They get to spend 9 glorious weeks at the
summer sleepaway camp that I grew up at.
A place that has always been my second home and my safe place to
land. I started going right after my own
parent’s divorce and continued well into adulthood as staff. When I could no longer take summers off I
still made sure to visit and attend alumni functions every chance I got. My camp family was always in touch.
Shortly after my own divorce I returned for an
entirely different kind of summer, with my twin 3 year olds in tow.
I was able to give my babies a safe place to
land as well. And we thrived!
And we continue to thrive. Summers away give kids a chance to explore
and challenge themselves in the best way possible. We unplug from the world, we unplug from our
devices, we unplug from so many of our daily stresses.
It also turns our parenting schedule entirely
upside down. My ex only sees them one
day a week for the whole summer. I get
to be with them every night but on my only day off each week, I am bringing
them back home to visit her. We all give
up something. And it’s not without
difficulty, but it brings so much reward.
This summer our babies grew in leaps and
bounds. They went on hikes, they learned
to swim almost entirely without their puddlejumpers. They navigated new friendships and being
reunited with old friends. They learned
to handle crowded dining rooms and social scenes they don’t get to encounter at
home. They went to a water park and the
movies, learned songs and dances. They
spent the summer being kids and came home ready for kindergarten.
They have no idea what this means for them yet,
what seeds we planted. But one day they
will be so glad we didn’t spend the summer fighting over who gets to have the
kids when and instead gave the summer to them.
It’s not my time or my exes time.
It’s their time. And they loved
We didn’t agree on a lot of things when we were married. We had a lot of feelings clouding our judgement. There was a lot of stress distracting us from prioritizing. After our divorce was finalized and everything was written in ink and signed off on, it all got easier.
It wasn’t quite overnight, but over time we grew closer and more capable of healthy communication when it comes to our kids. We had been on the same page before we got married and now we are back on the same page. We just needed to get rid of some of the other aspects of our relationship to become the parents we were meant to be.
So while some minor details aren’t always agreed on, we seem to always find a good place to land when it comes to the big issues. Like our children’s wellbeing, mental health, and meeting their individual needs.
Our daughter comes with a whole host of needs. Not all of which made sense to us at first. And not all of which came with any sort of “how to” guide. Allowing our child to transition was the simplest and hardest thing to come to terms with. We both knew who she was and who she needed to be allowed to be. We both were terrified of messing this up. We consulted wit ha specialist. We met with other families, some in real life, some virtually. We took it slowly and followed her lead.
Most recently, we signed documents and mailed out a check. We finally gave our girl what she needed in order to be able to live her life. A child shouldn’t have to come with an explanation or a “heads up” before starting a new class. A child shouldn’t always have to enter a new arena by waiting on the outskirts while their parents explained to the adults in charge what to expect. And now, she won’t have to.
I showed up to the play date with one kid. My friend was shocked. Where was my other kid? I guess the concept of having a split day isn’t something people are too familiar with. Many parents take one kid out for a special activity. Many kids go out with their friends or family without necessarily taking their sibling along. But once you start breaking down their schedules into parenting time, people tend to be far more hungry for that time.
Early on in the divorce process I worried about losing time with my kids. I worried about missing out on huge memories and all of their little milestones. I worried about all of it. As the kids got older though, I noticed that there were a lot of things we were all missing out on. A little one on one time started to become something to look forward to.
Our kids are their own people. They have their own hobbies, interests, all of it. And they have an amazing ability to interrupt each other and a strong desire to steer conversations and play in their own direction. It became apparent that they needed one on one time.
The split day was born. It was such a raging success from the very first one that we knew we had to work this into our parenting schedule. It made it so much more clear too that this wasn’t about my days or about my exes days. All of this is about the kids days.
Birthday parties are much easier to navigate without an extra sibling. Bringing a 4 year old on a 4 hour hike is surprisingly doable when it’s one 4 year old instead of 2. A trip to the museum became a truly interactive learning event rather than a push-me pull-me down a spiral of exhaustion. The kids missed each other and were happy to be reunited at the end of the day. They were eager to share their experiences. They were thrilled to have had one of us to themselves. So yeah, split days are a thing. And we like them.
On October 2, 2018, the Appellate Division handed down an unpublished decision in Rooney Sahai v. Susan Sahai, a post-judgment matrimonial matter on appeal from Bergen County.
The parties divorced in 2012 after 26 years of marriage. Their Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) provided for no parenting time between Susan and the parties’ severely disabled adult daughter, even though both parties cared for the child from the time of her birth through the entry of their divorce. In July 2014, Susan filed a motion to vacate the PSA on the grounds that Rooney coerced her into signing it. The court scheduled a plenary hearing shortly thereafter.
Over the 4 ½ years that followed Susan’s motion; Rooney engaged in what the Appellate Division labeled as “obstructionist litigation.” Rooney failed to comply with 3 separate court orders (including a consent order), entered over the course of 9 months, for Susan to have visitation with the parties’ daughter. Rooney initiated a criminal complaint against Susan with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office (which was administratively dismissed). He also filed civil suits against Susan’s attorney in Superior Court and Federal Court (both of which were also dismissed). During all of this chaos, the trial court imposed $20,000 in sanctions against Rooney for his non-compliance with court orders as well as ordering him to pay over $10,000 in attorney’s fees.
Rooney filed 2 appeals relative to the sanctions and attorney’s fees. Prior to the Appellate Division reviewing the matter, Susan’s attorney informed the court that the plenary hearing was still pending, as the trial court was now awaiting the Appellate Division’s decision.
On appeal, the court noted that Rooney had failed to comply with the financial discovery that was required of him at the trial level. For that reason, he could not now come before the Court and claim an inability to pay. The Appellate Court also supported the trial court’s statements that it did not find Rooney’s testimony about his financial circumstances to be credible, and that it was able to make a “reasonable inference” that he was either attempting to hide money or attempting to mislead the court. The Appellate Court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s award of counsel fees and imposition of sanctions.