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Question
Posted by: Zee | 2005/07/13

The other side of child maintanance...

Hi everyone,
I would like to get your oppinion on something. I've read some of what was written about child maintance and I do agree that both parties should take responsibility for the child (or children). I know a couple of women who struggle to get maintance from their ex-husbands so I how difficult it can be.

I however have a very good friend who is currently going through a divorce. He and his wife has been seperated for 2.5 years now and finally it came to a point where he wants to get a divorce. I don't know her but it seems like she's using the child (a 3 year old boy) to manipulate him. He currently pays about R5,000, which includes al the child's expenses as well as her car payment and insurence.

Now that he decided to get a laywer involved he realized that he is paying way to much for his income. Off course she is now up in arms, personally I think she just got spoiled with him still supporting her financially. Apparently she wasn't in the position to support both herself and the child in the beginning and that's why they made an agreement that he would pay for the car and what not. (she also now lives with someone else) Everytime he tries to withdraw some of the financial support she tells him he doesn;t care about his son or her family phones him with all kinds of accusations. This really gets to him and he just wants to give it all up.

He also only gets to see his son on her terms. A while back they made arrangement that he would get the son for a few days, but about a week before he was supposed to go she decided that he couldn't have him anymore.

I don't know what to tell him anymore, am I just being narrowminded or is this women using her child to get back at her ex? Shouldn't the child be the first priority?

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Our expert says:
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it does indeed sound as if she is shamelessly abusing her child as a way to prod her ex into paying more to maintain her chosen lifestyle ( even though she is apparently now living with someone else ) rather than actually being concerned purely with the child's welfare. With so much money and heartsore involved, I'm amazed that there haven't been legal proceedings to set down what he needs to pay ( probably less than she demands ) and to grant him proper access ( whatever is best for the child, not whatever suits the vengeful mother). Why dpesn't he let a court decide this for him ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: Swani | 2005/07/14

Lisa, I agree with you. The Rule 38 (court order) is basically a formality. Besides that, he has a duty towards the child. Exploitation however, is not on. The usual tests will apply.

Reply to Swani
Posted by: Liza | 2005/07/14

Swani - sorry to contradict you, but he doesn't have to pay for anything during the seperation EXCEPT if she gets a temporary support order from the court. Both my custody lawyer and my divorce lawyer said the same thing.

Reply to Liza
Posted by: swani | 2005/07/13

This guy leaves himself open to exploitation. Although he HAS to contribute towards the childs maintenance during seperation, this woman is not fair in her demands. Unless the divorce papers are drawn up correctly, she shall carry on spiting him with visitation rights. Been there, the t-shirt is faded. He is welcome to contact me in this regard - swani at email dot com.

Reply to swani
Posted by: zee | 2005/07/13

Tx so much for yor replies!

Being only 23 and never married I'm not always sure how to handle things - what to say and how seperations/divorce work.

Liza tx for the info, unfortunately he will never play her at her own game! He's so tired of fighting that he has basically given up on life, he's not suicidal or anything, its as if he just doesn't care what happens anymore, the only thing that keeps him going is his son...

As far as refering everyone to his lawyer goes: his wife moved to pta with the kid about 2 years ago, while he's still in the Lowveld. Which means he speaks to his son on the phone each day, which means he speaks to her on the phone each day.....

Now the trick question: How do you confince someone who doesn't want to fight anymore that their own life is worth fighting for?

Reply to zee
Posted by: Liza | 2005/07/13

I just hope that I never use my children in this way!

During the seperation, he is legally not obligated to give her a single cent. And until the divorce is finalized, he doesn't have to pay either. Why doesn't he play her at her own game and tell her that the support payments are conditional on him having reasonable visitation with his child? Until the divorce, she can't do anything about it. He only has to start paying after the divorce is final - not from the date of seperation. He might be to fairminded to try this though. Even if what she is doing isn't fair. She is definitely not being fair on the child.

And yes - he should definitely refer all queries/accusations etc to his lawyer. She and her family - as well as the guy she's currently with should seriously catch a wake-up and stop living comfortably from his generosity. R 5000 is far too much for 1 child.

Good luck to him - and you in supporting him through this difficult time.

On a caustic note (sorry sharp edge of the tongue coming out) Does he want things to be easy? Or does he want things to be fair? Easy will cost him a lot and give her everything she wants. Fair will cost him a lot less and give him some of the things he wants (and the child needs). Sometimes you have to put your foot down and stop allowing people to walk all over you!

Reply to Liza
Posted by: lulu | 2005/07/13

Zee, your friend is right to get a lawyer on his side. Obviously, being only seperated, it was nice of him to keep paying her car etc., but she has no right expecting him to continue doing so after they get legally divorced. He has to provide for his child, but so does she.

Unless they have a court order stipulating the amount he has to pay, your friend can pay however much he thinks is fair towards his child. (Personally, I think R5000 is very steep, but it depends on his salary, of course.)

She blackmails him emotionally by telling him he doesn't care for his child or getting her family to phone him. He should tell all of them (her included) that they can speak to his lawyer and give them all his number.

Unfortunately, without a court order, visitation is a problem too. If he wants rights to see his child, he has to get a legal court order forcing this on her. He must also remeber that visitation rights are in no way linked to maintenance payments. A father has the right to see his kids, even if he doesn't pay a single cent towards maintenance.

If she's in another relationship, why does she still feel the need to "get back at him"? He should really get the divorce final and move on with his life. You are absolutely right, the child(ren) should always be the first priority in parents' lives. Pity it almost never works that way, eh?

Good luck!



Reply to lulu
Posted by: Joanne E | 2005/07/13

He can also arrange to pay the school directly, and to buy stuff for the child and deliver it personally if they are in the same town (and even if not perhaps he can order on line)

but 5k does sound like it is a bit extreme. Especially if she is living with some one and he is till paying her expenses.

Reply to Joanne E
Posted by: Susan | 2005/07/13

Some woman do not put the childs best interests first. A little story about what we went through. My husbands exwife had 2 boys when they divorced. The first one was his, the second was another mans (hence the divorce). When the 2nd child was 2 yrs old - out of the blue in the divorce court - she advised him that he is the father. Shock, disbelief, horror, call it what you want but tissue tests were done and he was proved to be the father. Now you are going to ask "surely he knew he was the father?". Not so at all - he didn't think for one minute he was the father. Needless to say and unfortunately for the child they have never really bonded. He hardly knows the child even though he says he's the Dad and the child is now 19 yrs old. Quite sad but true, all because she was a vicious, cruel woman and did not put the child's interest first.

Reply to Susan

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