Monday, July 23, 2012

Child Support: Gloves Coming Off?

He asked me not to cash the second child support check - two payments per month, we're in the first month.  He makes more than I do, even after accounting for child support (minus on his side, plus on mine), and I have the higher expenses (the house payment, utilities, etc., and I am to pay for childcare, clothing, school supplies, etc. and he is not expected to, plus I handle veterinary care, medical appointments, etc.) and I have Katherine most of the time.

He told me he expected me to pay the consumer debt.

He told me that he wasn't going to cover Katherine's child psychologist (not covered by insurance), the therapist we've both agreed has been a godsend.

He said he couldn't help pay for her one camp this summer, the one we agreed to, the one we signed up for pre-separation.  Then he gave me $50 anyway....but it's part of the check I'm not supposed to cash.

He told me he didn't think that he should have to pay anything above child support (which he is already late on, in the first month....).  I asked "What if we need to pay another $2000 orthodontist bill?" and  he snapped, "I need to keep a budget!" and when I slowly replied, "As do I.  But when "unexpected" expenses come up, we both need a plan for them..." and he walked away, ending the conversation.

Our daughter is homesick.  He called to ask a favor, and when I told him she was homesick he got all choked up.  I said, "I have to work this week, but perhaps you could have her for a couple extra days?" and he said, "Well, I guess I could take her for a couple of hours on Thursday."  I said, "I have to work all day Thursday, and my parents were going to watch her, but if you take her on Thursday it needs to be for the full day otherwise I have to find someone to cover the rest of the day..." as my parents live 45 minutes away....and he said he'd think about it.

I said, "If you took her on Thurs/Fri, since it's your weekend, if you don't want extra time, I could take her on the weekend," and he said, "Well, maybe."

Keep in mind that he's sitting around doing nothing all day, while his daughter says, "I want Daddy..."

SHIT.

And did I mention that we only had one car, that he said I could have it because he didn't want or need a car, that he's driven it more than I have (on my gas!) since he moved out, and that it needs a major repair right now that he's not willing to pay for?  When he asked today if he could borrow it I said, "You have driven it more than I have, and it needs a repair.  Are you able to help pay for the repair?" then suddenly he was willing to take the bus.

This doesn't look good.

I am breathing in and out, deeply.  Calling our daughter three times a day from work to check on her.  Arranging playdates galore so that she can be with friends during the day and then come home to me.  Making an appoitnment to have the car evaluated to see if the repair is feasible.  Working my rear end off at the office - I caught a 7:45pm bus home tonight.  Coming home to walk the dog, heat up something from Trader Joe's, then write this, go to bed, and do it all over in the morning.  The machine is full of messages from loving friends, I have my health, my job is going well and my boss is happy with me.  I am living so close to the bone that it hurts, but even with all of this I'm making my budget work (except the car - what am I going to do?  there is no wiggle room left!).

He can blow off his responsibilities, he can punish his daughter in an attempt to punish me, he can sit around eating Pringles all day.  I'm going to use my life in meaningful ways, I'm going to model love and joy and compassion to my daughter, I'm going to be there for her in every single possible way within my capabilities.  I will not let his behavior make me lower my integrity to play his game, and I will not let him suck the life out of me.  I will just work double time to give Katherine and I the life we want.

This is an old behavior.  "I want to do the right thing" he says, followed by doing exactly the wrong thing, and then acting like it's all my fault.  Thank heavens for the mediator.  I'm documenting all of this.  I'm hoping it doesn't get ugly.

I. Will. Not. Lose. My. Joy.  I will remain joyful.  I insist.  I am PollyAnna!

Off to a bubble bath, a glass of wine, and bed.  Good night, all.

7 comments:

  1. Dear Pollyanna, I have been following your blog with great interest. As a researcher who focuses on children's experiences of divorce I am most interested in what you and Katherine have been facing. I am finally compelled to comment when I read this post. The child support issues seems lopsided and incomplete. First, the separation agreement you have with your ex should specify the cost-sharing allocation for everything from orthodontics, to camp to college to therapy. Where I am from child support covers everyday expenses but there is an additional provision for extraordinary expenses including child care, sports and the items I noted above. You need to examine if this is true where you live. You have a mediator. Do you also have legal representation? There are so many warning flags that this is not going to end well. The fact that he is already behind and debating every extra cent means that you are going to have carefully negotiate this up front and you still may find yourself having to enforce through legal channels.

    As for your daughter - I am even more concerned. One of the lessons I have learned from my research is that some fathers, while capable of connecting with their daughters as children, struggle to connect when they become teens/young adults. I suspect your ex will become more detached as your daughter gets older and the onus will fall on her to reach out to maintain the relationship and even then it will feel unfair and inadequate to her. You are doing the right things to protect the relationship she has with her father. In time, she will come to understand the hard truth and she will appreciate what you have done. I am so sorry that your ex is not more capable and fails to care for his daughter. I sincerely hope this gets better. D

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  2. Yikes... Having just filed my own paperwork to bring child support up to equitable levels, this appears to be the start of a long & tiresome battle.

    Deepest sympathy,

    Val

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  3. One of the problems with child support agreements is the way expenses that are deemed "unexpected" (uncovered medical, orthodontia, school programs, etc.) - those amounts frequently wind up on the back on the custodial parent (usually the mother).

    Even if you "go after" enforcement of child support collection (not always so simple), you may still have the problem of those "unexpected" expenses which can quickly add up to a major cost (or source of debt).

    I'm so sorry you're going through this.

    Document, document, document - and try to keep your spirits up.

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  4. Custodial Parent Endorses the Services of the Custodial Support Foundation and Bounty Alert for Assisting in Collecting $11,000 of Her Child Support Arrears through Project Child Support.

    See Endorsement:
    http://www.projectchildsupport.org/testimonial_response_ej.pdf

    The noncustodial parent found living in Maryland after leaving New Jersey in an attempt to not pay child support.

    The noncustodial parent was arrested during the court appearance to prevent his assets from being seized and liquidated during the hearing to obtain the custodial parents enforcement order through Project Child Support.

    The custodial parent was also facing an eviction, which she was able to stop by paying her past due rent.

    If you are owed child support and are unable to collect your arrears, call the Custodial Support Foundation at (855) 851-HELP or (855) 851-4357.

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  5. I’m sorry that you had to go through this, PollyAnna. However, I’m moved that you are still viewing this positively. Your daughter is clearly the one who’s most affected in this situation, so your positivity will surely help her cope. I do hope that you and your daughter are doing well today.

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  6. I happened to log int today and saw the new comment. Here I am, many months later, and this post seems like a hundred years ago, things have changed so much.

    I only learned in Sept/Oct (?) that he had been laid off, and was likely waiting for his severance check to come in, and that's why he didn't pay. He still doesn't put in a ton of time with her, but he hasn't been late on a payment since, even though it has put him into debt.

    So - with child support, I've gotten lucky. It hasn't been a year yet, but he is still paying.

    Fredric, I'm doing incredibly well, and so is Katherine. I am filled with hope and promise, and things are working out better than I'd imagined possible...

    I still wish he'd spend more time with his girl, but she has adjusted, too, and shows amazing resiliency. She gets it from me. ;-)

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  7. It's good to hear wonderful things from you, PollyAnna! It's also great that Katherines' dad doesn't forget about the child support. You can still consider him as a responsible father when you talk about financial matters. Although, it will still be better if he spends more time with his daughter. I'm sure Katherine wants to have awesome moments with her dad as well.

    Deloris Hausler @ Joseph, Hollander & Craft

    ReplyDelete