This Wednesday I was summoned to court on contempt charges by my daughter’s douche bag sire. I can’t assign him the title “biological father” or “baby daddy”, because even those monikers carry more respect than he deserves. Anyhow, the charges read:
Illegally changing my daughters name! (He is too illiterate to know that there should be an apostrophe in “daughters”).
The penalty if found guilty of contempt was time spent in jail and repayment of his filing and court fees. Armed the knowledge and the confidence that I had done neither of these, I trudged down to Fulton County Superior court to waste what was one of the sunniest afternoon’s we’ve had this winter. All the same, I readied myself to becoming a pole dancing prison meat sandwich. After all, you never know how the person sitting on the bench was going to feel that day and if they just want to throw to book at someone.
With my two witnesses in tow, I waited patiently to be called into the conference room. We arrived before Old Douche Bag, and the bailiff asked me where the other party was.
“Er…I don’t know,” I replied.
What I really wanted to say is “Am I that nigga’s keeper?!?”
Finally we were called in. The judicial officer was in a congenial mood, greeting us pleasantly and asking why we were here today.
“This is a contempt hearing,” I answered.
She shuffled through our file.
“Oh, ok. Tell me why you are filing contempt charges against Mr. Grant, Mrs. Franklin.”
He began to speak. She cut him off abruptly.
“No, no. I asked Mrs. Franklin.”
“I’m Mrs. Grant,” I said in correction. “He’s Mr. Franklin.”
He sighed deeply and said “Judge, my daughter was supposed to spend Christmas and her birthday with me. I’m also supposed to get her every Wednesday with her. Mrs. Grant also didn’t let me spend my birthday with her. That’s why I’m filing contempt charges.”
The judicial officer raised her eyebrows, and obvious sign that this was a grievous offense.
“And what is your response to this, Mrs. Grant?”
“Our court order simply states that Mr. Franklin is to receive supervised visits with my daughter until a supervisor says overnight visits can begin. So far, no one has said so.”
“I see,” said the judge. “So why…what is the problem?”
Douche Bag piped up quickly.
“The center told me they don’t give recommendations as to when they let overnight visits begin,” he said. “I sent an email to Mrs. Grant asking when we could begin them, and she said she was not going to. ”
This would have been an appropriate Joe Wilson moment. I fixed my lips to scream YOU LIE!, but thought the better of it and kept my eyes averted from his lying face. He went on to say that the visitation center was one that she herself had recommended. She looked confused, and said “I didn’t recommend anything. That would have been the mediator.” I seized on the moment, and informed her that the mediator had indeed offered this center as an option, as well as the Fulton County Juvenile Center or any other place of our choosing.
“I believe the onus is on Mr. Franklin to find a recommending supervisor if he wants overnight visitation, ” I said. “So far, he has not made any attempts in that direction.”
After some more chatter, the judge offered to call our visitation center and see if they had a suggestion. She left the room to make the phone call and left us alone. Now this is where it gets funny.
***The Court Jester looks Desperate and Idiotic***
As soon as the judge left the room, I shifted my attention to my purse. Suddenly I heard:
“Okay, Malaka, let’s come to some sort of an agreement!”
I was flabbergasted.
“Agreement?? YOU have us here. What is there to agree on? “
“None of this is necessary,” he insisted.
“Oh I agree. It’s not necessary, but you are the one who filed contempt charges and sent a sheriff to my door to serve them.”
“We can work something out.”
“Look, I really think you should stop talking to me while the judge is out of the room. I don’t want to talk to you while she’s not here.”
He ignored me.
“Your hair looks nice.”
He said something akin to me still looking nice, but I was too distracted by his bloodshot eyes to remember the exact verbiage. I do recall wanting to retort that he still looked fat. As he droned on about other irrelevancies, all I could think was that he looked…used. Old, used and not even remotely attractive. How could I have ever slept with this man, let alone madly loved him? I was repulsed with the whole thing. I was shaken from my thoughts when I heard him say:
“I want to be your friend.”
“We don’t need to be friends,” I retorted.
“That may be so, but we need to at least tolerate each other so that we can raise this little girl.”
“I do tolerate you. I only contact you when it’s necessary, and outside of Christmas, it has not been necessary.”
“Well,” he insisted, “we still need to talk to each other for her sake.”
“Talk to each other about what? She’s in pre-school. She colors. There is nothing to talk about!”
He chuckled, noting that we’d only been talking for a few minutes and were now fighting.
“That’s why I asked you to stop talking to me when the judge left the room.”
He then tried to sound like the voice of reason, asking that we stop sending each other nasty emails and text messages. At this, I was incredulous; I reminded him that I do not text, email or call him…and when I DO he responds with sarcasm and threats.
“I just miss my little girl so much,” he said. ” I just love her so much.”
At this, I didn’t know whether to sneer or chortle. This from the man who flatly told me he didn’t want a girl before she was born, who burst into curses and flatly hung up the phone on me when I announced her gender, and had the nerve to call me back days later to say he didn’t want a dark skinned daughter? If I had the strength of Zeus I’d strike him dead with lightening if I could.
“Can you believe we made a baby together,” he laughed, stretching his arms behind his head. He began to whisper. “I remember the last time we had sex. I knew the moment it was over you were pregnant. I said ‘Damn, she’s pregnant’.” He took much delight in this trip down memory lane.
“Yeah,” I said flatly.
“And remember when my cousins got to fightin’ and you were sitting there with your eyes all wide, pro’lly thinking my family was crazy.”
“See! You think it’s funny too,” he said gleefully. “You’re smiling.”
I didn’t bother to correct him, and instructed him to stop bringing up the past (his favorite request of me when I remind him he owes me money in addition to failing to pay for 3 years of support for the child he “loves so much”). I looked towards the door, willing the judge to come back soon.
“I’m bringing up the good times,” he said. “Look, can we just move forward? How about we do this visitation thing for another month? Then she can come stay with me. Or how about you make a suggestion?”
“A suggestion for when she can come stay with you? I haven’t thought that far out. I’d rather just wait to hear what the judge gas to say.”
“And furthermore,” I continued, “you have me here on charges saying I illegally changed Nadjah’s name. Do you know what a serious charge that is??”
“You did change her name. Before September.”
“Do you have printed proof of that?” I challenged.
“Well, I do, but I sort of don’t,” he said mischeviously.
I was peeved.
“Hey, either I changed her name or I didn’t. Either you have printed proof, or you don’t. Which is it?”
“I can’t say. If I do, it would require me to reveal how I got it.”
“Oh! So you’re going behind my back and digging up personal information on me?”
“You went on my Facebook,” he said in justification.
What an idiot. His Facebook (up until recently) was open access to all. It was how he prowled for women.
“So I didn’t change her name.”
“Well, you must have just wrote ‘Grant’ over it when you signed her name.”
What on Earth was he talking about? I told him I was still going to bring it up to the judge, and he mumbled something about having dropped that charge. He lamented that he didn’t get to see Nadjah at all. I asked him what all the visits over the last 3 months were then?
“Come on!” he exclaimed. “An hour every 2 weeks?”
“It was 2 before you changed it.”
“Because she would get antsy after an hour! And I have to pay for those visits!”
“What??! Like $5.00??”
“No! I have to pay $20 a visit! In fact, I owe them $100. That’s why I haven’t …” his voice trailed off.
What a liar! The payment for that center is based on a sliding scale. If you make $45K and above, it’s $20. According to our child support agreement, his stated income was $25K a year…which put him in the $5 category. Every owrd he breathes is a lie! I was dumbfounded.
Finally, after 18 minutes of pointless talk, the judge returned.
****The Jester gets Shamed****
The Judge informed us that she had spoken to the visitation center director, and it was indeed true that they could not provide a recommendation. Old Douche Dag quickly made a suggestion.
“I’d like Mrs. Grant to come up with a time-line for when she thinks it would be reasonable for my daughter to begin overnight visitation. My daughter and I have really bonded, and I’ll go along with whatever she say.”
The judge smiled and nodded. She thought it would be a good idea. Sneaky bastard! But you won’t catch me that easily.
“I’m afraid I’m incapable of doing that, your Honor,” I said ever-so-remorsefully. “I wrote a letter to the court prior to receiving this contempt citation asking for direction on this very matter. It is for the reasons stated in this letter that I cannot make a decision of this magnitude.”
She read the letter and came back to the conclusion that the visits should still be supervised, and offered to have the social services coordinator who took our statements monitor the visits and make her recommendation. We agreed that this would be fine. I then asked her what was to be done about my concerns about his objectionable home environment. Would anyone address those concerns in making their recommendation?
“If I recall correctly, she hadn’t spent much time with him in the past?” she queried.
“Unfortunately, that’s one of several false statements that Mr. Franklin provider to the coordinator. Nadjah spent consistent weekend visits with him up until July 2008. He’s not a stranger to her. She knows full well who he is. That’s not my concern. My concern is for her safety.”
“Judge,” he said. “Can I talk about this letter?”
“No. We can talk about it after we meet with the coordinator.”
I brought up the name change charges, and the judge said she didn’t see them on the sheet.
“I dropped those,” he interjected.
“Then we don’t need to discuss them,” she said. She sounded…relieved.
I asked her for an amendment to the final order, because Nadjah’s name had been so botched. She happily did so, even providing a story on Hispanics and their name issues with hyphenated names, etc. And so ended my duel in court. My daughter still has supervised visits; I have kept a misogynistic, lying man-whore from parading her in front of his female victims (for the short term at least); and we have our next court date in 60 days. Lord in Heaven only knows what that day will bring.