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Inspired by similar thread - Don't know where to post this - Need to talk, this is LONG! Sorry!

(31 Posts)
skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 12:24:27

Have been with DP for 8.5 years. He has 2 DD's, 15 & 12 and we have one DS together, who is 6.
DSD's live with their BM and SF but we see them fortnightly. Our DS lives with us, obviously.

Although we are not married, I have always veiwed that as just a minor technicality and we've always lived as if we are and I have embrassed the role of SM to DSD's ever since I first met them 8.5 years ago.

DP's exW classes herself as poor. They live in a 3 bed council house. She has 4 children in total and has never worked or made any attempt to work. Her 'now' husband earns a very low income.
DP pays maintenance but the fathers of her other 2 do not.

I have always worked full time in a reasonably well paid job. We 'agreed' that we would only have 1 DS between us because we can't afford any more or to upgrade car/house/space to accomodate 4 DC's when we have DSD's.

I do not class us as poor - but actually, we probably are if you weighed up a comparison of what is left over after everything has come in and everything gone out, his ExW probably has more disposable cash than we do! She just chooses to spend it in different places/priorities.

Example:
I/we gave up smoking & therefore with what we saved, we could (eventually) carpet our house.
She smokes 20 a day and lives with no carpet in her house. In ExW's eyes, this = she is poor as she doesn't even have carpet & I am not poor because at least we have carpet in our house.

DP and I have struggled like mad since the moment we got together. Financially, we just stuck everything in one pot and lived out of that. For most of the reltionship, DP has always earned slightly more than me, so that by the time his maintenance, petrol to see kids (approx £150 pm), extras for kids had been paid, we'd both put roughly the same into 'our' pot.

For the last year, during credit crunch, DP has earned considerably less than me - several hundred pounds less. Then his maintenance goes out of his salary, then we pay for ALL the petrol to see kids as well as food etc when they are with us. His ExW always complains that they are poor and can't afford school shoes/trainers/xyz and so DP buys it on top of everything as doesn't like seeing his kids go without. All of this comes out of our joint pot.

If you added it up and took it out of just his salary, there is no way he could then afford his 'half' of the living expenses that we have, (not his fault, credit crunch has hit us hard and we are in a bad way financially!)

Anyway, it is driving us apart (as well as other stuff at the moment) as I am increasingly bitter that I work full time, sacrificed any other children and we are struggling - yet he just hands over money, won;t change any of the arrangemenst or even tell his ExW that we are struggling too at the moment.

Obviously, I don't begrudge the maintenance, before I get flamed for that. And I do know how he feels to see his kids sent to school in rags/crappy stuff - a lot of the time it is not acceptable, it breaks my heart too!

BUT these children live on MacDonalds, have approx 300 DVD's between them, an x-box, phones, a whole range of things that I can't afford for my DS and his ExW smokes 20 gigs a day and has a litre of Vodka a week. (then tells DP they live hand to mouth, are too poor for carpets in their house and can't afford uniform etc)
DP insists they are all treated the same at b'day and xmas (despite DSD's getting it all again and DS not)

I feel such a mug and like I am being taken for a ride, because I see it as 'my' money that is paying the petrol, buying the lunch, paying for the school trip/new trainers etc.

If we are ok, then I don't mind this, but when we are overdrawn and it DP's week to go and see the kids, I'm getting so bitter that there is no petrol money but he won;t say anything to them, he'll just keep going overdrawn - anything to make sure none of them are impacted at all!

How do I get out of this?

KaPe Wed 26-Aug-09 12:39:23

Have you used the CSA calculator to check how much DH actually does owe in maintenance, given his decrease in earnings?

skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 12:50:34

Yes we have. DP earns a commision salary so every month is different, so we can;t afford to set a high rate and pay her loads, incase the next month is rubbish and we can't meet the set payment.

So, we agreed a monthly rate based on the yearly amount he earnt, which we pay every month and then they had the agreement that instead of giving her extra if he earnt more, that he would buy extra's as and when they need them, if he had a good month (and if he didn't, he could credit card stuff and pay it off the next month - that never happened and we got into HUGE debt!)

Now with the reduced salery, he is paying about £10 a month too much in his maintenance payment (that's fine, I don;t mind that!!) - BUT then pays £150 in petrol as he does ALL the travel to see them + food for when they are with us + she will still say DD needs shoes.

I have explained to him that his maintenance is more than CSA would say now, and we can't do the extra's. So he once put this to ExW who went off on one about how she can't do it all and they are poor...so she will say fine they can go in old shoes (which we have seen, and is NOT acceptable!) He will break and say to me, 'we can afford £10 for shoes can't we?!'
I sat no, and he buys them anyway and we row - or I feel so terrible (as I do love these kids!) that I say yes, go on then.

skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 13:01:56

Also what happens is we seperate a small amount of money from the 'main pot' into an account for DP - it's just incase he needs any whilst he is at work etc/on the road

In the past, he has said that he will buy stuff out of 'his' money so that I "can't moan" about it "if it matters that much to me"!

So, he has done, in week 1 when he can afford it - then in week 4 when he has completely run out of money and forgetton to take a pcked lunch to work, he'll buy his lunch etc out of the 'main pot'.

I see that if he hadn't have bought the shoes, he would have had enough to buy his lunch, so effectively, I have bought the shoes from the 'main pot'.....he doesn't get that though!

SammyK Wed 26-Aug-09 13:04:03

This is why DP and I have never put into a pot. He pays mortgage, CSA (plus arrears from a cock up of theirs) and his loan (from when young and irreponsible and living with ex). I pay everything else (bills, groceries, my small loan, etc). Christmas and birthdays I do everyone's (children that is including neices and nehews), and he does his two older sons.

We are in a similar family situation to yours and I too made the decision to stick with the one DS and not have any more.

I know of a family where the mum was not spending maintenance on the child, and the dad would buy uniform out of the maintenenance before handing it over. This is an extreme case of neglect I am thinking of though where the child had no toys and was sharing a toothbrush! shock angry

Perhaps your DP could consider this arrangement? Were their shoes too small? Or just tatty? If they fit and didn't have holes in I wouldn't have bought more. But can understand if they weren't acceptable to wear for health reasons.

It is massively frustrating - I try my very best not to compare my stepson's mums standard of life to ours. It doesn't do any good at all, just gets you all annoyed and resentful!

I think the issue here needs to be with your DP - he should be doing everything in his power to sort the issue out as best he can.

It may be hard but I would consider seperating your finances. Although this too has it's downsides as I now pay for everything alone for our (my) DS.

ChocHobNob Wed 26-Aug-09 13:05:29

It's a very difficult situation if your partner just doesn't want to change anything, especially as it seems his ex will let the children go without the essentials (school clothes etc).

Now you are earning more, would it be possible for you to seperate your "pot" so the money towards the SC just comes out of his income?

I hope someone can come along with more advice, it sounds like a horrible situation to be in for your, your H and all children involved.

SammyK Wed 26-Aug-09 13:08:06

Just seen the ages of the older children. At this age they are old enough to have it explained by their dad that he has gven mum the money for their uniforms and so on and while he is struggling he cannot afford to give them more money on top of that. She could buy them both a pair of back ballet pumps from Primark for school for the cost of a pack of cigs/macdonalds meal!

I know of teens who know their parents waste their money - they are old enough to see what is going on.

KaPe Wed 26-Aug-09 13:08:13

May I ask who moved away? The ex or DH?

I believe that petrol costs can be offset from the maintenance payments (don't quote me on that though).

ChocHobNob Wed 26-Aug-09 13:14:52

They can if through the CSA. It would be up to the ex if she would agree though.

skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 13:17:12

Thanks so much for talking to me SammyK - helps to know I am not alone in the situation as I certainly feel it a lot of the time!

Having bad day today!

I think my main issue with DP in total is about the lack of responsibility he takes in everything. He won't do "everything in his power to sort the issue out as best he can" about ANYTHING!
Easier to leave it to me, which is why i am feeling like a resentful, bitter old trout at the moment.

Also, I did agree to 1 DC (when in my 20's) Now in my 30's hormones have hit and I would LOVE another DC. He says no. Too old/can;t afford it blah blah.

So i work full time and spend my money on his DC's while ExW won't work and has 4 sad

skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 13:24:43

Oh thanks to all of you for responding!! Sorry, it moved so fast!!

Yes, I keep telling him that petrol can be offset against maintenance - I thought that wa sthe case too!

he moved out of their home - it was a council flat. She got upgraded to a 3 bed house. We were renting about 20 mins from them.

4 years ago, we had got ourselves together enough to be abl eto buy a house (I wanted the stability for my son, of not being moved on if landlord wanted property back etc)

BUT the only way we could afford a house on our budget was to move way out of the area (about 70 miles away).

ExW doesn't drive. They used to have a car but NEVER did any journeys - said it was DP's fault for moving, if he wanted to see kids then he should drive etc.

So he does.

I have mentioned that this is not really fair and surely someone (CSA or something) would see that he is paying maintenace, then huge chunk in petrol (& time) - but he doesn't want to rock the boat.

These are people that will quite happily start a punch-up on the doorstep in front of kids - bad-mouth DP to kids etc etc

SammyK Wed 26-Aug-09 13:43:05

Yes my DP is useless and passive with his finances too, it drives me up the wall, that is why I have detached our finances as much as I can. In the past I have tried suggesting things, waiting hours in CAB with a tiny baby for his financial problems, spent hours budgetting, worrying, etc.

He also doesn't like to 'rock the boat' but worries less about this now the boys are older and can make their own way here.

Have you had a really thorough discussion about how you are feeling? Could you do a few sessions at relate maybe?

I often feel I would have loved another dc, but have other reasons as well as DP's older sons (to do with DP as a partner with a baby - not great, my health - prolapse and HG when pg, my energy - my DS is autistic). I just do my best to enjoy my only - he is the light of my life and makes everything worth it.

If I felt my DS was missing out though as 'my' money was being spent on step children I too would be feeling resentful of DP. CHristmas is another good reason to seperate things too I think. I spend less on DS and 10 nieces and nephews as DP does on the two boys! Oh and he is always in debt, in his overdraft, skint, etc. hmm

When your DP is earning well can you then afford everything without problems?

skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 14:26:46

I wouldn't say we can afford everything...we just have a much more breathing space.

We've never managed to afford a holiday or a Nintendo wii for DS or even to put much away in savings.

But as we are, we are struggling to make the ends meet together.

DP & I had dreams about what we wanted out of life and I am working hard to try and strive forward to acheive this - and if we are achievng it then the other sacrfices are worth it...but when we are not, it's harder to live with!

I would LOVE to go to relate. I have been asking DP for the last year! Various reasons. He asked us to wait 6 months to see if we could put it right ourselves. Nothing changed. So after 6 months i asked agian. We had row after row about it.

Then he agreed, but low and behold we just couldn't afford it!! It is so expensive! the woman on the phone said we could try to do something but she sounded so much like it was such achore for them to be able to do the session without the money, that I hung up, cried and didn't pursue it.

I'm thinking about trying to raise funds and go by myself, but I have a friend who did that and she said it just pushed her and her DP further apart as she couldn't relay what she was learning about herself/thoughts without him being negative and dismisive/twisting things. I think my DP would be like that.

skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 14:38:28

<<Note - i make reference to Nintendo wii because Ds would lOVE one.
ExW family have bought a wii, sold the wii to by an x-box, put the x-box upstairs and then bought another, second-hand, wii as they prefered it afterall!!>> shock

ChocHobNob Wed 26-Aug-09 14:42:36

Relate can be very expensive. We couldn't afford it either in the end.

SussexGirl8 Wed 26-Aug-09 15:58:01

I can relate so much to this post. I dont have any DC because I haven't been able to conceive and have been told that I probably wont in the future (messed up tubes). DH has 3 children and always told me that he would love a DC with me "one day". One day has never come and now he says that we couldn't afford one of our own anyway and that he had "done all that" and wanted to do things that he wouldn't be able to do if he still had a young child sad

We too, struggle, month by month and are in debt to the hilt on credit cards (£4,000 of which was to pay to take two youngest stepchildren on holiday for two weeks 3 years ago). We dont buy each other anything for Christmas because we spend around £150 each on the three children (their mum spends around £300+ each on them). DH has always paid his CSA payments (and so he should), plus we pay half of school trips, for shoes, trainers, half towards a car (for eldest DS, despite the fact that he works and earns more than me and has no outgoings!). We live 160 miles away from SC (DH moved away because of his job, but the children's mother finished relationship with him nearly a year before this). Because of this we only see the children once a month as it costs us over £100 in petrol plus what we spend on the kids when we have them, cinema, theme parks, swimming etc. When we got married last year, DHs ex went straight to the CSA to tell them (even though he had already declared it) and it has cost him an extra £20 a month as they are taking my wages into account now. DH tried to get the CSA to take his travelling into account as a round trip to have them is 640 miles, but they offered something in the region of £10 per month off his payments. He was so insulted he told them to forget it! Do you know anyone who could do a 640 mile round trip in a petrol car for £10???? angry

Anyway, despite all this, his ex still phones him and tells him he needs to pay for this that and the other because she cant afford it. She hasn't worked since pregnant with their youngest and has claimed benefits the whole times whilst working cash in hand at various places (despite being done for benefit fraud in the past). She was even getting benefits for eldest child who wasn't living with her! She has a three bedroomed house, rent paid for, no council tax to pay and is regularly buying clothes, plasma TVs, laptops etc. She drinks like a fish (to the extent where I have been told she has a serious drink problem) and smokes. She goes abroad on holiday virtually every year but never takes the kids, yet refused to contribute one penny for the children when we took them away and we had to buy them a whole load of clothes as she packed them stuff which didn't fit or was stained and horrible!

She is always earning large amounts of money from different sources (some we believe are dodgy and none are declared) and apparently her latest venture is due to net her in a small fortune in the next few weeks (the children tell us about these things). Yet she is still asking us for money to pay for things such as credit for mobile phones, trainers etc.

We on the other hand, work over 50 hours a week each, are currently struggling to pay our mortgage, have just had to buy another car as ours packed up and would mean we wouldn't be able to travel to see the kids, are credit carded up to the hilt, are overdrawn each month and cant afford to have or do anything we want to do. We are currently looking at renting our tiny spare bedroom out for some extra income as at this rate we will be defaulting on the mortgage!

As much as I love my stepchildren and would never want to see them go without (which they dont, they are totally spoilt) I do get resentful that my life is affected in such a huge way because of his ex dictating what we should spend our money on. I knew DH had children when I met him, but I never expected us to have to struggle with all the extras on top of maintenance and visitation spends. There is no way DH could afford all this if he was on his own, we cant afford it with joint salaries sad

So basicaly no advice Skyblu, I just wanted to let you know that I know exactly how you are feeling and it does suck. However, I do try and tell myself every day that I love my DH and I love his kids and that although it is hard at the moment, it will get better as the children get older and we still will have plenty of time to grow old together gracefully and hopefully better financially!

skyblu Wed 26-Aug-09 17:27:26

Sussexgirl8 sad

Thanks so much for your post. I know there is no 'advice' as such, it still helps - thank-you!

I know people always say that a mans children should ALWAYS come before any future partner and I do agree - but I also think it is so unfair that his future can be so controlled by the mother of the children, if she so wishes, in so many cases, for so many years. In my case, and it seems, others too, the 'second' family are almost punished because the first get to call the shots. Either because of the law/CSA or with emotional trips!

When you fall in love with a man who has children from a previous relationship, you don't know at that time the extent to which it will affect your life - how can you?...I was 23, no kids, living with parents - so niave!!
I'd always loved children and beleived I could extend myself to loving his - but if I'd have known or understood all the reasons that mean his ExW would have SO much power, influence and control over our future...???!

I didn't do anything wrong. I am a kind and decent person from a decent family & background. I'm honest and hard-working, and I do my best to be a good step-mother yet i feel I am punished for it.

You say that you look forward to growing old together and hopefully better off financially - I used to think that too.
But as the DSD's are hitting their teens & with the 'attitudes & principles' that are being installed in them now by the area that they live, I hate to say it but they are both prime candidates for young pregnancies (nothing would make their mother happier!btw) and so I fear it may be never-ending.

skyblu Thu 27-Aug-09 09:58:40

Actually - I have a question for anyone who goes through the CSA with their maintenance:

If the absent parent gets married and the new wife's salary is taken into account when calculating mainenance payments (as Sussexgirl, describes - there's went up by £20 when they got married)
Does the CSA take into account any salary that the 'other' parents new husband/wife earn?

So, do the tables turn if the parent living with the children marries somebody wealthy on a good salary, do the maintenance payments decrease for the absent parent if they are not earning much?

SussexGirl8 Thu 27-Aug-09 11:37:31

Skyblu, thank you for your kind words, sorry I couldn't help more.

This is where the CSA system breaks down in my opinion, unfortunately my DH's ex could be married to a multi millionaire, but that would not make any difference whatsoever to DH's maintenance payments. They only take into account the partner of the absentee parent, not the parent with care. Incidentally, they dont actually take the wages into account (because technically there is an argument that says that the spouse doesn't have any legal or financial obligation regarding stepchildren) however, the way they go around it is that they say that the spouses wages contribute towards payment of the absentee parents overheads such as mortgage etc. and so his payments go up as they say his overheads have gone down! Its a really bad system in my honest opinion.

Although I do feel strongly that all absentee parents should pay for their children, I cant help thinking that the ones who do pay regularly and do all they can for their kids get penalised to make up for the ones who dont pay which I do think is unfair!

I know what you mean about young teens, my stepchildren have terrible attitudes, much of which has been installed in them by their mother (constant badmouthing of DH, getting drunk in front of children, swearing all the time at them etc. I could go on, but I wouldn't want to bore you). DH is such a good Dad and loves his children unconditionally, as do I, but it is very hard when every time they stay with us and have a good time, that the enjoyment is lost by the negativity of them afterwards realising that their mum doesn't want them to have a good time, so they feel guilty and get stroppy and miserable before they go home. Its very very hard. I so wish that we all had a good relationship with their mother, but she refuses to be civil, despite the fact that she split up with DH and him and we never got together until 3 years later, I just dont understand why she is so bitter, except that maybe she is gutted he moved on and she hasn't (shes still single after 9 years!). angry

KaPe Thu 27-Aug-09 11:52:41

It depends on under which system the initial assessment was made. Under the new system, the NRP's partner's income is no longer taken into account.

Not the only fault in the system ... my ex's Skids would be taken into account if he was ever assessed for maintenance (no intention to take anything, so just in theory). So imagine, Skids' father pays maintenance for them, my ex would be allowed to reduce his maintenance to his bio DD because of them. Skids would get taken into account twice, DD would get less than they do. They would have 1.5 fathers paying for them, DD would get 0.5 father paying for her.

SussexGirl8 Thu 27-Aug-09 15:49:42

KaPe, yes sorry you are right, I meant to add that DH is on the old system where the spouses wages are taken into account, the new system no longer does this.

Yes I agree there are many faults in the CSA system, I really dont know how they can say they are "for the children" because quite often the children lose out and good fathers who pay regularly for their children get penalised for the bad fathers who dont pay!

mrsjammi Thu 27-Aug-09 18:45:51

Message withdrawn

skyblu Fri 28-Aug-09 08:54:37

I agree MrsJammi! If only those brick walls that I encounter could see the sense in that too!

UPDATE - a bit of a straw that's broken the camels back has occured.
ExW has asked for school shoes for both DSD's - stating that she has had to buy all their uniform and can't do all so he'll have to get their shoes.

(Both DSD's told me last week that they didn;t need any new uniform, had skirts/trousers/shirts...hmm

We have NO money left this month. I have already discussed with DP that DS will have to put with his old shoes until half term as I can't get new ones yet.

DP has agreed with that and said that he can't get them this month - they will have to wait until pay day and he'll get them out of 'his' money.

Feel like screaming! He won't tell her about our financial situation. He'll just say to her that he can't do it until pay day - ExW won't care as pay day is next time he see's them anyway!

I know that he'll buy them with 'his' money but then when he runs out later in the month he'll take money from 'our' pot.
We will go overdrawn end up with yet another £22 fee for being overdrawn!

If I argue this with him he gets all huffy and says that "Fine" he won't take anything from 'our' pot, he'll go without!!

Cue yet another row.

My argument then is, if you can afford to take out money for school shoes and NOT touch 'our' pot - then why are you giving that money away to your ExW? Why can't you give it back to 'us' towards food or petrol or the new radiator we need before winter, or the new wheel bearing & tyres for the car that we need, or the car tax - all of which need to happen out of next months money!!...to help prevent US from being over-bloody-drawn each month???

I hastened to add that ExW WILL still have fags & booze although she 'can't afford' shoes for her children.
We, will not have such items.

I can't go on like this, I really can't. It's been 8 years and there still another 7 to go.
I just don't know what to do. sad

2rebecca Fri 28-Aug-09 18:10:20

He needs to decide whether he pays his ex a certain amount each month as per CSA recommendations for her to spend as she sees fit OR whether he spends a similar amount each month on buying stuff the kids need. Trying to do both is just silly. It's different if it's extra big expenses like private education, buying a musical instrument, school trip etc. I would regard these as extra to CSA payments, but the CSA payments are supposed to be enough to clothe house and feed kids if the parent has an averagish income and doesn't try and fiddle things.

BonsoirAnna Fri 28-Aug-09 22:37:31

skyblu - I think you are in a very difficult position. You are obviously hugely subsidising the lives of your DP's exW and her children, and in the process you and your DS are suffering. This should really not be happening.

Do you love your DP? Do you want to stay with him? Do you feel well treated?

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