I drove through the night from Richmond, Virginia through North Carolina, South Carolina, a whole lot of Georgia and finally into northern Florida brushing the Atlantic until I arrived at New Smyrna Beach just in time for sunrise on Friday morning.
I watched with a coffee and cigarette while a couple pulled up in their big car and cuddled while doing the same as me - I thought I should give them some privacy and left them to the sunrise.
A father who had contacted me about his own situation was in court before Judge Rowe (our new judge replacing Judge Doyle) and his ex had Kim Banister as her attorney too - I decided to join him firstly, because it was an opportunity to take a look at Judge Rowe and secondly, to give some support to a fellow parent-in-distress.
No names on this as Kim seemed to take umbrage at my presence - I was there to harass her client - someone I've never met and am unlikely to.
We all laughed at this - it's pathetic but don't laugh too hard!
Kim is an attorney primarily dedicated to acting for indigent mothers (and not so indigent but what the heck - the taxpayer is footing the bill so come on board one and all) I believe the run of the mill mantra is "Harassment, Fear, Intimidation" and it is quoted in any situation Kim doesn't like - don't belittle this strategy because it works as often as not.
Not in this instance though as Kim was adamant I was not to be allowed into the court room - it's a public forum came the response - I think Kim is a little rattled with not having her own way and a new judge.
How do I feel having my ex's attorney rattled?
Smugly ambivalent - what she does is none of my business all I focus on is the next step and planning playing chess in the jungle (sorry the legal process) but nice to see her reacting to me and not vice versa.
Speaking of which - Judge Rowe - hard to assess him at this stage, His Honor was polite and dignified and unlike Judge Doyle made no move to stop each side presenting their case. I felt he should have exercised more control over the proceedings - Kim has a habit of fillibustering when you are on a set allocated amount of time - I'll be watching for that when it's my turn with Judge Rowe and as Kim appears to have become a reader of my blog, now you know why I was there Kim ;)
The dad in this case is understandably ticked off - he hasn't seen his kids for a year and here he is trying to jemmy something out of his ex while the evening before his dad has been rushed to hospital and kept in.
Of course he's running hot under the collar but I told him what I tell everyone else - put your fists in your pocket, shut your mouth and stick your chin out.
After lunch at the Brickhouse and sweet iced tea and a pep talk from yours truly on "Keep your mouth shut!", he picked his kids up; I watched from a distance as they were dropped off and his son first hugged his dad but it was his daughter who made an impression on me - she just ran up to him and almost bowled him over - a far cry from the daughter who was supposed to never want to see him again. You cannot look at something like that and ignore the love involved - why that little girl had been denied contact with the dad she clearly loves and clearly missed is not sad, it is uncivilized, wholly avoidable and yet commonplace.
It is the currency of Kim Banister's world which is why I feel sorry for her and a great deal of pity.
I watched dad and sprogs drive off without a hitch - it felt good to see and I thought of Emily as I enjoyed another coffee and my last cigarette.
"Prat!" one wag exclaimed when he heard that. "Horses Ass!" was another.
Thank God he's been sin binned to small claims court and out of family court - he can do less damage there and then only to a bank balance and not a family.
Today, my day will comprise of going through the record sent up to the Court of Appeal in Daytona and making sure my index of papers is correct and properly matched so I can start writing up my initial brief for the appeal.
At the same time I have to get back to the court in DeLand because it is time to get some hearing time for the court to consider sentencing Sheila for her criminal contempt.
What an appalling thought - I'm asking for the mother of my child to be imprisoned - but what else can I do, Emily is more important than my feelings and if the court had stepped up to the plate and straightened her out years ago we wouldn't be in this mess today.
I'm looking forward to getting done and heading home as much as the sun and beach look inviting, there is just too much else to do but for my parent-in-arms in Alaska, I hope you enjoyed your time and so did the kids.