Legal Action Can Help Mold A Child-Like Ex Into A “Better Man”

Posted by Delaine - March 2, 2010 - Dealing with the ex, Legal Matters, Surviving - 4 Comments

divorced-dad-immatureSometimes dealing with an ex can feel like you’re dealing with a child:  you give and give and give….you kindly explain the same thing over and over and over again …yet still they don’t ‘get it.’ And though it’s sad to say – and painful to have to do – sometimes we have to take legal action to make them ‘grow up.’

Perfect case in point – that of my girlfriend Barb:

Ever since she and her ex Brian separated two years ago, he often hasn’t made child and spousal support payments on time.  We’re not talking months late; we’re talking a few days or weeks as he awaited bonus cheques or got out of his overdraft.  This came as no suprise to her by the way – he’d always had problems managing money during their marriage.

Time and time again, she accomodated his need to pay late, which meant shuffling money around in her accounts so she could pay HER bills, and holding off on buying things she and the kids needed.  But time and time again she ALSO reminded him that:

a) she was doing him a favor

b) he really needed to get organized and make it a priority; maybe find a financial planner to help?

c) it really was unfair that in the grand scheme of his financial life, his paying her and the kids was treated more laxly than say, his gym membership, or his vitamin supplements.  Why couldn’t he make late payments to THEM instead of her and the kids? 

Problem was, by her giving in once…then a few more times…it became an expectation.  His attitude became one of, “What’s she gonna do about it?  If I don’t have the money yet, I don’t have the money.  She’ll get by.”

But Barb has decided she’s had ’enough.’  The clincher came this past weekend when her ex told her he’d be late on March’s payments even though he’d just spent the weekend skiing up in the mountains and was soon going on vacation in Mexico.  She told him: “Starting next month, I’d like you to give me post-dated cheques for the next year.”   Shocked, he said he couldn’t do that – “You know I’m often living in my overdraft…”

But Barb realized that that was his problem, not hers and their children’s; that she was enabling his mismanagement of money AND suffering the consequences of it by constantly giving in. Moreover, his actions were extremely disrespectful – he was taking advantage of her kindness AND neglecting the important responsibilities he had to her and the kids.  So off to her lawyer she now goes – Maintenance Enforcement will make Brian ”get it”, even if she couldn’t.

I’m writing about Barb’s situation NOT to promote you running to your lawyer on every single issue that arises between you and your ex.  But I do want to remind you that your ex is not a child and thus, shouldn’t be allowed to ‘get away’ with things that negatively affect you and/or the children.   Sure, you might cringe at the mere idea of having to talk to your lawyer (AGAIN) – but as Barb said to me afterwards, “In the end, legal enforcement will ultimately help make him a better father…and Better Man.” A lovely spin on it, don’t you think?