Unfortunately, divorce is a part of life. Often the two people going separate ways fail to consider how deeply the division penetrates. It is not just two people, but rather children, in-laws, and complete families. Lives became intertwined the day the bride and groom said I do. One big happy family… until the day of dissolution comes! Now everyone is picking sides and drawing lines in the sand. Suddenly, the family that was once one-for-all and all-for-one is now each man for himself. No one wants to lose and everyone wants to come out on top, right? I mean let’s be real for just one minute. It would be a rare conversation where you hear two soon-to-be exes insisting that the other take more than their fair share out of the pure goodness of their heart. Nope. Everyone is looking to win. Normally the battle is won by the one that has the best lawyer, more money, more dirt, or less scruples. That may seem somewhat cynical but true none-the-less, more often than not.
What was once a marriage is now nothing more than a negotiation. Having been in this exact spot, I can honestly say, I wanted and needed him to pay. I wanted him to pay for hurting me. I needed him to pay as I transitioned from being a stay-at-home mom to establishing myself as head of household. This may be an unpopular opinion. It was not my opinion at the time, but I do not believe that child support or alimony is due for hurt feelings. Love and marriage are a gamble we take on one another especially if we do so without Christ. If we lose, we lose. As for a time of transition for a spouse who had not been working outside the home on a full-time basis, but was rather taking care of the family, I agree that there should be some amount of assistance for a limited time. An ex-spouse should not be looked upon as welfare until the child or children turn 18. Having children or adopting children is a shared responsibility as is the support of those children when a marriage dissolves.
I can say all of these things because I once thought and acted differently. What would have been best for me was for him to help me get on my feet so that I could become an independent, confident woman that could honor her half of the financial responsibility and then wish me well. By doing so, our children would have seen two healthy, happy homes and perhaps two parents that wanted the best for each other and most of all their children.
I once heard of a woman fighting in the negotiation process because she felt that she was somehow due an amount to compensate her for the years that she was his wife? Let’s be real for a moment. He was also a husband for all those years. I would say we could call that one even. The problem here is that no one wants to take blame, even his or her part of the blame, for the marriage ending. I have found the one that protests too much and slings the blame like mud – demanding the fine china – is normally the one who should look in the mirror. The other one normally already has and feels like an absolute failure. I am not condoning divorce here, not by any means. I believe that all efforts to reconcile should be made. However, if one does refuse to accept at least part of the responsibility, it is not my opinion that the other should be doomed to a life of misery and poverty. I have witnessed hard working, loving parents that sacrifice to the point of almost being homeless to meet the responsibility and obligations of the financial devastation caused by failed relationships. All the while, the other was in a luxury home eating at all the finest establishments. This is not what divorce should be about! Everyone is hurting and everyone should be ok.
So, more often than not, at least one person is out to make the other pay as penance even if on a subconscious level, at least in my experience.
Now let’s get to child support. Here are a few of my thoughts on that. It is for the CHILD! It is not money that the paying parent should tell the child is on the way and to make sure that they ask the receiving parent for because it is meant for them to go to the mall! It is not money for the receiving parent to go to the nail spa with or to go get a Brazilian wax! The transfer of such money should be obvious when you look at the child. The child should be well fed, well groomed, and physically fit. The child should not have on two-year-old glasses, two-year old t-shirts, and the tennis shoes that the other parent bought during last summer’s visit. When the custodial parent has newer clothes and better kept hair and nails than the child, one might realize there could be a problem. I think the custodial parent should be required to provide an account of how the money was spent on the child.
Child support is NOT a bargaining chip for access to the child!
Somewhere along the line, child support has become a penalty payment for the one ordered to pay. The one paying has to pay taxes on it as income that they earned even though they are not keeping it, while the receiving parent does not even have to claim it as income. I could go on and on!
The saddest part of this to me is when a custodial parent manipulates a child and interferes with the development of a healthy relationship with the other parent. The paying parent becomes nothing more than the person who signs the check and loses their voice.
In the end, no one wins. Certainly, it is the child that loses.
If you find yourself in this situation, I can say I have been there in all of the roles! The old saying used to be, “Been there. Got the t-shirt.” My heart aches for all, but mostly for the child in the middle of it all. I know that writing this blog won’t solve a thing. It may even infuriate some. All that I can hope for is that someone who may read this, and finds him or herself in this dynamic, will choose to be the better person. It is never too late to look in the mirror to see how you might change your part of this situation. We cannot change others; we can only change ourselves and pray for others.
Until Next Time,
Note from the author- Although this was written from a man’s perspective, it can easily be applied in reverse.
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