web analytics
April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Courtroom Drama

Blended-Family-logo

Share Button

There was a time when I thought we would never reach this stage. However, I can now say that we are “courtroom-drama free” – at least in regards to our blended family. The scars remain, the experiences no doubt have changed us, but the constant upheavals no longer control our daily lives.

After a recent conversation with a close friend, who is still in the midst of the madness and courtroom drama, I felt compelled to write in the hopes of giving chizuk – strength – to those like her who often wonder, “will this ever end?”

For those of us who have experienced divorce and remarriage involving children, the court system becomes a significant factor that must be considered while raising our family and making personal choices. The “system” with its very long “arm of the law” may step in and govern decisions – such as where the children go to school, where they can live, how much time a parent can legally spend with them, and the amount of child support owed – when parents cannot come to agreements themselves. The court can even decide which parent or guardian will be the party responsible for making the day-to-day decisions, which may include religious upbringing and medical issues.

There were times during the first decade plus of our marriage that I felt that my husband and I spoke more often with our attorney on any given day than with each other. Simply planning a family trip was grounds for being called into court. Switching “parenting time” to accommodate all of our children attending a family celebration needed to be “cleared” with the attorneys. Bad traffic that would result in returning the children later than usual on a wintery Sunday afternoon, after a Shabbat spent together, may have meant a call from a member of the police department questioning where we were and the reason for the delay.

Over the years there were small trips to court, to enforce our right to be included in the children’s educational concerns. There were longs days in court fighting for the “privilege” that allowed us to make aliyah which we view as our religious obligation and birthright.

There were months devoted to psychological evaluations by a very costly court appointed psychologist – twice, at different periods of the children’s development. Additionally, there were private evaluations by a therapist of our choosing, just to keep things balanced. I cannot even calculate the many miles we covered driving to and from these appointments to ensure that each family member involved was seen – in the hopes that the “bigger picture” would be taken into account. Countless hours and sleepless nights were spent wondering and worrying what the professionals may have seen; would it help our case or would it hurt our position? Would the therapist uncover what we had noticed? Only time would tell.

Sometimes we were involved with not one court case but two ongoing cases; same state, different counties. One of them involved my ex-husband and the other with my husband’s ex-wife. These battles left us depleted of time, energy and financial resources. I recall way too many evenings when my new husband and I spent reviewing court documents and attorney’s notes in order to keep each other up to speed and decide on our “game plan.” We would have certainly preferred to use that precious time at the start of our marriage dreaming of our life together instead.

There were court visits for “silly things” and court visits for life altering matters. Courtroom “lingo” became interwoven with our daily vocabulary. We could hardly believe that friends didn’t understand what giving a deposition entailed, or the proper format used when submitting a certification to court. Court appearances themselves were often grueling and stressful; there were days in court when I wondered if the judge believed the one sided accounts presented by our opposition. How can someone meet you in a courtroom after simply reviewing some paperwork and determine the type of person you are, what type of parent you are?

During one particularly difficult day the judge labeled me cold and unfeeling, based on my demeanor in the courtroom, when in fact I had walked in that day determined to keep my emotions in check. I thought becoming too emotional would have me viewed as weak or overly sensitive. I wanted to be careful not to be seen as playing on the sympathy of the court. Yet, my ex-husband, who was able to turn on the tears during his testimony, was praised for being sensitive and caring.

Friends, currently going through their personal courtroom drama, often ask how we made it through that difficult phase. I admit that it was difficult and seemed like it would never end. It takes a tremendous toll on the family, especially the children. No matters how we, as parents, try protecting them from the horror of it all, most children do pick up on the emotional stress and turmoil. When you are going through something so major and possibly life-changing as a family there is no way to keep it completely hidden. Often children’s “imagined truth” is far worse than the reality of a situation, so it is important to explain certain aspects in a way the children can accept and understand.

A qualified therapist working specifically with the children, someone they can trust and feel comfortable with, is an important factor to be considered during this time. The other bit of practical advice I can offer from our experience is that it was our unwavering emunah, the belief that we were following what Hashem – G-d – wanted from us that helped to get us through. It is important that the motivation be that of wanting what is best for the children, not just a way to hurt your former spouse. Not only did we seek advice and direction from qualified attorneys and mental health professionals, most importantly there were rabbanim who helped guide us in our plight.

The fact is that children eventually “age out” of the system that tries to define and enforce what is deemed “in the best interest of the child.” If they are lucky, their battling parents learn to navigate their differences and compromise even before then.

Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com.

Share Button

About the Author: Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Courtroom Drama”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Will Starbucks hire Boycott Movement officials when they find themselves out of work?
Starbucks-SodaStream Link Would Help Destroy BDS
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

More Articles from Yehudit Levinson
Blended-Family-logo

This particular article has been on my computer for quite some time now – incomplete. What compelled me to complete it was my son’s 19th birthday. Born of my first marriage and raised solely by my husband and me for the past seventeen-plus years, my son has only a few memories of time spent with his biological father. My children have made me acutely aware of Parental Disconnect issues. I hope that sharing my thoughts on it will help save others from the pain and confusion we have had to work through.

Blended-Family-logo

Family court, visitation and child support are all unavoidable realities for divorced parents. One particular rule that would be wise to heed is that child support should be less about dollars and cents and more about dollar and “good” sense.

Journaling, putting your feelings down on paper, is a well known method of coping with difficult or traumatic experiences. In fact there have been studies done that seem to prove that people who “journal” live happier, healthier lives. In his book Writing to Heal, James Pennebaker, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, explores this concept. He stresses that when we write about trauma, emotional upheavals or difficult issues we are struggling with, the “heart rates slow, blood pressure drops and immune systems strengthen.”

In all honesty, I really do feel blessed. Interestingly though only someone in a family situation like mine could possibly comprehend this particular “blessing,” and many would not consider it a blessing at all. You see I feel fortunate to have not one, but two wonderful women in my life – both of whom happen to be my mothers-in-law, one from my first marriage and one from my second.

Recently a popular Jewish weekly magazine featured a story depicting the life of a young boy whose parents were divorced. Each parent had re-married, establishing new families. Their shared custody of this son, and he spent substantial time with each of his parent’s new families. Giving a voice to the child of divorce was the intention of the story. It highlighted the distress children feel as well as the confusing messages they often receive from the adults in their lives.

When an opportunity for a fresh start is handed to us, when that new door opens, it is often viewed as a gift from Hashem. In most cases in order to completely realize it, we must fully embrace it. For people transitioning into marriage the second time around this is often the reality they face: a new opportunity seldom comes without a price, without us having to, in some way, compromise the life we were accustomed to. Seamlessly blending “pre re-marriage” life with “post re-marriage, new blended family” life is difficult at best and often times takes many years to sort its’ way out.

It still amazes me how the Internet has completely changed our lives and how we view communication these days. My children hardly believe me when I tell them that there was a time when being in touch with someone, meant we actually saw them, spoke to them on the phone, or wrote them a letter and mailed it.

Sixteen years ago, when I married my husband, I did not give much thought to whether he was Askenazi or Sefardi. Having grown up in what was then a small close-knit Jewish community, it held little importance; my concerns were focused around whether or not my bashert (intended) was Jewish according to halacha, someone who was upstanding in both ideals and actions, and a man solidly committed to a Torah lifestyle.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/courtroom-drama/2012/01/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: