Yes, we finally had the hearing and the children will stay with me
most of the time. My husband gets them for one weekend a month and
for 42 days during the summer. He also has to pay me $400 per month
in child support starting July 15th.
They dropped the "dangerously unstable" claim and just went for incompetent parent. The judge was really busy and told our two lawyers to work it out. And they did try. My husband wanted to have it set up where he would only pay child support when I had the kids and that I would pay him child support when he had the kids, but the judge nixed that before we even started to negotiate. We had gotten things down to normal visitation rights, the child support, and were even working out some sort of system to ensure each of us were keeping our places clean, when my husband got disgusted and insisted on a hearing. I saw him walk down the hall red-faced, narrowed eyes, and lower lip pouting and told my two friends that whenever he had that look at home, it usually meant he was going to hit the roof. At the time, I was almost giddy with relief, because even though it wasn't a perfect solution, it was better than I had hoped for as far as child support. [Turns out my husband had gotten a raise in the past year that I didn't know about.] My lawyer said it was when he saw that we were happy, he became mad. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised--a friend pointed out something similar to me before, and I know I have occasion mumbled the suspicion that he couldn't stand to see me happy--but it was wild to see it manifested in this way.
Anyway, we had the hearing and my husband made all sorts of allegations of how I neglected the children and let them run wild without any discipline. We had letters from their teachers and testimony from a church member about their behavior and I'm sure the judge found it hard to believe that children that were so undisciplined at home could have such a sterling reputation for being sweet, helpful, and hardworking at school and church. I've always said that my husband was the only person in the world who thought our children were terrible.
As for the messy house bit...well, I have to admit guilt there, but my lawyer pointed out that he lived in that house too and did nothing to help the situation--even though he brought up my fibromyalgia and admitted it had a strong effect on what I could and couldn't do. He did it to claim that I didn't do what I needed to deal with it correctly--trying to slip in that mentally unstable bit past his own lawyer, I guess--but he said that naps were bad for it. During our lunch break, I went to a health food store and got a flyer that disproved this about fibromyalgia. The funny thing is--he had the book his mom gave me for it and it states in there that naps are good. During another break, he brought it out and I told him that it said in there that naps were good. He ruffled through the book, read, and then quietly put it away in his briefcase.
I wish I could say I was calm and collective on the stand, but I wasn't. Don't get me wrong--I wasn't a raving maniac, but it was obvious halfway through my testimony that if I could have strangled my husband's lawyer, I would have. I was rather disgusted with myself at the time, but looking back on it now, I did very well. I stood up for myself and even caught his lawyer a couple of times in slips of the tongue. He tried to make me look as if I blamed my husband for everything (health and house), but I firmly stated, "We were equally at fault," and glared at him. When he insisted it was my duty to let my husband know where my children were, I said "No." Heck, I even asked him if he would sit by and wait for someone to tell him where his children were if they were missing. What's more I did all of this with conviction and authority in my voice, without getting flustered at all. I'm rather surprised at myself.
The judge was firm with both of us in her ruling, though she looked at my husband more than me. She was definitely not happy when she inquired about my fibromyalgia medication and my husband broke in and said I couldn't get it refilled because he had removed me from his insurance two months after I left. You see, in Texas, it's a big no-no to remove a spouse from health insurance without their consent or proof of divorcement. She didn't give him a lecture, but the look she did give him could sour milk. My lawyer said that even though she didn't show it on the bench, back in her chambers, the judge was disgusted with my husband, and actually had some admiration for me. In fact, my lawyer said I did wonderful.
Of course, we're forbidden to discuss the hearing in front of the kids, nor can we talk bad about each other to them, but then I was doing my best not to do that anyway.
Oh! A side note: my husband was referred to his lawyer by a former lawyer who was disbarred, through a bail-bonds man.