When my parents sat my brother and me down (at the ages of nine and 11, respectively) to announce their divorce, they discussed how wonderful they would be as co-parents in two loving households. Their decision to divorce was not unexpected in my eyes, but it ended up engulfing so much more of my life than I thought it would.
Upon implementation of the Shared Parenting Plan, we started switching houses every other week. I soon realized that my mom’s house was not the peaceful place that she had promised. The endless fighting was more than I could handle, and I told my dad that I wanted more time with him. Yet, even though my brother and I were incredibly unhappy, the schedule did not change. I refused to go to my mom’s house.
Our Family’s Custody Arguments
Soon after, my mom filed for sole custody. I wasn’t worried because I knew that it was in our best interest to be with our father and stepmother. I was entirely convinced that reason would win out. But, I was wrong. One year and many therapists later, I was informed that the new arrangement meant less than 10 days each month with my dad, until “sufficient healing” had occurred. Often, my time with my dad was separate from my brother.
No one appreciates how much this process broke me. I always assumed that someone in the system would protect me. Instead, no one listened to me. My opinions, thoughts and feelings were ignored, and I was called a liar. Somehow, my stepmom—one of the most amazing women in the world and a mother to me in every way—was considered a negative influence.
I tried to plead my case. I studied Ohio divorce law, researched our therapists, found case precedent and even sent a three-page email to my parents’ respective attorneys. But, what I said didn’t matter because I was “only a child.”
Effects Of Divorce On Me And My Family
Today, things are slowly improving. I see my dad more often, although still not 50/50. The hardest thing I face is in rebuilding a relationship with my mom. While I feel proud of the strides I have made, nothing will make me forget my worries about my brother and me during middle and high school.
Unfortunately, I have become jaded about marriage and happiness. I worry about whether I will ever have something as wonderful as what my dad and stepmom have now. What I do know is that the system is bad. It drains the life and strength out of the most determined and steadfast people, and I have watched bits of my family fall apart because of it. In divorce, the children’s opinions should matter, especially teenagers. Don’t exclude or make light of our feelings and opinions; give us credit for our true capabilities.
TEEN 1, click here.
TEEN 2, click here.
PARENT 1, click here.
PARENT 2, click here.
PROFESSIONAL, click here.