The final court hearing took place yesterday. My attorney was allowed to withdraw from representing me. I initially opposed his motion but when he said that I had disrespected him and it was evident that he would take no responsibility for what he had told me, I approved his withdrawal. I was perfectly ok with doing it when I found out that his signature was not needed on the documents.
The documents had been signed by the defendant before the hearing but since the child support worksheet did not reflect his new employer and increased income, I had been advised to not sign. When I explained that to the magistrate, he informed the defendant and his counsel that we would not be filing documents with fictitious numbers. The defendant's counsel used this as an opportunity to bring up my second job and ask that it be included in my income. They also fought to have 2 clauses removed from the shared parenting agreement. One was a clause preventing adults in the home from consuming alcohol when the minor children were present. The other was a clause that had been part of the original document that they drafted stating that the parents would equally pay the costs for extracurricular expenses and school related activities, car insurance and cell phones until the minor children graduate from high school.
I argued for both of those clauses to be kept in there. Raising teenagers is expensive, especially when they play sports and are driving age. The magistrate informed me that when the non-residential parent is paying the required child support then that is suppose to cover any and all expenses. I argued that the clause was in the original agreement that the defendant's counsel drafted. I fought so hard for that to be kept in the agreement. But in the end I lost because that section was not read on the record during the hearing on the 17th. The defendant's counsel was working to make things financially easier on her client.
I thought that decisions that are made during a divorce are supposed to be in the best interest of the children. To keep consistency and a stable environment for the kids. To allow the kids to maintain the same lifestyle that they had before the divorce. I've learned through this entire process that so many things are messed up. The residential parent is responsible for keeping a roof over their head, putting food on the table, providing clothing, making sure that they have transportation, cellphones and paying for all extracurricular expenses. The non-residential parent is responsible to pay a small percentage of their income to financially support their children. This percentage ranges from 10 - 25% in most cases. In many situations the residential parent works multiple jobs, picks up extra hours, and is stretched extremely thin as they try to make ends meet and still be there for their kids. It's almost like the kids lose 2 parents....one moves out and starts a new life with someone else and the other one is constantly working to keep the lights on and food on the table. Neither of those things is in the best interest of the children.
I am thankful that this part of the process has come to an end. I feel like I've been trapped in hell for the past few months. Today I woke up feeling a little lighter and a little freer. Even though things went differently than I wanted yesterday, I know that God is ultimately in control. He has carried me and the kids through so much over the past year. He has provided food, financial support, and friends who show up at just the right time. And today for the first time in almost 3 months, I received child support from the defendant. It's the first step into a better future for my kids.