Day in court with wife's ex - Need to vent as a step parent
My wife has been trying to take her Ex back to court for almost 5 years to fix a divorce decree that was poorly written and child support that was confusing which resulted in FSD collecting the incorrect amount. 5 years of lawyer fees while he changed lawyer’s multiple times and continued delays. Finally had our day in court about 2 weeks ago, thought it all went well but boy did we get a big FU from the judge in his judgment.
Little back history, they have four kids together ranging from current age of 8 to 20. He was ordered to pay $542 / month in child support ($542 - 4 kids, $500 - 3 kids, $325 - 2 kids, $250 - 1 kid) if he had a job that he had health insurance offered or $250 / month in child support ($250 - 4 kids, $200 - 3 kids, $150 - 2 kids, $100 - 1 kid) if he had to pay out of pocket because he didn't have it. This was on top of the discount given in the Form 14 already for health insurance. Because of wording in the divorce decree, FSD could only enforce $250 / month no matter what thus why she went back to court. He acknowledged in his deposition though that he should be paying $542. Health insurance is supposed to be carried by him, needless to say he dropped it and didn't pick up any insurance multiple times so we just started carrying it in addition. He doesn't carry dental or vision because in his view it's not health insurance.
They have 50/50 custody (legal and physical) so everything is supposed to be agreed upon prior. When it came time for one of his children to get braces, he refused to pay even though it's part of the divorce decree of orthodontics. Doesn't help his kids with cars or car insurance, doesn't help his kids with college or book cost (yet tells his daughter four times he will to her face), doesn't help his kids with athletic fees and camps even though he sends his new stepson to the same camp.
So we go into court asking for the divorce decree to be re-written since it was so poorly written (he acknowledges this also in deposition), asking for back child support, asking for recovery of insurance cost during the periods he dropped insurance only, asking for recovery of braces, offering to pick up health insurance ourselves with additional child support because she would get the health credit now), asking for 2 weeks of vacation for each (he got upset that we went to Florida with the kids one year even though it was offered the time to be made up), asking for college book related cost recovery ($400 only), spent about $19k in legal fees during these 5 years also and was hoping to recovery some of it because of all this.
What was the outcome...Judge declared she was in contempt because she sent them to athletic camps (which they have played all their lives) and because she got her daughter braces without his approval? The judge gave nothing in back insurance fees that we had during the period he dropped insurance. The judge gave a little of back child support but didn't get that right, he took the months that he didn't have insurance and only gave back child support for those 6-8 months over 5 years of being ripped off on child support. The judge didn't give her anything back for the braces. The judge refused to modify the divorce decree even both parties admitted it was written badly and needed to be. The judge then took it upon himself to screw her even further over on on-going child support. The judge gave him a double insurance credit in the child support. He took the numbers of when he didn't have insurance available and gave that as the on-going child support amount ($150 / month based on two kids are now emancipated when it should of been $325 / month for 2 kids). He is making him carry the insurance but no mention of dental or vision. On top of that, he drops his older kids off his health insurance forcing us to cover kids anyway if we want to keep them insured.
This is just a nutshell of the BS we are experiencing with him and the legal system.
What are we supposed to do, can't afford to appeal this given we already spent $19k in legal fees for an outcome that got us practically nothing and in fact, even less? As a stepfather, I'm beyond frustrated with our legal system and him. My wife knows it and has been feeling guilty now because of how much her kids are costing me. I've never complained about that to her. Our own lawyer couldn't even believe the outcome and didn't charge us for the day in court because of such. She also said what we stated that the judge has now set a precedent of just saying you don't agree with whatever the kids need and you won't have to pay for it. Kid has a broken arm, nope I don't think they need to go to the ER. Teeth all crooked and full of cavities, nope I don't agree they need to go to dentist. This is what it will become because of this judge and his decision.