In 1995, I got a violence restraining order against my daughter’s father and the police removed him from our apartment. My daughter, Jillian, and I both lived in fear up to that point. That was the beginning of my co-parenting years.
Our divorce took about three years and became a custody battle. At first Jean-Jacques was promising to change, admitting that he abused his wife and daughter, and begged me to take him back. That was the last thing on earth I was about to do and so the battling began.
The first time I realized how important keeping and organizing court documentation was is when Jean Jacques came to pick up Jillian for Christmas vacation, that first year. We had no formal agreements, he was not paying child support, but I thought it would be nice for her to spend Christmas vacation with her father since he was living about three hours away. I had just put some of her things in the trunk and I was putting her suitcase in the backseat when he said to me; “I just want to let you know, Tracy, that I talked to the judge and he said you had her for five months now it’s time for me to have her for five months. I have the paperwork.” Panic stricken I said “I just changed my mind, you’re not taking her. I want to see the paperwork first.” As I tried to pull the suitcase out of the car he had me by the neck up against the car I was screaming at Jillian to get back in the house. He was screaming at me. “I have the paperwork, Tracy, I have the paperwork !!” It was crazy!! The next thing I knew he left.
I called 911 immediately and sent Jillian to a friend’s house. About half an hour later the police came to the door. I was so relieved to see the police but when I opened the door they were there with Jean Jacques. He had also called them. They spoke to both of us separately and asked me if I wanted to press charges because of the bruises on my neck. I said no I did not want her father to go to jail, I just wanted to know that when he took her he was bringing her back in a few days. The police confirmed he did not have any paperwork from the court to take her for 5 months as he had indicated. They also confirmed that I would have been notified in writing to appear in court if he had filed any paperwork for extended visitation.
Jean Jacques ended up driving off and said he didn’t want anything to do with her. He threw the picture she drew for him, for Christmas, out the window onto the ground. On January 7th, I was served divorce papers and he was going for full custody of Jillian. I was in court with Jean Jacques many times. What usually happened was the judge ruled in my favor because number one I was telling the truth and number two I had documents to prove everything that I said in court. I kept very good records and I prayed a lot.
Eventually our divorce was settled and I officially became primary custodial parent and Jean-Jacques had extensive visitation. We were still in and out of court quite a few times after this initial court order. My organizational skills came in very handy and made the court process much easier. I hope that our “My Turn Your Turn” parenting website will help people going through a divorce, people who are separated, people who already have a co-parenting agreement in place, and anyone else who shares a child be more organized. Our goal is to help you co-parent successfully. As I have learned, organization, and putting the child’s first, is one of the major keys to keeping your cool in a co-parenting situation.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you,
My Turn Your Turn
Visit us on our official website at http://www.MyTurnYourTurn.com. My Turn Your Turn is a co-parenting website designed to help organize families and improve communication between co-parents sharing children due to divorce or separation. Specializing in co-parenting tools and shared parenting resources including an online custody calendar, online divorce journal, child support tracker and more for blended families, single parents and high conflict divorce cases.