My story is complicated. I am a woman who was in a relationship with another woman. We had a child together. My ex is the biological mother, and the biological father is a friend we know.
After suffering through a battle in the Family Court that seemed to never end, learning how to live with three adults in a child's life is challenging.
The biological parents attempted to abscond with my daughter, which began a horrible vortex in the Family Court, complete with lots of accusations and name-calling. After the decision was reached and I was awarded full legal custody, my ex went on a rampage. It got so bad that the judge took away all visitation rights from her for a while. The judge also ordered that she, or anyone on her behalf, not be allowed to call the police or ACS. These are extraordinary measures.
My Family Court battle has taken on a life of its own.
The original decision also ordered that the biological father stay away. One of the reasons the court ordered this was because of the triangle created by three. But as time went on, my daughter wanted to be reconnected with her father. It was tricky and emotional. I think the best way to start living with the idea of three is to accept reality—there are three parents, and our child loves all three.
First, he and I needed to find peace. We both apologized to each other, cried, and hugged. Our daughter was happy, not only to have him back in her life, but to see that two of the adults fighting over her could put down their swords for her sake. I think the brutality of the custody battle has taken its toll, and he came out somewhat angelic in her eyes. Since he was ordered away, he actually wasn't fighting with either of us. He was the easy adult in her life. He could navigate the muddy waters by refusing to engage.
Unfortunately, my battle with my ex still continues; hopefully, some day, the Court will say enough is enough and prohibit the filing of any more motions. Until we reach that point, the Court has become a venue for my ex's sickness. I have relented a 50 percent visitation in hopeful anticipation that she will stop fighting, but she has yet to come to that place. I was misguided to think this would appease her, as it just encouraged her to bring more motions.
And in the center of all these motions, is my daughter.
My daughter has a large family of cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. All these people love her and see her as part of their families; however, I haven't spoken to my ex's family, nor to the father's family, in seven years. Even though the father and I have made peace, the extended family seems to not be so forgiving. Again, the ugly triangle rears it head.
My ex and the biological father spend time together. They are the biologicals and have been united since the day my daughter was born, which has an impact on my daughter. The peace we have made is not equal.
The triangle doesn’t have three equal sides; there are two, in my case.
In the past, I have refrained from confronting the father with my thoughts, fears, and anxieties so as not to rock the boat. This was not the best strategy, historically, as resentments built over time. So, this spring, I drummed up the courage to speak with him. I didn’t say all that I felt, but he assured me he would never get involved again and doesn't discuss the case or the custody battle with my ex either. I felt some relief.
The real issue is how my daughter perceives this triangle. Clearly, having the father sleep over at my ex's house or go on "family" vacations with the father's family is making a statement—that I am not a part of that family. His extended family doesn't want me around, and has refused to include me in the fold. Recently, the father spent a day with my family; it was nice to be together, albeit a little strained.
Though any peace made hasn't gone far enough to place the threesome on equal footing, I hope we can get there someday.
When two parents are at war, it's best for the third to be Switzerland. This creates some trust. Since the biological father has agreed to not take a position for or against either of us, it is easier to have him participate without me feeling distrust. He has not imposed his opinion on me in terms of raising our daughter, which is a relief, because I'm trying to do my best under very difficult circumstances.
Another useful tool is to engage in a dialogue that is positive. My daughter and I have a tradition, every morning, to say something nice about my ex. By doing this, it reminds me of her good qualities. I try to recall that there was a time when we actually liked each other, not only as partners, but as human beings.
Though the actions taken toward me have created anger, I work hard every day to try to let it go.
Written by Allison Scollar
Allison Scollar is a real estate broker with Keller Williams in Tribeca, New York. Her custody battle broke ground in that it highlighted the court's antiquated approach in dealing with same-sex divorce and non-biological child custody.