Boyfriend Separated Yet Continues to Support Previous Family

Reader’s Question

I’m dating a guy who has been separated from his wife for 7 or 8 years and together they have 5 kids. He and I just had twins this year. I have two kids by another person. She recently moved down the street from us and it’s a problem for me because we (the wife and I) don’t like each other. She calls him to take the kids to school (and he has to be at work at 4 am), give them money, buy them clothes and shoes, take them and buy them McDonalds, pay her rent, loan her money… She has a 20-year-old daughter that lives with her and she calls him for things as well. It wasn’t this bad til she moved closer and I feel that my kids and I are now getting pushed out because he’s afraid of child support and scared to get a divorce. I don’t know what to do or say to him anymore. What should I do? Should I stay or leave, because I’m tired of talking. He would tell me something to shut me up and do what she asks “for the kids’ sake”. The ages of their kids are 20, 19 lives with girlfirend (he’s cool), 18 (wants to move his 17-year-old girl and her baby in with us or his mom), 14 (he’s cool), and 12 (she’s stiving for attention and that’s who the mother uses to get it from him).

Psychologist’s Reply

The biggest problem in this situation is he isn’t separated. He’s just living with you and performing fatherly activities and supporting that first family financially rather than obtaining a divorce and being told by the court to pay child support. He’s not doing these things for the sake of the children as much as for the sake of his wallet. When a couple is separated for over three years, they’ve reached an agreement of some kind. He and his separated wife have agreed to live this way…they just didn’t include you in the deal. He avoids legal child support but must pay rent, loans, food, clothing, etc. on demand. He has agreed to the deal in exchange for not having a legal child support requirement. If he used a calculator, some months he may be paying more or less than he would have been legally required to pay in child support. In both situations — his current approach or a legal requirement for child support — he is still obligated to provide and support his previous family.

While he’s been using the issue of child support, it’s likely that his only legal obligations are to the children under the age of 18, unless they are enrolled in a college/university full-time. It’s likely that he has prolonged the separation for this reason, allowing the children to age rather than pay child support. That had been working well until they moved closer. Now, if we think about it, if the situation were to come to court, he’d owe child support for his two youngest children and your twins.

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As three of his older children are now legal age, he should be in a position where the child support issues are equal. If you stay, he’ll have two children for child support from the previous marriage and if you leave, he’ll have your two children for child support.

In your situation, I would express your feelings and ask for some type of decision…not immediately, but that he needs to finalize the divorce or make another decision. You’ll probably need to make a move here because both he and the separated wife are comfortable with the situation. He is likely to offer a variety of promises — to both you and the separated-wife — in the hopes of no legal issues developing. I would place the relationship on a probation. After six months, if nothing has changed, I’d start preparing to leave, at which time you can look to the court for a requirement to pay you child support if that’s an option where you live.

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