Thursday, November 28, 2013

Petition For Grandparent Visitation

Shortly after we got our lawyer, we received the official petition for grandparent visitation. My parents claimed that during the six years after my divorce, they had established a "substantial emotional relationship" with my son. They also claimed that after I married, their "access" to my son had been unreasonably limited. So, they requested court-ordered grandparent visitation. Oh, and they wanted us to pay thier attorney's fees.

They then attached exhibit A, a lengthy document, a timeline, their proof for the needed court ordered visitation. It recapped about 9 years of our relationship and drama. They put their spin on everything and tried to make the events somehow accusatory. They made some unfavorable accusations about me and my husband. It was all hard to read.

I went through the grief cycle every time we got more court papers from them. First denial, "I can't believe they are really doing this. Are they really going to continue?" Sadness, "How can they say things like this about me and my husband and shove it under the nose of some judge? Why would they want to hurt me like this?" Then the rage, "I will counter every single one of their ridiculous arguments. I'll fight them every step of the way and they will lose. They will lose everything."

I'm not sure I ever really made it to acceptance early on. I just rode the merry-go-round of emotion and denial. I still couldn't believe that my parents would really do this.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How Did I End Up Here?

How did I end up engaged in a court battle with my parents? It was a long road. I don't know that I can pinpoint an exact date when the conflict began. But before it started, the stage had to be set. I guess the scene, props and characters began populating the stage around the time my son was born.

I was first married in January of 1999. The marriage was rocky and my husband struggled with a sexual addiction that largely contributed to the dissolution of our marriage. But before the marriage ended, I gave birth to my son in the summer of 2001. I left my husband that fall after he claimed that he no longer wanted to fight his addiction, that he was doing things to make me leave, and his unwillingness to get a job. I had already quit my job and had a six-week-old baby. I was emotional and at a very low point in my life. So I turned to my parents for help.

They very generously opened their doors to me. While I so appreciated having some place to go, it was a little demoralizing returning to the same bedroom where I'd spent all of my elementary, junior and high school days. I was grateful. They were willing to support me and my son financially until he was a little older and I could work and support myself.

So that's how it all began--a loving gesture of parents helping their daughter.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Looking Back: My Childhood

I can't say that my parents were rotten. They never beat me or neglected me. They fed and clothed and loved me. They were pretty involved and we were a pretty tight-knit family. I was the oldest, and had one younger sister.

We took camping trips when we were young and played card games when we were older. We talked and laughed together a lot. They supported both my sister and me in our pursuits.

They weren't perfect and made mistakes, what parent doesn't? But there really wasn't a precedence set for their future court action against me, which I think that was one of the reasons the whole thing shocked and hurt me so deeply.

Lawyer Up

The next step in this dark journey was to shop around for attorneys. It was never a question of weather or not to fight back. I wasn't about to let my parents intimidate me and dictate how and when they would see my son. We needed to stand up to them and fight this.

My husband did most of the footwork. I'm a school teacher and can't really make phone calls and head out for appointments that easily. My husband has a night job and goes to school during the day, so he was able to take some time out of his homework time to meet and talk with them. Many attorneys didn't even know how to advise us because cases like this are rare. Ultimately we found one that we felt would be ready to fight for us and wouldn't bankrupt us with his fees.

Once we secured an attorney, we prepared our counter attack, or in the legal world, our "response".