Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Me, Deadbeat Dad? Um…

child support fightsI cannot seem to get a handle on the triggers for the ex-y’s money demands. I know they often happen on Sunday nights. Perhaps she’s paying bills, or just planning for the week ahead, and up comes the check box, GET MORE MONEY.

I understand. I understand all to well. But… This message from her, in a typical escalation of demands involving the words “collections” and “attorney”:

“The frame is that we have to pay kids expenses before we cover our houses and cars and bills. I am paying my part. I won’t sell this house to pay your part while you take the stance that your child support stands in line behind Wells Fargo.”

Um, it’s actually backwards in my book. Of course she’s not struggling to meet Wells Fargo’s demands, she’s talking about the incidentals, the nice to haves, the keeping up with the standard of living we have come to expect. And thus out kids have come to expect.

Hello! The facts are clear. And I stated them when she first demanded a divorce. “We can hardly afford one house in this neighborhood, do you think we’re going to be able to afford two?”

Of course, the truth is, she didn’t. She expected SHE would be able to stay in the beautiful house in the beautiful neighborhood with greenbelts and tennis courts. She didn’t care too much about what I was going to do. She still doesn’t.

But the reality is we cover our housing and food needs before the incidentals.

Another thing she doesn’t seem to factor in, she’s got zero debt (I took the CC debt) and she’s got in excess of 30k in retirement funds (much of it paid in while I was the one bringing in the excess income that afforded our 100% contribution) AND she has the house that easily has 60k in equity after costs.

She was going to sell it. At the end of last year. She decided not to, claiming it was easier not to have to gamble on our daughter being transfered to a different elementary school. Probably the move could’ve been averted with a petition to the school board.

For what ever reason (maybe she’s going to get married soon and they want to get a house together) she’s decided that she’s done “affording” the kids what they need because I can’t pay.

What I keep saying, “It’s a delay, not a default.” But she doesn’t want to hear it. She doesn’t have to hear it. And she doesn’t care.

I guess in the eyes of the law I am in default, I am a deadbeat dad, who is two months behind on his child support. And when she rattles the Attorney General’s office or the threat of lawyering up, I laugh. I can’t do anything else.

“You are in default on child support. It’s your responsibility to give ideas and plans for how to cover your part of their expenses. You can’t opt-out of supporting your kids, and telling me you won’t tell me any information about support moving forward is opting out. “

What I keep trying to say is:

“Whatever. You’re escalating again. My frame is we pay for shelter and food then other stuff.

I’ve given you every bit of information I have. If that is defaulting to you, so be it. I am delayed in my ability to pay. That’s quite different than defaulting or you needing to hire help to “collect.”

All I can give you, still is an agreement to pay 100% of my share and a willingness to give you all information as I have it.”

It’s never enough. In fact, in our marriage, it was never enough. She’s not going to be happy with me even if I was paying extra. But she’s happy to point the daggar at me and threaten me. She doesn’t have to be nice.

But am I a deadbeat dad? Am I failing my kids?

Maybe so, if you consider that child support of a woman in an affluent neighborhood in a nice house without debt should be paid before my mortgage company and electric bill. I guess without a house I could go live with my sister again. But the only relief selling my house would bring is about two months of catch up. What about the next 8 years?

I’m not aware that this pattern is something that is very familiar to me. Women giving up on me.

I won’t stand for it. I cannot pay her incidentals (summer camps, new shoes, fancy clothes) before I pay for my own shelter. I’ve never indicated that I would not catch up. But I am also not responsible for her cash flow issues.

She wants to plan a trip to DC with the kids. Great. She wants to buy plane tickets in advance. Great.

I want to keep my house, keep the lights on, and occasionally be able to take a date to dinner.

Here’s what I have to keep repeating. “I am making enough money to catch up over the summer on everything.”

Beyond that, it’s drama and escalation  There’s no reason I have to buy into that, and no reason I should start feeling bad about myself and my deadbeat approach to a difficult situation.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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lyrics from Helpless by Sugar

Another time time after time
You make me feel so helpless I
I never tried to change your mind
I keep it to myself it’s

Sometimes I’ve got to tell you
Is it this time I’ll tell you
We’ve got to go to places
Somewhere I don’t mind it’s special

And now you find as time goes by
You’re left with nothing
Meaning much
The meaning I will have to try
To take your mind to places

I wish that I could help you
But you seem less than helpless
I always tried to tell you
Someday that it’d seem so special

Time after time what’s on your mind
You make me feel so helpless I
You never tried what’s on your mind
You make me feel so helpless I
I feel so helpless I

You’re left alone with something
And I hope for you it’s one thing
That something you and yours can
Hold and hold as something special

And now you find as time goes by
You’re left with nothing meaning much
The meaning I will have to try
What’s on your mind so helpless I
I feel so helpless I

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4 Responses

  1. Kat

    I can’t possibly comment on your situation not knowing either you or your ex so there will be no judgment from me against either of you.

    My story? When I decided to divorce my ex, I had to decide whether to fight him for the house or not. I looked at my income and realized that I could not afford the upkeep (and costs) of a house and be able to feed and clothe my kids, not to mention my half of the costs associated with kids. I walked away from the house that I loved and moved into an apartment that was in a decent area yet still within my budget. Even after more than eight years, I still miss my wonderful back yard but I can proudly say that I have always paid my half when it comes to the kids and manage to give them a decent life in a partnership with their dad.

    Like me, you need to do what is best for you, your kids and a civilized relationship with your ex. It’s a delicate balancing act that I know you’ll master when you’ve had a chance to get things straightened out. I hope that your ex will be patient a little while longer.

    May 16, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    • thewriter

      Thanks for your comment Kat. It’s not that I’m bitter, I just can’t figure out how to make things simple. I will get you the money. I’ve ALWAYS gotten you the money. It’s not really about the money.

      I am still the one making her unhappy.

      I have to laugh about it now, cause it was so painful then. But I can let go. She’s gonna get (the kids are gonna get) her money. The threats and lines in the sand just irritate me. But I’m even getting better at that.

      May 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm

  2. thewriter

    Looks like in some folks eyes, on Reddit, I AM A DEADBEAT Dad. Wow. I’m behind. I’m not defaulting.

    Maybe that’s the ex-y’s perspective too. That I’m actually going to default. But i’m not. I never have. I’ve let her know exactly where my money was and what the plan was. Just like when we were married. It didn’t really calm her down then either.

    Oh well. Sometimes you can’t win, so you just move along.

    May 17, 2013 at 5:04 pm

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