Finances front and center amid child support debate

Published 9:04 am Monday, June 5, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: I have a child with a woman I’ll call “Kara,” who is now my ex-wife. Our son lives full time with me and my new wife, whom I married three years ago. Kara was diagnosed with schizophrenia five or six years ago, which is what ultimately led to our divorce. She has only recently been able to keep a job despite her condition, which is only being moderately well-managed, but she has a pretty good one now.
Kara spends almost all her money on herself and rarely spends a day with our son without me present. I’m considering asking the court for child support payments, but I worry that because of her mental health issues, she’ll end up taking it out on our child.
She’s never been a very good parent, largely because of her illness, and she lived with us for almost a year because I didn’t have the heart to see her homeless. I don’t make a lot of money myself. I’ve been disabled for quite some time, and the extra income would make a big difference in our son’s quality of life.
Am I wrong to request a child support judgment? If Kara loses her job, it could mean jail time, which would be devastating to her, but I don’t believe she would comply with an informal request. I could really use some sound advice. – STRUGGLING IN THE SOUTH

DEAR STRUGGLING: I agree, you do need advice, and the person you should seek it from is an attorney who specializes in family law. From what you have written, Kara appears to be doing the best she can just to get by as are you. You did not mention whether your new wife is employed. If the answer is no, because finances are strapped right now, would she be willing to find a job or part-time work in order to make things easier for your son? If she could, it might relieve some of your stress.
DEAR ABBY: I’m living in my father’s home along with my younger sister. I’m currently looking for work so I can move out. My plan had been to look for roommates online, but my sister wants us to get a place together. Everyone else in our life agrees that this would be the best idea. I do not want to do this.
I am honestly afraid of my sister. She has a hair-trigger temper that she keeps in check for other people but will fully unleash on me. I try to have fun with her, and sometimes I do, but I inevitably become the target of her anger for reasons I can never predict. I’m afraid to speak to her for more than a few minutes because she twists almost everything I say into an attack on her, even the most lighthearted things.
She is also careless with my property and has already damaged some of my things. She triggers my anxiety to the point that I can’t think straight. I mostly just hide from her. Yet she still insists that we should live together, and is complaining more and more about how my financial situation is preventing her from moving out as soon as she likes. How on Earth do I approach this? No matter what I say to our family, no one can offer advice, and it seems like no one is on my side. It makes me want to cry. – BREAKING FREE IN ARIZONA

DEAR BREAKING: Your sister appears to have mental problems that none of the rest of the family wants to acknowledge. Under these circumstances she should absolutely not move in with you. To avoid it, you must grit your teeth, dry your tears and keep saying no.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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