It’s a whole new game – Pick your battles
Whether you are in the middle of the divorce process or finally finished, everything you thought you knew about how to resolve issues with your ex-spouse involving the children you have together changed as soon as you began the divorce process.
When we first got married and decided to have a child together, decisions that impacted the well being of our child were usually made together however, after divorce this is no longer true and typically the custodial parent holds all the cards when it comes to the final say even if the non-custodial parent does not agree.
As I discussed in a recent blog, Divorce Court – A Biased System, it was determined by the divorce system that my ex-wife would be the custodial parent. During my divorce, one of the big areas of debate was where our child would now attend school.
My ex-wife and I grew up in the same suburban neighborhood that we were raising our child however; our views of where our child would attend school differed even when we were happily married.
My ex-wife attended a religious private school in the area, while I attended the public school district. Although, I am also a firm believer in the quality of our public school system in the district we live in, my ex-wife wanted our son to attend the same private school she went to as a child.
When we first started fighting our child was only in pre-kindergarten day school and summer camp program, which was part of the private school, she wanted him to attend. Although, I did not agree with enrolling him in private school and the affiliated summer camp, in order to try to maintain some peace, I did not fight this while we were still married because she usually dealt with the day-to-day routine decisions and always thought we would discuss this prior to elementary school.
As our marriage continued to deteriorate, the fighting got worse and we decided to separate. During this time she requested that I sign the private school enrollment papers and it became apparent that she was adamant about enrolling him in religious private school. It was clear that she had no intention of having a discussion with me about education unless it related to funding the cost of tuition. Although I did not agree with her decision and I declined to sign the school’s enrollment forms she enrolled our child anyway.
As our divorce process continued so did the dispute over our child’s education. The first Judge that presided over our case began share his own opinions related to our child’s education, which were not based on facts but rather his own view of which provided a better education. Prior to being removed, that judge felt that it would be beneficial to share his opinion by explaining to me that the best decision he made was sending his children to private school. To say the least, knowing that the Judge had already been divorced several times and understanding his definition of family, his opinion fell on deaf ears.
As he continued to offer his views on my child’s education, it was clear that this Judge already had formed an opinion on private school and proceeded to side with my ex-wife and her views.
As this discussion progressed it became obvious that not only did she want the court’s blessing to send him to private school, she wanted the court to rule that I had to pay the tuition even if I was averse to sending him to this school.
After long discussions because I never consented to enrolling him in private school by signing the forms my ex-wife was told that she is more then welcome to send our son to any school she wants as long as she understands that she will have to pay for it.
The end result just goes to show you that the system and the Judges will not only side with the woman but will use their opinions to try and convince you and everyone else to agree with them. Remember, as long as you are careful with what you agree to either verbally or written and to choose your battles in order to stand up for what you believe in no one’s personal opinions will matter and no one can force you to agree to anything during the divorce process.