Your Questions Answered: Ex Seeking More Child Support

3 06 2010

Dear Jacque,

I am wondering if you can point me in the right direction?  My husband’s ex-wife just filed suit seeking more child-support.  We feel very strongly that she is doing incredibly well right now in respect to support and that her request is very unreasonable.  I don’t know how to research legal defenses/arguments, etc. that an ex-husband should make when he is faced with a suit seeking more child support.  Do you know where I can find that information?  When I do a “google” search, all that I found was information to help the ex-wife claim more money, as opposed to helping the dad prevent a larger and unreasonable child support obligation. Thank you very much.

I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that stress! The laws in each state are so different that it’s hard to say where to start researching but I have a few ideas. You might try going to the best family lawyer in your state and ask if they have experience with stepfamilies. Ask all of your friends for referrals. Again, make sure they have stepfamily experience. You could listen to the podcast I did with stepfamily law expert Margaret M. Mahoney, professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Stepfamilies and the Law. As far as I know her book is the only one on this topic. The Stepmom Circles podcast I did with Margaret is archived and available here in The Store.

Also here are a few organizations that help fathers:

http://www.fathersrightsinc.com/
http://www.fathersrights.org/ (this site has attorney referrals too)

I know that there are no easy answers here. As a stepmother I can see how challenging this would be. I know I don’t need to remind you but I’ll say it out loud for all of our benefits: Both a biological mother and father have a legal and moral obligation to financially support their children until they are successfully launched into the world. Rarely do these situations end up feeling fair to anyone. And money is something that is often in short supply on all sides and can easily be used as a tool that exes use to continue fighting. If the ex would agree to work with a mediator instead of going to court, that would help everybody. Court battles are not fun.

If you do end up having to pay more support out of your household to support your husband’s former you’re going to have to deal with the anger that brings up. Perhaps you can reduce your resentment and stress over the situation if you focus on the fact that A) You are doing a good deed by helping to raise these kids. B) You’re racking up some seriously good karma! C) This will come to an end. The kids will grow up. The payments won’t continue forever.

You might also look for a financial adviser or coach who can really help you put together a plan that will work for you and your family no matter what happens with the child support payments. Good luck!

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What counts?

25 02 2009

Ladies, I need to get something off my chest. And I hope if you’ve struggled with this one you will give me your ideas about how to deal with it!

I am frustrated with our other household right now, a.k.a the ex, because I can’t figure out what counts and what doesn’t on the financial tally sheet. We do not have a very good system worked out to keep track of who spends what on the kids and who owes whom. My husband has never had a conversation with his ex about what counts and so it is a guessing game. Because we have the kids exactly 50/50 (and I mean to the hour, people), my husband does not pay child support. Each household pays for the upkeep of the children when they are living there, and everything else is split, but only if it counts.

Some things we spend money on count toward this tally sheet in the ex’s head. Some things do not. For instance, any summer camps she sends the kids to count. Any summer camps we send the kids to do not.

If she has the kids for an extra meal at her house, we must pay for it because that counts. The cash we shell out to drive back and forth dropping the kids off at her house does not count.

But shouldn’t she be glad that she now has two more people in her children’s lives who contribute to their financial well-being? My stepchildren have a stepfather and a stepmother who now help support them. But who counts? Only stepdad? How about the dough I’ve forked over for summer camp to help them make friends and keep their butts off the couch all summer long? Why doesn’t that count?

The reason my book for stepmoms has won two awards is because I interviewed wise stepmoms across the country so I could learn how to be a better stepmother myself. I am a writer, a stepmom and stepdaughter, but not a Ph.D. I am stumped on this one, girls. The system we have can not continue into the future with cars, college, and weddings looming. Any advice would be deeply appreciated.