9 grand

Last year, I got a custody dispute as a wedding present from my ex. It went on for 14 months, though he never stated any specific concerns except his conviction that I’m selfish and make poor choices. He lost his motions in every particular. Nevertheless, the dispute went on month after month, and cost me $9000.00 in legal spectacle. Family court is like legalized harassment. I learned in court documents, for instance, that my ex has been stalking my social networks. One of the many benefits to living in the open is that I have nothing to hide, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that obsession is creepy and destructive.

Why do we tolerate a system where vindictiveness — costly and purposeless — is not only acceptable, but encouraged? Family court is a playground for bullies. A theater for Royal Tenenbaum’s worrisome philosophy: “I’m talking about putting a brick through the other guy’s windshield. I’m talking about taking it out and chopping it up.”

So what did I get for my $9000?

I got to hear a judge, white-faced with anger, lecture my ex in open court. The judge actually told him, on the record, “I can’t imagine what it’s like to work with a personality like yours.” It was awful. Embarrassing and awful. And it wasn’t worth a penny, let alone 9 grand.

I didn’t win. That’s important to remember. He lost, but no one won. The court system is just an opportunity to set fire to time, money, and good relations. But I have to say, I don’t regret anything. I spent the money, and protected my relationship with my kid. I spent the money, and never threw a dirty punch. I never responded to the personal attacks, the petty meanness. I spent the money because I had no choice. My son is worth everything I have.

And here’s what I learned: You can’t do anything about your formers. You can’t make them different people. You can’t give yourself a different relationship. You can’t change the way anyone behaved. Not yourself. Not others. You cannot salvage a charred town when somebody keeps guard with fuel and a lighted match. And that is how you know that you are new. You’re the guy who watches the town burn and is just grateful you don’t live there anymore. You watch it burn, dispassionately. I got out. I got away from the kind of person who thinks it’s acceptable to fight like this. My $9000 is a reminder of my freedom. Proof that I don’t inhabit miserable places anymore. And my fucking god, I’ll never regret a cent.

3 thoughts on “9 grand”

  1. Bless you for it!

    One of my friends has been involved in a bitter custody dispute between her and her ex (the baby’s bio-mom) off and on for YEARS now. It is so grating to the soul.

    I’m so honored to know your little family, and to hold you among those I love and wish heaps and heaps of happiness on. You, friend, are good people. I’m sorry others (big fat meanieheads!!!) don’t see that as clearly as I do.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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