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

Posts tagged “collecting child support

Me, Deadbeat Dad? Um… (Problems with Custody and Child Support)


I 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.


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

Love and War; It’s all Here – Seeking Love and Peace

Love and War, Love and PeaceA contrast and comparison of the two most powerful letters I’ve written this year.

1. Love letter to the silent “woman with potential.” (partial) Responding to an email she sent me about why she hasn’t been able to see me over the last two weeks.


Sweet [woman’s name], (i like the sound of that)

I completely understand.
If the moment is casual and easy and without expectations, maybe it would be easier to just include me in an activity you’re already going to do. No prep or primp, just “hey J I’m going for a walk at 2, wanna go?” (Imagining some of the resistance is merely the additional effort required to include someone else, someone who’s “checkin you out.” But that’s an easy one to interrupt, right? Just time together, that’s my goal. Intentionality is useful in many situations, but here, I’m easy and free of expectations.
And me:
1. I can be more invitive (invite-y), but I feel this adds pressure rather than enticement. And thus patience and peace of mind is my repose.
2. Thrilled with the idea of [woman’s name].
3. Happy.
4. Intentional when it makes sense.
At the moment it appears it doesn’t fit. That’s okay. I can imagine you are frazzled and adding ONE MORE FKIN THING, even if that thing is magically delicious, is too much.
Here I AM. As long as it’s okay for me to ping you every now and then to check-in, I can mind my own mind. And when there is an opening on your end for more… Well…
Final thought: I loved, love, will love, getting your messages in the future and I will respond in kind.


2. Declaration of Independence from the Ex-y’s continuing drama about money.



What I can tell you.
1. You are going to get every penny you are owed. Any language from you about “collecting” or “enforcement” now makes me laugh rather than get mad. It’s absurd. Maybe it’s your dad speaking, but there is no DEFAULT on my child support.
2. If there is a perception, from the kids that money is flowing, it’s a misperception, maybe due to my joy in life at the moment.
3. After my mortgage and base necessities, you and the kids are my first priority.
4. Work is good. And it does look like I will get several new pieces of business that should speed up my catchup.
5. A month that I am able to afford a house keeper is a good month. But that $100 has no bearing on your payments.
6. I am not spending ANY money on myself, after food, shelter and internet.
What I cannot tell you.
1. Timing or schedule of my payments through the summer. I simply don’t have the information myself.
2. Exact amounts you can expect through the summer.
If you have doubts about me ever getting caught up those are based on fear and not reality. I will do my best to inform you of when money is coming in, and what portion of every income event you can count on. But until the check is in my hand from my other clients, I will not guess at dates and schedules.
There will come a day when the money and schedule are easy and predictable. I am working towards that with 100% of my efforts.
That’s the best I can do.


Maybe I could do more, better, try harder, but I don’t think so.

The real story is that my life is good. In spite of being in arrears with Wells Fargo and the ex-y. I am working plenty. I am landing new business. I am keeping my head out of the gutter of depression around the pressure of money and lack of money.

Here’s the rub.

When we were married I worked as a freelance consultant for years. I was successful and then 9-11 took the prosperity right out of my self-employment. What ultimately forced me to seek FTE (full-time employee) status was 1. the need for my family to have robust healthcare coverage; 2. the ex-y’s unwillingness to get a full-time full-pay job herself. Of course in the early part of our kids lives, that was by design, but towards the end of our marriage, it almost felt like defiance. Case in point, the last full year of our marriage she actually had a negative income after taxes and expenses were taken out. How’s that for escalating the stress levels. Of course, the party line, was it was me with the “employment” problem.

Now, however, in divorce, the ex-y must have full-time employment. And with that comes the opportunity to put the kid’s healthcare on her policy. Still bill it to me, but the access to healthcare, that “these days” still requires a FTE status to acquire. As a result, the opportunity to become a self-employed consultant is possible for me again. She really doesn’t have any say about that.

I would’ve liked to have provided enough financially for her not to work at all while the kids were in elementary school. We did the best we could and she averaged 15 – 30 hours a week for a good portion of that time. But as the kids got older, the expectation was that she would start contributing to the overall household growth again.

And the most amazing thing. When she decided she wanted to divorce me, she created a job with a firm that was owned by some personal friends. When she was required to work, she was very good at it. And when her desire required her to go to FTE status, it was a quick and decisive event.

Today, when I’m working my flexible schedule, I wonder how it would be easier if we (my child support) were not paying on two houses. How we might have both enjoyed a more flexible lifestyle had we stayed together.

That was not the choice we made. And today she is the FTE. And while I am paying the healthcare costs, and the equivalent of two mortgages, (and I will get caught up) she is still in some sort of crisis about money. Seems like this was a pattern in our marriage too. She was in crisis about something most of the time.

I am not.

And yet the contrast could not be more obvious.

She: has 30K or more in her retirement accounts, little or no credit card debt, and equity in the marital home in the neighborhood of 50k – 70k.

Me: spent all of my retirement savings to live and gain access to home ownership again, have no credit cards and bad credit, am behind of my mortgage.

Yet still. I am very happy and optimistic that I am pulling out of this. And I am trying to reassure her, just as I did when we were married, that there will be enough. “We’re gonna be fine.”

And she is stressed to the max, thrashing against me for money, and convinced I am the answer and cause of her distress.

I can maintain my neutrality. I can try and respond with kindness rather than anger. I will continue to focus on the happiness and wellbeing of my kids. The happiness and well-being of my ex-y was not something I could manage then, and I certainly cannot manage it now. The good news is, now I don’t have to.

UPDATE: How do you think my message went over? To deaf ears. More saber rattling, more demands for a plan or a schedule. Okay, so I’m putting the ex-y in the bill pile with Wells Fargo. And I’m taking the emotion out of my response.

“Talk to the hand. You’ll get it as soon as I get it. I’ll let you know in real time as I know more.”


The Off Parent

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