I look into the board from time to time, especially now that we are expecting, when I came across this thread. I like to share in your experiences and learn along with you which is why I am here; I enjoy sharing DW's interests.
I felt I had to say something here, especially because this thread is about me.
First, the circumstances. I had two children with my ex when we were together, now aged 6 and 12. Our divorce was very civil; we agreed on a visitation schedule and child support. After our seperation, she moved 500 miles away to live closer to her parents - a 7 hour drive one way - so she could utilize their support. We maintained an amicable relationship; I visited as frequently as I could and we spoke often on the phone - both to the kids and to my ex when it came to things I could help her with. My ex will be the first to tell you that I was a great father to the kids.
Visitation was once a month at most. I wished it could have been more, but consider transportation to and from, 2-3 nights hotel stay, food and entertainment, and treating the kids like royalty (you have to when you are the non-custodial parent and do not see them often) and my visits were running $500+. Add it up. Then add in child support.
Then everything changed. My ex met a new guy. Initially I was thinking this would be great for her; I actually want to see her happy and in a good relationship. However, unfortunately my ex is very impressionable and persuaded. The new BF apparently had influence on her taking me back to court. And again. And again for medical benefits that aren't provided by my employer in her state (which I pay as a per month $$).
So here is what I would hope you will all see from a non-custodial fathers point of view. I have always tried to do the right thing. I'm not rich and actually work several jobs now just to stay afloat. I have always paid CS without complaint - it is an obligation I have no trouble with. What I do have trouble with is those that want to get blood from a turnip. My ex signed my name as obligator to several medical bills (that I did not know of) and summarily didn't pay them and almost caused me to not be able to buy a house due to problems she caused with my credit. I don't understand why past relationships turn into battles over inflicting as much pain as possible on the ex. I don't understand why (in some states) the non-custodial parent is liable to all medical charges and the custodial parent can carelessly incur whatever charges they feel (whatever it costs Doc, I'm not paying the bill). I don't understand for the life of me why women let bad guys off the hook and don't ever want to see them or make them pay CS... while they take good, responsible guys back to court over and over? Money is certainly the root of all evil...
Look, all of that aside, I love my children. I wish they didn't live so far away and I wish I could see them more often. After several battles (which I feel I lost), I decided that it was best for the children and myself if I just backed off. I didn't come to this decision lightly. My parents also divorced when I was very young, however the circumstances were very different. My father had drug, alcohol and abuse problems. He never sent a dime. No cards. Nothing. However, when I turned 18 I went to visit him with a clean slate. I was willing to forgive his past and start anew. Unfortunately, due to some things he did and said during that encounter, I elected to cease any future contact from him. But that was my decision.
My only hope is that I can continue to have the limited contact I have with my children and that at some point they will be able to decide for themselves that I am worth more. I'm not trying to shoulder this reponsibility on them, but I honestly don't know what else to do. Seeking custody isn't practical as the kids have a good relationship with their mother, and aside from our differences she takes good care of them.
If you can think of any ways I should be handling this differently, please let me know. Without bashing me. I only want to do the right thing.