When it comes to shared parenting, the biggest bone of contention for most separated couples is money. Unfortunately, not everyone plays fair, and the injustice can eat away at you. For this reason, I’d like to share some of my story about how my ex pays me nothing, but after many years, I am at peace with it.
This article will help if you are a mum who has your child or children full time or most of the time, and their dad doesn’t pay towards their upbringing.
I’ll talk about:
I’m not going to be bagging my ex or your ex. Instead, I want you to spend less time fantasising over how to slash his tyres and refocus so you live a happier life … even if you are paying for everything.
Every family breakup is different. Therefore, each set of circumstances are unique. Consequently, there are many ways single mums find themselves with full financial responsibility for their children.
Here are just a few.
Basically, your ex has pissed off.
It’s easy to live off-grid if you choose. And your ex may have made that choice so he can renege on his financial duties as a parent.
Although Child Support does attempt to track down payment-owing parents, this is not their focus. Finding your ex is the first step in a long, drawn-out process to get some of what you are owed.
If this is you, try these options to find your ex:
Have you tried all these with no luck?
Keep reading to learn how to find peace if your ex pays you nothing.
Even if your ex is behind bars, he is still meant to pay you Child Support.
But don’t get too excited.
Child Support is income-based and they will only pay if their income exceeds a certain amount. This amount will not be reached on a prison wage.
If you have sole parental responsibility for your children, it does not necessarily mean you are solely responsible for covering all expenses related to the children.
Sole parental responsibility primarily pertains to decision-making authority regarding significant aspects of the child’s life, such as education, health, and religious upbringing.
Although it doesn’t automatically dictate financial responsibility, you may have requested it for one of the following reasons:
Even if you have arranged for sole parental responsibility with total financial obligation, it is still hard mentally and practically to bear the brunt of these costs.
Okay, so dad is out of work? Or at least he claims he is.
If the father of your child doesn’t work or doesn’t earn the threshold amount to pay Child Support, he is off Scott-free.
And forget the cash-in-hand wage you know he’s getting. It means nothing if it’s not through the books.
Surely he’d still pay if he’s self-employed?
There are thousands of mothers coughing up full financial expenses for their kids while their ex earns more than them and pays them nothing … in plain sight.
Yes, as a self-employed guy who states his wages as he wishes, it’s easy (and legal!) to keep them conveniently under the Child Support threshold. Meaning, he can earn plenty and not pay you a red cent.
As mentioned, I’m not dwelling on this point. If you’re reading this article, you’ve likely tried everything to get your ex to pay you. Just in case though, here are some ideas.
Further reading: The essential guide to Child Support for beginners.
Okay, so you’re getting nothing from the father of your kids and your purse strings are under pressure? You don’t want to begrudge him or feel bitter as it’s messing with your happy vibe?
Here are my suggestions to find peace:
This is top of my list of suggestions because it is one of the best ways to handle your current situation.
I’m gonna start with this poem/mantra/prayer:
Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change
The strength to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Basically, you can’t change or control how your ex behaves. But you do have control over how you react to it. Once you accept this, you can let go of the desperate need for him to be a better person and pay up.
The fact is: You can’t make him do something he doesn’t want to do, however morally wrong his behaviour is.
Instead, focus on yourself. Use the energy you were wasting trying to change another person to improve your own actions, behaviour and inner thoughts. Think:
Just as important as my first point …
You should be bloody proud of yourself.
My girls are older now but I look back at how I handled my financial responsibilities single-handedly, and I glow with pride.
If you struggle with feeling proud, do this:
You are entitled to feel proud of yourself every moment of every day for the big things and the little things that we take for granted.
Make pride a regular emotion you own and feel once a day, at the very least.
Further reading: Why being a single mum makes me so damn proud.
Changing your narrative starts with changing what you say to yourself.
It might be that your current narrative includes this kind of wording:
My ex is an arsehole
It’s not fair that I have to pay for everything
This situation is a disaster
However, this negative self-talk fuels the fire of your frustration.
Instead, change your narrative to things like:
My ex makes his own choices, which he has to live with
I am a strong, capable mum providing single-handedly for my children
I have made the very best out of a challenging situation and for that, I am proud
Do you want to feel bitter and hard done by? Or confident, capable and happy?
Only you can change your own story.
So, you’re ramping up your positive self-talk? Why keep it in?
It’s time to share your positive thoughts.
I know money is a sensitive topic. I don’t share my private finances with just anyone, but I’m not afraid to tell people that I am financially responsible for my children.
My most common line is:
I’ve never received a cent in child support, but that’s his issue, not mine.
Then I’ll move on swiftly, leaving people with the knowledge that I’m a kick-arse alpha mum providing big time for my kids.
After all, it is the truth.
Note: The point of telling people is not to have a whinge and further manifest the issue, so be careful that doesn’t happen. We are being honest, proud and factual.
While we’re on the topic of honesty and sharing, let’s talk about what to tell the kids.
It’s important to remember that each child and situation is different. Moreover, the kind of information we share with them is dependent on age, maturity and personality.
We should share facts in an age-appropriate manner without (and this is essential) putting down their dad. Your children need to know why you can’t afford the same items that their friends have. And the main reason for this is because you are living on one income with no contribution from their dad.
Note: Bear in mind that money talk can worry kids. They might feel concerned that there isn’t enough or worry that you are stressed about it. Young kids deserve to live without money anxieties.
On the other hand, if your children are slightly older and want a particular costly item you can’t afford, explain to them why. But keep it clean.
For example, instead of saying:
Well, if your dickhead of a dad put his hand in his pocket and paid for anything, you might be able to have it.
As you know, I pay for everything myself, and for that reason, I’m gonna have to say no.
Children (even young children) join the dots and work it out for themselves.
Which leads me to my next point.
Trust that your children will work out the truth sooner than you think.
When difficult moments arise and you can’t afford to buy them something they want, tell them why.
Other than that, sit back and know the penny will eventually drop. They’ll see different family dynamics and compare them to their own. It will become apparent to them who is supporting them financially, and also, who is not.
While they might not be able to get the latest iPhone, they will know everything they do get comes from you.
Knowing their mum is a supermum who provides for them on her own is a fact that will stay with them forever.
Yes, being the sole provider for your family might be a struggle, but you are doing some kick-ass role modelling for your kids.
Here are just some of the messages you are (possibly unknowingly) passing on to them:
I love the term: Rise above it. It works perfectly when your ex pays nothing towards the upbringing of your kids.
The scenario is simple: He pays for nothing and you pay for everything.
Who is the better person here?
Don’t lower yourself to the level of a man who thinks it’s okay to renege on his financial responsibilities to his own children.
Instead, rise above the drama, the excuses, the disappointment and the sheer frustration of it. Take yourself to a place of peace.
If your ex doesn’t want to pay you anything for raising his kids, he’ll make sure that any payments through Child Support are dismal.
I have heard of single mums whose exes are expected to pay less than a dollar a week!
Even if you are owed more than this, it likely won’t make a massive difference to your financial situation. For this reason, weigh up whether the money is worth it or not.
Just think, if you take no money, you owe him absolutely nothing. And, there are advantages to being financially estranged from your ex.
Is the amount of money you might have got really worth the fight it takes to get it and the ongoing dialogue about money that you may need to have with him?
Change your mindset to know your life is easier in many ways without the drama that would come with his money.
Don’t live with the thought process that you need something from your ex.
If he’s not been paying, and you and your children are still functioning, this is proof that you don’t need him. It also confirms how damn capable you are of doing life ON. YOUR. OWN.
For many ex-couples, there was once a time when you relied heavily on one another, believing you needed each other to tackle life.
Reality check: You do not need your ex anymore. Not emotionally, not practically, and not financially.
See how far you have come, you strong, amazing, independent mum.
Knowing you are not the only mum in the world doing it completely alone is a comforting thought.
There are heaps of single mothers who are 100% responsible for the financial upbringing of their children. Situations vary. For some, the children’s dad is no longer on the scene. For others, he still plays a part in their children’s life. In both cases, they pay nothing towards the day-to-day expenses of their children.
It is more common than you may think. Out of all my single mum friends, two have an ex who contributes.
Reach out to other single mums in a similar situation, not to ex-bash (however tempting). Rather, share ideas on how to manage on one income and, of course, to give one another a pat on the back.
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