Debate My Life

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Debate My Life
12
Tue, 09-09-2003 - 5:00pm
Ok, it's been a long time and I look forward to your opinions.

For parents who have kids of reproducing age...print this post out as a reason NOT to have kids until you are a) married and b) settled in life.

Ok I've been having this internal debate with myself for about the last two years and I've come to a point where I need some outside opinions. Be as scathing as you want I really need to know if my thinking is skewed.

Ok, as most of you know I have two kids by my ex-fiancee Anthony. Anthony and I have been apart for about 2 years now. He's moved on and has another girlfriend with whom he has a son and another baby on the way. I have chosen not to enter another relationship, instead choosing to focus on completing my education.

Up until now I've not taken Anthony to court for child support. This is not to say that I've made no attempt to get him to pay child support. At one time we had a very fair agreement and he paid his support and spent time with his children and was an ok father (I say ok because the amount of time devoted isn't what I think it should be). Well about a year and some change ago he stopped paying child support (around the time I did the "woe is me, should I go on welfare?" post) which basically ruined my financial life. My mortgage got way behind, my bills got way behind and we were to the point where I did not know what to do. Thankfully I cut my spending dramatically and, with the help of some friends who loaned me some money, I was able to get back on my feet and build a budget that was not dependent on money from him. However, I still did not seek child support from him. My reasoning? Well...mostly it was because of a few things. #1 the principle. The court was not in our bedroom when we made those two kids and I don't think it should be there to enforce him taking care of them. #2 I know that he won't pay even if he gets a support order (his girlfriend filed on him when they were broken up for a year and he didn't pay her at all so that just confirmed my belief) and since he has no driver's license there isn't much consequence for him if he does not pay since he's a waiter and waiters, on the books, make next to nothing. #3 (and I know this is selfish) I didn't want to lose my kids as tax deductions. I use my tax refund to better their lives so it isn't completely selfish. But I'd heard that he could request to claim them every other year and that scared me because the gov't would probably eat me alive w/o deductions. #4 I just feel like I don't want to project the image to my girls that I have to "force" him to take care of them.

So...now I am at a place where I'm feeling like I need to take care of some legal stuff. One thing that is very important to me is custody of my kids. In our state if a child is born out of wedlock, neither parent has legal custody until one files for it. I have physical custody however he could take them and move to Zimbabwe and I'd have not one legal right to stop him. So I'm going to file for custody of my kids. Here's where my dilemma is. I want to file for sole custody of them. At present Anthony does not seem interested in making decisions about their lives or planning their lives. He also isn't interested in helping to support them. In light of the fact that he is about to have his fourth child I don't forsee any significant support (meaning anything that'll realistically help me) coming anytime soon, especially since he won't take a job that isn't in waitering. So...I am willing to accept all that. Though it's a tough pill to swallow I am a realist and realistically expecting anything more of him than what he does right now is just setting myself up for stress and heart ache.

I want him to be able to visit with the girls but I don't want anything from him. I am willing to allow them to retain his last name (that was another tough decision but I really feel kids should have their dad's last name) and I will not stand in the way of them forming a relationship. I just want to be the one to make all legal decisions for them and I want to be able to move through my life without asking him for permission at every step.

Now I am almost 100% sure he'll contest in some way, but I don't care. My dilemma is...am I somehow shortchanging my children by doing this. I mean we're doing well financially and I've started saving for a rainy day. My savings has gotten so that I can afford a few pitfalls. Currently I make more than most two parent households in my area, so I feel with good planning I'll be alright. But I just don't know. Something inside keeps nagging me and saying that I'd better make sure I'm making the right decision because when it comes time to prove my case and defend that decision I want to be sure.

Any thoughts?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 09-09-2003 - 5:20pm
I think you have thought alot about this and have covered every angle in your post. My thought is only that you can not control the future. You can not force him to be a real father and I know you know that. I don't think the custody issue is going to either encourage him or discourage him. Does that make sense?

I personally would want to have full custody also. I went through some of this before DH and I got married. My thought process was how can I have a man on chemo for a brain tumor pay child support and also be responible for my child if I die? It was rather scary and I made a will out giving my mother guardinship at that time. It boils down to whether you want Anthony to be responible for your children in case of your death. From your post, you don't seem to want that. I wouldn't want it from reading your post. He sounds like a man that just breeds and moves on (of course, I have never met him so I shouldn't judge but I am)

Bottom line is go with your gut. Don't twist yourself in knots. You will make the right decision. Full custody does not mean he is kicked out of the kids life forever. It just means you are the person responible for child rearing decisions not him. He doesn't seem interested in making child rearing decisions from your post. Does he know the kids doctors? Has he ever taken them to the doctor? Does he know the daycare personal? Does he know their favorite foods or favorite TV shows? Will a change in custody make a difference in him knowing the answers to those questions?

Sorry to be so chatty.

Kristi

"I do not want to be a princess! I want to be myself"

Mallory (age 3)

      &nbs

Avatar for karenester
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 09-09-2003 - 5:32pm
YOur filing for primary custody really has nothing to do with child support. You can be granted sole custody adn still beentitled to full support. And even if he never has visitation at all, you are still entitled to child support. So, don't confude the two.

As to what you should do: if in your gut you really believe that asking for support will produce nothing positive, don't do it at this time. If Anthony ever gets his act together and decides to be a better fath, you can always amend and file for support later.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2002
Tue, 09-09-2003 - 7:44pm
I very strongly urge you to go to court and get legal custody of your children. As horrible as it is to have the courts involved in your life, and in the lives of your children, it really does protect ALL of the people involved.

From what you explain regarding the amount of involvement (or lack of it) from your ex, I would say that sole custody would be the right way to go. It is very important to have a very specific visitation schedule set up of minimum visitation for the NCP. That protects you and also him and the kids.

As far as child support, he needs to pay it. What you do with it is up to you, but he needs to be paying it. He has a responsibility to pay it. You can either use the money to provide more for your children, or you can put it in savings for them.

good luck! (((((ANNIKKISMOM)))))

Okmrsmommy-36, CPmom to DD-16 and DS-14

Avatar for cl_annieb67
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 09-09-2003 - 8:20pm
Well, first of all, you should have made some better choices in your life. Here you go again...over analyzing.

;O) Gotcha!


First off, I really can't believe this is the same person who came to this board three (yes three) years ago. This is my third year anniversary posting here! Honest opinion? Okay, here goes...I don't think you *need* any opinions. It sounds to me, like you have thought this decision out maturely, and rationally, and I think you're doing exactly what you *need* to go. Now, for some dimestore physcoanalyis (sp) for you.....what I am gathering from your post, and the tone, is that this is more than finalizing the legalities with your daughters. This is more about finilizing *your* relationship with Anthony. It is *almost* as if it has finally hit you that he is out of your life for good, and not coming back. Or when he does come back, it will be *only* as a father.

In regards to the CS, have it on paper. For the simple fact, yes, he is working, no, not making much. BUT...if he wins the Powerball tommorrow, your girls should get their share. No, you may never see a dime, but then again, maybe you will. You might ask for what you are sure he will pay. If he can pay 20.00 a week, get that. No, it isn't even close to what they need, but you can sock that into a savings account for them. And, you can modify should he have a significant change in circumstances. BUT...if you are out earning him, that may be all you will get anyway. In our state, both incomes are considered.

I would go for full custody, and get SET visitations. The sad part is, the girls thinking daddy will come every Saturday, when there is a good chance he won't. But your smarter than that.

Other than that, it sounds like you're on the right track, and I'm proud of how far you've come in this whole situation.

But I do disagree with you on one point...I would be happy for my kids to turn out like you. :O)

"There in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I close my eyes, feel their beauty and follow where they lead."

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Tue, 09-09-2003 - 8:23pm
File for sole custody. This situation is ridiculous and its even more ridiculous that you are even thinking you might not be fair here. These are your children. He has no REAL interest in them and that appears to just be a sad fact of life. If he contests it, tell him you will make every effort to BREAK his BALL$ financially if he tries to fight it. Because he COULD take those kids without your permission.

I agree that you should not stand in the way of him having a relationship with his daughters. For THEM-because its very important to girls self esteem that they have a man figure in their lives (in fact, if you have a male relative that they can spend time with, I'd totally recommend it since Anthony is such a flake!). But dont give him the right to be a real parent unless he can step up to the plate and BE one!!!

Okay rant over....

dj

Dj

"Now when I need help, I look in the mirror" ~Kanye West~

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-02-2003
Wed, 09-10-2003 - 12:35am
I think I would go for the custody and if he fights it then you play the child support card. They can and will get it from him. I sure am glad he is your ex! My SIL has a similar situation she had her son at 15 and the dad was a part of his life long enough to get his last name on the BC... we all refused to call him by that name. He has not seen him even though they are in the same town ever... except maybe by accident. She is now happliy married and her dh would like to adopt him but they fear moving forward could bring him right back in their lives. It is scary but I think since you don't need to financial support you would do well to go forward with the leverage you have. Also just so you know (FYI) you both could claim 1 child on your taxes if that even becomes an issue. Does he even PAY taxes?? I think having leverage over him is the way to get what you want. Good luck ~ Courtney

Courtney

There's a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day... there's a great big beautiful tom

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 09-10-2003 - 1:11am
yes. Whoever told you he could request (and inferred by requesting he'd automatically get) your girls as a tax deduction was blowing smoke. Yes, he can absolutely *request* it, but if he's not paying AT BARE MINIMUM 51% of their actual, true support (not just paying whatever support the court ordered), no court in the land would give it to him. The IRS rules on who gets the tax deduction and it's the parent who pays the majority (51% or more) of the actual, true living expenses support of the children. He pays 0%, so he doesn't qualify, whether he asks for it or not.

File for custody and the heck with Anthony and whatever lame-a** antics he pulls as a result of his childish pique that you want to solidify your daughters' legal status as YOUR dependents. Shut him down; he's toyed with you long enough and if he doesn't like it he can go whine to someone else.

And please stop beating yourself up over your life choices. Have they been the highest? Well, no, but show me ANYONE who has made 100% wonderful choices all their lives. What's admirable and noteworthy is how you have dealt with the choices you've made. ALL the choices you've made. You don't blame your choices on others and you don't whine that you shouldn't have to bear the consequences of them. That makes you more mature than any 8 folks who waited until their college degrees to marry, waited several years of marriage to have kids, made sure they had the nice house with the white picket fence yada yada yada. Grace under Fire, babe; that's you and that's quite a great deal, whether you admit it or not.

And one other thing. You're already 3 or 4 years now into your mandatory home ownership of your house, right? If you have the 5 year obligation, you're almost through and I KNOW you'll be able to sell it for more than you paid to move to something nicer when the time is right. And if you have the 10 year obligation, you're almost halfway there and look how far you've come already.

You are SO far ahead of the game. Play to your strengths and stop worrying about the fact that you didn't enter the field with both shoelaces tied. You're still way ahead of most of your peers.

Avatar for virgogirl914
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 09-10-2003 - 1:28am
Excellent post. . .and I agree with every last word of it.
Avatar for cl_annieb67
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 09-10-2003 - 7:48am
I didn't think that was correct, but wasn't sure enough to comment. Also, what was told to us, by our accountant, was in order to claim SD, we had to go through SD's mom, and we were pretty much at her mercy, if she decided to allow it. We never asked, and I don't think we were close to 51%.

"There in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I close my eyes, feel their beauty and follow where they lead."

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 09-10-2003 - 7:58am
If you are concerned about tax deductions, look at this way... if you have a court order for support, even at $20 per week and he does not pay, it will pile up as arrearages. I am not sure if this varies from state to state or not, but my brother gets his ex's tax refund every year that she files - and because she has other children that she claims, her refund turns out to be nothing to sneeze at. Another family member has a child from a man who never pays his ordered support - and has outrageous arrearages - every once in a while she will get a call from the bank letting her know that $1000 was just deposited off the top of her ex's bonus check or whatever - of course, here in MI, all child support is garnished from wages through Friend of the Court.

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