After stalling the divorce for 3 years Dave finally signs the divorce papers. I can now buy a car without having to first send him a ticket to come and put his signature on a loan. The parenting agreement splits custody 80% with me and 20% with Dave. The 20% to take place mostly in summer vacations.
In March 2009, I accidentally stumble upon an online blog post by Dave under the pseudonym Gammalyte in which he describes his drug addiction problems past and present. From the written material it is evident that he has relapsed 18 months prior to the posting, which includes the visitation with Jasmijn in July 2008: in other words he admits to having used heroin and crack cocaine during Jasmijn’s visitation in 2008. The moment I read that post the ground drops from underneath me…my worst nightmare is coming true 🙁
I send him a ticket, confront him with my findings and he admits to the relapse. He talks about being suicidal after losing a close friend. What is best for Dave now is seeking treatment for his drug problems so I let him know I will not go to court to change the visitation arrangement. It’s more important to focus on recovery. At the same time I ask him to understand that I cannot send Jasmijn to stay with him for the summer break when he is in this condition. So I offer an alternative: all 3 of us can go camping in the Grand Canyon together and I can stay in the background to allow lots of personal time between them both. Dave thinks this is very reasonable. He is very pleased with this idea and thanks me for being so understanding – tears in his eyes. We shake hands on it and he goes home to California.
2 weeks later I get served with court papers: two motions with “Request for Child Abduction Prevention”.
Summer time arrives but there is not a hair on my head that is even remotely considering bringing 5-year old Jasmijn to California to stay with her crack-smoking, heroin-shooting father who apparently is not at all on a road to recovery but on a war path instead. Time for a change of scenery. During a visit to a close single momma friend of mine in Taos, New Mexico I fall in love with the sustainable living earthships at the Greater World and make plans for a purchase.
Upon return the judge dismisses the nonsense motions of Child Abduction. After all, I fly back and forth with Jasmijn every year once or twice to see my family in The Netherlands and I always return. I own a home in Austin, I have a full-time job and I’m in the middle of purchasing a second home in Taos.
But Dave is not discouraged by his first loss. No way. He is just getting started and starts to learn all the tricks and trades of the militant father movement. They are very organized with their fatherhood.gov.
Dave changes his strategy with a 2-step process where success is guaranteed. Step 1: Dave accuses me of a PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome).
Step 2: Dave puts me on the defensive with countless motions by accusing me of… well… everything that will remotely stick to the wall when you throw it.
Mind you, this strategy is standard in California custody court. Like a script, a playbook that gets used in almost all of these custody cases to fleece the moms financially. And in civil court you can just about accuse your ex of anything without any evidence. You’re guilty until you can prove your innocence. So the judge allows him to whip me with one motion after another. There are no pro bono civil lawyers. In order to fight the charge of parental alienation and possibly losing custody as a result, I am forced to take out a 2nd mortgage on my house to keep up with the $700 an hour I’m getting charged with. In the end the case cost me $60,000! That calculates to about $10,000 per month for what most will deem “an affordable civil attorney.” The courts make sure these cases never settle in order to extract as much money from the mothers as possible.
Psychological evaluation of both parents and Jasmijn is done by Dr. Dugan. He concludes Jasmijn is fine, Dave is suffering from narcsissism and has a high risk of relapse and all that is wrong with me is that I am stressed.
After the psychological evaluation in Nevada City Court we move in to the trial phase with mandatory mediation.
I’m on the phone in Austin, Texas. Dave and mediator Carmella Cellini are sitting together in Nevada City Superior Court on the other end of the line. Before I can even introduce myself Ms. Cellini starts yelling at me at the top of her lungs: “If you don’t bring Jasmijn to California to visit with Dave I will make sure Jasmijn will be taken away from you!” I just stare at my phone. And THIS is mediation?
Free Jasmijn – #freejasmijn