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

Posts tagged “deadbeat dad

Wait. I’m the Father of Your Children, Remember?

OFF-header-beewitch

OFF-header-beewitch

When my business hit the skids about three years ago I had to fight to keep my house. My ex-wife grew impatient with my excuses. “I’ve got bills to pay, too,” she said. “Kids come before our needs,” she said. I pleaded with her to be patient. “My setback is temporary, I will get caught up as soon as we replace the anchor client.” I lost the fight and I lost my house. She didn’t care. She wanted her money. The kids money. She was mad and mad about it.

It seems to me, women go into divorce knowing they have the advantage. That’s why my then-wife went and “checked on her options” with an attorney, before she ever told me.

Then when I tried to schedule a team meeting about the kids, she would defer with this type of statement. “When can I expect the money?” And she would refuse to give me the time of day unless I could answer that question. The problem was, I couldn’t answer. So rather than lie and fail, I said, “I’m not sure.”

What is it that made her so mad? How did the money become MY problem and not a shared problem? Didn’t she get the house? Didn’t she get custody? Didn’t she get the money she wanted? Didn’t I have to pay for the kid’s insurance as well? What did she have to be impatient about? Impatient enough to throw the AG’s office at me?

It seems to me, women go into divorce knowing they have the advantage. That’s why my then-wife went and “checked on her options” with an attorney, before she ever told me. Even though we were in couple’s therapy, she kept that critical little detail from me. Why? So when she did get her ducks in a row, she could spring it on me, creating a tactical advantage.

The summer I left my house I was disoriented, homeless, and missing my kids with an empty feeling. And missing my kids about 70% of the time. She literally got everything. She got the package deal. Why is it we think this is still “in the best interest of the kids?” It’s not. It’s in the best interest of their mom, but against the good will and good fortune of the father.

Dad’s asked to leave the house, leave a hefty part of his paycheck, and most of his parenting schedule. There’s no science behind this equation. It’s just “old school” divorce.

Today she still has the sweet end of the deal. She’s still got the house, that has tripled in value. She still gets a hefty paycheck from me, tax-free. She gets the child tax credit.

Today, you can fight this bad deal. And even if you vow to do a collaborative divorce, you need to know that around the money issues, things will get tough. It’s as if she was threatened by the money. Like she was fighting for her survival. I can understand this while the initial negotiations were going on, but three years into the deal, her deal, she should’ve been able to lighten up and realize she got the sweet end of the deal.

Today she still has the sweet end of the deal. She’s still got the house, that has tripled in value. She still gets a hefty paycheck from me, tax-free. She gets the child tax credit. And she’s still asking me for more money for stuff. Nope. Done. She’s had her fun. There are at least 5 more years until my second child is 18. And that’s a lot of money.

I feel like the expenses should be shared not just thrust on the dad. And when he loses his house, the financial burden becomes even more difficult. How could my wife then file our divorce with the AG’s office? It was as if she were turning me in for collections.

  1. I never said I was trying not to pay her.
  2. I begged her to pause and consider her actions and the damage it would cause me AND the kids
  3. I showed her my income statements.
  4. I told her I was trying to save my house from foreclosure.

She still filed against me with the AG’s office, effectively listing me as a dead beat dad. I had never been doing anything but trying to accommodate her demands. Today she would tell you that I was saying I wasn’t going to pay her. Today she would tell you that she was protecting the interests of the kids. Really? What about the interest of the breadwinner of the family?

When you divorce you both want whats best for the kids. But don’t be blinded by that rhetoric. Your ex-wife wants whats best for her.

So my ex-wife filed her grievance with the AG’s office. So she could ENFORCE her judgement against me. Wait, what? It should’ve been our collaborative agreement that outlined the best case scenario for our finances moving forward. Then with honest communications, it should’ve been adjusted as our situations changed. It was not. I still owe my ex-wife $1,200 a month for two kids. AND I’m paying another $1,200 a month for COBRA health insurance. AND she get’s the child tax credit? Something is not right with this situation.

But it takes money to consult with an attorney. It takes money to save money. And somewhere in my sad dad bones I’m being mean. But that’s not really fair, is it?

When you divorce you both want whats best for the kids. But don’t be blinded by that rhetoric. Your ex-wife wants whats best for her. And no matter how collaborative you are, no matter how much of a good dad and good guy you want to be, there may come a time when she’s going to press charges on you and coerce you in to giving her the money. Even when you tell her she’s going to get her money.

I still tell my ex-wife I will catch up with the money. Even when we should’ve been splitting the costs all along. She’s considering letting me buy the kids their cars and forgiving the judgement that she has against me. That debt sits on my credit as a lien to the State of Texas, Child Support Division. You know what this says about me?

I am a deadbeat dad, even if I’ve paid every single month I’ve had an income. Every single month. She doesn’t get it. And she’s paid nothing to me.

Respectfully,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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Divorce Support: For the Children *and* the Parents

OFF-fighter

We need to dispense with the pleasantries right up front. (You are welcome to let me know how you feel about this in the comments. They’re always open.)

  • Divorce is an awful hardship for everyone in the fracturing family.
  • With two professional parents, the man is likely to make more money.
  • Two homes costs more than twice as much, for the person paying child support.
  • Child support is not an entitlement, even if the law and the benefactor might see it this way.
  • The financial bindings of the family exist long past 18-years-of-age.
  • Both parent deserve food, clothing, and shelter.
  • When adversity strikes, both parents are affected.
  • 50/50 parenting after divorce is not the norm.
  • If your former partner struggles for a few years after divorce, with emotional issues, financial issues, etc. this is an opportunity for continued compassion, not legal action.
  • Some fathers will be assholes and try to get out of paying child support or (in the case of 50/50 custody) their fair share of the expenses.
  • 50/50 custody and a 50/50 financial split actually keeps the father closer to the family.
  • If you married and parented 50/50, regardless of how you feel about the divorce, regardless of which side you were on (stay married or leave), you should work together towards a 50/50 divorce.

You can’t ask for primary custody and then start complaining about having too many parenting responsibilities. Well, you can, but the argument says more for 50/50 custody than it does for your obvious hardship. Of course, you complained during our marriage that I didn’t do enough. Didn’t pay the bills right, didn’t mow the lawn enough, didn’t put the dishes in the dishwasher every night before heading to bed.

So we’re divorced. And in the eyes of the law you are the custodial parent. It’s what you wanted. I’m sure you had your reasons, I’m sure you could’ve told the judge, with a straight face, how you do all the parenting. But you know it’s not true. Not even close.

She didn’t care about me or my house. She wanted the money. She was entitled to it. Obviously. It was right there in writing.

Let’s say you get married and both of you work. In the negotiations for how kids will be possible you both decide that the mom will work significantly less, so that the kids have their mom with them at all times. As they enter school, perhaps you will start back to work, so we can share that load again. And we may decide that you will still meet the bus at 3:00 every weekday, but it’s a privilege not a chore. It’s a benefit not a burden.

So when the grand consul de divorce asks, “So how do you share the parenting duties now?” You can answer, I’m the primary care giver. And I know you honestly believed it. Well, okay, maybe a tad of it was vindictive and defensive. I mean, you had to say that to even begin the discussions at anything other than 50/50 custody. How old school.

Falling back on the line, “It’s what she will get if you go to court,” I was handed the options. Non-custodial parent, SPO (standard possession order), and a hefty child support payment.

But wait… Didn’t we agree to the parenting arrangements? And now it’s being used against me? Didn’t we agree to a cooperative divorce? How is this cooperative, when you come out of the gate asking for well-over half?

If I had really gone the cooperative route, I would’ve hired an attorney right at the beginning as well. She did. Instead I put my faith in the counselor, and in the good will of the mother of my children. I was wrong, or misguided, on both counts.

Here’s the situation. When the court awards custodial and noncustodial roles, a nice child support formula kicks in. That’s how the state likes it. Somebody is going to pay. And in your decree, if you are as lucky as I am, you will have a document that even allows the court to garnish your wages first, before your take-home pay. The message is this. You cannot be trusted to pay in a timely manner. And even if you are having financial difficulties, the child support payments come first.

At least my kids have rooms to sleep in when it’s my time. But did she think of the consequences of taking legal action against me?

I don’t argue that my kids deserve the full benefit of both of our salaries. But when I lost one of my primary clients, and was about to slip into a late-payment status, my ex-wife pushed everything into the Attorney General’s office. Putting my livelihood at risk and preventing me from taking any measures to save my house. She didn’t care about me or my house. She wanted the money. She was entitled to it. Obviously. It was right there in writing. I signed the decree. What was I arguing about.

I wasn’t arguing. I was pleading. “Please don’t do this. I am not trying to hide any money. I am looking to replace the client. I am looking for a job, to leave the consulting practice I had built over the  last four years. Just hold off. There is no need to bring the state’s lawyers into this.”

Here filing our case with the AG’s office was akin to her shouting “Fuck You.” Of course, that’s my opinion. And, of course, she is entitled to her money. That’s the law.

But what is the law of human dignity? What does compassion for your co-parent mean? What does co-parenting even mean, when one of the parents has a loaded gun pointed at your head? At this very moment, my attorney tells me, the AG’s office could have my ass thrown in jail for failure to pay child support. A criminal? How cooperative is that?

As we moved closer to AG day, I was asking my ex-wife to understand my situation. “Don’t you think a father also deserves a place to live, and the electricity and cell phone service to continue gainful employment?” She answered, “I don’t know what you want me to answer to that.”

Um… What I wanted her to do was not file suit against me with the State of Texas and turn me into a deadbeat dad. What I wanted was to keep the house I had fought so hard to buy and afford, just barely scraping by, even in the good times. What I wanted was a tiny bit of compassion. “Just pause for a second and think about what you’re doing. Do you think it’s going to help the situation by filing suit against me? Do you think that will make me work harder, or look for a job harder?”

No answer.

I’m not sure what her motivation was at sending me pictures of HER with the kids. Maybe it’s motivation to get a job and get back into the swing of paying for her vacations with the kids.

And she filed. And now I’m a deadbeat dad. I’m lucky. My mom (yep, 51 and living with mom) had some spare rooms in her house. At least my kids have rooms to sleep in when it’s my time. But did she think of the consequences of taking legal action against me? Did she imagine how that might damage my credit? Might take my house out from under me? That it might even show up in my background checks as I’m looking so desperately for those full-time jobs that would afford me both a place to live and her child support checks?

I don’t know what she was thinking. I don’t really know what she thinks today. She’s still hoppin mad about something. The money. My 50/50 effort in getting the kids to doctor’s appointments, after school activities, etc. She’s just mad. But she’s been mad at me for years. At least one full year before she divorced me. So she’s gonna be mad. That’s a fact of life. I hope she gets better. But I can’t count on that.

I’ve had fantastic interviews all summer long. Five of them turned into final-round negotiations. And I still haven’t gotten the offer. Hmm. I’m not sure what’s in that background check. I’m hoping that her AG action did not put a “do not hire” mark in my file. But I guess I won’t know.

Anyway, it’s a long road back to having a BIG CORP job and a happy home. Even getting back into a house, now is going to be a long way off. She took… Wait, it was my fault. I should’ve done better. It’s a long way back. And I’m not sure she would’ve fired off the final “Press Charges” missile had she known her actions would damage my ability to pay her the money she was demanding.

It’s all okay. We’re going to make it. All of us. Her too. She sent pictures tonight of her and the kids at the beach. (That was our family vacation.) I’m not sure what her motivation was at sending me pictures of HER with the kids. Maybe it’s motivation to get a job and get back into the swing of paying for her vacations with the kids. (Sorry, that was bitter and sarcastic.) I’m sure she was just sending me happy pictures along with her happy thoughts of me getting that next big job. I think that’s what she wanted all along. Maybe that was even the unconscious reason she divorced me. (see: please stay gone < poem)

Onward and upward. I’ve been asked to a full-day interview next week with a company I’m very excited about. This is my fourth full-day interview this summer. How do I get a look at that “background” file? (grin)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

this post recast in a poem: please stay gone

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Maybe My Unhappy Ex-Wife Is Simply Unhappy

an un-happy personLast night I attended back-to-school night for my son. And of course the ex-y was there. And I had a big realization, as I was looking over at her, she just looked unhappy. At rest, she looked unhappy. Glued to her text messaging phone, she looked unhappy. Any time she wasn’t being engaged by another parent, she looked unhappy. And a lyric from a recent favorite song came to mind

You’ve got that special kind of sadness
You’ve got that tragic set of charms

And it occurred to me, perhaps that’s part of what I was drawn to, back in the day. Not a rescue, per say, but someone who might need me. UG! Let’s update that bad idea and move forward.

This morning she sent a check-in email. And completed it with this sentence. “Any news on your house?” I had been threatened with foreclosure by Wells Fargo and the date for the sale was yesterday.

I replied that I had been given an additional 30-days to complete the paperwork, crisis temporarily averted. And things are looking up.

Her next response was more to the point. “I know it’s terrible timing for you, but I had to go ahead and file with the AG.” Oh, yay. So, the logic goes, he didn’t have to declare bankruptcy, let’s start drilling for child support. There is no question that I owe her the money, I’ve never asked for a reduction or said I wasn’t going to pay. Still…

Okay, so the one good outcome I can see from this. I will not accept or respond to another money email again. We put the AG’s office between us. But I tell ya, unless she’s going to start having me arrested, there is no extra money here. I’m not hiding anything. I’m working, and looking for work. And I really don’t mean to be whining, but perhaps I am. Busting ass to get back on the high-level of earning that I’m used to, and I’ll get there. Today, that is not her concern.

Well, let’s see how this progresses from here.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Some stronger lyrics to express my goodbye to the drama.

So break me down, if it makes you feel right
And hate me now if it keeps you all right, so,
You can’t break me down if takes all your might
Cause I’m so much more, than all your lies!


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