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New Stepparent *HELP*

secondforthewin's picture

I'm new to this website and new to the world of step-parenting. I’m not married yet but in a very serious committed relationship with my SO. He has a 4 yr old with his ex-wife. I am driving myself crazy with the thought that child support has the possibility of increasing as our household grows financially for the next 14 years. I find myself jealous, angry, and most of all scared. Scared for the wellbeing of my potential future family’s financial wellbeing. When I bring it up with my SO he gets defensive and isolates himself emotionally.

How do I go about coping with this. 


I feel like I've bit off more than i can chew….


ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

Being a stepparent isn't for everyone. And that's OKAY. Just so you know. If you feel it's too much, it's okay to admit you hit YOUR limit and walk away from it.

You have to approach it carefully... I get sensitive about money going to Psycho's s*** too.... It's not fun to have this past relationship financially inhibiting your lives. However, one thing, your income can't be included to calculate CS! So anything you make doesn't count towards it!

I know it's not fun, so you need to take a look and decide what it is you can handle and what you want with life! 

Welcome to the site!

ESMOD's picture

Child support can change depending upon a lot of different factors.  Yes.. if his income increases, over time, he may be obligated to increase what he pays.  however, also taken into account may be relative custody time etc.. perhaps he might want to consider more custody time so that he keeps his outgoing cost down?  But, theoretically, instead of viewing it as "cash out of the house increases".. think of it in terms of these are financial obligations he has to a child he created before he met you.  These needs are bound to increase over time.. and naturally, most people will end up putting more resources towards their kids as they are able to through higher incomes.  The only difference here is that this obligation to the child is theoretically being shared with his ex in some fashion.

But, as Probablyalready said.. steplife is not for everyone.  While the EX can't count your income in the equation.. there is a fairly strong chance that as your husband's income rises, he will pay more unless he is able to figure out how to get more custody time.. but then.. do you want to have the child around more?  In the end, you also have to accept that something could happen and you could end up with the child FULLTIME.  The ex could pass away.. that leaves him.

And what about that EX?  how has she been so far? met her?   is she high conflict?  Her attitude will definitely be a factor in how things go. 

And the kid? any issues.. any ADHD or other disability or developmental issues?  Again... a kid with issues will be a bigger strain.  Bio parents don't get to make a choice.. but you can choose to not take on a burden if you don't want to.

Finally, your Fiancee... I think it's worrisome that he won't have a calm and rational discussion with you .. being defensive is a BAD sign.  While he may not know the answers.. that doesn't mean that you can't explore these questions and what it might mean in the future.  Shoot.. you could do research to see how the support models work so you both know what may happen.  But him closing down isn't good.  Will he do that when you have an issue with his child.. or a conflict with the EX?  Will he ice you out of decisions that impact you?  will he override you? 

All of these things are important to understand.

And.. I would definitely NOT rush marriage and NOT rush to get pregnant


Evil3's picture

It is a legitimate concern. When I met my DH, I told him that not owning a home was a deal-breaker for me. I knew he paid child support, but he downplayed it and it wasn't long before I found out that in order to fulfil my dream of being a home owner, I would have to be the one to pay for the house. That meant that it would take much longer than it would if I were with a partner who could contribute equally. While the child support didn't increase over the years, DH was paranoid that BM could pull him back to court at any moment and DH could either lose the brats or pay even more money.

The other financial drain that can occur is Disney Daddy Syndrome. These dads are so afraid to lose their brats or feel so guiltiy that they spend exorbitant amounts of money on their very spoiled kids to try to keep their kids' interest.

Finances where the kids are involved is a huge deal. They can affect everything the SM wants to achieve. You want to travel? forget it unless you pay for it all. You want to buy a home? Forget it unless you shoulder the burden. You like to eat out on Sundays? Forget it. You want to join a cool new expensive gym? Forget it. Any shortfalls on your DH's part due to child support gets covered by you.

Guilty ex-husband syndrome is a factor too. Any time BM called and bitched out DH for more money for whatever the hell BM claimed to pay for, and DH would pay triple just to prove what a great dad and provider he is. He also did it hoping that BM wouldn't call him a deadbeat dad. Many dads are really stupid and think that if they pander to BMs' every whim and pay more and more and more money and rush to her aid for helping her with her car or moving furniture, the BM will stop bad mouthing dad to the kids. I don't know why these men think that simply jumping through every hoop and paying tons of money and going in debt helps to stop the bad mouthing, but it's a cycle that these dads get into. They shut down when confronted by their current partners because they know they're doing the wrong thing and selling out their current wives and that they are simply suckers. So, the guilty ex husband syndrome is another financial drain.

Please consider not only the child support, but the other ways in which money flies out the window of a divorced dad's house. Also, given your description of your SO shutting down and isolating himself emotionally, I would say that there's going to be way more to consider than the money side of things.

Oh, and you will shoulder the burden of any shared bio children. For example, I believed in raising an active child, so my DD did gymnastics for ten years. I paid for it, because my SKs were lazy losers and too obsessed with Daddddeeeee to ever leave the house, so they didn't do any extracurricular activities at all. DH wouldn't contribute to DD's gymnastics, because he felt it wouldn't be fair since he never paid for anything for the lazy brats. He didn't seem to get that the brats were lazy and too screwed up to leave Daddddeeee for even an hour a week. He simply jumped to the conclusion that he shouldn't have to pay for our DD's activities because the SKs didn't have any to pay for. It wouldn't be fair. DH never contributed to my SKs' university, so I have to single handedly pay for our DD's university. DH feels it wouldn't be fair. We're in a different situation than when the SKs went to school. DH paid for thousands upon thousands of dollars of Christmas and birthday gifts for the spoiled sloths, but all in all, he won't relent and contribute to our DD's education. So, if you believe in post-secondary education for your children that you have with your SO, you're likely going to have to be the one to pay without help from your SO. Guilty daddies will often over compensate and pay through the nose for their first brat, but nothing for their subseqent children. Guildty daddies honestly think they're being fair.

Blended life is not fun at all. Not a day goes by that I don't regret it. Really think about what you're getting into.

SteppedOut's picture

I second... REALLY think about what you are getting in to...especially with how he is shutting down.

tog redux's picture

For me, child support was the least of the problems, really, we just considered his income X amount less than what it really was.  We don't have shared kids, we make a good income together, and he got a pretty good deal in the CO as far as other expenses other than CS go, so really, all he's had to pay is his Child Support. When SS was visiting a little money was spent on clothing, but we were frugal about shopping for that.  And my DH only paid what was court -ordered and did not give BM anything more.

Child support here can be reviewed and possibly increased every 3 years.  It has nothing to do with how much custody time the NCP has, either. I don't find it all that challenging financially, but I know that on a lower income and with more kids, it seems to be for others.

Don't go into this marriage feeling bitter and resentful, it won't work.  He has a son, and he has to support that son, so if you can't find a way to accept that, let him go.

ReginaPhalange's picture

My SS just turned 18 and we just finished paying child support and arrears.  I've been with DH since SS was 1 year old and it has been a LONG journey.  Even when DH was unemployed/between jobs, he still owed regular support.  Because he didn't pay child support due to getting laid off from work, he couldn't pay.  BM went to court for not getting CS for a few months.  Interest on those few months turned into $11,000 (on top of the regular monthly payments) because for every month that passes that he didn't pay back those months, interest increased and increased.  Even though the actual amount that he owed was just a few hundred, his arrears turned into thousands.  Even though he was paying the regular payments, those few months are still considered in arrears. 

It was insane and has caused a LOT of fights between us.  Because of his arrears, we filed taxes separately for the last 10 or so years because they would intercept his taxes.  I refused to let her have any of my money, including my tax return.  

You also have to consider all extra payments, outside of regular monthly payments.  Anything that she decides to do, like sports, medical expenses like dental, he will owe to her.

Obviously, those hardships affected our family income and our children.  

You really have to decide if this is the right path for you.  I stuck it out because I thought my love for DH was stronger and worth it and it was worth it to our kids for us to be a family.  You have a tough decision and I wish you luck!

notasm3's picture

It’s a decision that only you can make. I personally never wanted to deal with CS, the courts and all that crud. I let more of than one really good guy get away because of that. Maybe that was a mistake or maybe not. 

I am a black and white logical person. The court system has nothing to do with logic.   Having to accept the unacceptable makes me CRAZY.   I do not want to be crazy. 

notasm3's picture

It’s a decision that only you can make. I personally never wanted to deal with CS, the courts and all that crud. I let more of than one really good guy get away because of that. Maybe that was a mistake or maybe not. 

I am a black and white logical person. The court system has nothing to do with logic.   Having to accept the unacceptable makes me CRAZY.   I do not want to be crazy. 

Harry's picture

a real talk with SO.  How much CS is, how long it go to, 18 yo, 21 yo rest of your life ?. Who paying for education, and college. Who paying for medical bills, babysitter, day care.  How divorces was done, who get pension, any loans ect. Get my drift.  His  total financial being.  How EX can screw you .  Is he a Disney Dad, will buy his kid anything to be the good guy.  

How you are going to deal with finance when married, how many actuall  $ is he putting in your household each month.  Go in with your eyes open. Be set up for the worst.  And always remember, BM can be hit by a truck, or run off with the new BF and you will have SK. 24/7/365. Just read the post on this board, it does happen 

iamlosingit's picture

Check with the rules/laws in your state.  While I don't think they can include your income in CS, what they CAN do if you file taxes together is take your income into consideration for daily joint-living expenses like mortgage, utilities, etc.  This happened to my relative.  As soon as he re-married, BM took him back to court immediately....and they said due to his new wife contributing to home costs whereas BM had NOT remarried....this "saved DH money" thus raising the CS due to his spouse helping with bills and DH "having more money available"... It wasn't true...but the tax returns filing jointly screwed him.