Would You Damage Your Co-Parent’s Livelihood If You Could?

Would You Damage Your Co-Parent’s Livelihood If You Could?

How do you support or damage your co-parent?

I know it’s a weird question, but it keeps coming up for me. Let me explain.

Do you know how your credit report works in today’s financial world? Rent, car payments, credit card rates, and some banks will use your credit rating to deny you services or charge you higher (in some cases 3X and 4X) rates. So, when my ex-wife decided, one year after our divorce was finalized, to turn her grievance over to the Attorney General’s office of the state of Texas, I begged her not to do it. I told her my plans for getting caught up. I was one week behind. She claimed she was doing it to protect our kid’s assets. But that can’t be true. There is no single loophole that will get a father out of paying 100% of his child support obligation. None. Not bankruptcy. Not a lawsuit. Only death ends the pursuit of remuneration. So why did my ex-wife file against me? Why did she think it was a good idea to set me up with the state of Texas as a deadbeat dad?

Was I hiding money from her? Was I refusing to pay my share? Was she at risk of losing the house? The answer to all of these, as you may guess, is no. She was not in grave financial danger. And she admitted, a few days before she filed, that she did not think I was hiding money. So what was the reason?

I was working for a small marketing firm and we just lost most significant client. I was caught up on my payments ($1,350 per month) but I knew that the next few months might get a bit tight. The firm had to replace the income to keep the cash flow going to all us employees. I told my ex-wife, “I’m probably going to get late on a few payments, but I will get caught up. This is a temporary setback.”

I was one week late on the payment when she sent me an email.

“I’m sorry. I know this is bad timing. But I turned the accounts over to the AG’s office today.”

The bad timing she was referring to was my attempt to work with Wells Fargo to reset my mortgage rate. Her actions killed all of my opportunities to renegotiate with the bank, and in the end, I was forced to see my house three months later. Again, I ask, what was going through her mind that made the AG’s office seem like a good idea? What threat was in her mind? Or was there some other reason?

Is it possible my ex-wife was just stark-raving mad at me? Was her action punitive?

As we’ve moved along this co-parenting (not much effort on her part at all) she has seen fit to keep the AG’s office on my ass. Even after I’ve paid her all the money she’s owed. I’ve suggested a few options and she’s responded, “I don’t see what the benefit to me is.”

She’s not interested in helping me at all, for any reason. And my credit problems as a result of the AG’s historical lean on my finances is also not her problem. But the effect of her continued case with the AG’s office is that my credit won’t allow me to buy a vacuum cleaner on credit. (I have a good vacuum cleaner, but you get my point.) She’s still got the screws in me. And for what reason? Did she get 100% of the money she was owed? Yes.

There must be some other reason she’s still so mad at me. Or some other reason that keeps her invested in having the AG’s office attached to our financial relationship. I don’t understand the initial impulse, because I can’t imagine doing anything remotely similar to her. And I can’t understand her current state of rage when she’s been paid and she’s “happily” remarried to a man who has plenty of money. What’s the point of keeping a sharp blade at your ex-husband’s neck?

A friend I was having lunch with last week asked, “Well, there must be something you’re doing. What’s your part in this?”

I keep asking myself this question. The only answer I can come up with is she’s furious about this blog. She always has been. She demanded that I not write it. She’s demanded that I never write about her or the kids, ever. And, I suppose, if I’m honest, this is a bit of a smoldering record of our struggles. Again, my intention here is not to make it about her. My life and goals are focused on my kids and my own recovery from the divorce. She is on her own. But the AG’s involvement keeps her hand on the reigns of my financial life.

Moving forward, my oldest son is about to be 18. This will reduce my monthly payment to $950. Still, a sizable chunk of change, especially after I pay the taxes. So, she’s getting her money. And my daughter has two more years to do.

I am doing my best to let go of the anger about this situation. But every time a bank turns me down, even from starting a savings account, there is always one reason given. My trouble with the AG’s office. And these problems stay on your credit report for up to 8 years. So 10 years from now, after my daughter’s child support is paid off, and I’ve been clear for 8 years, I’ll be free of my ex-wife’s devastating financial attack. She didn’t have an urgent need for the money then. She doesn’t have an urgent need for the money now. She’s just keeping the AG’s office in our business because she’s mad.

And with that, I hope that she stays healthy and well. I wish her only the best. I just wish she’d understand how keeping the AG’s office on the attack against her ex-husband is actually bad for her as well. What hurts your children will always hurt you. I am limited by my credit report from doing things with my kids that I would like to do.

My motto of dealing with my ex-wife and her anger: Focus on your children. Love your children.

Always Love,

John McElhenney
@wholeparent

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