The Challenges of being the second Wife

Over the course of many years, I have heard numerous examples of stories regarding deadbeat dads, poor penniless single mothers, and the devastation of divorce on children and the parents. Most of these stories include the struggles of the now single mother and the deadbeat father who does not pay them child support. Rarely do I hear the father’s side and never do I hear the second wife’s struggles with the past. This article is to tell the side of the second wife, or step-mother if you will, married to the so-called deadbeat dad.

By no means do I claim to be an expert on the laws of child support, visitation rights, etc. I merely am recounting my point of view and how the struggles have affected my life and that of my child due to my husband’s past. I believe it is about time that our story is told, so that people are aware it is not just the ex-husband/father that is affected by child support or the child from the first marriage who is harmed by the divorce. Please do not judge until you have been in someone else’s shoes, and understand that although the intent may be built on good intentions, it may not be what is best for all those involved.

In today’s society, it is more than likely that you know someone who is paying or receiving child support. Some of you might even comment, depending on what side of the story you see, that the mother doesn’t receive enough money in child support or that the father is paying an outrageous amount in child support. The government has tired to be fair with the determining of child support based on the father’s income, the mother’s income, day care costs, health insurance costs, the child’s special needs, etc., but what right does the government really have to determine that one child is worth more than another. Some custodial parents receive a measly $100 a month for their child, while other non-custodial parents pay over $1,600 a month for their child. In my opinion, the government has no right to say that child A is not as worthy as child B so therefore Child B deserves more child support than Child A. Who really has the right to tell us that our child is not worth as much as the next child? No one.

The above is especially hard to swallow when you are the mother of the second child of a father who pays child support. Your child and your rights, are often non-existent in the eyes of the government. The government does not acknowledge that your child, living in the home and supported by a father who is court-ordered to pay child support to another child living outside his home, should be afforded the same rights as the child before him. Instead, the government does not take this child into account when deciding how much money from the father’s paycheck should go the first child. Does this child from another mother deserve less money from his/her father? Does the mother of this second child deserve less of the financial security than the mother of the first child? How does taking up to 65% of a father’s paycheck for child support affect the financial well-being of his “new” family?

As I stated above, I am the second wife, the mother of the second child, and feel that this category is often overlooked. Yes, we do know that our husband has “baggage” before we marry him and expect that it will be rougher financially and emotionally than if we were to marry a man without children from a previous marriage/relationship, but why should we have to suffer in silence just because we fell in love with a man that has a past. I have suffered in silence for years as I consistently see my child get the short end of the stick. Yes, my child gets to see his father everyday, while my husband’s other child does not, but does that mean that my child should not be privy to his father’s money as well? We have struggled as a family to make ends meet while my husband’s ex-wife receives a large amount of child support each month. We watch our interest from our house, our child’s daycare deductions, and other tax deductions be intercepted as our tax return goes year after year to my husband’s ex-wife to pay for the child support arrears he owes her. All I can think, even if it seems callous of me, is why should she get the money from MY child or MY house when it should be coming back to me and my child by right? Is it fair to punish me and my child because of my husband’s past mistakes that have nothing to do with me?

Oh, I know most of you women who are moms are thinking that it’s not my right to voice my opinion because it should be kept between the mother/father or ex-husband/ex-wife. And yes, I do agree with you, until it starts affecting my child and my life. I will plainly state that I agree with child support and the effort to enforce it to ensure the safety and financial well being of a child. With that said, I disagree with a mother who continues to receive money for a child that does not see their biological father and is being raised by a “new daddy.” I believe that if you child calls someone daddy, that man should be a daddy in every since of the word. I have friends who were single mothers and have watched them struggle and being a mother myself I applaud the government for its effort on child support. But as a wife of a man who pays that child support, I ask when enough is enough. Why must I pay for it as well? Why must my child suffer because of it? Tell me when our rights are going to be enforced.

I understand that this will probably spark a lot of debate and heated responses by single mothers or mothers/fathers who receive child support. In response, I will say that I empathize with your positions and am asking you to take a moment and try to understand my position, as a mother, as a wife. Not only are the parents and child from a first marriage affected by a divorce, but also the new spouse or child of the future affected.

(Authors Note: I want to make it clear that I do not believe ex-wives are at fault, or that blame should be shifted to a mother trying to raise her child asking for child support that someday her child’s father might marry someone else and then she would cause that new wife financial distress. Your child is always first responsibility and I believe that with all my heart. I have the greatest respect for all parents, especially those who are raising children on their own. I also have nothing but admiration and respect for my husband’s ex-wife, because she is a wonderful mother and did it without any help from her ex-husband for many years. I am simply stating that the government needs to expand its views and remember that all children need to be accounted for, not just the first one.)