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.
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, 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.
- I never said I was trying not to pay her.
- I begged her to pause and consider her actions and the damage it would cause me AND the kids
- I showed her my income statements.
- 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?
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.
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff posts
- Bang! The Lies My Wife Projected On to Me
- You Are Ahead by a Century
- The Painful Business of Divorce
- Your Contempt for Me is Hurting All of Us
- The Humans Of Divorce, Dear AG’s Office Special Cases Officer Mr. McK!
- And Just As We Reach A Calm Moment
- What I Still Fail to Understand About My Ex-wife
- When Kids, Money, and Divorce Collide
- Trusting Your Unreliable Ex
image: interview bee, creative commons usage
Sometimes it takes a 3rd party to show you how good you’ve got it. This weekend a sitter asked my kids to write a simple page about why they like me. Above is my son’s observation. (I’ll share my daughter’s in a later post about fathers and daughters.) A few of the things I am grateful for in my divorce (see it’s not all rant and rave):
- We don’t fight (we didn’t, but we still don’t)
- We always put the kids first (if I can be flexible and help her, it’s best for the kids. If I get more kid time as a result, so much the better.)
- She’s a great mom and I try and recognize that as much as possible. (She’s not just the mother of my children, she’s someone who I still care about deeply. And she has a huge responsibility with the SOP in getting them to school, fed, loved, and cared for. And she rocks it. Regardless of how my anger often blows out on this blog, I don’t…Try not to…let any of it fly her way.)
- I have a lot of time to grow myself into a better dad, a better lover (eventually), and a more responsive and expressive human.
- My kids and I can get silly for hours at a time. (some of the policing she provided, might not have been necessary. Now we don’t have it. I’m the police, jester, and mediator, all in one.)
- When I have my kids I am ON 100%. (Dating and all the crap that goes with finding a new relationship, takes a back seat to my kids. Always. I’m glad we have a 6-month before introducing a GF or BF rule, but I haven’t even gotten close. I’m not looking for “almost’ or “good enough” this next time around. I’m looking for extraordinary.)
- She takes the best care of them she can. (I was always amazed at the kid-centered activities she could come up with. She’s better with the school activities. She’s much better with painting and crafts with friends… She’s got a ton of great gifts that she is giving to them as well.)
+++ No buts.
We’re done, but we’re never DONE. Like it or not, she’s in my life for the duration too. Her eventual BF-to-husband, is merely a matter of time. Dr. Marriage Divorce Counsellor said, “The deciding parent is often a lot more able and willing to move on. They’ve been moving on long before the actual divorce happens.”
How that still makes me sad I don’t know. But she moved on. And the more I support her “what’s next” the better it is going to be for my kids. (It might still hurt, but that’s part of growing into this new world order, and getting on with what is good for me too.)
This blog aside, I keep my shit to myself for the most part. Maybe too much when we were married, to the detriment of my own happiness. But I don’t have to do that now. My anger is my own. My kids are a shared resource and responsibility. My ex-y is a wonderful human being who is doing her best in the world. It is my hope that The Off Parent is more about me and my struggles, joy, and recovery than it is a bitch-fest about her. Sure I can go there. But in the real world, I leave as much of it HERE as possible.
The Off Parent
- Evolving Single Dad: Failure to Hopefulness Again
- What I Need To Tell You: Take Heart. It Gets Better
- Deadbeat Dad Doesn’t Strike Back
- Negativity and Isolation: Branching Out To Avoid Breaking Up
- 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)