Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ch-ch-changes

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?
HIM: Nope.

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.

7 comments:

stepmumoftheyear said...

It's funny how so many dads assume that it is their prerogative to switch to part-time parenting at any moment they choose - like THEY'VE been doing YOU a favour by sharing in the full care of their kids.

Maybe it's time to see a lawyer? This not-able-to-work-cause-I-have-the-kids-but-not-getting-child-support thing is going to become unsustainable pretty fast...

Anonymous said...

"Financial Strain"?? Those are your kids. You should want/yearn to have them safe in your home WHENEVER, no matter what.

Stories of a Stepmom (2) said...

@anonymous. All she said is that it's hard WITHOUT notice or preparation. She didn't say she didn't "want/yearn to have them safe". Of course she WANTS to. It's evident from her blog how important her kids are to her. She just said it is a financial strain. Kids are always a "financial strain" because they cost a lot of money and when you're trying to do it by yourself, the "strain" is that much more.

The Step In Mom. . . said...

Yea having kids is a financial strain and their FATHER should be helping to support them! This is not a new concept.

Do you have a lawyer? You should be able to file for CS by yourself without a lawyer.

Good luck!

I am a Tech Teacher said...

You should formalize things as sson as possible. One friend has an ex who is SO INFLEXIBLE, that her daughter can't see any of her friends on his days if he can't take her. He would rather she sit in his house, alone, (she's 16) than "let" her mother have her on a day that isn't hers. Another friend has an ex who was just picked up on a warrant for past due child support. He owes her over $100K. I wonder if she will ever see it. Thank goodness she has a supportive family who can help her out whe she needs it. She knows he is working and being paid cash, but because he doesn't have an employer, the child support can't be withheld by the county.
And for "Anonynmous": they are also HIS kids, and he should be pyaing to support them. If Wicked Stepmom couldn't be there, HE would have to pay someone to watch them.

Anonymous said...

If your complaint is that he can't pay you because he can't find work, but he's actively TRYING to find work so that he CAN pay you as he has in the past, shouldn't that be a good thing? You don't want the kids at other family member's houses, you want them with YOU, but you don't want the added financial strain...cuz he doesn't have a job but is needing to find one so he needs the kids somewhere when he has an actual interview. I'm scratching my head at what your issue is really about? Is it resentment? If you two were still married, he'd still be out of work and you'd either have the kids yourself or they'd be with other family members or babysitters while he tried his darndest to find work right? You can't get blood from a stone. It's been a few weeks. He was good for a couple years right? Maybe try and find some extra work yourself just like you may have had to if you were both still married and in this situation.

I guess my round about point is: You may want to stop looking at it like you're doing him a favor by taking the kids on his days (since you insist that they not be with other family) and consider it a favor to yourself; helping him find work so he can pay his child support.

Anonymous said...

Questions: These are NOT an attack.

-Do you have a job? (not a work from home type, but a part-time job at least while the kids are in school?)

-How much money of yours(aside from CS) is going to the children?

You say you don't like the kids with "babysitters" which are family members who love your children, so you want them with YOU if your ex can't have them, but this is a strain on you, so you want him to pay you what you should be paid (rightfully) in CS right? But he needs a job first. One can't normally schedule interviews for times that best suit them, they just do what they need to do to get there right? So if that interview lands on one of his days, then he should go right? So the kids have to go somewhere right? Do you want him to pass over a possible job that would equal a paycheck that could, in turn, pay you because....? Why?

-Do you feel like he's lying and not actively looking for work? Like he's partying or something?

If both parents aren't working, money isn't going to fall out of the sky. SOMEONE has to find work. Should the sole responsibility lie on the father, because, he's the father? You have them full time so you SHOULD receive CS. But...if you're able to find work and he can't, maybe it is in the children's best intrests (financially) to make some sort of arrangement.

I dunno Wicked. It seems to me that you have other anger issues here. Maybe validated I'm not sure. But a man out of work who's claiming to be truly looking for work and needing your help with children you both share, doesn't seem to be the devil your post makes him out to be.

You are BOTH financially responsible for the children you share together. Maybe if you can find part-time work, a schedule adjustment could be made where he has the kids when you're working. But hopefully you can find something when the kids are in school or with him?

Be proactive. Try not to get bitter, angry and start using your children as a tool to punish your ex. You know full well from your life as an SM what this can do to a child.

If you feel he is truly refusing to find work and is lying about his whereabouts on his days he's supposed to have the children, by all means, take steps necessary to ensure a fair and equitable arrangement.

I'm a mother and a stepmother. I see both worlds. It's a tough spot to be in where you're at.

Step back. Take a deep breath and try and look at the situation without angry ex eyes. Deserved or not, they won't help you or your kids.