It has been close to eight months since my divorce has been finalized, a year and two months since I filed and about two years since I made the decision that I wanted to end my marriage. The roller-coaster Continue reading How Divorce Made Me Into A Better Woman
Daily I walk around my small, picturesque town with a thought bubble over my head: “Person Going Through A Divorce.” When I look at other people, I automatically form thought bubbles over their heads. “Happy Couple With Stroller.” “Innocent Teenage Girl With Her Whole Life Ahead Of Her” . . . “Young Kids Kissing Publicly.” Then every so often I see one like me, one of the shambling gaunt women without makeup, looking older than she is: “Divorcing Woman Wondering How The Fuck This Happened.”
–Suzanne Finnamore, Split: A Memoir of Divorce
I often wonder when perusing through the streets alone with eyes smothered with running mascara after a frustrating day, or a face full of anxiety while holding each of my children’s hands rushing to their schools in the morning aiming to make it to work on time, that people also categorize me and label my “bubble” on my head as a “Divorced Woman On The Brink Of A Break-Down”. When deciding to end your marriage and starting over, you anticipate adversity, however you plan and believe it is manageable and there is a means to an end. But at times it seems you are always running making sure you cover all bases, meet deadlines, aim for happy smiles on your children’s faces, but something is always missed. Periods of being overwhelmed is an understatement. The mountain that your climbing keeps appearing taller and taller as each day goes by. You are aiming to re-build your life, find inner-happiness and create a fulfilling foundation that your children can call home. However, chaos is your life….every place you perch symbolizes confusion. Unorganized work desk of mounting deadlines, a bottom-less overflowing laundry basket that never is a 100% empty despite the numerous of loads you put in the wash, toys astray on the living room floor despite efforts of picking up all the doll house furniture, crayons, playing cards and toy-airplanes the other day, escalating bills which 10% are still addressed to your former spouse. There is not much time for self grooming let alone pampering, a day at the hair and nail salon…maybe next weekend there will be time. That balanced routine you aim at mastering all on your own seems an incredible task to accomplish.
However, these battle wounds and struggles are signs of strength and perseverance. I have not yet threw in the towel and say “Screw It”. Divorce is not easy. Piloting the co-parenting situation is exhausting as well as managing your career, maintaining your house and living independently. Yes, everything can be fucking overwhelming! But the journey in becoming a “Happily Me” is well worth the battle! So why the bubble over my head can be “Puzzled Divorced Woman Trying To Figure It All Out” it will eventually transcend to “Happily Divorcee Doing Her Thang”
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According to U.S. Weekly, Tyrese Gibson’s ex-wife Norma Gibson denies visitation with his six-year-old daughter Shayla. His ex-wife denied him a court custodial order on Feb. 11, 2014 when he arrived to pick up his daughter. Tyrese called the police and his ex-wife called TMZ. The couple have been divorced since 2009. According to his rep, this is not the first time he has been denied visitation and it has been an ongoing saga.
The Shriver Report created by Maria Shriver provides journalism at its finest. The origin and purpose are to discuss current issues impacting the world from the front lines. It incorporates documentaries, interviews and her own insights on life’s struggles and miracles.
Her latest study: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From The Brink— discusses a whole host of topics of the strength and struggle of the American woman. Various celebrities have penned letters discussing topics under various subsections such as:
(For a complete listing of articles go to http://shriverreport.org/special-report/a-womans-nation-pushes-back-from-the-brink/)
One letter I did want to share was the one from LeBron James. This particular one resonated with my spirit. I am a testament from a single-mother family through my teen years and am now a single-mother now. While it does not matter how you came about with your title of “Single Mom”, whether the children’s father is a contributor or not: if you are the custodial parent and when everyone backs out on their commitments, it is up to you to rise to the occasion.
By LeBron James
I am honored to participate in a project that is trying to help single mothers who are struggling to make a living and raise their kids, because that perfectly describes my mother when I was growing up. You think LeBron James is a champion? Gloria James is a champion too. She’s my champion.
My mother really struggled. She had me, her only child, when she was just 16 years old. She was on her own, so we lived in her mom’s great big house in Akron, Ohio. But on Christmas Day when I was 3 years old, my grandmother suddenly died of a heart attack, and everything changed. With my mom being so young and lacking any support and the skills and education necessary to get ahead, it was really hard for us.
We lost the house. We moved around from place to place—a dozen times in three years. It was scary. It was catch as catch can, scraping to get by. My mom worked anywhere and everywhere, trying to make ends meet. But through all of that, I knew one thing for sure: I had my mother to blanket me and to give me security. She was my mother, my father, my everything. She put me first. I knew that no matter what happened, nothing and nobody was more important to her than I was. I went without a lot of things, but never for one second did I feel unimportant or unloved.
Finally, when I was 9 years old, my mother made a supreme sacrifice. She decided that while she was figuring out how to get on her feet, I needed some stability in my life. I needed to stay in one place and experience the support and security that she had felt growing up in a big family. So she sent me to live with my pee-wee football team coach, “Big Frankie” Walker, and his family. She later said to me, “It was hard, but I knew it was not about me. It was about you. I had to put you first.”
I stayed with the Walkers for a year, and what a gift that was! I was in the same school all year, slept in the same bed all year, played on the same football team all year, and Big Frankie put me on my first basketball team. I saw my mom every weekend.
When my mother was able to rent a two-bedroom apartment with the help of a government-assistance program, I moved back in with her. We stayed together until I finished high school. The rest is history.
People always say I am devoted to my mother. That’s true, but only because for every minute of my life, she has been devoted to me. My mother taught me what devotion truly means. I have tried to pass along her example by helping kids who are growing up in single-parent homes through the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
After the Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship, the team was invited to the White House. Speaking about me, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, President Barack Obama said, “For all the young men out there who are looking up to them all the time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids and is there for them day in and day out, that’s a good message to send. It’s a positive message to send, and we’re very proud of them for that.1”
The truth is that everything I’ve learned about being a parent to my boys—9-year-old LeBron Jr. and 6-year-old Bryce—I learned from my mother. Everything I know about being loving and caring, and sacrificing and showing up and being present in my children’s lives—I learned all of that from her example.
Gloria James was a working single mother who struggled and got the job done.
And for that, I say, “I love you, Mom. Thank you.”
The Super single-mom is the sole-household provider, multi-task expert, nutritionist and culturally enriching role-model to her children. The Super single-mom handles the bills, grocery lists, homework, transporting and cleaning. She smiles and encourages her children to aspire and attain their many desires in life. The single-mom wakes up early lays out her children’s school clothes, packs their lunches and fits herself in her work-dress. She proceeds to drop her children off to school and make her call-in time at work. This is despite mini-emergencies of spilled milk on the children’s clean and crisp school clothes, nose bleeds and scrapes from a fall.
Throughout her day she handles her work demands attentively. Her brief downtime during the day is used to coordinate kids pick-up, scheduling of doctors appointments and after-school activities. All of this is handled between meetings, phone calls and getting that end-of day deliverable on her boss’s desk. The super single mother leaves work exhausted but ready to start her second shift as the caretaker to her children. Her reflection of stresses from the day and life struggles are short-lived as she suddenly is overwhelmed with glees and demands from her children upon walking into her home. Simultaneous requests are received from her children. One wants to play a board game and the other needs help with homework. Then the cried for hunger begin. Aiming to tend to her children wants is then interrupted by the dissatisfaction of her well- thought-out healthy meal to her children’s preferences for snacks. Her downtime to herself is limited. Yet, while not much time to pamper herself before bed, she wakes up and begins the entire routine the next day.
She is the backbone of her household. While exhausted, physically and emotionally drained, she carries on. Her children keep her strong. Some days she just wants to sleep in, play hooky and avoid the office politics…yet she is reminded of her children’s welfare. At times, she just wants to close the door to her room and plop on her bed, yet she greets her children’s requests with a smile.
She looks at her effort, and wonders if the days will improve. She has only two arms, two legs and one brain. Yet she manages to get everything done all by herself. Her labor is not always appreciated. There is always someone telling her how to be a better employer, money-manager, mother, daughter and friend. Rarely is there someone who shows appreciation for her diligence, strength, selflessness, unconditional love, commitment and consistency. It is expected of her to execute and maintain a pleasant disposition. God forbid if her spirit cracks or she does not have the answer to everything. There is always someone pointing out her flaws but no one to shower her with appreciation for holding it down each and every day and being the Super Single Mom she is.
Kudos to the Super Single Mommies out there. While we wear our cape deservingly….it is not always easy. From one single mommy to another. I admire your perseverance, strength and aim to always think in the best interest of your children.
Photo Source: Fox 26 Houston
According to Fox News in Houston, a father was charged in contempt of court for over-paying child support and exceeding visits to his son. Apparently, terms were modified in the child support agreement without his knowledge. The judge sentenced him to six months in jail and required to pay his ex-wife’s attorney fees. The father Clifford Hall, over paid child support by $3,000 which the judge found contemptible. Hall expressed:
“I can’t be there for my son in jail,” Hall said. “I can’t pay child support in jail. This is not in the best interest of the child.”
One parent attacking the other where the child suffers is unacceptable. But what makes this more ludicrous is that the court system went against the primary purpose of establishing child support agreements–to protect the child. The judge is supposed to consider the best interest of the child. When I was going through my divorce proceedings, New Jersey requires you to attend a mandatory counseling course if there are children involved.The course re-iterated that the judge’s number one priority is the child’s welfare. This judge did not consider this when sentencing the father to six months in jail.
There are many child custody issues out there where the non-custodial parent is not meeting their mandatory visitation schedule and/or coming short on their financial obligation. Because a father is going above and beyond, jail time is justified? This is despite whether the child support agreement was amended or not. Is the judge going to credit his prior year child support over payments to the time he was not able to work while incarcerated? Will the father get to double-up his visitation once his sentence ends to replace the time missed while locked up? I think not. What mother would take their child’s father’s to court because of his efforts in being a good father to his son? Why would a woman be so bitter over an ex-husband to make his life miserable at the expense of the child?
When talking with many fathers where the relationship with the mother did not end on a positive note, they complain how many women have used their children to get back at whatever wrong was done in the relationship. They cite women withholding the opportunity of them spending quality time with their child. Seeking monetary gains in lieu of nourishing the child with fatherly love.
This is unacceptable in my opinion. Whatever the reason the mother thought it was necessary to take the father for court by being the “model” dad, is not justifiable. Squash your differences for the sake of your children. If there are two willing participating parents in your child’s life, let him thrive from both parents love. Do not deprive the child because of your differences.
The judicial system is flawed. The judge should be revoked from her duties. The outcome of this case should be reconsidered.
What Are Your Thoughts? Should a Man Do Time For Over-Extending His Parenting Duties?
For complete article, click on the following link.
Divorce isn’t the child’s fault. Don’t say anything unkind about your ex to the child, because you’re really just hurting the child.
I reflect on my Christmas season so far with the sprouts. This is the first season with just us three. We had an awesome time trimming the tree, baking ginger bread cookies, sipping egg nog and watching Continue reading Christmas New Beginnings with the Sprouts!
One of the sole reasons why I wanted to start this blog was to aid those who are in an unhappy marriage or separated from their spouse but cannot really move forward with their lives because of the fear of “divorce” itself. The word “divorce” has so many negative connotations. Movies highlight the divorce process as stressful, differences are escalated and all reasoning is removed. Hollywood sensationalize the gold digger wife aiming to take more than half of his spouses earnings…and the husband transferring assets to the Cayman Islands to avoid paying part of his wealth towards his kids.
Many of my peers are surprised when they learn that I am divorced from my former spouse. They are shocked because 1) this is the first time hearing that I am no longer married, as they think to themselves what the heck happen, and 2) stunned that I chose to end my marriage and it is already completed. They often have follow-up questions on how was I able to end my divorce quickly. My marriage was not a drive-through marriage, there were kids and assets that were involved….and we were married for about three-quarters of a decade.
However, I wanted a quick-ending and researched how the drive-through marriages were dissolved before their one year anniversary. I was terrified of the divorce process. I was trying to justify ways of annulling my marriage even though our marriage did not qualify for an annulment. I heard the stories from my now divorced friends about how much money they spent on lawyers. Ewwwww! I did not want to waste any additional funds, his or mine on any lawyers. I am already thinking of how I am going to afford my lifestyle solo…so if possible I am avoiding the lawyer route.
I also did not want nor have the time to take off of work to go back and forth to court. That seemed like an arduous process. Why would I want some judge who doesn’t even know me nor my kids lifestyle to determine what I should rightfully deserve a month? I know my bills intricately, way more than a judge that is not hip to the current parents generation costs of raising kids. Shoot, just birthday parties alone are 20x more than they were for the 70s, 80s or 90s babies. The cost per kid for a birthday party in New York City almost equates to the cost per person at a moderate wedding in the MidWest. Yeah, that judge would not understand, nor my son who attends these fabulous birthday bashes and wonder why he is not having a birthday celebration this year. So yes, I had to take all of that into account too.
Plus, more importantly I did not like nor wanted my status to be classified as “Separated”. I wanted that title to be as short-lived as possible. No pun attended for those that are “separated” and are comfortable with their status. But for me, I loathed that label…..I felt being “separated” meant that I was not 100% my own woman. I “technically” still belong to someone. Matter-of-fact everyone I would meet while I was going through the divorce process felt the same way. The status “separate” means to me that she is unhappy in her marriage and is taking a break but not necessarily taking the steps to dissolve the marriage and move on with her life. When I was dating, if a gent said he was separated, that is exactly what I thought of him and moved on. And as expected, when a man met me while “status” is separated, that is exactly what they thought of me and I should expect the same. So I thought lets just eliminate all of those ambiguities as quickly as possible. I want to press forward with my life.
I will admit while my divorce process to my friends appeared seamless….we had our spouts. Boy, did we! But our spouts were between us, not with a third-party involved….and the major battles were handled before I filed the divorce papers.
Last fall, I came to the absolute decision that the divorce would be imminent. My pondering thoughts from the Spring and Summer reached a conclusion. So what did I do, I went online and read about the divorce process. Figured which way I would be filing…hmmm…”unreconcilable differences”. I thought that was the best category and the quickest way in New Jersey to end a marriage. There was no “separated” for a year requirement. Six months were required, and the man and wife could “technically” be under the same roof but sleep in separate dwellings. The six months began from the time you started the paperwork, not when you filed. Hmmmm. Sign me up!
I thought what can a lawyer do that I cannot do for myself? I went to business school, am a Certified Public Accountant, I know how to complete my tax returns…yeah, who needs a lawyer. I created an Excel spreadsheet and itemized every cost associated with my kids. The basketball clinic, daycare, school tuition, dance classes, summer camp, clothing, hair cuts, food and sitter cost. Then I itemized housing costs, rent, electricity, cable, mortgages and etc. I looked at what each of our contributions were to all of these costs. I looked at the housing costs that I pay monthly and the entire amount that I would end up paying, sans any contribution from him. Okay…that might be a bit of a stretch….but I paid this rent before on my own when we were living in two states. I think I can make this work. I then had a larger contribution towards the kids expenses….so I thought maybe this is where I could balance the difference. So I came with a monthly figure of the entire cost and did a clean and fair allocation. There it was all of the costs of living and supporting his kids right in front of him. The details were there….I thought to myself, I wish he would say something! Easy, rational clean break, right? Ha! Oh boy, he said something all right.
Round 1: The battle begins. He says that while the expenses somewhat appeared accurate, (thought I embellished a bit), he also has to think about getting his own place and other additional expenses. Yeah, I guess I did not quite factor that in. But my expenses would be higher too. Hello! This is not going to be easy for both of us, I said. We are both incurring additional costs. I am not asking alimony…just child support. Of course, his rebuttal was he could technically ask for alimony too and claim full custody. Whoa!! Wasn’t expecting that. I thought this would be relatively easy. Isn’t it natural that the mother gets full custody, especially when the kids are younger? Plus, I am better organized and if I left the kids with him…didn’t even want to think of that notion. Anyway, he travels for his job…so that option does not exist.
So I look at the numbers again, I knock a few hundred off. He should be good with this. I begin to research the filing process and required forms. There are so many forms needed, good grief! On the New Jersey website…. the types of forms are cited but I don’t see where you can download them. At this time, I feel that I am on a roll….yeah I went this far, who needs a lawyer to hand me forms and charge me an exorbitant fee. Found a website http://www.divorcewriter.com, my Savior. Essentially, it was an online questionnaire that ask all of the essential questions to complete all of the divorce filing forms. The website itemize your assets, childcare costs, division of property, delegates which parent has the kids on holidays, and whether it is every holiday or alternating holidays. Wow! So much I have to answer… not sure I knew all of these answers yet. I manage to complete it all and pay the nominal fee. The forms were sent to my email and printed versions were sent Federal Express the next day. Ah yes! Just in time for me to give to my spouse by the end of the day.
Round 2: I deliver the forms to him for review before we file with the court. Well, talk about amnesia! I think it was the initial shock, that I was not playing games and serious about the dissolution of our marriage. I think the whole entire time, he thought I was just blowing steam and providing empty threats. His first blank question was “What the heck is this?” Well a bit more graphic than that. Then after accepting what the forms were, the game of 100 questions began. The amount he would pay, how the child support contribution percentage was calculated and what is all of this amount in the “Other” category that magically boosts the child support total. Hey there! The ending balance is the same as was noted on my spreadsheet I showed you a week or two ago. Do you Remember? The “Other” amount is for all of the additional expenses we choose for our kids that is not necessary a line item on the form. The assets were laid out, you keep what you brought into the marriage and I do the same. I stay where I am at or another place in my building, and you find a place. Simple enough. Then he comes with an idea. He wants to alter the percentage of his contribution based on the hours the kids spend with each of us. He suggests joint custody. Joint legal custody, sure, physical??? Okay buddy….let’s think about that. So every other week you want our kids to have a different house to live under? Oh, what about the times when you are out-of-town for a project? Hmmmm. You are more than welcome to come by in the morning to take the kids to school or come over for visits in the evening and stop by extracurricular activities when they are not with you. I am not keeping them away. I encourage that. We can adjust the percentage for the time you think you will spend with them, that is feasible…but joint custody now. No way! I am not invoking all of that change on my kids right now. When my son becomes older, we can discuss further but not at their age now.
Revisions are again made, and let’s say they were made 3 or 4 more times afterwards. So I had DivorceWriter re-send revised papers at least a few more times. However, we did it amongst ourselves. We did not need a lawyer to come help us to decide. Yes there were threats and blows from each of us. Accusations of how I was not fair with my terms and he was going to have a lawyer to review and defend his behalf. I thought fine, do that but here are the itemize expenses. So now go pay thousands of dollars for them to review but still pay my agreed upon amount. He eventually caved in and a final agreement was made. Can I file these papers now? Sheesh!
Round 3: The battle of selecting a date to get the papers notarize. Finding an agreed upon time just to stop by a bank for a notary was a hassle in itself. Maybe he was avoiding it, who knows. But the dates were re-scheduled a few times. I was finally able to file the divorce papers in January 2013. This followed a few months of us duking it out. I can now say my divorce is filed. I feel relaxed. I accomplished a milestone…and did it without the consult of lawyers. I share the filing information to my then husband. I guess this was another blow. He is thinking….Wow! This woman is serious! She is not joking! Twenty questions are asked again. How long is the process? How will the child support be handled? Will it be taking from my check? He begins to think my child support number is again too high. Really???? I have bitten the bullet and modified the numbers to now barely covering the costs to raise my kids. I am not compromising anymore. So I think if you have a problem, go ahead and bring on the lawyers, cause my foot is down. I make steps to move to another unit in my building, planning for space that can accommodate myself and the kids. He begins to look for a place to live nearby. The process is smooth, he begins to pay his designated amount before our court hearing. This agreed upon process is slowly but surely working. We duked it out and said screw the lawyers!
Any delays are now self-inflicted, delaying in serving the papers, getting notaries on subsequent papers that are required for divorce completion. This is expected, I am a novice, I don’t file divorce papers for a living…and I hope I don’t have to ever go through this again. Finally, we receive a confirmed court date. Yes! The process is almost over. I share the news with my kids father ….Uh oh! He wants the date postponed. Now the uncertain decision of what school my son will attend in the fall is weighing largely on what he is agreeing to pay monthly. Here we go again! I have to re-do the math of all the costs that are entailed in raising our children….and how he actually received the discount “Super Dad” package. I explain to him how he can keep that title of “Super Dad” by acknowledging whatever difference in amounts could be used for other perks and necessities for the children…like a larger contribution in the college fund. Or don’t see it my way, I am ready to duke it out some more. Let Round 4 begin!
In the end there was no delay in our date and the duking out we did months before paid off. We both saved on lawyer fees and were able to come up with an agreement that was in the best interest of our kids. I do not have nightmares or grief of my divorce process. The decision and having a divorce, are stressful enough in itself. Divorce is an emotional undertaking. Why add more anxiety by going into further debt with lawyers when you can use that money towards your children’s future. Duke it Out! Come to an Agreement! And Screw a Lawyer!
Why is it that the mother and father may have similar occupations, similar status in their careers, similar pay…or the mother may favor slightly in all of those variables….that when it comes time for having to adjust your work schedules for the kids….the woman mostly always has to accomodate? Continue reading Co-Parenting Frustration #2