He was supposed to pay child support and alimony for a fixed period of time as well as the kids’ expenses, but it has been a battle to get him to pay me (he took me back to court to reduce the payments but was unsuccessful) as he always pays late and refuses to pay for the extra expenses he’s supposed to pay for, like our son’s occupational therapy.
Making requests for payments though my attorney has only resulted in nasty texts and attorney fees that got me nowhere. So now he hasn’t paid alimony since November and is behind on child support. I have gone back to work, but I have to start at the bottom and I don’t make enough to cover all the kids’ expenses. I am also primarily responsible for the kids on weekdays until about six, including all childcare arrangements and doctor and dentist appointments, which makes working full-time even harder. I am currently trying to cover everything with savings, but they are dwindling.
I have consulted with an attorney, but the problem is that my ex-husband terrifies me and I am scared of his reaction (like texts and emails he might send) and what effect it will have on the kids if I keep fighting him for the money he owes me. Any help to deal with this is appreciated. I am at the end of my rope. — End of My Rope
I am sorry you’re going through this. You were incredibly brave to leave your abusive husband, especially when you had no job and three kids to care for, and you continue to be brave and strong as you provide the very best for them that you can with your limited resources. I wish I had better advice for you, but the best way to deal with the lingering fear and trauma you experience as a result of having been married to an abusive asshole for years is to seek all the support you are entitled to and can afford. That means: therapy, family counseling, and applying for government assistance to help as you continue growing your earning potential and your children continue growing their independence.
You are not alone in the predicament you find yourself in. In an article published last month in Dame magazine, a single mother wrote:
“In America, noncustodial parents owe their children over $114.6 billion in child support debt.
Every day in America, over 70 percent of single mothers do not receive any child support at all. For those who receive payments, it’s often a fraction of what is owed. Nearly 37 percent of single-mom families live in poverty, a rate that is almost five times that of married couples.
And so we begin to see an epidemic of forgotten mothers and children. These moms—80 percent of custodial parents are mothers—are forced to make survival decisions each day, on top of everyday parenting decisions.
After my children’s father took off to live like Timothy Leary in the woods of Northern California, CSS would occasionally locate him. He would throw a hundred or two our way to avoid jail. Meanwhile, his balance kept growing. The kids kept growing. The bills kept coming. Money, of course, is never just money. There’s a daily weight of poverty, the guilt of barely being able to provide shoes, the exhaustion of working two jobs but never catching up on bills, the embarrassment of your kids being the only ones who can’t go to the movies because you can’t afford it.”
You are not alone in your exhaustion and your fear and all the other feelings you must have around the situation you so unfairly find yourself in, but I know that is cold comfort. And I know it’s probably cold comfort to tell you that your kids are going to be ok, that you will be ok — all of you will survive this. It will be a struggle, and there will be a lot you’ll have to sacrifice and do without, and the anxiety may not ease up for a long time, but you will get through this.
We have some family attorneys who are regular DW readers and commenters and maybe they will weigh in with additional advice, but in the meantime I will say: Keep fighting when you have the strength, but not at the risk of your emotional well-being. Get the therapy you need to process the pain you endured under the abuse of your ex. Lean on loved ones. Lean on whatever social supports are in place to help people like you. And keep your chin up and know you are doing the very best you can for yourself and your children and they are so lucky to have you.
He is now going to be a part of this child’s life and is going to start giving this woman money every month. We have been on and off talking during this whole time and he has kept me attuned of everything that has been going on, but I just don’t know if I could ever been with someone who has a baby with someone else. It breaks my heart that the man I thought I would spend my life with and have babies with now has a child with another woman. — I am Torn.
I’m confused by what you mean when you say this other woman “set up” your fuck buddy or whatever you want to call him to get her pregnant. How do you set someone up to get you pregnant? Are you insinuating she lied about being on birth control? Or do you think that your fuck buddy didn’t know how babies were made, thatit was the woman’s job to explain to him the pregnancy risk associated with sex, and that, since she didn’t, she must have been deliberately setting him up to knock her up, because if there’s one thing a single mother wants is another baby with a man who isn’t committed to her. Collecting child support, as evidenced in the above example, is always SO easy when you’re dealing with men who don’t want to be a dads…
I think you should probably move on. You don’t sound mature enough to handle the challenges that might come up being involved with a man who has a baby with another woman. Not only that, but it’s a little strange that you’ve imagined spending your life and having babies with a man who, thus far, has only committed to giving you occasional sex and nothing more. I hope you’ve been using protection! If not, you might find yourself being accused of setting this guy up to have another baby, unwittingly, and trying to get child support from a guy who most likely won’t want to pay it.
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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.