Documentation you will need to give to your caretaker
One of the most stressful and difficult duties for a Solo Mom who is separated from an abusive or a substance-abusing ex is making sure your child is safe in the world; frankly, that sometimes means protecting your child from his or her other parent. There is often commentary and noise surrounding separations and claims of abuse, so make sure that you have support from friends, a lawyer you can trust, and all your ducks in a row before moving forward to obtain legal papers. As everyone who has ever been on social media knows, people like to voice their opinions (often with no understanding or interest in the personal circumstances). This is especially true in matters of divorce and protection—people tend to question whether or not an order of protection has been obtained impulsively or if it is truly needed. If you feel you and your child are at risk, however, a temporary restraining order is essential.
The point is to make sure that under tough circumstances, you protect yourself and your child. No matter what others say, the legal documents are important and invaluable, and should be shared with anyone involved in your child’s care and supervision.
Temporary restraining orders (TROs) are usually requested during the process of separation and divorce. Your caretaker should have a copy of this order of protection with the understanding that it will expire within two weeks. TROs are highly inflammatory documents, disliked on both sides and subject to much discussion, but they can start an important process.
If the TRO does, in fact, become an actual restraining order, the court may award sole custody to you and specify what rights your ex does and does not have in a subsequent ruling that supersedes the original order. Each case is different, and many factors are involved, especially for cases involving substance abuse. It is important to make sure that these parameters are set out succinctly and clearly for your caretaker.
This is also true of your child’s school: these documents should be left with the administration office. They allow the school and your child’s caretaker at the school to call the police if your ex appears to have violated the conditions set up by the judge.
It’s best to highlight important wording pertaining to the order in the documentation and add your own letter of instruction with phone numbers and specific information about what should be done if these protective orders are violated.
The benefit of giving your caretaker a copy of these legal documents is that they allow a third party to have a plan of action. In many cases, these orders of protection empower the caretaker and set limits within the school administration that can be easily followed. It allows what could be a fraught and emotional situation to be strictly and carefully monitored while creating clear boundaries for all parties. It also can alleviate anxiety on your part and removes your caretaker from the uncomfortable position of being an intermediary between you and your ex, which, in turn, helps keep the child’s health and safety as the primary focus.
The point of these orders is to protect you and your child, but it is also to allow you to move forward with your life and enable your child to evade, as much as possible, some of the difficulties that leaving a dangerous and unstable marriage can present. Your caretaker will likely do what he or she can to help with the understanding that these orders are important guideposts toward a normal, healthy, and safe future for you and your child.
Margot Kessler, a screen and television writer living in Los Angeles, is the sporadically witty Solo Mom of two lovely daughters.
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