Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More on The Judge

OK, The Judge, part two. This also has a lot to do with my, um… "tense" relationship with some members of my real family. Or, I guess of Munchkin’s family.

I graduated from college in May of 2005. I had this lovely plan and really felt like I was in a good life-place. Smoking Hot Roommate and I said some good-byes and then piled everything we had left into my car and drove to Chicago. We planned on staying there for a week, then heading to Boston where the apartment was going to be newly renovated and ready for us on June 1.

I kind of knew something was up…my Mom was acting kind of strange the week before when she had come out for graduation. But it was a complete bombshell my second day there… "My liver and kidneys are shot and I am dying". There were a lot of questions and some crying and stuff, and then the obvious question: What happens to Munchkin?

There were basically three options: 1) She could come and live with me in Boston 2) I could stay in Chicago and take her 3) Her aunt and uncle could take her in. The Aunt is her father’s sister (therefore not related to me at all) and lived about half a mile from where Munchkin and Mom lived.

The Aunt idea was out off the bat. I don’t like her and I think she would have been a bad influence. She is basically white trash (most of my family is, too) and her own kids are complete fuck-ups. I appreciated her willingness to help out, but it was a terrible idea. The Aunt, however, disagreed.

For me it was really a Chicago or Boston choice, but I was going to take her regardless. For a couple of reasons, I decided on Boston…not at all a small decision, but not the point of this story. Munchkin’s Aunt then made it known that she was not at all happy about this, and would be taking whatever action she could to keep her from me.

I have to blame a lot of this on my mother. I don’t feel like she ever really told The Aunt that she wanted Munchkin with me, and never told The Aunt to back off. I have to feel like that would have helped. Maybe not, though…The Aunt is just basically a bitch. She also never wrote any kind of a will that detailed her wishes. Dumbass. Anyway, I took Munchkin to Boston in August and my mother’s health deteriorated really rapidly after that.

Then The Aunt sued me. She filed suit in family court, protesting my custody. It was actually a suit filed by two people…her and Munchkin’s older brother. Which kind of complicated things, because he is the same relation to Munchkin as I am (half-sibling). Never mind that he was fresh out of jail for stealing cars and was basically a useless piece of no-good. They were suing for him to win custody of his sister, and for both of them to live with The Aunt and The Uncle.

[Incidentally, I feel differently about her brother now. I may write about it some day, but the short version is that he has grown up a lot, loves his sister dearly and has apologized for the whole suing thing. The Aunt is still a fucking bitch that I won’t speak to.]

Their basic argument was that I was too young and not fit to be a mother and that it was not right to uproot Munchkin, take her away from her family and friends and move her out-of-state. It is not an argument without merit in the court’s eyes, I don’t think. Basically, they were saying that she should stay where she is, go to the same school, etc.

My mother was not in any kind of condition to render any sort of statements, so she was sort of out of all of this. Papa Bear hooked me up with a law firm in Chicago to help me, and they were really, really helpful in this. Like, My Aunt applied for an injunction against me taking Munchkin out of the state…which means very little when I already had her in Boston, but means a whole lot when we had to come home for the funeral. I was actually worried that there would be someone who simply wouldn’t let me take her back to Boston. But the lawyers helped navigate all that and get those things taken care of.

I went to see the lawyers right before we left to go back to Boston after the funeral to talk about what would come next. They pretty much told me that there could be an ugly battle full of icky personal stuff about why I would be an unfit mother and stuff like that. They told me that I would need to think about people who would be character witnesses on my behalf.

So I mentioned kind of randomly that I knew The Judge and spoke with him regularly and that he might be a good one since he was a family court judge. They kind of looked at each other with their mouths open for a bit…and then one of them asked kind of dumfounded if I knew him well enough that he would submit a personal letter for me. And I said sure he would, I can call him now. "You know, AM, we probably could have saved a lot of time if you had mentioned that before…"

I guess when you are basically arguing over who is the more responsible person, it helps to have a senior colleague of the person deciding the case chime in on your behalf. To be honest, I don’t know what The Judge wrote. He offered to send me a copy of the letter, but I didn’t want to…I am not sure if that is really kosher or not. It must have worked, though, because the presiding judge kind of told the other lawyer that they should just drop the suit and move on. Again, I was taking her to a different state, but The Aunt probably has a record, and Munchkin’s brother was certainly no prize either, so it isn’t like he just totally pulled rank. But it clearly helped.

As we have seen, The Judge takes his job very seriously. In October, he called to say that he was visiting his daughter at school in Boston for Parents’ Weekend, and wanted to stop in and see the apartment, Munchkin’s school, etc. I had had a suspicion that he was just checking up on us…which was confirmed when his daughter told me "This is four Parents’ Weekends now, and this is the first one he decided to come to…"

So yes, he came out to make sure that I really was doing right by the little one. I am not gonna lie…I sort of knew that, and I took him to a cocktail reception at Papa Bear’s place before a charity dinner completely because I was trying to impress him…hee hee. That was actually good though, I wanted him to meet Papa Bear and Big Sis and Smoking Hot Roommate, since they are all key parts of Munchkin’s life, too.

Anyway, that is kind of the whole story, in two parts.

1 comment:

Ally said...

Sometimes it's all about who you know....and I've found that to be the case, for good or bad, several times in my encounters with the legal system. I'm glad that in your case it worked for the greater good.