Ex-Etiquette: Think of the children when paying child support

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Q. The pandemic has affected my income and although I can still pay child support, it makes me furious that my ex is using it for rent and a car instead of stuff for the kids. I give the mother of my children thousands of dollars a month and get my oldest son back with ripped jeans and a faded sweatshirt. How can I make him do what’s right? What is a good ex-label?

A. Oh my god, so many RED flags. Bright red. Really red. Here’s why:

1. “How can I get…” translates to “How can I get my ex to do what I want?” ” You can not. You can only control yourself and how you act. Start there. Set a positive example and that’s what you’ll get back. “Ask and listen” is a better philosophy than “How can I get?” »

2. You can’t judge a book by its cover. If your kids are a little fashion-conscious, they’ll tell you that jeans with holes and faded sweatshirts can be a bit more expensive than dark jeans with no holes and a brightly colored sweatshirt. Depends on the label. And have you put the price on tennis shoes lately?

3. Rent IS for children. Maybe that’s the difference between everyone crammed into a studio or a three-bedroom home. Cars are also for children. They are used to commuting to work so she can contribute, bring the kids to school and take them to extracurricular activities. If she’s living above her means, that’s a decision she’ll have to make, but on the face of it, the things that upset you don’t benefit. They are life.

I must say, however, that your concern is not unusual. I often hear this complaint from angry parents, especially if they don’t talk to each other and get most of their information from each other from their children. Children do not know the financial details and could pass on incorrect information. If you have a question, ask mom. But be careful how you approach it. It’s really not up to you how she spends the money you’re doomed to give her.

The amount of child support to be paid is based on a computer program. In California, the program is called DissoMaster (Disso for short). It may be called something else in other states. You feed the program with your joint income and the time the children spend with each of you, and it calculates a number. So unless you’re a zillionaire, the amount you have to pay for child support isn’t determined by negotiation, but by a computer program.

Finally, I bet when you transfer the money to your co-parent, you imagine them spending the money on lavish things. In your mind, you see them in a new car or a bigger house, and it makes your blood boil. Instead, imagine your child smiling, perhaps playing the sport they love to play. Imagine them happy and enjoying life and see if you still don’t like paying child support. It’s for your children. It’s a good ex-label.

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation” and founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com.

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