Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He’s Financially Supporting a Child Who Isn’t Even His”

The father of my children and I have been together for a few years. We live together, share a life, and are planning a future. We want at least one more child, a house, and marriage. Here lies the problem: He’s still in contact with his ex and taking care of her daughter (he says it’s strictly for HER daughter). He says he’s been around the daughter since she was three, they broke up when she was five. She’s eight now. I didn’t know he was financially/physically taking care of the child until now. The mother calls whenever she needs money. She calls over and over. She writes inappropriate comments on his Instagram (like “hey baby daddy”). He sees no problem; he says she isn’t disrespectful and that he isn’t letting go of the girl. I’m getting ready to take my kids and walk.— The Real Baby Mama

Oh, come one. You’ve been together a few years, have multiple children, are planning to get married, and you didn’t know he was financially supporting this 8-year-old girl who isn’t even his?? Can you imagine what kind of future you would have with a man who keeps that kind of secret? Furthermore, if you are “planning” a future, and a marriage together, what’s the damn hold-up? You live together, you have multiple kids together… what are you waiting for? Obviously, there’s something keeping you from truly committing, there’s something keeping your baby daddy from being honest with you about financially supporting a child that isn’t is. Whatever that something is, it’s definitely enough for you to “take your kids and walk.” Actually, I’d run. And then go sue his ass for child support and make sure the money he’s been giving to that other kid goes to the ones who are biologically his instead.

My ex and I broke up about a year ago. We’ve had on and off communication since April of this year. She would let me drive her car, and I have helped with insurance and the car payment. Occasionally, we would hook up. In August, I had a car accident with her car. I gave back the car and gave her the deductible. Several weeks ago she texted me past midnight to see if I was still awake and I replied. She came over and things happened. She wanted to sleep over, too, and left around 4:00 in the morning. The next afternoon she texted me to see if I could help her pay for the car renewal and I said I would. She said she owed me. Friday came and she texted that GEICO was threatening to cancel her policy. We caught up and had dinner and that was that. Last Monday I reached out for an update on the car. She asked if I could help her pay $65 for the insurance though I wouldn’t be driving the car. She said someone else in her family would be driving it. I asked her to come over to talk about it and she said that she’s dating someone now. What gets me is that we hooked up and then only ten days later she’s dating someone new? It doesn’t add up. Not sure if I should help with the car insurance. Thoughts? — Uninsured

What do you mean it doesn’t add up? Of course it does. Hooking up with you and getting you to pay her car payments and insurance was convenient for her until it wasn’t. In the days between your last hooking up and her saying she was dating someone new, she probably had a talk with the new guy about being exclusive. Maybe it even happened before your last hook-up and she wanted one last joyride for old time’s sake. New guy is probably going to be driving her car, or maybe she just doesn’t want new guy to know her ex-boyfriend still takes it for rides, which is why she told you you can’t drive it anymore. She asked you for money for insurance because: why not? That’s what scummy people do — they take advantage of suckers. Don’t be a sucker.

My husband had an affair, and we have since been trying to work on our marriage. His mother and sister live together, and he told them we needed space to deal with something he had done. Instead of supporting us, they started calling four to five times per week, pressuring us to meet them. He told them over and over, “Not right now.” They called my phone and his constantly. He asked them not to call his because with his job he can get into trouble for having a phone on him. He would carry it in case we had an emergency because he traveled. They almost got him fired. He had to block them. His mother was relentless and his sister was too.

His sister did back off after we had a chat. I explained to her that they weren’t supportive. She never apologized and instead laughed and said, “We must have driven you crazy.” Shortly after, his mom told me how her son could never hurt anyone and how special he was. She knew he did something to hurt me and cause us to seek counseling. I still have anger towards him at times, but it is getting better. I am healing, but it is hard when there is added stress coming from other people. I don’t want to deal with them. — Done Dealing With Them

It sounds like telling nosy Mom and Sister that “he did something to you” probably wasn’t the best way for your husband to let them know you guys needed space. I would suggest that since they aren’t going to leave you alone until they know wtf is going on, your husband should tell them that he cheated on you, he was wrong, he’s trying very hard to work things out with you, and that their relentless phone calls and defense of how special and wonderful he is is not helping. He needs to tell them that it was his behavior that led to this need for space, not theirs (and not yours) and at this point they not only are driving you both crazy, but also they are putting his job at risk and delaying the healing of his marriage. He needs to tell them how often he can/will check in on them during this time and that, unless there is an emergency, they are not to contact him or you in the meantime so that you both can focus on your marriage. If they can’t respect that, continue blocking their calls.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

21 comments… add one
  • Ale November 14, 2017, 10:33 am

    LW#2 I agree with Wendy’s advice on setting boundaries with the family, however I wouldn’t tell them that he cheated. I think that would make the mom and sister think they are entitled to know all the details of ther relationship and ask questions about the affair, or not to believe him. Setting boundaries is the best but I would make the cause of the separation private.

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  • Fyodor November 14, 2017, 10:37 am

    The timeline here is really weird. He broke up with the ex three years ago, got together with the LW1 a year after that and they already have two kids?

    I also think that Wendy is being a little hard on the guy-it’s not clear what exactly the financial support entails and when he told her. She says that “she didn’t know” but that could mean at the start of the relationship she didn’t know, not that he concealed it from her for an extended period of time. I agree that he hasn’t been terribly responsible or careful but I don’t know that he has been dishonest with her or that this is the kind of thing that justifies walking away with two kids. I think that they need some kind of counselling, both relationship and financial but the advice seems a little abrupt extreme to me. This isn’t to say that they won’t get to the point where she needs to cut bait, but I don’t think that it should be the initial response.

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    • MMR November 14, 2017, 11:49 am

      I was thinking the same thing about LW1. I don’t hold it against the guy that he supports a child who he was a father figure to. But, he definitely should have told his girlfriend about it. Is it possible he didn’t her because he knew should would have this kind of reaction?
      The LW clearly isn’t comfortable with the situation, but the time to voice those concerns was before they had a kid. He should probably set some better boundaries with his ex, but she wants a future with him, she needs to accept that this (completely innocent!) girl will be around.

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    • MaggieB November 14, 2017, 2:44 pm

      It seems needlessly harsh, and uncharacteristically callous, of Wendy to say: “And then go sue his ass for child support and make sure they money he’s been giving to that other kid goes to the ones who are biologically his instead.”

      That doesn’t mean leaving him and suing him for child support isn’t the right thing to do, but framing it as taking away money from an innocent child he feels obligated to help is pretty icky. That said, if there’s a possibility the mother is spending his money unwisely, perhaps there’s a more formal way future payments could be set up so that it goes directly toward expenses for the girl, rather than left up to the mom’s discretion.

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    • Skyblossom November 14, 2017, 2:50 pm

      I was thinking that it is overacting to take your children away from their father just because he is also supporting another child. The man who refuses to abandon the other child is likely to not abandon your children. That’s a good quality in a man.

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    • Skyblossom November 14, 2017, 3:49 pm

      My guess is that they have only recently moved in together and when they did move in together she found out he was taking care of this other child. In that case this is a lie of omission because you would sooner or later mention the child in some way in casual conversation about what you were doing or had been doing. He has been keeping his care of the other child a secret but to jump to taking the kids and leaving seems like an overreaction.

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      • Fyodor November 14, 2017, 3:59 pm

        The other thing is that it sounds more like he’s pitching in periodically rather than paying regular expenses. I could see why he might not feel, especially if their finances weren’t joined, that he didn’t need to disclose it.

      • Skyblossom November 14, 2017, 4:02 pm

        It’s possible that the financial help hasn’t been ongoing. The girl’s mother may have hit a bad spot and is asking for help at this point in time.

  • wobster109 November 14, 2017, 3:09 pm

    LW1 – It looks like the other child IS his. Nowhere in the letter does it say he’s not the bio father. Am I missing something?

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    • Dear Wendy November 14, 2017, 3:24 pm

      I think in my initial edit, I accidentally made that ambiguous. Sorry about that. I re-edited and hopefully it’s clear that the child is not biologically his.

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      • wobster109 November 14, 2017, 3:26 pm

        Oh ok. Yep, it’s clear now.

  • dinoceros November 14, 2017, 4:21 pm

    LW1: If you’re ready to walk, then do it.

    LW2: I don’t think the ex is scummy. Up until now, they were both getting something out of the deal. Perhaps she wants the money because her premium went up because of the LW’s accident (which I’m sure it did), but it’s not really feasible for him to continue driving it — plus, the insurance issues probably stemmed from the fact that she was regularly letting someone not on the policy drive a car. Hooking up doesn’t mean you’re together, so while it sounds like she maybe is not being honest to her current boyfriend, I don’t see that she’d done anything wrong to the LW. If you don’t want to pay more money, then I guess don’t pay — but be grateful that she’s the one whose insurance went up and not yours after the accident.

    LW3: What they did was annoying, but you both could have limited it. Don’t answer. Turn the phone on silent when at work. Yes, block them. I think if you had done that from the start, you’d be less exasperated now.

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  • carolann November 14, 2017, 6:46 pm

    I don’t understand why the ex isn’t going to her real baby daddy for child support? These days it us pretty hard (not impossible, but pretty difficult) to get away from child support…unless she isn’t pursuing it. I give him credit for being a father figure, but he shouldn’t allow himself to be taken advantage of. He could still be there for the girl while her mom pursues child support enforcement.
    Why the LW is having child after child with a guy she obviously doesn’t even really know is another issue…

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    • Dora November 14, 2017, 8:27 pm

      It’s very possible for the little girl’s bio-dad to be a deadbeat, in prison, hiding income, etc… Just because a support order is in place doesn’t necessarily mean a bio-parent is going to honor it. Given the ex of the OP was in the girl’s life for two years and is staying in her life and caring for her…including financial support… doesn’t necessarily mean he is being taken advantage of. Sounds like he is the real dad of this girl, rather than the “sperm donor”.

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    • Ron November 14, 2017, 11:06 pm

      Because she’s trying to prove she is the REAL baby mama. She thinks the more of this guy’s babies she has, the better chance she has to hold onto him. She is afraid he will go back to ex. The ex calls LW’s bf her baby daddy, which as the term is use around here is limited to basically sperm donors and does not include non biological fathers who help raise your kid. So, maybe the bf is actually the father of his ex’s child. It sounds like LW only knows what bf told her about this situation. At least in the back of her mind, I think she suspects he is this kid’s bio father.

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    • Cleopatra Jones November 15, 2017, 11:15 am

      These days it us pretty hard (not impossible, but pretty difficult) to get away from child support…unless she isn’t pursuing it.
      Eh, I think in an idyllic world this is true but unfortunately, there could be a zillion reasons that the real child’s father doesn’t support the kid. He could be in jail, in the military, getting paid under the table, hiding money, moved to another state, low wage paying job, no DNA test on file, or just about a million other reason, other than ‘she’s not pursuing it’.
      That’s not even the real issue of the this letter. Let’s be real, once she gets him to stop paying any ‘child support’, next she’s going to demand that he stop seeing the kid altogether. As Ron noted this is all about her establishing that she’s the real baby mama.

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  • Dear Wendy November 15, 2017, 8:04 am

    From LW 3:

    Thanks for the advice It is good to hear someone else’s view on this. I appreciate it. His mother has done and said many passive aggressive things to me during this time. His sister made the comment that it’s a shame a mother can’t see her son. They blame it on me. It’s my fault to them.I did tell his sister he is a grown man and makes his own decisions.
    He did tell his Mon that it’s not helping her saying these things to me and that they didn’t respect his wishes for space and our family time. He also mentioned them calling his phone while he was at work risking his job. He had asked them not to call his phone. He told her he broke his marriage vows to convey the seriousness of it. She didn’t even listen. She got really angry saying you can’t push me aside just because I’m an Old Woman. She was really angry.
    Now there are hard feeling due to how long they continued to ignore our wishes and the things his mother said and did to me. She is texting my phone asking me to tell her son to call her. We don’t have much contact with them it is peaceful when we don’t. I am healing and doing well. They bring so much negativity. His Mom and sister used to call me before this happened and I would always feel bad after talking to them. They were very negative. I felt ganged up on by them at times.
    It is hard for me to understand their behavior. His sister went through a divorce and we never asked her questions and gave her space. We didn’t interfere or nose into her business. He is the only son and that might be part of the problem. I am at peace I just wish I understood their motives.

    PS I told my husband on many occasions to go see them with out me. He said we were a family and we would go together I would say I am ready to go see them and his Mom said and did some spiteful things towards me and I just didn’t want to go after that. We have been married for 20 plus years and have a child. It’s been a difficult situation but we are working through it.

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  • irhie November 15, 2017, 9:46 am

    For LW1 – in some jurisdictions, if they lived together and he behaved in a “parental capacity”, he could be liable for child support regardless of whether he’s the bio-dad or not. Once you are a parent, you’re a parent-in the eyes of the court, if not in the heart.

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  • Dear Wendy November 27, 2017, 9:04 am

    From LW 3:

    We have been blocking his family. But after a family gathering that we did not attend his other sister sent an attacking email to my husband. She also said how sad and depressed her Mom was because we don’t talk to her anymore. I do have guilt but she brought all this on herself by her actions. Now the other sister is trying to get involved. She just hears her Mom saying “I wish they (us) would call me.” She also told them “I don’t know what I did. “ My husband told her what they did and she ignored what he was saying and turned it around to be about her. Saying you aren’t going to push me aside because I’m an old lady! I don’t know where that came from? But you can’t talk to her and make her understand what they did. How they didn’t respect boundaries and his mother said many passive aggressive things to me.
    His Mom is trying to become the family Martyr. She is turning everyone against us. We just asked for space after my husband revealed an affair. We have them blocked on our phone but they left voice messages, Facebook messages, and emails a total of 7 on Thanksgiving. They were all just saying Happy Thanksgiving, call us miss you. But it is just smothering.

    PS I wanted to add he didn’t acknowledge his Moms birthday that’s why his other sister got involved. He is angry with his Mom for trying to cause problems. She has stayed out of this until now.

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    • Dear Wendy November 27, 2017, 9:05 am

      What did your husband think would happen if he called and wished his mom a happy birthday? Or if he sent a card? There’s setting boundaries and then there’s totally cutting someone out of your life. ​It sounds like he’s trying to do the latter, and, I mean, of course a mother is going to be angry and hurt and reactionary when her kid is cutting her out of his life. I don’t know what you want me to say? It shouldn’t be such a surprise that totally blowing off one’s mother on her birthday is going to upset her and the siblings…

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