Seawhillow's picture

Divorced, non-custodial parent

Hello everyone.  I'll try to keep this as short as possible.  My ex-husband, 8 years ago, filed for divorce, got about $20,000 from his parents and took my children promising to hand over custody to me once I was "on my feet".  Well, about one month later I had met all of his demands and asked for my children.  Unfortunately, he changed his mind and three months later was living with someone else.  Well, like I said, that was 8 years ago and every time I tried to regain custody, with my having been single and in the military, the courts thought it best for my daughters to stay with him since he was already re-established in a secure relationship.  

My daughters have been calling his wife mom for years now and even though I hate it, I'm living with it.  Unfortunately, it seems that my ex-husband and his wife talk about me or something in not-so-flattery ways because my daughters, my oldest especially, talks to me like I'm dirt.  I have bent over backwards to be close to them by travelling to where my ex-husband is (he's in the military as well) for years until he requested orders to Germany and fortunately have come back to the US.  I have called them every single day regardless of where they were for the past 8 years to try to keep a relationship with them; however, everything I say to them is either stupid or worthy of running back to their father and 'mom' sharing what I've said.  For instance, I was talking to my daughter on the phone tonight, the only time I get to spend with them since they live so far away and I hear their step-mom in the background telling her that she needs to get off of the phone.  So, I ask her if I need to speak with Lori to talk to my daughter.  She says with a disrepectful attitude that she'll call me later.

About three minutes later the step-mom calls me cursing saying that I was rude talking to 'our' daughter that way.  Well, I explained that she is not their mom, she started cursing at me so I hung up the phone.  Then, when I asked my daughter why she felt it necessary to tell what I said she said that I was rude.  I explained that she needed to speak to me with respect and she said the following:

Oh my gosh, whatever. You know what i mean. Like, why should i not tell her? I think its important to tell mom what i dont like to hear. Even if you think it wasn't rude, i did. Nothing really can hurt my feelings. Its just somethings i think some people need to hear.

I realize this post is massive, and I apologize for that.  I'm just at my witts end and I don't know what to do.  I feel this relationship, or potential relationship slipping away.  I feel like there's nothing that I can do about it.  I feel like everyone who could have anything to do with this relationship flourishing could care less and well, here lately, I wonder why I'm still trying.

SnglDad's picture

I dont know where to begin with this. It seems as if it is way past the time for any court action. First of all it should have not been a surprise that he would change his mind after you met all his demands. Was there a court order? I can understand why the courts ordered the children to stay with their father since you were single and in the military. If you had left the military and settled down near the children, you would have had a better shot at custody, if not shared custody. This is all hindsight, and sadly, nothing can bring back the lost time.

The next issue is one that really bothers me. Why is the father allowing the children to call this lady "mom"? This is not their mom. Look up the state laws where the girls live, concerning parental alienation. You need to move closer to your children, and you need to file for shared custody. After the track record that your ex has with keeping his word, I would think you need a court order, not an agreement with him.

Seawhillow's picture

Thank you SnglDad for the reply.

When we were divorced my ex-husband had an attorney and of course, I did not since he had taken my name off of every bit of funding we had together and at that time I was not working so that I could stay home with our children. He was and is still in the military and at that point we were stationed in Hawaii. I tried to get legal aid but since he and I were still living together I had to claim his imcome, thus not qualifying. So, when we went to court he had representation and from what I know now was supposedly one of the best attorneys in HI. Anyway, he told the judge that he would give me custody as soon as I was "on my feet". I reluctantly agreed, I say reluctantly because I was so beside myself that this was happening I was sobbing so hard I couldn't even talk. But, I agreed because he told me that since he was the one in the military at the time, the military was on his side and the ONLY way I would ever get the kids since I had no job or way to support them was to get on my feet first.

Like I said earlier, it took me right at one month to get all of the things he had stated I needed to qualify as getting on my feet. When I asked for them he changed his mind. Well, I was working as an assistant in an insurance firm at that point and it was a fair paying job but wasn't one that would afford all of the things I had just acquired for meeting his demands AND an attorney in Hawaii. So, I went back into the military (what I did when my ex-husband and I met). By the time I was able to get the money together to afford an attorney and file the motions to take him to court it had been a year.

As for calling her mom, when I bring this topic up it's not remembered the way that I remember it. I have tape recordings of my children when they were very young explaining that they have to call her mom because 'she gets confused about who' they're talking about when they call me mom and they get grounded. There was even one point when they were being told to call me by my first name. Now, no one seems to remember it that way. My ex-husband says that they call her mom because they want to and no one has ever forced them. My daughters have been doing it so long, they even say that they do it because they want to, I am now and have been for quite some time, referred to as 'mother'.

I spoke with my oldest about it a few weeks ago and she spouted off to me that she will call whoever she wants whatever she wants and no one will make her change it. I feel so undermined and disrepected that I don't even know that my children would want to be with me in shared custody. I feel so taken advantage of and walked all over -- at such a loss.

phyrebrand's picture

I am at the beginning of the same path that your family went on. I left my ex almost 2 years ago. We have two daughters age 3 and 5. I'm going to school for the purpose of getting back on my feet. I was a SAHM. School is taking too long and my ex is a dentist. I'll never be able to afford as good of a lifestyle as he can for them. I miss them a lot, but I have no fantasies of being able to win a custody battle or even have a visitation agreement that gives me a fair priority. Plus, I'm still hurting from my ex's complete disregard for my desire to be involved in their life. He still makes snide comments and tries to hug me every time he sees me. The fact that the wound from our bad marriage and separation makes seeing them all the more painful. I'm guilty of avoiding seeing them because I get so depressed after a visit. It's incapacitating. I am anticipating that the same thing will happen: His new girlfriend will replace me as their mother. My 3 year old already says she hates me on occasion. I don't know where she learned that sentiment.
Do you wish that you had done more at the initial break up?
Or do you wish that you had just run and hid from the pain? I know, I know that that's the horrible solution, but it's very tempting. I feel like I have little power over the situation. At present.