Forensic: Fortitude to Finale – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
Here I am, three years later, still trying to fight for custody of my son in my divorce battle. This divorce is most certainly going to go down in the record books. It will probably be the divorce the the decade. Especially because at the rate it is going, my son will be practically in college once it is finalized.
Both my husband and I started out fighting for full custody of our only child. The courts made it known to my husband that at best, he could get 50/50 custody. This translates as our child spending half of the week with each of us.
Before determination of custody even began, we both had to be interviewed by a Law Guardian (a lawyer who represents our son’s best interests) and Child Psychologists, both individually and with our child. All reports came back neutral. None of the court appointed individuals could find anything indicating cause of abuse, neglect or negligent parenting. We were tied as both adequate parents for our son. Enter Mr. Forensic.
A Forensic Psychiatrist’s primary function in cases such as this, is to determine first, whether one parent is more “fit” to assume custody of their child. Secondly, if both parents are adequate in their parental “fitness,” determination of parenting time becomes allotted. In my case, since I have attended years of “parent training” on how to successfully raise a “special needs child,” (our son has ADHD, Auditory Processing Syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder), this gave me a huge edge. Since I do not work because of my son’s needs coupled with the fact that my husband makes a comfortable income, that gave my husband an edge in terms of being able to take care of our son’s financial needs. Beyond those two areas lies where the competition ensues.
Since the birth of my son, I have been the primary caregiver. My husband travelled extensively and worked very long hours. I was the one taking my son to music classes, sign language classes, gym classes, art classes…he was a very busy kid and needed a daily outlet for his energy. My husband would try to take him to gym class and Daddy and me swimming on Sundays. I was my son’s activity coordinator the rest of the time.
As soon as our divorce proceedings began, my husband was probably told by his attorney that he would never get full custody of our son with his travel schedule and working long hours. Slowly, his traveling started to diminish and my husband began to take more of a “hands on” interest in our son. Over the past few years, the parenting competitiveness over our son has become extremely comical. My husband volunteered to be the “Class Mom” for both my son’s Third and Fourth Grade classes and even volunteered to help out with the school’s annual plant sale last year! I literally was laughing my head off when I asked him if he even knew the difference between an annual versus a perennial plant. He had no clue. It was at that point that I just side stepped and said to myself, “Keep trying, Buster. You can’t make up parenting points this late in the game.” I’ve continued to let him chase his tail. He’s wearing himself out trying to keep up.
Now, back to Mr. Forensic. He has had my husband, my son and me parade through his office, at minimum, a dozen or more times, for as little as an hour to more than four hours at a shot. The four hour visit was an 827 question testing. He also tested our son. My assumption was that after all of these visits, just like the court ordered professionals before him, he also couldn’t ascertain favor for nor against my husband nor I, so he decided to come to a 50/50 custody determination. This is where he should have stopped and written up his report for our lawyers to work with. Instead, he proceeded to overstep his boundaries.
Mr. Forensic kept asking us to come in. First to use unconventional and unproven methods to determine whether my son actually had ADHD or Auditory Processing Disorder. His testing device indicated that our son did not have ADHD nor Auditory Processing Disorder. This was despite the fact that not only did we have our son tested by the best specialists in their fields, where we live, our son has additionally gone through hours upon hours of thorough testing by these specialists, over a time span of three years. Here Mr. Forensic “diagnosed” our son within 30 minutes, using a visual software program. What angered me the most was that he never asked for permission neither of my husband, nor me, as to whether we agreed for our son to be tested! I don’t care who you are! A parent should always be offered to decide whether a test of any type is to be performed on their child! A huge red flag went up from that faux pas!
Next, Mr. Forensic, having made up his mind about 50/50 custody, decided to try to get my husband and me to agree on custody scheduling and logistics. Red flag number two went up. I plainly stated that I would not agree to anything without first conferring with my attorney. You could tell Mr. Forensic was flustered. He challenged me on my deference to my attorney. I explained that she was my legal advocate and that with any legal decision making, I deserved the right to discuss making my decisions with my attorney. Mr. Forensic was so taken aback by my “non-compliance” that he asked me to speak with my attorney and have her provide an explanation as to why I needed an advocate to work towards a custody settlement. I assured Mr. Forensic that I would do that. My attorney went wild with rage.
As of this posting, it is doubtful that I will be entertained by Mr. Forensic again. He not only overstepped his boundaries left and right, he made inaccurate assumptions about my child and finally pushed me to my limit. I have mandatory legal rights. I have the right to execute them. And, when need be, I have the fortitude to stand up and say, “Enough!”
A not so fond farewell to our finale, Mr. Forensic!