Sob Story Alert - I Am About to be Poor

Some of you may have heard (because I mention it frequently) that I'm a single mom. I have been one since Andrew was a wee lad of just three years. His dad has this unique view of parenting-one where he believes if the child is with you, you take care of him/her in every way...monetary, love, EVERYTHING. When the child is not with you, you are not responsible for any of these things. With that said, he believes that child support should be optional and certainly not something that the government should regulate. These are things that he's told me in the past and thus far his actions show that he still believes in all this. I'll end with stating the obvious: he is not a great dad. He isn't even trying to be good...I could go on for hours and days and weeks about how heartbreaking this is but I will let you just imagine.

The issue on my mind lately is child support.

I went a couple of years with no predictable monthly child support. At the time, it would take the state about three months to process the payroll deduction to be able to automatically deduct it from his dad's paycheck. I am pretty sure that what was happening was this: My ex would quit his job (working at his friends business). The state would stop the payroll deduction. My ex would then start working again (same place). A few months later, I would get a small amount of child support-yay. And then soon after, it would stop-boo.

This was just for a handful of years. Three maybe. It was just an unfortunate coincidence that it was three years when I was putting myself through college (working two jobs). Whatever. He did sleep in his van a number of nights, so it wasn't like he was living large either....but still....

ANYWAY, a few years ago, I took the step to get my meager child support amount increased for the first time ever. After 15 years of barely any money, I was awarded a 60% increase. Yay. And let me point out that even with this increase, it still barely covered food for a teenager, clothing and school expenses each month, much less have any impact on helping with housing costs - teen boys take long hot showers and leave at least two lights on every morning. And don't get me started on the amount of dirty clothes...

And now here we are, with just four months until Andrew graduates. And with graduation, comes the end of child support. Which is probably a time of great celebration in my ex's life, but is a pain spot in mine.  Because for me - nothing changes when Andrew graduates. I will still have the same bills for him. Do our courts really expect that my son will start paying his own share of housing costs immediately at graduation? Is he really expected to buy his own food? All his own clothes? And I'll be helping with costs during college, so it's not like all my expenses end when he leaves for school in August...

A little added info for y'all: Andrew has been working for three years. He bought his own car. He pays for his own gas. He pays for his own insurance six months out of the year. He sometimes buys his own food. He will pay for half his shoes twice a year. Oh, and in addition to working a regular job, he tutors two students in guitar lesson.

Point being: one could never say that Andrew is mooching off me. Nor will he ever be. He's wonderful.

Yet, his other parent is not morally bound to help his own offspring be happy and succeed in life beyond the state obligation of age 18 and/or graduated from high school.

**And for what it's worth - I would have given up child support the last 7 years if my ex-husband made the effort to be a father to his child.

Though I feel like the amount I got for child support was not nearly enough to offer much beyond basic will be a hard transition to have to go without.

Have any of you gone through this, or know someone who has, and have anything enlightening to share?


  1. Brian Miller said...:

    i hear your heart in this...esp there at the end...i am sorry. and i can tell you have raised andrew nicely...its cool he bought his own car and it will be tough but i imagine you will be just fine...

  1. (((((((((((( hugs ))))))))))))))

    I haven't been through it, even when my parents divorced they were both very involved in my life and the support went both ways! Heck my dad had custody but I saw my mom all the time.

    I do have friends that are going through it! Have to fight to get what is owed to them and it is not pretty. They have managed to keep their kids pretty centered but still it sucks!

    Sorry he was a dead beat but you did a wonderful job with Andrew!

  1. Lynette said...:

    I will give you a both sides of the fence view. Having been there myself.
    As a mother who went through divorce (my daughter was a teen there) and had child support filed. I know it helped me to pay the bills. But I also had them lower the support to an amount that would help me but still not keep her father from not being able to make it. He paid for a couple of years til he lost his job. Of course it stopped. When he started working again the support did not start up. I needed it but did not fight for it. My fault there. But at the same time I felt he should pay because he wanted to support her. I made it, bit by bit as you know how that goes.
    Now the other side of the fence.
    My husband (after ex, current) divorced early in his children's lives. He did not pay his support timely due to changing jobs, time in jail and time recovering from being in a coma. Yes there are reasons you can not pay at that time. But he paid his support (and still does) for what he would owe if he had been doing it all along. His children are all over the age of 18 and out of school. But he is still paying his back child support as he should. My issue is that our state puts on interest to the back child support. And they compound the interest on it daily! Honestly. What would have been around $20,000 of support from time of divorce til children became 18 yrs old....with interest became over $60,000. Now you see the issue I have. Why should he have to pay another $40,000 on top of his support. That is a lil over the top wouldn't you say. Thus he has worked for the last 6 years two jobs. Of the 60+ hours he works, after taxes and insurance (remember he was in a coma/heart problems, needs insurance on him), then child support is taken out. He is good to have $100 a week of his check. Tell me, who can live on $400 a month or $4,800 a year? And do not say that he should work more than 2 jobs either. There has to be a medium somewhere where one parent gets support and the other parent can still have enough to support themselves. Not sure of the answer but I do not agree to hurt one who is trying so hard to do the best they can do.
    I know this is not your case. I am not saying it is. He still owes you for the years he did not pay. But I feel he only owes you the amount not paid, not double or triple that amount as our state feels. Your ex should be made to pay the back child support weather your son is home or not. You paid to raise him so it is not like you are raking in the dough from this debt.
    I pray good luck for you. And know of all of this, your son loves you deeply. He knows you are always there and always will be. You son is aware you will go to bat for him in a second and I know he will do the same to you.
    Peace be with you.

  1. Raven said...:

    Don't even get me started on the child support system and the BS it entails. It's a total joke. My ex didn't pay child support for a few years (he was most likely working for cash as he was still able to pay his mortgage, etc.) and I'm glad they slapped that interest on him. There needs to be some kind of penalty for not paying your support. A child doesn't suddenly cease needing to eat just cuz that child support doesn't come through.

  1. Pseudo said...:

    My heart goes out to you and it sounds like you raised a wonderful boy. I think someday he will be the father he never had and he will have you to thank for being a positive role model.

  1. I am not sure if the law varies, but I know in Florida if the parent still owes money you can collect for what is owed even when technically the support is supposed to stop.

    I am sorry for what you have been dealing with. I really don't understand dead beat parents or their logic.

  1. My sister is going through this now for her son. His father now has his checks garnished and even though the costs increased greatly with my sister and our parents footing the bill of many medical issues, his father has stayed lazily out of the picture and not offered a cent on my nephew's mounting bills. He's a jerk. And this will be held over his head for the rest of my nephew's life, not because my sister badmouths him, but because my nephew can see the signs himself.

  1. I ache for you. My friend Marni went through something similar. It was awful for her son. I have no advice, but I will pray for you both.

  1. EmptyNester said...:

    I haven't experienced this first hand and the folks we know who divorced are both very involved with their kids. Even those whose kids are young adults now. However, from tutoring around school I have heard some horror stories! It's a shame! A real shame! And my heart goes out to you and Andrew- who already seems more responsible than his father.

    Your post reminded me of a quote from the movie Parenthood..."You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."

  1. Brandy@YDK said...:

    bummer. my nephew gets some social security money because his dad died - i'm not sure when that goes away but that will be hard on my sister.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    Well.... we all know that the father will NEVER step up and support, financially, emotionally, or physically to EITHER ONE of his as much as it sucks...we know that the dad will NEVER change and as we all know money makes things easier....but you got the biggest jackpot...ANDREW. It is so sad for the children that their dad is like he or no money.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    Yea shawn sucks, but it is his loss....dont waste your thoughts on him anymore. You will make it as you always have, and being a damn good mom to andrew at that!
    There are so many single parents out there doing just fine and you are one of them. The best part of the child support ending is there is no longer anything connecting you to him.
    You know I am on both sides, paying support for 19, almost 20 years and not getting it when I was a single mom when ty was little. And the feeling of relief and peace that comes when that connection is ended is far more healthy than a few hundred dollars a month.

  1. Been there, done that and have no advice or words of wisdom. I, too have been blessed to have boys that worked very hard to help with their own things like cars, clothes and insurance. I was also blessed with a 2nd husband who became and extremely wonderful step-father to them - I would never have survived without him. Also, when I became disabled, my boys each received a small check from Social Security which helped tremendously.
    I will be praying for you, but I know you will make it - your heart has been SO big for others, God will help you out.


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