Truth

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My Ex-husband just wasn’t understanding. Photo by Olu Eletu on Unsplash

“Mr. Haynes, what is the real reason you are trying to stop your children from traveling to further their studies? You are not being asked to support the children and frankly, the five hundred a month you are required to deposit into their accounts does not even touch the figure for their upkeep.”

“They are my children so I should get to say where and when they can go somewhere. I…”

The lawyer leaned over and whispered something to Walter, but he paid no heed.”

“You can shut up,” Walter told the lawyer. “Cause you are no need at all.”

“Sir,” demand the judge. “Did you not walk out on your family. Then, from the past court notes presented, gave your now ex-wife a difficult time regarding the finances.”

“Them get up there are tell buff lies on me,” shouted Walter.

The judge held up his hand for silence. “Then there was an arrest for a disturbance at your ex-wife workplace and your former home. I see no notes of any efforts on your part to reconnect with your children. None what so ever. I, instead, have more information than I care to know about your activities with women other than the one you are living with. Also, details showing me that the money you took from your children’s bank accounts were in fact spent on women.

Walter mumbles in frustration.

The judge looks steadily down at him over his glasses once more.

“Again more mumbling.” The judge sat back. “So far I’ve seen no indication you care one bit about your children or their well being. For this alone and the fact you’ve taken their sayings to spend women, I could not, in good conscience allow you anywhere near those children. Your request to bar the children from leaving the country to study abroad is denied. In fact, you are going to replace every penny you took from the children’s accounts and from now on pay one thousand for your son and fifteen hundred for your daughter from this month onwards.”

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The Words of a Child

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My daughter told the judge everything he wanted to know. Photo by Prince Akachi on Unsplash

Kylie raised her hand when my husband continued not to answer.

“Yes young lady,” said the judge. “Since the adults in this room are so tight-lipped maybe I can finally get the truth.”

“Your Honor, for as long as I’ve known my father he was unkind and cruel and treated my mother like she was lower than dirt.”

As Kylie spoke, Walter started to protest.

“You will shut up in my courtroom because when I asked you to speak you didn’t. Continue young lady.”

“Thank you, your Honor. A few years back the donor left my mother. It almost destroyed her, but it forced her to get up and start taking charge of her life. It took a lot, but she stopped being a doormat and has really started to enjoy life rather than just existing like she was before. She because closer to me and my brother, took care of herself. It was amazing. As soon as my mother started to stand up for herself that man got mad. Trying to cause trouble. When mom started dating her new husband, it got worst. Things got so bad the head teachers of our schools staged an intervention. He was switching his bullying to me and my brother.”

Kylie smiled. “With him out of the picture things when from confuses and complicated to amazing. My brother and I are learning to be strong, independent young people with a purpose in life. He wants to destroy that. Trying to stop us from going to our new schools. Stealing our money. How is this going to benefit us in the long run?”

The judge leaned forward. “You said stealing your money. Explain that.”

“Our grandmother started bank accounts for us as babies and over the years deposits have been made with the intent that the money would be there for something huge when we needed it. We found out a few weeks ago that by forging my mother’s signature he gained access to the money and has been steadily withdrawing it.”

“Is this true Mr. Haynes?” asked the judge looking over his glasses.

There was a mumble from the direction where Walter was sitting.

“Speak up,” demanded the judge. “I don’t have time to waste with your under the breath comments. Is your daughter’s statement true?”

“What exactly your Honor?”

“Have you or have you not gained access to your children’s accounts through false methods and have been withdrawing the money.”

“Them is children. What they need a big set of money to be sitting on a bank? I got things to do so I take some.”

“I see,” stated the judge making a notation.

“Explain to me how he gained access and how much  was taken?” The judge pointed towards Lindsay and she shifted forward to explain.

“He gave a letter to the bank with a forgery of my signature. He told the bank he needed to manage the money because I had a spending habit. The money was untouched for years until he went into the accounts. So far he has taken seven thousand from my daughter’s account and five thousand from my son’s”

Again the judge made a note. “Did the bank notify you about this change in the accounts?”

“It would seem that the changes to the accounts were made while we were all in Europe so if the bank tried to contact us we totally missed it.”

More notes were made.

Before the Judge

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Ready and waiting for our court case. Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

When Friday came and it was time to go to court, the sun was out, but not just out. It was blazing. So hot, a portable AC to walk around with would have been nice. In the courtroom, we settled down to wait for the case to be called. An hour had passed and so far we hadn’t seen Walter turn up in court and Lindsay started to worry if he would turn up.

Kylie looked at her watch then indicated to her mother.

“Soon,” Lindsay mouthed to her daughter.

Just then the door of the courtroom opened and Lindsay looked up to see Walter and a lawyer walk in. He shot me a nasty look before taking a seat on the opposite side of the courtroom. After another forty-five minutes of waiting our case was called.

“Your Honor, my client is petitioning for the right to joint custody of his children with his now ex-wife. She has had sole custody of the children for the past three to four years and my client thinks he has the right to try to rebuild his relationship with his children. He recently discovered there are plans to take the children from the country and my client would like to stop that also.

The judge looked down at the paperwork in front of him and frowned.

“You are very quiet Mr. Niblock. I’m wondering I’m wondering if it had anything to do with the paperwork I have in front of me?”

“The evidence speaks for itself, your Honor.”

“What evidence?” Demanded Walter’s lawyer.

“If you are unaware of this, I must question how much of an effort you client has made to be in contact with his children’s lives. Mr. Haynes?”

The judge looks from to Walter to the papers in front of him and back. “Why are you trying to stop your children from leaving to go to school when they have so much going for them?”

Walter shrugged. “I heard the girl snap something about a scholarship at me but I thought she was telling lies.”

The judge looked down over his glasses at Walter. “Are you out of your mind? What child lies about a full scholarship? She had her choice of schools. Also, the school that wants your son is interested in him for both his swimming and his academics. Why would you want to take these opportunities away from your children after they worked so hard for them?”

“What they know about hard work? They are children.”

The judge frowned.

“Sir do you know what it is like to be in a pool twice daily seven days and week? In the water at 5am? Swimming over two thousand or more meters per session. Plus land training twice a week. Then keeping up with their studies. Being an athletic is no joke. Being good enough to get a full ride is extremely hard. Now I ask you again, why are you trying to get in the way of these children’s future?”

Get Set

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The kids were doing their French lesson when I brought them the news about the upcoming court case. Photo by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash

The lawyer called later during the week with news about the case. It had taken a lot on his part, but he had gotten the case to be brought before the courts quickly due to the time constraints placed on the situations. School started sooner where we planning to take the children then where we lived and we didn’t want the kids to fall behind due to this situation. The court date was for next week Friday.

Lindsay was hesitant to tell the children they had a date for the case, but the rule was always to tell the truth. She didn’t want them worrying about the outcome but no matter how she felt, they had to wait. Getting up, Lindsay went to find the children to talk. She found them in the large TV room sitting on the floor practicing French with each other. While on the European trip, Mr. Divine had told the children about studying abroad and from that moment they had been pushing to learn a new language. Every day they did lessons with each other.

“Kylie. Shane.” They looked up from the flash cards they had in front of them.

“Oui mére,” said Shane. Kylie laughed.

“I mean. Yes mother,” he replied.

Lindsay settling onto the floor next to them. “I just got a call from the lawyer. He said we have a court date for the next week Friday.”

“Kylie got out her phone and started looking at dates. “That is not too bad. I still have two to three weeks before school starts, but that is past when Shane is supposed to start.

Shane sighed and flopped back onto the floor. “It’s one thing to be new but late and new is like asking for trouble. This so needs to be over.”

“Don’t worry,” said Kylie. “I’m sure that dad considered that. We’ll talk to him when he gets home.”

Shane nodded. “So what type of prep are we going to do for the case?” asked Kylie. “I’m sure the lawyer is not going to let us go in there totally clueless.”

“When we spoke he said he would be coming over to talk with us later so I expect we will talk to him about strategy.”

Kylie smiled. “Good. Shane and I plan to milk the impression of poor persecuted children for all its worth.”

“Are you guys sure you want to be a part of the case,” said Lindsay.

“Yes mother,” they said at once.

“This is our lives,” insisted Shane.

“Our futures,” said Kylie.

“We are going to let the judge know our true feeling about that man. What he did to us. Yes mother, we are going to court. There is no stopping us.”

Lindsay looked at the children. This was no game for them. She knew without a doubt she couldn’t stop them.

“Okay,” said Lindsay. I’ll let you finish your French lesson.”

Lindsay left the children and they went back to going over the French phases. They had spoken and over the past year, in truth more, Lindsay had noticed the children were more direct about saying what they thought. They stated their opinions boldly and didn’t back down unless one could give them a strong and valid argument to counter their position. I love their strength and drive to discover, to become better.

With Walter, that strength would be stepping on and destroyed. I couldn’t let that happen to my children. When I entered the courtroom next Friday, Walter would find out once and for all not to try to play with my children’s lives. I would show him a type of pain and suffering he would never want to revisit again. He would understand when this case was over never try to take my children from me.

Underbelly Exposed

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My daughter wasn’t one to pull punches. Photo by Quentin Keller on Unsplash

As predicted before the end of the week was out, Walter tried to take money out of the account. It got him arrested. From there the drama jumped to the level of daytime soap opera. The phone rang and when I answered it I was greeted by a tirade.

“You got me arrested. You bitch. Don’t think for one second I will not make you pay. I’m going to take the kids and you are never getting them back,” yelled Walter.

“Actually you’re blaming the wrong bitch for getting you arrested. It was me I blocked you from taking mine and Shane’s money and doing goodness knows what with it. I told them to call the police if you tried to take out our money again.”

Silence took over the line. After a while, the question came. “Who is this?”

“The daughter you want to take from her mother. The daughter you ignored most of her life. The daughter you taught by your every action that all men who create a child are not fathers. The daughter who’s life you want to ruin by trying to keep her away from a full scholarship so you can steal her money.”

“What scholarship?” he asked a shock.

“The daughter you obviously know nothing about. You are not taking me or my brother, so we’ll see you in court.” Kylie slammed down the phone.

“What she said,” replied Lindsay and put down the phone.

My baby has shot the cannonball at his chest. She bounced into the sitting room where I had been relaxing waving her phone.

“I got it all on tape. We’ve got the rat bag now,” she said with glee. “I’m going to send this to dad.” She quickly sent the recording off to Mr. Divine then skipped back into the bedroom.

Mr. Divine called me several minutes later. “That child is scary. She has no fear.”

“You’re telling me,” Lindsay murmured.

“I sent it to the lawyer,” said Mr. Divine. “He is pushing for a court date so hopefully this helps.”

“Fingers crossed,” I said.

“I’ll be home in about an hour or so,” he said. “Love you baby.”

“I love you too,” I replied then ended the call.

Sitting back in the chair Lindsay considered her life as it was right know. Slightly complicated but she was loved and truly happy. To her, that was all that mattered. From her spot on the couch, Lindsay could hear the children talking and laughing. This was the life she dreamed of and now she had it, no one was taking it away. Walter better watch his back.

Bank Business

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My daughter is about to check her phone until she realized she didn’t know about an account at this bank.  Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

My daughter demanded to know how my Ex got his hands on her and her brother’s money and as she peppered the manager with questions I could tell the man was not used to such a forceful and determined young person.

“Have the papers been filed against him?” she asked our lawyer.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Are we using this or are we going to nail him?” she asked to everyone’s shock.

“What?” Kylie queried when she saw the look on our faces. “I understand the concept of leverage as well as the next person but no matter what you do make sure you get back our money.”

Shane had been going through the bank statements with a highlighter when he nudged his sister and pointed to something. He took a red pen and placed an asterisk next to it then got his sister’s phone and took a picture.

“May I kindly speak to her, please? Knowing my father, I assume there is a ‘her’ he manipulated to get access to our accounts.”

The manager called in the woman.

“Do you consent to have this conversation recorded?” asked my daughter putting her phone in the middle of the table.

The woman hesitated and then slowly noted. “A verbal answer is required,” my daughter explained.

“Yes,” replied the woman.

My daughter pushed some papers across the desk to her. “Please state your name and tell me if this is your signature on this document?” directed Kylie.

“My name is Teresa Mayers and yes this is my signature.”

My daughter went on. “Can you please explain what this form is for and how it came to be added to these accounts?”

“It is a form that allows the named person, in this case, Walter Haynes, full access to the account. Why, because he wanted to be able to better manage to money on the account.”

“What about the persons whose names were on the accounts? Couldn’t they manage the money themselves?”

“He said his children were minors and his wife was a heavy spender. He was afraid she would drain the accounts.”

Kylie pushed another set of papers forward. “Can you see a single withdrawal on this account? When you see the first withdrawal, please state the date.”

She stated them for both accounts. Kylie pointed to the paperwork to access the account.

“How soon after access was granted did the removal of monies happened?”

The bank teller replied. “One week.”

“Who did the withdrawals?” asked Kylie.

“The person who signed the form Walter Haynes. Why are you asking me these questions? You are minor.”

“It’s my money you gave that man access to. My money he has been spending on goodness knows what. So I can ask as many questions as I please. But last question. Did you call the owners of the account or the person in charge of the account to verify the validity of the letter?”

The bank teller looked puzzled. “No. It was signed and dated.”

“Correction,” said Kylie. “The signature is a forgery.” The woman’s eyes popped open.

“My mother would never have signed this letter. Plus, when this was written, we were all in the US looking at universities. I’ve not spoken to my father in almost three or four years why would I want him managing my money?”

The bank teller shrugged, unable to reply. “I want his authorization revoked and a flag put on the account so that the next time he comes in to make a withdrawal, the police are called. I’m done playing games,” said Kylie.

“What do we need to sign to make it happened?” Kylie leaned back in the chair, waiting.

The manager started to get the necessary paperwork and placed the needed blocks on the account so no withdrawals could be made until the children were each twenty-one or older.

“Rental property?” asked Shane to Mr. Divine.

Mr. divine looked at the balances of both accounts.

“By twenty-one, if the market is right. It’s more than possible.”

“Sweet,” said Shane with glee.

Lindsay looked at her daughter going over paperwork and asking questions when she didn’t understand. Kylie’s maturity never ceased to fill her with awe. Her instincts told her this situation with Walter would be reaching a tipping point by the end of the next two to three weeks. During that time things would get really heated and she needed to have her fire extinguisher ready.

 

Storm Winds

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The signature was not mine. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

When I saw the paperwork had a forgery of my signature I was livid. I took out both my ID and drivers license and slapped them onto the table. “That is my signature.”

I pointed to the letter. “There is no way I would give that man consent to have access to my children’s money.”

“But if something happened to you?” stated the manager. “The father…”

“Has no right to access that money,” I interjected.

“My daughter and son understand how money works even better than me. They both have investment accounts that they manage themselves with only minor advice from my husband, so there is no way they would let their father use their money.”

“If they find out about this but things are going to get nasty,” murmured my husband.

“As it is their accounts. Especially the sixteen-year-old, they should know,” said the manager.

“That girl is worse than our lawyer. She will fight until she gets back her money and he goes to jail.”

“Her own father?” asked the manager in shock.

“He is trying to block us from taking them away to live and my daughter has a full scholarship. She is livid. If she finds out about this,” Mr. Divine laughed and shook his head.

“She gives me the shivers,” said our lawyer. “Told me to fix this, ‘meaning the custody battle’ then walked away like she hadn’t just threatened me but had asked me if I wanted a glass of ice tea.”

“I’m sorry, but as it is their account they must be here.”

“Just remember you were warned,” stated my husband and took out his phone.

“Honey, are you finished with the broker?”

Whatever our daughter said had my husband laughing. “Then come to the bank with your brother when you’re done. We have a little issue.”

Mr. Divine refused to go into details despite being pressed and that alone would speed up my daughter’s arrival.

They called to say they were downstairs fifteen minutes later and I went to get them.

“Hey mom. What’s up?” asked Lindsey

“How was the broker?” I asked, determined to distract her.

Her words as we entered the room made the bank manager’s head snapped up. “I just got another five thousand rolling for both Shane and I. Would you imagine he wanted to tell me to get bonds. I told him I’d reached my yearly cap. Let him go home and think about that. As if.”

“You should have seen the guy’s face mom,” said my son with a laugh.

“So what is going on?” Kylie asked assessing the room. “If the lawyer is here it’s big.”

The manager cleared his throat. “It has been brought to our attention that your father has been removing money from your account.”

“What account? I monitor my account like a hawk. Mine and my brother’s.”

Kylie went for her phone, then paused. “Wait a minute, I don’t know about any accounts at this bank.”

She looked at us, waiting for an explanation.

“Your grandmother started these accounts for both you and Shane and I put money in them all the time. The plan is you don’t access it until you are twenty-one or twenty-five. This is the account your father has been deposited money into for you since the separation, then divorce. It seems somehow he has gained access and has been withdrawing the money.”

“Then send the police for him because we want our money back and him, gone.”

“I told you,” said Mr. Divine to the bank manager with a smug smile.

 

Shot Across the Bow

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The bank manager was in for a shock. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The lawyer broke into a huge smile.

“Fraud,” said Mr. Divine.

“Correct,” came the reply. “And theft of thousands of dollars from the children that he used on whores.”

“So what should we do? Bring this to the custody hearing for the kids or countersue?”

“I love how this woman thanks,” said the lawyer.

“He will not expect this countersuit and it will send him scrambling. After we file the papers, we will need to hit the bank. Someone in there give him access.” Explained the lawyer.

“When we were married. Well separated, I found out he was sleeping with this girl in the bank and used her to block my access to our joint account information.”

“He did this before. I love it,” said the lawyer with a laugh. “I think it is time for him to learn a lesson with a punishment to fit the crime.”

So on our dining room table, over wine and laughter, a plan and papers were drafted. As soon as we got proof they were filed we would be hitting the bank.

Things went smoothly and with the papers in hand and lawyer next to us, we hit the bank.

“We are here to see the manager,” said our lawyer.

“May I ask who is it an what it is about?”

“The lawyer handed over his business card and said in a loud voice. “It is about fraud and theft of monies from two accounts in this bank.”

The words drifted downstairs and a murmur could be heard. The time we turned up at the bank had been chosen with purpose. The place was busy. It worked. The secretary scrambled up.

“One moment.” She raced into her boss’s office and in less than two seconds the manager was in front of us.

“Good morning. Can I help you?” said the man.

Our lawyer handed over the papers and he took them. The man took out his glasses and started to read. “Charline, hold all my calls,” he instructed and urged us to follow him.

“This is a serious allegation,” said the man. “Can I see your proof?”

“It’s in your files. Only two or three people can give permission for him to have access to these accounts. The minors who they belong to don’t speak to him. The grandmother who opened the accounts and we know she didn’t do it. She hates the man, always did. Then the mother who is here and sure as hell didn’t give him permission.”

“That is my children’s nest egg. Why are withdrawals being made? Nothing is supposed to be withdrawn until they are twenty-one or twenty-five,” Said Lindsay arms folded.

“Get your files,” urged the lawyer.

 

New Information

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The files were very revealing. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

When Lindsay saw the investigator coming through the door with what seemed like a nonstop parade of files she felt my breath caught. I was massive, so much more than she expected. They started to explain what they found. Lindsay felt her jaw drop.

Not only was Walter living in a woman’s house, but he was making the woman pay the bulk of the bills by saying he had one payment or the other for the children. He didn’t actually.

The money for the children from Walter went into a bank account we didn’t touch. The aim was for the accounts to be a nest egg for the children to do something big with when they each turned twenty-one. To date, Lindsay had no clue how much each account held. When she saw the paperwork in front of her, she was shocked. Each account contained a significant figure, Kylie’s being the biggest.

As Lindsay looked over the bank statements that was when she started to notice withdrawals. Slowly she went over all the bank statements she had been given. They indicated that for the last year, Walter had been taking money from the children’s accounts because it hadn’t been them or me.

“Look at this,” Lindsay said to Mr. Divine. “He’s been taken money from the children’s accounts and considering he hasn’t been sending them cash. What has he been doing with it?”

“Rolling flush trying to impress women with it,” said the investigator who was handing us the papers as we requested them. “He pretends he is rich and can buy them anything and the women he had been sleeping with are pros and he doesn’t know. They are draining him.  That is why he has been using the children’s accounts, for the money.”

“Who started the accounts?” asked the lawyer.

“I did. No wait, it was my mom. When Kylie was born my mother bought me a thousand dollars and said I was supposed to open an account for her. Well, more like she opened the account and brought the book after she took one look at Walter. She did the same for Shane. The bank book came in the post. I deposited money every month.”

“When did you stop and Walter and start?” asked the lawyer.

“Since the divorce or more like months before. I started new accounts for them and planned to move the money but the bank was giving me drama so I left it there,” said Lindsay with a shrug.

“It’s funny how they give you trouble when it’s your money but let someone who it doesn’t belong to gain access it without a problem,” said the lawyer.

“Did you give Walter the power to withdraw money from the account?” The man went on to ask.

“Hell no!” I replied.

“Well, somehow he has it.” Was the lawyer’s reply.

 

Hidden Angle

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The lawyer was going over the paperwork. Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

Lindsay was tempted to just leave Mr. Divine with the lawyer to figure out a plan of attack but she had to stop herself. This was a problem she had been the root cause of, so she needed to contribute, somehow.

Settling in Lindsay told the lawyer about Walter’s interaction with the children throughout the years and the fact that after the separation things got progressively worst. He insisted she elaborate.

She went on to explain the massive switch in the children’s attitude because Walter had started to bully them. As she spoke the lawyer wrote down the information. The man was especially interested in the teachers who were present at the mediation meeting we were forced to hold to get the children back under control. Each story seemed worst than the last.

Leaning back Lindsay tapped her hand on the table as she tried to understand what was truly going on.

“What is his aim?” Lindsay asked out loud. “That is what is bugging me. Walter never showed interest in the children so why is he doing this?”

Lindsay turned to Mr. Divine. “I know you said you have your guys on him but tell them to dig deeper. I know he doesn’t what the kids. He is after something else I’m sure of it.”

She was almost frantic by the time she finished her speech.

Mr. Divine reached for Lindsay to calm her down and she clutched his hand like a lifeline.

“The investigators will come in tomorrow and we will go over what they found together. You know the way Walter thinks after enduring him for more than eighteen plus years, so if anyone can figure this out, it’s you.”

Lindsay took a deep breath and nodded, trying desperately to keep calm. It wasn’t happening. Mr. Divine had no clue what he had just asked of her. To get into Walter’s mind was to delve into a place of negativity, manipulation and hate. Anything that man did was self-serving so Lindsay knew she would have to keep that in mind.

Mr. Divine leaned in and kissed her and Lindsay held him tight.

“Make sure you pull me back after I do this,” she whispered to him as unease crawled through her body. “Pour the positivity into my life as soon as I’m done looking into what that man is doing. Fill me with light to counter his evil.

“I’ve got you baby,” he assured me. “I’ve got you.”