Now I have deliberated on whether I should share what I have experienced and seen what systemic/institutional racism looks like. Debated whether people even cared enough to know since it seems like it continues without any changes. Wondering if it’s worth sharing a true-life’s experience relating to a topic that seems to be so controversial today. And then I realized if it enlightens even one person’s view on what’s really going on that could help start the change then it’s all worth it.
During a time like this, I have come across three different types of people on how they view racism:
• The first is a person who, because it does not affect them in any way, believes it doesn’t exist and that it’s over-exaggerated.
• The second is a person who can empathize and believe it is out there but believes it’s based on a person’s choices in life that led them there.
• And lastly, the third is a person who wholeheartedly believes it exists because it has affected them in one way or another, or who have seen the struggles of someone who is affected by it.
• Truly there is a fourth type of person, the person who hates any person of color and believes they deserve all that comes to them but I’m hopeful there is no one in this category.
Honestly before I met my husband, I fell into the first category. I was oblivious to all that was going on because it did not directly affect me. As of now, I fall into the third category because I married an African American and have seen how systemic racism has truly negatively impacted not only my husband’s life but also my life and our childrens. Based on what I’ve seen of what my husband has experienced and what he continues to deal with on a constant basis is a system that continues to marginalize him because of the color of his skin.
For those that are new to my blogs, I am part of a blended family. My husband has two children from a previous marriage and I have one from my previous marriage. Today I wish to share a part of my life that has been hidden for so long of what my husband has had to deal with along with what I’ve seen while my husband has been advocating for his and his children’s rights. Mind you, there is so much more injustice of what my husband has dealt with that would end up being more like a chapter book than a blog… so that’s why today in this blog I’m keeping it shorter by focusing on a recent court case we’ve dealt with that can shed some light on the main topic of this blog.
What started the most recent event was receiving horrible news a couple years ago from my oldest bonus son. The news led my husband and I to spend over $100,000 for the court case in order to advocate for my husbands’ children’s rights. Listed below are only some things my husband has had to endure and deal within the court system. And it will be up to you to see how much systemic racism is alive today or to believe otherwise.
•It took over two years for the parenting plan to be finalized. With my husband’s ex-wife continued opposition in what my husband requested related to having more parenting time with their children, the case dragged on. One delay was caused by the ex-wife’s attorney turning in a parenting plan with language not previously addressed and the judge finalized it without my husbands’ attorney’s input. After finding out about it months later, my husband’s attorney had the judge retract it. It was only after this incident that forced the judge to retract the plan, the judge sent a letter to my husband’s attorney denying all of my husband’s requests with his children (more info below) and stated any further delay/requests will ensure my husband will pay for his ex-wife’s attorney fees. (These incidents are verifiable.)
•The topic most blended families attempt to avoid; child support. But in this case, I will share on this to provide insight on how the system can use child support to prevent darker skinned individuals from creating a sustainable future by ordering high amount of child support. In the most recent finalized parenting plan, my husband was awarded 118 overnights (previously it was 105). My husband previously paid $426 when he had his children for 105 overnights but rose to $721 when changed to 118. This was because the ex-wife shared with the judge she stopped working full-time after having more children with her new husband. Now instead of going by the Oregon Administrative Rules relating to calculating child support, which states the calculation is to be based on the presumption income the mother could be making or by going by her new husband’s income, the judge decided to have my husband pay her share of the loss of income. With that, the judge only used minimum wage as her income. This in turn increased my husband’s child support exponentially and decreased his ability to create a sustainable life for his family.
•Splitting the cost of the custody evaluator was agreed upon by both parties when it was stipulated by the ex-wife that she would not pay IF the custody evaluator found no reason to change the previous parenting plan. Well… the evaluator found many things to change, and even recommended the children to live with us half the year if we lived closer. However, the judge denied the request for both parents to split the cost of the custody evaluator, resulting in my husband paying $12,000.
•Claiming one child for tax purposes. Now in some cases the custodial parent claims their child for tax purposes unless the other parent is paying for health insurance and there is more than one child involved. In our case my husband has both of his children on our insurance plan. However the ex-wife wished to claim both children and the judge denied my husband’s request for equality. Even in my husband’s previous custody plan from Colorado, a judge had awarded my husband to claim the eldest even though he lived in another state due to equal parenting rights.
•Generally when a modification of a parenting plan is finalized then modification of the child support also commences. Not in our case. When my husband’s ex-wife decided to stop working full-time September 2019 she requested the judge to start the modification of the child support as of that month even though the parenting plan was finalized mid-March 2020. The judge denied my husband’s request and allowed the ex-wife’s request which put a child support arrearage against my husband of $1365 even though he had been completely caught up before this. My husband paid this off as soon as he got this hardship against him.
•The judge required my husband to provide 82% of the transportation for all pickups and dropoffs. He was to pickup/dropoff his children at their schools while the judge knew we lived an hour and a half, one way. It was only that an exception in the law that my husband’s attorney was able to find which allowed to deduct $100 of the child support each month due to the egregious amount of transportation required of him. With the ex-wife protesting it, the finalization of the plan was delayed. The judge continued to extend this matter until by the third hearing on this subject the judge reluctantly agreed to my husband’s request. (Most who have dealt with custody hearings understand a third hearing on a matter is egregiously costly) And mind you, gas for a pickup/dropoff for one week alone costs $100.
•Wednesday parenting time is supposed to be that special time with dad and the children. However, with the ex-wife making specific requests that were approved by the judge, it ensured it would be a hardship for my husband to comply. The judge required my husband to pickup his children from their school @2:30pm and @3pm (both children are in separate schools with different end times) despite him working and also required my husband to drop them back off at their house @7:30pm. The judge also added extra burdens that if my husband was late one time or couldn’t make it then he would lose two Wednesday visits after that. The judge also denied the request for a halfway pickup/dropoff location.
•Alternating weekends required my husband to pickup his children on Fridays at both their schools @2:30pm and then @3pm. My husband requested leniency from the judge; that if his job required him to work late that day or had a mandatory meeting that the pickup would be pushed to 6pm that same evening. With the ex-wife opposing it, the judge sided with her again and added even more verbiage to the plan that if my husband was late to the pickup then he would lose parenting time. This was also one of the requests the judge denied and added that if my husband continues delaying, by asking requests, then he would be apt to award the ex-wife’s attorney fees to be paid by my husband.
•On the same alternating weekend, the dropoffs were on Monday and required my husband to dropoff both children at their schools @8am and @8:30am. Again extra verbiage was added that if my husband was late to drop them off then he’d lose future parenting time. With the ex-wife living close to their children’s schools the children’s school demonstrated they were periodically late. This was ignored by the judge and burdens were still placed on my husband who had never been late.
•One week of uninterrupted time with the children for the ex-wife was awarded by the judge but denied for my husband. My husband even asked his ex-wife for equal parenting time of also having one week of uninterrupted time despite what the judge ruled and the ex-wife denied it.
•My husband was never given the opportunity to take his children to their first day of school and requested it from the judge. The ex-wife opposed and the judge ruled in her favor citing again that further requests will lead to awarding ex-wife’s attorney fees.
•The custody evaluator recommended a counselor for the children who would include my husband; now the parenting plan DID include this language. The evaluator also recommended both parents to obtain medical records from the counselor and if counselor was unwilling to work with both parents then a new counselor was chosen for the children. The judge ignored the recommendation, added language that parents are not to obtain medical records because the ex-wife requested this, even though the judge was aware of the concerns with the current counselor the children were seeing was collaborating only with the ex-wife. This is the same counselor the children continue to see who refuses to work with my husband after she was caught completing unauthorized transactions on my husband’s credit card without his consent.
•After my husband was denied parenting time from the ex-wife, my husband filed an enforcement plan with the court. While in court, the judge ignored my husband while he attempted to demonstrate how his ex-wife was denying his Wednesday visits and his allotted phone visitations with their children per their parenting plan. The ex-wife cited due to personal issues she had to deny it. Even though she confirmed she denied parenting time, the judge agreed with the ex-wife and even ordered my husband to pay all of her attorney fees for bringing this matter to the court. So if any of you are saying my husband should simply file an enforcement plan or take the ex-wife to court for violations of the parenting plan; it’s clear from above that he did, was denied, and the judge made it clear that if he does any complaining of injustice, unfairness, or inequality of parenting time that he would be paying the ex-wife’s attorney fees despite her violating the parenting plan.
•And so much more cases that I could share.
It became clear after the judge ignored looking at my husband while he was on stand in court, or not fully going by the recommendations of the custody evaluator solely because it didn’t suit the ex-wife’s lifestyle that we were dealing with a judge who was prejudiced against my husband. It seemed that even though the custody evaluator confirmed the children were being alienated and even the ex-wife’s prior accusations were debunked, the judge only sided with her.
It would seem that no matter what my husband did, he was always put in a position to look like an absent or deadbeat black father. Because if my husband chose to go to the mandatory meeting at work on Friday then he would lose parenting time and be deemed as an absent black father by the courts and ex-wife (this has been attempted before); a statistical point for the individuals who claim black fathers are absent from their families. But if my husband chose to pickup his children instead and gets fired for missing the mandatory meeting and thus cannot pay child support, would now be deemed as a deadbeat father by the courts and the ex-wife; a statistical point for the individuals who claim black fathers are deadbeats. It’s a lose-lose situation for my husband that this county has constantly put him in. While these situations continue to present themselves to us, my husband continues to defeat the odds each and every time. It does however lead to emotional exhaustion and financial strain each time.
So to all who say systemic racism is not real, then I implore you to even attempt to put yourself in the shoes of my husband. He lives in this every single day. He is put in situations by the courts to lose so they could negatively depict him as an absent father or deadbeat father because of the color of his skin. And I haven’t even gone into how police officers treated him, or how he was treated at school, work, church, local market, or a previous court case when another judge yelled at my husband calling him a “bad, bad, father” solely because he got his little black girl’s curly hair done by a professional salon as allowed by his parenting plan. While it may seem that the negative statistics out there for the African Americans make up your mind for who you believe they are; however, I have realized even in our case that these negative statistics are solely because the system has been designed to be rigged against a race and community of people who are just trying to live the American dream.
Now it is up to you to know the truth and what to do with it. Or to simply just ignore it since it may not affect you at all.