If you get a random group of divorced men and women together and then bring up child support more than likely everyone is going to get irritable. There is something about child support payments that brings out anger in frustration in people whether they are the supporter or the supported.
I have spent nearly this entire year in court. I have written checks for over $5,000.00 to my very good, very expensive lawyer because the State of Texas took my ex to court over non-payment and then there were modifications to be done. It was important to me that the kids were well represented but the financial and emotional toll that it took was way beyond what I expected. Here’s the funny thing -- I didn’t even start this thing and the ex is still determined that I am the root of all evil in the universe.
Over the past year I have had the opportunity to talk to others, to watch others in court, and to read about issues on the Internet. In nearly every divorce child support becomes a battle at some point.
Here I Am Working My Tuckus Off
If you’ve read my posts very long you know I was a stay at home, homeschooling mom for three decades prior to my divorce. If anyone was unprepared to be a single mom it was me. The divorce was not in my plans and it took me by surprise. It also scared the bejeebers out of me.
Here I was, six kids under eighteen, with no work experience in thirty years. I had no clue how I was going to keep things going.
Obviously I did. I worked long hours getting clients, promoting myself and my work, and writing and rewriting articles so that they would be exactly what my clients were looking for. I didn’t turn down anything, even if it paid badly, because every penny counted. I ended up putting the kids in a charter school because I was on my way to a mental breakdown from working 16 hour days and trying to keep up with their education, too.
During that first nine months or so after the divorce I wasn’t getting child support. I had to take on more clients, work longer hours, and cut an already tight budget to make it. Meanwhile, the ex went on a cruise with his girlfriend, went on weekend mini-vacations, and lived the life of a single guy. He had moved 2,000 miles away so it wasn’t like he was getting the kids on the weekends and giving me a break, either.
Hey, I’m Not Headed to Vegas with Your Child Support, Buddy
Eventually I did start getting child support because the state put a lien on his wages. Now all of a sudden he has this attitude like I am going to take his money and head for a spa somewhere. Believe me, I’d be lucky to be able to buy a bus ticket to Galveston on what I was being sent.
For some reason he completely forgot that for 30 years I had stretched his income to take care of the family, always putting the kids and him first. Every dime that I got went toward clothes, food, and school supplies -- and there wasn’t much left over.
His attitude, though!
You would think that I was taking his funds and playing on the Mexican Riviera wearing Prada and eating caviar. I don’t even like caviar.
The Grass Is Always Greener
The really hard work of establishing myself is over. I have a great client list and I can name my price an awful lot of the time. I am blessed that I get to work at home, too. I had a fantastic book deal last Spring which allowed us to take a family cruise that included the grandkids -- something I had been dreaming about but never expected to happen.
The down side of being successful is that now various people, including my ex, think I am taking his child support money to be vindictive. After all, can’t I afford to take care of the kids without taking his money?
While I probably can the honest truth is that the child support is not about me. It is about a father contributing to the support of his children. Period. Even if I was making five million dollars a week he still has a responsibility to help take care of the kids.
At one point he told the court that he had only a little money in his account but I was on a cruise with the kids. How fair was that?
What he didn’t say was that he had been on cruises as well. In fact he had been on cruises when he wasn’t paying child support -- how fair was that?
The Tightrope We Walk
When it comes to child support we are definitely walking a tightrope. It’s important to be able to make sure that your ex follows his court orders so that your kids can be provided for in the best way you can afford. At the same time you have to guard against getting so caught up in making him “do the right thing” that you are obsessed with it. You’ll find that you are right back in the same old patterns with him that you have always been -- trying to make sure he does the right thing. You don’t want to go there!
Let the court do it. Find a balance between following up and letting go. It’s hard to find but you can do it and once you do you will find a place of peace.
You Aren’t the Only One
Do you feel like you are the only one that deals with this silliness? You aren’t. It’s very common for men to feel like they are handing their money over to their ex wives and boy, do they resent it! It’s even worse if they are in new relationships. Join First Wives World and get advice, affirmation, and encouragement from women who have been there.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: Dustin O’ Donnell Design