WHY ARE CHILDREN NOT GIVEN A VOICE DURING CUSTODY DISPUTES???
I have been going through a two year divorce process. I have four children by this dude, ages 11-21. He started drinking heavily when i was pregnant with my last child and although he has periods of sobriety, his thinking, his behavior has never been sober. HIs anger and blame towards me for all the bad things happening in his life, including his relationship with his kids, is indicative of an addict who is far from sober.
Three of my children, all girls, have cut off all contact with him. My two oldest are of age and are not involved with the custody dispute. My 14 year old son, awash in a sea of estrogen (besides 3 sisters and me, even our dog, three cats and a bunny are girls, poor dude) is wary about having a relationship with his dad and wants it on his own terms, but his dad and apparently no judge will ever allow that.
My youngest, my 11 year old daughter, refuses to have any contact with him but in spite of spending obscene amounts of money on a custody counselor to prove to him that I wasn't alienating the kids from him (he ended up showing up smashed at her scheduled home visit), dragging them to yet another counselor, a reunification counselor who also made it clear that he is responsible for his poor relationship with his children, and his own children making it extremely clear that I have nothing to do with their decision to cut him out of their lives, I have been told that no judge will agree to my daughter's request to have no contact.
The worst is when the reunification therapist, who I know was just doing her job in spelling out the reality of the court system, made it clear to my daughter that if she refused to go with her dad at the scheduled times, I could get in trouble. My daughter sobbed hysterically, the entire way home, curled up in a fetal position.
My kids' dad's repeated relapses, hundreds of pages of notes where all four of my children were interviewed and expressed their concerns about his behavior, the fact that three children, all very different and a wide age range want nothing at all to do with him and my son isn't far behind- all of this is apparently meaningless.
I get that courts are faced with He said, She said in virtually every case but there are at least 3 counselors as well as my children that can document my kids' very real concerns and the fact that there is not one bit of evidence to show that I am alienating them from him. In contrast, he bad mouths me to them constantly but of course, it comes back to bite him.
Before he started drinking, he was actually a good dad. My oldest two have memories of this and it almost makes it more painful for them. I would love nothing more than for him to finally "see the light", have the fog clear from his brain, say Oh My God, what I have done! and find his way back to being the dad that he was so many years ago. The odds of this happening are probably about the same as my odds of making it as a rap artist (refer to my first post). I have made it clear to all my children that they can see and contact their dad whenever they want, but after his latest relapse, i will never force them. I feel that children (of a certain age) should have control over their relationships with their addict parents, not the other way around.
While I can understand that the overriding goal in family court custody issues is to maintain parent/child relationships, the idea that the courts are literally ignoring the cries of children, especially those who are old enough to be able to articulate exactly what they want and why, to enforce relationships, including some very sick, unhealthy relationships over the child's protests is sickening.
My daughter is feeling hopeless and helpless. My father was also an alcoholic and the idea of being forced to be in contact with such an unhealthy individual, whether I wanted to or not, makes me crazy.
For so many reasons, the courts suck.