Parenting

I am A Non-Custodial Parent, I’m Not A Horrible Person

I am a non-custodian parentA non-custodial parent is a parent who does not have physical custody of his or her children. It should be noted, however, that it’s possible for a non-custodial parent to have legal custody, even though he or she does not have physical custody.

This following post isn’t a “oh pity me” post, but a learning tool to share with your friends and family or just total strangers who don’t understand why you don’t have custody of your children. Now when you think non custodian parent, you think of the dad right? well, what if I told you there’s that 10% of mothers who don’t have custody of their children.

I am A Non-Custodial Parent, I'm Not A Horrible Person

Now we’re not talking about parents who are scums bags, we’re talking people who just fell short in the court system and now have to pay for it for the rest of their life. Unless they’re the lucky ones of saving up enough money or having enough money to fight it in court. There’s plenty of people who don’t treat their kids right and they get custody and that makes me mad too.

Now when I got a divorce from my ex-husband, I thought for sure I would get the kids, after everything he put me through, there was no way. But I had a shady lawyer who was in it for him, but he was a family friend, so we thought we were getting a deal.

I remember that day in court, when I knew half way through, there wasn’t a chance I was getting custody of my kids, but I couldn’t lose it, I had to keep it together. It was hard, about the hardest thing I had to ever go through. Was the moment the judge told me, my ex got primary custody of the kids. Honestly, I’ve never really been the same since. Who can be though? At the time my youngest was only 18 months old when all this started, we just stopped breastfeeding, I guess I had no choice after that anyways. Now my youngest will be turning 6 in June. Let’s let that sink in for a moment… I missed all his first things, potty training, first day of school, school projects, school trips, bed time stories.

What I got out of the custody hearing was I was able to Skype my kids before 8 pm on any day of the week. I am able to go visit them, I must let my ex know a week and half in advance. It’s hard to Skype, except on the weekends and they’re a 4 hour trip one way, I can’t afford the time off from work. I get them for Spring Break on even years, Thanksgiving break (which is like a 4 day pretty much), 1 week for Christmas break and all of summer break. That’s it really. I really relay on the breaks, because calling or skyping them don’t happen as often as I wish.

What they don’t tell you as a non-custodial parent is your heart will break every day you go without your child. Like most days, I try not to think about the fact that I can’t be with my kids, because it will bring me to tears. That fact that I can’t be there for my kids when they need their mom, breaks me in ways I could never describe, I wouldn’t want anyone to go through this.

I am A Non-Custodial Parent, I'm Not A Horrible Person

Now at one point, I hated my ex, which after you get cheated on, you really can’t blame me. After I moved on from that point in my life, I learned to forgive him (crazy, right?) it was totally worth it for moving on. The problem I run into now, is my friends/family haven’t forgave him and they’re still bitter about it. Which drives me CRAZY. Like it wasn’t happening to you and you refuse to move on, like just do it already.

But now I run into the issues of people asking certain things, being judged by friends, family or complete strangers, when you tell them, “I am a non-custodial parent” or try to explain to them why you don’t have your kids. I asked some fellow parents and we have came up with this short list of items not to ask, or at least don’t be so judgmental, you don’t know what we have been through, you don’t know the mental heartache we deal with on a daily basis. Some of us have it worst than others, but all in all, we’re in this together. Something has to change and until that happens..

I am A Non-Custodial Parent, I'm Not A Horrible Person

Here’s somethings to think about next time someone tells you they’re a non-custodial parent.

  • What did you do? how come? why don’t you do something!
    like people honestly think you did something horrible to lose your kids, when it’s the broken system we live in. Someone had a better lawyer, made more money or was just more shady than the other parent. You think if we knew how to fix it we would? Going to court and dealing with all of this ISN’T CHEAP! People tend to think only a dad can be a non-custodian parent, so you must of did something horrible wrong to lose custody. Nope, I had a horrible lawyer and a judge that told me, I couldn’t compare to my ex who was making 5x more than I was.
  • Why do you only get them on weekends? Why don’t you get them more often?
    The judge. This one is tough, depends on how far apart you are both living to what’s given. We’re 4 hours apart, if I moved closer, I bet it would changed, but he lives in no man’s land and there’s not a lot of jobs, unless I wanted to drive for a hour. Point being, we don’t make the schedules.
  • Can’t you just ask the other parent for more time with your kids?
    Don’t you think we want more time with them? This one kills me. When I have to take the kids back to their dad, that moment they’re gone and I have to go back home WITHOUT THEM. It’s the one thing that doesn’t get easier.
  • Don’t you miss them? I bet you miss your children.
    I get this asked pretty often at work. I have to try not to choke up when asked, because, DUH! I miss my kids, who wouldn’t miss their kids!?!? I miss my kids every day, but I can’t think about it or it will completely break me and I will be completely useless then.
  • It will all work out.. they will come around.. just give it time.
    Do you tell someone with cancer, “it will all work out?” No, no you don’t. Don’t say this, it’s just plain rude. Some people wait years and years, sometime it works out and sometimes it never works out. That kind of stuff will mess you up mentally.
  • Deadbeat parents.
    Now, don’t get me wrong people that CHOSE to not be in a child’s life is totally a deadbeat parent. But parents who TRY to be active in their kid’s lives and get blocked out by the other parent or the parent’s partner. They are not a deadbeat parent. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times my ex has called me a deadbeat mom. It’s heartbreaking.. At the same time, doesn’t let me talk to my own kids, but hey what do I know. My oldest daughter’s “dad” he’s a deadbeat, didn’t want anything to do with her since before she was born. He’s a deadbeat, I am NOT a deadbeat parent.
  • How’s your kids doing? How do you live without them? 
    This one isn’t mean, however this one can bring us to tears. We wish we knew.. I am lucky if I get to talk to my kids between the breaks I actually get to see them. I will go weeks before talking or Skyping them. It’s Feb 2nd and I haven’t talked to my kids since Dec 29th when I dropped them off with their dad. My birthday was on Jan 30th and I tried to get a hold of them and got nothing. I wish I knew, I wish I knew what book they were reading, how their day went at school, what they’re currently learning, who their friends are. I wish I could give my kids a big ol’ hug and tell them I love them, but I can’t.
  • Did you talk to them today?
    Trust me if I talked to my kids, I would be bragging about it across social media, I would be more happy, I would tell you about it. I don’t talk about them, because it’s a sad topic for me. I don’t like explaining to why I don’t have them and it just makes me sad.

I am A Non-Custodial Parent, I'm Not A Horrible Person

Are you in tears yet? Because I was while writing this post up. I want to thank the men and women who helped me write this piece, this was hard to finish, I kept putting it off. If you are one of those lucky parents who get to see your kids every day, give them a hug and kiss and let them know how important they are to you. You honestly don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

Are you a non-custodial parent? If so, what’s one thing you wish people didn’t ask you or wish they knew?

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Hey! I'm Natalie and I live in North Carolina. I'm a single mama of four awesome kiddos. These are my thoughts on life, motherhood, fitness and everything in between.

10 Comments

  • Terri Haley

    I’m sorry I know how u feel I’m in the same way I used to when people ask me if had kids I would tell them no cause I was so heartbreak that I don’t have my kids my kids are 18 all most 16 I’m Mar and my baby is 13 I cry when I was read this

  • Minta Boggs

    I’m so sorry that you are going through this! I can’t even imagine your pain. My son who is now 18 is moving into his own apartment with a friend and I’m in tears just the thought of him leaving. I just want to give you a big hug.

  • Terra L Heck

    Yep, been there and done that! My ex had a lawyer that made me feel like she would work for the both of us. DUMB thinking on my part. My kids are grown now and live close to me so I see them quite a bit, and I even had them every weekend when I was the non-custodial parent. They lived one hour away from me and I thought that was a long way, so I can only imagine how you feel! Prayers to you girl. I definitely empathize.

  • Melissa

    This is rough. I’m not a mom yet but even now I see how hard it can be apart from your kids. I can’t still believe that after all that the judge chose to give the custody to your ex-husband.

  • Seersucker Sass

    Sending you a big hug, Natalie! I know this post had to be hard to write, and I appreciate your honesty. It is amazing to see how many court cases come down to money and nothing else, and hurt so many people in return.

  • Deborah

    Thank you for writing such a heartfelt post! I really admire your honesty about all of this. I think a lot of people are misinformed or uninformed on the legal proceedings of divorces and custody of children and that a lot of times, it’s a lot more complicated than people realize!

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