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#61 of 88 Old 05-16-2008, 07:18 PM
 
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JSMa, we were over this one before, but the families that make it work on a shoestring tend to do it because both parents agreed, and they have the cost of maintaining one household, not two.
This is where I have the issue. Maybe I'm just mincing words, but the father has the responsibility to contribute to the support the child. This is not the same as supporting a household.

Yes, as a single mom I lived at home for a while. And I worked crazy hours. My mom was my daycare. When my ex eventually got a job he was making ~$26K/year. I could've gotten $300/month from him, had I felt like spending the $ to go back to court. That in itself would not have been enough for me to move out and be on my own. It would have been enough to cover his 1/2 of my DD's food and clothing for sure and probably some other things. Based on that he would have been fulfilling his obligation to contribute to the support of the child born into our marriage. The responsibility to create and support a household for us (I have sole custody) was mine.

My perception, based only on my own experiences, is that many ex spouses expect the former partner to contribute as much to the equation as when they were a couple. And there's often a chip on the shoulder that he doesn't. [Admittedly here I am not talking about women who are struggling just to put food on the table. These are middle (to upper middle) class women residing in a suburban area.]

Of course, you could flip this and say that step-moms want their partner to contribute 100% to their household, they resesnt that their partner can't be counted on for more, etc. But I believe many SMs go into the situation with a more realistic picture. They know they (or the children they choose to have) don't get 100% of the pie. Often they are subject to an ex-spouse who hasn't quite accepted that same reality.
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#62 of 88 Old 05-16-2008, 09:04 PM
 
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Of course, you could flip this and say that step-moms want their partner to contribute 100% to their household, they resesnt that their partner can't be counted on for more, etc. But I believe many SMs go into the situation with a more realistic picture. They know they (or the children they choose to have) don't get 100% of the pie. Often they are subject to an ex-spouse who hasn't quite accepted that same reality.
I have to disagree with this. If my ex husband can't afford to support the children he already has by close to half, he better damn sure figure out a way to support new ones without cutting out on the kids he already has. Because, it's really not about me or his new spouse. It's about his kids, and the fact that he's their dad and he needs to support them. When you make the decision to have children, have a family, and then get divorced and go start a NEW family, you don't get to say "Oh sorry, I can't afford this now. I'm going to have to pay less." We're all in charge of our choices, and if you can't afford to be there financially or emotionally for your kids, them my advice would be not to have any more!

(and I am an almost step mom too, so not like I don't know where you are coming from. I just don't agree)
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#63 of 88 Old 05-16-2008, 11:44 PM
 
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HHM, there's a thing called planning.

No, don't get angry. It works most of the time if you take the time to do it well.

The only way -- and I mean only -- that I would be unable to meet that 50% number is if the entire economy crashed and we were all in an Argentinian depression together. I've put in place enough from various income streams, enough assets, enough savings, and enough insurance, to guarantee I'll hit the mark for years even if I get sick and can't work.
See, though, that sounds like a wonderful plan, but things don't always go as planned. My Hubby did everything you posted about in preparing for a child. He did everything "right". Even by your standards, you would have been impressed. But his Exwife did not. She had absolutely no planning for her or her baby's future other than "somebody will take care of me". My Hubby had no way of seeing the future, no way of knowing that he would be seperated from his Exwife by the time his daughter was a couple months old or that she would play "Oh, poor me, I can't afford to support me and the baby so I need loads of child support and loads of alimony." My Hubby also had no way of knowing that, 5 years later, he would get laid off and have a Hell of a time finding a job like the one he's had, but still get stuck in the "earning potential" loophole. Even the best laid plans get tripped up. Nothing is definate. Nothing.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#64 of 88 Old 05-17-2008, 12:46 AM
 
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WHEN my ex pays child support I generally don't run out and buy things for ds. Its so random, that I can't rely on it like that. I buy ds everything he needs, pay for all activities, buy all medications, save for his schooling, plus the expenses of helping dp run our household. When ex pays me it goes into my cheqing account and I usually put it on my debt because I see it as unplanned bonus money.

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#65 of 88 Old 05-17-2008, 07:33 PM
 
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I think all the planning that mama41 talked about was good, but, truly, life doesn't work as we planned. I was with the same man for 32 years, raised my first family, thought I was headed for a secure retirement and then he did something so unforgiveable (no, it was not an affair, it was public ridicule of me) that I just couldn't stay with him and keep self respect. I had all my eggs in this one little family basket and they were upset after one cruel, really funny speech at a birthday party. Two months later I was gone with just the clothes on my back, but my kids raised. Our savings halved, our home halved, our belongings, antiques, art halved. I had sunk some money into a business, got fungal pneumonia and almost died. Even though I had insurance the copays were horrendous. My business tanked because I was in the hospital for months and had very little money to bolster it without borrowing. It was a very dark time. Now I have a different attitude about planning. You plan what you can and then you roll with the punches.

My health is compromised now and my business greatly scaled down. However, I met Dh and today I realised I was truly happy. We have a great home, all anyone could need, though not a lot of luxury, and it truly doesn't matter what the ex does with child support. I do think she wishes she was living our lives now but she left a good man, and it was then my joy and pleasure to meet him and to fall in love. We are getting rid of debt and enjoying our time together. Dss has done better emotionally since our retreat last winter and that is a blessing. His teeth problems will get straightened out in time. He loves our new house and is proud to show it to his friends, and today he even worked in the yard and helped in the house so it would be ready for a sleepover tonight. I felt like a family. Our family is stressful sometimes, but it is still ours. I don't think we pay too much cs, I just want Dss to benefit from it.
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#66 of 88 Old 05-17-2008, 10:07 PM
 
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I don't think it is accurate to assume that because one parent has the child for less of the time, they automatically have fewer expenses for the child. My step-daughter is with us during her school vacations, so we pay for childcare and mom does not. Because she is with us during times when she is out of school, more of her "entertainment" expenses fall to us, as she is less able to go skating or see a movie during the school week. And because we have her during times when she is out of school, we spend more on educational-related expenses to keep her learning year-round than her mother would while she is in (free) public school during the school year.

We live in a climate with greater temperature variations than her mother does, and my step-daughter is here for each season every year, so we also spend more on clothing to accommodate for the seasonal changes than her mother does.

Even when she moves between houses, our travel expenses are greater because of the times during the year she travels (holiday and vacation times). Her expenses to return to her mother are less expensive because of the airline pricing calendars. I won't even talk about the cost of travel for my husband to see her every month.

She moved here with us and spent the first three months with us in our new house before going to her mother's house for school. I haven't seen any significant change in the cost of housing, food, clothing, activities, etc. since she has been at her mother's more of the time than here. Maybe it would be different if she was our only child, but we don't make significantly less spaghetti for two adults and three children than we do for two adults and two children.


On another subject, I also struggle with the calculation of housing costs... Before our other children were born, the difference between the cost of housing with my step-daughter and housing without her would have been significant... my husband's one bedroom studio vs. a two bedroom house with a yard in a nice neighborhood... probably around that $800 that someone else quoted. But now that we have other children, the difference between a bedroom for her and no bedroom for her wouldn't make as big a difference, since we already live in a neighborhood and school district where we would want to raise children... and honestly we would probably live in the same size house if she wasn't in the picture at all, which means our housing cost for her would be $0. It's all in how you calculate it, and who is calculating... human nature would be to calculate our own difference as more significant and the other person's difference as far less.

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#67 of 88 Old 05-18-2008, 10:15 AM
 
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It's interesting that most of the comments here seem to be from the side of the husband ran out so he better pay, blah blah blah...

There are situations where it is the other way around. My DP's ex ran out on him with another man... he has to pay for half his child... very understandable... but to support hald the household??? No way.

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#68 of 88 Old 05-18-2008, 11:16 AM
 
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Blended families are not really blended. You welcome the stepchild into your home. But you are not one family. Let me ask you: Do you want to send your child to your DSD's mom half the time?

DSD IS part of my family. I'm not going to raise the children in my house separately because one is only half blood... that is ridiculous. She goes to all my family functions as well and my parents are her Grammy and Poppy.

And to answer your question... No. I don't want to send her back to her Mom's. I often miss her when she isn't with us and I love our days when I pick her up and see her smile. I love the way she crawls up into my lap and snuggles her head into my shoulder. I love how she goes for walks with my Mom, her Grammy, and she wanted to pick flowers for her Jenny.

She is not my blood child, but she IS my child and I'd do anything for her.

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#69 of 88 Old 05-18-2008, 11:53 AM
 
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It's interesting that most of the comments here seem to be from the side of the husband ran out so he better pay, blah blah blah...

There are situations where it is the other way around. My DP's ex ran out on him with another man... he has to pay for half his child... very understandable... but to support hald the household??? No way.
Lets be honest. Child support (without alimony) does not cover half of chld expenses and half a household.
My ex is supposed to pay $350 a month. $260 child support and $90 in "extras". The extras clause means I do not ask him for any other money and cover 100% of all costs for ds. All sports, meds, college, if he needs braces etc.
There is no way that $350 is supporting half our household....even when I didn't have a dp and was single. The cost of running my household when I was single was approximately $1200 a month. That doesn't inculde chld expenses. That was just my bills, groceries etc. I like the way ours is set up because sometimes big expenses come up. One month I had to buy ds over $100 in medications. I just cover it and move on.....don't have to ask ex to fork out more cash.

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#70 of 88 Old 05-18-2008, 12:12 PM
 
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Blended families are not really blended. You welcome the stepchild into your home. But you are not one family. Let me ask you: Do you want to send your child to your DSD's mom half the time?
Why would I want to send my stepdaughter back to her Mother's half the time? Of course I don't want to, any more than I want to get rid of my son half the time, but I do because, even though my stepdaughter's Mother is not MY family, she IS my stepdaughter's family. As for not being a family, that's completely untrue. How could your know that my stepdaughter is not part of my family? Do you know us? Do you spend time in our home? Do you know what's in our hearts? Nope. Me, my Hubby, my son and my stepdaughter are a family. My stepdaughter and her Mother are a family. My stepdaughter has two families, but that doesn't mean one of them doesn't count, it just means she has two families. Me and my stepdaughter are very often mistaken for Mother and daughter and my son and my Hubby (technically his StepDad), are also very often mistaken for Father and Son, because of the way we act towards eacthother, because of the love for eachother that shows even to complete strangers. If that's not a family, then nothing is. Oh, and one other thought... I would die for my stepdaughter in a hearbeat. If something happened to my Hubby, I would seek every possibility of being able to continue a relationship with my stepdaughter, even though her Mother most likely would not allow it. I am not a begging kind of person, but if something happened to my Hubby and my only contact with my stepdaughter was through her Mother, you can bet I'd be on my knees kissing her feet if it meant I could still have my stepdaughter. Forget about pride, she may not be my child through my blood, but that makes her no less my child. Losing her would be like losing one of my vital organs. I don't know how I would survive it. THAT'S what family is.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#71 of 88 Old 05-18-2008, 04:00 PM
 
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Blended families are not really blended. You welcome the stepchild into your home. But you are not one family. Let me ask you: Do you want to send your child to your DSD's mom half the time?
The way I read that question at the end was: Do you, step-mom, want to send your biological child to your stepdaughter's mother half the time? I think the point of the paragraph was that a blended family is not blending both halves of the joint child's family together, making it one big single family... Evidenced by the fact that you don't see your stepchild's mother as a second mother to ALL the children in your family

That said, I don't actually know what the paragraph was in reference to, so I won't comment further on it... but that was how I interpreted what was said.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program...

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#72 of 88 Old 05-18-2008, 11:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The way I read that question at the end was: Do you, step-mom, want to send your biological child to your stepdaughter's mother half the time? I think the point of the paragraph was that a blended family is not blending both halves of the joint child's family together, making it one big single family... Evidenced by the fact that you don't see your stepchild's mother as a second mother to ALL the children in your family.
Yep, that was it. Thanks.
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#73 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 12:11 PM
 
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I'm sorry but I wouldn't send my chihuahua to live half time with Dss's bio mom. She recently took Dss's little dog to the pound (while Dss was very upset) because she didn't want to pay for his grooming, shots or heartworms medications. The stress over there would make a dog a nervous wreck much less a child...Luckily my chihuahua doesn't share her DNA. However, poor Dss does share it and lives with her. He can come to us for calmness and some normality of being.

Dh's ex left him not the other way around. I think she should have some consequences for that, and part of it is not having the same standard of living for herself, not the child, herself. It was her choice to leave, her choice to abandon and her choice to live independently. I did notice recently that she has let her perm go and is having a more natural hairstyle. Good for her. It actually looks nicer. If she wanted the benefit of Dh's money, she should have stayed. I'm only talking about her, not Dss. It wasn't his choice to leave. He should have whatever we can within reason give him.
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#74 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 12:41 PM
 
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Why would I want to send my stepdaughter back to her Mother's half the time? Of course I don't want to, any more than I want to get rid of my son half the time, but I do because, even though my stepdaughter's Mother is not MY family, she IS my stepdaughter's family. As for not being a family, that's completely untrue. How could your know that my stepdaughter is not part of my family? Do you know us? Do you spend time in our home? Do you know what's in our hearts? Nope. Me, my Hubby, my son and my stepdaughter are a family. My stepdaughter and her Mother are a family. My stepdaughter has two families, but that doesn't mean one of them doesn't count, it just means she has two families. Me and my stepdaughter are very often mistaken for Mother and daughter and my son and my Hubby (technically his StepDad), are also very often mistaken for Father and Son, because of the way we act towards eacthother, because of the love for eachother that shows even to complete strangers. If that's not a family, then nothing is. Oh, and one other thought... I would die for my stepdaughter in a hearbeat. If something happened to my Hubby, I would seek every possibility of being able to continue a relationship with my stepdaughter, even though her Mother most likely would not allow it. I am not a begging kind of person, but if something happened to my Hubby and my only contact with my stepdaughter was through her Mother, you can bet I'd be on my knees kissing her feet if it meant I could still have my stepdaughter. Forget about pride, she may not be my child through my blood, but that makes her no less my child. Losing her would be like losing one of my vital organs. I don't know how I would survive it. THAT'S what family is.
YES! My feelings exactly. Thankfully Ohio has started recognizing and granting Step-parent visitation and/or custody rights in the event that the biological/adoptive parent dies (interested third party is how it is termed) It would be a big fight against the ex's for both of us, but Matt and I do plan on stating in our wills that we wish for Maia and Sage to maintain visitation with Matt and Madison to maintain visitation with me. I know our ex's will fight it, but we hope that by having our wishes in writing it will help.

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Stepparent Visitation in California, Kansas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin all have statutes explicitly addressing stepparent visitation; Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington have third party visitation statutes have been used as basis for allowing stepparent visitation.
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#75 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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Sorry if no one agrees with me, but can a parent use the TOTAL cost of living in a home as the cost of a child? Are you not also living there, eating there, being heated, cooled, watered, etc there? Doesn't part of the house expenses fall on your use of them, not JUST the child/ren?

I mean, without the child, would you not still have to live SOMEwhere? It may be smaller, but it'd still be somewhere.

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#76 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 12:53 PM
 
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That is a really great step for those states.

An example in my own family... My Aunt had re-married with her 3 children, and her new husband helped raise them for 6 years when she got melanoma cancer and passed away. Luckily she had it in her will that her DH was to keep visitation with the children, even though they went to live with their bio-dad.

We are all lucky that this held, as their Step-Dad was way more involved with our side of the family for years. Bio-dad now is a lot better and assimilating back into our family, but often it is their Step-Dad that takes them to our family functions.

Both Dad's are extremely vital in my cousins lives. They love them both and I know they would not know what to do with either one gone from it. Just shows how much of an impact a step-parent can have and the positive that can come from it.

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#77 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if no one agrees with me, but can a parent use the TOTAL cost of living in a home as the cost of a child? Are you not also living there, eating there, being heated, cooled, watered, etc there? Doesn't part of the house expenses fall on your use of them, not JUST the child/ren?

I mean, without the child, would you not still have to live SOMEwhere? It may be smaller, but it'd still be somewhere.
Purity|Lake, this has been answered several times in this thread. The cost of housing attributable to the child is (cost of housing for adult and child) minus (cost of housing for adult alone). Which, in my case, runs about $725/mo, on average.
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#78 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh's ex left him not the other way around. I think she should have some consequences for that, and part of it is not having the same standard of living for herself, not the child, herself. It was her choice to leave, her choice to abandon and her choice to live independently.
I have to tell you, I pretty much agree with you here in many respects. One problem is in determining fault. In many cases women leave because of abuse, and often it's abuse that doesn't rise to the point where the woman calls the police. For instance, if a woman is routinely cursed at and put down as a wh*re and a slut, and belittled relentlessly, she's not going to call the police, but she may get up the courage to leave.

I think the states have generally been over this, which is why so many of them have moved to no-fault. Attempting to determine fault is a horrendously destructive process.

The other problem is that you can't control someone else's standard of living. XH, for instance, pays less than half the costs of raising dd, so I pay the difference, and also make enough money to treat myself. Even if I had left him, though, nobody could tell me to stop making that much money. Nor would it be just to tell XH he's no longer responsible for half the support of his child.
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#79 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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YES! My feelings exactly. Thankfully Ohio has started recognizing and granting Step-parent visitation and/or custody rights in the event that the biological/adoptive parent dies (interested third party is how it is termed) It would be a big fight against the ex's for both of us, but Matt and I do plan on stating in our wills that we wish for Maia and Sage to maintain visitation with Matt and Madison to maintain visitation with me. I know our ex's will fight it, but we hope that by having our wishes in writing it will help.
Wow. In general I think this is probably a good thing for the kids. I can see a lot of volatility happening here, and a lot of opportunity for the kids to get caught in the middle, but one of my great fears is that if XH remarries and something happens, dd would lose not one parent but two. When there's nothing structured set up, it can be remarkably easy for people to drift away.

Where I'd start to get nervous is in visitation after a second-marriage divorce. In that case, the time's got to come from somewhere, and the child is now being bounced around to three places with no choice in the matter. I think there's also more room for a sense of abandonment as the ex-step picks up and moves on with her own life -- a custodial agreement implies that the ex-step means to stay in the picture, but if she changes her mind and moves on, as I suspect is likely, that's just another disappointment for the child, after so many.
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#80 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 02:29 PM
 
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Purity|Lake, this has been answered several times in this thread. The cost of housing attributable to the child is (cost of housing for adult and child) minus (cost of housing for adult alone). Which, in my case, runs about $725/mo, on average.
Sorry, I posted before reading through the thread.

FYI, I strongly support mama41's posts, and have many times throughout my life pre-children, and after having children of my own, said many of the same things she has posted here.

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#81 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 02:42 PM
 
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Just to clear up fault in the case of my Dh, ex was horrific spender. Also, she allowed her daughter from previous marriage to burn, poison, smash fingers, stab with pencils and otherwise severly abuse his son, my Dss. None of this was accidental. She began abusing him as a baby as she was 5 years older. This is why Dh wanted custody so badly as ex would not intervene or discipline her daughter and would not allow Dh to even pull daughter off of Dss when she was pummeling him. He has pictures taken of the many bruises, burns etc given to his son by his ex stepdaughter. Judge would not allow any of this into evidence as it was done by a sibling and not by a parent. Consequently, mom was seen as fit since she was not actively involved in abuse, just didn't prevent it. Dad was not allowed to discipline or stop the daughter as he was "just her step dad." Dss still has stab scars and burn scars. He recently fought back for the first time and was disciplined by that side of the family for pushing her when she hauled off and slapped him. These slaps are abusive and hard and he was pushing her away to stop her.

In their family, if you are a girl or a woman you are entitled to whatever you can take even if it is by force or theft. Men on the other hand, are painted as losers no matter what their character.
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#82 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by angilyn View Post
Just to clear up fault in the case of my Dh, ex was horrific spender. Also, she allowed her daughter from previous marriage to burn, poison, smash fingers, stab with pencils and otherwise severly abuse his son, my Dss. None of this was accidental. She began abusing him as a baby as she was 5 years older. This is why Dh wanted custody so badly as ex would not intervene or discipline her daughter and would not allow Dh to even pull daughter off of Dss when she was pummeling him. He has pictures taken of the many bruises, burns etc given to his son by his ex stepdaughter. Judge would not allow any of this into evidence as it was done by a sibling and not by a parent. Consequently, mom was seen as fit since she was not actively involved in abuse, just didn't prevent it. Dad was not allowed to discipline or stop the daughter as he was "just her step dad." Dss still has stab scars and burn scars. He recently fought back for the first time and was disciplined by that side of the family for pushing her when she hauled off and slapped him. These slaps are abusive and hard and he was pushing her away to stop her.

In their family, if you are a girl or a woman you are entitled to whatever you can take even if it is by force or theft. Men on the other hand, are painted as losers no matter what their character.


Your poor stepson.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#83 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 02:56 PM
 
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That is so awful, Angilyn!!

Your poor DSS indeed.

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#84 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 03:32 PM
 
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It is a source of continued heartbreak for us. It is going to get worse as the half sister has recently moved back into her mom's home along with Dss. She rules the roost and calls all the shots. This is the reason that DH does not really miss her so much as she was abusive to his son and was very instrumental in the breakup of that marriage. He does regret that he was not allowed to be a father to her, to teach her right from wrong, along with the fun things he was allowed to do. He was called abusive when he tried to pull her off Dss when she was totally out of control and threatened by his ex with the police. "Let the children be children and you stay out of it' was her comment on it all.
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#85 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, my God, angilyn. I can see the difficulty, too.

Given the turn toward sending children off to the psychologist at the drop of a hat, is it possible to cast this as concern for the ex-stepdaughter, through the school? (I suppose it might be difficult since there's no legal relationship there anymore.) Because at that point, if the ex-wife isn't cooperative in helping her daughter avoid abusive behavior, she'd be on record as being uncooperative in the child's therapy. Which could strengthen a case for protecting dss.
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#86 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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Good point mama41 about logging it with a therapist. I'm not sure what you meant by through the school. Ex step daughter is an adult now and married and returning home. We have actually continued to document a lot of stuff now through the school so I am curious as to what you meant. Sometimes I believe Dss has "Stockholm Syndrome" as he really identifies with and loves his abusers. It is his way to self protect, I guess. To identify with those one who perceives as powerful, can help make a powerless child feel better.
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#87 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Good point mama41 about logging it with a therapist. I'm not sure what you meant by through the school. Ex step daughter is an adult now and married and returning home. We have actually continued to document a lot of stuff now through the school so I am curious as to what you meant. Sometimes I believe Dss has "Stockholm Syndrome" as he really identifies with and loves his abusers. It is his way to self protect, I guess. To identify with those one who perceives as powerful, can help make a powerless child feel better.
Oh, I'm sorry, angilyn, I missed the part where she was grown. I'd thought that if she were still in school, your dh might be able to go that route -- raising a flag with school counselors, etc., to alert them to the fact that something was not right with the girl and that she needed help.

If she's an adult, though, and your dss comes back with bruises and burns...I would think calling the police would be not only appropriate but more effective than it had been, particularly if dss is seeing a therapist who can testify to the abuse and its effects. Adult charges can now be filed against the half-sister, no?
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#88 of 88 Old 05-19-2008, 05:58 PM
 
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I think we will wait and see if she has gained control over her hitting etc. She has a baby coming any day now (another ball of wax, another victim) so it may take away her attention from Dss. However, the stress of the new baby could make it worse so if he turns up hit, slapped or kicked we will file abuse charges for him. He will not want to testify and will probably lie for her.
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