Still no justice for dads in 2023
I am new to this site and simply wanted to share my story in the event that others may be dealing with similar circumstances. I dated my sons mother for a year. She had 4 children of her own from 3 other men, and I don’t have a family, so I felt like this was my chance to finally have one. I treated her children like my own, and they accepted me with open arms. I even befriended their father whose family also welcomed me with open arms. My ex received $1,200 a month in survivor benefits from her late husband, $1,000 in food stamps, I was giving her $550 a month for rent, and she would only work from time to time because she didn’t want to lose her benefits. Just a couple months after we began dating I noticed a pattern. She was going out every other weekend and retuning home drunk and high on cocaine anywhere between 6am and 1pm. At the time I was working two jobs, paying half of her rent, trying to get into graduate school as a first generation college student. I broke up with her 4 times during the year waiting to see her lifestyle changed like she promised, but it never did, so I finally severed ties, moved out, moved on and was accepted into graduate school. She contacted me a month later telling me that she was pregnant and begged me to come back. I told her that I would come back to help her through the pregnancy, but I was no longer interested in building a life with her due to her reckless, irresponsible behavior. Fast forward…my son was born and just 2 months later the same behavior resurfaced, but this time she was taking my son out with her..2am, 12am, 5am, and so I moved out and moved on like I originally planned. I drew up and informal custody order that stated I would pick him up every Thursday night, and she would pick him up every Sunday, but she would not sign it because I included a condition that we would need to be home by midnight with our son unless the event was planned in advance. For 2 months, my 2 month old son was in my care, overnight, from Thursday through Sunday while I worked full time, was a full time graduate student, and interned part time at the basic needs office on campus, with no help from anyone at all. I never hired a babysitter because I wanted to spend all my time with him. My big heart is a blessing and a curse and I couldn’t help but be disappointed that both parents were not in the household, I never had that, and I guess I just wanted better for my son. So I reached out to my ex and expressed my disappointment and she told me that she still loved me. I said that I was willing to sit down and talk about things, but the drugs and the partying needed to stop immediately or I was not on board. I told her it was her last opportunity to show me she could be a loyal, life partner who contributed to our family. Just 3 days after this conversation, she informed me that she believed she was going to be evicted from her home because she had not paid her rent. She spent her rent money partying at the bar and continued to live irresponsibly and essentially became homeless. She said that she had reached out to her parents in Arkansas, and they were going to help and I had no idea what to do. I certainly did not want my son leaving and I told her that. After arguing about it for a couple of days, we agreed that I would allow her to take our son if we were going as a family and if she would curtail her lifestyle and behavior. I also gave her $2,000 to try and help but the property management company would not let her stay. Well…her behavior did not change and I ended things for good because she continued to go out leave our family every other weekend bar hopping until all hours of the night. She then left to Arkansas in secret 2 weeks earlier than we planned after I specifically told her she did not have my permission. For 4 days she returned none of my calls or my texts until she arrived in Arkansas saying “We are in Arkansas just like you and I planned, you knew exactly where I was going. I was devastated and in disbelief. I filed papers, we went to mediation where the mediator recommended to the judge that our son be returned home to the father. My attorney did not show up for my mediation, and my recommendation was lost. Nobody had any documentation regarding the recommendation which was absolutely unbelievable. Before we went to trial, my attorney told me that she missed the deadline to subpoena the mediator and simply apologized. She then used none of the incriminating texts where my sons mother admitted that all of this was due to her “bad decisions”, where she is out at the bar drinking while our 4 month old son was home with her 12 year old daughter, or the multiple texts of her coming home from the bar/club at 2am while I’m home with her 4 children and our son. My attorney looked like she was lost, unprepared, with absolutely no strategy. The judge ruled in favor of my sons mother, and now she is doing all she can to keep him from me. She had violated custody orders for my FaceTime visits 15 times since we had mediation…and our judicial system could care less. Thank you for reading my story, I am so broken and traumatized by this experience and wanted to share and converse with anyone dealing with similar circumstances.