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The Story & Me...
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The Story first...Buckle up, things get bumpy...

 

5:00 PM Tuesday May 17, 2016 I arrive home from work. No kids, no wife, tools gone as well as 2 pairs of my shoes...Rage, fear and terror welling up inside.

 

4 days later I pick up my kids and their mother who had been forcibly hiding the kids at the in-law's and later at a transition house, why?; because I had displaced the wife's younger brother from abroad who moved in without my knowledge or consent, rent free, for the last 2 years. 1 week later, the freeloader saunters back in. I've been defeated and successfully strong-armed into living under a regime of mistrust, disadvantage and blackmail. Bleeding resources while trying to sustain my family because the interloper is only 1 of 5 brothers in Canada, while my wife sends our extra money out of country to the other 4 abroad.

She swore she would never leverage the kids and their personal safety against me again.

 

Keep in mind that this was all on top of frequent physical and emotional abuse she heaped upon me in spite of me having willingly accepted her mother to live with us for 5 out of the 14 years of our marriage until she passed away and before that, going bankrupt many years prior in order to sponsor my then deported wife to Canada. But this is by far not the beginning nor the end. What happened next is where my legal war started.

Thursday January 05, 2017 I come home from a long day of work at my new job to the hushing of voices. As I make my way up the stairs and eventually to the dining room table there sits yet another of her brothers from abroad. I'm now informed that he, along with the other mooch, will be living for free at my rented suite for an indefinite period of time. It worked for the last brother, right? Trembling inside with shock and indignation, I calmly sit down and in Spanish say (among other things), " You can stay the night, hell, I'll even get us a cake or take us all out for dinner, but tomorrow both of you go and never come back." She and her now two brothers skulked out for the night as I was left to calm the kids crying in the bedroom, and put them to sleep.

The next day I took off work to 1. try and find my wife and 2. deescalate the situation. Not a chance. The ensuing drama would be a novella. By the end of the night though, the mooches were gone, it was just me, our kids and a calculating, icy-silent wife.

 

January 07, 2017 - I come home from work. No contact from my kids all day - I always call to say hi & "love you" from work. I go upstairs and the house has been ripped apart! You guessed it, everyone was gone. All kinds of gone; along with all passports, IDs (mine included), kids clothes and everything of value not nailed down-gone. Absolutely NO way of communicating with my kids or their mom. NO idea where on Earth they were.

After I came in the house this time, instead of becoming furious and scared, an immense calm came over me. I walked over to my fridge, took out all my alcohol, opened it all up, and dumped it down the drain. I didn't even take a sip. I just knew I needed to be in complete control of my emotions and have the use of as many of my brain cells as possible. I called the police - their response was surprising. They told me they couldn't do anything without a court order, that I would have to go to court. What? Like judges and lawyer court, court? Yep.

Now remember, my kids went missing on a Saturday. I worked this day to make up for the Friday I had taken off to (unsuccessfully) deescalate the situation. I tried everything to find my kids. Saturday – Nothing. Sunday- Nothing, Monday-Nothing.

 

 

Tuesday January 10, 2017 – Court. On the bright side, it was only 8 blocks from my place. Unfortunately, it would be my home away from home for the next three years and two months. With the help of the in-house lawyer (Duty Counsel), I filled out an emergency application to the court. I happened to have come on a "list day", where they listen to all the people on the 'list' and decide if it will go further or if they can deal with it . Lots of procedural stuff. Ooh, then there's all the other people including random members of the public waiting for some Judge Judy action too. Guess what? You get to be completely overwhelmed and have your brutally-personal matter heard in front of them all! Yay!

By some miracle another judge happened to take my application to a separate court room. No one there but me, judge and staff. After hearing my matter and cross-examining me, She ordered the police to find and return my children. I brought that to the boys (and girls) in blue. I went home and changed the locks because I knew she'd be back to bother me.

At 12:03 am Wednesday January 11, 2017 I walked in tears outside my door to my precious children being helped out of a SUV by two police officers.

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"I went home and changed the locks, because I knew she'd be back to bother me."

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The morning after kids got home

Here is the tiny calm before the storm.                               

...So, everything was fine and dandy now right? Um...for like 6 days, sure. Then me and the ex were scheduled to have our "First (court) Appearance" set one week from the day my ex-parte hearing was. In case you were wondering, ex-parte is a legal term that means without the consent, knowledge and participation of the other party. In my case, this was the only option as I obviously didn't know where she was... Anyhow, January 17, 2017 was my first of several mistakes. I was still in shock and somewhere between euphoria and delirium. I showed up to court solo and she with a lawyer (No.1). Why I showed up that day without a lawyer or at least without speaking to duty counsel before I agreed with her lawyer on an interim parenting arrangement was the DUMBEST mistake I made. I was under no compulsion to settle at that time and it took the better part of 2 1/2 years to fix! Don't do this!

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...Single Dad life really begins now...

 

The ridiculous schedule I had agreed to, namely every weekend from Friday sometime after school to Sunday evening was even dumber considering that the kid's mom had no fixed address yet, was staying at a "friend's" place in a town 25 km (15 miles) away and has never had a driver's license or car. The poor kids were going through more trauma and being interrogated every weekend by mom and had their newly purchased phones dismantled and hid from them. This went on for nearly 6 months. Don't do this! Don't make any decision without some professional feedback. You can even ask the judge. I should of simply stated the above facts and things would have closer to what I fought 3 years for. This situation did have some interesting repercussions later though...

Then I ponied up. The wrong way. Spent all $5000 in savings to retain a smooth-talking gorgeous lawyer who could have passed for a supermodel. She was highly rated, but I probably unconsciously chose her to piss off the runaway wife. What did I get in return? 4 emails from her to mom's lawyer and 1 court appearance called a "Family Case Conference", so basically nothing. Then there was an awful altercation between my son and his mom which I caught on video. I needed to do something immediately! I turned to my expensive legal vixen, but sadly she simply couldn't do anything as I was all out of cash. She kindly explained the process and what I had to do. Back to the court for immediate action. All I had to do was convince a judge that didn't want to see me that he should make the harshest order, a protection order, against mom without her and her lawyer present based on something he didn't believe, right away that day. I have difficulty properly expressing how incredibly intimidating that was. That judge questioned me for hours. Given the gravity of what I was asking for however, I fully understand now. By some miracle it was granted! The very next week I sat in a trial with only me, the Judge, a livid ex and her pompous lawyer.

Now things were great because megalomaniac mom could only see the kids with supervision, right? Right? Anybody? Noooooooo. Just another can of worms and court cases and hiring and firing of "supervisors" for just over a year, Ugh, I'm getting acid reflux just writing this. Then there was the arranging of parenting time EVERY weekend, the late attendance, the subterfuge of frenemies fighting with the real friends that tried to help but, because no good deed goes unpunished, left in tears, my mom getting slapped in the face , visit reports done, visit reports not done and every antic under the sun! Lord have mercy 'cause the devil was having some damn fun. Don't do this either, that is, NEVER allow the visitation parent to get the court to word the terms of the protection order to allow for their "friends" to be the supervisors. Instead, have a neutral 3 party do it. Paid parental visitation supervision is the way to go. We did have this set up until the company fired her as a client for threatening behavior and constant tardiness.

   

        

      Still on my own as a self-litigant, mom was on lawyer #4. I had high hopes for #3 but she was fired within two weeks for being too reasonable. Mom's lawyer #4 was an arrogant, balding, middle-aged thorn in my side. His beady eyes were also too close together. Anyway, he too faded away and NONE of his stupid prognostications ever saw fulfillment. Trial days came and went as they were pushed ahead by mom for stupid reasons. Lawyer #5 wasn't actually a lawyer but a shady immigration consultant who had helped the ex get her mooching, mommies-boy-brothers into Canada. 

During lawyer #2's draft of daftness, we had finally settled on getting a fancy, incredibly invasive report done  called a Section 211 through the Provincial Court system. They interview both the parents, friends, family, visit your home for a look, have access medical records,  school records and everything in between. Then they conduct an interview with the kids which is a separate report in and of itself called a 'view of the child report'. These are a double-edged sword, they can make or break your case. Though they don't constitute a final say in your matter, they hold a lot of weight. It was months in the waiting and months in the making. Another stress rollercoaster. It came ok but not conclusive.

Finally, two years in, I qualified for a Legal-Aid (Pro-bono) lawyer! She didn't threaten or behave aggressively (which disappointed me at first). Simply put, she rocked it. Over our time working together there were some huge and upsetting changes with her law firm. She eventually moved into another significant role in the legal field and stopped litigating! Except for me. I was her last litigating client and, in her words, one of "the best clients [she] ever had". Being a squeaky wheel can be overrated and is actually a subtle art that few have mastered. Her family and mine are still friends to this day. 

Awww, surely now everything is great and me the underdog has risen from the ashes to victory, just like in those heartwarming PG movies, right? No again!   After waiting 2 years, 10 months, over 114 court documents in our file, 25+ court appearances and 4 failed trial dates we come to November 2019. The big one, 4-days. The final trial to end all trials! So much prep and build up only to get pushed ahead again! This is the BEST part though.  Mom's lawyer #6 is a story all to himself. When my lawyer found out who was representing the ex, she cried - yes, lawyers can cry- she cried and then called me and screamed. #6 was an idiot-savant who had been professionally disciplined more than once. One time was for falling asleep on a courthouse bench during court recess! Day 2 of the botched trial, #6 comes in late with sneakers loudly announcing he had a bunion on his foot and asking me and my lawyer if wearing such shoes in court is permissible. Wait, it gets better. We only spent the morning of day 2 making arrangements for the next trial date. During this time the ex fired, then rehired, then fired completely #6 FOUR TIMES-Yes 4- while court was in session. No one, neither the Judge, the lawyers, the registrar or the Sherriff had ever seen anything like this. It was surreal, like Jerry Springer meets Suits! I actually liked the guy, he was bonkers but sincere, personable and funny.

Two good things came of this, 1. The trial was now peremptory on the ex (the next trial date was absolutely unmovable by her) and 2. Poor #6 was a Legal-Aid lawyer - they don't take kindly to that kind of behavior by clients. So she had no way of getting another lawyer by the next trial date.

 

Remember that inconclusive Section 211? Well because so much time had gone by since it's completion, we needed another 'views of the child report' done and there was no time as all documents that the parties intended to rely upon at trial had to be in 6 weeks before trial which was now scheduled for early March 2020. My kids were going out of their minds with the schedule which was a bizarre 4-week rotation with the occasional Tuesday thrown in there...it was a mess. Because my kids were 11 and 9 at the time, we needed what they felt on paper. Well, thankfully I obtained permission to have it done privately and so $2,100 later, it was done. Mom refused to participate, but boy did it do the trick.

 

 

Finally, a cool five months later, the big big day came. We snuck in just under the wire of the COVID19 Pandemic. In fact, we were the last trial heard before the lockdown! I knew that if we could just get through the first day it would be done. This trial was a show of magnificent proportions, 4 days of climactic vindication.  Mom showed up less any lawyer in tow, and proceeded to immediately ask the court to push the trial ahead yet again! DENIED! I knew from this point on it was done, not because she was unrepresented; I was for 2 years and managed; but because all her lies, abuses of the system and awful behavior towards the kids and everyone else for that matter stood trial against her. Her bridges had burned. Even though court ordered her to provide a financial statement, she brought none. She didn't use the binder of documents that her previous lawyers compiled for her previously, though it was drivel, it was at least organized drivel. Instead she brought random emails and print-outs of texts out of context that offended her, which was all of them. Being the Applicant, though not always the rule, I made my case first. I only had 1 witness as opposed to her 4. I gave my testimony and was directly examined and later cross-examined by her afterwards into day two. Then my only witness, a young disabled woman whose life my ex had turned upside down, went through the same process. 

Now half way through day 2 the fun began. Mom took the stand to testify...As Phil Collins sang, "I've been waiting for this moment all my life..." Her cross-examination was that moment. I had spent thousands on court transcripts of previous court appearances. Want to see a pathologically-lying narcissist go white as a ghost and stumble over their words? Buy these! The lies became more obvious than Kim Kardashian's butt in yoga pants! Then, when questioned as to her understanding of the children's feelings in matters of the parenting schedule which were EXPLICITLY written down verbatim from the kid's mouths, she denied and contradicted all of it. Then when questioned on the sworn affidavit she submitted made up of crude copies of random photos apparently detailing bedrooms of her new place in the kid's neighborhood, she flailed. She was still living at the same address 25 km (15 miles) away as she had for the last 3 years! That was fun. She also directly lied in court 3 separate times about this as seen in the transcripts. Naughty. 99 points damage to credibility-bam. Then there were her 'witnesses': 1. her older and equally deceptive sister 2. her pigeon-brained older brother (1 of 5 brothers) 3. A defunct meter-maid-man who's entire testimony was based on a telephone call 4. A woman who I had never met and was  later disqualified from being a witness. She thought she had 2 more but she had burned those bridges long ago! The show her 3 'witnesses' put on left no doubt that she had no clout. They might as well have been on my side. They were the final blow to her credibility. Though the final judgment and order wouldn't be rendered for 3 weeks, it was clear to all, minus the delusional ex, that she lost big. It was also clear that she was, as professionally described, "obtuse".

 

  Vindication! April 1, 2020, the Final Order was done. I received final say, was awarded child support plus 3 years retroactive arrears, exclusive passport privileges and the schedule I had been fighting to get for years. The kids are doing great. I have my life and friends back and peace of mind. Most of all, my kids are safe and cannot be used as a tool for leverage against me along with the resulting trauma.

The Takeaway...

 

My life and that of the kids will never be the same, thank God, it has changed in such positive ways. This is not accidental. I believe that those single parents that are reading this and enjoying it are like me, decent folk who want what is best for our kids. We need to stand together, help one another to better ourselves and guard each other from common pitfalls and people that seek to take advantage of us. I will never be a mom, nor a decent replacement for one, and the same goes for a single mom being a dad.

My story is ongoing and I'm fighting through this crazy pandemic time with you. I have learned so many lessons which I will be sharing with you throughout the blogs and forum posts. We truly are thriving and I want to show you how. It is not an overnight fix, however, I hope to eliminate as much stress and anxiety about the unknown from your life. I want to make the unknown known. Where am I now? Come along and see!

"...every antic under the sun! Lord have mercy 'cause the devil was having some damn fun."

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"It was surreal, like Jerry Springer meets Suits!"

"The lies became more obvious than Kim Kardashian's butt in yoga pants."

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me

Apparently I don't have a good side and black and white makes everyone look better..

 

I love people. I also love sharp, shiny and flammable things. They're the best things. Oh, and of course my kids.

I'm Tony, when I'm not hungry; and I try not to be serious unless absolutely necessary.

Before I was a single-parent, I was the child of a single-parent family. This provided me with a great respect for any parent who is active in their child's life. Shortly after my first kid was born I had a multiplicity of jobs in numerous sectors of the work world because I was always searching for a way to be with them more.

Now I am doing just that, spending all the time my kids need and want with me, when they need me, working less-as a single dad. Now I can teach them how to be kind, appreciative, adaptable and hopefully not serious people.

I have been privileged to learn how to make going against the grain work for us thus providing me a life of unmatched physical and emotional proximity to my kids.

"Everything popular is wrong."
                            -Oscar Wilde