Soberlink + Custody Shift
Greetings, my favorite purple peeps.
In the five years post-divorce, I've had sole custody of the three cakelets. They are now in HS, MS, and elementary school. The terms of the divorce allowed the ex Herr Funnelcakes (the pineapple fucker) to have EOW and 1 weeknight dinner with the kids if he complied with the limitations in terms of alcohol monitoring.
In a move that will surprise negative infinity percent of the people familiar with him, he was unable to comply with the terms. They were to 1. file monthly treatment updates with the court; 2. to allow me to speak with his treatment providers as needed and 3. for me to be able to request up to 2 urine analysis tests for alcohol per month. (Not that he has a problem peeing...insert trombone noise.) If he didn't comply, he was to use supervised visits. Which he has been doing sporadically for over 4 years. Sometimes he would go 6 months without seeing the kids. Sometimes he would set up a visit with a supervisor and they would sit in a booth at a Subway next to the highway for two hours. Sometimes he would schedule regular visits. I only once attempted to contact his providers (they were like WTF, who are you) and fewer than 5 times requested UAs, always coinciding with a visit. He maybe filed 20% of the treatment updates with the court during the past 5 years. Which he couldn't do for whatever curvature of the earth lasagna Bernoulli's principle funnelcakes is a meany kumquats blah blah reasons.
Bottom line, I'm happy we're divorced and I'm not the vice squad. If he's not filing regular updates with the court and generally non-compliant, I don't give a shit what he's up to. If he has the kids unsupervised? Then I would give all of the shits.
Amidst the panini he's decided that the best way to avoid the rona during visits is to conduct them with a social worker in his converted ambulance-cum-camper. This is not relevant to the legal milieu nor even my current question but I'm only 99% detached and still find it exquisitely delicious that the only solution he's found for parenting is in a literal waaaah-mbulance. If you try to 180 but you only do 178, things like this will come up and you will laugh way too hard.
Since the divorce, he's lost some jobs, got a DUI, sadly lost his mother to pancreatic cancer (I was able to see her with the kiddos before she passed...love her forever and and eternally grateful I got the chance.) He's sent us to mediation twice, called the cops on me for a "wellness check", filed three motions that have been thrown out by the court or that they have struck the day before, cost me thousands in legal fees, and most recently tried another round of unsuccessful mediation last year. That went to non-binding arbitration to give us a new parenting plan. Since the mediator/arbitrator is also a family court judge* it seemed like if he took his complaints back to court the arbitration would stand. Please note that he would not sign the new arbitrated agreement he initiated, even though my attorney followed up on it. Repeatedly.
Then the pustulant carbuncle writes to me more than half a year after arbitration saying, "since we have a new parenting plan Imma start having unsupervised visits" and I reminded him that he never signed the new agreement nor was it filed with the court and that under the plan effective at the time of the divorce he was not in compliance. This meant another motion against me including being asked for fees. The family court judge in the hearing didn't even allow my attorney to argue, he just awarded ME fees...that's how unhinged their motion was. But it did put the new parenting plan into effect.
With the new parenting plan -- which is materially the same in terms of custody time if the feckless mouthbreather ever does the alcohol compliance -- he has to file monthly treatment updates, give me access to his alcohol treatment providers, a month to activate monitoring with Soberlink for twice daily breathalyzer tests. Which, I low-key hate because I do not care if he's pickling himself into oblivion unless he's with the kids. Get hammered with his new friends (because he can't keep the old ones) -- I don't care. Mimosas with his girlf**? Not my circus unless my kids are there. But thanks to Soberlink monitoring, starting last week I started getting daily e-mails of the results of his breathalyzer tests.
For everyone jonesing for a plot twist, you will be disappointed that he continues to be on brand and not 36 hours after activating Soberlink (three months after he was ordered to do in within 30 days) he missed a test at 8:00 p.m. Friday. I'm sure there are many reasons one could not access a cell-phone connected breathalyzer on 8:00 p.m. on a Friday, and so that's y'all's creative writing prompt for the week.
This is now in my consciousness in a way that it never was before, because it's new data that I have to track and use to show him he's not in compliance. I also never wanted this level of enmeshment with his addiction, because when he was doing his treatment theater after D-Day it was clear that the field on which I grew my fucks was barren. The other thing that is bizarre about his whole alcoholism journey is that his interpretation of the divorce was that I left him at his lowest point in his life.***..he has brought this up in every mediation since the divorce. The mediator actually popped into my zoom room on the last go round, as was like, yo, WTF with this guy****.
Anyhow, I'm mostly writing to vent about the new plan which allows more granular insights into his wankery and also to ask the eternal yet largely rhetorical question what the hell does one actually DO with said data points. Anybody used Soberlink as part of custody stuff? Wisdom?
The kids are thriving. Everybody is doing some kind of quirky extracurricular. They're all in advanced learning tracks at their respective schools. They made me a Mothers Day card from the washer and dryer. They can cook meals, joke in several languages, and have the tightest sibling bond ever. None of this will end if he starts getting unsupervised visits, but the older two are pretty uninterested in having their lives disrupted travel to a beige culdesac in the exurbs every other weekend when they don't really have a relationship with him. He hasn't really comprehended that they've aged from 8,5, and 1. The eldest just turned 15 and he got her a LEGO set of Disney's Frozen. Like, she's into Mandarin, poker, ukulele, and calculus right now...she's not seven...LET IT GO, dude.
Theoretically, he could work into some new phases of custody (e.g. 6 hours unsupervised, one overnight per week, EOW) but every slip will result in re-setting to supervised visits. I'm not looking forward to the logistics churn nor the return to dealing with him and his fragile grasp on the space/time continuum. Or his finely honed if wildly misapplied sense of justice. I'm also scared to look forward to any time off from the cakelets, as I think it will be truncated by stupid and because I don't want to get my hopes up that my gentleman caller and I could actually have 24 hours of uninterrupted time to pursue our mutual interests*****.
So talk to me about long-term shared custody with an alcoholic. Talk to me about your Soberlink monitoring. Tips? Tricks? Commiserations? I'm all ears.
*WTAF with this family court industrial complex???
**Not the AP but to paraphrase the immortal ADryHeat: I hope for the sake of the sisterhood that he's dating laterally but for the sake of my kids I hope he's dating up.
***Yes, divorcing an unremorseful cheating alcoholic after we were fired from a year from marriage counseling. Total betrayal of vows on my part.
****Seriously don't blame supply chain issues because no one has been able to find a tiny violin. This guy has all of them. He's hoarding a strategic reserve of tiny violins.
*****Hahaha I'm not referring to documentaries and geocaching in this particular context.
9 comments posted: Monday, May 9th, 2022
Congrats Notthevictem! It's book pub day!
Anyone who's been around these parts in the past, uh, while, has had the distinct pleasure of encountering Notthevictem. Whether he's offering encouragement in JFO, commiserating in General, or in the Menz All-Stars he's been a source of humor and fellowship to many of us.
In the midst of EVERYTHING my dude NTV is publishing his second book today! I am hoping to read it on my Kindle soon! So high-five him if you see him around. He says that it's a great read for folks who are Harry Potter fans, so if that's you get your hot hands on it. PM him for details or hit me up.
So awesome to see one of our own crushing their dreams! Way to go, NTV!
23 comments posted: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022
You can heal from this and have a gloriously full life
It's been a hot minute since I stepped into these purple halls. I see a few familiar faces in the forums, and as always am damn sorry to see new ones.
This weekend was my fifth divorce-iversary, and I'm a message from your future, gentle reader, that your life can be gloriously full after you navigate this chapter.
I rolled into the SI life (literally rolled, I was 34 weeks pregnant with kid #3) when everything shattered. Day by day, week by week, month by month, I had to build a new life for myself and my kids. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm also damn proud as to how it all unfolded, even if most of what I said I wanted in the beginning isn't what I got.
In the intervening years I've gotten a job I love, bought a house, and have 100% custody of the three most keenly whipsmart, hilarious, scheming humans on the planet. I'm on better financial footing than I ever was even with a high-earning partner. I ran a half marathon! I've fallen in love with the most delightful single dad who's done a fuckton of therapy to deal with the way his life has gone and appreciates me as a lover and partner in ways I've never been before. And y'all. The sexxxxxxxx....you are too young to hear about it and it will break Beyonce's internet if I tell you anything about it at all except that it is eleventy million times hotter than whatever tawdry, sophomoric insert-tab-A-into-slot-B crap that the WS and the AP got up to.
Now, the steps to get there have been maddening, humiliating, excruciating, expensive, stupid, mindbogglingly wasteful of all resources, heartbreaking, and a constant source of gallows humor in the minefields of wankery sown by the ex formerly known as Herr Funnelcakes. We had to live in a one bedroom apartment with my bed lofted above the baby's crib! We were on food stamps! So here's my reflection on things that helped along the way. Some of them may or may not help you, but this is my hamhanded attempt to pay back so much of the love, concern, advice, and clarity I gained from the lovely folks here.
I also think that in many ways the divorce path (which the exhole made sure was the only viable path with his passive-aggressive behavior coupled with a hidden case of the alcoholism) is an easier one to walk. When I look at how much work it was trying to R, all I can say is that those who are successful at it are exemplars of grit and vulnerable work. It can't be done without two willing partners, though. If you make the decision to D, it can be the clear choice but an agonizing one to reach.
1. The only thing I can control is my response.
2. I don't have the right to fuck up my kids' childhood, including by my lack of action or agency.
3. From the shitty array of choices available to me, always pick the least shitty one. (Sometimes it can feel sort of vengefully delicious to take the most shitty option IN THE MOMENT -- this is a trap.)
4. Kids deserve two functional parents. They NEED one. If you're the one, you have to make yourself functional, whatever it takes.
5. One of the reasons I have pride in the outcomes is that I know I left it all on the field with marriage counseling and attempting to reconcile. I also needed that time to lay plans and make decisions.
6. I guarded my mental and physical health jealously. This included IC, MC, yelling "fuck" into the void, learning to really NOT care about the exhole and his stupid shenanigans. Including speculating on things when folks would say, "Do you think he will do x or why doesn't he just y?"
7. My kids' mental health and physical safety was paramount. There were so many people who were like, "But is he still a good dad? Maybe he won't drive drunk with them in the car?" and I had to not listen to their naive suggestions to appease his crazy.
8. Good breakfasts, sweet new traditions, and building in some fun and magic even when you have no money and time is important. Trust me, I had three kids and no dishwasher. It's easy to give yourself over to the drudgery of just getting through the day but try to go for some pixie dust too.
9. Be age appropriate and honest with your kids. My kids saw me cry. They know I was heartbroken and scared and angry. They know some age-appropriate stuff (from me) about what happened, and I was honest about the age-inappropriate stuff they were exposed to thanks to the fuckwit. It's not so much protecting them from the truth as it is fiercely accompanying them through processing the truth in a loving, safe place.
10. Lowering my expectations or shifting them. Sometimes the floor was crunchy. After the divorce I didn't push on the QDRO in the most aggressive way and got slightly fucked--but it was because I was aiming my limited legal dollars and fighting ongoing stupidity from custody. It allowed the wasband to think he was getting what he wanted...money...which I ended up recovering most of eventually. The way he was wired he would have taken revenge out on me via the kids and so letting him think he was getting away with something was the right tactic.
11. You can strategically lower your expectations but keep your standards high...for you own actions, character, what you want in a future partner, percentage of cacao in a chocolate bar, etc.
12. Look at things that make the day or situation 2% better. Do those things.
13. Be honest about your situation. There's no shame. I've had to say no to a lot of things because I needed to parent or couldn't afford them. The people you want in your life will respect that. Including your kids.
14. Do the hard work to grieve the marriage and not just be mad and hurt about its infamous demise. Like, I could take all of the umbrage for the rest of time but working through the triggers, learning to access the memories without going to infinite pain, and thinking about how I wanted to spend my one wild and precious life were all really important for my healing.
15. Act in the best interests of Future Funnelcakes. I did this consistently and in addition to my own satisfaction and mental health, it set me up to buy a house, step into a new job, and welcome a relationship (about 3.5 years after the divorce...I took my sweet time.)
16. Know when to knock off hoping. Hope is good if it gets you out of bed in the mornings or you have something to work for. But if you let it overwhelm you, it will take all of your agency. You can't hope your way out of an emotionally abusive situation. You can still file for divorce and have hope for the relationship! Don't let hope drive everything, but neither should be you be fully despondent about your future.
Godspeed everyone. This is not the trial we would have chosen for ourselves but rest assured that you have some power over your own life, even in the midst of an avalanche of horrific bullshit. And that life you build in its wake can be deeply satisfying, full of love, joy, and accomplishment.
22 comments posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2022