Child support. I get it. There are those who pay too much (so they think), or too little (or not at all). Those who hide assets, quit jobs… anything so that the greedy ex won’t get money that she or he does not deserve.
After all, with all the loads of child support, she’s no doubt buying Jimmy Choos and heading to the Alps when it gets too hot at home, right?
But there are no words to describe the furor in which the man I married, Rob, had towards his ex “Tina” for the child support he paid her.
He thought it an outrageous amount and he was counting the minutes until his 17-year old would be taken out of the equation. In his mind, Tina was underemployed on purpose. She was lazy and lived off “his” money. He would become so angry and agitated anytime support was ever discussed, that it was one of the millions of reasons to hit the bars, get drunk and come home a very Mean Drunk Rob. Screaming at me. It was a lovely experience.
As I’ve written about before, “Kellie”, Rob’s younger daughter, boycotted our wedding after a big argument. Around Christmas, the two of them made peace and Kellie started doing her typical rotation of one week with us and one week with her mom. That arrangement only lasted about four months before Kellie told Rob that if he drank around her again, she would stop living with him. And, true to form for an alcoholic (or at least an alcoholic like Rob), he drank in front of her and a few days later, she announced that she would no longer be living with Rob.
After Kellie told Rob she wouldn’t be living with him anymore, Rob was served with papers. Tina, Rob’s ex wife, was taking Rob back to court for full custody and for a re-calculation of child support. That sent Rob into a bigger drinking tailspin and me into a total panic.
Rob started saying even worse things about his ex wife and his daughter. “Tina only cares about Kellie because she represents dollars!” and “Kellie only goes to her mom because she’s buying her love.”
In my mind, I was thinking: “You drank in front of her when she told you she hated it. Look in the mirror, buddy.”
In August, Rob went to mediation with Tina, the mediator also interviewed Kellie. We got the report and the mediator recommended that Tina get full custody of Kellie and child support was recalculated. Instead of Rob’s child support going down to about $500 per month after his older daughter, Nikki, graduated, it increased to about $1,400 per month. Rob was livid. Like flames coming out of his head.
“That’s fine! Just wait and see. I won’t even buy that girl a pencil when she goes to college! I hope Tina saves for her college fund!” Rob screamed in a drunken tirade.
When he calmed down, he wrote Kellie a letter and asked that I give it to her. “Tell her that I recorded the mediation session with her mom and the mediator railed against Tina because she’s alienating Kellie from me.” Was that true? Rob said no but I wasn’t sure. Since Kellie and I were still on speaking terms, I asked if she wanted to go to yogurt with me. I picked her up and we sat outside the yogurt store while Kellie read Rob’s letter. I wish I had a copy of it but the gist was that Rob told Kellie that her mom cheated on him, that he was a victim in their marriage, that if she didn’t have a father, awful things might happen to her… Kellie cried while she read the letter. I felt like an idiot but I was still Rob’s champion and really sincerely wanted Rob and Kalie to have a good relationship. I didn’t understand such animosity between children and parents because I had literally never seen it or experienced it. I was baffled and confused and horrified.
Kellie looked at me and said, “You don’t even know. You have no idea. I just love my mom so much.” And that’s how she left it. I couldn’t “talk” her into wanting a bigger relationship with her dad at that time.
When I told Rob, he was disappointed. But a few weeks later, after a few drinks and that glassy look again, he tried to blame me for it. “You should never have given Kellie that letter!” he screamed at me. Oh no he did not!
“Stop right there, Rob,” I said. “Don’t even try to blame me for something you asked me to do. Look in the mirror and for once take responsibility for your actions.”
He started screaming at me some more, in that high pitched ridiculously horrific voice of his. I grabbed my keys and went to my friend Shannon’s house while I called my ex-boyfriend, Tom, the love of my life, the one who got away, the one I wanted to be with not this scream drunk lunatic. I talked to Tom the whole way over To Shannon’s, a good 30 minutes away. How the hell did I end up with this guy with the beer gut and soprano scream? I wondered. I cried. Why wasn’t I with Tom, this amazing, kind, smart guy who dumped me. Life was unfair. I was panicked. I hated my life.
Soon, Rob became even more “in your face” when it came to Tina and Kellie. They became the number one enemy. Every time Rob saw Kellie with a new cell phone or Rayban sunglasses, Rob became angry. “I can’t believe Tina is taking my money to buy Kellie all this stuff!” When Tina purchased Kellie a convertible Mustang for her sixteenth birthday, he texted Kellie, “You need to thank me for buying you that car.” One day, we saw Tina and Kellie driving that car and Rob tried to drive faster than them down the road. It was so incredibly juvenile and mean.
The icing on the cake was the following year during health enrollment season. Tina asked Rob to cover Kellie on his medical plan. Since he was already covering our entire family, adding Kellie would have cost him not a penny more. He refused. Instead, he had me cover the family on my insurance plan that year so that if Tina took him to court, the judge would not be able to order me to cover Kellie’s health insurance. When Rob and Tina went to court and the judge asked why Rob didn’t cover his daughter’s insurance, Tina responded, “Out of spite.” True.
I tried to be the supportive wife. But I was in a no-win. I supported him and tried to prop him up, he got drunk and screamed at me. I told him to shut up, be a man, and support his kids, he got drunk and screamed at me. It all came down to money. Not his children. Oh, yes, and hatred towards his ex wife. That lazy loser, the same words he used to describe me when I went on disability to fight cancer.
What a guy.