The laundry I hung an hour ago is waving, shock-dried on the line, the whole city sighing in the evening wind, hoping for a thermal breeze to make its way down from the cool, clean mountain tops.
I am standing on the balcony, watering dessicated plants, trying to think rationally: What represents your children’s best interests? How can opposing interests be reconciled? And where do parental interests fit-in?
Yup, we’re talking about something a notch more serious than the current heat wave today: Child custody is full of fascinating theoretical stuff to debate over an apéritif with your mates… Honestly, try it: Everyone suddenly has an opinion, which usually turns out to be quite passionately loud, and judgemental after a few Pastis.
The latest episode in my personal soap-opera is that T is asking, scratch that, stating that he will have shared custody of our less-than-two year old daughter every other week, and no custody of my son, as soon as he gets a space at the hospital’s nursery. This latest development came as a sobering slap, one that made me let go of the ridiculous power-struggle over our divorce date, one that made my blood curl and my motherly protective instinct go on red alert.
So here’s the plot, for newbies and those whose neurons have melted in the heat (that includes me):
- I have a nearly 8 year old son, whose dad has never been overly interested, or involved in his life, even though there has been some recent progress. Currently resides in Austria and sees our son about twice a year for a day or two (details here and here)
- I have a nearly two year old daughter with T, who was my partner for two and a half years
- Ten months ago, T talked about adopting my son
- Eight months ago, T left me, a decision largely aided by someone who very rapidly became the New Ms T
- When he left, T naturally got custody of the two children who had always been treated equally, and whose bond was a great source of comfort to each other
- Six months ago, shortly after the New Ms T officially became the New Ms T, T started rejecting my son (details here)
- Four months ago, we verbally agreed in mediation that he would have custody of our daughter every other weekend and half of school holidays, and of my son one weekend a month as well as on demand for “boys times”
- Today, T has moved in with the New Ms T, no longer wishes to have any custody of my son, and wants shared custody of our daughter every other week.
My overwhelming gut-reaction to this new demand oscillates between “No bloody way”, and “Over my dead body”, although if I’m honest, I’m not 100% sure how useful my dead body would be to the children… And actually, in theory (we’re talking about apéritif-time, not-my-children-not-my-problem theory here), I believe that where practical, shared custody is the fairest solution for the children, who get to live equally with both their parents.
So when it comes to the crunch why am I so reluctant to put theory into practice for my daughter? How do I sort through my emotions to see clearly where the children’s best interests lie? And at the heart of all this, what constitutes a child’s best interest?…Haha, I’ll let you rack your brains and discuss all this over some Pastis (G&T also works): Cheers!