Debate My Life
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|Tue, 09-09-2003 - 5:00pm|
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.