Keep children out of child support battles with ex

Divorces can sometimes be nasty and as many Californians can attest, it can be tempting to badmouth the ex in front of the children. While it’s normal to want to release your frustrations to a confidante, keep the kids out of it – especially when it comes to child support issues. Watching a mother and father battle it out in court – or even seeing their parent in jail – due to non-payment issues can negatively affect a child’s relationship with one or both parents. This can continue even into adulthood.

Child support non-payment is a huge issue in the United States, with at least $14 billion in payments not received in 2011 alone. Less than half of custodial parents receive all the money they are entitled to. The sad part is that many of these parents – mostly women – live in poverty and rely on these monthly payments to care for their children.

So when the debt adds up, these parents are forced to take the other parent to court and try to rectify the situation. While it’s important for parents to fight for what they are owed, they shouldn’t involve the children. Don’t feel the need to share every detail of what is going on. Children don’t want to be told that Daddy is a bad parent. And while parents may say these things or share these details to get the kids on their side, the opposite effect often happens. They end up feeling sorry for the other parent and side with them.

While parents may need an outlet to vent their frustrations, a trusted adult friend or counselor is a better choice than a child who may not understand why Mommy and Daddy are arguing. Even though family and money can create conflict, parents need to understand how not to make the situation worse.

Source: Source: The Washington Post, "Things can get ugly when family and money mix, especially over child support," Michelle Singletary, July 11, 2014

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