How I Went from Good Guy Dad to Dead Beat Dad
Okay the process was a long time coming. BUT… the recent responses to my #childsupport post (Dead Beat Dad) got me thinking.
FIRST: the primary online response (100% women) was “pay her what you owe her.” In fact, one woman went on to tell me she imagined my observations about my divorce were not how she saw things. (Um, duh! And thanks…) What I heard was a lot of anger about dads not paying their child support. And an immediate vilification of the man, even me, who appears to be making excuses.
I’m guessing that’s what my ex-wife thinks as well. That I’m making excuses. But that’s not the reality of the situation. Not by far.
SECOND: When pushed to the state as guardian model of management, I felt an immediate relief. Never again would my ex-wife be allowed to pelt me with the “when can I expect the money” emails and texts. Once the Attorney General’s office is involved, I can simply refer her to her caseworker. Sounds kind of hard ass, but that’s how it feels to me too. Getting my good will tossed back to the lawyers, or in this case, the legal machine of the great state of Texas.
THIRD: The kicker in the process is this. I have been OVERPAYING. I was aware I was OVERPAYING. I was willing to keep OVERPAYING in “anticipation” of returning to my previous corporate high of earning. So now, rather than OVERPAY any more, I’m going to reset the numbers and will start paying the actual awarded percentage of my income to my ex-wife. (approximately 20% before taxes) And going back the near three years that we’ve been divorced, that looks like something between $12k – $18k.
So my monthly bill payments are going to go down significantly with this reset as well. Hell, I’m starting to feel kind of chipper about the whole thing.
In my mind I was trying to be the good dad. I was anticipating the income that hadn’t turned up yet. I WAS/AM working my ass off to get there again. And in a moment of impatience and impulsive anger, she set me off to reevaluate the entire situation.
I warned her that I would do this. And I did my dog-like grovel, “Are you sure this is what you want?” JUST LIKE IN THE CLOSE OF OUR MARRIAGE.
Today I sent her the response, updating her with my PLAN. Just an FYI, “here’s my unofficial estimate.”
I walk into this Memorial Day weekend, a long-weekend WITH my kids, with a sense of relief. I’m not sure what she’s feeling about now, but that’s not my problem. And I could be wrong. Maybe the accountant will add things up differently. Maybe I made a lot more money than I thought I did. I don’t think so, but maybe…
Set the machine in motion and I’m gonna get a refund in the form of no-payments until we’re caught up. And then, I’m guessing my actual payments, based on reality rather than good-guy math, will sober her ass up pretty quickly. Again, not my issue. But you can almost see the grin on my face, right?
Now, I’m guessing, this post will cause another round of women being mad with me at being an asshole. What I thought I was doing in being the good guy dad was to provide for my kids and ex-wife in the way they had been accustomed to living. Unfortunately that didn’t account for the economic recovery. And of course, SHE didn’t have too much concern for MY LIVING CONDITIONS. So being 45 days behind is going to turn into the equivalent of winning a small lottery prize.
Again, I’m sorry for the anger this kind of negotiation and settlement causes people. And I’m sorry there are real dead beat dads that have no intention of every paying what they are supposed to pay their children and ex-wife. But that’s not me. I’m ready to get things back to the REAL picture. She really liked working the spreadsheets. I guess this is information she’s going to have to re-calculate. And now I can do the same.
And now I can pick my head back up off the ground for feeling so beat up and trying to manage an unmanageable expense. Heck, maybe never having to be harassed about money by my ex-wife will be a good thing too. It’s not personal, right? It’s just business.
Note of self observation: I’m feeling really sad now, at having written this post. It cuts back to the left-over hurt of the relationship, and my own wish that we could’ve afforded to have my kid’s mom be a stay-at-home mom. But we couldn’t manage that dream if we wanted to live in our neighborhood and send our kids to the good schools. So here we are. And now, giving her less money, feels good to me, it also re-scuffs the hurt of losing our dream together. But that, of course, cannot be recovered.
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff pages
- Um, Me a Deadbeat Dad?
- Love, War, Divorce: Why I’m Not Fighting My Ex-Wife About Custody
- Divorce is Not About What’s Fair, Let’s Get That Straight
- Divorce Recovery: Loving Yourself Better, So You Can Eventually Love Again
- On the Turning Away: Fighting with Your Ex About Money
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)