The plan was that the mediator would initially meet me and Dick on separate occasions.
After spending time with each of us individually, getting to know us a little better and gaining an appreciation of what we’d like to have happen regarding custody and visitation, the three of us would come together and try to work out an arrangement that we could live with until Ashley graduated from high school.
With trepidation, I approached my upcoming appointment with the mediator.
Suddenly, our family’s business wouldn’t be entirely under our personal control anymore. Deciding to divorce when children were minors changed all that and put new rules, regulations and restrictions on every aspect of life with our kids (or more specifically, life with Ashley).
Which parent(s) would the child live with? Who would have custody? Would it be sole or would it be joint? What about the visitation schedule? Holidays? Birthdays? Graduations? Other milestone events?
During this decoupling process, I learned that once divorced, it would no longer be possible to simply allow your kids to travel out-of-state overnight with you, a friend or other relatives without making sure the other parent approved of the arrangement.
Things that just happened naturally up to this point, could no longer be taken for granted. Going forward, everything would have to be spelled out, agreed upon and enforced.
In some ways, this was a good thing. At least I’d have some control over what Ashley would do.
In other regards, it would be the same or worse. Dick would figure out ways to manipulate situations, bully everyone to make life miserable for all concerned and make sure he’d get exactly what he’d want, when he’d want it. That’s a given and the reason why my lawyer advised me to go after sole custody.
The day I met privately with the mediator, I found out that Dick was there the day before. Somehow that just didn’t surprise me at all. She filled me in as much as she could about their visit. Mainly, he had expressed his views on why we should have joint custody—he, being Ashley’s dad should have an equal right in making decisions about her life.
Under normal circumstances, I would have definitely agreed. However, our situation wasn’t typical.
The reality was that Dick didn’t want joint custody. He wanted sole custody under the guise of it being joint. Just as he always had, he wanted to continue to do whatever he wanted and to make sure that things would go his way.
The mediator then shared what Dick said about Ashley. He raved about what a wonderful person she is. He described her as being a sweet, kind, loving, hard-working, studious, caring and thoughtful girl. I agreed 100% with that assessment. At least we were on the same page about something.
That was a start.
To be continued…