“Certainly not!” replied Toad emphatically. “On the contrary, I faithfully promise that the very first motor-car I see, poop- poop! off I go in it!”
—The Wind in the Willows
I went to court this morning. I didn’t realize how much I’d forgotten about the whole thing, since it’s been something like seven years. There was the very large digital clock up front with GIANT red numerals ticking off the time down to the second. There was a crackling in the air of anticipation and adrenaline.
Three cases were heard before me, and then it was our turn. As promised, SeaFed’s lawyer spoke for five minutes, and then my lawyer replied. My lawyer told me the judge was a substitute and she had seen him before, but she wasn’t thrilled about it, since he wasn’t a regular family law commissioner.
The judge opined that it spoke poorly for the father that this matter was being opened three years in to the current residential schedule and shortly after I had filed for child support, and that it did not seem to be in her best interest to commute for school daily. He also said that what the courts like to maintain is the status quo in these cases, which is what we expected. Then he said that he would be ruling for the father, and on a temporary basis until our next hearing we will go back to the parenting plan of 2005.
I got the feeling that it looked dodgy to the judge, but that his hands were tied. My lawyer said she thought that a regular family law judge would have not caused this “upheaval” in Franny’s schedule, but it’s really impossible to say what anyone else would have done.
Our next hearing to determine if there is adequate cause to change the parenting plan is in early December. In the meanwhile Franny will be commuting to his house 30 miles away, through traffic and on a ferry, 5 days a week on his weeks twice daily, and we are going to be exchanging her on Sundays in accordance with the 2005 plan from when we lived three miles apart.
I don’t think she’s going to love this, to say the least. But, optimistically speaking, at least she will really get a taste of what 50/50 is really like with him that way and can speak to the guardian ad litem with that knowledge.
Ultimately it’s up to the courts, now, of course, if we go back to 50/50 like in 2005 or if the schedule will look like it has for the past three years. I’m not upset, really. Court does not feel like the salt in my wounds that it did seven years ago. I don’t feel like I “lost” anything in this. I feel secure in my relationship with her. She trusts me and knows I am pulling for her. I mostly feel sad about any stress this will cause her and I’m fervently hoping her grades don’t slip in the meantime.
Do I regret filing for child support? No, I do not. The situation changed and evolved over time and it seemed like the right thing to do last spring.
Thank you for all the kind words you have left in comments, in Twitter DMs (all of which I hope I have replied to), and emails. And to my close friends here who have called me and emailed. This is one of those mini-tragedies that we all experience every day, I think. But I have learned one thing from this…there will always be forks in the road. When I ran out of money in 2005 and settled, it looked like he won, but then he moved away, which has been a really good thing on balance. My fear is that we will have an outcome where everyone loses.
Anyway…I am on a ramble at this point. I will get Halloween pictures up this weekend. Trick-or-treating went very well.
Your humble sherbet,
The gaoler nodded grimly, laying his withered hand on the shoulder of the miserable Toad. The rusty key creaked in the lock, the great door clanged behind them; and Toad was a helpless prisoner in the remotest dungeon of the best-guarded keep of the stoutest castle in all the length and breadth of Merry England.
Edit 5 p.m.: Well, I didn’t cry until I told Franny how the next month was going to go and she started bawling. My heart feels smooshed.