Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:57 pm
(The following blog entry gets pretty deep and talks about my personal life, it has nothing to do with the comic. Some of you may prefer to skip this one.)

For years now, I've been dealing with a very stressful situation that started off as a private matter, but over time began to leak outward into the public and cause Goblins readers to raise an eyebrow and say "what the heck is going on with Thunt?". Well, since the whole ordeal has now come to an end, I can finally explain what's been causing me so much trouble.

I have two sons from a previous relationship. Up until July of 2006, both boys lived with my ex, who was having some difficulties. To give you an idea of the sorts of difficulties I mean, let me tell you about... the eggs.

Many years ago, I showed up at the ex's apartment one Friday afternoon for my much anticipated Father-time weekend pick-up. While there, I'd noticed that a carton of eggs had been dropped onto the kitchen floor and made a splattered mess. When I arrived at the apartment a couple days later for the Sunday evening child drop-off, I was amazed to see that the eggs were still splattered all over the floor, untouched. Now as much as it embarrasses me to say this, I was afraid of my ex. I was like a whipped dog who shrank downward every time I was snapped at or yelled at by her, which was pretty often. So when I asked her if she was aware of the egg mess, she growled "yes". I inwardly cowered and didn't press the matter. The following Friday when I arrived for that weekend's Daddy time, I was amazed to find that the eggs were still all over the kitchen floor. When I asked about it, I was angrily told "you have to wait for the eggs to harden before you can clean them up, Tarol". A better man and maybe even a better Father would have argued about the health concerns or maybe even gone in and cleaned it up. But like I said, I was terrified of this girl to a humiliating degree and so I did nothing.

There are many more stories like the egg tale, but I'll fast forward to the time that I tried to pick up my boys only to be told by my ex that she'd dropped them off at a home for abandoned children four days earlier.

"What?! Why did you do that?! If you're having problems, why didn't you call me?!" I asked in a panic.

"Because I'm fucked up, okay?!" This is the statement that I've come to remember her by. Every time I have to see her or deal with her in any way, I can almost literally hear her shrieking these words at me. You'd think that after so many years, this phenomenon would start to get funny, but so far it's just disturbing.

I quickly asked her where this foster care place was, but she refused to tell me. I pounced onto my phone and started frantically calling dozens of places asking all sorts of questions. It's hard to do detective work when you're sobbing.

I eventually found my kids and gained visitation rights from the foster care home. It was at this time that I sued for custody. For months, I made court appearances and did paper work on the matter. This was and hopefully will remain the scariest, most stressful time of my life. If you've never been involved in a custody battle, it's like playing blackjack, except instead of placing a bunch of chips on the table, you place your kids up there and tell them that everything is going to be okay. By the way, this custody battle is not the court case that I just won. That comes later.

I remember standing beside my ex in front of a judge and watching her casually explain to him how she had been telling the kids all about what an ass their Father was. I remember feeling a mixture of emotions ranging from "Yes! This will surely help my case!" and "My kids get told that I'm an ass?"

I remember the judge saying "You really shouldn't be putting down the Father to the children like that".

She shrugged her shoulders and replied "If he's acting like an ass, I'm going to tell my kids that he's an ass. I'm not going to lie to them". I would have payed large amounts of money to know what the judge was writing down after she'd said that.

The custody battle went on for a long while and it was beginning to take its toll on my eldest son. Although I made every effort to keep the whole court battle secret to him, my ex was admittedly giving him all the terrifying details along with some tales about what a monster his Father was. My eldest has aspergers syndrome and although he's growing out of it at a very healthy rate, it dominated much of his behaviour at that time of his life. The lengthy stress of the court battle was causing him to go through more stress than he'd ever gone through when he lived with my ex (out of respect for my son, I won't go into the details of how he handled that stress). Once I realised that I was hurting my kids with the custody battle, I called it off.

Years later, my eldest son at eleven years old decided that he really wanted to come and live with Danielle and me and my ex agreed. My youngest son was also talking about wanting to move in with us but at age eight, my ex wouldn't allow it, claiming that he wasn't old enough to make those sorts of decisions yet.

Now up until the day my eldest son moved in with us, I'd been paying child support for both boys. When my son moved in with us, my ex agreed that I wouldn't need to worry about child support since we each had one child to take care of. She explained that she'd contact the FMEP (Family Maintenance Enforcement Program) and tell them that I'm no longer required to pay child support.

A few months later, I received a letter from the FMEP that told me how late I was with a bunch of payments. It carefully listed the interest I'd built up and the punishments that were coming if I didn't make immediate payments. I emailed my ex and told her about the letter. She seemed surprised and said not to worry about it as she'd contact them and clear it up.

Fast forward a bunch of months later to me standing in front of my mailbox holding yet another scary letter from my pals at the FMEP. My missed payments and interest was quickly building and there may have actually been an exclamation mark somewhere on that letter, which is a pretty big deal when it's from a branch of the government.

I wrote another email to my ex. She told me how angry she was with the FMEP and how she'd spoken with them twice about this and been assured that the file had been closed. She promised to order them (this time in writing) to back off.

Some time later, I received another letter. This one made a growling noise when I opened it. I swear to the gods, it growled at me. Inside, it listed an overdue amount ranging in the thousands of dollars with rapidly growing interest and penalties. It also explained how my bank account was now frozen, I was not allowed to drive a car, leave the country or have a credit card. And if I didn't pay soon, I would go to jail. It was around this time that I began to develop an OCD style phobia toward opening my mailbox.

I emailed my ex again. This time, her response was quite different. Allow me to directly quote part of that email...

"...you can try to make some kind of payment plan arrangement with them, perhaps they will go easy on you, but as there haven't been any payments to date, I don't see how they could."

This was the only time in my life that I'd ever hyperventilated. I remember laying on the floor with Danielle trying to calm me down. It's a good thing that I was never drafted into a war because apparently I am a big, squishy wuss.

This began the court battle. The one that as of yesterday, Danielle and I won. My job was to prove that my eldest son had been living with me since July 2006. My ex's job was to prove that I was a lying, deadbeat dad who was just trying to get out of paying child support for both boys.

Now, you might be thinking "how hard can it be to prove that your own kid lives with you?". Well, it's actually harder than you'd think. You see, my son was too young to testify in court. Understandably, Canadian laws don't allow for kids to get pulled into these messes. School records don't prove much since he could technically be going to the school closer to my house and still be living with my ex. Add to that the fact that she was still claiming on her taxes that both children live with her and you've got yourself a full-blown court battle.

Some of the readers may remember my sudden removal of the Goblins Cafepress store a couple years ago. This raised some questions, especially since I cryptically explained that I'd taken it down due to a "legal issue". Well, my ex had taken it upon herself report the store to the FMEP who quickly went after it. Not understanding the nature of my career, she also reported Danielle as my "employer". The FMEP then pestered Danielle about her deadbeat employee, but obviously that had comical results. Although, I'm not sure if the FMEP found it as funny as we did.

Some of you may remember the time that Wil Wheaton mentioned me on his Twitter account, talking about how he thought my comic about him was really funny. Well it turns out that my ex was also a Wheaton fan. I can only assume that she saw his tweet about Goblins and wasn't very happy about it. This is what she publicly tweeted to Wil...

"Thunt=deadbeat dad: owes child support, used your image to get more hits to his site, Predator for money grub copyright means 0 to him"

I was nauseous when I found that comment. My ex had progressed from attacking me for her own personal gain to attacking me for no reason other than to hurt me. Posting that comment didn't make her any money or offer her material gains of any kind. It was purely to try and hurt me. I quoted her tweet in an email to her and posted one sentence...

"You really are the worst human being I've ever met".

She never responded to that email, but a few hours later, she tweeted this...

"oh noes, my ex doesn't like me. w/e shall I do? Hit a nerve or 3, mebbe? where did I put my puppy-kicking shoes?".

The court appearances continued on, all the while with FMEP sending me letters that talked about prison time and giant, unpayable debts. Marrying Danielle has been out of the question, for fear of the FMEP going after her as well. If her bank account, drivers license and credit card were seized like mine was, there'd be no way for us to make any kind of a living.

As a white male, I've been fortunate enough to never have to deal with the ugliness of prejudice, but over the last few years, I've gotten a hint of what it must feel like. Many times I've walked up to a court registry or duty council to ask a few questions or get a file on my case. I repeatedly experienced watching the person that I was talking to go from smiling and friendly to noticeably cold after checking my file and learning why I was standing infront of them. No one likes a deadbeat dad.

However, yesterday at 1:45pm a judge, a lawyer representing the FMEP and a lawyer representing the Canadian government all agreed that I owed my ex no money. In one amazing moment, the massive debt was suddenly gone. Danielle and I hugged for a very long time. She cried, I didn't. Okay, I cried later on. I'm still big, squishy wuss after all.

Now I know that some of you may feel that I shouldn't be posting all of this info publicly. You may be right about that, but I have two definitive reasons for this blog post. Firstly, a lot of readers have known that I've been dealing with some kind of stressful court situation for a long time and I feel that they should know what's going on. Secondly, I've been bullied and pushed around for years over this and that stress has changed me. I wasn't kidding about that fear of checking my mailbox. It's like I have a negative, emotional beach ball in my gut that has been deflated, but it's still there. I feel a lot better than I did two days ago, but it's not really gone, it's just smaller and feels a lot less icky. I'm hoping that posting this will fix that. Sort of get it all out.

Now if you'll excuse me, this "deadbeat dad" has to pack. I'm going camping with my kids tomorrow.

As always, thanks for reading.

~Thunt
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