Our expert says:
Thanks for your question, which has just arrived. The present financial situation with your son's father : has this just "happened" between you, or as the issue of maintenance decided by a court ? It's usually best to have such matter decided by a court, as they can insist that an irresponsible father can't get away with simply claiming to have no funds or assets, but can ask them to prove that. The court can decide on what he should be able to afford, and require him to pay that, concentrating on the needs of the child.
If the father genuinely has limited funds, it is all the more his duty to protect any of the child's clothes and possessions when the child visits him, and not to allow them to get damaged or to do missing.
It makes no sense whatever for any of the child's cloths to go missing during a visit to his father. Does the father perhaps have a second family of some sort, to which he transfer your son's clothes ? They'd hardly have any second-hand value. Speaking calmly with your son, what does he say happens to his clothes ? And how doe he say his other stuff get damaged ?
It should be possible for you to have serious but calm discussions about such matters, with him, but not in front of the child.
It'd probably be wise for you to get proper legal advice, perhaps from the maintenance court or the family advocate. It's obviously him who has no compassion, and he seems to have found a way to pay negative maintenance, by paying nothing and actually needlessly adding to your costs.
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