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I have heard many complaints, over the years, from divorced dads regarding unfair child support payments! It is something that my husband and I have struggled with, too.  It is an issue that can be the death of the blended family.  Sometimes divorced parents will continually make this issue about them, and it’s easy to do so because your finances is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But, it’s not about what your ex doesn’t need; it’s about what your child needs. If parents always consider the best interest of their child, then there shouldn’t be a problem. So, divorced dads don’t be stingy with your money by not paying child support or paying less than what your child deserves. You are not hurting your ex; you are hurting your child. And, divorced moms, don’t try to empty your ex’s bank account. Remember, that your child still has to have visitation with his father, and he has to have a house and money to take care of his child during visitation. You are not hurting your ex; you are only hurting your child. With that said, read the following comments from one of my readers and my response to her.

sad step mom Says:
August 25, 2008 at 5:51 pm e

I agree that both parents should support the child. I don’t agree that only the non-custodial parent should be doing so. What do you do when a custodial parent lies about daycare, education expenses, dance classes and so on just to get more money because she is financially irresponsible. The court doesn’t even require proof of such things. But we don’t get to even know the name of the dance studio or the daycare. She even tried to get her ex mother in law to tell the court that she paid her weekly for daycare. Thankfully the Ex MIL said she would not lie in court. We pay a huge amount of money and have no say in the childs life. We are lucky to see the child 6 days a month. She has had numerouse contempt charges based on all of this but we still can’t get joint custody.

 My Response

Thanks so much for your comments! They are always greatly appreciated.

Let me start by addressing what I perceive to be issue number 1: most of the financial burden falling on the non-custodial parent. I whole-heartedly agree that the child DESERVES to be financially, emotionally, and physically supported by both parents. But, that does not necessarily mean that the support will be totally equal. In regards to child support, it is set up so that the child continues the same lifestyle that he would have lived if his parents stayed together. Just because you get a divorce or split from the mother or father of your child doesn’t mean that you are any less responsible for caring for that child. As such, if the non-custodial parent can afford to pay more (without breaking his bank, of course), then he will likely do so. The child support system, in most states, considers both of custodial and non-custodial parent’s income when setting up child support. I know it can sometimes feel unfair, especially when the non-custodial parent isn’t allowed to be as involved as he would like to be (trust me, I know firsthand). But, don’t misplace your anger; sometimes excess emotional baggage can cause us to do this. Meaning, if we are really really mad at the ex-wife/baby’s mama (justified or not), then any and everything she does or we have to do as a result, is wrong. Is your husband really the only one financially supporting the child?? Unless he is paying for her mortgage or rent (shelter for his child), her car payment (transportation to get his child back and forth), food expenses (his child has to eat), health insurance (health care for his child) etc., then he is definitely not the ONLY one supporting the child. I’m certain that it takes a whole lot more than what your husband is paying in child support expenses to raise a child. I don’t doubt that his monthly child support payments help out a great deal, but that’s what he’s supposed to do; whether he sees the child or not. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. You can’t punish (withhold child support) the child because of something that his or her mom is doing.

In regards to issue number two- your husband not being able to see his child. I completely understand where you are coming from. It’s a hard pill to swallow to know that you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but you aren’t allowed to be actively involved in your child’s life. It’s unfortunate, but this part of the system is not set up to produce favorable results for the father, who is often times the non-custodial parent. As I explained in one of my posts, Judges seemingly have tunnel vision when it comes to these family law issues. They assume that all dads are deadbeat dads and the moms are helpless hard workers who only want what’s best for the child. When the truth of the matter is that many dads just get tired (or run out of money) of fighting. It’s extremely taxing on the dad and the child. Not to mention, that there are many moms who could care less about the best interest of their child; they are more interested in just sticking it to the ex. I’ve worked and am still diligently working hard to change this. They have to start viewing these cases on an individual, instead of a generalized basis!

With that said, your husband certainly has a right to be informed and involved in his child’s life. I would suggest getting a good attorney to set up a visitation schedule that is in the best interest of the child.

When newlyweds without children get married they often spend the first few months, if not years, bulding their relationship.  However, couples who enter into a ready-made blended family are often more concerned with their children than we each other during the first several years of marriage. Don’t get caught in this trap! Blended family newlyweds need to spend time together building strong marital bonds just like any other traditonal couple. Schedule regular date nights with your spouse; take vacations without the children; and take every moment to remember why YOU TWO fell in love in the first place. Taking these actions will ultimately benefit your children because you are building a strong stable home environment in the process.

Before I met my husband’s ex-wife I wanted to believe that she would behave as admirably as I did when my ex remarried, but that didn’t happen. So, if you’re reading this, take note.

 

 Even though my ex and I decided that we would always put our son’s needs first, and work hard to facilitate a relationship with both parents, it was much easier said than done prior to both of us remarrying. At that point, I realized that I was not responsible for facilitating the relationship between my son and his biological father, but he had to be responsible for that. Additionally, I had to put forth my effort into my husband and family, and he had to do the same with his. And, hopefully some way, some day, we could create two households that worked together, but separately, if that makes sense. Well, when my ex remarried it became difficult for me to adhere to my preconceived notion – mainly because my ex went about things totally wrong prior to getting married. Our son was only 3 years old and he hadn’t seen his father in 10 months (remember he plays overseas basketball). My ex popped up one summer with a new woman and said that he was getting married. He sprung this on my son in a 24 hour period. Keep in mind that my son is very young and already confused by the fact that this man, who we tell him is dad, but he hasn’t seen in a year, is all up in his face. But now, he has to deal with the fact that mom and dad aren’t together anymore (we usually lived together once he returned), and not only that, I have a new mom now too. I thought that he would’ve been more sensitive to our son’s feelings. I thought he would’ve talked to him first about the changes that were going to take place, but he did none of that. As such, as you can imagine, I was pretty upset by that because I knew how it would affect not only my son, but the little relationship that they had. My son immediately became standoffish and completely turned off by his father. Not to mention that he didn’t know this new woman who he would now refer to as his stepmom. It was way too overwhelming for a 3 year old.

 

With that being said, I had a difficult time initially accepting my ex’s new wife. I wondered about her moral character. Didn’t she ask her new husband about his child? Didn’t she wonder if he had told him about her? Why would she want to enter into a family on these types of terms? From there, I began to question how this type of person would be toward my son since neither of them were being the least bit sensitive to his needs and feelings. However, I did this without even talking to the woman, and I must admit I was wrong. I finally realized that I might as well accept this new family structure because it wasn’t going away. At that point I began to make a concerted effort to see the good qualities in his new wife, and I was pleasantly surprised. His new wife had an amazingly positive impact on both my ex and my son’s life. My ex began sending birthday and Christmas presents when she came into his life. She was surprisingly nurturing and loving with my son. As a matter of fact, my son has a better relationship with her than he does with his biological father. I am so grateful that he chose someone like her. Having said that, I don’t want to lead you to believe that we agree on everything, we don’t. But, our respect for one another is mutual. I respect the fact that some of her decisions are based solely on what’s best for her family and vice versa.

 

At any rate, after 7 years she and I not only communicate much better, but we understand each other better too or at least we make an effort to do so. It’s been a learning process for me because after a careful self-examination I had to realize that I was beginning to do to her what many do to second wives, and that is to use her as a scapegoat for my issues. I quickly had to do a reality check, and remember my tough position as a second wife to my husband. I had to recognize the fact that she would be the one comforting at bed time, fixing my son’s favorite meals, transporting him to certain activities, and attending school functions, and she does all of that and much more. As such, I had to give her the respect as the mother figure in my son’s life that I have been demanding in my life as a second wife and stepmother.

 

Although we haven’t completely worked out all of the kinks on this side of my blended family, it has gotten soooo much better over the years. Once again, I am grateful that my ex picked a woman that has enough patience, grace and intelligence to handle the many obstacles that a blended family faces. I must also pat myself on the back for seeing past all the bad mistakes that my ex made to find some of the good that now exist within our blended family.

1.        Sit down with your husband to discuss a list of house rules and consequences. Make sure you agree that the rules will apply to all children involved, whether they’re biological or step children.

2.        Sit down with the children to make sure they understand these rules as well as the consequences.

3.        Don’t try to get the ex-wife to agree with you. She should not be involved in determining the rules of your household.

4.        Make sure you let your husband know how important it is that you have his support. If you agree on a set of house rules and consequences you BOTH need to present a unified front and follow through. If not, you are going to continually look like the bad guy.

5.        Don’t take a backseat and allow your stepchildren to run your household by referring all matters to your husband. You are an adult and shouldn’t have to wait until your husband gets home to enforce consequences.

6.        Realize that you cannot please everyone in the family so don’t ever try to take on that responsibility!

 

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