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Childs Best Interest


Halle Berry has been in the news lately because she is in a custody battle with her daughter’s father.  I do not know all the details in this very personal issue but I personally know about custody issues. 

I got pregnant with my oldest son, now 13, at 16 years old.  As you can imagine I was very afraid.  I juggled between keeping him or giving him up for adoption.  When I finally decided to keep my baby I told his father that no matter what happens between us that I would never keep him away from his son.  After I graduated from high school we married and I joined the military.  My son stayed with his father and my parents throughout my training and part of my first duty station.  During my time away from my husband I reflected on our relationship.  I went through a lot of mistreatment through the years with him and was afraid to experience that with him for the rest of my life.  About a year after being married I decided that I didn’t want to be married to him.  We divorced and I brought my son overseas with me.  About a year after my divorce I married my current husband.  I later got out of the military and my husband was stationed in El Paso, where my family resides.

Through the years my son would visit back and forth with his father.  In the beginning our communications with one another were filled with yelling and sometimes name calling.  We gradually learned how to better communicate to be able to parent our son together.  Our son even stayed the school year with his father during his 2nd and 4th grade school years.  During this time our communication became a lot better.  We would talk about any and everything.  One could even go so far as to say we were friends.  Whenever my ex-husband wanted to see his son all he had to do was call.  No matter if he paid child support or not, no matter if it was his scheduled visitation, anytime, all he had to do was call.  Things were good, or so I thought.

Shortly after I gave birth to my baby boy and was released from the hospital, in February 2007, I was served custody papers.  My son was already staying with his dad for his 4th grade year.  My ex-husband gave me no sign that this was coming.  He changed his numbers and ceased contact with me.  I thought I was going to die, that I would never see my son again.  All these years I thought I was doing what was best for not just my son but also his father who loved him very much, I was being sued for custody.  Unbeknownst to me, when you have primary custody and you allow your child to live with the other parent for 6 months or longer you automatically lose your custody to the other parent.  During this time he even claimed that our home was unstable because of the military and having to move.  Needless to say I was hurt and wanted my son back.  During this time I grew very angry and bitter with his father for being so underhanded to me after all that I had done for him to maintain his relationship with his son and he pulled this.  The judge granted custody back to me and my son returned home in the summer of 2007. 

In the beginning after the case my ex stopped calling our son and asking to visit with him.  My son grew angry and I couldn’t stand to see him like that.  I called his dad and left a message telling him that no matter what we go through he needs to continue to be there for his son. (Something like that, I was still angry with him myself)  His dad gradually started coming back around.  We eventually worked through our differences and he apologized for what he did to me.  Things were looking up.  My son would visit his father when it was scheduled. 

In 2008 my husband deployed to Afghanistan.  It was a difficult time for our family.  My oldest son was having problems in school and was fighting a lot.  In early 2009 we received orders to PCS to South Carolina.  I told our children.  None of them were happy about moving to South Carolina and they all wanted to stay in Texas.  My oldest son was especially upset about this possible move. He didn’t want to leave his friends.  He asked me if he could stay with his dad during this move and I told him no.  I wasn’t going to be sued again, I thought to myself.  He was angry with my decision and really started acting out.  He kept acting out and wouldn’t listen to anything I asked of him.  It got so bad that I had to consider that staying with his father was probably best.  

I finally gave in because I didn’t know what else to do.  I had to remove myself from the situation and put myself in my son’s shoes.  He kept asking me why couldn’t he stay with his dad.  I had to really sit there and ponder that question.  This is his father, his other parent, not a stranger.  Could he really not parent his son just because we weren’t together?  Is living with mom always best?  I called his dad and asked him if it was he would alright with him if our son stayed with him and of course he said it was fine with him. 

 As the summer approached and time grew near for my husband to return, my son grew anxious and acting out even more.  He was staying out passed his curfew and defying everything I said.  I called his father and told him that if our son didn’t straighten up he wasn’t going to stay with him.  My son heard what was said and became furious.  He lunged and attacked me.  At this time he was taller and bigger than me.  I never thought I would see that day that I would have to fight my son.  He finally calmed down and the MPs confined him to his room until his dad arrived to pick him up from Dallas, which was three hours away from where we resided. 

My son is now living with his father and doing well.  He’s not getting into so much trouble and he’s making good grades.  My heart aches for him everyday but I know that he is where he needs to be.  I recently visited with  him and went to his football games, which he is great at.  He is so tall and becoming an amazing young man.  He is a bit on the selfish side but it’s the teen years so I’m sure this is a phase and he will grow out of it. 

I had to learn that what is best for your child is not always what you want.  What’s best for a child is to have both of their parents, even if they’re not together.  It is really hard on them when their parents aren’t together.  I watched and listened to my son so desperately want his parents together like his siblings.  No matter how great our homes were and filled with love, he always felt and still feels out-of-place.  I don’t know how to help him with those feelings but I know as he gets older and gains a better understanding he will be fine.  His father and I keep reassuring him that he is loved by so many people.  As parents we have to put our feelings aside and do what is best for our children so they can be as happy as possible.  I’m just saying.

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