Stepson Money Issues

kev111May 16, 2011

Hello all. I had posted here a while back regarding my stepson, and it was nice to get a ton of answers and support. I've lurked for a few years after, but now I'd like to once again seek some thoughts from this forum.

I'll try to present as objectively as possible, and I do encourage objective responses too - I am fine if I'm told I'm totally wrong.

Quick setup - Married my wife 10 years ago and have been in her life for nearly 12. She has a son who was 8 when we met and is now 20. He lives at home and is eeking his way through community college, and with us we have our 9 year old daughter and 7 year old son. Stepson's father lives fairly close by and is involved - though stepson has been avoiding his father a great deal for the past few years.

The first time I wrote it was regarding my wife and how we constantly disagreed about rules and how to handle the then 17-year-old. The basic idea was that I was for clearer and firmer rules than my wife, and when she perceived that I was too harsh she would defend her cub very vociferously.

I find myself again at odds with my wife regarding my stepson, and at this stage it's about money. It's been pretty harsh at times, so I hope I can hear from objective 3rd parties.

My wife and stepson came to me actually in debt, but things are well enough with me that I was able to clear those when we got married and my wife was able to be a 'stay-at-home' mom for my stepson and our own two children that came along.

My stepson's biological father has paid child support the entire time (until stepson turns 21 in July). In order to avoid the angst from all involved, we put all of the child support money into a 529K account geared for my SS's education, and we even had his father directly deposit into that named account so there would be no question about where his money was going. We have stopped funding that lately since there is now enough for the community college and because that account can only be for education. We set up an online ING account for that money to presumably use for other 'support' things that come up (help fixing car if needed, etc).

So how has all of this money been put to use? He went to his first college after high school and unfortunately failed about 2 out of every 4-5 classes he took. He's not lacking in intelligence, he just literally did not hand things in or in some cases did not show up enough for the class. After four semesters he finally failed out, and we tried things at the community college. He failed some things there too, and thus it seems he will fail out of that community college. After 6 semesters and three classes over summers he will have 35 credits - if he had passed them all he'd have about 70.

He still has enough in his education account to get through a few semesters somewhere else - about 14K - but I'm not sure of the utility here. I understand at 60 credits he would have some options open up like the police academy, which is what he'd like (his father is a state trooper), but I'm not sure it wouldn't take another 3 years and two more colleges before he got there. By the time he turns 21 in two months he'll also have about $8K in the ING account.

What else is this child support money covering? Car repairs on the car we bought him when he started college. We also have used it for lawyers fees and fines from when he got in trouble with pot at 15, with pot at 18, and some traffic stuff at 20. He also used some of it to buy himself a large, flat screen LED TV.

That's really about it. We pay for his clothes, food, gas, entertainment, insurance, cell phone, etc. I should mention here that he has never held a job. He worked for half a summer washing dishes at a local deli when he was 18, but that was for a month and a half and maybe 3-4 days a week. He is trying to get one this summer, so we'll see how that turns out.

So this debate centers around this child support 'font' of money and how it should be dealt with. He has had a credit card since 18 that he is supposed to use for things like clothes when needed and for emergencies. Every month it has been over $600, and most of it is pizza, fast food, iTunes, gas, and the grocery store (where he uses it to buy cigarettes). I would like to use the child support money for these items. My wife wants to keep all of the child support money intact (barring the car fix or education) and designate it as "his money". She would then give all of the money left over to him in a lump sum when he's done with school. Any money in the education account can be passed to the younger kids' accounts and the cash given to him for that.

When I suggest using the child support money to pay for things he is putting on the credit card my wife accuses me of trying to take money that does not belong to me. My argument back is that if we continue to pay for this 20-year-old to entertain himself whenever he would like he will never understand the value of money and how to prioritize and save. Also, with everything either paid for by us or by the child support font, what incentive is there for him to ever get a job?

I put the offer out to give him every single cent of the child support now but then he will have to pay for EVERYTHING including his car insurance (not cheap in NJ), cell phone, food, clothes, etc and in six months he'd be required to pay rent. I was told that I was being too harsh with that and that I would never do that to either of my biological children.

Am I too harsh here? I would like to think that if one of my biological children were 20 and never had a job and was still out all night buying themselves pizza, cigarettes, and God knows what else that I'd put the hammer down. In fact, I'd like to think that the hammer would have fallen a lot sooner...

But still, how should I consider this child support money? I keep thinking that if this money is all his then why do I not get a say in cutting off the stupid stuff on the credit card? What do you all think of giving all of the money NOT used for education back to the child to use as he sees fit?

For the sake of trying to shorten an already too long intro I'll end here. If there are additional details you'd like to know to help you form your opinions just let me know.

Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, first, I commend you and your wife for being able to squirrel all the child support away for all those years. And how fortunate your SS is to have a stepfather who is willing to pay the full cost of raising a boy into adulthood. I think your wife is probably not taking that into account when she says that you are trying to take money that isn't yours. If the kid is running up $600 per month in incidentals, then he bloody well needs to pay it himself.

My suggestion for the money left in the ING account..... Use it to pay the first and last month's rent on an apartment for "Mr. Entitled", help him pack his stuff, drive him over there and drop him off. Give him whatever cash is leftover, and tell him he's on his own. That's how I would handle it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 12:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So, for the past ten years you have been the sole financial support for this child (since your wife did not work and CS money went directly to college savings). But now the CS money for "education" is much more than is actually being used for education, and your wife thinks that the remainder should be be used for SS's "fun money". In addition to the $22,000 of fun money for SS, you are also expected to foot the $600/month of frivolous spending on credit cards (and no telling how much that actually comes out to with interest rates!) Oh, and let's not forget the cost of actual living expenses, like room and board. This, for a 20 year old who doesn't work and is flunking out of school.

Wow. I'm almost speechless. And your wife accuses you of wanting to take money that doesn't belong to you, because you want to use SS's child support money to pay for ..... SS's own frivolous expenses?! I see money being taken that doesn't "belong" to someone in this story - but it's not you doing it. It's your wife and your SS, who have reneged on the agreement to use SS's CS money for college.

It was your wife's responsibility to use that CS money for the cost of (duh) supporting SS. You and she agreed that you would support him so that money could be banked for his college, correct? Now that money is not (going to be) used for college but suddenly "belongs" to SS?! OK, fine - then your wife owes you restitution for the years that you supported (and continue to support) SS since she breached your oral contract.

Normally I'd suggest talking to your wife and working through this, but I'm so aghast at the, well, to be blunt, apparent gold-digging mentality of your wife that I'm just appalled and don't know what to say. I do know that that credit card would be shut off, today, and the Bank Of Step-Daddy would be closing its doors. I cannot even imagine what bio-dad thinks of this whole mess either.

I'm sorry for you. I wish you luck.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 1:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Such quick follow-ups!

@lady q: Yes, I had suggested giving him the entire amount and let him figure out his life from there. The credit card goes and all expenses would now be his (including whatever education he saw fit to explore from here). I was willing to give him 6 months before I charged him rent - and THAT was considered draconian. Whatever the case, mom would not allow an apartment drop-off in any realm of fantasy that I might have - she would just intervene and cover things herself.

@mattie gt: To be fair, having my wife stay at home was a decision made together. She could have had a job and was working as an HR manager when we were first together. I try not to consider the money I make "MY" money as we're a team.

The excuse used for the credit card sprees is two-fold. First, she explains that the child needs to eat and we need to feed him - he just chooses to do so at Frank's Pizza and Wendy's for each meal (OK, the last part was really my addition). Second, we do treat the 9- and 7-year-old to things so why shouldn't we do so for 20-year-old....

My counters are: first, we pay a lot for groceries every month the kid can eat at home for a fraction of the cost. Second, we don't spend nearly the same amount on both smaller kids COMBINED and they are not 20 years old COMBINED.

Still trying to stay objective here, but I think you can all feel my frustration.

Yes, we agreed to use the CS money for education and major unforeseen calamities like lawyer can court costs (again, my sarcasm getting the best of me). The "child gets the leftover" situation is the part with the angst. She has me convinced that to covet it to pay for clothes and stuff for him is robbery, and I guess we DO pay for clothes and stuff for the younger kids....

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm going to agree with lady q and mattie. I don't care how much you pay for your younger two childrn.... you did do that when the 20 year old was that age. He's 20 now. He needs to quit failing school, get a job and move out. This is rediculous! My mom received child support for me until I graduated college as well but I lived at home so that covered the roof over my head, some meals and my utilities. If I wanted all those extras I paid for them. I didn't even think to ask my mom for stuff. Oh... and I am now footing the bill for my college education.... which I took out student loans for. Seriously, everything about this is wrong!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 1:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I try not to consider the money I make "MY" money as we're a team."

So you're a "team" when it's your income that you're talking about, and you're a "team" when it's you paying for your SS while supposedly CS money is being saved for college - but suddenly you're not a team when it comes time to talk about what should be done with SS's child support money, because that money is "not yours"?

How does that work? I'm picturing this the other way around - if DH and I as a "team" decided to have DH pay all living expenses while I put my entire salary into educational savings for my SS. Then, ten years from now, I announce that it's my savings, from my salary - and I'm going to spend it to get myself a doctorate, and SS and DH could just deal with the change of plans. D'ya think DH might feel a bit miffed?

As for the silliness where a seven year old gets a "treat" being compared to a twenty year old using a credit card, that is just foolishness. I buy my SS treats all the time - but I'm not going to give him my credit card!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 1:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sounds like you've been very generous Kev, and for that, I think you are to be commended. I can certainly see your point about wanting 'SS to use his own money' to cover his own beyond-his-means lifestyle. But as the mother of a 20-year old college student, I can also see your wife's point about supporting your child (SKid, whatever) while he's still a college student. (We do still cover the bulk of my son's expenses.)

I think where it gets tricky - at least to my way of thinking - is that your SS is not succeeding in college. If he were 3/4th done with a 4-year degree program and working part-time, I'd urge you to continue to support him until he graduates and [quickly] gets a job. Then use his ING fund in dribbles to help him get established. Does that sound like what you and your wife both had in mind originally?

If so, I'd use that as a starting point for a discussion -- That you think that was a good plan, but that this is not how things are turning out... That SS's path has gotten bumpy and you see the need for a course correction, or at least, a change of plans on your (plural) part. That you're concerned that if you continue on the path you're (plural) on, that SS will continue on the path he's on, and that this path is not a good one. Then see what she has to say...

Ask her how she envisions things working out for the next five years - both what SS will do and what kind of financial support you two should provide. Ask her for a 'best case' and 'worst case' scenario, and under what conditions she thinks a 'tough love' approach would be appropriate.

If I'm understanding you correctly, the 'real issue' is not a few months' spending money, but rather, the future course of SS's education and life and how/when you two will step back as parrents and let/insist that he step up.

The key will be making it clear up front that you're not attacking her cub or her parenting,so you're going to ask her *not* to get defensive. You may need to say this several times to actually get through the conversation.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 2:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"My suggestion for the money left in the ING account..... Use it to pay the first and last month's rent on an apartment for "Mr. Entitled", help him pack his stuff, drive him over there and drop him off. Give him whatever cash is leftover, and tell him he's on his own. That's how I would handle it."

Exactly. You are not being selfish in the least.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks again for the great responses.

@ mattie: Not sure I'm following your analogy completely, but I think we are both on the same page. I guess I thought it would be best when we first started collecting the CS for his education to show him how it was being done both so he would not have to worry about his father thinking we're having a big party with the money and that he could appreciate what we're doing to promote his education. Seems it somehow evolved into "his" account and in a way I almost feel it's a monster I helped to create. I feel very wronged here, and as much as I try to play up the other side in an effort to be objective and give a fair rendering, my anger and frustration match what you've expressed.

@ sweeby: You make a good point as to his college success - or lack of it. And not because he tries and struggles but because he's not showing up (figuratively and literally). I could overlook SO much if he was on his way to a stellar degree and had tons of ambition. In fact, I ALWAYS told him and my wife that I would NEVER skimp on an education and that if he wanted to and was able to attend an Ivy League school I'd pay everything the CS did not. You are correct that the any leftover money was going to be used as actual 'support' - setting him up if his first job forced him to relocate, a down payment for a new car if he was going to commute, perhaps work clothes if needed, etc.

My wife and I (along with SS) have had numerous 'what if' conversations and those never really seem to find solid ground. Categories for his future include:

1. Muddling through whatever colleges will take him until he finds a way to get 60 credits and then call it a day. That seems to be the path he's on now, and will likely involve 2-3 more years and 1-2 more schools. Very stressful option with not a lot of payoff

2. Armed forces. Wife will not allow for this as there is a chance he could see battle. SS not interested in battle prospects either.

3. Trade school. Could learn to be an electrician? Not interested. Mechanic? Not interested. Computer programming? No thanks. Anything in this field? Not for me...

4. Hourly job not requiring anything other than a HS diploma. Can't do that - I would make like no money and I need a new car.

5. Hobo. So far that option is not being taken seriously by wife and stepson, but might have to be put on the table soon.

Here's another twist that I'm sure you'll all enjoy. I'm surprised the pot references haven't created more outrage, but it will now. Despite trouble with the law on two occasions, we consistently continue to find cut-up cigars around along with small, rectangular plastic baggies. Check these little factoids out:

Over the past 6 months he has been given an estimated $4,000 in CASH from various sources. Some from his father who wrote out 4 months of back child support in a check DIRECTLY TO HIS SON. Some from his mother who sold a gold coin for $600 and gave it to her son. More from his mother who simply wrote checks for cash out to her son. More still from mother who has admitted recently to giving her son cash (said it was for work around the house, but giving him $100 for mowing the lawn once is pretty much more charity). So where is all of this cash now?

Well, mom actually applied for a job FOR her son, and he might be working the night warehouse shift for a department store. That is, until he found out he had to take a drug test.

Getting less and less objective here. As I read these things back and see what I wrote, I am embarrassed. How did I let this get so far? And there is more I'm not even bringing up... Good Lord where do I go from here?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

wow...I think you are too nice to both SS and your wife. SS got it easy. My DD is 23 and could never dream of spending 600 a month on dumb stuff.

1. if he failed/fails classes he needs to pay for it himself by taking a loan. i understand child support was saved for it, fine then whatevere he spends above that such as those 600 should also come out of CS. No way, i would pay for his cigarettes or iTunes!

2. Why does he have a credit card? My DD is 23, has no credit card, if he spends too much on it, he needs to pay or again money comes out of CS that was saved for him.

3. If he lives at home, he must work and attend school and do well, and he must financially contribute, if not he must move out by a certain day, preferably within next 30 days.

4. why doesn't he work???

5. what does his dad say?

My nephew is 21 and lives at home, he now graduates from Community College and transfers to local University in the fall to complete his 4-year-degree, he does well in college. He works two jobs. He pays for college himself, he pays for his car and all of his other necessities. He doesn't have a credit card. He lives at home so the roof above his head is paid by his parents until he graduates from college. I think that's acceptable.

Your wife is willing to support a grown man failing scool and not working and spending money left and right. No way! You sound like a great husband and a stepfather but i think they are taking advantage of you...

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sounds like you know what to do...

I wouldn't go so far as to say Mom is *deliberately* taking advantage of you (not to imply that's what Pof1 is saying) -- Just I think she may have thrown up her hands or is still viewing life through rose-colored glasses.

60 credits is what ?? If it comes with an AA, it's something, but without even a 2-year degree? Yeah, it may be enough to qualify for the police academy -- but don't *they* do a drug test? Wouldn't pretty much everybody hiring for any job worth having? And what makes him think he could even get into the academy with the way his life is going now? Nepotism goes only so far...

IMO, it's time for an intervention and a change of strategy. DON'T let it be about the money (CS) because it's NOT. It's about his whole LIFE.

Are you (plural) on decent terms with BioDad? And how does he feel about his son's progress?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

He's been given $4000 in cash over the last 6 months, you are paying for his clothes, food, home, gas, etc? Seriously, that's NOT right!!!! WTH has he been spending this money on? Obviously drugs. Why do you even want him around your other children. They may only be 7 and 9 but they are learning from older brother exactly what they can get away with when they get to be this age. This is a very bad example to set for them. Hey.... mom's using them as an excuse, so can you.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 5:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Armed forces. Wife will not allow for this as there is a chance he could see battle."

I am not sure i understand how can she not allow 20-year-old to join whatever he wants to, I think she still treats him as a child.

And I missed your post where you mention him using drugs...No wonder he does not work and does poorly at school, he is getting high! I changed my mind..He must move out NOW. Not in the future, you have illegal drugs in your house because of him, he must go NOW.

I am not saying mother should abandon him but he cannot continue living with you, he must get a job and live elsewhere. Mom can help, fine. If my own child did drugs she would not be living with me or she would be taking regular drug tests.

I am sorry for your situation. Honestly at this point I would say he either moves out or I do.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 6:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for your posts again. It helps to have some validation that I'm not going crazy. And though it sounds pretty incredible at times I am seriously NOT exaggerating about the circumstances. Sad but true.

That all said, the wonderment of some might be why I don't either force an issue or throw my hands up and disengage. Basically, it has to do with the reaction I get from my wife who is so defensive of her son that taking things off of the table puts her into a 'claws out' mode instantly. Easy enough to bail on something like this in a vacuum, but I have to think of the younger kids. I guess in my mind it has been easier to sit back and let this progress than to have it be a constant all-out fight.

To individual posters:

Pof1: A number of questions.

1. I have tried to put in place a "if you fail you take over your own education" edict, but his mom-and-advocate intercepts saying he has nothing else he can do and the CS money is there for him to keep trying.

2. He theoretically has a credit card to use for purchases like clothes, shoes, etc and to have in an emergency if driving somewhere and needs help. The charges are ridiculous, but wife deems them to be the food and entertainment that he deserves by being one of the family.

4. He has not worked, in my mind, because he does not have to. Pretty simple. His mother says it's because he needs to concentrate on school while attending, that no jobs are out there to be had, and at one time because of the pot charges on his record (which have since been expunged).

5. His father is a whole other set of circumstances. His overarching philosophy is the same as mine - that he needs to grow up and man up. However, his tactics are the opposite end of reasonable. He has taken lately to lecturing and calling him a failure - and so it's no surprise when my stepson avoids him all the time now. I've tried talking to his father to see if he can support the general idea in a less belligerent manner, but he just can't seem to help himself. Sad.

I too worked like hell to get through school, took a job that was not all that glamorous to start out, and moved out and started my life quickly. Ironically, my wife paid her own way by working like crazy at both a company and as a weekend nanny. Upon her divorce she wiped herself out to keep her and her son above water. It's so strange to see her reaction to her son. Perhaps she is just so crazy about keeping her son away from the strife she had to endure she takes things too far the opposite way?

Sweeby: Yes, I know what needs to be done, but trying to get the right people on board is the issue. As of this weekend, I was able to get her to agree to take the credit card from him. Good step, but this I think was allowed in her mind because he might be on the cusp of getting a job (depending on whether the stuff he bought from the net that promises to purge his system actually works). I am afraid that if he loses the job after the drug test she will lobby for the credit card return - and if nothing else would likely give him hers.

I like your thoughts about making the next foray into discussions more about his overall life and not about specific money amounts. I have been presenting the idea that he needs to learn how to function as an adult and that he's going to be lost when he's on his own. She seems to be wavering a bit, so I do plan to keep on with that angle.

momof3: You are absolutely correct in that I hate that the younger kids see this sloth of a big brother feeling no repercussions. Also hate that the young ones can basically have a scavenger hunt around the property finding his discarded cigarette butts that he flicks all over (boy that drives me nuts, and I've been picking them up and throwing them in his car). It is something that even my wife admits is harmful, and another argument I can use on my side.

Po1 again: Child does not want to join the armed forces - I'm sorry if that was unclear. His mother is freaked out against it, but of course she would have no say if that was his decision. Given the army would not give him a credit card to use and free gas, it's unlikely he'd really have an interest there.

All of these responses help in terms of giving me the moral authority here. I can feel a change in the air, and I'll keep things up to date.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 7:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I understood SS doesn't want to go to army, but it seemed strange that mom wouldn't allow it. But freaking out is understandable.

I think not working and pot smoking just needs to stop now. I always thought of myself as a somewhat lenient parent but none of this would fly with me. I could see how someone attending medical school has no time to work, community college plus bad/failing grades should leave plenty of time for work.

I am glad mom took the card away! the first step. I hope kid gets on track. I wonder if he needs concelling...

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The idea of child support money is to pay for "clothes and stuff" for the child. Since your SS is not taking advantage of his educational opportunities I think the idea of using the CS to pay for his education is now off the table and it should be used for its original intention, to support him. Your wife needs to be reminded that you have been his sole support financially for the last 10 years which is darned good of you as many stepdads would not be so open handed.
If SS "deserves" food and entertainment as part of the family, then he needs to contribute to the family's well-being- does he help around the house? Does he do anything besides make a mess of cigarette butts flicked around the yard? In any case his food and entertainment should be what the rest of the family enjoys- family meals and group entertainments. Otherwise using your wife's arguments it would be only fair to give the same privileges to the rest of the family members, perhaps your 90 and 7 year olds would like to spend $600 a month each on crap. It's not unreasonable to say if you spend for treats for the younger kids you should also give treats to the 20 years old, but I bet you're not forking out $1200 a month for treats for the younger kids.
$600 a month on pizza and iTunes is ridiculous when he's not contributing anything towards this, not financially and I would bet not in terms of helping around the house either. The credit card should be cut off and to be honest, since your wife seems to have no problems writing checks of money YOU have earned to give to her son against your expressed and implicit wishes I'm not convinced it wouldn't be a good idea to restrict her ability to use your money to prevent this, including taking away her credit card as well if she allows SS to use it. Otherwise she will keep on doing it. I know your agreement was that she be a SAH Mom and that's fine as it goes, but IMO implicit in that sort of agreement is that she use the household money wisely. If she was withdrawing the money and setting it on fire would you not have cause to object? Yet essentially this is what she's doing.
She is NOT doing her son any favours by letting him doddle along with no personal responsibility at this age. Through the late teens young people should be learning money management, that money does not grow on trees or come from the Bank of Dad, and that effort in = effort out so that if you do nothing you get nothing. Otherwise one day the Bank of Dad will permanently close one way or another and SS WILL become a hobo as that is his learned coping strategy. Better for him to have a short sharp shock now than end up on the streets. Is that what your wife wants? because SHE is setting him up for it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 11:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kev, have you (or your wife) looked into AmeriCorps or other job programs like that? I believe if SS were in one of them he might be housed in dormitory facilities so room and board would be covered. The educational money could remain in an account waiting for him to mature a bit, and SS might get the wake-up call he obviously desperately needs.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 9:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Once the money in the schooling account runs out, he would have to get a job or take out student loans to finish. That would be my choice.

I would mind providing a place to live, but no money or credit card.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

@ Po1 - Actually, we've tried to get SS into counseling. We had been wondering if depression was an issue, but with all of our offers he has always refused. I think it might do him some good - not only from the standpoint of helping him clinically, but maybe a 3rd party who can reinforce what I've been trying to put forth could allow him to see things differently. Perhaps it might do some good to be more adamant about this?

@ colleenoz: Your first line has been said to my wife from me so many times I've lost count. Child support should be used to "Support The Child" and that should include things like clothing, cell phone, car insurance, etc. That's when I'm accused of treating my stepson differently from my biological children in that we use the money I make to pay for all of their stuff. In her mind, we should be using the money I make to fully support my stepson or else I'm being unfair. The child support money is "HIS" and to use it for those items mentioned above is considered stealing it from him.

Huge issue about helping around the house. I had enough with the cigarette butts and the coffee cups he just dumps out of his car so I've taken to collecting them and tossing them back into his car on his front seat. My wife calls me mean, but it seems to have hit home. His chores around the house include nothing and nothing. As of a month ago his mom is finally requiring him to do his own laundry, but that's about it (guess how often he does his laundry - pretty sad). The times his mom can convince him to mow the lawn or stain the shed she pays him a STUPID amount of money in cash.

I know the responses: You must require this. Stand up and demand this happen. I do, and I'm called a tyrant by both. Then my wife tells me to not make her choose between her son an me. Yes, I've asked that we go to counseling for ourselves on this matter - and lately she's considering it. I think her circle of friends who, in the past, have always been on her side (I think to make her feel better, objectively there is no way to condone what she is doing) are finally giving her their honest opinions and she is beginning to see things differently.

Totally on board with money management lessons, and in fact I'm in the midst of working with my younger kids on this subject. They wanted to have Nintendo DSI's, and we are making them earn those one dollar at a time. They've totally taken to the idea of watching their savings, and my wife, who was just going to buy them both what they wanted, is pretty amazed as to how quickly they are learning this lesson. Hopefully, it's not too late for the 20-year-old.

By the way, the stepson was stomping around the house last night because he now has no money (what cash he had is now gone thanks to a car fill-up, a pizza, two meatball parms, a Wendy's meal, and 4 trips to Dunkin Donuts). My wife tried to convince me that now he needed more cash to fill his car, but I told her he needs to experience a bit of poverty right now. So far, she's holding firm - though I am keeping an eye on the cash in my wallet. :)

@ mattie gt: Interesting about AmeriCorps. Did not think of looking into that, though I had even considered the Peace Corps while making a long list of options. I'm going to check into that.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 10:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"The child support money is "HIS" and to use it for those items mentioned above is considered stealing it from him. "

Oh -- So it's his allowance.
Yeah. That makes sense...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 10:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mom told me I can live in her house after high school but I have to follow her rules. Period.

Every thing is contingent. Room and board are only provided for free if one is able to obtain a certain GPA. If I don't maintain and it's because I'm slacking, I can get a job and pay a certain amount. Regardless, I'm expected to contribute to the household. That means chores, cooking, etc.

He's an adult in your house. He needs to act like one.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 11:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

By way of update:

Text from Stepson: Can I trade my mom a bond for some cash? It will be good by the start of June. I need to do a little grocery shopping for myself.

Text back from me: Tell us what you need and we can include it with the regular groceries. Look at yourself. You are going nuts within 3 days of no credit card. This is life.

Text back from SS: Alright never mind then.

Text back from me: What do you need? We can buy specific groceries when we shop if there is something you want. Is it cigs? If that's the case then you are on your own. I am not paying for those any longer.

No text in return.

To her credit, wife is on my side with the credit card removal and has not slipped him any cash that I know of (which is likely still the case since I'm the LAST stop he would make to beg money).

He was pacing around the house last night griping about not having any cash and what the hell he was supposed to do to buy stuff. Wow, it's like he's coming off an addiction - which in retrospect might not be a far-off analogy.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 2:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

good, you are making progress, there are jobs out there, he has room and board and he wants anythign else, he will get a job

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 5:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK, I'm back to needing some thoughts here.

Stepson announced to us that he spoke with his father who agreed to send HIM the past few months of child support owed. So a check worth a few thousand is on its way and it's made out to my stepson. Put this in the context of someone who is practically acting crazed because we took away his credit card and will not just give him cash. He's basically gloating that he found a loophole.

Looks like it will be a race to the mailbox on this one. I'm thinking that if my wife or I get to the check first we can rip it up and send an email to bio-dad saying that he must write out child support checks to my wife's name. Of course, bio-dad is pissed lately since he was looking to retire and just now realized my wife has a small claim on part of the pension - a different story but explains why he will have nothing to do with me or my wife.

If my stepson gets to the check first and decides to deposit it (unlikely to be able to cash it outright), then I am of the mind to say "take the rest of the child support and you are no longer supported by me at all". I would have NO problem doing this.

You all know the roadblock here - my wife. I've explained that she is always protective of her son though it seemed as though she had seen the light over the past few weeks. However, in just speaking with her now about the issue she tells me that we should at least let him have some of that money so he has some until he gets a job.

Sigh. I am so wound up right now. I thought she would stand by me on this.

I'll check back in when this all comes to a head. Thanks again for the support here - it's given me the backing to help me stop being the doormat in this whole screwed up soap opera.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd be very concerned about the requests for cash. SS doesn't need groceries, SS isn't pacing around because he needs cash for cigarettes because he could mooch that much from a friend or find change in his car. Are you sure he's just smoking pot and is not doing more serious drugs?

Is his father legally allowed to pay CS directly to SS? He may be upset with your wife and/or you but I think I'd try to talk to him anyway. If SS is doing serious drugs or has some other problem right now, the last thing he needs is a couple of thousand in cash. Who knows what story his father has been told - but I very much doubt that it's "Dad, I need money for cigarettes and drugs and they won't give me any!"

SS needs to be out of your house. Period. A few thousand dollars is more than enough for first and last months' rent, and to tide him over until he gets a job at McDonalds. What example is this setting for the little ones?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are so right, Mattie, and I've said this and more to my wife. We have both considered the possibility of there being a more serious drug issue, and it almost makes me want to bolt my door at night. Seriously.

Father is NOT legally allowed to give CS directly to his son. We would be perfectly within our rights to say "Your son thanks you for the gift you gave him, but where is the back child support you owe". His father literally has our emails blocked and will not accept our calls. I think it may be time, however, to find a way through and give him the lowdown.

I'm almost hoping that he makes a run at this money so I have enough indignation to say enough and end my own support of him. He can have the CS money, see how long that lasts you. And it is a TERRIBLE example that my younger kids see - that's what really hurts me the most.

My wife will take this to a different level, though, and that's what sucks. When a similar (but somewhat lesser) issue came up and I told her what I wanted done she basically told me that she would choose her son over me. The last time the situation cleared up on its own so the ultimatum was not tested from either side. Not so sure providence will be as kind this time around.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 4:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

He needs to go now, seriously. If she chooses her son, so be it. Let them get a place together. But you might want to tell her that since there are drugs in the house you are getting custody of younger kids and she only gets supervised visitations. See what she says. But i woudl start documenting what you see now for future references

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 6:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

He's 20?

Did I get that right?

I agree with PO1.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 11:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are times to choose your child over your spouse and there are times not too. This is one of those times NOT too. She needs to be a parent right now, not his friend. I agree, he needs to be out of the house. This is a very unhealthy situation for the littler kids.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 6:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

exactly momof3, that's so true. Nobody even has to choose one over the other, she would still be his supportive mother, he just needs to make big changes or live elsewhere. Plus it appears that she is also choosing adult son over her minor children. But i sympathize with OP, it must be tough...

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 7:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kev, I agree with PO1 about documentation, and would suggest consulting an attorney if your wife is still saying that she would choose her son over you (and over the other two). An attorney can give you advice on what you need to start doing now to protect yourself and the little ones in the event that this situation does not get resolved. I really hope that your wife sees the light - but IF that doesn't happen, it would be much better for you and the kids for you to be prepared.

You've said that the younger two are earning money for DSI's, and presumably they have basic responsibilities to clean up after themselves and such. How does your wife suggest that this blatant favoritism is affecting them? What does she think it's doing to these two kids who are taking care of their business but see the older half-brother running wild, not only without consequences but getting rewarded for doing so?

I hope this works out.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 9:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I understand I am not married so is easier to leave, but in any case if my SO's kids did drugs/smoke pot/left pot laying around in the house, I would call the police on them and leave and never come back, and if I had minor children in the house, they would leave with me.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 9:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I told my husband from date number one I wouldn't have anything to do with anyone who did drugs. He knew up front I'd be gone if they were in my home. We both agree that if the kids start doing them, hard lessons will be learned. I'm very glad we are on the same page with this.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 11:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Looks like it will be a race to the mailbox on this one. I'm thinking that if my wife or I get to the check first we can rip it up and send an email to bio-dad saying that he must write out child support checks to my wife's name. "

I just had a thought - I believe you can fill out a "hold mail" form online. If your wife is amenable you might want to consider doing so.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 3:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

An update for those of you who are following :)

Maybe this serves as a lesson to others beside me - because I'm finally learning that standing up strong with the knowledge that I am right has paid dividends.

The check did show up, and even though SS intercepted it he did agree to sign it over and have it deposited into his account for my wife and I to disseminate as we see fit. Wife actually backed me up.

SS got called to an orientation for the warehouse job mentioned, and since he's so 'poverty-stricken' now he's actually eager to attend. It's the night shift, and while difficult will pay more than some jobs and his usual deal is to stay up all night anyway and sleep all day. Guess he somehow passed the drug test - I'm not sure how, but not looking a gift horse...

Further, SS and mom have looked to enroll SS in a specific school for security guard training. It's not police work like he would like, but I'm happy that he's looking forward enough to see this as a stepping stone. If he can land some security work and keep taking some credits he might be better able to get into an academy once he has 60 credits along with that experience.

It's not perfect, but I feel relieved that my stance was taken seriously and both my wife and SS are seeing the reasoning. At least for now - but I will take what I can get at this point.

I'm cynical enough to expect a relapse here and there, but I finally am starting to think that so long as I stay consistent, firm, and continue to present the reasoning ahead of the emotion we have a good chance at continuing down the right road.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 12:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

that's good news, one step at a time! hope SS gets that job and training, what's going to ahppen with those 60 credits though

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 4:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK, well this has evolved now and I'm seeking further advice.

Quick reference - three days ago I allowed my SS to take the credit card to buy new shoes he needed. Again, coming from family funds rather than the 15K in child support supposedly slated for his education. When I checked the bill online, I see that he charged for gas for his car and also for $108 at Best Buy.

I sent him a text to say that he will pay me back for the gas when he finally starts his summer job and asked him what the charge at Best Buy was. It was for an HDMI cable to better connect his X-Box to his LED TV.

First of all, it's easy to get HDMI cables for around $30 max online, and secondly I asked him how he might pay for the cable. His response: "From the $15K that is withering away in that account". We text-argued for a while, and I told him he is acting spoiled and entitled - what cash he had I've seen turned into pizza and fast food for a week. Drama King actually replied "What am I supposed to do for food - kill a deer and eat it?" Gee, sorry the food we cook at home and offer you is somewhere below hunted deer meat...

Anyway, I offered to give him the CS money and he can be on his own. He has agreed that he'd like to do that. He wants the money.

Spoke to wife, and while she's not thwarting things like usual, she tells me that she is staying out of the whole thing.

My questions:

1. I'd rather present a united front on this since it's pretty major. Should I force my wife to take a stand (preferably WITH me)? I'm worried she may become the good fairy again and swoop in to save the poor, tormented child.

Logistics about a semi-independent child:

2. How long should I give him before I start charging him rent?
3. Better to have him buy his own car insurance or cut some slack and have him pay for his portion on our policy?
4. Better to allow him to eat with family if he so chooses or allow him to have space available for his food and keep them totally separate?
5. I'd like to stipulate that flicking cigarette butts in the yard, smoking in the home, and ANY sort of SIGN that there are drugs nearby will result in immediate 'eviction'. Should I put an actual contract together listing these and have him sign?

Any other thoughts on making this transition would be great. Would love to hear any actual experiences that anyone might wish to relate - even if it does not totally coincide with my particular deal.

Thanks again everybody.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 11:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Kev,

I just read through the postings. I agree with pretty much everything the others have said, and suspect SS might be doing serious drugs.

You gave SS another chance with the credit card. He blew it. Now the credit card is taken away.
I don�t like the idea of giving him the CS money because you know he is going to blow it all. But maybe giving it to him is the best thing, because once it's gone it's gone and he will have no one to blame but himself. It just might be the hard knock lesson he needs.

-"How long should I give him before I start charging him rent?" As soon as he starts getting paid.

- "Better to have him buy his own car insurance or cut some slack and have him pay for his portion on our policy?" - Cut the apron strings, make him get his own insurance, you've cut him enough slack

As for the food - Dinner is also a bonding time for families, and not just to eat. If he wants to eat with the family, I'd let him, provided he lets your wife know ahead of time so she knows to cook enough, otherwise, he has to fend for himself. He can buy his own snacks.

-I don't think you need to have a written contract, just tell him what the rules are and if he can�t keep them, he has to move out.

I hope your wife is still seeing things your way. I think keeping the focus on helping SS be an ADULT and prepare him for LIFE is the best angle to take with her.
If she starts stalling, or gets defensive again about her son, you might want to say to her what will SS do if something happens to you and her? Yeah, he might inherit some money, but because he doesn't have the discipline to MANAGE it, he is going to blow it all and wind up on the streets. Does she want her son to be dependent on her for the rest of his life, or an independent adult? Harsh, but this is a desperate situation that require desperate measures.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 12:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So is he a kid or an adult? I'd ask him which he'd prefer...

Kids: Live rent free, eat free food, have a car available when needed. But they ALSO have chores around the house that they need to do (or face consequences), they have a curfew, and have other behavioral rules they need to follow (again, or face consequences). Kids go to school.

Adults: Pay rent and a reasonable charge for utilities and meals eaten at their place of residence. They have use of the home's laundry facilities and public areas. Adults can come and go as they please without the 'third degree' from their landlords. Adults work for a living -- full time.

Neither kids nor adults are allowed to have illegal substances or break laws on the premises. Both older kids and adults are expected to clean up after themselves and be considerate of their families/roomates.

Bottom line, I'd offer him a choice of roles.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 1:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cut him off. He's a grown up now. Let him use the support money to pay his bills and when he realizes that he has blown through his free education and all the free Newports he can smoke, hand him a brochure about the Navy. Tell him to get a job as a Yeoman or something where he'll be in an office all day (That way he won't see battle, or it's at least incredibly unlikely). By the time he's served four years, he'll have learned discipline and responsibility. He'll be the man you and mom both want him to be, and get another shot at college, and you and your wife won't even have to argue about paying his expenses while he does it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 1:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, haven't been here in a while but had to comment on this post. I think that if he wants that cash so badly it should be used to get an apartment. That should cover 1st & last months, security dep etc.

I would be very hesitant to give that much cash to someone who may be using drugs. If that's what he is doing let him buy his stuff with the money he earned, not CS that is supposed to be for school. I'd go with him to find a safe apt, pay what it takes to get in and if here is any left take him grocery shopping. And kick him out of the nest. This kids sense of entitlement is amazing, however you can look to your wife for that. You and your younger children should not have to pay the price.

I love my DS dearly but when he was 18 he decided on a similar path and after going back and forth for a few months I gave him two choices, move out on his own. or move out to another state near his grand parents and go to college full time with a C or higher gap and I'd help. Thankfully we didn't have the cash issue to deal with as I can see how that would be a huge issue. And DS chose college and is doing great in his 3rd year and has worked all the way through as well. It hasn't come easy to him either, he has had to work hard for his grades but has really matured a lot the past three years. I just had too as his parent say enough and mean business.

CS should be used to support the child or yes school tuition,books etc if you are able to set it aside. Not a personal bank account for fun money.

And frankly your Wife should be the one putting all this into action because this just sets you up to be the baddie forever with this kid. She needs to "grow a set" and let her son know she means business. This kid will never be able to function independently and THAT will make your life a misery and be financially devastating for your family.

I think to save your marriage, the "adult" kid needs to move out and actually be an adult. Best of luck. I mean that. I say this as my DH continues to help support his 31 year old son who makes a very livable wage, along with his GF, 2 kids and four dogs, ad nauseum. he refuses to live within his means so DH makes up the difference, because you know, life is so hard and he's real trying etc.

My DH I realize will never stop this. I had to leave the home as SS would not and kept moving GFs in, it was really bad. But I have since bought my own home, DH is living with me and gives me money towards bills etc, an unusual situation but it works for us because I know I will not be forced out of my home again and DH knows that this kid is no way going to move here. Extreme-yes. But my home is finally peaceful.

I wonder what your wife thinks life will be like long term if she continues enabling her sons behavior? How does she envision his life when she is not able to meet his demands and neediness? Will she also be supporting his GF/ Grandkids? Will you & she still be married? Cause trust me it can go down that way and he will have his hand out as long as she is willing to slap some cash into it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 10:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For anyone still following this saga, I have an update. Hopefully this will be the 'season finale' of the drama...

Going back to the part of the story where my stepson's father was sending child support directly to my stepson, I had written that my stepson handed over the check and his mother actually stood by me for once and agreed to put it into his account.

Well, the check I saw was only for $100, and it was explained to me that his father was actually just sending him spending money rather than the full child support. Fine, we can put the child support away for him as well when that arrives.

Yesterday, I got a notice from Wells Fargo about a problem with my account, so I checked it out since that is my mortgage carrier. However, it is also my stepson's checking account, and my name is still on that account because when it was opened my SS was not 18. I did not seek to look into his account, but when I opened the link it was all there.

The notice was regarding the fact the account was overdrawn, but what I saw upon looking further was what killed me. There, around May 20th, was a full deposit of child support money directly into his account.

I asked my wife if she knew about this, and she told me she did. She worked with my stepson to get him the money because she still feels he should have money to do stuff with.

What is very scary is that there was also a HUGE deposit made in March of over $2,700. There were a few other small deposits made and then this last one. In total, since March the deposits into the account was around $3,800 - and now it is ALL GONE - to the point where he overdrafted at the gas station and at McDonald's (using his check card).

My wife has always coddled my stepson and my efforts to impose simple rules and regulations were met with her claws as I stipulated at the beginning. At 20, she asked me to go ahead and take over things with him because for some strange reason he had turned spoiled and entitled - and very nasty to boot when he did not get his way. I agreed, and though I asked and asked to present a united front I at least ask that she NOT swoop in like the good fairy when the boy railed against the loss of his fun-time funding. She agreed.

And now this. She put me out there to be the heavy and then, like so many times, she came in and with an "us against him" mentality made his little financial boo-boo go away.

Well, not quite. Kid is overdrawn and I pointed out all of the money that was spent since March. And this does NOT even take into account the average $600+ on the credit card he was charging over that time nor the hefty amounts of cash she had given him for simple chores ($100 for painting a tiny laundry room - poorly - and others). Even she was amazed and asked if I thought he was doing some drugs or other nefarious things. Really, I asked. You think so? Sigh.

So, I'm done. I've had enough and I'm liquidating accounts to present him with a big lump sum now of about $3,000 with $12,000 to come later. Even my wife is worried that he just might do away with this money, and even (correctly) is scared he might OD out there somewhere on whatever he is doing. I don't know what else to do. I might have to mete out the $12,000 over time so perhaps that might slow things down a bit...

Can't worry about that now. I have two young children of 9 and 7 and I have to make sure the good fairy sees what happens when a child is insulated like my stepson was. A great deal of this falls on him - he has had every opportunity and we would have provided him with anything he needed to succeed, but he thought the world owed him something. However, a lot falls on us for not allowing him to struggle when he was young enough to recover and people would be there to pick him up.

Thanks again for all of your comments and support. Perhaps there might be a new season for this drama - and hopefully it will be a bit more uplifting.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 9:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kev, I'm so sorry. You must be so upset that your wife went behind your back. I think you're doing the right thing; you've got to take care of the two young ones; their mother does not appear to always be able to do what is best for her kids.

I don't know what to say. Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 10:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow. Just wow. I can't believe your wife went behind your back like that.

I would give him the rest of the money and be done with it. You could give him a thousand a month until it's all gone, but I bet he'll go through the thousand before the month is even done and will be giving you heartache about the rest. It's a shame because you're probably right about SS taking it and ODing on it.

I just had another thought, you could just flat out say no. Take the money and put it where neither your SS or your wife can get to it. Say it's payback for all the years of support you provided for him. I know it will probably cause all kinds of heck, but what can they do?

It's time to put your foot down. You may be saving your SS's life.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Mattie and Amber.

@Amber: The ensuing divorce would likely be MORE costly, and once it's done my stepson would probably have even more cash on hand to go nutty with.

Plus, I could not stand to be away from my own kids. Just going to have to cut things off as cleanly as I can.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 2:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

the whole arrangement seems to be asking for trouble, children should not have access to the child support at any age, it is for custodial parent to spend on that child and his needs. i don't understand why that money was not spent on him when he was a minor. You could put your own money aside but not child support.

I think since he was fully supported all these years by you and your wife, then child support belongs to you and your wife not stepson. I would consult with attorney and ask what is the best option here. This is not going to end, your wife will be financially supporting him behind your back after child support money is gone.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 3:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kev - Have you and your wife gone to a counselor about this issue? (I know the latest stunt is too recent - but the bigger picture.) Her recent actions severely undermined your marriage, and some repairs are in order.

As to the financial aspects -- I just can't imagine how throwing another $15,000 at a financially-irresponsible (at *best*) teen could be considered wise. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the money will simply vanish if SS gets his paws on it. And it's a substantial enough sum that it could be used to good purpose -- paying rent on an apartment for several months, college tuition for a year or more, technical training or another sort, drug-treatment or counseling for HIM.

If it were me, I'd willingly agree to use the money for HIS BENEFIT -- but simply giving SS the money will actually NOT benefit him, and at this point, even Mommy's got to see it...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have tried to suggest counseling on this and other topics. Can't get her to go for it at this stage - though recent events might prove to be more damaging and perhaps viewed as counsel-worthy.

Financial infidelity can be just as devastating as personal infidelity, and I do feel betrayed - not just my usual undermined.

My fear with trying to go back to the standard way of doing things will be that in the end, with the CS money and whatever else I end up throwing him in addition to that amount, it will be MORE costly to the rest of the family.

I, like pretty much everyone here, agree that never should this money have been ever designated as "his". I always thought that I would have paid for a 4-year college and the saved money would have all been used. In fact, I was more than ready to pay for whatever college charges remained. Again, he had every opportunity - any school he wanted and could get into. I never, ever thought that there would be leftover money of that magnitude and that my wife would earmark it for him. When it all came about, it was such a whirlwind that it had a life of its own before I could stomp it out.

So we are where we are. I can't even watch anymore and I have to divest myself of this black hole that sucks out all of my good cheer. However, I have made myself perfectly clear in that if my wife ever gives him another penny out of our family funds I will consider that grounds for a divorce. For however many years she told me to not make her choose between her son or me - if he ever seeks more money from us I will then make her choose.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't just *suggest* counselling. Make the appointment already! You *HAVE* been betrayed. And lied to. And undermined. And cheated on (financially). The trust in your marriage has been badly damaged by your wife's behavior and the very foundation of your marriage is in trouble.

I imagine you are thinking something along the lines of that this is not divorce-worthy given you love her and have children together, blah blah blah... If that is what you're thinking, I wouldn't let on to your wife, because right now, she's not taking the problem seriously enough -- not by a long shot.

The phrase I used on my Ex was simple but effective:

"I made an appointment with a counsellor for Tuesday at 11:00. You can come with me to discuss how to save our marriage; or I will go alone to discuss if our marriage is worth saving."

Then calmly leave the room to let your message sink in.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 11:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WOW!!! Sweeby has an excellent recommendation there. That's exactly what you should use. Love it!! Good luck! You definately need it. If you don't get this taken care of now she'll be under the impression she can walk all over you in every situation.

My husband and I both receive child support for our children. We need it to feed the kids. We don't get much, either one of us... so the idea that she thinks that this support should be used at her son's discression is just wrong! It's to be used to support the child. You have supported this child and now you are being taken advantage of. How about you have your wife read what everyone else thinks. Maybe that will wake her up.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 7:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Child support should be used to "Support The Child" and that should include things like clothing, cell phone, car insurance, etc. That's when I'm accused of treating my stepson differently from my biological children in that we use the money I make to pay for all of their stuff. In her mind, we should be using the money I make to fully support my stepson or else I'm being unfair. The child support money is "HIS" and to use it for those items mentioned above is considered stealing it from him."...I think you need to ask your wife how it is unfair to use the money the childs father gives as support to support the child and point out the fact that your 2 children will not have an extra fund to spend however they see fit. This is ridiculous. She is enabling her child to be a total loser druggie. Is that what she wants for her kid???

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My husband has 4 grown boys. They all are screw ups in one way or the other. Two are really good at it. My husband I am finding out is a BIG reason why they are such "little boys". He wants to save them from this big, bad, life. We have fought and fought over it. He doesn't use "our" money to save them ( because I have threatened him if he does). But he uses his inheritance. It's the principle of it all. At first I got mad at the boys for how they are. Now instead I'm letting the father have it. It's tough road to go down. I understand about not wanting divorce. I don't want it...but I am drawing some very definite boundaries.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I find it 'weird' for lack of a better term, that a custodial parent would see child support as a 'fund' for now adult child to use at his discretion. Normally you hear the obligor of payments complaining the support is not being used for what it is intended... Or that it should be used to save for large purchases such as a car or college. I rarely hear a custodial parent saying 'I'm not touching my child's money, that's his money'. Maybe a well-to-do parent who doesn't need the extra money but I tell you what, for me and for most everyone I know, the money isn't enough to cover expenses like child care plus dr visits plus shoes/clothing plus school extras ei: yearbooks, pictures, field trips, LUNCH, tshirts for field day or end of year parties.. When they are older, extra curriculars like band, drill team, foot ball, graduation, drivers Ed, LUNCH... I remember when I was a kid, my mom had a really crappy car and finally it just broke down and there was no hope for it.. I loved that car .. It was more expensive to fix than my mom to buy a newer car. Mom worked fulltime and was married to my stepdad who also worked. My biodad paid $220/month for three kids... All together that was how much he had to pay, when he paid. When my mom bought a 2 yr old used car, my dad was hollering, I bought that car, I'm paying for that car, I pay those payments, while he drove an even newer and nicer car than my mom. That memory has stuck with me for 16 years. I won't ever forget how it felt. It wasn't until I was older and realized that my dad was so full of crap!! Mom eventually had to explain to me when I was demanding my portion of child support be handed over to me RIGHT NOW... How the support was gone because last week I needed $80 for something at school and the week before that I had pictures made which was another $45 plus the graduation ring they bought me which was a few hundred.. Then there was the day that I needed some gas money to get to my part time job, and last month I didn't pay my insurance with my $ from working as I had promised and then, don't forget about the almost new car I was driving that I HAD TO HaVE! Wow right?

Then a few weeks ago when my daughter comes home from BD and tells me that she was told her dad is paying me ALOT of money to help raise me and that I needed to be using the money on HER only I simply sat back, took a deep breath and said... ' well ok, let's see... You take dance, that's $80/month. You take music, another $60. You are in an afterschool program instead of daycare at your choice, not mine, which is $125 a week, $35 more a week than traditional daycare but it's a good program and you wanted to be with your friends after school so I said OK. You just got new clothes last weekend for summer and shoes, your bill came to $175 while your brother only got a pair of flip flops and a tshirt at a total of $10. I didn't get anything neither did DH. So let's see what we have left over, total charges are $815 ... Well babe, your money was spent about $200 ago and let's see what we have left for the rest of the month, rent is due, water, electric, YOUR cell phone, cable, car, insurance, oh don't forget I provide you with health insurance which your portion is about $150/month plus, you are going to the dentist and dr in a few weeks for check ups AND we are also getting you braces ... That's an additional expense out of my pocket ... Not just my pocket but my husband, your stepfather, did we forget about him? Let's see what all does he pay for? Well it's way more than 20% of his income... Dh? When was the last time you bought yourself something? 'oh I don't know, I bought a $2 ap on my phone from iTunes the other day but don't forget the $12 book I also bought dd for the kindle. Wow! Seriously? So she also got a $12 book from DH/SF while he only spent $2 on himself?

Dd was shocked (and I wasn't sooo sarcastic but I basically pointed it out to her) she understands now and I doubt I will be hearing anytime soon about 'her' money...

I have an aunt who never received a dime from her ex... From age 3-18, no support was paid... So when her son was about 19 she receives this letter stating she would be receiving a very large sum of money from the estate of her ex who has now passed away... She kept every dime of it. She paid off her house, she became debt free, she bought a boat. Everyone was 'outraged' that she gave none of the money to her 19 year old son because that should have been HIS money. She said why? I worked and struggled and was a single mom his entire life and never received any assistance and now I'm being reimbursed. He had braces, had a car, is now in college on MY dime, so why should I hand over this large amount of money instead of paying off the incredible debt I have built over the last 15 years as being a single mom?? I agreed with her. She provided for her child... The money is hers.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 12:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with you myfampg, my ds11 sperm donor has never paid regularly. EVER.... about 7 years ago I got his tax refund, about $2700. I was actually so very very shocked. It was GREAT! My dh and I had made plans to travel to Las Vegas. Well, that money definately helped pay for that. My son didn't go without though. He has always had everything he needs. I've paid for him to have two surgeriers myself, he plays travel baseball, which is $400 plus per year. Plus you have all the hotels and such to pay for, gas, etc. He has all the equipment, which is VERY expensive. He always has nice shoes, clothes, and the kid eats like a horse. He's 5' and 130lbs. No skinny minnie! I do not feel bad for having used that money for other purposes. I remember that back then I went shopping and actually bought all the kids a bunch of clothes. Apparently our state has changed the laws and now any tax money that the sperm donor receives will now go to pay back the state before me now. BECAUSE..... sperm donor has 4 other children by 3 other moms who all used welfare. So.... the state gets their money back before I do... even though I have NEVER EVER used the welfare system. It's a crock!

This mom is just wrong in believing that this money should belong to this grown child. If she had not been lucky enough to meet this new husband and been so well off she wouldn't have had a choice but to use it. What if this new husband does divorce her.... would she be able to put all money from child support for the two younger kids in a fund for their education or whatever they see fit to spend it on? Probably not.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I find it 'weird' for lack of a better term, that a custodial parent would see child support as a 'fund' for now adult child to use at his discretion".

exactly, if for whatever reason mom decided not to spend that money but let stepdad to support the family out of his pocket, then I think whatever leftover belongs to stepdad or whoever actually supported a child. It certainly does not belong to now grown child. I think stepdad got screwed in all this big time.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I too feel bad for stepdad because he sounds like my Dh and he just loves his family but is kind of at a breaking point where.. Ok when they graduate high school they move on, then you get to focus your energy on the next and then the next. And this guy can't focus on his own children. Her children! Her other children who are not getting equal to this other kid. And it absolutely outrages me to see parents treat their biological children different. Especially mom's. I dont know why. I think it's a deep down resentment in me directed at watching my grandma hurt my
Mother for so many years while mom is the only loyal child she has. Argh!!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 7:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm in NJ too and your son sounds like my brother. He's 19 now. He came into some money from a car accident when he turned 18. About $30,000. He blew through it all in 8 months and now has nothing to show for it. He came crying back to our Mother begging her to move back in. He now has a full time job and pays for his own cell phone as well as anything else he wants besides groceries. He's an angel now :) He had to hit bottom. Why doesn't he go live with his Dad?

On a side said he bought a $100 cable at best buy??? My Mom would never give my brother cash because she knew drugs were an issue. So he'd use the CC to buy something and sell it cheaper for cash. Food for thought. He once bought a camera and turned around and sold it. Then used the $$$ to buy drugs.

It also sounds like a simple thing has been turned into a monster so to speak. It's simple. Go to school (passing grades) or get a full time job. No free ride. I think a child should be supported as long as one of thoes 2 things are happening. They have to hold up their end of the bargain. UGH. My SD is only 11. Is this what I have to look forward to? lol

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 10:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't think that's what you have to look forward to Jens as long as your husband is not enabling her to act this way and to feel entitled. Not all stepchildren will drain your bank account... Only when their parent drains it for them.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 11:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, had not been back in a while and it was amazing to see the flurry of activity on my posting. Thanks again to everyone who is participating.

By way of an update, the last I wrote was that I was going to go ahead and give my stepson the $15,000 or so that is in his education account and ING account. The breakout was $12,000 in 529K and $3,000 in ING, so he got the $3,000 on June 1st. The $12,000 will have to follow slower as there are logistical issues about maneuvering money in a 529K.

Recall that he was 'slipped' a full child support check directly behind my back from mom on May 19. That was $750, and by May 30th he had overdrawn.

So $3,000 on June 1st exactly, and the dope has yet to take my name off of the account so I can look in and see what's happening. He's down to $580 today (June 16th). And consider he is actually working as well. No deposits, so he's cashing his paychecks. So since May 19th he went through $750, then $2,420, and add to that whatever paycheck money. Let's just call it about $3,500 in a full month.

What am I to do. I'm supposedly out of this loop now and this money is going down the drain. I desperately hope it's not going to kill him, and I have to figure that drugs are in there somewhere - though I can see he spent about $1,200 or so at Best Buy. Must have some nice new gadgets somewhere.

He'll be after the slow-moving $12,000 by the end of this month. Maybe if I stall and mom can see the speed of the spending she'll balk at giving him the rest....

To reply to those who all seemed to write on June 13th:

@myfampg: Your post was great. I, too, sat down with both stepson and mom to explain that the CS money does not in any way cover all of his expenses. Not by a longshot especially when considering college, the car insurance, etc. Still, my wife just can't get over the idea of the money belonging to her son and that if I am not supporting him fully then I am somehow less of a parent to him and that I am treating my biological kids with a preferential bias. She presents this as basic FACT, and with such conviction I sometimes find myself wondering if I might be somehow in the wrong. Reading comments here and discussing with close friends and family gets me back to being grounded on the subject.

@momof3: In her threats to leave me if I don't start treating her son better (she wants me to play golf with him and take him on a trip to bond, etc), she tells me she'll do fine with the CS money she'd get from me for our two kids. She would not, you are correct.

@parent of one: Yes, I do feel that I got screwed (monetarily). There comes a time when you have to cut losses, though, and I seem to be there. I don't regret supporting my stepson at all. I feel it was my obligation as his parent, and I supported him in every way I could outside of money as well. I was the homework helper, his soccer coach for 5 years, his game buddy, etc. He just drifted after high school with some rotten friends, and now we're where we are. To me, being considered an ogre and a poor stepfather because I feel the CS money should not be a giant font of fun cash for a near 21-year-old who is nasty and grumpy all the time and failing school is where I'm REALLY getting screwed.

@Jens: Wow, $30,000 in 8 months. With $3,500 in one month that equates to $28,000 in 8 months Pretty much right on. I believe that my SS will also have to experience a bit of bottom feeding when the free ride is over, but I don't know if my wife won't bring him back and start coddling him again. Make those financial boo-boo's go away.

Again @myfampg: Enabling is certainly the choice word here. My wife has moments of lucidity where she will even say she has to stop enabling. Yes, I say, let's stop that and set up something now so we can't even do so if we want. Sadly, she's back to Ms. Hyde before I can get things done. I've told my stepson to read some of the texts he has written to me that I've saved about how he needs the money and deserves it and so on. I keep hoping he might see the level of spoiled entitlement he expresses, but to no avail yet.

Thanks again everyone. I'll see if I have a better update in the future.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 1:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey Kev,

"I find it 'weird' for lack of a better term, that a custodial parent would see child support as a 'fund' for now adult child to use at his discretion." I agree.

"Still, my wife just can't get over the idea of the money belonging to her son and that if I am not supporting him fully then I am somehow less of a parent to him and that I am treating my biological kids with a preferential bias. She presents this as basic FACT, and with such conviction I sometimes find myself wondering if I might be somehow in the wrong."

You are NOT his parent! He has a father! Like many others, I can not believe how you allow your wife to guilt you into believing that because you treat him differently than your two biological kids that you are a bad parent. Just because you don't support him finacially does not mean you are a bad parent. Child support is set up for the BIOLOGICAL father to pay. Unless the step father adopts the kid, he does not pay CS on a child that is not his.

How you continue to let her guilt you into thinking that because you want to withhold this money that you are somehow a bad parent is beyond me. In fact, NOT giving him the money is something a good parent would do. I'm pretty sure you know that once he gets the rest of this money it's going to be gone. I just hope nothing bad happens when your SS gets the rest of the money.

I just don't understand, I see this all the time in divorce forums. The husband has a good paying job, works hard and doesn't take any crap at work. But he allows his wife, someone who sits at home all day and has no idea of life in the real world, dictate to him how things will be.
I don't mean to be harsh, but I just can't understand how a man who seems to be so successful in his professional career can allow someone in his personal life to walk all over him.

And the person who's really going to suffer is your step son.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kev you mentioned that your SS has $12,000 in a 529. Remember that these tax-free accounts are for use to pay qualified higher education expenses in the year that the expenses are incurred. If the funds are withdrawn for any other (non-qualified) reason then taxes and a 10% penalty are due on the earnings portion. So be sure to subtract out what you'll owe the IRS from the $12,000 before turning it over to your SS. Otherwise you'll have to come up with that money when you file taxes next April and it might be a very unwelcome surprise.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 11:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree 100% with Amber. You are absolutely being walked all over. Your wife is wrong. 100% wrong. Let her read this.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 4:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks again for the grounding - and don't apologize for being harsh as it can be good for me to hear. I do feel that I am a peacekeeper way too much at home, but I constantly go back to my own two children and I guess I'm trying to protect them from heated battles in front of them or worse - a divorce. I'm to a point now where I seriously wonder whether a divorce might be better on everyone given the angst involved.

@ annkathryn: I realize the stipulations of the 529K. What I would do would be to drop his $12,000 into my younger kids' 529 funds which I started for each basically when they were 1. The idea then would be to stop funding those two accounts for a while and pay my SS the amount per month that would normally go to those two accounts until he reaches the $12K. To add insult to this injury, both SS and my wife feel that's too long a time to get the money and would insist I take it out of savings and pay the savings back over time.

Seriously, I look back over this stuff and I say to myself "How is it that I can even consider that I'm NOT in the right here". As right as I may be, my wife is so narrowly focused and impervious to reason that she literally goes haywire when I push these buttons.

But this is a stepfamily forum and not a divorce forum so let me throw another question in there.

My wife and I had a real blow-out this morning over the SS again because now her contention is that her SS is the way he is because I have been a failure as a father to him. She'll admit I was great to him up until he started failing college, but from there I've not been his buddy like she would have hoped. She wants me to take him golfing, to take him on a trip with me somewhere, and to basically put my arm around him and say, "Hey buddy, what can I do to help you in your life."

Without the full-on story with this, fact is I have been the one that has tried to help him map his life, and he doesn't ever seem interested. I WAS the one taking him to court, dealing with lawyers, etc when he's had his recent troubles. But I see the way he acts with the money issues above, I see him flick his cigarette butts around the yard and not care, I see his trash he leaves by the driveway every other day because he does not want it in his car, and I still have his texts demanding the child support money because it is his.

Frankly, I have no desire to hang around with a person like that. I guess I should be the better person and try harder to mentor him, but I just feel such anger with the way he feels the world owes him stuff that I find myself uninspired.

Am I wrong? Do I need to suck it up and be better about this? Is my wife correct when she tells me that I am failing him?

This has even more emphasis today - the day after Father's Day. Stepson said nothing to me the whole day. I know I'm not is bio-dad, but in the past he has thanked me for basically fulfilling the role. Guess I shouldn't feel too bad - he said nothing to his bio-dad either.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 10:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No no no no no!!! His father failed him. You went above and beyond. Would you get your wife on the phone for me? LOL!!! I think she and I need to chat. My son's sperm donor failed him.... you HAVE NOT failed your step son. Maybe mom failed by spoiling him. Yeah... that's what it is. OMG, I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I couldn't live like this, if this were me I'm afraid I'd be gone.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I have been a failure as a father to him."

you aren't his father, mom and dad failed him.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

@ momof3 and parent of one: I realize I'm not his father, but it had been my pleasure to fill the role as mentor, coach, confidante, etc while growing up. At least since he was 8.

I think the problem ensued when he got older and started some troubles. I tried to step in as a parent to impose punishments and sanctions, and that is where my wife stepped in saying he was her son and I would not be permitted to be so harsh. In this way, I was basically allowed to be his buddy, but not a full-fledged parent in my role.

Now, I find it difficult to continue my former roles given his behavior and my inability to parent him. However, I'm wondering if I should try to swallow my pride and anger and try to keep the buddy part going where I can to at least have some method by which to try to guide him better....

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

so lets get this straight... you are his father when your wife needs you to pay for him... but when it comes to fathering him as far as discipline you are not. You have to treat him equally financially but spoil him and be his buddy when he gets into trouble.... hmmmmmm, how do you think this will be looked upon by your two littler ones when they get to be his age and you have to discipline them? This will not turn out well.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"so lets get this straight... you are his father when your wife needs you to pay for him... but when it comes to fathering him as far as discipline you are not. You have to treat him equally financially but spoil him and be his buddy when he gets into trouble."
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Kids don't need buddies. They need parents. Your wife did not want you to be a parent to her son, yet now claims you have failed him. She is the one with the problem, not you. SHE has failed him, not you. You are the one trying to make your step son finically responsible. She is the one under minding you, she is the one that gave him $3,800 behind your back that he just blew through.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

At the risk of sounding repetitive...

Don't just *suggest* counseling. Make the appointment already!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 4:10PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Venting and disengaging
Since the horrible experience of my step daughter's...
New- Really need help..
Hi I am new here but hoping as people in the same...
Trying to figure out how to be a good adult stepdaughter...
My mother died eight years ago, and my dad remarried...
7 year old step son troubles please help
Hello everyone, I need some advise please. I have been...
Post Partum Depression Because of Step-Grandmother?
I have a 5 year old boy and a 4 month old girl. I was...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™