I am at a crossroad.
My DCs are 6 months and 2.5. Their father and I have been co-parenting for over a year now in that we've spent half the week at his house together and half the week at my house together, because we both want the both of us to be in the kids' lives as much as possible. We live in different cities, anywhere from a 20 minute to 1 hour drive apart from each other. This arrangement has been a huge sacrifice for me, but I felt it was the best decision I could make for the kids. And until about 4 months ago, I still had some hope, (still wanted), that we may be able to work on the relationship. I do not have this hope or want anymore.
This situation no longer works. Relations are increasingly hostile. There is a history of abuse. Ex has acknowledged his abusive nature, may suffer from depression, has seeked help at various points in our relationship, but pretty much says he hates me for wasting all of these years of his life and treats me poorly.
I no longer feel at ease when he is in my home. I am comfortable in his to a degree because I don't feel like he is in my space or able to go through my things.
He is not a bad father. DS loves him to pieces. He loves our DCs. When left alone with them, (less than an hour at any time), things are a little chaotic when I return, or the tvs on and DS is zoned out while ex holds DD on his lap waving a toy in front of her face and using his smartphone or his laptop. Times he had DS alone, he would frequently call his mother in and have her watch DS while he came and went running errands or things of that nature. When I'm around, (basically always), he makes a bigger effort, we go out to do things, tv is limited, we (I) engage the kids, play with them, etc.
So, the crossroad. I've had enough. I just want to file for sole custody and be done with him and carry on with my life. Not be surrounded by negativity, or be spoken to abusively, or be on alert at all times, or try to turn the other cheek and always be the calm, rational one, etc. I can't do it though. I am fairly certain I will be granted sole custody and though ex will fight me for it (and mentioned he'll lie, if necessary), he'll end up with every other weekend. My kids will not get to see him. He will not get to see the kids. This breaks my heart. They are everything to him. And DS loves his father dearly.
Have any of you been in this position? How did you make the decision to cut ties?
If I knew that 6 months down the road his anger would subside, and co-parenting would be easier and positive I could stick it out. If I knew that things would only get worse, or stay the same, I would just get it over with now and file because it's inevitable. I just can't do it though. I have the paperwork practically completed. I just feel so guilty.
will he go to counseling with you?
oops...missed that there is a history of abuse. i was thinking marital counseling, until i re-read that. counseling with an abuser is a bad idea. it is really rare that anyone gets sole custody any more, unless s/he can prove that the other parent is a danger to the children. but if he is indifferent to having them around, he will likely not spend much time with them post-divorce, after an intial disney-dad honeymoon period.
you really have an advantage here, since you already have two homes. you are just going to have to be brave and tell him that you don't want him there until he gets counseling, and works on all the issues you've discussed here. and get some for yourself! even if you don't have the means or time to go long-term, sorting out your feelings and getting the strength to end it is easier with counseling.
You should not endure abuse for the sake of his parenting relationship and it is naive to think it would not at some point start to be directed at your children if it is not already when you are not around. It sounds like he is only parenting them when youa re around to watch and then he abuses you. When youa ren;t around the tv or grandma watches them. I would def file.
I posted in your other thread, but basically you have the right to insist on respectful treatment in front of your children. I agree not to let him in your house. Do you think if you just stopped initiating/inviting that your x might just go with the flow? If so, you may want to try this type of strategy to avoid setting him off (if he gets wind of what is happening, he'll try to make the process difficult for you....but if it happens insidiously he may be okay with it. It sound like he's a slacker and might appreciate the break?
Also, you deserve the space from him to heal too. There's no way they need to see him every day. The kids will adjust and you may see them thrive even more when you get your space and boundaries respected.
I would also be very careful about filing for sole custody before cutting back on his parenting time gradually (so he doesn't know what's happening, it lets you get some status quo established, and more importantly to ease the transition for your kids before things get messy. You may want to cut back his time to what you feel is a visitation schedule that works. Establish a de facto sole custody. and then file for urgent temporary sole custody to get it done quickly and start to establish a legal status quo (or if you're lucky he'll agree and you don't have to take it to court). If you haven't done so already please get sound legal advice from a lawyer who understands abusive men (you local women's shelter can probably recommend some names)...as what was recommended by lawyers here to me might not be applicable to your region. Feel free to pm me as I think you're in Canada?
About counselling, I agree it doesn't work with abusers and they can just use what they learn to manipulate in a more sophisticated manner (was my experience). Also, him getting counselling doesn't guarantee that he'll treat you any better. You are allowed to define what is and isn't acceptable and set boundaries.
I think it's really important to find a lawyer with a good reputation who can give you sound legal advice before entering into mediation. In the case of abusive ex's with personality disorders, it's often best to give them as little information as possible about your intentions (of course being careful to show that you aren't purposefully withholding information about the children). There are many reasons to be careful in mediation, and in some cases it is not appropriate (e.g. abuse, power imbalance, difficulty verbally communicating in times of pressure). And of course you never have to sign anything without a lawyer reviewing it first. Personally I'd have some legal consultations and do as much research as possible before entering into any discussions about custody. For me, I preferred the security of a lawyer (even though it cost me now, it will probably cost less in the long run). I think about how little I knew entering into the process, and how much I have learned since....and how easy it could have been to make innocent mistakes that cost me in the end.
The thing with sole custody is that it doesn't automatically mean it's an every other weekend schedule. You can decide (with his input) on a schedule that works best for the kids (e.g. instead of every other weekend, one can alternate sat/sun day visits, etc.).. And it may or may not include overnights. The most important thing to a judge is that you are showing that the children's interests come first.
The other thing I wonder about is if you have a good support system of witnesses/allies who could back you up if there ends up being a court battle and a court-appointed custody evaluation? Documentation of his lack of involvement? (e.g. doctor appointments, etc.) Just things to think about....
I also have difficulty with your statement below. I think a good father doesn't ignore his kids to use his own toys! Especially when it's only an hour. Goodness!
"He is not a bad father. DS loves him to pieces. He loves our DCs. When left alone with them, (less than an hour at any time), things are a little chaotic when I return, or the tvs on and DS is zoned out while ex holds DD on his lap waving a toy in front of her face and using his smartphone or his laptop. Times he had DS alone, he would frequently call his mother in and have her watch DS while he came and went running errands or things of that nature."
Anyway, thinking of you with 2 little ones - it's a lot on your plate right now! Take care.
I can relate. It's still pretty new to me (a few months). I was conditioned to overlook the bad to see the good. It's a process and it will become clearer as time goes on. The SA forum is a good place to share those feelings in a safe place.
It's great the mediator is supportive of you.