My name is Mike East. I have a 19 year old daughter, Cayce. And a 24 year old son,
Matthew. I have been divorce from their mother 18 years. I have struggled and fought
to stay in my son and daughter's lives for the last 18 years. This has been unbelievable
to most that have never been before a judge to try and save their parent child relationship.
It is unfortunately becoming common place now for the non-custodial parent to be,
(for all practical purposes), simply cut out of their child's life.
For the first 8 months after the divorce the kid's mom and I got along fairly well.
We used the same lawyer for the divorce and property settlement. We agreed upon how
to divide our assets, and more importantly how to manage our time with Matt and Cayce.
We split the time 50/50. One week they would stay with me, the next they would stay
with their mother. One of us would drop Matt off at school Monday morning and deliver
Cayce to the other parent, and the next week we would swap back. We lived in the
same small town, lived about 3 miles apart, and both of our families lived near by.
It worked out great. Their mother was a RN. I worked with my parents in a convenience
store that my family owned. The week that they stayed with me I had them in my care
just as much and sometimes more than their mother. I could work my schedule around
what I had to do with Matt and Cayce. Their mother had a set schedule she could not
change. I still paid child support in accordance with the set guidelines even though
I was caring for them just as much as their mother. My lawyer told me to leave well
enough alone, to pay my money and keep quiet. He knew I could only loose if anything
happened that I ended up in court. Was he ever right!!!!
After being divorced 8 months I started dating the woman that would become my second
wife. The first weekend she spent with me and the kids was my last week of 50/50.
Out of pure spite, Matt and Cayce's mother would not let me have them the very next
week. It was blatantly obvious that the only reason for the change in the schedule
was out of jealousy over my new relationship. It didn't matter. It didn't matter
that a children's counselor had testified Matt needed stability in his life, not
change. My son and daughter simply had their father replaced in their lives with
their grandparents. They stayed at the grandparent's home more than at their own.
I guess I was fortunate I was not replaced with a daycare and charged with the bill.
This has happened to many in the FATHERS group.
During the hearing the mother did agree to let me have them every weekend. She thought
this would interfere with my time with Julie. She knew I would not go off and leave
them. Getting them every weekend was great!! But in hearing I would get my son and
daughter every weekend the judge leaned up on the bench and asked the mother if she
was sure she wanted me to have her children that much. From that day forward I was
no longer the father, I became the visitor.
And in that courtroom the judge made it very clear I was no longer a parent with
any authority. I was under the control and manipulation of one who was becoming a
bitter, angry, spiteful person. She told me then that if I ever took her back to
court she would take my son and daughter completely away from me and there was nothing
I could do about it. She was right. I knew it, and she knew it. And 12 years later
she would show me! From that day forward anytime my life was going too good, or her
life too bad, I was punished through my children.
Despite the fact that I had moved 90 miles to go to work at Lockheed Martin, now
USEC, I attended more soccer, softball, karate and etc. than their mother and her
family combined. My son and daughter were the most important part of my life. I have
grocery bags full of pictures of us boating, snow skiing, snorkeling, and all kinds
of fun things. Also school projects, karate practice and tournaments, softball (including
traveling teams which would take up whole weekends). I did more with Matt and Cayce
than most fathers that were still married to their children's mothers. And all the
while I lived under the continual threat and fear of reprisals if anything angered
I would get a list of the toys I could not buy them for Christmas and birthdays.
Her family would buy the presents the kids wanted first, and I was left with the
second choices. Holidays and weekends revolved around the mother's whim. If she was
in a good mood things generally went fairly smoothly. It the mother was angry, then
when I picked my children up they were angry also. I never knew what I was walking
into. Everything could be fine as I talked with them through the week, then when
I picked them up in Friday night they would be angry at me. Sometimes they were mad
at me just because I was me. I could almost always cheer them up, but man that was
Then there were the weekends I could not get them because they had to go shopping,
or some other lame excuse. I was never asked, I was told. Even though I was supposed
to have them every weekend if I didn't get to have them I knew I could do nothing.
To go to court would mean my time would be instantly cut in half to every other weekend.
And then if she would not let me have them I did not believe the courts would not
have done anything. I was right!! She kept Cayce from me once for 3 months. After
I took her back to court the judge cut my time in half and didn't even tell the mother
what she had done was wrong!
Which brings me to where I am now. When my son became a teenager, he and I had some
disagreements. I do not know of a parent that has raised a child through the teen
years that without some degree of conflict. The mother seized every opportunity to
side with my son against me. It was a nightmare. It is difficult to raise a teen
in these trying times. Try raising one with an adult siding with the teen on virtually
every issue against you. Now imagine this is the custodial parent. The mother virtually
destroyed my relationship with my son. And her parents backed her up completely.
I was told by the grandparents that what they did with my son was none of my business.
And they believed it.
After going through this with my son, I knew what I was in for with Cayce. Sure enough
when she became 13 it started. The first real serious round came when my 2 weeks
of vacation with Cayce was shortened to 1. Then to 4 days. Then to 3 days. Then I
was told I could not even get Cayce for the weekend because they were going shopping.
During this time I was always told never asked. I set my foot down and said I am
not going through this again. This infuriated the mother. I taped the conversation
of my daughter cursing me with her mother egging her on in the background. I had
never heard my daughter talk like this before. It was too wrong to let it continue
any longer, and it was obvious my relationship was going to be ended with Cayce in
the same way as with my son.
We ended up in court for 14 months. During this time the mother and grandparents
turned on me through Matt and Cayce like never before. I was called things like a
monster, mentally disturbed, paranoid and etc. on a regular continual basis. The
mother would over the phone say things like why are you ashamed of Matt and Cayce,
with them listening in the background. I would be on the other end of the phone pleading
with her, "why are you saying that you know I am proud of Matt and Cayce don't tell
them that". Then she would turn and talk to them and say I don't know why he ashamed
of you, I just can't reason with him.
I taped every phone conversation I had with their mother for 1 full year. I did not
get to play 1 single second of any tape in court. This is not unusual. When a judge
has her mind made up before you ever walk into court, introducing evidence just gets
in her way.
I was successful in having a court ordered custodial evaluation performed. The evaluator
had 20 years experience which included training in PAS, (parental alienation syndrome).
The evaluator stated in court that what the mother was doing was PAS, a form of mental
and emotional child abuse, and if it did not stop the father did not have a chance
of maintaining a relationship with his daughter. When it was all over at the final
hearing, the court did nothing! The court did not even tell the mother that what
she was doing was wrong. The judge simply said that it was obvious this was not good
for Cayce and we needed to figure out a way to get along. If we could do that we
wouldn't have been in court for 14 months! That ended my relationship with Matt and
Cayce. In the last 6 years I have seen Matt 3 times and Cayce only once. I attended
And to add salt on the wounds I am now regarded as a dead-beat-dad in the small community
in which they all live. I spent everything I had fighting to stay in Matt and Cayce's
lives. I fought to keep from filing bankruptcy for over 2 years after this was over.
It took me over a year to finish paying legal and counseling fees. And it finally
destroyed my marriage to a wonderful, loving wife. She has not recovered from the
trauma that this has caused to her life either. How long are we going to allow this
senseless pain and suffering to continue?
Join us. Let's fix this.
I left work early and got to this play just as it was starting. When Cayce say me
she pointed and in an excited voice yelled "It's my daddy". Everyone laughed.
My dainty little daughter in mid air.
Matt diving with me in Key Largo, FL.
A secret whispered just at sunset.
Halloween, Gangsters and flappers.
One of many soccer games.
A strange head we found on the beach!!!
That snowball almost got me and the camera.
It's ET, no wait, just Cayce.
One of many creatures captured and studied. (lizard this time)
Update Oct. 2009
After being needlessly separated from my son and daughter for years I've been blessed
by having them back in my life!! I never stopped caring or praying. This was a great
loss to all involved, Cayce, Matt, myself, and all the family. The only ones that
benefited were a few greedy lawyers, incompetent social workers, and ignorant judges.
Although you must learn how to take a break from all the pain and frustration in
order to survive. You must learn how to continue working while depressed and hurting.
You must learn how to live while cruelly separated from those who you love most.
As long as your children live there is hope!! No one can restore the time lost, the
memories that were never made, the laughter never experienced. That sorrow will eventually
fade away when reunited. Amen Mike East, President, FATHERS