Posted by Arkie Mama (cross-posted here)
This issue has caused more stress in my life and on my marriage than any other. It's difficult enough to muddle through finances with your partner. Try adding in another household and state laws that make no sense. I am so frustrated and depressed right now. I need to know that at some point, we'll catch a break. But really, I don't see how.
I hate child support...
...and the calculations behind it. (Here, it's based solely on the father's income and applies only to the children of the divorce. Children from any future marriages are not factored in.)
... Because on the very night I'm trying to figure out how (and when) we can afford to buy some spring/summer clothes for Tootie, Hubs comes back from his ex-wife's house talking — no, let's make that "gushing" — about Stepson's new Wii system.
... Because for the first two years of our marriage, when the ex arrived every other weekend, she always had a list for Hubs of all the "extra" expenses, which usually totaled, on average, about $150 to $200. That's $300 to $400 a month ON TOP OF child support.
... Because she always left with a check.
... Because when I got pregnant, even though Hubs always paid several hundred dollars a month MORE than required by state law in child support — not just the "extras" but also one-half of day care and, later, after-school care — the ex sued him for additional money.
... Because while I worry each month about how we will afford new shoes or clothes or day care-related expenses or birthdays, holidays, etc... etc... for the kids, his ex is putting in an in-ground pool, ordering custom-made furniture or re-doing their house (for the millionth time) or installing a tikki bar out back.
... Because I never knew what debt was — or how scary it is — until I married a divorced father.
... Because a divorced mom knows for sure she'll get xxx number of dollars each month whereas a woman married to a divorced dad shuffles and repriortizes and puts off purchases because she has to work with what is left.
... Because most states don't recognize fathers as parents with the same rights as mothers.
... Because even though we can't afford to buy a new washing machine, even after the repairman told us our current one was an ancient piece of shit that can't be fixed and it frequently attacks the dryer like some rabid beast, the ex-wife and her hubs are tooling around in their travel trailer or on his fully loaded Honda motorcycle.
... Because my glasses are 6 years old, but I can't yet justify new ones, because Hubs needs new glasses and contacts, because I still owe the dentist a hunk of money, because Tootie still needs to go to the dentist, because there are so many things, big and little, and plumbing issues and on and on and on that we've put off buying for months, but to HER it's no big deal to just zip out and buy a fucking Wii. Or a shiny red, fully loaded Camaro convertible.
... Because I remember the look on Hubs face when she pulled up in that car. Shortly after suing him for more money.
... Because I've skipped birthday parties and other social functions when we didn't have the money for presents or food contributions. But god forbid that stepson doesn't get a car by the day he turns 16 (in June). Oh, and by the way, can we chip in for half of his insurance?
(Um... excuse me ex, but when you and Hubs sold your house, is it not correct that you walked away with $30,000 and he received $1,500 per your divorce decree? I know it is because I've read it. I also read the document Hubs' attorney made him sign saying she had advised him against such an unfair split. As always, however, he gave in to you. For the kids. So hey, why not consider your profit on that little number Hubs' insurance contribution? Sounds like a good idea to me.
...Because it's fucking unfair. Because child support laws make it near impossible for a man to remarry or have additional children. A woman, however, gets the child support, a new spouse and his salary, and whatever income she earns.
...Because in order for things to be truly equitable, I would have to divorce my husband. Because then Hubs' paycheck would be divided among ALL FOUR KIDS.
... Because my brother-in-law raised four kids without a dime of child support from his ex-wife. Because the only thing we ever hear about are "deadbeat dads" when really, the mothers are equal offenders. C'mon, are we still employing 1950s thinking here? Geez. If you're going to pursue the fathers, then -- HELLO?! -- go after the mothers too. Because a lot of them don't pay either.
... Because Hubs is a great dad who has given and given and given. And because of the guilt he feels when he can't provide the same things for the second set of kids.
Yeah, I'm in a bad mood. Yeah, I'm pissed. And yeah, the fucking Wii was the fucking last straw.
I hate the greediness, unfairness and resentment that the current system breeds. I hate the stupid, gender-specific child support laws. I hate that my kids will always get the leftovers. If there are any leftovers. And yeah, it makes me resentful and yeah, I'm probably a horrible stepmother for feeling so resentful. I hate feeling like such a bitch because my stepkids are great, and I don't want to see them deprived of anything, but goddammit it pains me to see my own kids go without necessities while the other household gets a Wii the minute they hit the market.
But tra-la-fucking-la, life goes fucking on, and I'll just have to re-budget — again — this month, and try not to turn into a raging maniac as stepson's birthday approaches and the ex starts calling about a car.
(I posted this last night, after drinking much wine at a girlfriend's house and having yet another freakout session over finances. Then I reconsidered and took it down. But hey, what the hell. I'm re-posting and people can think I'm horrible. Cuz this is life as a stepmom, folks, and it isn't always easy. And there's a helluva a lot of room for resentment.)