I have PTSD from my service in the Marine Corps Infantry nearly a decade ago. I proudly served and would do it all over again. I have no regrets. I sought counseling, got a degree in psychology, and consider myself one of many veteran success stories.
When I divorced in 2011, I tried to give everything I could to ensure my kids would be well taken care of. I foolishly did it all without spending money on lawyers so that we could keep what we had. I took virtually all the debt, including a large portion of her credit card debt and all of the student loan money she and I used while I was in school. I even volunteered to pay more than I was required by law in order for the kids to remain in their home. What I didn't know was that their mother stopped making the house payment on the property that was in my name as the primary borrower. She managed to have all of my contact information removed from the bank records so I wouldn't know what was happening. She threatened to continue to move away from me in order to prevent me from getting more parenting time. She has yelled at me over the phone, accusing me of trying to steal "her" kids away, among other disgusting accusations, all while our kids were in the background and could hear her saying these awful things.
I never imagined things would have turned the way they did as soon as the divorce was finalized. It was never supposed to happen. We were getting along as well as we could during the process, but I now see that it was because she was getting so much more than she should have and was just keeping the peace for the time being. The list of absurdities is so extensive that I just can't include it all here.
I took her to court again. It cost me thousands of dollars that I don't have. I made two critical errors: I assumed that the court would appreciate a parent coming in and not slinging mud, and I assumed that her lies were so transparent that I didn't have to disprove each one individually. I lost my case. For whatever reason, it seems that my service in the USMC and the resulting PTSD was the primary focus and was somehow used to discount me as a good parent. Under oath, she said she is and has been "at war" with me. Somehow, that is ok in the eyes of the court and an acceptable strategy for positive, inclusive parenting. Again, the cards are clearly stacked against me.
For nearly 3 years I called my girls every night, though I rarely got to talk to them. Now, having lost my case, their mother has also managed to limit the number of times that I can even talk to my kids. She didn't like my routine phone calls, it seems. Whether they know it now or not, I will always be able to tell my girls that I tried to be a part of their everyday lives.
I have since learned even more about my kids' plight now that everyone thinks the battle is over. It is far from over. They lied and I can show it. They lied for no reason other than to keep control of the kids that they have used as pawns against me. I think they lied to keep the money rolling in. I think they lied to maintain the status quo.
I have never before asked for more than equal, even time with my girls. They need their dad, too. They have dealt with unimaginable torment as they hear things about me that they don't understand. Their step-sisters, who I have met only a handful of times for short duration, are terrified of me because of all the terrible things they've heard about me. That sickens me. I can only imagine what my own children have heard.
My 5th grade daughter is brilliant. Unfortunately, she has already surpassed her mothers abilities in many school subjects. She doesn't get the help she needs with her daily homework. I want to help her thrive but have been restricted from doing so.
I am asking for help to pay for my current legal fees and for the upcoming and continual costs of this process. I will not make the same mistake twice. Not a single penny of any money donated will go to anything by legal fees and related costs.
This is not just about me; I want to make an example that there are dads in this world who want nothing more than to be every bit of dad that they can be. I know that I'm not the only one. I know this is possible.
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