I have been asked this question at least twice before, by friends and family, and yesterday, by attorneys questioning me during my divorce hearing. Again, I am not going to go into specifics of my case. But the question is important, because it was made more difficult for me, by the third person to ask me, my youngest daughter.
At a point during my separation, I made a conscious decision, that due to the hostile environment surrounding my divorce situation, as well as combined with an employment and court order issue, I would need to reside elsewhere other than the immediate area I had previously been living. But to do the best I could with those two issues would mean I would have to make the biggest sacrifice of my life, separation from my daughters as well.
As anyone who knows me, my daughters mean the world to me. The happiest days of my life have been those shared with my daughters from the time they were first placed in my arm, to just two days ago, when I got a rare “extra” visit with them, due to my travels back north for legal proceedings for the divorce.
But as any divorce that has children involved, rarely are the children protected from all the actions and decisions made by the parents from the moment of the filing for divorce. Custody is one of those issues.
Being from a divorced family, I know all too personally, the importance of both parents in the lives of their children, during, and after divorce. My ex was unaware of the thoughts that I was contemplating about where I would leave, once I actually left my home, shortly after the passing of my father. But in preparation for a custody agreement, and knowing my intentions, I drafted and submitted a proposed custody agreement that was the hardest thing to concede.
Both my ex and I believe that we should be primary and sole custody holders of the children. We both have our reasons why the other should not. In any regard, most cases in most states, only shared custody, 50-50 is issued. But with my plans to relocate, I knew shared custody would not be accepted any more than sole custody for me. Instead, desiring quality custody with my children, instead of quantity, and what I felt would be best for my daughters, to be able to remain in the school they have known for the last six years, remain with their friends, at least I could assure this would remain constant in their lives. I offered my ex to have custody of the children during the entire school year asking only for custody of the girls during extended holiday weekend breaks, the Christmas break, and the majority of the Summer. My ex originally rejected this proposal and insisted to let the court decide, which soon became the court order for custody.
With the custody order in place, I proceeded with securing a new residence, one that would offer me best opportunity for employment, and the ability to pay any support award for the children. And I believed, and still do believe, that I have found that place, though it is more than a thousand miles away from the two girls I love with all my heart.
So as my friends, family, and yesterday the court attorneys, on Monday following my “extra” visit with my girls, my youngest asked me a question I had been asked many times before. And though I had offered answers before quite easily and without thought, coming from my child, who I have always believed in letting children be children, not concerning them with adult issues, especially my divorce, she phoned me later that evening in tears.
“Daddy, why did you have to move so far away?”
I answered her in the best way that I could for a 9 year-old. That even though I moved away, I would always be her Dad, and her Mom would always be Mom. And we were both going to do what we could that would be the best for she and her sister. My daughters visited me already this summer and had a wonderful time, and left here knowing, that my move to here, is going to result in good things for them and their future. And I hope that their mother is driven the same way.
But as my friend Matt pointed out recently to me, the real answer, “it had to be real bad for a dad to feel the need to move as far away from such a toxic situation for the best interests of his children, and the relationship with them.
And that is how I am going to end this post.
I love my daughters with all my heart. I will always be there for them. And even from afar, I will protect them, and guide them. I shed tears for all the events that I will miss with them, but I know of all the wonderful things we will get to do with each other when we get together. And so, when I answered my daughter, I allowed her to remain a child with my answer.
I miss my girls every day. Daddy loves you Madison and Emmalie. I promise it will get better.