My stepchildren are brainwashed and there is not one thing I can do about it. The courts perpetuate it, the enablers enable it, and the lawyers get rich off it. The only thing I can do is speak about how Parental Alienation has affected the life of my family, and my life, in the hopes that our scars will be used as someone else’s lighthouse to get them through dark times. I’m an alienated stepmother, and this is my story.
I met my husband after our divorces. He had been divorced much longer than I, but nonetheless we understood each other and his empathy and caring for both me and my son blew me away from the start. From the very beginning of our relationship through the present, he consistently goes above and beyond to make sure my son’s father is included, feels welcome, and knows that our child’s best interest is always at the front of his mind. My son was only 3 when my husband came into the picture, and since the first day they met, my son has loved and cared for his now step-father. My husband has always been cognizant of appreciating and participating in his fatherly role in my son’s life, but in such a way that no one at any point felt that he was intruding. My son refers to his “mom and two dads” now when talking about his parents. We all co-parent well and have for the last five years.
Why am I mentioning this? Because during our whole relationship, over five years, I have not ever been afforded the opportunity to meet my step-daughter, now 17. On August 31, 2019, I met my step-son for the first time, just after his 21st birthday. I looked straight into his eyes, the eyes identical to my husband’s, while he repeated well-rehearsed words: I don’t want any kind of relationship with either of you. He spoke slowly, nervously shuffling his hands in his pocket, pain in his eyes, as his alienating mother looked out approvingly from behind the screen door.
Not once for as long as I’ve known him has my husband had so much as a functioning phone number or email address by which he could reach his children. The only way he has to reach them is the address of the house in Marshall, MI, that he remodeled for the kids and his ex-wife while he was still married to her. In 2011, she moved a felon (who has done prison time) into the home and married him, while together with her parents, systematically removing my husband from all aspects of his children’s lives. From the felon pretending to be my husband so that his ex-wife could pull the children out of school to “home school” them, to illegal name changes, they have tried to delete him in any way possible from my stepchildren’s lives.
The lies they tell my stepchildren to get them to go along with cutting their father out of their lives are far beyond things I would wish to imagine. My husband never left them. He divorced their mother, and for five years they did share custody… until the felon came into the picture. My husband never abandoned them. He tried to visit over and over, and each time his ex-wife called the police in attempts to get him arrested. His ex-wife even had him falsely arrested once, weeks after a visit, since family connections to the town’s police force had no problem arresting him at his job of 12 years for a false report that the judge immediately threw out. My husband never abused them, despite his ex-wife’s continuous attempts to implant false memories into the children’s minds.
His ex-wife is enabled by her retired parents who have drained their savings paying for her mess. She is currently perpetuating her Munchhausen by Proxy, given to her by her mother, onto my step-children. She has never held a job for more than a day at K-mart prior to having children. She lives off my husband’s child support (that free ride will end in April), the state of MI, and the tens of thousands of dollars of debt on the credit cards she has in her and her father’s name. Yes – this is a 40+-year-old woman who still shares credit cards with her 70+-year-old dad. As if that weren’t gross enough, she and the felon have opened credit cards in my stepchildren’s names and run up tens of thousands of dollars in debt for them too. And at 17 and 21, my stepchildren don’t even know it yet. The felon cannot hold a job for more than a few weeks, but he sure does enjoy accumulating things without paying for them, which is why he was in prison to begin with: Uttering & Publishing. This means he intentionally wrote fraudulent checks and attempted to cash them – his police report is public information and if you know where to look you can find out all about his criminal record.
My stepchildren’s mother has denied them an education and has financially tanked them through credit card debt in attempt to keep them in her house, under her thumb, in Marshall, MI. If they stay, the cycle of abuse will undoubtedly continue. Alienators beget more alienators. I cringe at the thought of my stepchildren and their future families. The damage, brainwashing, and pain… how many more generations will have to endure this before they decide to break the cycle? I ask this question over and over, but an answer does not come.
I didn’t know the extent of the deep, dark, abuse that is parental alienation when I met my husband, but I wouldn’t change having him in my life for a single thing. I am frequently asked why I’m so passionate about advocating for parental alienation awareness and prevention. The answer is very easy: I love my husband. He consistently brings so much love, joy, and laughter into the lives of me and my son, and so many times has been our rock. I see how much pain and destruction has been caused by the parental alienation every single day. No person should have to endure this abuse.
There is not one day that passes that my husband and I don’t think of his children and pray for their health and happiness, and that one day they’ll realize the truth and reach back out to their dad. It is beyond tragic that they haven’t been permitted to experience his amazing, unconditional love, or to know his family, in the last 8+ years. We will never stop holding hope that one day they desire to pursue the truth. My stepchildren will always be welcomed into our home, because even though they don’t know me, I love them. They will forever be part of my husband. I hope one day they have the courage to knock on the door.
I’m an alienated stepmother, but that isn’t my defining characteristic. I’m an alienated stepmother, but I have so much love in my life. I’m an alienated stepmother, and I’ll always protect children’s rights and be a voice for those who cannot speak. I’m an alienated stepmother, and one day maybe I’ll just be a stepmother. Or maybe I won’t. Either way, I am so grateful for the unconditional love in my life. We hope we can extend our love to his children one day, when they are ready. We will never give up on them.
I am not a criminal. I am a victim. I am now your victim.
Up until now, I thought my worst enemy was my ex-husband, who has spent the last 8 years trying to destroy me. He has threatened my life and taken my children from me. Then came you.
In 2015 you decided to teach me a lesson. As I represented myself in your courtroom, I did the best I could. My ex-husband was so caught up in his lies he contradicted his own testimony on the stand. I objected and got a piece of his evidence thrown out because he submitted an incomplete document. The Guardian ad Litem also did the best she could. She gave a plain, clear testimony that he was, without a doubt, emotionally and psychologically abusing our children. But I made one mistake. I failed to call myself as a witness. Both because I just didn’t know how and because I assumed the GaL’s testimony was what you needed to hear anyway. I assumed her unbiased recommendation would carry more weight than his and my “he said, she said” arguing.
Fast forward 4 years.
You continuously punish me for this mistake, and you have chosen money as your weapon. You force me to give him money I don’t have and make me pay his lawyer’s fees on top of that.
We came up with a payment plan. I was to give him the first payment by the 1st of the month. The court order had clear instructions to pay through the monitored website (the one you force me to pay to use) where I would have been able to use a card to make this payment. But he filed yet another emergency motion and we were in court that morning. I hadn’t made the payment yet. I was waiting for things to clear and settle in my account then planned to log in and pay by the end of business on the first. That was not good enough for you. You asked if I had my checkbook. You made me take it out of my purse. At this point I politely asked to address the court. You said no. You refused me my right to speak for myself in your courtroom. Then you forced me to write him a check. I wanted to address you to let you know I needed to follow YOUR court order and pay through the website using a card. But you didn’t allow me to tell you that. You didn’t allow me to tell you that the funds would not be available in my checking account that morning. Your forced me to write a check there were no funds behind.
When the check did not go through, you ordered that the entire amount was due immediately. Shockingly, the opposing council agreed to give me time and set the hearing date nearly a month out. If I could somehow magically come up with the total amount before then, all would have been dropped. And in the meantime, you told me I had to get an attorney. I also had to change jobs and take a significant pay cut. So far, my petition to re-evaluate child support based on my even lower income has been ignored completely.
I was able to find an attorney just in time for our court date. She was going to ask for a continuance to give her time to familiarize herself with our case, but you didn’t let her speak either. You steamrolled her, too. You forced me to pay her to fight for me, then didn’t let her do her job.
You are biased. You have now, on several occasions, made statements on the record that show this. “I’ve known (previous lawyer) for years, I know what the problems are.” So, you admit that you and your friend are having backroom chats about my case, and me? Because I certainly haven’t been allowed to testify to anything. So, what is it you know about me, the personal opinions of my former attorney? You are making rulings based on personal opinion.
You mocked my mental health in your open courtroom. “Are you seeing someone? Are you taking your meds?” You asked in your most demeaning tone. I’m very glad the courtroom records these things.
Then, as you had your bailiff handcuff me, you said, “I don’t know, how long will she be in there? 2 nights, two weeks? It could be up to 6 months if she doesn’t come up with the money.” You court-ordered me to make payments with money you are fully aware I don’t have, and then you sent me to jail for not being able to pay. You continually punish me for being a low income, single woman. Then put me in jail knowing full well I don’t have the money to get myself out. You put me in a place where you are risking my job, my only source of income, and then question my financial stability in court.
I am fortunate enough to have family that were able to come through for me, and I was only there for a few hours; never even had to change out of my street clothes. But, again, this is not their divorce, nor is it their responsibility. You forced me into a place where I had to beg for help, putting serious strain on my familial relationships. You have taken food out of the mouths of their families to give to my ex-husband and his “extra expenses” that are a bullshit list of things that were already covered under child support.
What if they didn’t have the money? What if no one was able to help me for days or at all? I lose my job, lose my home and car, and end up homeless yet again under your rule. How is putting their mother in jail what is best for my children? How is your making it nearly impossible to contribute to my children’s wellbeing at all what is best for them?
It is my ex-husband’s goal to make me sign over my parental rights. He has made that more than clear. You allow him to push for this. You allow him to have my children call another woman, “Mom.” You allow him to cancel my visitation time with no notice and no reason. He has broken so many court orders I can’t even list them all. Yet, I’m the one who sat in jail.
You are biased, and I am your victim.
Where does this end, judge? You have now set the precedent that my ex-husband, the alienator, can make all the decisions, hold me financially responsible, and simply have me thrown in jail for not being able to afford the same luxuries he and his two-income household can. You and opposing council have both said, “just have someone loan you the money,” as if that’s a valid form of currency.
You are now his sharpest weapon.
He will continue to push harder because you let him, for as long as you let him. So, tell me judge, what is next? What further crime will you aid and abet? When my ex-husband stole right from my home, you victim-shamed me, saying I must be crazy, and took away my right to see my own children. How will you victimize and shame me next?
An open letter to the judge who is ruining my life.
Looking at your age, I will wager to guess that you have adult children around my age. Going on that assumption, I am going to go one step further and guess that you have grandchildren. I imagine you and your husband have built a beautiful family together and have a lot to be proud of. I imagine you love being grandparents.
Because of your rulings, I may never get to be a grandparent.
You see, it was clear to our previous judge that my ex-husband was not fit to have custody of our children. I was awarded sole custody very shortly after filing for divorce. In all 8 years of our case, the Guardian ad Litem (GaL) has never once recommended he have custody of our children. She very clearly testified against him in our 2015 custody trial. She used the words “water boarding” to describe his treatment of our children and clearly stated that he was alienating the children from me. And yet, on a technicality, you completely ignored the GaL’s testimony (the GaL your forced us to appoint and spend thousands of dollars on), and you awarded him sole custody. You handed the children to their abuser on a silver platter and changed my life forever simply to punish me for attempting to represent myself.
Sometimes I wonder if you misread my desperation as arrogance. I assure you that was not arrogance. I came into your courtroom in 2015 with full faith in the family court system and truly believed that you, our judge, would do everything in your power to protect our children.
You have failed us.
Over and over again since that trial, you have failed me and my children. You consistently punish me for being a single woman living on a third year teacher’s salary. You gave him sole custody leaving me out of every decision made for our children, yet force me to contribute money that I can’t afford to cover the costs of his choices. You believe every lie he tells you and fail to see the bigger picture. You shame me as the victim. You fail to see that my actions are only reactions to his.
You have insulted my intelligence and mocked my mental health status in your open courtroom and never considered that my anxiety and stress is coming from 18 years of being verbally and psychologically abused by this man. This man had my children steal hundreds of dollars of goods from my home, and you punished me.
I have now not been allowed contact with my children for two months. My son started middle school this year, I was not a part of that. My daughter is now a freshman in high school. How has her transition been going? Is she going to Homecoming? Is she going with friends or did a boy ask her to be his date? Another woman bought my daughter her first semi-formal dress. Another woman did her hair and make-up. My children call another woman Mom.
As an American, I have the right to represent myself in your courtroom. Yet time and time again you have denied me the right to speak in your courtroom because I’m not an attorney. Due to your unfair treatment of me, I am forced to hire an attorney with money I don’t have, after you have increased my child support to cover expenses that I don’t have control over, while you are punishing me by forcing me to cover fees for his attorney. You have forced me into a poverty cycle that I will never be able to break. I am a teacher. The only way to move up the pay scale is to further my education, I cannot do this while my student loans are in default because I’m being punished for being poor. You and my ex-husband constantly throw my “instability” in my face and use it against me in your courtroom when you are the ones causing it. I will never financially recover from this divorce and custody change if you continue to force me to spend more and more money that I don’t have. You even went as far as deciding how I will spend my 2019 tax return. You have no right to tell me how to spend that and guess what…. It will likely be withheld again and put towards my student loans. So, what do you suggest I do then? Opposing counsel said I should just have someone loan me the money to cover the fees you are forcing me to pay her. I ask you, Your Honor, who in my life is obligated to loan me money? No one. You cannot force punishment on me knowing full well the money isn’t there and expect my family and friends to cover it. This is not their divorce. I believe that what you are doing is actually illegal, but I guess I’m no expert.
If you’d like to continue backing me into a corner, go ahead. There’s obviously nothing I can do at this point to remove the unfair bias you clearly have towards me. So, in the next few months, when I become homeless for the third time since you took over as our judge, I hope you think of me every time you hug one of your grandchildren.
This blog is written by those living through parental alienation. Some authors have chosen to remain anonymous. Silence breeds abuse.
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