Divorced" Not with a bang, but a wimper... and pettiness

I should feel like celebrating but really I want to sit, sulk a bit, whine a bit, and maybe have a stiff drink.

The divorce was finalized Monday. She met me early at the courthouse to redo the paperwork for the kids. Starting in seven months, I’ll have the kids half-time in a week-on, week off pattern.

Up 'til now I’ve had the kids every-other weekend and I’m feeling my influence over the children slip away. The original plan in this thread had me as every-other-weekend Dad for six months or so until she got on her feet financially. Then it was to switch to half-time with the matching change in child support payments. It was supposed to give her a financial kick-start.

(The child-support payments I make for every-other weekend custody is $1800 a month, the half-time-with-me payments are $1050 a month. The additional money for every-other-weekend dad time was supposed to be her kick start)

She started to argue with me two months ago when I started talking about switching the “parenting time” to our agreement. She didn’t have the money, she said. The promised raise never happened, she said. If I took the money from her, she couldn’t afford to keep the kids at all, she said. In part out of pity and in part out of desperation to avoid a massive court battle, I agreed to give her six more months with the current custody arrangement but in return I wanted a guarantee, in court-registered documents, that in six months I’d get half custody.

I was worried all the way to the courthouse but at the courthouse she signed a revised parenting plan document that gives me half-custody (and the adjusted child-support payments) starting March 1st.

Huge relief.

Now, with this weapon removed from her hand, I’m taking on the next issue. The unpaid credit card. Once this was our lowest interest card, 8% I think. It had one of our lowest payments. It was paid to half its max balance and was in fine shape. I was never late on it.

We had a couple joint cards. I made the mistake of cosigning one a couple years ago for her. In our informal separation agreement, in the court-documented one, and in the divorce agreement, she’s responsible for the payments on this card.

Since it has become her responsiblity to pay, it hasn’t been paid once. I’ve talked with her, nagged her, cajoled, and otherwise been trying to get her to pay it. It’s now $577 past due, 120 days late and approaching 150. At 180 the creditor writes-off the debt and turns it over to the lawyers.

After a screaming match last night, I just paged her and said she has two weeks to get the past-due amount to zero or I’m going back to the courts. Not paying her assigned liabilities is technically contempt of court and I’m just going to have to go that route.

The boyfriend that moved in with her the day she left me moved out three months later. She’s got a new one now. Every time she mentions how long they’ve been dating, it keeps getting longer. She says now it’s five-months (which means that, if true, she was two-timing the first with the current one). She wants it to be a long time because she wants to justify her early introduction of the boyfriend du jour to our kids.

I’m concerned with how the children see this coming and going of boyfriends. We discussed having to introduce the boyfriends (and girlfriends) slowly, only after the relationship is very, very serious.

She shielded them from the current boyfriend for two months or so before introducing them in a big way. Now they’re going to church together, going to the amusement park, going camping this weekend, etc. Every time a boyfriend leaves, the children go through another mini-divorce. It hurts me to see the rapidity with which she introduces them. I see it as a kind of selfishness, it’s harder be limited to dating when the kids are with me and she simply doesn’t want to limit herself.

I called her to the carpet on this, a bit. I asked her what the kids are going to think if this boyfriend and her break up. “No chance” she says. Wow.

Meanwhile there’s arguments about her excluding me from conversations on the childrens’ schooling, her hijacking my weekends with the kids for her parents’ visits, and a thousand small cuts causing more pain.

Damn, I hope this ends someday…

I have been following this and overall you have done an excellent job in a very difficult situation. A lot of this is out of your control so only worry about the things that you can influence.

I’m not a parent, but I don’t understand why, if you’re going to have the kids half the time you have to pay child support at all. I can understand splitting expenses like private school or college funds, but if you’re bothi paying for food, clothes, etc., why do you have to pay extra?


I haven’t been through what you’re going through, Belrix, but one of my brothers has, and I shared almost every painful moment with him.

It will end when the children grow up and leave home. You will discover that they are fine, they love you and their mother very much (though they’ll drop a few snide remarks about mom’s dating habits when they were younger) and they will go on to have pretty darn good lives because of the values of love, tolerance and industry they will have learned at least from you and possibly from their mother, too.

If you have nothing else at the end of the day, hang onto this: You’ve done a great job so far. The kids will make you proud and they will never forget what you did for them.

I pay support on the difference between our two incomes. Since I make about 4.5 times more salary than she, I pay her child support (and half the childcare costs).

If she made the same money as I and if we had the kids equal time, then I wouldn’t pay anything. If she gets married, her husband’s income, her total family income, is not considered in any calculation. Something I think is kinda bogus. If she marries Bill Gates, according to the guidelines, my child support won’t drop a bit.

FWIW, insult after injury, I pay this from my after-tax income and the $22,000 per year she gets from me is not considered her income for tax purposes and is not, therefore a write-off for me. (Alimony is taxable income, child support is not).

There’s a formula but mostly it’s about proportions between incomes and a percentage of time each parent has the kids. Below a certain number of days per year of overnight care, there’s no change. The days-of-care don’t figure in. (A quick google says that breakpoint is 92 nights per year). When I have them every other weekend, 52 nights a year, there’s no difference in payments from zero nights a year. Now that I’ve done the calculations for half-time, it’s clear I’m in some sort of “linear” zone. If you want to play with it yourself, the self-calculating Excel spreadsheet is here.

Yep. It’s all formula based now. A friend of mine is became fully disabled a year ago and her only income is Social Security. Her ex makes a very good living. Even though she only has her son every other weekend and for a month during the summer, she is actually entitled to child support based on incomes and amount of time she has her son. (She doesn’t make her ex pay by the way.)

Good lord $1800 a month is a lot of money, my dad at one point had to pay $1200 a month just for me.

Yeah no kidding! $1800/month is more than I’ve ever made, let alone had to pay somebody. Eek!

Glad to hear it’s (mostly) over, Belrix. It sounds like your ex-wife is acting completely true to form, from what you’ve described of her. She needs to grow up and stand on her own two feet, but that doesn’t look like it will ever happen. Here’s hoping she won’t be dragging you down any more, and hoping that your influence on the kids will be enough to counter hers!

I’m late to this thread, but I just wanted to say that my SO pays $1,800 a month for his 3 children. It allows his ex to support herself, her two new children, and her new husband (and of course the aforementioned 3 kids) in a pretty nice lifestyle.

Wow. When I went away to college (in 1994) and we had my dad’s child support switched from my mom to me, it was only $50 a week.

Then again, we were dirt poor.