*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
When my friend Britney first got divorced from her husband Jake it seemed like things would be okay for a little while. At the time Jake had a good job as a car mechanic and was paying his child support on time, which Britney really needed to get by as a newly single mom.
Britney didn’t have the kind of family support that others are lucky to have. She had no parents or siblings around to help with babysitting or with extra money if she needed it. She really depended friends like me to watch her kids in a pinch and also to have a shoulder to cry on.
Alas, Jake was also a drinker and drug addict, and he didn’t keep his job long. Soon, he was moved into a room in his brother’s apartment and Britney didn’t want him to have visitation of the kids while he was there. It made sense to me, because the kids wouldn’t have any comfortable places to sleep.
This made Jake enraged and he took Britney to court. She assumed it was over visitation, but she was shocked when he came to court with a lawyer and asked for full custody of the kids.
Britney broke down, shocked, wanting to fight him, obviously, but not prepared. She asked her lawyer to do something to continue the case so she wouldn’t lose her kids, and they made that happen, but then she had to face Jake.
“Why are you doing this to me?” she asked him over the phone that night.
“I’m broke, I can’t afford child support but you’ve got a good job now and you can.”
He didn’t want the kids, he didn’t have any means of taking good care of the kids - he just somehow thought he’d be able to win full custody and be the one to receive the child support.
Britney’s lawyer fought it in court and of course Jake didn’t get what he wanted, but it left Britney scared for a long time that he might try to come after her and the kids again.
How would you have reacted if you were in Britney’s shoes?