Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Coping With a Hostile Ex-Wife, Part Two

Again, let me reiterate, I am not a legal professional nor a counselor of any kind. These suggestions are from my own experience and that of my friends.

1. If your ex wife is not following the visitation schedule laid out in the divorce decree, she is violating a court order, is in contempt of court, and can be sent to jail. If you do not have an attorney or cannot afford one, you may fill out the forms yourself. Visit this website for more details.

2. Accept what you cannot change. While I firmly believe that an argument could certainly be made that custodial parents should be required to use child support ONLY for the benefit of the child, this is not how the law works and there is nothing you can do about it. Not paying child support as specified is a violation of a court order. That your ex-wife chooses to spend the child's money on herself--college, a new car, a boat, furniture, clothes--is not something you can do anything about. If your ex-wife starts telling your children that they can't do things because you refuse to pay for it, you do have the right to tell them that you send her a check every month and to tell them how much it is. It is frustrating to write a check every month to someone who is absolutely horrible to you, but try thinking of it as the price you pay to not have to be married to her any longer--it will be worth it.

3. Even if your ex chooses not to work, she is obligated to claim the income she should be making for figuring child support. While a child is under a certain age (check your state rules for this one), a custodial parent may not be obligated to work. After that age, even if your ex chooses to not work, for child support calculations she is required to use the figure she should be earning. If she tries to claim a lower figure, it is voluntary underemployment and is not allowed.

4. Have your own rules in your home and be firm and consistent. Even a very young child will tell you that "Mom lets me...." Be clear that there are different rules at each house, and you can even tell the child that you think that an 8-year-old still sleeping with his mother, going to arcades every night, or eating junk food is harmful, but stay away from saying that the mother is wrong. Don't make the child choose between you or put him or her in the position of defending the bad parent. We found it helpful to arrange playdates with other children & parents who had similar rules. Children learn by example and will be able to figure out for themselves what is "normal" and what isn't.

To be continued....

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