How the Ex Used Our Son’s Food Allergy as a Weapon to Delegitimize My Parental Rights

One of the worst things about this custody order: an injunction in it says I can only feed my son food that is approved by the ex.

You read that right. If the ex says I can’t buy my son a slice of pizza at a ballgame, I can’t buy my son a slice of pizza at a ballgame. If she says I can’t let him eat my mom’s cooking, he can’t eat my mom’s cooking.

And so far, I’ve never been able to feed my kid a slice of pizza. And he’s never eaten food cooked by his paternal grandmother.

Quick background: My son has a food allergy. He can’t eat products that contain peanuts or tree nuts. He can eat everything else, just not nuts. It’s important that food labels are read and restaurant staffers are questioned so that his food is not contaminated.

But he is only allergic to nuts.

I know how to ask questions and read food labels. And in the time I’ve had possession of my kiddo before this order was put in place, I never had to use his epipen or take him to an emergency room because of accidental exposure to peanuts or tree nuts. Also, my family loves my son. They know he has a food allergy. There are people in my extended family who have food allergies. Everybody wants to keep my kid safe.

Yet my ex has engaged in a form of demagoguery that has fooled those in the legal and food allergy community into thinking that I can not be trusted with my son.

This is part of the Rule 11 agreement that prohibits me from feeding my kid any food unless the ex okays it. Items 1, 3, and 6.
This is part of the Rule 11 agreement that prohibits me from feeding my kid any food unless the ex okays it. Items 1, 3, and 6. deal with food. Even though I do not have any DWI offenses, the ex hit me with item No. 2. My ex doesn’t like my dad smoking cigars so she hit me with No. 4. And she hit me with No. 5 to make it more difficult for me to take the kid anywhere far, though she took him to Washington, D.C. earlier this Spring.

When I signed the hideous Rule 11 agreement that contained this injunction, I thought it applied to both of us. I didn’t take it literally. And because there was no pre-approved food list attached to the agreement, I thought the injunction meant, “don’t feed your son food that could hurt him.” As I wrote in another post, during the negotiations that produced the Rule 11 agreement, my ex and her attorney came at me with so many demands that I figured giving in on the food injunction was a win win, because surely, the ex would not want to keep our son from eating food that he enjoyed.

But I was wrong, way wrong.  The ex takes our son to restaurants and cooks him anything she wants. But every time I pick him up, the ex packs with him an ice chest full of food. Most of the time it contains this: a turkey sandwich. Some fruit. Some tomatoes. Some carrots. Some pita chips. Yogurt. Cubes of cheese.

He can only eat from that ice chest. And he knows he will bring the wrath of God from his mother if he eats anything other than what is in the ice chest (or what is on a pre-approved food list). And not only must I stick to the food list, some of the food must be a certain brand. Whole Foods for one item; HEB for another.

So, when I take my kid to Top Golf or Main Event or a University of Texas football or basketball game, he will not let me buy him a hot dog or a slice of pizza or a hamburger because he is afraid his mom will be angry with him.

This is sad and pathetic. In my son’s eyes, his mom is the boss, even when he is in my possession. I’m no more than his glorified babysitter.

As a runner, I like to eat healthy — fish, clean carbs, etc.; but because none of the food I like to eat is on the food list, I am prohibited from feeding my son those items. Instead, the protein portion of the food list is filled with chicken nuggets, bacon, pot pies. And that’s what he eats most of the time when he is at my place. I can not expose him to the kinds of food I eat. (So as not to make the kid feel bad, I don’t eat my “good food” when he is at my house. I eat what he eats and do everything I can not to throw up.)

Again, none of the items I want to feed my son have peanuts in them. But the ex is just being difficult. She does not want me to enjoy our son the way she does. I’ve asked her dozens of times and written her emails to let me expand what I can feed our son. Every time, her answer is basically, “you better stick to the order.”

Because I can only have 32 hours every other week with my son, and because I can only feed him food from a pre-approved list, I do not take him to Dallas to see my family or friends. I mean, what’s the use. When we get to Dallas, it’d only be for a few hours before we’d have to turn around and go back home. And even if I took him on such a quick trip, what would I do if we ran out of the food that his mom packed? Force him to eat at my mom’s, or a restaurant in town? If I did that it would put my kid under too much pressure to chose between what I want him to do and what his mom wants him to do.

When that has happened in the past, when my kid has done what I told him to do, his mom has found out and grounded him (took away his toys, made him go to bed early, etc.)

One day, me and the kiddo went walking around Town Lake in Central Austin. It was one of those hot summer days, well over 100 degrees. We stopped in a store and I bought each of us a gatorade. Midway through drinking the gatorade, my kiddo asks me not to tell his mom that he was drinking a gatorade because it wasn’t on the food list. This was just a few weeks after the Oct. 2014 Rule 11 Agreement and I was still thinking that the ex didn’t literally mean that I was only to feed the kiddo what was on the food list. So, I told the kiddo that everything would be ok, I’d tell his mom that it was hot out and we had gatorade instead of water.

When I dropped him off that day, I told his mom about the gatorade and she was livid. “Gatorade is not on the food list – you violated the order. If you do that again I am going to take you to court.” We argued and I drove off, and right then and there, I knew that the food list really was not about our kid’s safety; there are obviously no nuts in gatorade. No, the food list was about the ex’s need for power — power over me. And that unknowing judge, when he ruled that I breached contract, gave the ex all the power she needed.

The ex participates in many food allergy awareness groups here in Austin and helps put on the annual food allergy walk. She has used her ties to the food allergy community, which includes a very prominent Central Texas allergist, to paint herself as an angel, and to paint me as a monster, as someone who is either reckless about the way that I feed the kid or does not care that he even has a food allergy.

In my next post, I’ll tell you how the prominent allergist as well as other family health professionals have conspired to help the ex delegitimize my relationship with my kid.

When a Travis County Family Law Judge Confirms that There is a Contract out on Your Kid, This is The Email He Writes to Your Attorney

In my last post, I wrote about how I was conned into signing a Rule 11 agreement concerning possession and access to my son, and when I tried to get out of that agreement, my ex successfully sued me for breach of contract to get me out of our kiddo’s life. 

The sad thing is that at any point, the judge on the case could have looked at this agreement, which did not give me any holidays with my son, any spring breaks or extended summers with my son, and only 64 total hours a month with my son, and said, “hey, this agreement is not in the best interest of the child.”

My kiddo is not a piece of property or an item tied to a monetary value.  But the judge “Jxxxxx” decided he who has the most money wins. And unfortunately my ex’s high-priced representation wiped the floor with my attorney. The judge’s ruling below. And point No. 4 means that I was ordered to pay the ex’s attorney $15,000.


Family Court Judge Ruling Letter
Letter from a Travis County family law judge to my attorney, informing my attorney that I’m pretty much up a creek without a paddle.

How the Ex Successfully Sued Me for Breach of Contract to Keep Me out of Our Kiddo’s Life

This post is one in a series of how I wound up having virtually no access to my son despite the fact that I am a good dad, have a good job, have no criminal record and have no alcohol offenses. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on attorneys fees and was hit with a $15,000 judgment just because I fought for my right to see my son on holidays and summer break and spring break. I’ve nearly spent myself into bankruptcy and can no longer afford to pay money into this broken family courts system. And though it is embarrassing to write this in such a public forum, I love my son and I’m certain this is happening to thousands of other single fathers and mothers across the country. If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. It’s time to shed a light on this craziness that is tearing families apart.

breach of contract

I lawyered up a few weeks after the ex’s attorney conned me into signing a disastrous Rule 11 agreement that gave me no significant access to my kiddo, basically making me his glorified babysitter.

The plan of my newly hired attorney was to have me revoke my consent on the Rule 11 agreement because it was signed by an associate judge – not a district judge. So we did just that. And in a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes, the same judge who signed the Rule 11 agreement wound up granting my motion to revoke consent.

Afterward, my attorney and the ex’s attorney talked for about a minute to see if there was any common ground. We wanted expanded standard. The ex wanted me out of the kiddo’s life and her attorney even offered to not make me pay child support if I would keep the Rule 11 agreement. I basically told him what he could do with his Rule 11.

The ex was livid.

I thought I was home free, thought me and my attorney would now start preparing for a real child custody hearing in which it’d be a slam dunk for me to get expanded standard possession of the kiddo. Afterall, I had a full-time job, had been paying child support, had no criminal record or DUIs, and, most of all, loved my kiddo and had been a willing participant in his life from Day 1.

But the ex, funded by her mother who has goo-gobs of cash, ordered her attorney to go scorched earth on me. They sued me for breach of contract, alleging that my lawful revocation of consent on the Rule 11 agreement caused the ex harm. They were also asking me to pay the ex’s attorney’s fees: a whopping $15,000.

A few weeks later, in October 2014, a judge heard arguments on the breach of contract case. The ex’s attorney contended that I was in my right mind when I signed the agreement and that it was a fair deal. He said this with a straight face. We argued that even though I signed the deal, I did it under duress, and that I did not understand everything I was giving up. We argued that how could a contract be placed on a kid? He isn’t a car or a piece of property.

We also argued, most importantly, that this agreement was not in the kiddo’s best interest. With this agreement, the kiddo would never have lawful access to me on holidays, spring breaks, full summers, and full weekends.

This was a Friday. It took the judge until Tuesday to decide. And his decision was devastating.

My attorney “Rxxxx” wrote me a short note informing me of the the judge’s verdict and forwarded me his decision, below. I blacked out the names of both attorneys and the judge, though I may reveal their identities at a later date:

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Rxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Subject: FW: D-1-FM-14-xxxxx ITIO xxxxxxx xxxxx Lyons
To: “Kevin Lyons”


Attached is his ruling.  As you can see we were not successful and the agreement stands.  We will have to see if we can arrive at terms for the weekend start time and holidays since he cannot add those terms.

I will call you in the morning and will also speak to xxxx.  We can at least make sure you start seeing xxxx again ASAP.

I am sorry we did not get the outcome we were hoping for.

From: Jxxxxx []
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 5:08 PM
To:; Rxxxxxxx
Subject: D-1-FM-14-xxxxx ITIO xxxxxxxxxx Lyons

Having read and re-read the documents provided, and having considered the testimony and argument of counsel, I have found the following:
1) The Rule 11 agreement was revoked prior to rendition and cannot form the basis of an agreed judgment.
2) The Rule 11 is a valid contract under Texas contract law and is not unconscionable, either procedurally or substanitively.
3) This agreement will constitute the Court’s order; meaning, the Court cannot add, subtract, or edit the agreement.
4) The Respondent is awarded attorney fees in the amount testified to by Respondent’s counsel.

Respondent’s counsel should prepare an order reflecting these findings. Since the agreement is unclear on Petitioner’s weekends and Respondent’s school holidays possession, it would be beneficial if an agreement could be arrived at by the parties. If not, a motion to modify may be required. Thank you for an ably presented case.


As you can see in the last paragraph, even the judge “Jxxxx” was unclear about how holiday possession was supposed to be split between the ex and myself. But the ramification of his ruling was very clear: Not only was I stuck with an order that let me only have 32 hours every two weeks with my kiddo, that stuck me with no holiday or spring break possession, and with virtually no extended summer break with the kiddo, I was also ordered to pay the ex’s attorney $15,000.

Can you believe that? Because I fought for the right to see my kiddo, I was hit with a $15,000 judgment, this was on top of child support and the monthly payroll deductions to have the kiddo on my insurance policy. To this day, I have not paid one cent of the $15,000, and have brought on the wrath of the ex’s attorney, who has used that judgment to freeze two of my bank accounts in an attempt to collect.

I wound up splitting with my attorney a few months later and hired another attorney in May 2015 as I sought to modify the current order.

But my troubles were far from over.

I Didn’t Use an Attorney in My First Child Custody Hearing and It Has Cost Me Everything

This post is one in a series of how I wound up having virtually no access to my son despite the fact that I am a good dad, have a good job, have no criminal record and have no alcohol offenses. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on attorneys fees and was hit with a $15,000 judgment just because I fought for my right to see my son on holidays and summer break and spring break. I’ve nearly spent myself into bankruptcy and can no longer afford to pay money into this broken family courts system. And though it is embarrassing to write this in such a public forum, I love my son and I’m certain this is happening to thousands of other single fathers and mothers across the country. If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. It’s time to shed a light on this craziness that is tearing families apart.

Family-LawIt’s Spring Break here for most of the school district’s in Texas, and for the umpteenth time, I will not have any access to my 8-year-old son during the break due to the money my ex has thrown at the Travis County family courts system.

Anyway, how did I get into such a mess? In July 2014, I’d finally had enough of the ex big-footing my time with the kiddo. I finally tired of depending on her mood being the determinant of whether or not I got to see my son or not: if we were getting along, she’d let me see him; if we were arguing, she would not let me see him.

I’d had enough, but the way I initially went about trying to get more access to my son was a mistake that will probably haunt me the rest of my life: I did not hire an attorney.

I figured since women can just walk right into the attorney general’s office to collect child support from dead-beat dads, I could walk right into a courtroom and get expanded standard possession of my son, especially when the Texas Legislature has presumed that expanded standard possession is in a child’s best interest for non-custodial parents.

And so I paid about $300 to file a SAPCR (Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship), Googled everything I could about what to expect in my case, and showed up at my September 4, 2014, hearing as a pro se litigant. I thought I was ready.

But boy was I wrong.

We get to court at 8:30 a.m. Since we are near last on the court docket, we (the ex-, her attorney, and myself) wait in the hallways outside of the courtroom until we are called by a judge. Little do I know that it wouldn’t be until 3 p.m. until a judge is ready to hear my case.

In the meantime, the ex’s attorney starts trying to negotiate with me. (The judge had told us before we should try to settle the case if we could, so I stupidly did just that.) So me and the ex’s attorney are in the first floor hallway outside of the cafe at the Travis County courthouse. They came at me with so many demands that I found myself on defense all day long. Through her attorney, the ex was saying she wanted to have a say in whether or not I could introduce the kiddo to a significant other. Saying she wanted the right to be with the kiddo every Thanksgiving and every Christmas. Saying she wanted me to abide by a food list when I have the kiddo because of his peanut and tree nut allergy.

I kept arguing with the ex’s attorney about what I wanted. But he told me the ex had experts lined up to testify against me for what she wanted. She was gonna say that I drank too much (though I’ve never had a DWI or alcohol-related offense); She had doctors lined up to say that I was unable to care for our son because he had peanut allergies; and she had people that were going to testify that I was verbally abusive to her (On multiple occasions the ex would show up where I was and take the kiddo from me and I would curse her). At this point, I got scared — I hadn’t prepared for this kind of fight to have proper access to my kiddo. Before this day, I thought a judge would look at me, see that I don’t have a criminal record, see that I have a job and had paid my ex- more than $35,000 over the years in voluntary child support before this hearing, and see that I deserve expanded standard visitation rights.

And it never occurred to me that I could just stop negotiating with the ex’s attorney and just go before the judge and let him make a ruling. The later it got, I just kept backing myself into this mental corner of, “ok, we’ve come this far, it’ll be my fault if I back out now.” So the day goes on and on and I just started getting mentally tired and losing focus. And this attorney with his veiled threats and fancy words just kept wearing on me. I’d balk at some of the ex’s demands, saying, “I know my rights,” and her attorney would calmly reply something like, “… well, we can always roll the dice and let a judge handle this and you never know how a judge is going to rule.”

You ever see those movies when someone is questioned in a police station for a crime they did not commit? The detectives keep asking them the same questions in different ways over and over and over until finally, the person admits to something they didn’t do. They got tired and they figured that if they’d just say what the cops wanted to hear, they could go home and clear everything up later. That’s how I felt that day.

Then – and this is where things went downhill – the ex, who had been on the other side of the courthouse, comes over to me and starts talking to me, begging me to let her have the kiddo on holidays because she couldn’t be without him; She is crying these big tears. And by now, it’s 7 hours after we’d got to the courthouse, and I was just tired and not thinking straight and feeling guilty – guilty that i would take the kiddo away from his mom. I stopped thinking about myself and my kiddo’s rights to his dad, to me. I was just in a fog and I wanted to go home.  I felt like the bad guy all of a sudden, that there must be something wrong with me that I wouldn’t negotiate. And she kept saying, “we can work things out, we can work things out.”

Her attorney had scribbled “to be worked out amongst the parties” next to several of the bullet points in the deal, including holiday possession, and so I figured we would come back a later day and work that part of it out. Her attorney also crossed out “Temporary Orders” and wrote in “Final Orders” — I had no idea what that meant at the time, but I do now: Had it stayed at a temporary orders hearing, I could have come back a month or two later and changed things. When the ex’s attorney changed the orders to “Final Orders” it basically sealed my fate. It was a simple, yet clever thing her attorney did and had I had an attorney of my own at that point, it would never have happened.

I wound up signing what they call a Rule 11 agreement that basically made me my son’s glorified baby-sitter:

  • I only get overnights every other weekend (not 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends). I have to pick him up from the ex’s house at 9 a.m. Saturdays and return him on 5 p.m. Sundays.
  • My visits do not include holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Spring Break. My “extended” summer break is four days. (I didn’t realize I was giving this away during the negotiations.)
  • The ex used the kiddo’s peanut allergy to make it so that anytime I feed him food, it has to be from a list she approves of. And in the 18 or so months since this order went down, she has made it so that I can’t take my son to any restaurants although she can. If I’m too tired to cook I cant just run out and by the kiddo a quick hamburger or slice of pizza. I am forced by this stupid order to cook him food on a list the ex provides. I also am not allowed to take the kiddo to eat at the house of any of my relatives. To this day, my son has never eaten the cooking of his maternal grandmother. (When I “agreed” to this, I thought both the ex and I had to abide by the same food list. I didn’t realize this list only pertained to me.)
  • Even though we are both joint managing conservators (JMCs), the ex gets to make all the rules about the kiddo’s education and medical treatment.
  • Even though the kiddo is as healthy as any other kiddo his age, I am forced to carry a back-pack around with me when I have the kiddo. This backpack, according to the order, must always contain, epipen, rescue asthma inhaler and spacer, as well as, wait for it… baby wipes, sunscreen, and a place mat for eating at the restaurants that the ex won’t let me take the kiddo to.
  • I am only allowed to travel with the kiddo by car. No trains. No busses. No airplanes. She has a flight lined up with our kiddo to go to Washington, D.C., in a few weeks. If I wanted to go to D.C. with the kiddo, I’d have to drive him.

After the great child-custody robbery was complete, we finally stood before a judge. He asked us a few questions, but never himself read the order. Then he signed it, and that was it. My fate was sealed. The judge never heard that I was a good father. Never heard that I love and care for my son. We could have agreed to send the kiddo to spend the every other weekend with Charles Manson and he (the judge) would have never known the difference.

Anyway, right after court was over, I mean like 30 minute later, I woke up from whatever fog I was in and realized that this was not a fair deal. I remember we both attended a ‘Meet the Teacher” night at the kiddo’s school that same evening and afterwards, I tried talking to the ex about redoing some things in the agreement, particularly holidays since the part of the order that had talked about holiday possession had been scratched out. But she wouldn’t talk to me. I sent her text messages and emails in the coming days and she never returned one. She knew she had herself a one-sided deal and didn’t even want to talk to me about it.

Over the next 18 months, I would spend thousands of dollars on two attorneys to try and get me out of this mess. And as you’ll see in future posts, neither attorney was successful in even getting me to a hearing where my story of being a good, caring father could be told in open court. The ex beat them away with monied family court professionals who’ve successfully made me out to be a monster before unwitting judges.

In the Best Interest of the Child: Being Nice to the Ex- Did Not Buy Me Any Goodwill.

This post is one in a series of how I wound up having virtually no access to my son despite the fact that I am a good dad, have a good job, have no criminal record and have no alcohol offenses. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on attorneys fees and was hit with a $15,000 judgment just because I fought for my right to see my son on holidays and summer break and spring break. I’ve nearly spent myself into bankruptcy and can no longer afford to pay money into this broken family courts system. And though it is embarrassing to write this in such a public forum, I love my son and I’m certain this is happening to thousands of other single fathers and mothers across the country. If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. It’s time to shed a light on this craziness that is tearing families apart.

When something bad happens to you, when life reaches out and punches you in the face, it’s easy to point the fingers at everybody but yourself. It’s the judge’s fault. It’s my attorney’s fault. It’s my ex’s fault.

But since my parental rights were virtually zapped in a hot, muggy Travis County courtroom on Sept. 4, 2014, not a day has gone by that I have not second-guessed the decisions I made that have me in this particular bind:

  1. I did not retain an attorney before that Sept. 4, 2014 hearing.
  2. I waited until 2014 to try to have the courts help me get proper access to my son.

This post will be about mistake No. 2.

When I first moved from Fort Worth to Austin in May 2009, my son was not even 2 years old. At the time, me and my kid’s mother were getting along well enough. In fact, from the time she and I broke up in Dec. 2007 until I moved to Austin, I drove down 3 hours to her house every other weekend just to make sure this kid knew from Day 1 that he had a father who loved him. He couldn’t talk and could barely walk, but when I popped through his door he’d crack a grin and run to me. He knew who I was and that meant more than anything.

There are no custody laws for children under 3 in Texas. And since the ex- and me got along, we had this informal agreement: I’d wire her child support every month and she’d let me see my kid for a few hours every weekend (mostly from noon to 5 on Saturdays). The first six months I was in Austin, I didn’t even have a job, so I’d wire the ex 20-percent of my unemployment check. Over the years I bought her a computer, a camera, and gave her my old iPhones when hers went on the blink. And I still paid what we’d agree I would pay in child support. Again, I wasn’t doing this because we were trying to get back together. I was doing this because she was my kid’s mother. I paid her child support because I love my son.

When the kiddo got older — 3 years old, then 4, then 5 — I started asking the ex- to let me have more time, at least overnights, overnights that a court grants every other fit, non-custodial parent. She’d balk. She’d say I wouldn’t know how to take care of the kiddo, who at one point had multiple food allergies which included egg, dairy, peanut, and tree nuts. (He currently has only the peanut/tree nut allergy). Not only wouldn’t she let me have overnights with the kiddo, but if I wanted to take him to Dallas to visit my parents, she’d insist that she’d go. And so me, trying to be a good guy, would just give in and let her go with me when I’d take my son to Dallas. My parents would always look at me strangely, but since I wasn’t putting up a big fuss I guess they decided not to put up a big fuss either and they treated my ex- as one of their own children.

Soon, this arrangement became too burdensome for me. I wanted full weekends. Holidays without the ex- around. Summers. Spring Breaks. I knew how to take care of my son. He’d never had an allergic reaction in my care. Never needed to be rushed to the emergency room in my care. Yet the ex- didn’t want the kiddo out of her site. She is a hypochondriac and she places those fears on our kiddo, always living in fear that something bad was going to happen to him. I mean, it could be 75 degrees outside and overcast and she will lather up this black-latino kid with enough sunscreen to make him look like a ghost. Once we spent the night at my sister’s house and the kiddo wanted to sleep in the room with his cousin. The ex insisted he sleep with her in the guest room. He’s 8 and she still makes him sit in a fully functioning car seat in her car. She has told him and myself that when he is old enough to go to college she will go to school with him and be his roommate in his dorm. Even now,  she makes him call her 3 or 4 times while I am in possession of him.

The ex is not only driven by anxiety, but rage — rage at me. On two occasions before this custody order was in place, the ex got upset with me while I was in possession of the kiddo and she’d drive to where I was and take the kiddo from me and go home. You read that right. When the kiddo was maybe 4, he and I were driving to Zilker park when the ex called my cellphone. We got in an argument and I hung up. She kept calling and then texted and said if I don’t pick up the phone she is gonna come to the park and take the kiddo. I didn’t answer and five minutes after arriving at Zilker, the ex showed up and took the kiddo home. Another visit I had with the kiddo a few years later when we were at a festival at the Texas School for the Deaf ended the same way. Me and the ex argue. She doesn’t like what I am saying. She takes the kiddo home.

Against this backdrop of rage and anxiety, I’d beg the ex to let me have proper access without going to court. We’d argue and the arguments would always end with me saying, “ok, that’s it, I’m going to court.” And the ex would always cry and beg and plead for me not to take this to court. “Please don’t do this Kevin,” she’d always say. And for a moment, I’d forget the craziness that I had to go through to see my son and I’d relent. We’d do that dance two or three times a year: I’d get sick of not seeing my kiddo and threaten court; she’d cry and beg and promise to do better; feeling guilty, I’d give in.

On Father’s Day 2013, the ex finally gave in and let me have my first overnight with the kiddo — on one condition: That she be allowed to come to my house that evening and tuck him in bed. I balked a little, but let her see our son at my house before he went to bed. From June 2013 to June 2014, the ex let me see the kiddo every other weekend from about noon Saturdays to 2 or 3 p.m. Sundays (She stopped coming over to tuck him in bed after a few overnights). I was always griping that I couldn’t get more time, but I kept wiring child support to her. I just kept figuring that she’d one day realize that I was trustworthy, that I was a good parent and she’d let me have full standard possession of my kiddo without having to go to court.

But in July of 2014, everything changed.