Submitted by: Delaine
I’ve seen it happen on too many occasions to count : ex-partners making demands of their former spouses instead of treating them as the ‘favors’ they truly are. Is their attitude in part caused by ignorance of the law and parenting? Perhaps. Could their demands, in part, be a control tactic? That’s possible too; an attitude of ‘entitlement’ follows many of those who pay child and spousal support…
Nonetheless, ignorance is not an excuse. Nor should controlling behavior be enabled. You teach your ex how to treat you, just as you did during your marriage. With that in mind, here are two real-life scenarios where exes demanded something of their ex-wives. But instead of caving out of guilt / fear, both women consulted a mediator…and their exes were given a wrist-slapping.
Case #1: Paul suddenly decided his ex-wife should drive the kids to his house for evening visits. He demanded this of her, saying it was just as much her responsibility as his; and why should he be the only having to deal with rush-hour traffic?
Now, on first glance it may seem do-able, arguably even fair. It may even work for some. But in this woman’s particular case, it would mean chaos – she also had step-children to prepare dinner for and do homework with. Then there was the fact that Paul was constantly late – always had been, probably always will be. Her intuition told her that if she were to give in, she’d hustle across town with the kids dressed and ready, only to sit waiting in front of his house for an hour.
In the end, they brought the issue before a mediator. His take? It was Paul’s responsibility to not only go pick up his kids, but to do so on time. If Paul wanted his ex-wife to help him out, he could respectfully ask this ‘favor’ of her. In no way was she obliged. She declined.
Case #2: Robert’s thought his ex-wife should be responsible for having the kids call HIM. As a father who worked out of town, he’d never consistently phoned his young children; sometimes weeks, if not months went by without calling them. He complained that the kids often didn’t want to talk to him when he phoned. Sometimes they seemed more interested in watching TV. He insinuated it was his ex’s fault, even though she’d strongly encouraged him to call more regularly and gave him free gamut to call whenever he pleased.
What did the mediator say? Given that Robert had full access to a phone while at work or at home, it was absolutely his responsibility to phone to them – not his wife’s, NOR his children’s. If Robert wanted his ex to have his kids phone him now and then, then he could respectfully request it as a FAVOR. She was not obliged. His relationship with his kids was not HER responsibility. He further added that young children are often distracted when they talk on the phone with a parent – but that’s no excuse to stop calling. What’s important is that the phone calls are consistent, that dad’s presence is felt. There WILL be times when the kids talk his ear off.
Just because someone is paying child and spousal support, doesn’t mean they own your soul. You can be flexible and grant some favors because that’s the kind of person you are. But it’s a two-way street. And sometimes the other party needs a crash course in not only legal matters, but good manners.
Delaine – www.iamdivorcednotdead.com
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