Four years ago I published a blog on my personal page for a friend that was going through a divorce and child custody lawsuit. Today, that single article has had over 7,500 views and continues to be accessed via Google on pretty much a daily basis from all over the world. So, I’ve decided to share a condensed version of it here for my fellow Blended Family Hell on Earth peeps.
I’ve often heard people talk about the immediate feeling of community they experience when they meet other people who have gone through similar sufferings as they have (ex. have both lost a child, have both gone through cancer treatment, have both lost a spouse, have both been involved in a serious car wreck, have both been a victim of sexual assault, etc.). My group is with those who have gone through the literal hell of divorce involving litigation over child custody and parental alienation and the damage that causes.
Not only have Hubs and I gone through this personally, I’ve watched at least 100 other couples go through this since I worked in a litigation law firm that handled child custody lawsuits for about 15-20 years. Family law was not my specialty per se (personal injury and wrongful death was) but any time we had families involved in highly contested family law litigation my boss did pass that case over to me to handle or at least oversee all of the emergency pleadings, motions, TRO’s, protective orders affidavits, etc. Truly, I’ve seen it all. At least it feels like I have.
That said, when friends, family or clients ask me how they can survive this season of hell, this is pretty much my response each and every time. It’s definitely not all inclusive and sometimes things simply will not work out. But, if you’re looking for some form of encouragement and hope, maybe this will help.
Baby Momma Drama. Baby Daddy Drama. That’s jokingly what we call it. The cause? A consequence of marrying the wrong person, poor choices, adultery, marrying too young, for the wrong reasons, growing apart, giving up, a natural consequence of divorce, it just comes with the territory…? Yes to any or all of those things. But regardless of HOW you found yourself at this point, if you are at that point where there is no turning back, then you need the proper tools to handle it.
I am rather used to speaking with people forced to endure this level of high anxiety and emotion. And let me tell you, very few things are as stressful and intense as warfare involving your kids. And, nothing has the ability to bring out straight ugly behavior and emotions in you that you didn’t even know you had until you are involved in family law litigation.
First, know that you are NOT alone. This level of stress could make anyone look like a psychotic lunatic (oh yes even me). But there is hope! Yaye. You are NOT a psychotic lunatic even if you feel like one. (Disclaimer: unless you are psychotic LOL)
Secondly, I’m going to be straight up honest with you. There have been times that I have participated in the hard core screaming, texting, and anger emailing while dealing with our contested family and custody issues. And you know what? That didn’t help me much. As soon as my red face calmed down and I stopped seeing red, I was still in the same boat I was in before the anger rage rant only now I had backtracked a few steps and it didn’t get me anywhere. I threw a fit and made sure I was heard but we were no closer to any type of agreement and the kids homework still wasn’t finished. My energy was just depleted and I was too exhausted to do much of anything much less look like a warrior princess.
Please know that the process of walking through this valley of the shadow of death is two steps forward, one back, three forward, one back, four forward, one back. You will take steps back and when you do you will tend to beat yourself up. Don’t do that. It’s kind of like dieting. If you over eat at one meal, don’t use that as an excuse to over eat for the next week. Repent, seek strength, and get back on track moving forward. It may take lots of time and money and energy but it DOES COME TO AN END. Like labor pains, eventually the baby is born and you will be on the other side of this battle.
For me personally, I used prayer and scripture as my outlet. For you it may be yoga or kickboxing. We are all different. But, since mine was prayer, I’m going to share the versus that I prayed. I knew full well that the accusations against my family were false, lies, and were designed to cause pain. And so I wrote myself these reminders on a document about the ex and the lies.
The Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. Calamity will surely overtake the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on your armor and take up your shield. Prepare for battle and come to my aid. Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me; turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me. I did them no wrong but they dug a pit to catch me. So let sudden ruin come upon them! Let them be caught in the trap they set for me! Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me… and I will be glad because He rescues me. Malicious witnesses testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. Rescue me from these fierce attacks. Protect my life from this lion. O Lord… do not stay silent. Do not abandon me now. O Lord Wake up! Rise to my defense! Take up my case, my God and my Lord. Declare me not guilty, O Lord my God, for you give justice. Don’t let my enemies laugh about me in my troubles…. May those who rejoice at my troubles be humiliated and disgraced. May those who triumph over me be covered with shame and dishonor…Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts. Don’t let the proud trample me or the wicked push me around. Look! Those who do evil have fallen! They are thrown down, never to rise again. I will not worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. Like grass they soon fade away… I will trust in the Lord and do good. Soon the wicked will disappear. Though you look for them, they will be gone. The wicked plot against the godly; they snarl at them in defiance. But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming. The strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly. I will turn from evil and do good, and I will live in the land forever. For the Lord loves justice and will never abandon the godly. The wicked wait in ambush for the godly looking for an excuse to kill them. But the Lord will not let the wicked succeed or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial.
And don’t forget, regardless of how crooked or conspiring the other party is, be honest and trustworthy and do what is right. You do the right thing to the best of your ability and leave the results up to God. I have heard some people talk about karma (sowing and reaping). Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up…
And when your flesh man does win out (the step back), repent quickly and get right back up. Don’t lose the battle on your own by constantly beating yourself up. Stay strong. Remain the warrior that you are, the one deep in there, the one you are when you’re at your best and strongest.
Fight offensively within the legal parameters you have. Get a GOOD lawyer. Find the right one who cares about your situation and will NOT quit. This is where it is essential to find a LITIGATOR. Someone who knows the Judge, the courtroom and is not scared of a trial or the other attorney.
I have referred to this difficult road as the valley of the SHADOW of death. It is important to remember that a SHADOW cannot harm you. It’s scary. It’s looming. Sometimes it’s overwhelming but it’s only a SHADOW.
Also, whether you win your hearing or not, whether you continue to return to the courtroom or not, the kids WILL know the truth. Journal. Document EVERYTHING. We have 2 large boxes full of documents that prove the truth of what we went through. Once the kids are over 18 and no longer under the court’s rule and reign, IF THEY ASK, we will show them everything we have. It’s also been scanned in, saved to a flash drive and stored in a fireproof safe.
The parent who does NOT cooperate and works to win by using the child as a target will lose in the end even if they win temporarily in court. Just remember that.
I hope you will find the strength and support you need during this difficult time.
Coffee cheers your way. Keep your head up.