Yellow in Vienna isn’t sunshine . . .
Since my visit last Tuesday was cancelled because of Christmas Eve, I flew home to Manchester for a much-needed rest and some guaranteed TLC from my ever-caring parents.
Arriving back in Vienna with a heavy heart, I returned to find another dreaded neon yellow paper to collect yet another dreaded court order from the post office. I didn’t have the courage to pick it up on Friday. Better to take the knocks individually blow by blow instead of an avalanche of torment all on one day, I reasoned. I was already nursing my wounds from the cruel disappointment of time stolen yet again from what should have been spent with Sammy and Benji.
I was informed matter of factly by text message from the visiting centre that the substitute visit on the coming Monday (December 30) was cancelled because of a ‘staffing problem’. Even though the office would be open. Even though people would be working there. Even though Monday was a normal working day. And even though I pay 44 Euros per visit. No allowances could be made so that I could see my children. And so the yellow slip of paper was shoved in a drawer over the weekend where its mocking cheery colour couldn’t reach me and taunt me.
I’ve had enough of those slips of paper to give me a yellow allergy. Yellow in Vienna is not sunshine, those yellow slips inspire only foreboding and fear. Unable to put it off any longer, I dragged my reluctant feet to the post office. It was a maintenance order.
I was summoned to court in November to discuss the Social Services’ application to raise payments from 110 Euros per child per month to 165 Euros.
This was after an initial assessment last year which concluded I wasn’t earning enough to pay any maintenance. The judge disregarded that and ordered me to pay anyway.
Since then, the Social Services (on the orders of the father) have repeatedly submitted applications to increase my payments to the father.
When the judge in the maintenance department heard my situation — that my visits are on Tuesdays and the family court judge, Susanne Gottlicher, ignored my repeated applications to change my day to allow me to work full-time; that my costs to the visiting centre are over 300 Euros per month to see my boys and I am working as many hours as humanly possible to just cover my rent and bills, which as a freelance teacher, is not always enough, she was horrified and seemed very sympathetic.
I was convinced she wouldn’t bleed me any more or put me under any more pressure.
How wrong I was. I now have to pay 300 Euros per month in maintenance backdated to June 2012. Plus over 300 Euros per month to see my own children. That doesn’t even leave enough to pay my rent and bills.
Although this judge commissioned a further assessment of my earnings potential as a language trainer, which was equally measly, she has totally disregarded the report and calculated maintenance on a much higher, unrealistic salary.
The order states: “The mother’s claims that she cannot have a fulltime job because of the Tuesday visits which she must also pay for do not reduce her maintenance obligations.”
Included in the order is a vindictive letter from my ‘ex’ saying that I shouldn’t be living in the marital home, the home of the twins, because it is too expensive!
Instead, he proposes a 12 square metre room as a lodger in someone else’s apartment.
A reality which would obstruct my custody case altogether and even make the overnight visits I so long for unfeasible.
He also says that although visits are on Tuesdays, I can still work early in the morning and late at night before and after the visit (which I already do and still don’t earn enough money).
When he begged me to marry him, he promised me the world.
When I told him how important it was for me to find a job in Vienna because I insisted on contributing to the marriage, he told me he understood but I would never need to worry financially.
Suddenly, there are no more accusations of my being ‘mentally ill’, as he first alleged.
He only reiterates how hard I should be working in order to earn more money to hand over to him, a doctor who is paying a Filipino to ‘care’ for the children while he works.
Surprising how insistent he is on maintenance from me now since he didn’t pay the 18 months of maintenance orders for the children when they lived with me, and neither did I execute them against him.
Ironically, as a full-time doctor earning overtime from night shifts, he was ordered to pay only 220 Euros per month compared to my 300.
Also surprising that he needs me to finance him now since he made sure that all of our ‘joint’ savings from the marriage were in his name alone.
Thousands of Euros that I had worked so hard for and handed over to my husband in good faith, all disappeared overnight in what I thought was the worst betrayal of my life.
That was until he took my children away as well. Anyone bereft of a child will understand that when that child is taken money and material goods cease to have any real meaning or value.
Yet here in this inhumane, barbaric system, otherwise known as family courts, they think emotional torment is not enough. Curtailing my visits arbitrarily (the last time by half an hour), cancelling on a whim at a moment’s notice, banning me from the kindergarten and keeping me in the dark about all matters regarding my children apparently does not go far enough.
‘Cripple her financially too,’ they must say, and so they continue this cruel never-ending game of pain and persecution, draining all my resources — emotionally, psychologically, financially — in the hope of what?
Making me give up fighting for justice? Making me give up fighting for Sammy and Benji to know their mother and have her in their lives? What do they hope to achieve by that?
Two disturbed children, psychologically and emotionally damaged from lacking maternal love, affected for the rest of their lives just for the sake of destroying their mother? Where’s the ‘prize’ or satisfaction in that?