into submission.

Quit worrying about what could go wrong and focus on confronting the inappropriate behaviors.  The possibilities are endless on what what might happen.... focusing on what actually happens and confronting it effectively is a much simpler and much more direct process.

Congratulations on the great court result and good luck.

amodernstepmom's picture

Thank you. Good thoughts. I know DH likes to ask, "How does that make you feel?" when he tells us about the shit his mother does. So far, it's been a good strategy.