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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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4 Responses

  1. Kat

    It’s true that a man who refuses to financially support his kids is a douchebag deadbeat. It’s equally true that a woman who tries to force a man to keep up with payments that she fully knows are too much for his income is no better. She did you a big favour when she brought the courts into it. At least now you’ll have payments that better suit your income and you can breathe easy again. Maybe you should send her flowers with a big thank you card for doing the right thing for both of you 😉

    May 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    • thewriter

      Wow. Thanks Kat.

      She wasn’t trying to be unfair, but she knew that I was not making near a much money as the decree estimated. I think she was hammering me as a way to focus on ME as the problem. I was PART of the problem.

      Now, I think she’s getting a bit less than she was hoping to get from her relentless quest. And I think it’s going to be hard for her. And in that way, hard for my kids, and this makes me sad.

      But she didn’t care about what it was doing to me. In the same way it was addressed in my marriage, she just went for what she wanted.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:01 pm

  2. Kat

    Knowing that your financial situation had changed, she should have been willing to renegotiate (she might have ended up with more than she will now). Don’t feel bad about things being a bit harder for her. What do you think she was doing to you? Did she express guilt over it? Your financial trouble affects the kids too.

    More often than not, being a woman, I will see the woman’s side of these things but this one is an exception. The reason for this is that it isn’t about “man” or “woman” here; it’s about one side knowingly causing financial hardship for the other.

    Now that the State is involved the situation will come more in line with your true finances. That being said, if your income does improve and you do your duty by reporting this change and amending the payments, then you’ll have nothing to feel bad about.

    May 25, 2013 at 8:11 am

    • thewriter

      Thank you again for the insight. She did not express any concern for me. She simply didn’t care any more. I sent multiple “here’s where I am, here’s what I can do” letters. The last one I wrote WITH MY FRAKIN therapist for goodness sake.

      I really like your concept of re-upping the support when my projects come back online. I’m not mad with her. I’m frustrated that she felt it was beneficial to anyone to keep hitting at me for the money. She has access to a lot of money. It’s not cash. And that’s a bitch. But I don’t have any backup resources I could tap into. I ALREADY SPENT ALL OF THAT supporting the payments when I didn’t have any work. What’s 20% of nothing?

      I know I’m not a dead beat dad. I’m very happy with how our kids have coped and how SHE and I have kept the money crap out of our parenting. BUT she was pushing and pushing and pushing, while making decisions to not access any of her resources to get her through the delay. Again, DELAY was the issue. I was telling her “I will catchup 100% by the end of the summer.” But she felt the need to press for more and escalate to the AG’s office.

      Ah, the kids are with me this holiday weekend, so how can I be mad? I’m not.

      Thanks again for your comment(s).

      May 25, 2013 at 8:19 am

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