Sunday, April 22, 2012

Parental Alienation and relinquishment of rights

Recently, I was asked the question "what does Parental Alienation have to do with you relinquishing your rights?"

My answer:

Relinquishing my rights was just the straw that broke the camels back. It was 8 years of dealing with a very uncooperative x. It was the constant struggle I had communicating with him. It was the obvious ignored phone calls, the letters that were never received by my children, or the letters that were always sent back to me "address unknown."

It was the interference with visitation that I dealt with. The missed visits because the ex hid them from me. Or, how about when I would ask for a little extra time with the kids an hour or two, and he would always say no. Or when I needed to switch weekends, he would always say no. But if he wanted one of my weekends he would have the kids ask me so that I would feel guilty if I said no. He had the kids involved in activities that interfered with my weekend visitation time, forfieting my friday evenings with the kids so they woudn't miss soccer games the next day. I was never provided with school information or medical emergencies.

This constant struggle of power and control with him was non stop, agonizing and relentless. Once his new wife was in the picture, the communication with him totally stopped and she became the main communicator between he and I.

We never had a year that we were not in court. I would ask for more time with the kids, and he would say it wasn't in their best interest. When we would go back to court, I was always left paying $1000.00 dollars of his attorneys fees for some stupid reason or another. On top of them rasing my child support.

But what really sent me closer to the edge of the cliff, was when my husband and I moved to Alabama. I filed a motion to request a change in the visiation schedule. I needed it modified to allow the kids to be with me in the summer since I was moving out of state. Of course, the ex wasn't having it. Claiming it wasn't in the best interest of the boys. The judge agreed, he said he didn't feel that it would be in the best interest of the boys if they were away from their dad for that long period of time. It was just 6 weeks of summer, seriously?!

....let me go back a few years here:

In 2004, Brian and I hired a lawyer. When we went back to court that year, some things did change. Although the ex wasn't happy about it, I was awarded an extra week of visitaion with my children, and was allowed to pick them up from school on Fridays. Victory for me. I wasn't going to complain. She also was able to reduce my child support, just a little. Again, the ex wasn't happy. He stormed out of that court room rambbling something in swedish.

During that same court hearing, his attorney was happy with the modification of child support either, and made it well known that he was going to file a motion to have it reenstated to what it should be. The judge said "you can file all the motions you would like too, this women is already paying what I felt was enough, and I won't change it."

Well, his attorney did exactly what he said he would do, and the judge, the same judge, did exactly what he said he wouldn't do. So, he raised my child support. But one little thing his attorney forgot to do, was add in arrearage that I was paying proir to this huge child support issue. From 2000 until 2004, I was not only paying child support, but I was made to pay back arrearage from 2000-2002. So an extra $50 dollars was added onto the amount that I was paying according to the calculations of the "phinplan" that attorney's use to calculate child support.

So conviently, he "forgot" to add that $50 back in with this new child support order. I had no clue until 3 years later.

I hope I am not loosing anyone so far.

Ok, fast forward to 2007.

I made a phone call to child support to report that I quit my job. But I was going to make every effort to make sure that I paid something, so that I would't be in trouble. Why do they tell you to call child support if you loose or quit your job? They don't do anything but say ok.

Anyway, when I called child support that day, the recording said that I owed over $14, 000 in child support! How could that be when it was being taken out of my check bi-weekly? Something just didn't add up? I was dumfounded, speechless, scared and shocked. How could this be?

Well, in 2000 when I was ordered to pay $100 week, when I wasn't even working at the time, that was adding up. It added up for 2 years. Then in 2002 when the divorce was finalized, and a new child support order was made, they added that $50 in with that new child support order. But only $50 dollars each check. So $100 a month was for arrearage. That $100 a month didn't even begin to touch the surface of that arrearage.

Then in 2004, when that other child support order was made, he somehow over looked that extra $100 a month and didn't add it in with this new support order. So from what wasn't getting paid, from the first arrearage, and the overlooked $100 from started to add up. Not to mention the interest. Yes, I said interest!

In 2008, I hired yet another attorney to help me get this mess cleaned up. She was going to try and get my summer visiation with my children since by this time, I had already moved to Alabama.

On June 20, 2008 we went to court regarding child support and visitation. His attorney had filed contempt charges on me for not paying child support, and for the arrearage that HE failed to add on to that support order in 2004.

In court that day, the judge denied my request for summer visiation with my kids. He didn't feel it was in their best interest to be away from their dad for that long. OK, I covered that!

Here is where it gets all sticky.....

In January of 2008, I filed a motion to modify child support. I sent the ex and his attorney a copy of the motion like I was suppose to do. I showed up at court that day, and they didn't. But the judge lowered my child support to what I could afford at that time, since I wasn't working and we were about to move to Alabama. The judge ordered me to pay like $150 a week or something like that, anyway, at least he signed off on it and I felt better. But he did say that my ex won't like this and will probably file another motion to change it. And, he did!

I hired this new attorney in April of 2008. I got a part time job and started in May of 2008...making $9.00 hr. (which I had to provide my stub to my attorney)

When I lost my job in November of 2007, and called to report that I lost it....the order for child support didn't stop, it just kept building and building....week after week. Although, I was paying what I could weeky with Brian's check....I sent the ex $150 a week. I know it wasn't the $800 he was use to receiving, but I made the effort and paid that.

When I got my job in Alabama, still made sure to make that payment. I wrote a check out directly to him and mailed it.

His attorney filed a few motions, one for contempt of not paying, filing a motion without knowing how, failure to provide them with the motion I filed...and of course, a motion to raise child support.

That's when I hired the new attorney in April of 2008. This was getting way out of control and I felt like I was being railroaded again.

On June 20, 2008 the judge ordered me to pay $1200 dollars a month, mind you on my $9.00 part time salary.....$1000 just in child support and the other $200 to start October 1, 2008 which equals $1200 a month. I also had to pay for $1000 dollars of his attorneys fees for filing the contempt charges. Although those charges were dropped since I made the effort to pay child support, even though it wasn't the full amount....

I left that court room that day in tears. I was confused and sick. How does a judge order someone to pay $1200 a month in child support when he sees that I am making $9.00 hr part time?

This is when the options of relinquishing my rights came into the picture.

This wasn't the first time I had actually though about it. A few years earlier, I had made the comment in an email to HER. I said "it would be a lot easier if I just relinquished my rights and waited until my kids turned 18." This was probably after being told I can't see the boys for an extra hour......I got so fed up with dealing with her, and constantly being told no when I wanted to spend time with my kids. I wanted to scream!

Her relpy back was "adoption can be arranged!" I was livid!

After the judge made is final decision, I looked at my attorney, who did nothing by the way to help me, and said "I am being forced to give up my right's, this is what it's boiling down too!"

Since I was in Illinois that day, and it was time for my summer visitation, I had requested that I pick up the kids that evening. I was denied that, again. I was awarded my rental time to begin at 6pm the next evening because "they" had plans. How? When I specifically requested that I pick them up that Friday night so I can get back on the road Saturday morning.

The judge did allow for me to rent them for that evening from 6pm until 8 or 9 pm.

So I picked them up and took them back to our hotel. It had a pool so the kids swam and then we went to McDonalds for some ice cream. Little did I know that was going to be the last time I would spend with my oldest son, Cody.

When we got back to the hotel, the kids were excited to see me. They asked when were we leaving for Alabama? I told them not until Sunday morning because dad said he had plans for you guys tomorrow. They all looked puzzled, like they didn't know anything about these "plans!" So while the kids were swimming, I called my attorney and let her know about my recent discovery. Not like she could do anything about it....and not like she would later on either. Another way to keep me from being with the boys any longer then he wanted me too.

The next day I was there at 6pm to pick them up. Cody wasn't able to come during this visit because he had football camp. I totally understood and didn't want him to miss it.

So from June 21, 2008 until July 5th, 2008 I was with my boys. During this time, all I could think about was how am I going to pay $1200 a month in child support. I couldn't!

But how could I just sign my rights away to my kids either? What was going on? Was this some type of sick joke? I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to think about it...I just wanted to enjoy my boys while I had them.

July 5th, 2008 I dropped off my boys for the last time. It would be the last time I would talk to them, hug them, see them, smell them....hear their voices or tell them I loved them.

The pressure was on to make a decision. Although my attorney will say she didn't pressure me, she did. I was being forced to make this life changing decision or pay up.

So, I sat down and did the math again. If I could use my entire paycheck to pay the $1200, that would leave me broke. I would still be, behind in child support so that would cause them to file another contempt charge and possibly to go jail this time. Which to me, is so unfair when I was trying to do the best I could with what income I had.

My options were looking grim. So, once again I receive a letter from my attorney, stating that if I decided to relinquish my rights, that $14,000 dollars in arrearage goes away, I won't owe that anymore.

So here it is again....either I pay what I can on $9.00 hr and not meet what I am ordered to pay, get in trouble for NOT paying it in full....and then what I can't pay starts to add up even more....or relinquish my rights and it all goes away.

This is what they wanted.....they wanted to put me in this position from day one. This is right where he wanted me to be. Stuck with no place to go....and left with one option. He finally pushed me over the edge....he had finally won after all those years.

It started when he would't budge from the court order allowing me extra time with the kids. The failed attempts to at making phone calls to them through the week. The letters that were sent back....all very easy to tell the boys that I never tried to call, that I never sent letters....that I never ask for extra time....all so easy for him to just put me in this position now....finally the straw that broke my back.

On August 13, 2008......the life I had with my kids ended.

I didn't know that Parental Alienation exsisted until AFTER I was forced to relinquish my rights. Would it have made a difference? At that time, probably not. But I do think that with all the noise other mothers and fathers are making now about it, and bringing awareness...I think I might have had a chance....and I don't think that It would have ever led to me relinquishing my rights.

So I hope this helps you have a better understanding as to your question.

As you can see, I didn't want to do it. It was something that I was forced to do. My hands were tied and it was all part of the plan to remove me from the lives of my children. If it wasn't their plan all along, then why did their step mom feel the need to adopt my kids and change their names?

If it wasn't their plan all along, why are they trying so hard to keep me out of my oldest sons life now?

If it wasn't their plan all along to keep me from my children, then why did you file an Order of Protection against me for calling my son on his birthday? Does wishing my son a happy birthday really warrant an Order of Protection? It does if you don't want me to have any contant with my children.

Do an OP really need to be extended for 63 years? Only if they NEVER want me to contact my children for the rest of their lives.

So if it wasn't ever really your plan all along, and you believe you did't force me into this, then what is it?

So does a parent who is being forced to relinquish their rights means that it is Parental Alienation? YES IT DOES!!!

Symptoms of Parental Alienation

Copyright 1997 by Douglas Darnall, Ph.D.

To prevent the devastating effects of Parental Alienation, you must begin by recognizing the symptoms of PA. You will notice that many of the symptoms or behaviors focus on the parent. When the child exhibits hatred and vilifies the targeted parent, then the condition becomes parental alienation syndrome. After reading the list, don't get discouraged when you notice that some of your own behaviors have been alienating. This is normal in even the best of parents. Instead, let the list help sensitize you to how you are behaving and what you are saying to your children.

1. Giving children choices when they have no choice about visits. Allowing the child to decide for themselves to visit when the court order says there is no choice sets up the child for conflict. The child will usually blame the non-residential parent for not being able to decide to choose whether or not to visit. The parent is now victimized regardless of what happens; not being able to see his children or if he sees them, the children are angry.

2. Telling the child "everything" about the marital relationship or reasons for the divorce is alienating. The parent usually argues that they are "just wanting to be honest" with their children. This practice is destructive and painful for the child. The alienating parent's motive is for the child to think less of the other parent.

3. Refusing to acknowledge that children have property and may want to transport their possessions between residences.

4. Resisting or refusing to cooperate by not allowing the other parent access to school or medical records and schedules of extracurricular activities.

5. A parent blaming the other parent for financial problems, breaking up the family, changes in lifestyle, or having a girlfriend/boyfriend, etc.

6. Refusing to be flexible with the visitation schedule in order to respond to the child's needs. The alienating parent may also schedule the children in so many activities that the other parent is never given the time to visit. Of course, when the targeted parent protests, they are described as not caring and selfish.

7. Assuming that if a parent had been physically abusive with the other parent, it follows that the parent will assault the child. This assumption is not always true.

8. Asking the child to choose one parent over another parent causes the child considerable distress. Typically, they do not want to reject a parent, but instead want to avoid the issue. The child, not the parent, should initiate any suggestion for change of residence.

9. Children will become angry with a parent. This is normal, particularly if the parent disciplines or has to say "no". If for any reason the anger is not allowed to heal, you can suspect parental alienation. Trust your own experience as a parent. Children will forgive and want to be forgiven if given a chance. Be very suspicious when the child calmly says they cannot remember any happy times with you or say anything they like about you.

10. Be suspicious when a parent or stepparent raises the question about changing the child's name or suggests an adoption.

11. When children cannot give reasons for being angry towards a parent or their reasons are very vague without any details.

12. A parent having secrets, special signals, a private rendezvous, or words with special meanings are very destructive and reinforce an on-going alienation.

13. When a parent uses a child to spy or covertly gather information for the parent's own use, the child receives a damaging message that demeans the victimized parent.

14. Parents setting up temptations that interfere with the child's visitation.

15. A parent suggesting or reacting with hurt or sadness to their child having a good time with the other parent will cause the child to withdraw and not communicate. They will frequently feel guilty or conflicted not knowing that it's "okay" to have fun with their other parent.

16. The parent asking the child about his/her other parent's personal life causes the child considerable tension and conflict. Children who are not alienated want to be loyal to both parents.

17. When parents physically or psychologically rescue the children when there is no threat to their safety. This practice reinforces in the child's mind the illusion of threat or danger, thereby reinforcing alienation.

18. Making demands on the other parent that is contrary to court orders.

19. Listening in on the children's phone conversation they are having with the other parent.

20. One way to cause your own alienation is making a habit of breaking promises to your children. In time, your ex-spouse will get tired of having to make excuses for you.

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