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Stepmom sick of watching

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I have watched my DH and his ex fight over their daughter for 3 years, since ex left DH and took DD out of state. DH has done the best he could to pay child support (currently behind due to unemployment), but at this point despairs of when he'll see his daughter again. He's reluctant to send letters or packages, as he has no way of knowing if they're ever received by DD. She's 4 1/2 now, and ex took her and left when she was 1 1/2. I sympathize with ex's having to deal with single motherhood (I was friends with both before she split), but she won't raise a pinkie finger to help with relationship between DH and DD. DD was brought down to visit with grandparents in the same city where DH lives, and DH wasn't told about it until 20 min. before picnic where visitation was going on. He was told about it by his mother, who knew he had no transportation and pretty much told him to rub it in that he wasn't invited. The last time he saw his daughter was Xmas last year, when he crashed DD visiting at DH's father's house, and he's only seen her 2 or 3 times since ex left.
I am on more cordial terms with ex than DH is, but he asked me to stop talking to her because she was using me as a go between and he feels that his relationship with his daughter is an issue that's his alone to deal with. Only neither he nor ex is dealing with it very well, DH out of frustration and ex out of spitefulness. We are in a severely limited financial position, as is ex, so things like taking a trip up to see DD or flying her for a visit (in the unlikely event ex would cooperate) are unfeasable without ex's cooperation.
Should I establish communication with ex, for DD's sake, to help improve the chances for DH and DD to rebuild their relationship?
Any ideas how I can get ex to be more cooperative? She'll talk to me if I initiate it, she won't talk to DH except to email when she wants something or to complain.
I went overseas for two years alone instead of taking DH so that he wouldn't be taken away from his daughter (fat lot of good it did). I've done everything I can think of without getting directly involved in the situation, but being married to DH MAKES me involved, and I'm sick of just watching.
So what can I do?
post #2 of 6
Sounds like a pretty complex situation. I don't understand how she was just able to pick up and move to another state. If they have a case with family court, she should not be able to do that.
I don't think there is so much you personally could do. This is your DH's issue. If he really wants to maintain a relationship with his daughter like you say he does, then why doesn't he go to family court and sue her for visitation. They will provide him with a lawyer and it costs nothing to petition for visitation.
post #3 of 6
I know in TX that your DH can sue for visitation, but if he is already behind in child support the courts will garnish anything he ever makes not only for current but back child support. He will also have to pay for the traveling costs for the child.

Seems like the DH's ex is really frustrated with the whole not getting child support thing. Also, it is up to your DH. This is his daughter. If he wants to keep a relationship with her he is going to have to get over his frustration and make it happen. If that means putting up with the ex, and communicating with her then that is what he has to do. In the end, he is the one who is going to miss out on his daughter. If she is being difficult and flat out refuses to communicate, he needs to document all of the times he tried to communicate and offered for dd to come and visit etc, and go to court. She is over 3, so in TX visitation is one weekend a month.

Just being the devils advocate... if you guys are all doing bad the ex probably still sees that it is 2 of y'all and only 1 of her and she has no choice but to make it without the child support. The child still has to eat. KWIM... (Can you see I was a single mom for a long time? ) So, my perspective is a little different.

Don't know what more you can do about the whole thing, without having some backlash. It is great of you to be concerned with the little girl.

Good Luck you are in a complicated situation...
post #4 of 6
I agree with Jennifer that there isn't much you can do. It is up to your dh. He should send letters, cards, and packages. He should call. If he is worried she doesn't get the mail or if she doesn't let him talk to dd, he needs to keep a journal listing the item mailed and the date, the date called and the outcome, etc. He will then have something to show his daughter that he did try. As it stands now, his dd will likely grow up believing he didn't care or try.

He needs to sue for visitation and phone call rights. I know this means that he will have to pay child support, but he should anyway. I don't know your dh's situation, but I do know that I would flip burgers before I would not support my child. KWIM? Keep in mind this is coming from a woman who had to work 2 full time jobs with a very young baby to make ends meet, because my jack*ss ex was unemployed and I got no support.

I would encourage your dh to try, try, try and when he gets tired, to try some more. If he has made an effort, his dd will keep him in her life. If he makes an effort to pay some child support, that would go a long way towards making things better with his ex. But in the end, it is really up to your dh and he has to decide if his dd is someone he wants to sacrifice for.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback. My DH isn't in Texas, he's in Arizona, the ex left one night while he was at work, and headed straight north to go live with her sister. At first her parents wouldn't tell him where she was, he had to threaten to charge her with kidnapping just to get an address.
I agree that there aren't any excuses for not paying child support. DH actually prefers when they've set up to garnish his wages, so that it's the first thing paid. They've done this from the beginning because ex complained and it now has to go through the state of Idaho (where ex and dd live), who take out fees and delay things outrageously. All that did was hurt ex. Several times when this happened, he sent her extra money directly. We both hate that we've fallen behind in the child support.
I will pass on the suggestion that DH keep a journal of when he sends stuff. Right now, suing for visitation is out of the question because we have no way to pay a lawyer, and DH can't see spending money on a lawyer that could better be spent catching up his child support.
I want to stress that my DH is not naturally a deadbeat. Quite the opposite, he's a workaholic. He works in the restaurant industry, and the jobs just haven't been there since 9-11 screwed up the tourist trade. The no-visitation has been going on for years and he's only been behind on child support for a few of months. He understands that ex is frustrated about the child support, but by threatening dd's relationship with him and with dd's paternal grandparents (like they have anything to do with it?) she's only hurting dd.
DH's reluctance to use a lot of pressure about visitation and such has as much to do with not wanting to disrupt dd's life as anything else. For example, he saw no reason in insisting on her visiting last summer, because I was overseas and he was working long hours. dd was better off in her familiar routine with a daycare provider she was familiar with than to be uprooted and put in a daycare all day anyway. And now he's living in a 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate, and no place to put her if he DID get visitation!
It's all very frustrating, as I said, and I just wish there was something I could DO.
post #6 of 6
It sounds like you are doing all you can. Tell him to go visit her in her state if he is worried about disrupting. And please make him send stuff and keep anything that is returned. Maybe send them certified mail so he has proof. When she is old enough and he does get her, she may say, "You never called, you never wrote!" And he can say, "Yes, I did. See? I did try because I love you." That can mean the world to a girl.

Personally I think if you get along with the ex then you should stay in touch but if he tells you to stay out, I guess you have to respect that.

Good luck.
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