For several weeks I was getting the feeling something was up.
I can't explain how or why. Just something in my intuition was telling me changes were coming.
Subversive comments have been made during conversations about the kids; blaming our current shared custody agreement as being at the root of his behavioral challenges with 8 y/o Hansel.
Then I get the text...
HIM: We need to talk when you have the chance
ME: Everything ok?
HIM: Just need to talk about the kids and plans and stuff.
The next day he calls. He suggests we consider altering our current custody arrangement.
"The back and forth mid-week between our homes is getting to the kids. I think Hansel is having the hardest time as a result."
I remind him of the issue of late child support payments. And that while I am working hard at gaining my financial independence, and have come a LONG way in the past year, I am still not there yet and... well... kids cost MONEY and having our kids full-time equals greater financial burden, so he better pony up ON TIME.
Then he says it:
HIM: I am trying to find work, but it's not here.
Me: Not here? As in NY?
It's all becoming clearer.
Last week, he asked at the last minute if I could keep the kids on his days because he had a job interview. Of course I said yes, because they are my kids and I would rather them be with me then shuffled between his sister's or parents' houses. Still, it was a strain on me financially.
Last weekend the kids were at their Dad's... but he was not there. Instead they spent the weekend going back and forth between babysitters (his Aunts and Grandparents).
ME: Where was Daddy?
HANSEL: I dunno... working I think. He didn't really tell me where he was.
This week, he's texted again... asking for me to keep the kids again on his days due to another interview.
Two weeks in a row of last minute custody changes.
Two months in a row of no child support.
We have no signed divorce agreement in place yet. We've been fairly amicable these almost 2 years (which mostly entails me accepting LESS THAN I really deserve and constant late payments) and focused on rebuilding our own lives separate and apart that it's been put on the back burner.
Recent events now have placed a giant spotlight on the missing documentation - the lack of anything in writing that would in theory guarantee some kind of monetary compensation.
I'm in quite the conundrum. I don't ever want to use my kids as pawns, or turn them away when their Dad can't be there for them. But the financial strain of suddenly having them FULL TIME without advanced warning and preparation is troubling.