N.C. asks from Silver Spring, MD on February 18, 2009
Advice on How to Ask Baby's Daddy for Financial Help
Okay, so this seems like a very cowardly and unintelligent request, but I need a bit of advice on how to ask my baby's father for child support. I have not filed for support yet, but recently received notice from my son's medical insurance company that if I do not do so, we will lose all our benefits. As a mom who is only working part-time, I am finding this situation difficult. My ex and I used to argue a lot about money and he gets really, really stressed and upset when we have to discuss this. He is under other financial strains from his family and debts he has acquired. I find it very difficult to approach this subject with him, and would like to find a fair and diplomatic way to talk about it with him. I feel like such a coward to not talk to him about it, but in the past, he has expressed great anger and depression regarding money and our situation, and I do not like to fuel the fire, if you know what I mean. I would welcome any suggestions as to how to proceed with a letter or phonecall to him, and even if you want to write to reprimand me for not putting my son's needs first, I am okay with that. I do understand that I need to be brave, but I find it hard to do sometimes. Thanks for listening!
So What Happened?™
Oh, my goodness. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has responded overnight!! I am truly touched and amazed, and felt a lot of support from all you moms. You all are saying similar things, along the lines of having to ask my baby's father for support. And yes, I have known this and felt I should do something for some time. However, I did want to be fair to my ex, and because of all the stuff he was telling me about at his house, I didn't want to stress him for money. I also felt more independent when I was not asking him for anything. Part of me, the proud and immature part, just wants to prove that I can do this on my own, and that I don't need him to help me. Of course, no one plans to be in this kind of situation where you are so dependent on others while caring for your child (and I don't plan to stay on medical assistance forever and am already looking at taking on second jobs to supplement my own income), but while we need it, we are so grateful to have it, and I do know I have to learn to be an advocate for my son. Being assertive in a positive way was never easy for me. I guess I have to learn it now, and I feel stronger knowing I have advice from such amazing and wonderful moms as you all. Best wishes and love to you! ^-^
M.W. answers from Washington DC on February 19, 2009
This is something that is best handled by the government and/or an attorney. The amount of child support is mandated by the state, and the state will collect it and send it to you. You do not have to deal with his irrational reactions or his anger. As someone who lived with a person who would fly into a rage at times, I can understand that you are rightly fearful of triggering that reaction in him. For that reason, please consider your safety and the safety of your son and seek help from a third party. It may cost you money if you get an attorney, but it will guarantee that your son gets the money he is due and that you can be out of the direct line of fire.
Your son has the right to support from his father, and his father has the duty to help support his son. It's just part of parenthood, he should not be allowed to use his financial problems as an excuse. If you need help, and your income is low enough, there is Legal Aid available at no charge. It's not charity, it's your right.
1 mom found this helpful
K.H. answers from Washington DC on February 19, 2009
Look in your telephone book or on the internet for a women's counseling center or a law firm that says public interest. Or, you could call one of the law firms that mentions "family law" and ask how much they charge. If it is too high, then ask for a referral for a pro bono or public interest firm or office. They should help you. Lawyers belong to the "bar" for their state - an organization that often provides referrals and has a question and answer section. Sometimes you can find a number to call for help on the bar association web site for your state.
It is understandable that you are worried about asking for financial help from someone who has been difficult in the past. That is why it would be better to know what procedures are established for your state. You may not have to deal with your child's father directly. He also may respond better to an established procedure. Often the payments will be made from his wages without any personal involvement on his part.
Good luck. Being a mom is amazing and wonderful and sometimes tough! Hang in there.
C.D. answers from Washington DC on February 19, 2009
Okay, so I'm not going to reprimand you since I recently went through the SAME EXACT THING. You can start by writing him a letter letting him know that you need some help. it took both of you to make your son so both of you should support him. Keep records of everything! a copy of your letter and whatever response he has. go ahead and file the child support papers. it takes FOREVER! I filed mine in October and just had my first meeting last week...
J.P. answers from Washington DC on February 19, 2009
I learned the hard way...if you have to file for child support, it is only retroactive to the date of filing! Not to the date the situation arose. Let him know you are filing to protect your access to benefits and then see if you can work something out. If you can, please do so. Family law and family courts are a HORRIBLE experience. You will spend >10,000 in legal files and you will probably not like the result. Also, keep good documentation of your communication (email is great for that). Good luck..... If you need a lawyer referral in Baltimore County, let me know...I'll give you the one my girl's father used!
T.B. answers from Norfolk on February 19, 2009
N....take care of this NOW. Go to your local Child Support Enforcement agency and let them handle the dirty work. You may have to have a court order first. But they can help you through the steps or guide you on what to do first! I have a 17 year old and had I not taken these steps 17 years ago I firmly believe I would have only recieved pennies on the dollar for support. Now his father and I have the DCSE to take care of the support and we can work on other things like parenting our child! It's simple. they take money out of his paycheck and then send it to ME. no chasing, begging, fighting...simple! DO IT! for your child!
B.S. answers from Washington DC on February 19, 2009
You are not wrong in asking for support for your child. Everyother father in America is legally obligated to support their children no matter how financially strapped they are.
My husband has a son from a previous marriage and let me tell you, once the court gets involved, it's out of your hands. they will calculate how much he owes with a computer program and no matter how unfair or outrageous he will be required to pay. This system doesn't favor either parent, so my advice to you is to sit down and figure out how much you realistically need and break it down for him. It's always easier if you can come to an agreement together. Also, I know in our situation we could have a mediation with the Friend of the Court where both parties would sit down and talk. This was always helpful for us because if things got heated we had the mediator there to step in, also, she knew the laws and could give an alternative if we couldn't come to an agreement.
M.G. answers from Washington DC on February 19, 2009
yes you need to find a back bone.
i would either write a letter or do it in person.
just tell him the facts and that if he dosent help out it will cost him more in the long run. say iam trying to do this with out involving a 3rd party but if you dont help one will soon become involved.
i think you will find if he works for a government agency they can automatically garnish he wages for you.
also talk to your insurance company and explain that your hubby is not the most stable person in the world
when you talk to your exhubby talk to him in a public place.
K.L. answers from Washington DC on February 19, 2009
There are some good suggestions here, such as writing him or e-mailing him. There is nothing that says you have to talk to him personally, if he is confrontational. I don't think you are a coward for not wanting to deal with him directly. That's just self-preservation.
That said, he has a moral and legal obligation to support his child. And you are also obligated to do what is best for your child. That means seeking child support. You don't have to speak with him or write him at all. Just contact your local division of child support enforcement office to apply for assistance. You may not even have to go to court. I am a family law attorney, but I am not licensed in Maryland, where you are located, so I couldn't help you. You don't even really need a lawyer to get started. Just make the call.
I am sorry he has other financial obligations and debts, but child support comes FIRST. Why should you have to bear the entire responsibility? Good luck to you and stay strong for your child.