liability: li·a·bil·i·ty / [lahy-uh-bil-i-tee] / noun, plural li·a·bil·i·ties.
1. moneys owed; debts or pecuniary obligations ( opposed to assets).
2. a current obligation of an entity arising from past transactions or events.
About a month ago I had my initial appointment with the Prosecuting Attorney to open a case against Sol's father, asking for sole custody (both physical and legal) as well as child support. Last week, Sol's father had his own one-on-one appointment with the court.3. something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage, or something that someone is responsible for.4. the legal bound obligation to pay debts.
Naturally I was worried about the outcome of his appointment. I knew he didn't want to pay any child support, and a big part of me was worried that he would suddenly ask for some sort of custody (his financial obligation would be significantly lower if he had some physical custody). Obviously I was concerned about the fact that my daughter could potentially live with this man part-time, but I was more concerned about his motives if, in fact, he wanted to fight for custody. It's one thing if you genuinely care about spending time with your offspring; it's quite another if you want custody because it'll lessen the amount you owe in child support.
He could either agree to everything I had asked for, as well as the amount he would owe, or he could dispute something and we would have to hash it out in court. The suspense was driving me mad. To my surprise, I got a call from the Prosecuting Attorney's office Wednesday morning - they told me Sol's father was there, and they needed to clarify some information with me before bringing him in for his appointment. I confirmed what they were asking, and the girl on the phone offered to call me after he left to tell me what he had decided.
It was exactly fifteen minutes later when the phone rang. I hadn't been able to concentrate on anything; I had spent each of those fifteen minutes pacing my office and biting my thumbnail, praying things would work out in Sol's best interest. I answered the phone, and the same girl from the office told me that Sol's father had left; he agreed to give me sole physical and legal custody, and he agreed to the amount he would owe each month in child support. My mind shot back to an email I got from him last fall, where he told me he had visited the court and was surprised at how little I would be granted in support. He had told me it wasn't worth it (he was still trying to force me into abortion at this point), and there was no way I would be able to handle it on my own. My initial thought was that he had been right, that he would owe hardly anything, and that I would be responsible for more than I was financially prepared for. Then she told me what the amount was, and I was surprised - it was substantially larger than what I was expecting, and certainly larger than what Sol's father had let on. Chalk up yet another lie, mister... I didn't say anything at first, and the girl on the phone asked me if I was satisfied, if this was what I wanted. I said yes, I thanked her, and I hung up.
So this is the end of that chapter. I got what I originally wanted: sole physical and legal custody, as well as guaranteed monthly child support. For those of you who don't know, physical custody determines who the child lives with; legal custody involves decision-making on the behalf of the child (think schooling, religion, medical care). So that means Sol lives with me and only me, and her father can have visitation if I agree to it (but I doubt he'll ever ask to see her). I'm the one who decides where she'll go to school, and I don't need his permission to get her a passport or a driver's license.
So I don't need his approval for anything, and Sol will still get her child support money every month. We don't have to agree on anything, and we have no reason to talk from here on out. I should feel great about that. But it doesn't feel great. Yes, I get to raise my beautiful daughter all on my own, without his poisonous interference. But it still blows my mind that someone can so easily write off any future with his daughter. I wonder what went through his mind when he drove to and from the courthouse that day, how easy it was for him to put pen to paper and sign away his rights. If someone asked me to sign my name on a document that essentially removed myself from my daughter's life, I couldn't do it - not even with a gun to my head.
It's going to be my responsibility someday to try and explain to this little girl why her father didn't want her, and I don't even know where to begin. She'll have cousins and friends with perfect nuclear families, both a mom and a dad, and I'm sure she'll wonder what makes her different - why she was too much of a burden for her own father to know and love her. She's so tiny and innocent, and for now she only cares about her mother. She doesn't know him; she certainly doesn't miss him. But maybe that will change someday - what happens when she grows up and suddenly feels the emptiness that comes with feeling unwanted? I can tell her over and over that we're better off without him, and I can give her more love than two parents ever could, but I can't take away the pain that she'll feel as a result of his actions.
People say you can't run from your problems... I don't know. There are certain things you can run from, but not everything. A child is something you'll never forget about, no matter how far or how long you run. This spiteful man has turned his own daughter into nothing more than a cell in the liabilities column of his monthly budget. He has a substantial payment every month for the next 18 years, for which he will get nothing in return. I hope he lives every day hating himself for signing Sol out of his life. I hope he feels the same emptiness that she might feel, and I hope he's tormented every day in wondering what kind of person his daughter has grown to be. Because she's amazing. She was amazing yesterday, and she'll be amazing tomorrow.