How to Remove a Good Father
My Ex turned it into an artform.
My Ex speculated that I did everything except love the girls. She accused me of fighting for equal time with our daughters just to hurt her. She accused me of manipulating our oldest and not loving our youngest. She accused me of suffering from Bi-polar disorder. She accused me of not doing anything to contribute to raising the children. Some of the things she didn’t accuse me of were alcohol abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse, adultery, etc… Why? Possibly because those kind of false accusations are harder to make stick without specific examples or evidence. A couple weeks after the orders came out that terminated my parenting time, she decided to stop letting the girls talk to me on the phone. There was no order prohibiting me from talking to the children. I guess she just felt it was getting difficult to explain to the girls why they couldn’t see their dad. If she cut me out, she could tell them anything she wanted.
My Ex’s claims of a Dangerous Father
My wife filed for divorce on January 8, 2007. In her Motion for Provisional Orders dated January 8, 2007, my Ex proposed that I be allowed reasonable visitation in accord with the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. Prior to the Provisional Hearing, my Ex drafted a proposed provisional orders dated January 25, 2007, where she proposed that I have Wednesday and Friday overnights with the children but less than half the weekends in the year. On two separate occasions prior to the February 9, 2007 Provisional Hearing my Ex proposed that I have “reasonable parenting time.” It was only at the Provisional Hearing that my Ex started to request that I have supervised visitation. Because proposals may not be admitted as evidence, I wasn’t able to say “but she trusted me two weeks ago.”
During the course of our marriage, my wife worked evenings and nights as a nurse. By default, I took care of the girls, at least, nearly half the time because she was at work. Making bottles, changing diapers, caring for sick kids, getting ready for bed, playing, and everything else that comes with being a parent of small children. When our oldest was only two months old, my wife went on a weekend shopping trip with friends and left me with our young daughter without any concerns. She went on four or five such trips before our oldest turned three. When my Ex worked consecutive twelve hour shifts, sometimes she stayed in Cincinnati, Ohio with her parents so she didn’t have to drive as much.
I don’t keep firearms for personal protection, I keep them for occasional hunting and target shooting. Just prior to the Provisional Hearing, my wife began making an issue of the guns. I moved them all to a locked closet. She claimed I didn’t keep it locked. I got a gun safe prior to the February 9, 2009 hearing. Prior to the gun safe, I never exposed the girls to firearms. When I got the gun safe, I had to explain to my 3 year old what the big green metal thing in the house was. When she was about 4.5 years old she became more curious so I let her see a plastic gun that shot plastic BB’s. We went over basic safety of how guns are not toys, how you never point them in a direction that you can’t fire, and the importance of keeping it in the safe. When my oldest turned 5, she started bothering me about a pink 22 caliber rifle that she saw at the Bass Pro Shop. For Christmas, Santa brought her a pink BB gun. Before you say it, I’m not like the father who bought Ralphie the Red Ryder BB Gun on the Christmas Story. I didn’t let her carry the gun. I didn’t let her handle the lead pellets. We were in a controlled indoor environment. She used a rest when she shot the gun. We wore eye protection. We shot into a target box that collected the pellets. She could put 3 shots inside an inch circle from 25 feet. It wasn’t “play”, but it was fun. When we were done, we were done. The BB gun went up and we didn’t mess with it. Our experience taught her safety, confidence, and responsibility. My wife testified that I trained her how to use firearms and that I had a 357 Magnum. Judge James Humphrey awarded my Ex, who has never fired a gun, my 357 Magnum and ruled that I am not allowed to have firearms around the children. Judge Humphrey wrote, “Husband began instructing Mary, now age 5, in the use of firearms when she was 4 years old over Wife’s concerns and protests.” My Ex is the same person who accused me of letting young children use DVD players, digital cameras and laptop computers. I understand that some people may have reservations about firearms but I live in a county where the county newspaper regularly has pictures of 6 year old children with deer and turkey they have shot during hunting season. The irony is that many of the people who preach the dangers of firearms are the same people who arm their children with toy guns and encourage them to shoot people.
This is a real fear for a lot of men in divorces involving children. When we were married, my wife and I were guilty of allowing our oldest daughter to sleep in bed with us. It was a situation of choosing to “put our foot down” or to get some sleep. When she was pregnant with our second daughter, I began sleeping on the floor next to Mary’s bed to try to get her in her bed. After a while, I couldn’t shake Mary and I couldn’t get any sleep so we would move to the sectional couch. When Audrey was born, Mary and I would sometimes sleep downstairs while my Ex was at work so one child wouldn’t wake the other one up. My Ex testified that many times she came home from work at 12:30 AM and found Mary awake on the couch while I was sleeping on the floor in front of her. Of course she never mentioned our four dogs that barked when people pulled into the driveway and she never mentioned that Mary would have had to climb over me to get anywhere.
After the Provisional Hearing, I put the girls’ beds in my bedroom and essentially barricaded the door with child gates so she could not say the children were in any kind of danger. My bedroom was 25’x15’ so there was plenty of room for all of the beds. In Dr. Connor’s April 16, 2008 Addendum to the custody evaluation, Dr. Connor wrote that my Ex believed that “the children do not have proper sleeping arrangements at the paternal grandmother’s residence.” Judge Humphrey wrote in the Final Decree, “No overnight visitation shall occur between Husband and the minor children unless they are provided a room of their own.” Did I miss something? Did someone accuse me of some kind of misconduct or abuse? What would an independent reader gather from that statement? If Dr. Connor or my Ex believed that I was engaging in some form of harmful behavior to my children, why didn’t anyone say so? Probably because they know that it is against the law to report child abuse knowing that the allegation is false. However, even though there were no allegations or reports of misconduct, Judge Humphrey said I couldn’t have unsupervised visitation with the children unless they had rooms of their own. I guess we will have to get separate campers, hotel rooms, tents, etc… if we ever go on vacation.
Bipolar Disorder and Possible Ritalin Addiction
Dr. Connor wrote in the custody evaluation:
“[Ex] is concerned that Dan is addicted to his Ritalin and has even got to the point of panic and would pay over $300.00 out of pocket because he could not wait for his insurance to cover the cost.”
Dr. Connor also wrote:
“[Ex] also expressed concern that Dan my have a Bipolar Disorder. Dr. Connor interviewed Dan thoroughly regarding bipolarity and there are no indications that he is bipolar.”
As an adult, I went for treatment for ADHD in 2002. Since then, I have taken Ritalin under the supervision of a doctor and a therapist. Since Ritalin is a highly regulated drug, I have to get a prescription every month. As many people can relate, I have run into my share of problems with insurance companies needing referrals, authorizations, etc… before they will pay for a prescription that they have been paying for a number of years. Did I ever get agitated; yes, but it is the same kind of agitation commonly associated with trying to handle a computer problem with a technician in a third world country. I was a responsible human being before taking Ritalin. I am a more focused responsible human being after taking Ritalin. The pharmacist said I could pay the money up front and the insurance company would reimburse me. I never would have thought that someone would consider that to be a point of panic. No one bothered to check my medical records which document that I have never ran out of my prescription early.
The Bipolar issue is disturbing on varying levels. Dr. Connor and my Ex made numerous comments about my “high” Ritalin dosage in the custody evaluation, neither of whom are medical doctors. My Ex said I may suffer from Bipolar Disorder and Dr. Connor stated he interviewed me thoroughly and there were no indications that I was bipolar. I spoke with my treating physician about the matter and he told me, “you may be something but you’re not Bipolar.” I guess giving Ritalin to a person who is suffering from Bipolar Disorder is like putting out a fire with a fire extinguisher filled with gasoline. Why did Dr. Connor claim he had to interview me “thoroughly”? Why didn’t Dr. Connor note that she falsely accused me of being Bipolar in an effort to limit my time with the children? She either didn’t tell the truth about the Bipolar allegation or she conceded to the fact that she left two small children with a person she believed to be Bipolar so she could go on a weekend shopping trip with friends. What did I accuse her of? Trying to push the father out of the girls’ lives. Why doesn’t anyone hold her accountable for anything? I forgot; she makes the rules.
Even my Mother isn’t Qualified to Supervise Visitation with the Girls
Just when you thought she couldn’t try any harder to remove the girls from me and my family, my Ex testified in the May 27, 2009 final hearing that my mother wasn’t qualified to supervise any visitation with the girls. My mom is a retired 8th grade math teacher from an urban public school. Mom has her Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. My Ex never had a problem with my mom watching the girls during the marriage. When I submitted mom’s college degrees to the Court, my Ex changed her tone and said she just felt that my mom couldn’t stand up to me. My Ex was not able to clarify what I could possibly be doing to the children that my mom was afraid to stand up to.
My Ex Submitted False Documents to Court and Nobody Cares
At the beginning of the custody evaluation, we both signed an agreement describing the terms of the evaluation. The Provisions to Serve as an Impartial Expert in a Custody Evaluation stated that we were entitled to a copy of the case file from the custody evaluation. On March 6, 2008, I requested a copy of Dr. Connor’s case file. Dr. Connor gave a number of false/conflicting reasons as to why he was not going to honor his contract and provide me with a copy of the case file. I filed a motion to release the case file with the Court and my Ex objected. During the June 13, 2008 hearing, my Ex submitted a separate agreement for individual psychological services from Dr. Connor’s office bearing her signature. After the hearing, I requested a copy of the same document with my signature from Dr. Connor’s office. Dr. Connor stated:
“With regard to the Office Policy Statement, we do not have a signed Office Policy Statement for you on file. It appears you were not provided with this document when you initially came to our office, which was an oversight on the part of the office staff. Nevertheless, the Office Policy Statement is simply an adjunct document to the Court order in which you and [Ex] agreed to participate fully in a custody evaluation to be conducted at this office.”
When my Ex called Dr. Connor to testify during the May 27, 2009 hearing, Dr. Connor stated that his office mistakenly had my Ex sign the Office Policy Statement and the document was not an “adjunct document” to the court order. My Ex worked with Dr. Connor to take the girls away from me. The more inaccuracies in Dr. Edward J Connor’s I pointed out, the more angry Judge James D Humphrey became with me.
Why am I Still a Potential Danger? Because She Says So.
During the course of a 2.5 year divorce, I have been accused of a lot of things. My Ex said I left tools around the house/farm. I’m accused of not having the girls sleep in separate bedrooms. She accused me of being addicted to a high dosage of Ritalin while suffering from Bipolar Disorder. I’m accused of taking a regularly prescribed medication. She and Dr. Connor expressed concerns about me having a concealed carry permit even though I am required by state law to have one if I want to transport a handgun down the road to another farm. (I fail to see the rationale behind the belief that a person is more dangerous because they have a concealed carry permit. Why would a concealed carry permit be the determining factor in someone deciding to commit a crime?) My Ex claims that I am a controlling person even though she never mentioned me objecting to her getting horses, growing extravagant flower gardens, decorating the house like she wanted, buying the furniture she liked, or going on weekend trips with her friend. Why is the verdict still out on me? They claim I am a Bipolar, prescription drug abusing, child endangering, gun toting, person who is intimidating, confrontational, and manipulating. Dr. Connor’s addendum to the custody evaluation states:
“[Ex] also expressed a concern that Mr. Brewington is unemployed and therefore has time to “scheme and plot.”
It’s been over 3 years since she filed for divorce and I still haven’t done any of the things they allege me to be capable of. Maybe by the time the girls graduate from college people will begin realize that I am not a threat to my Ex or my children. The only threat I pose is a legal threat to those who have broken the law during the course of the divorce. The only threat to my daughters are the people who work so hard to keep the girls' father out of their lives.