Child Support: My Story

The issue of child support is a touchy one. This will be a three part issue. The first part will be my story, the second will be a man’s story and the third will be a woman’s story. I’m going to explore multiple sides about the importance of child support and give you truth here. This may be a trigger post for some of you. So, if it is, please stay off my page with your drama. I am all about trying to equalize the argument for the benefits for financially supporting your children.

Many people see child support as a bad thing. It’s deemed the devil because many states require a man to pay 1/3 or more of his salary supporting a “lazy momma” while being denied visitation or being forced to work multiple jobs to even live.  Others see it as the only way to make a man financially responsible for his child while checking out emotionally. It is a vicious cycle and in reality there are some truths to both sides. Let’s discuss the reality.

In reality, children require more than just love to grow into healthy adults. It takes money. Can your child live without clothes, medical, dental, food or shelter? Nope.

Okay, good. Now, before you start saying that I’m pro the destruction of the man, stop it. I’m not. Women who don’t raise their children should also pay child support. I believe that everyone has a financial responsibility for their children.

For the record, I don’t get nor have I ever filed child support against my ex-husband. He doesn’t get it either. In fact, we agreed that we would equally split expenses for our son. So, I have no “skin” in the game to protect any financial support you think I may be getting.

Now, the difference between me and some other women is that I can afford to take care of my son without his father’s help. It’s not a bad thing. It’s reality. I’ve been blessed to have a great career that allows me both the financial and emotional means to be present for my son. However, I recognize that not everyone can say that they are as fortunate. Some women and men actually need the financial support of the other parent.

 

When I was growing up, my dad was ordered to pay $200 a month in child support for three kids. Yes, I said that right – three kids. Ask me how many checks we received?

Zero.

Not one.

My dad lived his life getting paid under the table. He avoided paying child support like it was a contagious disease. He refused to catch it.

Did he feel bad? In my opinion no. Anyone that avoids the financial support of their child doesn’t have a conscious. Therefore, they can’t feel bad for not doing for their child. Combine that with the fact that he lived in another state and didn’t see us and you have the trifecta of a poor example as a father.

He was not present. Financially, emotionally, spiritually or any form or fashion. We were a non-factor in his life. The life he lived in avoidance.

So, I watched my mother struggle. Struggle to put clothes on our back and food on our table. Struggle to work multiple jobs and go to school so she could provide a better life for us.

I imagined that the better life she was working on would provide better clothes, better shoes and more of an opportunity to have her present. See, when a person doesn’t take care of their children, it leaves the other parent to take care of the slack. But, it took two people to create that child. How come one person gets to slack on their responsibility?

 

Because of that hard life of learning to survive in spite of my circumstances, I worked hard. I didn’t want children. I wouldn’t bring a child into this world without being able to support them on my own. I would never give anyone that power to determine the fate of my child/children.

I would be better than that.

And I did. I worked hard to get my career off the ground. Even when my marriage ended and I had to re-shift my focus, it became about the most important asset in my life. My Munch. He was more important than any job or my career. I needed him to know that.

So, I spoke up. I told my employers during the interview stage that I am a mom first. That it is just me and that I will always be there for my son. I won’t miss school plays, programs or games. I will be present on the first day of school and every day thereafter. I only have him for a short time before he is released into the world, hopefully making it a better place.

My responsibilities were to my son first.  My employers understood. They respected my decision. So, I continued to rise in my career without sacrificing because I was a mother. I have been very fortunate to have that.

Even this summer when I had to adjust my schedule to get my son to and from camp. I called on my village and they helped out. My supervisor understood that I had camp that started at 9 am and there was no before care. I didn’t get to work until 9:45 am. My mother went in early and took off to pick up Munch from camp at 3pm.

I take off to take him to doctor’s appointments, to volunteer in his school, attend his programs (like the art camp) or if he’s sick. My supervisor allows flexibility because it’s just me. I need it. My mother didn’t have that. She had me.

I missed school if my siblings were sick. She had to work. We had to take care of each other.

I’m not ignorant to the fact that Munch has the best of both worlds…a mother that can afford to provide and a mother that is present. This is in direct contrast with what I experienced, but experience taught me. I chose to be a mother and I chose to have a career and thankfully I am able to have them both.

The lack of child support or financial means pushed me to work harder and become more determined to not be another statistic. We needed the financial support from my dad, but we lived and thrived in spite of. No one should ever have to be in that position.

-Part 2: His View On Child Support is Next-

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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Dead Beat Parents

Okay, so I have a bone to pick with dead beat parents. The ones that know that they have children and they do nothing to financially support their children. This applies to both male and female parents. I’m not picking on one gender.

Let me explain this clearly…

It costs money to raise children. You can’t raise children on sunshine and rainbows. Can they eat that? No. Can they walk to school or catch the bus on cotton balls? No. They need shoes. They can’t go to school naked. They need clothes.

I don’t care if you make minimum wage or a million dollars you have to provide for your children. That is a parent’s responsibility. Don’t want to be a parent? Don’t have sex. EVER. Why not? Because it is a possibility that you could become one.

I will NEVER EVER believe that it is okay for a parent to shirk their financial obligations to their children. The minute they were formed in that woman’s womb and you knew you were going to be a parent you should step up and do more. It is possible. Anything’s possible.

I provide support for my son. My ex-husband provides support for our son. It is not 50/50, but it’s acceptable. I provide my son’s health, dental and vision expenses solely. We split childcare. When my son is with him he feeds and clothes him. When he’s with me, I do the same.

I provide about 60% of my son’s care. This means that I pay for all his activities (swim lessons, guitar lessons, soccer, etc) and supplies (guitar, soccer cleats, balls, swim trunks, etc). I buy school supplies and tennis shoes. His dad buys school clothes. His dad isn’t working at the moment, but is still keeping up his end of the bargain with getting his son’s hair cut, feeding and clothing him.

Oh and he does the extras that I admire even though he’s not working. Being available to take him to doctors/dentists appointments on my week, following the school bus the first day of school to make sure that his son got on the right bus and got off the bus, getting his hair cut and splitting childcare expenses.

Now, if my ex-husband who is not working and is able to provide why the hell can’t some of these dead beat parents do the same? I mean what is the issue. I don’t care if you have to get a part-time job or sell yourself on the side to make ends meet you should always be able to provide something for your child. There is no excuse.

What’s even worse is that some of these parents think this is acceptable parenting. Let me help you…It’s not. When you don’t pay child support and you don’t have custody of your child it is a damn shame that you don’t buy your kids school clothes, tennis shoes, birthday or Christmas gifts. You then sit up there and act like you’re parent of the year.

You are not! You’re a joke. You need to step up and do better. Male or female. You need to know that these children have needs and you need to be able to meet those needs. Financially.

Okay, rant over!

Real Talk: Child Support Drama

Can we get real for a second? I wrote last week about how we choose men and then consider them unfit to be more than a weekend dad and now I want to talk about the child support drama. Now, before going off on me, please read the entire post.

Okay, do I believe in child support? Yes, I do. We can’t raise children on purely love, hugs and kisses. It takes finances to be able to raise children. In other words, you paid to play, you paid to lay and now you have to pay to raise.

Simple truth.

For the Ladies…

Some women (if it doesn’t apply to you stop getting mad) use child support as a weapon against their child’s father. They in turn use that support for things that have nothing to do with the child. Is that fair? No.

It takes two parents to raise a child. If you are a woman and your children are school age you need to get a job. You need to provide financial support for your children as well. You need to be able to raise your children financially. We can’t assume that the other parent has to do it all. He shouldn’t have to.

Neither should you. But, you need to be working. Let’s be honest…it takes more than one income to raise children from infancy through college. You need to be a productive member of society showing your children that you worked hard to provide for them.

For the Men…

It is never acceptable for you to go off and make a new life and not support your children. Children have needs and expenses that require both parents to participate in. Nope, I’m not asking you to pay my rent, mortgage, utilities or car note. I’m asking you to help with the expenses of health, dental, vision and schooling including activities.

You can’t be a every other weekend dad and just take care of your child 4 days out of 30 or 31. What the hell is wrong with you? Who is supposed to do it the rest of the time? Your children have expenses and is the mother of your child supposed to figure it out?

I remember hearing my mother beg my father to support us (it was 3 of us) once a year. She said “My two hardest times are when school starts and Christmas. If you take one of those events I will support them the rest of the year on my own.” You know what he said? No.

My Story…

I’ve had men tell me that I’m a good woman because when I asked for a divorce I said we could have joint custody. No child support. That doesn’t make me a good woman. I did it because I believed that we could both support our child without having the courts interfere.

But, here’s a piece of information that I found out when going through a divorce…Child support looks at both incomes. My lawyer told me that because I made substantially more than my ex-husband that I would have to pay him $497 a month to keep his son 50% of the time. Say what now?

Yes, I couldn’t believe it. She asked, “Why did you marry someone who wasn’t in your tax bracket?” I was stunned. I responded “We dated in our mid-twenties. It wasn’t that big of a deal when we were younger. He likes working in the non-profit field. They don’t pay as much. I didn’t care. I wanted him to work wherever he’s happy.” She said, “Well, now you could pay for it.” I responded, “No, I will never pay a man to keep his child 50% of the time. I still have bills and expenses including trying to save for college. I can’t afford that. I’ll file for sole custody before I pay child support.”

I went on talking and explaining my expenses for my son that I pay for without ever asking for financial reimbursement from his dad. I told her that I keep him on my health insurance because I do this for a living and would never have him on a plan that wasn’t phenomenal. I told her that in the beginning of the divorce, I actually divided and shared my son’s clothes so his dad could slowly rebuild. Anything that benefited my son I was doing. She added those numbers in and had it down to $10 a month.

But, what about me? Was I wrong in my thinking? I mean after hearing that I would have to pay my ex-husband child support to take care of our son half the time I was willing to change the circumstances of what I had initially agreed to. Was it fair? In my mind I believed that to be the case which is why I called him.

I told him what my lawyer said. I told him that “In the interest of being fair, I just found out that I would have to pay you $497 a month to keep your son 50% of the time in child support.” I said, “I’m not going to do it. I will never pay someone child support to keep their child 50% of the time knowing that I do a lot that I’ve never asked for reimbursement for anything I’ve paid for. I’m also saving for his college fund. I will file for sole custody with a visitation schedule if you want child support.”

Yep, I was kinda rude. I own it. But, he was understanding and he knew that I would have to pay him support but agreed to not take anything from me. That doesn’t make me a good woman because I didn’t take him to court for child support. I understood the differences in our income and knew that my son’s father does support his son. He may not do it at the level I do financially, but that is okay because I make more.

Finally…

Parents need to support their children. It takes two parents and we’ve got to make sure that we are not using our children as pawns or paychecks. I know that I don’t. I just ask that you consider not doing it either.

We need to support our children. Not by yourself but as an equal partner. You see that word? Partner. It’s the same letters as in Parent. Co-parent.