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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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  #1  
Old 01-05-2010, 08:40 PM
Dad33 Dad33 is offline
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Default Concerned about food

Hi all,

I have a concern I would love some opinions on. This post will come across as biased, and I am looking for some objective opinions to moderate me, if you please.

I am the non-custodial parent of two children ages 10 and 11, and have an access agreement whre I have both children two days a week and alternate weekends. I happily pay CS to help support my children.

My ex-wife and I had issues with financial responsibility prior to our separation. Shortly after our separation, she quit her job and her prime source of income became the CS. After our separation, she infrequently asks me to call FRO to hurry her payments as she is broke, sometimes asking for money, and I try to stay uninvolved in what I believe to be a dangerous topic to broach. However, I have been paying directly for clothing and class trips when I can. I am able to pay my bills and m child support, but I hardly have a disposable income, and I am still paying off my hefty lawyer bill from the separation.

Lately the children have been telling me that they are giving their allowance to their mother to help pay for food and gas. They are now starting to tell me that there is not enough food at their mothers' house. I am attempting to be neutral in my responses to the children other than "you are 10 and 11, you shoudn't have to worry about this sort of thing", but I am very concerned for their well-being.

Now that food seems to be an issue, I am concerned. Should I do something? What can I do without possibly making a bad situaion worse?

Advice would be greatly appreciated.
  #2  
Old 01-05-2010, 09:22 PM
Foredeck Foredeck is offline
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Tough situation, on one hand, it's not your problem. If the children are fed, and healthy, it doesn't matter how much food is in the pantry. But, it's hard to see your children in that situation.

I think I'll be in a similar situation in the next few years, as my daughter grows up.

If you can prove that it's because she's not financially responsible, you might be able to convince her or a judge to take some personal finance courses, even if you paid for them, or she could take it through a local not for profit.

I haven't been seperated for long, so did not encounter this often. However, I did make a grocery once when she was tight. I felt bad giving money to pay for her personal things, or for her cable bill, so I told her that things were on sale, and I bought too much, so here you go.

It wasn't much, but it solved the problem for another month for minimal cost
  #3  
Old 01-06-2010, 06:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dad33 View Post
My ex-wife and I had issues with financial responsibility prior to our separation. Shortly after our separation, she quit her job and her prime source of income became the CS. After our separation, she infrequently asks me to call FRO to hurry her payments as she is broke, sometimes asking for money, and I try to stay uninvolved in what I believe to be a dangerous topic to broach.
This sound eerily familar. Best piece of advice with this is to stay the hell out of it. DO NOT call FRO on her behalf. DO NOT lend her money. (Yes it sounds harsh, but her financial mismanagement is NOT your problem anymore)

Quote:
However, I have been paying directly for clothing and class trips when I can.
Which is supposed to be included in the CS.

Quote:
Lately the children have been telling me that they are giving their allowance to their mother to help pay for food and gas. They are now starting to tell me that there is not enough food at their mothers' house. I am attempting to be neutral in my responses to the children other than "you are 10 and 11, you shoudn't have to worry about this sort of thing", but I am very concerned for their well-being.
You are handling THAT part correctly. Who gives them their allowance? She shouldn't be taking that money from the kids. Perhaps you could hold off giving it to them until they are at your house? Or maybe get them to leave their $$$ there with you if her taking it from them is a concern?

Quote:
Now that food seems to be an issue, I am concerned. Should I do something? What can I do without possibly making a bad situaion worse?
THAT depends on how amicable you and your ex are. Yes, it sucks to see your children suffer, even slightly, but the bottom line is that your ex is NEVER going to improve until she's forced to. You aren't doing her any favors by continuosly bailing her out of the jams that she herself creates.

One suggestion for you is to ask to have the kids for an extra day here or there...that way you take the pressure off of her situation without actually having to give her any money. If she's smart though, she'll never agree to that. (You have them on average 12 days a month...or just UNDER 40%. A single extra day puts you over the 40% mark.)

A lack of food in the home is actually a child protection issue, if the children were to mention not having enough to eat to a teacher or other adult in a position of trust, most of the time they are legally obligated to contact CAS.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:07 PM
Dad33 Dad33 is offline
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I really appreciate the advice. Tonight she out and out admitted she doesn't have enough food to feed the kids, and asked for $20.

I've already solved the allowance issue by replacing allowance with little Bank of Dad bank books I write in their allowance to, and I'll buy them whatever they want and withdraw it out of their funds. That's solved.

I am going to take her about $10 worth of lunch supplies for the kids tomorrow and talk to her. I am going to tell her that I cannot give her money, because that opens some ugly discussions from our marriage that we do not want to have. I am going to tell her that all my money is spoken for, and that I am still paying a lawyer for the forseeable future from our separation.

However, I am willing to take and feed the kids whenever it is an issue, and will happily take care of them if necessary. I could keep them overnights on Wednesdays (I currently return them at 8pm) to feed them two extra meals a week, which would save her about $20 each week.

Aside from that, I'm not sure what to offer. I want to be clear that there is no extra money (and she's already borrowing money from my parents and her friends, so I know that's a dangerous path to tread).

The only other option I can think of (which might or might not be a good idea) is to offer to pay her the CS directly rather than it be erratic and delayed through FRO. Is this a good idea? Could it make things for me, or will it make things worse?

Obviously, I personally want things, like passports to take the kids to the US for summer vacations, extra time with the kids, or heck, even a voluntary divorce that might be on the table if I bend a little, but I don't want to get sucked into a money drain -- I'm willing to be reasonable, but I'm gunshy after a very ugly separation and court case.

Is there anything else I can do?

As well, if someone does call CAS, what is likely to happen? She lives in geared-to-income housing, and I'm not sure my parents will continue to allow her to siphon money from her. Would they take the kids away from her? What could go wrong?

Thanks all.
  #5  
Old 01-06-2010, 11:16 PM
billiechic billiechic is offline
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I don't understand how she could be living in assisted housing and not be able to feed her kids. Has she signed up for a food bank? THey provide the basic necessities and when you have kids they even throw in treats and cookies.

I'm glad you realize that you cannot continue to give or lend her money. She is not being responsible, and this actually gives you reason to file for sole custody. Kuddos for trying to do what is best for your kids. But unless she smartens up you may want to consider seeking sole custody.

Is there a reason why she is still unemployed?
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:24 PM
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I'm not being judgemental but I have to ask what you think she is spending all this money on, why would not want Children's Aid called if your children are actually at risk (they are if they are not being fed, their mother is not considering them a priority, if she has an addiction problem etc) and why you would not consider taking them yourself if the Children's Aid removed them?

It seems like there are some other issues in the background, which makes it hard to advise you what the best path would be.

Your children are close to the age where their wishes would be taken into account if you wanted to have custody yourself. If you feel capable of it that is probably the best way of insuring they are properly cared for. That doesn't mean alienating them from their mother, it means giving them a decent home where they have a full fridge every day.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:27 PM
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Quote:
Aside from that, I'm not sure what to offer. I want to be clear that there is no extra money (and she's already borrowing money from my parents and her friends, so I know that's a dangerous path to tread).
Tell your parents to stop lending her money. I know they are probably doing it to help the grandkids, but again, it doesn't help her.

Quote:
The only other option I can think of (which might or might not be a good idea) is to offer to pay her the CS directly rather than it be erratic and delayed through FRO. Is this a good idea? Could it make things for me, or will it make things worse?
Only thing is do NOT hand her cash. Do an email money xfer or something where the funds are trackable as going from you to her. FRO sucks anyway from some of the things I read. Makes no difference in the scheme of things, you just want to protect yourself and make sure you are documenting the xfer of funds. (Email money xfer is best, because you can add something in the memo field along the lines of "for child support")

Quote:
Is there anything else I can do?
Your suggestions are all good ones (ie. keeping the kids overnight/taking them to feed them if she runs out near the end of the week/etc). Does the children's school offer a "hot lunch" program at all? Perhaps you could make arrangements to purchase that (takes some of the burden of groceries off her and your not just handing her money)....is the school on your way to work? Maybe you could drop off a lunch for the kids to the school on your way or something. Regardless, make sure you are documenting these occurences. (If you can get her to communicate these issues to you via email that works best)

If ever she turns psycho and tries anything, you'll have ammunition on your side. This kind of stuff is EXCELLENT for you to protect yourself and your children.

Quote:
As well, if someone does call CAS, what is likely to happen? She lives in geared-to-income housing, and I'm not sure my parents will continue to allow her to siphon money from her. Would they take the kids away from her? What could go wrong?
CAS doesn't like to remove children from the parents without cause. (Mileage may vary depending on who her assigned worker is). Best case, they direct her to a local food bank, help her with her finances and otherwise keep a closer eye on her.

Worst case (and again, it depends on how things work in ON, I can only speak to NB) they get taken from her, placed into temporary foster care and CAS has 5 days to get the case before a judge to explain the reasoning. As the NCP you'd be informed and permitted to attend the hearing and put forth a case to have the children placed into your custody. You would most likely be given temp custody of the children. Again this is absolute worst case scenario and extremely unlikely to happen without substantial abuse occuring while under her care. (My kids have gone for 10 days at a time without being bathed, are forced to move every other month for the last year, and a hundred other things while under their mother's care, and STILL CPS will not get involved0
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:34 PM
billiechic billiechic is offline
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Good point. I've learned that avoiding confrontation just because it has been horrible in the past is not always the best choice. If you feel your kids are at risk, then you should do what is best for them regardless of the problems it causes you.

If your kids prefer to stay with mom then it needs to be clarified WHY. THey may have some sympathy for her and her problems that are clouding their judgement. Not wanting mom to be sad, alone etc is not a good reason to leave them in her care if they are not getting all that they need. They may be older children, but they still don't have the mental capacity to separate themselves from their emotional ties to her.

You need to sit down anf have an honest talk with her. She needs to know that if she doesn't get control of the situation immediately that she will likely lose custody regardless of whether you act or not. Someone else will. She is not meeting her parental responsibilities.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:32 PM
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Why does she expect everyone to pay her way in life? What is so bad about working? Heck, she can even shovel sidewalks for companies for good money(maybe even under the table if that is what she is concerned about) or clean houses etc. etc. No wonder there isn't enough money to feed the kids, she is expecting you to shoulder all the costs.

I would call CAS absolutely and they will approach her and say they have an anonymous concern. They look in cupboards, see the prioriteis of the parents(big screen tv instead of food etc) and they can make some suggestions/strong recommendations for the situation. They won't just remove the children. They will investigate. Seriously, I would run, instead of walking to the CAS. They can even tell her about food bank in her area.

Just get your kids some help. Can you imagine what they go through there if there isn't enough for school lunches? Wow. Probably much worse than you know.

If I were you I would jump through hoops to make sure she has gov't resources to help the situation. It would take some of the financial/emotional burden off of you that I am sure you are suffering from.

What does she do with her day while the children are at school?
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
If I were you I would jump through hoops to make sure she has gov't resources to help the situation. It would take some of the financial/emotional burden off of you that I am sure you are suffering from
Ok, I'm going to bite here and play devil's advocate. So he handles that for her this time...and the next time it happens? How about the one after that? Or the one after that?

It sounds like she needs to hit absolute rock bottom before she'll wise up and get some help managing her finances.

By all means call CAS and ask them to stop by as the children have said they are lacking food. Get it documented. If they find out it's you, they are going to brush you off as "just the ex". (Speaking from experience here).

It's ONLY if it becomes substantiated from an outside source that I've ever seen any real action be taken.

To that end, I would pay a visit to the children's school, and speak with the teachers directly. Indicate that the children have been indicating issues with appropriate food while in their mothers care, and ask that the teacher's keep an eye on the kids for you to make sure they arrive with proper lunch. If they don't, please contact you so you can provide it.

Yes, the children may suffer in the short term if she's not able to provide appropriate meals...however that will lead to other people in authority noticing, and people like teachers are legally bound to contact the proper authorities should they notice signs of neglect or abuse.
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