Okay, so DP and I are co-parenting 2 DD's, DP and DDs' father have been divorced for 10 years so DD11 has always considered our house "home" and her primary family. Over the years, their father has become more and more flaky and has all but dropped out of the kids' lives completely. The custody agreement, on paper, is DP as primary parent and father pays child support and is responsible for them 40% of the time. In reality, he has them every other weekend and maybe a weekday here and there, at most 8 days a month but usually averages out to 6. He pays $500 a month in child support, so $250 per kid, and carries them on his health insurance (but, because the way his insurance works, he would pay the same amount for 1 kid or 10 kids and he has a baby with his new wife, so that doesn't really "count" for anything). Lately, he has been trying to pay less in child support, and saying things like "Oh you didn't cash that check yet, did you? It's gonna bounce" on the third of the month. Well, duh, we cashed it, how are we supposed to pay our bills? He doesn't buy them clothes, he complains that we don't let them keep an entire wardrobe over there even though they're practically never there and share a small dresser, anyway, and he always complains about how they never have enough money.
Here's the part that gets me. He and his wife make at least $10k per year more than we do, their rent is cheaper, and they aren't making any car payments (they don't even own a car big enough to fit everyone in when our 2 girls are there). They have his wife's daughter (13) and a 1 year old baby together, so when you do the math, they should have the same amount of money we do, if not more. The step-daughter thing is really starting to chap my hide, because he will call at the last minute on his night to take the kids with some BS excuse like "I have to take her to the doctor so I can't take the kids tonight." Cool, but they're YOUR KIDS, and he ALWAYS puts step-daughter ahead of his own kids. Step daughter got braces, but guess what, he can't afford to help pay for DD's braces now. Step daughter was doing something stupid and sliced through the tendons in her hands and had to get plastic surgery. DD went to the hospital 2 years ago and he has NEVER ONCE put anything towards her $2k medical bill we are still paying off.
He will say he can't take the kids on his weekend to have them because step-daughter needs to study for a test and our girls will distract her (nevermind the 1 year old) and all kinds of other BS. Today he was supposed to take them, but his wife can't be inconvenienced to come pick DD up from school because she's out taking step-daughter to doctor's appointments and not at work which is close to DD's school. What about us being inconvenienced? We had plans for this evening that we have to cancel now, because of his poor planning. I talked to him YESTERDAY about it and he calls this morning. Of course I'm not surprised, but it's really starting to piss us off.
Am I wrong to think that $250 a month in child support is too much, or that telling your spouse your kids from a previous marriage are just as important as her lying, backstabbing, mouthing off child who creates endless drama?
Oh, and they are supposedly always "so broke" but they buy organic everything and the baby's food is $2 a container. Priorities much?
(gender)queer vegetarian artist co-parenting DDs 14 & 11 with DP and TTC little peanut #3
Do you keep track of what days the kids actually go over to their house? If you don't, it's probably a good idea to start. It'll be important if you go to court.
If you do go to court, they might be able to make a stipulation that he has to pay a percentage of the kids medical bills.
Are you guys even supposed to be responsible for the kids wardrobe at their house? It seems odd to me that you would be.
It might not hurt to actually say "You have the kids a lot less than 40% of the time, if anything child support should be higher." I don't know if that would motivate him to take the kids more or not, but it might be worth a try. Is there a child support calculator online for your state? It might be worth punching all your data into to see where you all actually stand. I certainly wouldn't let him pay less until he goes through the steps to have the court order changed.
Whenever you get a cheque, can you go to their bank and cash it on the first instead of depositing it and having it bounce a few days later? It sucks that you might have to do it that way, but it'll prevent them from spending your money (if it's even in the account on the 1st to begin with)
~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.
It sounds like it's time to go through child support services (whatever they're called in your state) to collect the support payments for you. It's more of a hassle, but it ensures that the non-custodial parent pays what they're ordered to pay (unless they quit their job or work under the table). Different states have different rules about how often support payments can be recalculated but usually something big like a major change of income or visitation hours warrants revisiting the agreement.
One thing that helped when my ex was going through a period of suddenly not wanting the kids as much (when he started dating his GF) was that I would run the support numbers for various schedules. When he saw that he'd have to pay $100 more per month to have them X hours less, he decided to have the kids more.
Robin~ single, work-at-home momma to my Wonderboys
BigKid (6/00) & LittleBoy (6/04)
One thing to concider is having a new stipulation added to your parenting agreement, if he bails on his parenting time, he has to pay a babysitter. Since it was written in mine, my ex has been far less inclined to miss his parenting time.
I agree that going through the state for the support money is a smart move. Then he won't get to prioritize anything else over his first family - the money will come right out of his paycheck.
Other than that, though, the only behavioral changes you can make are in your own home. Perhaps his stepdaughter is a " lying, backstabbing, mouthing off child who creates endless drama." Perhaps she's just a confused kid with two crappy parents. Perhaps she's both. Either way, it's nothing you should know about or be involved in. Just as you should not know anything about how much they make or how they spend their money. You need to shut those conversations down. You need to establish boundaries. If a conversation takes a personal turn, walk away or hang up. Don't be coy about it - say flat out "We're not comfortable hearing the details of your private life" or "we're not comfortable knowing about your household finances" or whatever. Then REFUSE TO HEAR IT. He'll find somebody else to dump it on once he realizes that his ex has resigned from her post as dedicated listener.
I don't think the clothing issue is a hill to die on - as long as it comes back with them, send them with a suitcase every time. The parenting time is a real issue - if you make an agreement the night before, and he tries to change it for some specious reason, then it's "Sorry, we're unavailable tonight. This is your time, make arrangements for pickup." Click.
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