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Dealing with the Ex

This started as a thread of tweets but then I realized I had more to say, a lot more to say, than even a Twitter thread could hand and hold its meaning...

My ex husband is once again threatening to take me back to court for shared parenting because I won't give him more time than the divorce decree states. The magistrate wanted to give him supervised visits but because there wasn't anyone available to supervise and she didn't want to completely take away his visitation, she went with the normal visitation schedule.

He is supposed to have every other weekend and rotating holidays and there are stipulations he is supposed to abide by. He doesn't abide by these stipulations and now he thinks he can bully me into giving him more time beyond what the court gave him because I can't afford to go back to court; even though he can't afford to go back to court either.  

He's living with a friend because he can't afford to turn the electricity on at the place he inherited from his dad. he's been bouncing around from place to place and sometimes I'm not even sure where to meet him to drop the girls off until I call him. He consistently refuses to meet me half way or share the responsibility of driving the girls back and forth. The majority of the time I am the one that drives them to him and then going to pick them back up. It wasn't until this month that he agreed to come get them And that was only because I refused to drive them to him. I told him if he wanted them he had to come get them. That it wasn't fair to make me do all the driving. His response was the usual "I was the one that chose to leave" that he always gives. This is all on top of ignoring the stipulations in the divorce decree but he thinks I should forgo said divorce decree and give him what he wants and if I don't he will take me back to court for custody.

Nevermind the fact that he's not supposed to drink when he has them (one of the stipulations) but does anyway, he thinks it's safe to buckle them in the same belt, thinks it's OK to let them ride on someone else's lap sharing the same seat belt (both of which we've argued over at length to the point I've refused to let them ride with him until he got a car), and who knows what else they haven't told me. But I'm supposed to give him EXTRA time beyond the divorce decree and if I don't he threatens to take me back to court.

While I can't prove it, I am pretty sure this is in retaliation because I did not want him to kiss me this weekend. He was drinking. I know this because I could smell it on him. He came at me with his hands cupped at the level of my face. I stepped back quickly and said, "NO." To which he got offended and said he was only trying to thank me. I told him he could thank me without touching me. He was controlling, manipulative, verbally, emotionally, mentally, and occasionally physically abusive. The idea of him touching me makes my skin crawl. I KNOW him threatening to take me back to court is my punishment for my reaction. I just can't prove it.

He knows I can't afford to go back to court and I know he can't afford to go back to court but I know he'd do it anyway just to hurt me financially. He did it all through the divorce; filling nonsense motions & dragging it out so I'd have to keep paying my lawyer. So I always give into him and give him the extra time he's demanding because I don't know what else to do. I don't know how else to keep the peace with him. I'm forever giving in. I am forever at his mercy and he knows it, at least until the girls are 18.

I understand that he has a right to see them and I understand that they have a right to see him, but when he's willfully ignoring what the magistrate said and I'm constantly worried about their safety, what am I supposed to do?

There is no recourse. There is nothing I can do. I can't take him back to court for violating the stipulations in the divorce decree because I can't afford it. I get afford to have him take me back to court, even if I know he'll lose. Children Services can't do anything without proof which means I basically have to wait until one of them gets hurt to be able to prove something.

I try to keep the peace, to be a #LoveWarrior like Glennon Doyle Melton says we should be; granted I haven't read the book yet (can't afford it) but I've read her Facebook posts, her tweets, and some of her blog and I've got a good idea of what she's saying. Even before learning about her I've always tried my best to be kind, to be gentle, and to be as caring as I possibly could. I've never liked causing anyone pain or harm. I've felt more than my fair share of pain over the course of my life so I try very hard not to cause anyone else any pain but he takes advantage of that. 

He uses that against me. I try to stand up for myself, for my children, and he accuses me of being vindictive. He argues and when I refuse to argue back, I am cold and heartless and controlling. "How dare I not give him more time than the divorce decree states. How dare I try to follow what was laid out for us to do. It isn't set in stone, I don't have to follow it." Then the threats happen. 

So I give in. I give him the extra time. It's easier than fighting. But it's also harder. Every time I drop them off I worry. The worry is worse when I KNOW he's been drinking. He had no problem driving after drinking when we were married. I can't imagine he's changed his opinion since then. But even knowing this, I have to leave them with him. I have no proof.

There's no way to prove what I smell on his breath until he actually gets in the car and drives...and has an accident. I've checked with Children Services. If I refuse to let him have them without actual proof, I could be the one in trouble for contempt of court. So what choice do I have? Do you see my problem? The hard choices I have to make?

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