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Child Support: A Question of Ethics

Considering the facts, is it fair for my ex-wife to expect me to pay child support?

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I need some honest feedback about my situation

Hi Everyone,

I need some objective feedback regarding a child support dilemma.
I'm not really looking for legal opinions but rather your thoughts on the ethical aspects of this.

So, in order to encourage objectivity I'm simply going to lay out the facts in point form and (to the best of my ability) leave out all of the subjective stuff so that I can get an honest answer. There will however be some items of fact that may have slightly subjective wording (i.e. a "nice" car) but need to be included to form a complete picture.

In any case, I apologize if this seems a little long, dry, and boring, but I appreciate your patience and really value your feedback.


My ex-wife and I had a child in October 1992 (her second and my first).

For two-and-a-half years my daughter lived with her mother and half-sister full-time and she saw me every weekend.

I paid $200 child support for my daughter's first year, none for her second year (I was unemployed), and $150 for her 3rd year (when I got another job).

When my daughter was two-and-a-half my ex-wife moved away and my daughter came to live with me full-time.
My daughter saw her mother once-per-month and I was expected to arrange the transportation to get her there every 2 out of 3 visits (my ex-wife lived 5 hours away).

From June 1995 until March 2001 my ex-wife paid me no child support at all.
Also, although she would have been legally entitled to do so, to the best of my knowledge I believe that she did not at any time pursue the father of her first daughter for child support.

Also, during this time I paid about $150 for daycare (after the subsidy) while working for about $11 per hour for a good chunk of that time. I finally got a relatively good paying job in June 2000.

Towards the end of that period where my ex-wife was paying me nothing in child support, she started driving a nice Volkswagen, which was more expensive than anything that I was able to afford during that same time period.

From March 2001 to November 2003 my ex-wife paid me $75 per month in child support.

From November 2003 (I believe this is shortly after she moved in with the man who is now her husband) to September 2006 she paid me $150 per month in child support.

At some point (I'm not sure if it was when she was paying $0, $75 or $150 per month at this time) she started sending her first daughter to private school.
Her first daughter has attended private school for most of her life and is graduating this May.

During the time that my ex-wife was paying below the recommended minimum child support amount, she and her husband were able to save up money for a nice townhouse, which I know for a fact is worth between 150% and 250% of what my house is worth. Also, shortly after they, to my surprise, purchased this home, I asked her to start paying more child support. We argued about it and at one point she even admitted to me on the phone that $150 per month was a "pittance" (her exact words). She did not start paying the minimum required amount until some months later after we both went to meet with family services.

From September 2006 to July 2007 my ex-wife paid me $330 per month in child support (the minimum amount laid out in the child support guidelines).

From August 2007 until July 2008 my daughter lived with my ex-wife full-time and I, of course, received no child support during that time.
I did not pay her child support during that time either.

Also, starting in September 2007 my ex-wife put our daughter in a Christian private school.
To the best of my knowledge I believe that my ex-wife receives a tuition discount because she works at the private school.
I have allowed this (my daughter is old enough that I legally have no say in the matter) but I made it clear to my ex-wife that I don't approve of private school, especially religious ones. Coincidently, my daughter went from a straight 'A' student in public high school to a C/C+ average student in the private school.

From August 2008 until the present my daughter has split her time between our two households and neither of us (my ex-wife or I) have paid each other child support.

Recently, my daughter has decided that, because her life (friends, school, church) is all close to her mom's place, it would be easier to live with her mom full-time and just visit me frequently, and I have agreed to let her do so (again, I wouldn't legally have a choice anyway).

With my daughter living with her mother full-time, the resulting added expense for my ex-wife (compared to the previous arrangement of splitting her time between the two households) will be 2 weeks-worth of extra food and electricity consumption for one person.

Since the older daughter is graduating this year, my ex-wife will only be paying private school tuition for one child for the 2009/2010 school year.


So, what I want to know is this:

Considering the amount of the additional expense (simply the food and utilities cost to my ex-wife of having her daughter there for 2 additional weeks per month), the average amount of child support that my wife paid to me in the past, the fact that my daughter buys all of her own clothes, and the fact that I am willing to split all reasonable expenses (i.e. public-school-equivalent expenses, submitting healthcare receipts to my health-care provider for reimbursement, and any other special reasonable expenses on a case-by-case basis).

Do you think it is FAIR or UNFAIR that I be expected to pay child support from May 2009 until summer 2010?

Remember, I'm not looking for a legal opinion, just an ethical/moral one.

I look forward to your replies.



Even ethical and moral issues depend on whether a person believes in child support.

In your case you have received child support in the past when you were entitled to it, be it reduced or hard fought for is negligible you have received it, in saying this it would suggest that the same would apply in reverse and you understand a need for the child to have financial support.

You have already accepted prior a need for C.S. morally and ethically whilst in your care.

So I vote for fair, you have a responsibility to live by the standard you have set prior.

Quite frankly, your argument does not address fairness at all.
Perhaps if I agreed to give her $5 per month then your logic would be satisfied.
In terms of fairness, I was denied child support for 5 years when I needed it most.
I'm simply asking her to waive child support for one year at a time when she can get by just fine without it.
Whilst in the period where your X could have paid child support you had an opportunity to query with C.S.A. the amount of child support you were receiving and they would have deemed the amount that should have been paid, they then would have chased the money and if not paid your X would have ended up with debt with regards to child support. If this was not done then it would be considered that everyone was happy with the arrangement.

Now my big assumption is you are in Australia where laws govern aspects of what we are discussing in relations to FTB and C.S.A.

You have stated from 2001 until 2007 you received child support of varying amounts prior to that point no child support was paid which could relate to an income under the payable thresh hold, that is not clear but an assumption.

This time you did not receive child support is quite some years ago and the president has been changed in 2001, this is where acceptance of responsibility sets the changed obligation both morally and ethically in my opinion.

You've ask for opinion with regards to moral and ethical issues and my opinion is that seeing as support has been paid for some seven to eight years prior to 50/50 there is an suggested acceptance that child support has become a moral and ethical obligation that has been recognised from 2001 prior to this the obligation was recognised by yourself though not your childs mother.

It may not be what you want to hear in a response but my argument makes sense on many levels and I am sure that you where still accepting support from your childs mother when your employment improved. Perhaps during this period you could have gotten by with out the support but it would certainly have made life easier.

I would suggest in your X's opinion she paid support when you had full care so why shouldn't she expect the same ??? but this is playing devils advocate.

I'm in Canada.
I'm not interested in legal opinions.
My ex-wife always said she couldn't afford to help and then proceeded to live a life that indicated that she could.
She took advantage of the general apathy towards the plight of single fathers.
I had to scrape and fight for every meager ounce of support and now that the tables are turned she wants child support.
I personally think that this is bullocks.
She can make the sacrifice for at least one year.
It's not so much to ask.
Besides, my daughter knows that I will help her out personally with stuff (i.e. new running shoes, money to help toward a car, etc) so it's not like I'm asking to be a dead-beat dad.
I just think that it's wrong for someone to get a completely free ride, not paying anything, for 5 years and then immediately expect it when the tables have turned.
I'm not disagreeing with your logic and how you feel I can empathise with all of what you are saying and I can understand your 5 year investment where she had a free ride should entitle you to one measly year off child support after all you allowed her to get back on her feet. I understand the points you are making.

My opinion comes from what I would perceive as my responsibility in the same situation, personally I would have let the first five years go and make the connection with the previous years where support was paid, then I would accept the financial responsibility, don't get me wrong I'd still ask her to let me off due to the years she didn't pay but if she didn't let me off I would accept it and work towards 2010.

No-one on this forum would suggest that you are asking to be a " dead beat dad " and in Australia we are more than constricted with free rides by some mothers who drain money away from good father leaving them with little to no possibility of life.

Perhaps because some mothers over here expect to receive child support but are not willing to pay child support I lean towards " the other parent should pay " if indeed the situation was reversed.

If a child decided to change residence and live with their father who has been paying child support for umpteen year then I would expect that the mother would be responsible to pay child support when the child was not in their care, even if the father did not support the child in earlier years.

Morals and ethics are not the same for everyone and I do not doubt that many would be agreeable with how you view things, simply not me. My X is in the position she can afford to pay child support but chooses to falsely represent her income to both C.S.A. and the tax department so I should be on-board with you in many ways but in my case if the situation was reversed and I had to pay I would, perhaps just to say " hey I did the righty by supporting you " to my daughter. Perhaps to show her that this is a moral thing to do. But this is simply my opinion and neither right or wrong just an opinion.

I sympathise with your plight. It is one that takes many forms. My own variation is I have offered child support but she wont accept it. It appears to be more useful to her to use my non paying status as a weapon against me. This is used to enlist the support of her family and friends. Ethical, moral AND financial support.

''Remember, I'm not looking for a legal opinion, just an ethical/moral one.''

My particular take on this situation is the ethical high ground is to be found in how you would like to be treated, not how you were.

By supporting your child's other parent, ethically and morally you can not be faulted.
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