I got divorced in 1998. I had a two sons, ages one and three and a five year old daughter.
My ex-husband wanted me to pay him 20,000$ in the divorce settlement. Apparently since I was keeping the house he thought he had a right to that amount. I had two problems with that. First problem was that it had been my Father and I who had purchased the house and second problem was that I didn’t have that kind of money.
We had several heated conversations about the divorce and a friend of mine suggested I start taping any phone calls with him. In one phone call, my ex-husband threatened my life. Fortunately I had taped that phone call. I handed that tape to my lawyer and soon the settlement amount dropped to $5,000.
My lawyer drew up papers for joint conservatorship. It was not what most people would consider joint custody. My ex only took my children on the weekends and that only lasted until my daughter became a teenager.
If my lawyer was any good when my ex-husband threatened my welfare, red flags should have been waving. Any threat or evidence of violence can be considered a contraindication to joint conservatorship.
If my lawyer would have asked me, I would have admitted to several incidents of my husband choking me and slapping me.
The court was supposed to use the following statements as a guide to award joint conservatorship:
- Children should have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown an ability to act in the best interest of the child;
- Children should grow in a safe, stable and nonviolent environment;
Since my lawyer did not look out for the best interest of my children. I was the one who had to confront my ex about his anger issues.
One confrontation occurred when my children said that my ex would throw my youngest son into bed at night. This brought back horrible memories of one night when my ex had thrown my daughter into bed so hard that I ordered him out of the room because he was crazy and I was scared he was going to kill her.
I confronted him about this response to my youngest son’s desire to sleep in bed with him. My ex-husband’s response to this was to cuss me out.
The other time was when friends of mine told me that they noticed that his second wife smelled of alcohol when she picked my kids up from different events.
I called him on the phone to relay this bit of information to him. He denied that his second wife drank at all. I told him “I didn’t care if she drank but she had better not have my kids in the car if she did.” Ten years later I heard from my ex-husband that his second wife, whom he had already divorced, had committed suicide. Guess how she did it? She overdosed on alcohol.
In 1998 I had no idea of the laws that were written to protect me and my children. I apparently had hired a worthless lawyer who just wanted the money and didn’t really care about the welfare of my children.
Internet was a foreign concept to me then. I was too busy working thirty-two hours on the weekend and coming home to raise three toddlers to even think or have the energy to fight a system, which I know now is corrupt and broken.
For those who want to look up the specifics of joint conservatorship go to Family Law Code of Texas and it is 153.00 which specifies the requirements for Joint Conservatorship.