It is the Summer of 2017.
And I just finished writing a check made out to my ex-husband in the amount of $32.72. This is a child support check I send him weekly for our 18-year-old daughter.
Just in case you didn’t read Part I of this story… Let me rewind to Spring 2012.
“What the hell is wrong with him, he walked away with a great divorce settlement… he knows the kids and I are living in a much worse financial situation than he… when will he stop wanting more and MORE?!?!”, I asked my lawyer in desperation.
My lawyer finally answered me with complete matter-of-fact confidence.
“He won’t stop…. Not until your youngest child turns 21 and he can’t drag you back to family court anymore for MORE money. In fact, I can guarantee that he won’t stop, until YOU have to pay HIM child support. Believe me, I know his type, unfortunately, I’ve seen it before.”
I literally laughed out loud. “No Way!!” I said. “never happen.”
To be honest, I don’t know if I’m naive or just plain old stupid. But, hot-damn that lawyer was right!
Within a year of her prediction, I began to start seeing some unusual behavior from my ex. He had a court ordered weekly dinner visitation with our daughter, and suddenly he stopped canceling them and started to actually be in town on those days. Plus, he’d be on time to pick her up and, Holy Moly, he would even treat her to a mini-shopping spree at the mall after dinner. (Who is this person and what did you do with my ex??? Was this the same guy who wouldn’t even buy her a pair of flip-flops??)
Unfortunately, some of his behaviors didn’t change. The family court petitions continued with a vengeance. His six-figure salary remained steady, as I struggled to re-enter the workforce earning minimum wage after a 23 year+ SAHM sabbatical. So, our financial situations remained grossly unbalanced.
As weeks turned into months, my finances continued to hemorrhage at a rapid rate, while his flourished. And it certainly wasn’t helping my financial situation to ask a teenage girl to live on 10% of the lifestyle she was accustomed to prior to the Divorce. It’s like suddenly taking away her hearing and sight… but unfortunately not her voice box!!
My sweet little girl had turned into an out-of-control teenage Helen Keller and I felt like Anne Sullivan at the water pump.
I was desperately trying to show her the beauty of the “free things” in life: a hot-pink sunset, cuddling with her puppy, warm cookies out of the oven, our Love for eachother…. I thought she was old enough to understand that her father’s greed for money, power and more and more, had actually ruined our marriage and was also making our post-divorce life pretty miserable as well.
But unfortunately, we didn’t have our W-A-T-E-R Breakthrough Moment where it all becomes crystal clear and she finally understands. Nope… we had the “Show Me The Money!!!” moment from Jerry Maguire. And before I knew it she was moving in full time with her father.
My ex couldn’t have planned it better. I had found out my job wasn’t being renewed and was in the process of downsizing and looking for job opportunities in the town where my boyfriend was living. I was hopeful moving out of town may finally get my ex to stop his financial and emotional harassment through the family court system and give my daughter and I the fresh start we desperately needed.
But my fresh start did not measure-up to his promises of a brand new car when she turned 16 and significant makeup and clothing budget. Therefore, she moved in full time with him, he pocketed the $2,000.00 a month child support check and was back to living on 100% of his full salary and I moved out of state.
When my lawyer predicted his actions years ago, I was convinced he was incapable of such atrocities. I clearly wasn’t aware at the depth of my ex-husband’s post-divorce vengeance, nor did I understand it. I still don’t understand it. I’ve just resolved myself to the fact that he won’t stop, he can’t stop… even if he wanted to.