I think I had mentioned a while back, my ex had asked my son to spend the summer with him. I've been a bit preoccupied to post about it. Ex picked up son a week ago, yes, I've been childless for a week. We've talked on the phone several times. Things seem to be going well, so far. It will be interesting to see what happens after tomorrow. Tomorrow I have to go to court. Ex filed for a modification of custody (no problem) and support (wait till ya hear this one).
First, a little history:
February 2002 - for the first time since our divorce (1994) I filed to increase child support. I never did it previously because I was afraid that ex would take it out on son (It was sons encouragement & choice that I go to court). We suffered much hardship due to this. Over the course of those 8 years, I incurred $22,000 of debt just to get by. I was salaried, once a month and made less than $21,000 a year. I was starting bankruptcy proceedings, when I got my job at MIT in 2001. (I have since paid off every dime of that $22,000 debt). Ex was making over $60,000 a year at this time. The court wanted to increase support to $250.00 per week. I requested that they only increase it to $200 ($75), in the hopes that ex would see that I was being reasonable and just pay it. He figured that since he was paying me more money, I could afford the gas to drop son off & pick him up. He lives 25 minutes away. I felt that it was his responsibility to pick up and drop off his son, if he wanted to see him. I refused to be manipulated, coerced or browbeaten to give into this selfish mans demands anymore. Son lived with me and took care of him 24/7. He didn't see his son for 3 months.
October 2002 - Ex was injured at work and child support was reduced to $150.00 per week.
October 2002 - June 2006
Ex buys a new truck, he and wife take a 3 week vacation, cross country to the Black Hills Sturgis Bike Rally (two Harleys in tow, one worth over $17k). Ex & wife go on vacation to Jamaica. Ex & wife go on vacation to Florida. Ex goes to NASCAR races in southern states. Ex buys new 5th wheel camping trailer. Ex buys new fishing boat. Ex buys truck for $1000 as a Christmas present to son. Ex & wife take 10 day vacation to Florida Keys (January '06). Ex builds new deck and installs new jacuzzi/hottub. Ex falls behind $2,450.00 in child support.
October 2002 - June 2006
Mom pays off $22,000 of bad debt. Mom buys new car for first time in 19 years (because '91 Plymouth Acclaim became too dangerous to drive). Mom takes son on first vacation (that she paid for) since 1994 (a 3 day camping trip to western Massachusetts and 1 day a Six Flags amusement park). Roof leak causes electricity to go out in one wall of home, ceiling fan, home alarm, lights and outlets fail in an entire wall of home - Mom cannot afford to pay for repairs.
June 2006 - Ex files papers with court for temporary (summer = 8 weeks) custody of son and requests not only, to not pay child support, but that I pay him $150.00 a week support. (Keep in mind that I pay $92.00 a week family coverage for medical/dental insurance for me & my son and that ex owes $2,450.00 in back support). Not only did he file these papers, he hand delivered them to me, instead of having me served by a sheriff. He claims that he has no finances and he can't afford the cost of having me served. Also, our son is staying with him for the summer to work construction, framing houses (both being paid under the table, of course). Ex is claiming he's indigent. Ex is trying to get Federal Disability from Social Security.
Pause, for laughter, and chins being picked up off the floor.
One thing you have to understand, my ex thinks that I use the child support money he pays for my own entertainment. He thinks I use it as party money. (Little does he know, I haven't gone out partying in years.) When we got divorced, he told me that if I ever tried to increase the amount he paid for child support he would quit his job and work under the table and I would get nothing, because he would be making nothing (on the books). He doesn't have a clue what it costs to raise a child. He doesn't care what it costs. He hates having to give me any money. This is part of the reason why I am allowing our son to stay with him for the summer. I feel that son is old enough now to deal with his father. I want both father and son to get a reality check. Son to see that it ain't so bad with Mom. Father to see, not only, what it's really like being a parent, but also how expensive it is to raise a teenager. This child goes through a gallon of milk in two days and does a load of laundry a day. My grocery bill was $150 a week and my electic $40.
What do you think the court will decide?
My main concern with all of this is that ex will change his mind about son staying with him for the summer, when things don't go his way. Then I'll be screwed. This child cannot be home alone for 10 hours a day. I was scouting summer camps and jobs at the end of March, when ex asked son to live with him for the summer. I want the court to make ex honor his commitment. To top things off, ex mentioned that he has plans for one weekend during the summer (he couldn't recall the dates) and son couldn't stay with him at that time. This just pissed me off. Ex has been "visiting" his son every 3 to 6 weeks for the last two years. There is no set schedule. When son wants to see father and father has plans, too bad. If I want to make plans, or have something special I'd like to attend, ex always has plans for that weekend and cannot take son. So, I end up staying home. Don't get me wrong, I feel it's my job as a parent. My responsiblity is to do the right thing for my son and be a good parent. If I miss out on something I'd like to do, oh well, I made that decision when I decided to become a mother. Ex has never been inconvenienced, or cancelled plans for his son.
The court will not even address ex's modification until he pays child support arrears. He could be thrown in jail for contempt of a support order, until he pays arrears. When the court hears what ex can afford in the way of purchases and vacations, they very well could retroactively increase support.
I'm sure there will be fireworks tomorrow, just not the 4th of July kind. I will be blamed for whatever the outcome, even though ex is the one that filed for this court appearance.