I knew there would be no coming back from this. I was about to break the cardinal rule and forever change the dynamics of our relationship.
Sitting in the waiting room, I quietly filled out my paperwork, while trying to drown out the nervous chatter racing through my head:
“You’re doing the right thing.”
“He’s left you with no other choice.”
“This is in the best interest of your child.”
It took some more self-convincing, but I finally walked towards the clerk to submit my forms.
And after what felt like a few quick glances and a stamp of her seal, it was official. My ex would now be responsible for paying a court mandated child support order.
For reasons I’ve yet to fully understand, when a custodial parent (which in most cases is typically a woman) files a petition for support, it can be seen as a declaration of war…or at the very least, an unforgivable betrayal.
Emotions can run equally high on the mom’s side as well.
Many women struggle with doubt (“Am I doing the right thing?”), guilt (“He’s going to think I’m being petty“), pride (“I’ll show him I don’t need his help in raising this child!“), and shame (“I can’t believe I have to go through this.”) to name a few, when debating whether or not to file a legal claim for child support.
Some women even wrestle with a false sense of loyalty to their ex and will avoid the issue altogether, in an attempt to preserve the perception of being a “good baby mother”.
But despite its social stigma, child support is intended to provide financial support for a minor child. That includes provisions for medical, dental, and educational expenses.
Child support is not putting money into the pockets of the custodial parent.
It is not funding their personal shopping spree.
And child support is absolutely not the ultimate form of punishment or payback after a nasty argument or break up.
Each parent – that is both mom and dad – are equally responsible for providing full time support for their children’s everyday expenses.
Though many may argue otherwise, that responsibility does not stop once the child is no longer in their physical presence. Whether the child is with you for the weekend or the entire week, both parents are still obligated to make sure their needs are being met at all times.
So how should women (or custodial parent) tackle the issue of child support?
Assess your situation from an honest, prayerful & non-emotional angle.
While some women maliciously file petitions (and later mismanage the support they receive), it’s hard to do things with the wrong motives if we are operating from a place of complete spiritual and moral integrity. That is, doing so honestly, prayerfully and non-emotionally.
The first step should always be to take a step back to see if our actions are being driven by our feelings, or if the other parent genuinely is not contributing his (or her) financial share towards the child’s current needs.
If possible, this process is not one that should be rushed as it has the potential to greatly impact the lives of everyone involved.
Try resolving the matter amicably with the other party.
To this day, I have never met anyone that enjoyed their experience in dealing with the Family Court. Whether it’s facing a judge or working through a court appointed mediator, there are no winners going through an often impersonal and unsympathetic system.
If you and the other party have a cordial, working relationship, then you should try resolving the matter amicably on your own. This is where prayer and discernment will come in handy as well. Allow God to show you the best way and time to address your concerns with the current financial arrangements.
Be sure the conversation is done in a non-hostile or accusatory matter. And depending on the trust worthiness of the relationship, you may even consider putting together a formal write up of your new agreement and getting notarized copies for each parent.
Seek professional counsel.
Unfortunately, not every support issue can be resolved without the involvement of the Family Court system. If the other party is refusing to provide reasonable support, then you should look into your legal options.
Each state has its own guidelines when considering what each parent should contribute financially towards the care of their minor child. Additionally, each case is assessed on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on a variety of factors.
In seeking the professional counsel of a child support or family court attorney, you will be equipped with the best strategy on how to move ahead in pursuing a support judgement.
Child support will forever be one of those hot button conversations; there will continue to be strong opinions advocating both sides of the debate.
But as with any issue that arises in co-parenting, both sides should be always thinking in terms of what is in the best interest of the child.
Each child – whether they are living with mommy or daddy – deserves to be provided for by both mommy and daddy.
That’s the bottom line!
It’s not about what anyone thinks or feels, but both parents equally contributing towards the financial support of the child.