Tag Archives: Custody Case

More Personal Stuff (and some resources)

As with last Thursday’s post, I’m mostly re-posting this one for the resources. CARAS and NCSF aren’t often able to assist polyam folk directly, but they have some good stuff for educating doctors, psychs, and other professionals you may be dealing with. Looking Through Us is sill up, it’s been on hiatus in recent months but I hope to see it become active again soon.  Obviously, I’m still a bit off schedule from March insanity. Hopefully I’ll be back on track by the end of the week. Updated April 2, 2017.

Hey all, sorry for disappearing like that. I got very caught up dealing with the custody case, which is now finished, even if the judge hasn’t given us a decision yet. (I hate waiting.)

I want to thank CARAS and NCSF for all the work they have done educating people about polyamory and alternate sexualities. My children have been seeing a therapist for the stress the custody mess has been causing them, and I had told her about my involvement in polyamory shortly before this mess went to court. She had no issue with the lifestyle, told me that my private choices were just that, and when she was subpoenaed  as a witness she told the judge and court that my ‘multiple relationships’ as the lawyer called it, were not in any way bad for my children.

I don’t know if the therapist learned of polyamory through CARAS or NCFS or not, but having the benefit of a medical professional working with my children who is accepting of polyamory has made me that much more aware of how important the work they do is.

I also want to give a shout out to Poly Anna of Looking Through.Us. I was very flattered by the review of this blog that she posted a few weeks ago (one of your favorites? Really?! – I don’t squee, but if I did, I would have). Poly Anna has an ‘Ask PolyAnna’ column on Looking Through.Us, a kind of ‘Dear Abby’ for poly and non-monogamy. She doesn’t get questions often, but when she does she tends to have good advice, and takes the time to go in depth in her answers.

I should be back (mostly) to my regular posting schedule starting on Thursday. I’m afraid the webcomic needs to go on hiatus for a while, because I lost the pen from the drawing tablet, and as bad as my artwork is with the tablet, it is absolutely atrocious using a mouse. As I am in the middle of a massive cleaning spree, I’m hopeful of finding the pen in the next few weeks and getting the comic going again.

(Originally posted December 2011)

A Personal Digression: Custody Case

I’ve fixed a few typos here and changed one instance of “polies” to “polyam folk.” Otherwise this is exactly as I posted it in the fall of 2011, including signed with a name I no longer use. My ex’s lawyer did in fact print this post out and ask me, while on the witness stand, to read my letter to the judge. Sadly, the judge was exactly as bigoted as I was afraid, and, well, the case ended badly. Though some long term good did come of it. Re-posted (but NOT revised) March 1, 2017.

I have nothing to say about pregnancy today. I’m having a bit of trouble focusing on much of anything at the moment.

You see, the fact that I write this blog is being used against me in a custody case. Posts from this blog have been printed out and brought into hearings to prove that I engage in polyamory and am therefore an unfit parent.

In a few weeks, I will be going into court for the custody trial. A court that will not care about all the research proving that polyamory is a healthy and ethical lifestyle, the published studies by Dr. Elizabeth Sheff, Dr. Geri Weitzman, and so many others. A court that will have no interest in the paper by law professor Ann Tweedy the Michigan University College of Law examining polyamory and its possible status as a sexual orientation and/or embedded personality trait (ie not a choice but a part of a person). A court that will be prejudging me – the root word of prejudice – based on nothing other then an assumption that anything other then monogamy is wrong, even though there is no evidence, no basis, no reason, other then knee-jerk ‘that’s not the way things are supposed to be’ emotional reaction behind the judging.

My saving grace is that for over a year I have only been in a relationship with my fiance, Michael. That I have previously written, on this blog, that that is the only relationship I am in.

Part of me is disgusted at my cowardice. That I am willing to hide behind that fact and not stand up in court and openly denounce their prejudice and hypocrisy. That I am not willing to fight for a lifestyle that is in no way unsafe or dangerous for my children.

But I can’t risk my children. And if the court demands that I live monogamously from now on I will do so.

Because I am judged guilty without benefit of trial.

I’ve seen the arguments in the community about whether polyam folk should push for legal rights, become politically active. So many say that ‘we shouldn’t rock the boat’, that ‘as long as keep our heads down we will be fine’, that ‘there is no point in exposing ourselves’.

Well, the courts will not educate themselves. The laws will not change themselves. And until other people stand up and say this is wrong, the attacks that are being made on me will keep happening to other people.

And what the hell, since I know people are printing out my blog to show the judge:

Your Honor,

If you should happen to read this, I will say here that to allow polyamory to be used against me in court, without knowledge of the nature of the lifestyle, or research which has been done on it is wrong. That there is no basis or reason to believe that polyamory is dangerous to my children, and that regardless of anything else, if I did choose to have other relationships when my children are with their father it would not affect them at all and should be nobody’s business but my own and my fiance’s.

Maybe this post will be used against me as well. Will you judge on my beliefs, your Honor? Does my willingness to say openly that there is nothing wrong with alternative lifestyles automatically make me an unfit parent, whether I engage in those lifestyles or not?

I will continue writing this blog, your Honor. I will continue to support everyone’s right to pursuit of happiness and freedom of expression – those grand words that are so often trampled in the cry of ‘shame! immoral! shame!’ with no basis other than the righteous indignation of those who think there is only one right way.

I just wish I was brave enough to stand up in court and say all this there.

Sincerely,
Jessica Burde

Bonus Post: Custody Update and Important Legal Precedent

Hey all

For those of you who have been following my messed up custody situation, the appeal court returned a decision last week returning custody to my children’s father and ruling that polyamory should not have been used as a reason to take the children away because there was no evidence that poly was harming them in any way. (In fact, though the appeal court doesn’t mention it, there was evidence that poly was NOT harming them, since the kids therapist testified that it was not affecting them.)

On a personal level, this is good news – the kids are away from my parents and back with their father, and I will be getting proper visitation over the summers instead of the measly week I got this year.

On a legal level, the court’s decision is being entered in Pennsylvania case law, which means the ruling about poly not being a reason to take the kids is official legal precedent in Pennsylvannia. For a great review of the decision and what it means legally, check out Nancy Polikoff’s write up.

(Originally posted Sept 2012)

PolyPractically Announcements and Personal Stuff

I’m going to take an extended break from the state laws updates. Sorry to everyone who was waiting for their stuff, but I want to get back to actually writing about poly again. I’ll probably start up the state laws in a week or two as a Saturday update series.

On a personal front, life is going well, work is picking up again (finally!) and I’m managing to shed the stress from the custody case. As I never updated about that, and I know some folks were wondering: the kids were taken from my ex and I, largely because of poly (and even though he is no longer involved in polyamorous relationships) and given to their grandparents. We were awarded 1 weekend every other week to split between us. I am told an appeal may have a good chance of winning (for values of ‘good chance’ – given that appeal fails 90% of the time, ‘good chance’ here means our side would actually get some consideration. Unfortunately there was no way I could afford the several thousand necessary for an appeal. My ex could, and is going for it. I wish him luck.

Right after the custody case ended, I was asked by my land lord to leave the place I was living (month-to-month lease, she could do that) and on top of not having the money for an appeal, didn’t have enough in savings for a security deposit at the rates in Eastern PA, so we ended up moving half way across the country to Tennessee, where we have friends.

What this means for custody is that there is no way I can get primary if my ex wins the appeal (which there was already no way of because of not being able to afford the appeal). But regardless of whether or not he wins, I should be able to get the children for a long stretch over the summer (either convert my 26 nights every two weeks into 1 month if the grandparents win the appeal or I should be able to get a full 2 months if my ex win it).

I am very, very unhappy with the outcome of this mess, but moving was the right thing for me right now, and I am glad it is over. I am glad the custody (whoever wins) will no longer be a daily stressor for me (as it was even when it wasn’t yet a legal case with both my ex and my parents fighting constantly and pushing to make it a legal case). I am glad however this ends that my children will have a stable home, even if it may not be the best home for them.

We are settling into Tennessee fairly well. Much enjoying the warmer weather and everyone we’ve met has been nice. I’ve found a synagogue I will probably be joining – and Orthodox synagogue whose Rabbi has no issue with a polyamorous woman joining the community. He told me frankly that he can’t condone my lifestyle – anymore than he could condone someone not keeping kosher – but that it is my private life and he isn’t going to judge me on it. Best response I would have dared to hope for, and better one than I did hope for from a Orthodox Rabbi.