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BM / SS Clash: Money & Custody Question

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

It will be appreciated if you can please help me with a custody / money question as I have no idea how this will work.  

Early this morning I heard SS17's voice raised. Turns out he was talking to BM on the phone and it ended in a shouting match. BM is demanding that SS come live with her and that he pay her money. SS doesnt want to do either of those things.  (I would guess that this is all about the money anyway.) SS is 17 and will turn 18 before the end of the month.

My situation is slightly messy. SS lives with me. STBXH has full custody of SS, but moved out a few weeks ago. He left SS with me because he is a cheapskate who can save on rent without SS. We (Me, STBXH, SS)  had an informal agreement - nothing on paper - that SS would stay with me as he has been living in my home for the last 3 years and I have been paying all his expenses anyway. It is also less disruptive as it is SS's final year of schooling.

BM has seen SS a handful of times in the last three years and hasnt paid a penny towards SS's upkeep and it seems STBXH has now gone after BM for all the back CS that BM owes him. (Not my concern, their business.)   

SS was a train wreck last year this time. He has turned his life around and I have no issues with this kid at the moment. The smoking, pot smoking, drinking has stopped. There are no strange girls in my house in various states of undress. His room is tidy and he is neat and clean. His grades are good, and he will graduate at the end  of the school year.

He has a part time job which he loves - and according to his boss he is doing really well. The money that he earns, half of it he pay to me. This was his choice, he wanted to "pay room and board". (I am saving the money and will give it all back to him later.) He keeps a small amout of what he earns for pocket money, but the rest he also gives to me for "safe keeping". He wants to buy a set of professional chef's knives for himself for when he goes to hotel school in the Fall. He has a dream of becoming a professional chef and has been working hard towards that - as well as keeping up with his school work.  (My parents have already secretly bought him a high grade set of professional knives as recommended by the head chef where he works part time.  SS will have to buy that from them for  £10 pounds on his birthday as traditionally you dont give someone knives as present. The knives cost around £600.) 

SS has being trying really hard these last few months. He was in tears this morning as he doesnt want to live with his mother - she has never wanted him or had time for him. He may have some  money - which he is working for -  but that is going towards things he needs and wants. He doesn't want to have to pay his mother because he wont have money for his student knives...  He doesnt want to move from the only home he has.

I called STBXH this morning and he said SS can stay with me - doesnt have to go to BM. STBXH isnt bothered by this situation at all!  I asked this stupid man to call his son - as well as come around to my home tonight to speak to SS.

Can BM force SS to move back with her? Can she take what he earns? (BM doesnt work and receives a "disability / social grant" of some sort.  She hasn't worked in years after an ankle injury on a wet floor. She walks just fine when not under the influence of alcohol.) Do I have to call a lawyer? Or leave things till his birthday?



nengooseus's picture

18 is generally considered an adult, and at 18, he can do whatever the bloody hell he wants to do.  In fact, I seriously doubt any court anywhere would force an almost-18 year old to do anything vis-a-vis custody.  She can file with the court if she likes, but it would likely be nothing more than a fool's errand.

Ispofacto's picture

I don't know UK laws, but I gotta say, your BM is a tool.

IMO, if dad has custody and your are still legally married and SS is there with his dad's permission, even if he were younger I doubt there is anything BM could do.

TwoOfUs's picture

Agree with the two posters above. I know you're in the UK...but in the US it is generally accepted that, around the age of 16, courts will no longer enforce custody/visitation if a kid doesn't want to go...even though 18 is the age of majority. 

I can't imagine any court in the world forcibly removing a stb18 year-old kid at the very end of his last year of school. I wouldn't worry about it. Just talk to your SS and make sure he doesn't get guilted into it. 

futurobrillante99's picture

He's 18 by the end of the month? Tell him he can tell the cow, NO! His custodial parent has him with you.

Let the old harpie come after her son. She won't get anywhere at all.

KittyKatMomma's picture

If Dad has custody I'd think BM has no say.


Does she have any rights to the boy at all?

And she can't collect money from her son if she's on disability-that income needs to be reported.

SSI is a stickler for that sort of thing.


ETA-ok you're UK-so it's disability NOT SSI-she still could lose benefits though.

Quite honestly  "ignore the whore" he's nearly 18-he can decide for himself.

ESMOD's picture

The kid is imminently turning 18 and graduating.  I don't know how UK courts work but I doubt she could even get a hearing before he was 18 and graduated at which point she couldn't force him to do a thing.

I would tell him that you are sorry she is trying to push him to do something he doesn't want to do.  That his father has blessed off on him staying with you and that the arrangement can continue as far as you are concerned.  While his mother may not like it, she cannot force him to hand over money or live with her.  Her situation is one of her own making and he can't save her or change it for her.  If she continues to try to force this issue with him, it's within his rights to end conversations and not talk with her until she can respect his wishes.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Thank you for the graceful response ESMOD. I am going to borrow  some of your wording too when I speak to SS as to what he can do for himself.

I thought my step issues were long over. Ha!

lieutenant_dad's picture

Here in Anti-Canada, custody and CO changes need to be made by the time a child is 17, otherwise the court is VERY unlikely to make any changes barring huge changes I'm circumstance that negatively affect the child.

By the time BM got an attorney, served STBXH, and got a court date, SS would be 18 and the point would be moot, unless the age of adulthood is different where you are. Even still, STBXH has custody, and SS is doing super well with the arrangement in place. I seriously don't see a court entertaining BM's request.

If you feel up to it, start offering some life lessons to SS that will help him deal with his mother. Not your job, of course, but he may appreciate hearing someone tell him that it's okay to love his mother from a distance, that he is doing well for himself, and that your proud of who he is becoming.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Thank you - especially for the last paragraph. I am going to use it  to speak to him tonight.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Thanks everyone Smile

I know he should have independence at 18 but I am really worried that BM has shown up NOW and is wanting SS to move in with her or wanting money from him. (I have more fingers than the  amount of times she has requested to see SS in the last three years.)
SS is finally turning his life around and it broke my heart this morning to see him in tears. His father cant be bothered and his mother sees an ATM. I wish they'd just leave him alone!

Siemprematahari's picture

You are such a blessing to SS and I'm glad he has you. His mother seems very toxic, using him for her own financial reasons (like he's an ATM) and has no concern for his well being and what is best for him. I hope he keeps a distance from her and continues on his journey with you as his guide.

lieutenant_dad's picture

One of my biggest fears with my SSs is that BM will cripple them financially and expect them to help support her. She has been enmeshed with GBM for years, and their cycle of poverty makes it nearly impossible for BM and GBM to not live without one another in some way (my MIL and BIL are very similar with each other, and my FIL enables it). I'm even more worried now that she has set up savings accounts for both of them that she is the only adult who has access to them (DH puts money in a College 529 account that is entrusted to them).

Anyway, when OSS goes to college, I will take it upon myself if I have to to empower OSS to be responsible for himself and, most importantly, ONLY himself. If BM calls and harasses him for money or time, OSS can tell DH or I and we'll handle it. Yes, I will help in this because I refuse to see either kid be held back as adults due to her sense of entitlement. That isn't fair to the kid, and so long as he is trying to do better for himself, I'll go toe-to-toe with BM.

I'm not saying you HAVE to engage in any of this, but I think you're doing a lot to help your SS realize that he IS worthy of a better life. Keep trying to support him as he makes good decisions. You giving him freedom but mentorship will do a lot for his confidence and hopefully give him the courage to stand up for himself.

ESMOD's picture

It's sad that we have to worry about things like this.


My DH's nephew had a mother like this.  When he was just out of HS she talked him into renting a house (and being on the lease) with her when she split from his dad.  The house had oil heat and the poor kid got locked in and mom forced him to pay for it all... and she ended up ditching him for a guy within 6 months so he was stuck paying this big rent in a bad part of town with high utility costs.  The poor guy is really not very smart.. can't read well and to this day his sister handles his money for him because he isn't capable and the girl he married is a nightmare.  I would feel sorry for him but even now, his problems are of his own making too... like buying custom fishing poles, tattoos and vacations instead of paying off medical debt (again something mom got him to do... expensive implants then she bailed on making the pmts).

I also worry about my SD's.. younger probably more than the older since their mother has never had a problem taking their money for her own use.  My MIL has kept their money for years (before they went out on their own) because any gift money they got ended up comandeered by their mother to pay her own bills. 

You would think that a mother wouldn't do that to their kids... but they do.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

I can totally relate to what you are saying and feel the same way about SS.

Unkind though it may be, I have to honestly admit that my STBXH and his family come from "the wrong side of town". This doesn't bother me. 
What does is that the broader family are involved in various generational cycles of poverty, unhealthy enmeshment, unplanned pregnancies, substance abuse. SS has the chance to break free of that - if it is what he chooses - through his own hard work. I want to help him as best I can because he has a chance to not live THAT life. It is hard, it is difficult. And selfishly, it is not what I want for him.


I know my own son(13), if he stays on track,  will probably follow the route of finishing school, going to university and creating a life for himself. I have walked this route, my siblings, my parents, my grandparents... I want this for SS too even if he is not my child. I want SS to have the option of obtaining the post school qualification of his choice. He will be the first person on both sides of his family to do this. I want him to have the same opportunities that are open to my own son. 

SS has a dream for himself - and he has started working hard to make this a reality. He has the support of me, BS, my family on this. He has the support and guidance of a Michelin starred chef for whom he works part time - someone else who believes in him and is encouraging SS!!
It brings me to tears, that this morning SS  was upset about his dreams being taken away from him. Dreams that he CAN realise.  This kids is 17 and had his eyes opened up to a better world for himself - that he can create. Then his effing BM calls to shatter it because the kid has a part time job and their is money to be had... What kind of monster does this to their own child?


lieutenant_dad's picture

Look up Bridges Out of Poverty and Circles. There is a lot of guidance on how to mentor someone out of the cycle of poverty and help them stand up to behaviors that would lead to poverty WITHOUT handing out money. I don't think you need to follow the program to a T or anything, but there may be some helpful exercises for you and SS that will help him in the long run.

And I understand the "wrong side of the tracks" comment. My SF's family and BM's family all live in the same town that breeds teen parents, lifelong poverty, drug use, and domestic violence - all sanctioned and forgiven by Jesus, of course. FIL and Mom's families seemed fairly similar, but FIL managed to break free and he's heartbroken that my BIL followed MIL in her family's trashy footsteps. FIL worried about DH for a while (teen dad, married BM at 18, joined the military with a young wife and see where this is going) and is SO EFFING THANKFUL that DH got his head out of his rear end and stepped it up (and married someone new who is 1000x better Wink ). It kills him to see his grandsons live through the trash, and he overcompensates by bailing everyone out all the time - BM included - which just perpetuates the cycle.

So, Bridges Out of Poverty. Learn some stuff if you want that can REALLY help SS get out of this. BM and STBXH are both failing their son, and both should be ashamed at what they have done to him.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Thank you - I have completed an online purchase for the book.

I have also downloaded a couple of .pdf reference or information guides that I can start reading.
(Seems to be mainly  US / Canada based programme in terms of "circle" meetings - at first glance.)

You have actually opened up my eyes to a dynamic I was not aware of - thank you Smile

ndc's picture

Is your DH court ordered to deposit funds into the 529 that BM controls?  If not, why doesn't he just open up his own 529?  That would be one less worry.

lieutenant_dad's picture

My apologies for the confusion. He has control of the 529, but the money will go to them when they go to school; it would be foolish for DH to pull money out of there for the penalty.

Whereas BM just puts money in a savings account that only she controls. Which, if it ever gets above a certain amount, I'm sure she'll "borrow" from.

notsobad's picture

I’m glad he realizes what BM is up to. So often the call of BM is impossible to resist. Every child wants his mothers love. They all to often ignore the obvious, BM is only after the money, and embrace the notion that their mother finally wants them.

As others have said, tell him you’re happy to have him, he’s doing great and is becoming a good man. Reinforce his good decisions and help him to keep making the right choices. 

Money does strange things to people. BM here loves her kids, she is a good mother but throw money into the mix and her priorities change. It’s always in the guise of what’s best for the kids but it’s obvious it’s what’s best for her. 

Shes in deep trouble with a house she’s built. She has to sell or rent it out soon or she’ll lose it. We know from the skids that she’s asked them to invest in her and the house. She needs to make the mortgage payments and she’s told the skids they’ll get the payments back plus a portion of the sale. Sure, let’s throw good money after bad. Luckily neither of the skids have any extra to give her.

notasm3's picture

I read an article recently (don't remember where) about the difficulties faced by some students at Ivy league schools that come from poverty.  Many of them are constantly harrassed by famiies back home who demand that they "share" their living expense money provided by the schools. So very sad.

I was a scholarship student at a very prestigious woman's college 50+ years ago.  I had nothing.  I literally remember having 3 outfits to wear to class.  But even though my parents could not contribute a dime towards my education they did not try to coerce me into sending them part of my earnings from part-time work.


notsobad's picture

I seem to remember reading something about that. The family feels that any and all money that comes to any member of the family goes into the pot to support them all. 

The students also faced huge family pressure to support their entire extended family once they graduated and got a job. 

I’ll bet Meghan Markel is feeling this from her family, especially after that letter from her half brother.

Ispofacto's picture

This book:

goes into the cognitive differences between classes, and why their thinking makes sense in their circle.  Once you see how they think, you can give them the skills to change their mentality.  I really enjoyed this book, my daughter lent it to me when she was getting her education masters at Northwestern.

The OP's SS needs to understand that it is not his responsibility to take care of his BM, and he needs permission not to feel guilty about it.

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

Thank you to every one for their comments and advice. It really helps to have you to lean on. Smile

Getting divorced had me thinking my step life issues were over. Ha! Bad pennies keep popping up at the most surprising moments.

IPOD-H (STBXH) came over last night and spoke to SS17. Reaffirmed that SS can stay with me and that BM is not owed a penny. He advised SS  not to give her any money as it would be a never ending black hole. IPOD-H will see my solicitor tomorrow for a retroactive power of attorney to cover the time SS is/was with me as a minor.  When SS turns 18, he will need to sign his own documentation to formly recognise me as next-of kin for emergency situations. He would be able to make his own decisions about his life as an adult at 18.  Less than 2 weeks to go!

Thank you too for the book recommendations - they have been ordered.  I will read them first, as well as share it with SS.  

Thank you for the support and guidance so freely give here - it is appreciated more than you can imagine. xx