Every day I see clients that all have post divorce issues, but the one that I run into the most is about child support. Money is always a touchy subject and one of the more prevalent causes of divorce.
This one client, we will call her Ms. X, came to my office the other day and she was furious. She explained to me that she and Mr. X had agreed on child support, which was above the minimum required by her state. She also explained that although she was grateful that Mr. X was willing to pay more than the state required minimum, it still did not cover the essentials and that her new husband was coming out of pocket every single month to the tune of thousands of dollars to help support her children.
Now, Ms. X works, but her job does not pay her much, in fact, it barely covers the cost of child care. Mr. X, on the other hand, has a high profile job, owns 3 homes and 2 cars and his annual income and lifestyle has not changed since the divorce. Ms. X and her new husband recently moved to a new home that is in a desirable school district and Ms. X is considering moving her children from private school to public school. Ms. X has sole decision making regarding the education of her children.
When Ms. X spoke to Mr. X about this, he got very angry. Not because she was moving the children, as he told her he did not care where she put the children into school, but because he did not want to continue to pay that much in child support if his children were not in private school. He also threatened to take her to court to reduce his child support payments to the state minimum required support.
Ms. X is upset. She does not know what to do. She feels it is in her children's best interest to be in this sought-after public school and it is in her best interest to move them because it is more cost effective. She does not have enough money to cover her children's everyday expenses along with their private school education with the support she is getting and the salary she is making. She also feels it is unfair for her new husband to have to cover their expenses, when he has his own children he is also supporting.
Ms. X explained to Mr. X that the support does not cover even half of the children's expenses and that her husband is carrying the majority of those monthly expenses. Mr. X responded that he was also paying for his children's expenses as well, but Ms. X feels that since these are his children, he should be covering the majority of their expenses. Ms. X also told me that the children were too young to be enrolled in school when she and Mr. X divorced, so the amount of support was not contingent on the children's educational expenses.
Ms. X feels like she is stuck and that Mr. X, once again, has taken control of her life. She does not want to be under his power and he is using the money as a weapon. She divorced Mr. X for a reason, and this was one of them.
From a consultant's point of view, there are several issues at play here. Mr. X is using the money to control what Ms. X can and does with her children, even though he agreed to a pay a certain amount over the state minimum requirements and did not ask for certain rights, such as deciding education. Ms. X's current husband knew going into the marriage with Ms. X that he was going to be incurring expenses from her children. Ms. X needs to take a stand against both these men in her life.
Ms. X needs to do what is in the best interest of her children. Since Mr. X seems determined to cut back the support from Ms. X's perspective, she needs to discuss with her husband the cost difference between what she has now and what she would have without the private school tuition, but less child support. Then she needs to make a decision as to what to do.
I find it sad and, frankly, unbelievable, that Mr. X would punish his children by threatening to withdraw the previously agreed upon amount of child support. Ms. X did not ask for more funds each year as the children got older and their expenses grew. She also did not ask for more child support when she decided to enroll her children in private school; nor did she ask for more support as the cost of private school tuition went up every year. But, now Mr. X does not want to pay what he agreed to pay.
Ms. X gave me permission to discuss this issue online. What are your thoughts for Ms. X?