Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Scribblings - Powerful

The most powerful I've ever felt, bar none, hands down (and any other superlative of which you can think) is the day I walked out of a lawyer's office. Let me explain:

It was about 6 or 7 years ago. It was just me, my husband, and our two sons, who were 4 and 3 at the time. We had been living in a house that belonged to my MIL. We moved (at the time we thought temporarily) into a motel, in part because the Texas weather had knocked down an old tree, clipping part of the roof by the kitchen. (If I remember correctly, my husband did not tell his mother about that ... and she found out the hard way.)

But she did find out and was (understandably) "not happy" about it. She was living in South San Francisco at the time, but her sisters and some of her husband's family lived in the same city we did. Word got back to her and she did not react "well".

We were informed (via her husband's sister) that they were peparing a "contract" for us to sign, designed with steps they believed would get our lives back on track. If we signed and followed their terms to the letter, all would be well and good. If we did not sign, or did not follow the contract, they would begin proceedings to get custody of our sons.

Now it was my turn to be "not happy". My life was not where I wanted it to be at that time, but I sure did not need big sister looking over my shoulder like a babysitter.

Anyway, about a week later, there was a knock at the door one evening. It was a process server with papers stating that MIL was suing for custody. Come to find out that the sister that was supposed to monitor us worked for a lawyer...the one representing MIL and her husband. She brought in a nice $5,000 fee for her boss for getting them to sue early.

On top of that, the papers requested for shared custody between MIL and my husband ... no mention of me except as biological mother of the boys and requesting a psychological examination. So now I was left with ... was my husband in on it and was this a way to get the boys away from me?

(A few days later, after DH had spoken to his mom, I got my own set of papers ... for custody between MIL and "us", while I was working nights at the local police department.)

Now I have suffered from depression since I was a teen. But I was the one working, bringing in money, keeping the family in a place with food, electricity, cooking facilities and a phone. We kept the boys safe and supervised. Living in a motel was not where we wanted to be ... especially with children, but it was clean, safe and better than some of the alternatives. And there was never any question about me harming the boys - physically or otherwise.

I was going at the time to the local Women's Center for job counseling (etc) and brought up my problem to them. They suggested I contact a lawyer and set up an appointment for me. It was hard not to mention it to my husband, but again at the time I didn't know which side of the field he was on. I went to the lawyer's office, and he looked at the paperwork. He said he would take the case, but it would cost $600 up front to start, and could go up from there. I thanked him for his time and left, as I wouldn't have had $600 total to give him, let alone to start.

Then I called West Texas Legal Aid. I had to call in on a Monday or Tuesday, to get an appointment for later in the week. Once they fill up their slots for the week (which usually happens on Monday) you have to wait until the next week. So I went in, filled out the screening paperwork - family and financial information, etc, and was told it would be looked at and if they could take the case, they would give me a call.

Well, I got a call that they accepted the case. So I had another appointment to go in and speak with a lawyer. He was somewhat gruff. But I guess if all you hear are people's troubles all day long, it can get to wear on you. He looked over the paperwork we had gotten from MIL's lawyer, and asked a few questions. He then went to one of his law books and copied out a page.

It turns out that MIL did not even have standing to bring the case. According to Texas law at the time, she would have had to have had the boys living with her for at least 6 months, to have ended not more than 90 days prior to bringing the case. She had had the oldest son for 4 months two years previously ... and that's another can of worms for another time.

In addition, I had people working with me at the police department who volunteered to be character witnesses for me, and we had pictures of our living conditions that showed the boys were not in danger.

When I left the office that day, I WAS WALKING ON AIR! I had gone in scared; if someone wanted to hurt me, there is nothing worse that they could do than hurt one of my children. When I walked out, I was buffer than Wonder Woman ... there wasn't anything that I couldn't do that day.

If you could bottle that feeling and distribute it, the FDA would probably rule it to be a controlled substance, it was THAT STRONG!

Oh, and MIL wound up dropping the case.


To see other great entries about powerful people, check out the main Sunday Scribblings page!


  1. Great story, and congratulations on the happy outcome. You sound like a strong woman down on her luck, but one who really wants to be with her kids and is willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal. More power to you!

  2. Good for you! Good! Life sure holds some strange goings-on, doesn't it? Glad you found that power!

  3. Fantastic, you were bionically powerful for sure... and I hope you dropped MIL!!