Prince Machiavelli Wants Custody of My Kids

A few years ago, after the mortar from my divorce proceedings had settled, and my life was approaching something that vaguely resembled normalcy, I decided that if my ex-husband, Prince Machiavelli, ever sued me for full custody of our two children, I would just hand them over.

Not because I didn’t love my children, because I do, desperately. And not because I had a crystal meth lab in my basement or I cavorted with male escorts, or I disciplined my kids by locking them in a closet for the weekend.

I’m the kind of mother who, theoretically, would never lose custody: a nice girl who graduated Cum Laude from a fancy-pants East Coast University, went on to get a Masters degree, and is now…well, I can’t tell you what I do since I need to protect my identity, but trust me, it’s something respectable.  I also pay my taxes on time, obey the speed limit, volunteer at my kids’ schools, and take in stray cats.

However, I had good reasons for believing I should relinquish my kids to Prince Machiavelli without putting up a fight.  Here they are:

  • Prince is rich.  Really rich.  As in yacht-loads of money. Which means he could fund endless litigation while effortlessly owning two homes, jetting via private plane to resorts around the globe, and not actually having to work for a living.
  • I am so not rich.  So very not rich, in fact, that there have been times during single-motherhood when I’ve had to take all my change to one of those turn-your-coins-into-cash machines at the supermarket to make it till my next paycheck.  I couldn’t even eke out an attorney’s retainer, much less the $100 grand into which the average custody battle mushrooms.
  • Prince loves to fight.  He’s fabulous at it.  It invigorates him the way, say, Ashtanga Yoga energizes other people.  Remember Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now, when he’s standing on the shore with bombs exploding all around him, proclaiming, “I love the smell of Napalm in the morning?”  That’s my ex-husband.
  • I do not like to fight.  I suck at it. It depletes me, keeps me up at night, and makes my skin break out. Remember the story of Ferdinand the Bull, who had sort of bovine ADD?  The bullfight flunk-out who just wants to sit under the cork tree and smell the flowers? That’s me.
  • I was afraid that the conflict caused by a custody battle would do my children, Luca and Francesca, more harm than good. I did not want either of my kids to suffer nervous breakdowns, ever, but especially not before they hit puberty.
  • I was afraid that the conflict caused by a custody battle would wreak havoc in the home I had created post-divorce. My son, Luca, had long been co-opted by his dad’s vengefulness.  I knew that Prince’s desire to smush me in a custody evaluation would just turbo-charge Luca’s rages and turn my house into an all-out war zone.
  • I wanted to get on with my life. Spending every free nanosecond writing declarations and cataloguing notebooks of Prince’s vitriolic e-mails would only keep me tethered to him. Custody battles keep exes married, not divorced.
  • I didn’t want to spend a year or more of my life at the mercy of the mercurial Family Court gods. I could spend money I didn’t have and end up in a worse place. I could be bankrupt, my kids could be psychologically demolished, and I could lose them anyway.

So I resolved that if Prince ever petitioned for full custody, I would deliver my children to him without a fight. I would write my son and daughter letters explaining that giving them to their dad, thereby ending the conflict, was in their best interest. I would assure them that they could visit me any time and when they were 18, they would be free to choose whether they wanted a relationship with me. I would promise them that, no matter what, I would always love them, that a day would never go by when I didn’t think of them, and that I would always be their mother.

Well, guess what? I am now where I vowed I’d never be: lawyered up, stipulating to a 730 evaluator, and preparing for a custody battle.

This blog will detail how I got here, why I decided this was a fight worth fighting, and where I came up with the money. It will also record the stages of my #&*%?! custody evaluation as well as the outcome.

Wouldn’t it be more prudent to keep these sensitive matters, no matter how well-disguised, under wraps? Sure. But prudent didn’t stop the conflict. It didn’t help my son, or my ex, get over being angry. Despite years of Gandhi-channeling and compulsive capitulating in the name of keeping the peace, peace didn’t happen–unmanageability did.

Besides being a means of keeping my sanity, this blog is dedicated to all those who are fighting for the right to remain their children’s parents–and to children everywhere who deserve a relationship with both.


About perilsofdivorcedpauline

I am a survivor of a world-class gnarly divorce. My dastardly ex-husband is suing me for full custody of my son, and more time with my daughter. He’s super-rich and I’m super-not. You get the picture.
This entry was posted in Divorce, Custody, and Parental Alienation and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Prince Machiavelli Wants Custody of My Kids

  1. I love your line: “Custody battles keep exes married, not divorced.” I will never understand people who get divorced but then don’t let go and move on. I’m fortunate in that, although I gave up more custody than I wanted, I don’t have to fight with my ex about any of that stuff anymore. Once it was in writing, it was gospel.

    My significant other isn’t so lucky, however. His ex-wife (of 11 years) still fights him tooth and nail over every minute of the very few minutes he gets with his 12 1/2 year old son. She stays “married” to him in a way that none of us would wish on anyone. Their divorce may be legally final, but she still has the ultimate control over how his son feels about him. That sounds like what you may be going through — how awful for your ex to turn your son against you!

    I feel for you. I understand the situation of being the “poor” parent (from my own situation) and the “bad” parent (from my SO). It makes the whole divorce more of a tragedy than it already was. Good luck to you!

  2. I wish you the best of luck and completely understand the anonymity. Doing the same over here. We go back to court on Tuesday. Keep fighting the good fight!

  3. MePlusThree says:

    Love the blog. I went through a two-year custody battle and am now married to my ex, a Parent Coordinator, a lawyer and a family therapist. There is no peace where there is disagreement over children and what peace you may have is sometimes fleeting. I wish you luck and look forward to reading your story. 🙂

    • When I first read this, I actually thought your new husband was a Parent Coordinator, a lawyer, and a family therapist rolled into one! I take it your custody battle is over? May peace prevail.


  4. Kelly says:

    I wish you the best of luck. I’m glad you’re trying to get custody. My father had a similar situation and couldn’t afford to fight and keep custody of his son from his first wife, so I basically grew up never knowing one brother. All of my Dad’s calls, letters, and presents were rejected by his son’s mom. He was never allowed to visit. It was very difficult for my father, having this sadness with him all the time.
    Take care and best wishes to you and your children. Keep us updated.

  5. hi again. finally had the time to read this whole post. what a ride that was! there is so much i cannot write here, let me say what i can. don’t know where you are from nor how old you are (guessing roughly my age) … but your reference framework (smell of napalm and ferdinand the bull) is so similar to mine, it’s eery. the reference to crystal meth is outstanding, i would have simply chosen ‘drugs’ but your decision to clarify and quantify the vision of you poring over hot beakers in a basement somewhere, is completely brilliant. i also do not fight, in general fighting is for the weak.

    i am not where you are, i have no advice of precise relevance. what i do know is that i don’t think i really know my daughter. what i do know is that my older sister has never been wrong in her advice, that in spite of my fancy degrees and my world travels, in the end, hers is always better advice than mine. is it because she is older, or simply because her heart is constructed differently from mine? i ask myself that question every day. i did not start this paragraph recommending that you ask your sister what to do – in fact, i started it to simply reflect on how little i know about raising my daughter and how her simple methods have worked well for her, and how daily, i struggle with my choices, my choices about being the right wife, the right mother, and whether it is actually possible for me, to be anything other than myself.

    now, if you’ll excuse me, i’m off to to buy a copy of ferdinand the bull for my daughter. have you read ‘caps for sale’? i highly recommend it.

  6. Yes, Pauline…I believe our divorces were separated at birth, as you so eloquently put it on my blog!

    I’m so sorry to be discovering your story, only because of what it’s most likely doing to you. Like you, I have an ex who gets off on power, who bullies and bulldozes, who seems so entitled and emboldened…yet for me, this is not the man I knew for the 13 years we were together. Not even close.

    I wish you peace throughout this process. Stay focused on your goal, keep writing and rely on the support of your friends and family. Even your virtual friends are behind you all the way! Count me among that constituency, please…


  7. bronnie says:

    I wish you love and luck. Sometimes life sucks!

  8. Wow – I was reading through your post and was right there with you…hanging on every word! Thinking once again that, you know, if MD takes us back to court, perhaps the best thing would be to let go, for all the reasons you outlined. In fact, I thought that a zillion times during the 2+ years we were bled emotionally and financially dry by her. Friends and loved ones would ask, why not just let go? I, of course, could not make that decision because we were not talking about my child, we were talking about my husband’s child. I never would even think of making such a suggestion to him because I value my relationship with him and I was there to support whatever his choices were. He was fighting for the right to be equally involved in his child’s life because it is a core value of his that having both parents (unless there is abuse) involved is key to a child’s sense of security. A child needs to know and be loved by both parents, even if that is difficult for the “adults.” This is, as you can imagine, just one of the qualities about my husband that I appreciate greatly. As you began to near the end of your post, I realized that you likely circled back to recognizing that no matter what, since it is about your children, it is more important to fight for the fact they deserve to have YOU in their life. Even though I can’t stand MD and have plenty of opinions on her parenting of BW, BW deserves to have her Mom in her life and my hubby could not live with himself if he were the person responsible for damaging that relationship. A child needs to know both parents (parents that are known to them) love them and WANT them. I went back to the beginning of your posts, so I don’t know where the rest is headed and I’m making an assumption as to what you concluded that led to your gearing up for another battle, but it is what my husband feels. He will fight with all he has to keep equal time with his daughter because that is what SHE deserves. I look forward to reading the rest of your posts! I’m so glad I connected with your blog!

  9. I, for one, am so glad you started blogging. You’re Salon crossover piece published on March 10th of last year… it was the impetus that pulled me to OpenSalon. I had never even heard of it before. You will notice… I started my blog, posting my first entry, the day after your Salon piece went up. It truly inspired me and kicked me in the right direction. Thank you!

    • Darla, I had no idea! Thank you for sharing that with me. That made my day. Being a survivor of a different sort, I’m sure you know how much it means when you hear your story touches someone who has gone through something similar and feels less alone or inspired by reading something you wrote. You are terrific writer and I’m glad OS has recognized you. Now you need to start your personal blog!

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