Bleeding me dry

by Justin
(Buffalo, NY)

My ex-wife and I split on a somewhat friendly basis 7 years ago. We have 10 and 8 year old daughters.

When we split, my only concern was the well being of my daughters and making sure that I am not denied the right to be 100% involved in their lives. We decided to share custody, yet somehow she is still technically the "custodial parent". I did not fight that, as at the time I thought that this was as good as its going to get after hearing so many horror stories about good fathers being denied adequate visitation. Thankfully, my ex-wife believes that children need both parents in their lives and did not take even further advantage of what New York State could have hit me with if she so chose.

I have my daughters 3 nights, she has them 4 per week. I am lucky enough to have an understanding employer that allows me to work early hours in order to leave in time to pick my girls up from the bus stop after school. This saves us both hundreds in day care costs each month.

I should also mention that both of us take home nearly identical salaries each year. As far as I know, she may be even making slightly more than I am now.

Although I wouldn't have it any other way in regards to my time spent with my girls, I am still obligated to provide food and shelter just as she does. Why am I obligated to hand over $840 per month to her for child support?

I am 38 years old, and after several years of owning a house with a promising future, I am now going on 7 years back living like a college student in an apartment. The first year on my own, I was paying out more than I was making every month. Needless to say, my credit was destroyed, and am now on the verge of filing for bankruptcy...which will ultimately add on at least 3 more years before I can even be considered for a mortgage. Not to mention, at the rate I am going, I will NEVER be able to retire.

$840 a month on top of her salary allows her to live in a nice, 2,000 sq. ft. home in a nice neighborhood. She also has the luxury of yearly vacations in Europe, home improvements, a nice SUV, and a wardrobe that never ceases to expand.

$840 a month deducted from my salary basically means that she is up $1,680 every month on me. Considering I have my kids 3 nights a week, and she has them for 4...its DOES NOT cost a difference of $1,680 per month to provide for children 4 or 5 nights per month more than I do.

New York State has determined that I should have to pay her until BOTH of my children finish college. Whether they go locally for 2 years, or study on the other side of the country for 8 years. Of course, my ex-wife does not have a penny put away towards their education which I am responsible for footing the bill on that as well.

To make things worse, I have just learned that this year she is taking the kids and her unemployed boyfriend (who happens to be a great guy, just out of work now) to France.

I have had about all that I can take, and have reached my breaking point. I'm tired of working hard and having nothing to show for. I'm tired of being stressed about finances and my future, and I'm very tired of being taken advantage of by what is widely known as one of the most heinously unfair places in America for a GOOD FATHER to reside. A great father, is a better way to put it. My kids know it, my friends and family know it, and I could not be more confident boasting it. That is worth more than all the money in the world. I just want FAIR. Nothing more...nothing less.

To make things worse, her own lawyer has admitted to me that there is nothing even close to being fair about the outcome and that he is going through a similar situation with his ex-wife.

If the roles were reversed, I wouldn't have asked for a penny out of her. I couldn't live with myself knowing that I am ruining someone else's life, even someone that I was desperate enough to get away from that I would sacrifice the once promising future that I had. We both have great jobs, and would both have adequate means for owning a home and providing more than decent living conditions for both of our children if things we're truly 50/50.

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