I had a bit of a knock-down drag-out argument with my son’s mom last night. I try to avoid them at all costs, but this one was looming on the horizon for about 17 years. Child support ends next year and she doesn’t think that’s fair. She thinks it should just go on and on, indefinitely.
We were divorced in California and although we moved to Oregon six years ago and our child support is enforced by Oregon’s child support enforcement department, it still abides by the original California agreement. And in California, child support ends on the child’s 18th birthday.
The whole thing started over a discussion we were having about college for the boy. She had been pushing for private music schools and conservatories all over the country. I had been pushing for the University of Oregon, our home school, Go Ducks! In part because I still want him close by, but in large part due to the incredible expense, that I know she can’t afford, associated with going almost anywhere else.
The boy carries a 3.5 GPA and scored a 1960 on the SAT as a sophomore. He easily qualifies for acceptance almost anywhere in the country. For him, the school that for most kids in his class is their “Reach for the Moon School” is his fall back option. He likes music and he plays the guitar pretty well. He’s been in the high school jazz band and all. But even he is more realistic about his abilities and the un-likelihood of any scholarships coming his way than she is.
As far as I am concerned, he is going to college for all job/career opportunities other than “Rock Star”. Because, face it, if he does make a career out of playing the guitar, then no one is going to care where he went to college or if he went at all for that matter. Any job/career other than Rock Star and it will matter. That’s what I want to prepare him for. Jobs/careers other than Rock Star
My position has always been to be as realistic as possible with him and not set him up for disappointment. It’s fine if you want to encourage him to look at those amazing private music schools in Boston and Chicago or New York if he actually has a chance in hell of going to one of them, but what are you going to say to him after he is all excited about them, when he can’t go there because you can’t afford it? That’s not fair to him.
We had been meeting with a counselor to help us work our way through the college selection, application and financial aid processes (at her suggestion) and even he had been pushing the conversation towards the U of O but she just wouldn’t listen. She couldn’t pick up on it. I finally had to lay it all out for her in black and white. And in so doing, I had to include the part where I informed her that not only is college going to cost an arm and a leg, but that child support would be ending too. She was going to actually have to chip in on something for once in her life.
I knew she wasn’t thinking about the money. She never does. Somebody else always pays. That somebody being me. It was the first time the stark reality that she would have to come up with money all on her own had set in. And it smacked her right across the face. Suddenly she wasn’t talking about conservatories and private schools anymore, now she wanted to know what local community colleges were available.
I’m certain she had intended to pay her share with money she would be getting from me. And that I, in addition to paying her share, would be paying mine as well. I mean… that’s fair, right? It’s how it’s always been done. Why wouldn’t that just continue?
I’ll tell you why. Because she has had 18 years to learn to live within her means and I am not going to continue to enable her any longer. Just because she is the mother of my child doesn’t mean I am responsible for her welfare for the rest of her life.
She had the audacity to infer that I was somehow not to be trusted to pay my fair share. That despite an unblemished record over the past seventeen years of paying above the standard child support guidelines, paying for expenses that should have been included as part of those child support payments as well as his music lessons, cell phone bill, car payments, insurance and on and on and on, she still feels it’s not enough and that it should just continue on until some undisclosed point in the far distant future.
I intend to see to it that my son gets the college education and experience that I have always wanted for him. I will likely pay for most, if not all of it on my own. But after his 18th birthday, it will be a cold day in hell before his mother sees another red cent from me.
I just love that kid. Her… not so much.
Best of luck
When does child support become life support? When do you think it should end? What’s fair in your eyes? Don’t be afraid to tell me in comments.