Can we talk about 50/50 shared parenting at the beginning (before kids), the middle (with kids), and the end (divorce)?
The accusation of “deadbeat dad” is often used to maximize the mom’s divorce settlement, and go for additional money and additional restrictions on the father. While my wife claimed the high road, asking for a collaborative divorce, she had no intention of cooperating with me in the divorce process. She just wanted to make sure I didn’t lawyer up and fight for my rights. She wanted the Standard Possession order, the maximum child support money, and she wanted to keep the house. There was no cooperation once we got to scheduling or money. None.
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The only thing I got out of collaborating with my then-wife was screwed. And a year in, when there was a brief hiccup in my full-time employment, causing me to be late on ONE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENT, she sent our case to the AG’s office for “enforcement.” The files against me as a deadbeat dad to punish me. There was no threat of me avoiding child support or hiding money. (The SPO gives dads about 30% of the time with their kids.)
There was not one instance when I was not available to take my kids whenever the law allowed me to have them.
The only reason my ex-wife filed against me with the AG’s office was to hurt me. In turn, of course, she was hurting our kids. And in a karmic way, she was/is hurting herself. Today, nine years later, she’s still got the AG’s office hounding me for every child-support dollar they can get. Again, there is no threat of her not getting 100% of the money owed for child support. And even when I’m 100% current, I have a mark on my credit report. I think this behavior is the definition of a deadbeat mom.
I Am a Deadbeat Dad
Today when I look at renting an apartment, starting up a new job, or doing anything related to credit ratings and financial stability, I have to give a disclaimer about the mark on my report from the Attorney General’s office. Here is what that mark looks like on my credit report.
Child Support Enforcement. Sounds pretty rough, right? For a while, I was getting my ex-wife to write release letters to my potential employers saying, “He’s a responsible father. We are working together on the financial details of our account.” This was a lie. She’s not working with me at all. She’s using the OAG (Office of the Attorney General) to hurt me. She continues this arrangement because she knows it’s painful for me. And she knows it makes things more difficult for me. I’m paid up. She’s still asking for “enforcement.”
In my mind, that is the definition of a deadbeat mom. I am not shirking my responsibilities. I am fully available and supportive of my kids. She feels it’s in “the best interest of the children” to have me marked as a deadbeat dad on my credit report. I’ve only got one more year of this shit. But she’s enjoyed her pound of flesh. (SEE: Fall of the House of Dad – my latest book.)
Deadbeat Dad Business is Big Business
Title IV D Money in Texas – provides the state with a lot of money. The state department gets federal funds to help collect this money. Child support enforcement is what funds the AG’s Office in Texas. This gives the AG’s office and its officers a high incentive to keep the rates high and keep the money flowing through their system.
According to this video (The Deadbeat Dad Hoax) for the last ten years, Texas has led all other states in the highest amount of child support collection. 4,200 people in the AG’s office, and 2,600 people work in child support enforcement.
62% of the Attorney General’s Office in Texas is devoted entirely to child support enforcement.
The Texas Family Code, section 201.107 (c) states “The presiding judges and the Title IV-D agency shall act and are authorized to take any action necessary to maximize the amount of federal funds available under the Title IV-D program.”
The AG’s office is primarily about collections of child support from dads who are trying to get out of paying for their own kids. This is not me. My wife knows this is not me. She knows I am paying and will continue to pay my child support until my daughter turns 18. She wants to keep me under the thumb of the “enforcement” of Title IV-D because hurting me gives her pleasure.
There Are Deadbeat Dads
Obviously, child support enforcement is a big issue in a divorce. And divorce lawyers are not only trying to get the most money “for their client” they justify this work as being “in the best interest of the children.” If the state of Texas switched to a 50/50 starting point at the beginning of a divorce, the attorneys would lose a ton of business. The state of Texas would lose huge amounts of money if 80% of divorces that currently fund the mom’s side of the house switched to equal parenting and equal financial responsibility.
If Texas switched to shared parenting its entire Attorney General Department would have to look for a new source of revenue. Budgets are determined on how much money is flowing through the AG’s office. My child support payments help raise that total by rewarding them. Why would they want to change it?
In my opinion, moms should not be able to use the AG system to punish good and responsible fathers. My wife should not be allowed to keep us in the “collections” system when I’m paid up and paying up.
Targeting the Dads
But my ex has no intention of making my life any easier. Her financial obligations were much different than mine. She gets her mortgage paid for tax-free. I get a black mark on my credit report for ten years. Ho-hum. No skin off her back. “Show me the money,” is her joyous rally cry. But her moment is coming. As they say, payback is hell.
At some point in time, my kids will learn that their mom was the reason I lost the house we shared. At some point in time, my kids will learn that the divorce was their mom’s idea and that I fought to keep us all together for two months while they finished 3rd and 5th grades. But it’s going to be a bitter victory because all I really wanted was the time with the kids.
All she wanted was the kids and the money and to hurt me in the process, for giving her what she asked for, the divorce.
The whiptail of karma is pointy and strong.
I have no love lost for her behavior, and as the kids get older, they will most likely seek out the truth.
How I Can Help
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See more from The Positive Divorce section:
- My Single Parent Slogan: Every Day At a Time
- How Did I Miss So Much In My Marriage? Divorced, I Now Understand
- Defining the Deadbeat Mom
- The Fear of Divorce: Holding On When You Should Let Go
- Divorce, Depression, and My Ex-wife: Humans of Divorce
- Nine Years Into My Divorce: Finding My Single Parenting Superpower
- Father’s Day: Love Fiercely, Because This All Ends