Hello, I'm new here and I have been dealing with a very high conflict divorce for three years now. We were separated three years ago and our divorce was final a year ago. Up until 6 months prior to our separation I was a stay at home mother. My ex husband was in the Army and we felt it best that our kids always had a parent present since he was gone so much. We have four kids, youngest is 7 and oldest is 16.
I was the one who left the marriage. We hadn't been happy in a long time and I found him on dating websites using our children to pick up women after I went back to work. I was also going to school full time and he was telling these women that he was raising 4 kids on his own since their mother refused to help. After all we had been through, the deployments, the PTSD, being on my own for so much of our marriage, I had simply had enough. I couldn't do it anymore.
It was ugly right from the start. I have been called every name under the sun and I have been told the only thing I was good for in our 15 year marriage was laying on my back. To this day, it's the worst thing anyone has ever said to me by far. But even worse is the relationship between myself and my children now.
I paid for the whole divorce. When we went in front of the judge for child support, he had hired a lawyer (just for child support). They argued that he should not be responsible for any child support since he was picking them up and keeping them for an hour and a half after school. The judge agreed somewhat as she only ordered him to pay 425 dollars a month. He makes at least double what I make and I was only making a little over 10 dollars an hour at the time. I was going to school full time and he had transferred his GI bill to me so I do get some income from that but I have been struggling to make ends meet.
Here's the part that I am struggling with and you may think I am a terrible mother after you read this. As part of the divorce agreement, neither of us is allowed to talk about the other parent to the kids. This is something I had insisted on because my kids were being told things that they had no business being told, most of which was not true. I have held up to that. He has not. He has repeatedly pitted our kids against me for everything imaginable. He told them that I did not want to be around them and that the only reason why I chose to work and go to school. He told them that I stole the GI bill from him and that he would have given it to them if I hadn't done that. Everything I say and do is reported back to him and then spun around on me. I could give examples for days. He kept telling them that if they lived with him, they wouldn't have any issues and that I didn't want them anyway so everyone would be happy. When I fought back he resorted to calling CPS. He did this more than once and they investigated but found his accusations unsubstaniated after a home visit. Then he had my second oldest start calling. Another home visit, again unsubstantiated but before it was, I called my lawyer and asked for advice. Actually, I asked anyone and everyone for advice. In the end, I decided to let them go live with him. This is not what I want, but I could feel my relationship getting worse with my kids and I was desperate to combat that somehow. It is clear that my ex and children think that I am the reason we are not a happy family anymore and I felt like our relationship might be better in the long run if they felt like they were only going to be happy living with him.
Let me be very clear here.
This decision is killing me. I thought the divorce was hard, but it was nothing compared to this pain. Because he was in the military, I am living in Kentucky. I have no family here. My family and friends are all back home in California. I don't think I made the right choice to let them go for myself but I really felt as if I had no other choice. And my relationship with my kids isn't really getting much better. Things are fine with my youngest two and for the most part my oldest. My second oldest hates me and everything I do. Today I had to use his phone to pay his phone bill and I saw that he had a very unflattering picture attached to my phone number. When I confronted him he blew up at me and said that he doesn't have to respect me. It is clear his dad agrees as now he is saying that he will no longer make any of the kids come to see me on my weekends since they really don't want to anyway. He says that if I go against him he will take me to court for child support, since he has not done that yet and I just have paid anything we have agreed to in our divorce. I honestly don't care if he takes me to court for child support. It was his choice not to but I guess I am looking for advice on what to do now. I don't want to live like this anymore. I never wanted to live like this and I have done everything in my power not to, but I just don't know if I can fight anymore. I'm sorry this was so long.