Ex-Wife Laying a Guilt Trip on Him

Question: Why should an ex-husband be expected to support his former wife's life style, one that he couldn't afford when they were married and had two incomes? When we divorced we sold our home and split the money. She bought a house in the same area we had trouble affording together. I bought a studio condominium and barely make ends meet. We both work for the same company at the same hourly rate and approximately the same hours. Our daughter is 6 and in school all day, so baby-sitting costs should not be too high. I've taken her on weekends for the last six months so that her mother could work extra hours for more money. It turns out that my ex-wife hardly even worked during those weekends. I send her 25% of my take-home pay monthly. It is never late, even if I have to shuffle other bills around. Last fall she went to Hawaii for 10 days and then wanted extra money from me for clothes for our daughter. What can guys like me do? I can't afford to give her any more money. I would seek physical custody, but I am afraid it would cause even more problems. Now I have joint legal custody. Does that mean that I am legally responsible for an ex-wife who is living beyond her means? It gets so that I dread picking up my daughter for fear of the guilt trip her mother lays on me. I know lots of other fathers with the same problem. Please help.

Answer: How your former wife spends her money is her own business as long as she cares for your daughter; you are not responsible for her or her debts. Joint legal custody refers to legal responsibility for your daughter and her actions while she is a minor. If you are concerned about your support money not being spent on your daughter, you can petition for an accounting through the courts. No one can lay a guilt trip on you if you refuse to be intimidated. You know that you are doing all that you can for your daughter, sending the support money on time and spending caring time with her. What's to feel guilty about?

Send your questions for possible use in Living With Divorce to Virginia Doody Klein, P.O. Box 16290, St. Louis, Mo. 63105.

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