Unfortunately, An Ex Sometimes Requires The Strong Arm of the Law to Behave
Dealing with an ex can sometimes feel like dealing with a child: You give and give and give — you explain things kindly over and over again. Yet still he/she doesn’t get it. And although it’s unfortunate and not at all what we want to do, sometimes we need to take legal action in order for him/her to behave like a grown up and face his/her responsibilities.
Case in point, a situation with “Kyla” and her ex “Bill”:
It’s been two years since they separated, however, Bill often paid child and spousal support late. Not months late — but a few days or weeks here and there as he awaited bonus money or got out of his overdraft. Kyla always accommodated him, even though it required she shuffle money around in her accounts so she could pay her own bills, and holding off on buying things that the kids needed. Kindly, she also pointed out to Bill that
- she was doing him a favor.
- she could help him find a good financial planner, if he wanted.
- she and their children relied on his support payments and needed to be a priority.
But by giving in once…and then a few more times…delayed payments became an expectation. His attitude became increasingly self-righteous; one of, “What’s she gonna do about it? If I don’t have the money, I don’t have the money. She’ll get by.”
But Kyla has reached the end of her rope. The final knot came this past weekend when Bill said he’d be late again next month because he was going on vacation in Mexico. Minding her tone, she said, “I hope you have a great trip. Oh, and by the way, next month, I’d appreciate you giving me post-dated cheques for the next year.”
His response? He was shocked. “You know I can’t do that. I’m often stuck in my overdraft.”
But Kyla realized that that was his problem, not hers and their children’s; that she was enabling his mismanagement of money AND suffering the consequences of it by constantly giving in. Moreover, his actions were extremely disrespectful – he was taking advantage of her kindness AND neglecting the important responsibilities he had to her and the kids. So off to her lawyer she now goes – Maintenance Enforcement will make Bill “get it”, even if she can’t.
I’m writing about Kyla’s situation NOT to promote you running to your lawyer every time an issue arises between you and your ex-husband or ex-wife. But I do want to remind you that your ex is not a child and thus, shouldn’t be allowed to ‘get away’ with things that negatively affect you and/or the children. Sure, you might cringe at the mere idea of having to talk to your lawyer (AGAIN) – but as Kyla said to me afterwards, “In the end, legal enforcement will ultimately help make him a better father…and better man.” Tough love is sometimes required with an ex.
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