My ex and I split up over a year ago. He paid child support for the first 4 months and hasn’t paid any since then. The last time he was here to drop off the kids after a weekend with him, was 5 months ago. I asked him if everything was okay, and if he was having financial issues. He was very defensive and said he’d pay me when he could, drove off and hasn’t been back since.
The kids call him, they talk, he doesn’t ask to talk to me. He tells them he’s very busy but can’t come see them. They are broken hearted. Our financial life would be easier if he was paying child support, but we’re making it ok. We can live without the money, but they can’t live without seeing their dad. This is not the dad he’s always been. What can I do to get him to come see them again?
– My Ex Isn’t Acting Like a Dad
Dear My Ex Isn’t Acting Like a Dad,
My heart hurts for your kids, you and yes, even their dad. This is a tough situation. I commend you for putting your kids first and saying outright, that their relationship with their dad is more important than the money.
The letter leads me to believe that you think the two items are related. He can’t or didn’t pay, you asked him about it, and he quit seeing the kids, ostensibly so he wouldn’t have to be questioned by you. The two things may or may not be related. I hope you aren’t beating yourself up for asking him. Your question to him was valid and it sounds like you approached him in a compassionate way.
There is no silver bullet answer here. The best approach is to try and speak with him to let him know, regardless of the money, you want him to spend time with the kids. That they need him. If he doesn’t take your calls, leave a voicemail message that you need to talk to him about the kids, and it’s important. If he calls you back, start with the most important words up front, “The kids miss you and really want to see you.” You don’t have to mention the money. He may bring it up. If he does, just tell him what you told me, “The kids spending time with him is more important than the money.” If he doesn’t call you back, send him a letter or an email.
Beyond these steps there isn’t anything you can do to force him.
A couple of caution items:
If he asks you to legally forgo any past or future child support, speak with a lawyer first. Your kindness and compassion, your ability to put your kids first doesn’t mean you should be taken advantage of.
Pay attention to how your kids respond to their father, and their behavior after seeing him. Not paying child support can be completely a financial issue, however it can also be a sign of other issues.
Good luck. I hope you can resolve this for your children. Putting them first, as you are doing, is what good parents do. Your kindness and compassion is great example for all parents.