Q & A Should Step-Mom & Husband Take His Ex to Court?



I received an email from a step-mom asking for advice. Any insight, especially from therapists, mediators, attorneys, and others who have been through similar situations would be appreciated. 


My husband’s ex took him to court repeatedly for several years. The last one ended with the judge admonishing her to stop the court actions or else face legal consequences, and awarded us child support. She has not abided by any of the points of the court order. She won’t set up visitation, we don’t know where she lives, she’s not paying child support.


In our state, there’s a follow-up from the child support division. That parent’s social security number is then entered into the national database and the state takes action on your behalf. We have not done this yet.


A while back, my husband presented her with an option: if she came up with a visitation schedule, he’d forgive the child support, and file the necessary legal documents. She did not take him up on this.



We go back and forth all the time. Not turning her in is like an insurance policy against getting taken back to court. We think the kids are genuinely more stable with the only contact from her being email or the phone. We believe she’s mentally ill. The court order specifies all visits must be supervised.


Then she does things that trigger us. She got married, and told the kids their dad said they couldn’t attend the wedding. She tells them their dad won’t let her visit. She continues to feed them totally made up stories to try to make their dad look bad. They’re old enough now to figure things out.


This week we got a letter from the IRS saying that one of our dependents is being claimed by someone else. The original divorce decree states that once she begins making a certain amount of money, she can claim another child as her dependent (she claims the youngest already). Just this year I began sorting out years of tax problems.


Should we turn her in for not paying child support?


Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of ten and fourteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.



2 thoughts on “Q & A Should Step-Mom & Husband Take His Ex to Court?

  1. If she is filing taxes where she gets a return and owes back child support, it will be intercepted and sent to your husband. So, if she is legally allowed to claim a child, then let her and you will recieve the return. If she is legally allowed to claim a child, you should not be claiming the same child. if it’s a hassle, take it to court to have it ammended. Ask yourself, is the money worth it to possibly stir up emotional trauma. If it’s just a matter of a tax issue, ask a lawyer what you should do. My ex is 13 grand behind on child support. I could take him to court every year, but why? I provide for my children, always have, always will. When I do get a payment, we just look at it like a surprise bonus. Weigh out the pro’s and con’s and stick to the legalities. You can’t make people sane or reponsible, and you certainly can’t control them, but you can control yourselves and protect yourselves legally. You don’t want the IRS coming after you for filing a child that is legally documented someone else can claim.
    Good luck, hope it all works out.

  2. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been owed child support, and my husband has never missed a payment, so I’m not speaking from personal experience, but I do have some thoughts. First is your own comment “We go back and forth all the time. Not turning her in is like an insurance policy against getting taken back to court. We think the kids are genuinely more stable…” This is obviously very important, maybe the most important issue at hand.
    Having said that, knowing mothers that have not pursued child support from their ex until the financial need arose, complicated their collecting it. Its human nature to continue, and to believe in the status quo…when the ex went years without paying, there was no reason for him to expect to pay…and therefore budget for it. When suddenly demanded, the money would be difficult to come by. If some kind of effort is made to collect,even if not followed through to the end, at least it puts the ex on alert, and not blind sided by the demand in the future.

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