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I passed from the cold January morning into the deceptive warmth of the courthouse. It was routine by now – keep the pockets empty, put the cell phone in the tray, the briefcase on the conveyor, and walk through the metal detector. It was a trip I'd made almost three dozen times, and I was hoping that today would be the last.
I tried to focus on reading my novel as I waited outside the courtroom for my attorney, Rodger, to arrive. My focus was broken after a few minutes by a couple was screaming at each other that needed to be told by security to break it up and move along. I returned my attention to my reading.
A flash of red caught my eyes and a young guy walked in front of my with his pants pulled half-way down his ass. Perhaps he had more respect for the judge than the general public, because in one deft motion he pulled them up properly as he pulled the courtroom doors open. My attorney walked up to me as I was shaking my head and watching the doors swing closed.
We quickly reviewed the case. As I’d obtained legal custody of my daughter a few months earlier, this was supposed to be just a formality to make it final ... or to give my ex one more chance to cry in front of the judge. Things really should have been finalized back in September, but the hesitant judge clearly stated that he didn't want to exclude my daughter's mother, even though she had readily admitted a serious prescription and heroin problem that she'd proven unable to shake. For the purposes of parenting, she had already chosen to exclude herself by backing away to seeing Megan for only a few hours every two weeks. This was the woman who had fought tooth and nail 13 years earlier when I’d insisted for the initial custody be 50/50, and had fought regularly sin...

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...t room. The judge emerged after a brief wait, reviewed the document, confirmed that it was what I wanted and declared it as a judgment. It was over just that quickly.
As we exited the courtroom I turned to Roger and said, “Well, this is it.”
“No it’s not.”
“Really? Why not? I just got final full custody of Megan, a ruling on $10,000 in expenses owed to me, and a contempt ruling for 4 months of back child support.”
“It’s very unlikely you’ll see the $10,000 unless you attach a lien to Tracy’s property. Even then, she’d have to sell her house first and that could be many years away. As far as the child support goes, you can file with Support Enforcement, but it could take years for them to retrieve that money on your behalf.”
I thought everything over in silence.
“But you have Megan”, my attorney reminded me.
“Yeah, I have Megan”, I replied back. I’ve always had Megan.
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