My wife rekindles her old flame: crack-cocaine!
December 5, 2010 1:18 AM   Subscribe

Need to end a 5 year marriage due to my wife's re-addiction to crack cocaine. We have 2 kids, 1 of them mentally disabled. I don't want custody. What am I looking at as far as alimony?

When I met my now-wife (we'll call her Lisa) she had a 1.5 year-old son (we'll call him Charlie). Charlie was conceived during her recovery from crack-cocaine addiction. I loved Lisa, and was NOT going to let her slip away, despite the baggage. She also made me believe that the responsibility of caring for Charlie had made her a different person. So I married her and adopted Charlie. I knew I was sticking my neck out, but I accepted the risk.

I also accepted the impacts on my career, staying in a tech backwater instead of seeking a job in Silicon Valley, and missing conferences to stay at home. (Lisa was very jealous and couldn't stand my being out of the house.)

When I tried to talk Lisa out of a second child, she said "I want a baby. If you don't, we need to end this relationship." I was NOT going to let the relationship end. I had a boy with her, we'll call him Raymond. Second kid turns out severely mentally disabled. Lisa confessed to me later that she only wanted him to lock me in to the marriage, anyway.

Then one of her friends' daughters (who was probably being sexually abused at home) decides to "play doctor" with Charlie, on several occasions before they were caught. Charlie decides he likes this, and starts "playing doctor" with any child who will co-operate. His most recent targets have been kindergarteners (he's now 8).

Through all of this, I have stayed put, raising a pervert that isn't mine and another that I wouldn't really want even if he was normal. As far as either child knows, I'm still a loving father. But really, I was doing it all for Lisa, whom I still loved, deeply. With her at my side, I would have battled through all of these problems without a word of complaint.

Too bad she decided this was all too much stress and went back to smoking crack.

I've had it. I entered this marriage and fatherhood in good faith, and I've been betrayed. I want out.

Furthermore, I want NO visitation with the kids. I want to move out of state and take back the career I gave up (if it's not too late). Lisa's just going to have to get herself cleaned up so she can be a mother again.

I am aware that I have a child support responsibility here (roughly 30% of my salary), and I will fulfill it, on time and in full. And yes, I've seen threads on other boards - I know you some of you think I'm a jerk. I know I need therapy and this will screw up my kids for the rest of their lives and they'll hate me and I'll regret it on my deathbed. You can even reply to this effect if you like. But the people I need to hear from are those who understand the legal situation.

What I need to know is, what kind of situation am I looking at as far as spousal support (alimony)? I am aware that a court will be especially hard on me as an absent father. I only need enough money for a basic apartment, a car, and Internet access (though we're likely talking major metropolitan rents here). But will I even be able to afford that? Any divorce proceeding will likely take place in Arizona, but I'll take advice based on knowledge of any state. Any suggestions for further reading would be welcomed as well. I will of course be seeking a lawyer as soon as I can afford one, but I'd like to walk into the office with a partial game plan in mind.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (40 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
you might want to make this anonymous. Have you talked to an addictions counselor?
posted by PinkMoose at 1:30 AM on December 5, 2010

This is not a question for Askmefi, it is a question for a lawyer.
posted by Felex at 1:39 AM on December 5, 2010 [16 favorites]

The point of retaining legal counsel is to enable them to consider your situation and derive the most appropriate game plan.

That's not something we can do for you here.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:42 AM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

This question is a perfect example of why you need a lawyer in this situation. If you want to get a general feel about the situation, go google child support calculators and input your state. You'll get a rough guide which will still give you no clue until you talk to a lawyer.

People think that they need to be educated before seeing a lawyer, or they need to have money before seeing a lawyer. I don't understand this idea. A lawyer is only worthwhile BECAUSE they have knowledge. If you knew the stuff already, why would you need them? As to having money in advance ... you realize that many lawyers will do an initial consult for free, or low cost? You can find out consultation fees in advance and set a few appointments. You'll get the info you need (or some of it, anyway), then you can decide which lawyer you want.

Shorter version: Get a lawyer. Disregard any advice on this forum regarding your legal situation. Anyone who knows the legal answer is smart enough not to give away their knowledge for free.
posted by Happydaz at 1:44 AM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I only have ancedotal evidence, but going by my own asshole father who pulled the same dick move on his kids (i.e. completely abandoning them to an unstable, addicted mother), he had to pay a ton of alimony and child support and very much suffered financially until my sister and I were 18. In his case, he lived in a house share situation for over ten years after the divorce (he definitely couldn't afford his own place in a big city as it sounds like you're thinking you'll be able to do).

As an aside, Charlie is not a "pervert." What a nasty thing to say about an 8 year old. You went into this marriage and brought a child into it knowing the risks. There are two victims here and you're not one of them.
posted by hazyjane at 2:26 AM on December 5, 2010 [83 favorites]

Best answer: Agreeing that Charlie is not a pervert; he's a kid who has been abused, seriously abused, early in his life and hasn't been able to process this into 'right' and 'wrong' behaviour. This is so common that if you find sexually inappropriate behaviour in a kid that age, you look into past sexual abuse. He needs help, not labeling.

Raising children with a disability is known to be far more expensive, and if your wife gets a decent lawyer she will take you for every penny you have - because your kid needs it. He'll need significant help in terms of household adaptations, helper services and so on for his whole life.

Be prepared that while taking children into care is not as common now as it used to be, the combination of childhood disability, sexual abuse and parental drug use could end up with your children in care if this comes to the attention of child services in the legal process.

Did you really mean to post this non-anon? Because I think we've gone beyond 'jerk' to 'dregs of humanity' here.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:41 AM on December 5, 2010 [27 favorites]

all I can say is that I feel sorry for everyone involved in the situation. it's funny how people want to blame you. I blame her. she's the one that wanted a child and forced you under the threat of abandonment. It's incredibly manipulative. She can't control her past, how does that now land on your feet? However, I do feel incredibly sorry for the children, but having you around if you resent them is not a great answer either.

It seems like you're snapping right now maybe you can take a deep breath and drag her into some kind of treatment program. it might be salvageable.
posted by chinabound at 3:49 AM on December 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

Because there may be kids involved in your question, I'm going to assume this isn't a troll (but I hope to G*d it is).

I've had it. I entered this marriage and fatherhood in good faith, and I've been betrayed. I want out.

I don't get this; you haven't been betrayed by your kids. And yet your plan is to abandon them. This seems unnecessarily cruel.

Here's the deal (taken from my experience): if you get a lawyer and get divorced, you're going to have to pay child support (and possibly spousal support). You will be appointed visitation, but nothing happens legally if you decide to never see your kids. You don't get hit with financial penalties or jail time and the court won't be any harder on you because you never see your kids. The court couldn't care less.

I know I need therapy and this will screw up my kids for the rest of their lives and they'll hate me and I'll regret it on my deathbed.

Do you really mean this? You're purposely making a plan that is going to damage your own children?

I'm sorry that this mess is going on but like it or not, you have a responsibility to your children, period.

People often only hear what they want to hear, but I really hope that you put a halt in your this plan right now and get yourself some help before you decide to abandon your children.

*FWIW, kids who have inappropriate boundaries are called "children with disabilities," not perverts.
posted by dzaz at 4:08 AM on December 5, 2010 [8 favorites]

help me distinguish between "poorhouse" and "private yacht"

You do realize that considering we don't know your salary, we can't answer this.

I don't intend to be in their lives, but I also don't intend to let them suffer (or do harm to society) more than necessary.

By not being in their lives, you will cause them to suffer.
posted by dzaz at 4:15 AM on December 5, 2010

re: dzaz: about $75,000/year. That would vary depending on what city I was working in, though, so I've been treating this as a question of percentage of salary.
posted by poodoopood at 4:28 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your portrayl of yourself as being tricked by your love for Lisa is odd. You're an adult. You had even had previous experience as a father. You knew how much work it would be, disability or not.

I'd suggest that you take ownership of your role in this.
posted by k8t at 4:31 AM on December 5, 2010 [15 favorites]

75k a year and Lisa doesn't work? Start looking for roomates.
posted by k8t at 4:32 AM on December 5, 2010

I'd also recommend that you think about why you want to cut off from the kids.
posted by k8t at 4:34 AM on December 5, 2010

Does Lisa love these kids?

If you go to a lawyer for a divorce AND seek custody, this might be the wakeup call SHE needs to go into treatment. Meanwhile do you have any family that might want to help you with them?

As for advice, I don't think you are a jerk, I think you are just posting under extreme stress and pain and are saying things that in rational moments you would be horrified by. Your first step is to see a therapist and then a lawyer, in that order.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:39 AM on December 5, 2010 [6 favorites]

re: k8t: Actually, yes, she works full time, and earns $45,000/year. Has for most of the marriage, too. (Though of course her job is jeopardized by her current hobby.)
posted by poodoopood at 4:41 AM on December 5, 2010

You want the children to remain in the custody of a crack addict? That's horrific, even if you don't love them.

You should call DHHS and explain the situation, give up your parental rights legally, and ensure that the children are adopted by people who can take care of them. Crack addicts should not be single parents.
posted by miss tea at 4:45 AM on December 5, 2010 [41 favorites]

It seems like you're snapping right now

Indeed. Why are you going straight for a scorched earth approach by moving miles away and cutting the children completely out of your life? Can't you even contemplate something in between - leaving Lisa but still seeing the kids - and see if that returns to you to sanity enough to stand by your responsibilities to the children?

I've had it. I entered this marriage and fatherhood in good faith, and I've been betrayed. I want out....
....Lisa's just going to have to get herself cleaned up so she can be a mother again.

Your sense of betrayal wrt Lisa (and your desire to see her straighten out/be contrite/whatever) shouldn't be a factor in your willingness to be a father to your children. At the moment the two are totally intertwined for you because you're frightened, out of control and out of your depth, and you just want the whole thing gone. It's a cowardly approach born out of confusion, and I don't imagine it's going to give you the emotional freedom you think it will. Can you genuinely leave those children behind and not spend the rest of your life wondering what happened to them and whether it would have been different if you'd stayed in their lives?

IANAL, therapist, parent or someone who was abandoned by their dad.
posted by penguin pie at 4:53 AM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you want to get an understanding of the basics, google 'arizona child support calculator' and 'arizona alimony calculator'. Print these out and study them, and then when you meet with a family/divorce lawyer ask how the general principles apply to your concrete situation.
posted by Mr. Justice at 5:09 AM on December 5, 2010

Discuss with conpetent legal counsel. They will give you all of the information on these issues, including what the right course of action is.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:22 AM on December 5, 2010

Best answer: As an FYI, if these children become wards of the state, you will still owe support. And if she dies or is in jail or becomes disabled herself... All I can say is that your state has maximums (in the 50% of gross range) you will want to look into.

Also, it is very common for divorce decrees to order a parent to cover the kids on their health insurance, and other similar stuff.

Definitely talk to a lawyer. My experience with courts and divorces is limited to seeing employee support orders and dealing with our insurance policy rules for adding non-custodial kids.
posted by SMPA at 5:36 AM on December 5, 2010

Oh those poor children!

I appreciate your last couple of paragraphs, and I won't lecture, but that 8-year-old is not a pervert. He's a child in need of support and love and teaching. Please find him a therapist before you leave.

(N.B. that's a therapist, not a counsellor. N.B.B., a therapist trained in his specific disability.)

Lisa's friend's daughter, who you think was "probably being sexually abused": I sincerely hope you told someone (like her headmistress, or your own doctor). If you didn't, even if you think it's all over, please tell someone now.

I think the question of whether you should abandon your kids is: is it better they should be brought up by a drug-addicted mother, or in a household with a father who's repulsed by them? The answer to this isn't obvious, but if Lisa loves them, I come down on the side that you should leave, and leave them to Lisa. Lisa has a job. She's not that dysfunctional. It's harder to get children adopted than babies. Children taken into care tend to be doomed to a lifetime without love.

I hope Lisa loves them.
posted by westerly at 6:03 AM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Sorry, I am confusing the two children. That probably makes it slightly easier to find the right therapist for the older one.
posted by westerly at 6:07 AM on December 5, 2010

re: westerly: Authorities were notified, and it eventually went to court. I don't know how it worked out on their side, unfortunately.
posted by poodoopood at 6:46 AM on December 5, 2010

If the mother has a decent-paying job, the chances are fairly slim that you would have an onerous alimony obligation. Alimony is generally (I'm only speaking to general principles, not Arizona law) only payable when one parent has a lesser earning power or lesser education in part because of their assumption of child-care responsibilities or support of the other spouses's career. When the custodial parent has always worked, there's less of an argument for alimony.

With regard to child support ... In my state, custodial parents (usually women) seem to be able to "surrender" their children to the state with no further obligation for child support. I have seen it happen. Given that fathers are routinely reduced to poverty by the child-support system, I have often wondered why fathers do not go through the same process of surrendering their parental rights to their children and thus disburdening themselves of their child support obligation. Perhaps there's something in the law that makes this impossible, or perhaps it's a well-kept secret? I don't know.

Why don't you ask your attorney if it's legally possible to entirely surrender your rights to the children and whether this would remove any child support obligation? I'm not saying that would be the morally right thing to do, but you didn't ask us to weigh in on the moral aspects of the situation. Limiting or eliminating your obligatory child support may, paradoxically, allow you to be more prosperous and help the kids more in the long run.
posted by jayder at 7:06 AM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

MeMail me if you want some suggestions for good Arizona family law attorneys.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:14 AM on December 5, 2010

Mod note: bunch of comments removed - if you can't answer this question without being a GRAR namecaller about it, spare us your answers. MetaTalk is available. OP, we anonymized this question but your answers are NOT ANONYMOUS. You can post updates via us, but we can't anonmymize comments. People, be good to each other. Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:20 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've gotta say that I second (and third and fourth) the relinquish-your-parental-rights-and-report-your-wife-to-DCFS adoption comments. Not because I think you are a bad guy per-se but because you clearly don't want to be a father and your wife (based on your description) isn't capable of being one. There are lots of people out there who are capable of being good parents to your kids -- so that seems like a win situation for you, and a win situation for those adoptive parents and hopefully it turns into a win situation for your kids who, although they will probably be very angry with both of you for a long time, will hopefully be much better off with parents who actually want them.

You don't have to want to be a Dad, no one can force you to feel that, but I do think that you have a responsibility to do right by those kids.
posted by blue_bicycle at 9:24 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do those of you who are suggesting that the OP give up his children for adoption know what is likely to happen to two older children, one with mental disabilities and the other with a history of sexual abuse, in foster care? It's usually not pretty. As long as Lisa isn't abusing them, I'd say she's a much better option than giving the kids up.

OP, I hope that you're getting the message here that what you're planning to do is, frankly, unacceptable. Several people have suggested that you're confusing your (understandable) anger at your wife with your feelings about your children, and I think that's part of it. But I also think that you're looking at the situation from only your own perspective. You're thinking about how you've been wronged by Lisa and how much your situation sucks. And you were, and it does. But your children have also been wronged by Lisa and by you and by other people and by circumstance. It's a cliche, but it's true: they never asked to be born into all of this. If you don't want to take responsibility for your part in causing their lives to turn out badly, no one can make you (other than forcing you to pay money, but that's not real responsibility). But I hope that in addition to engaging a lawyer, you'll also seek therapy to make sure that you fully understand the choices you're making and understand why you're willing to ruin your children's lives just because your life didn't turn out the way you hoped it would.
posted by decathecting at 9:29 AM on December 5, 2010 [10 favorites]

My dad did this to us a decade ago. As far as I can tell, it's worked out wonderfully for him, as he left the country and avoided burdensome things like child support and being a decent father. I don't really know for sure how he feels, as I haven't spoken to the man in ten years.

I also think that what you are describing here is reprehensible.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2010 [7 favorites]

Is there ANY possibility of family, either yours or Lisa's, taking any responsibility for the children here while you make a new start? Also, would Lisa be amenable to inpatient treatment for her crack addiction while family is caring for the kids? Lisa's crack cocaine addiction and your desire to break off from any contact with your children means they will go through hell if you don't try to make some kind of arrangements for them. If you can't stand living with a crack addict, how do you think those kids are going to handle it?

And legally, they are *your* children, one by blood and the other through adoption, so financially you will be responsible for them. I know you feel betrayed here, but I'm curious--did you ever consider what would happen if Lisa was injured, had a debilitating illness or even died? Did it never occur to you that you would be responsible for your children when you were going through the process of adoption, or while Lisa was pregnant?

I think that if you could find a way to get Lisa into treatment (yes, I know this is inconvenient and all of that) and either take care of the kids yourself or find someone who can until you get on your feet out of state, maybe she and the kids would have a chance of a better future without you. Seems like the least you could do, and I would think it would put you in better standing legally if you showed a good-faith attempt to provide for your kids before you just took off.
posted by misha at 10:11 AM on December 5, 2010 [6 favorites]

The courts will look at what's best for the children, and it sounds like the kids will have big needs that your spouse alone will not be able to fill. In other words, expect to get taken to the cleaners if you choose not to have a role in their upbringing.
posted by zippy at 10:17 AM on December 5, 2010

Besides the obvious moral issue of abandoning your own children to the sole care of a crack addict, you should really talk to a lawyer. If a court catches wind of the fact that the mother is on crack, do you think she's going to keep sole custody long? Then if they move to take the kids and ask you to take custody and you refuse?
If her crack addition is so bad that you can't be married to her, is she really capable of caring for two small children, one with special needs, and the other with obvious emotional trauma? I don't really understand how an eight-year-old is a pervert when he is only acting out on stuff that was done to him by another child.
Would your parents or her parents be willing to help take care of the kids? Do you have any family that will take them? Because as it stands right now, the only place I see these kids ending up in the long-term if you refuse to be their parent is foster care.

I know you're frustrated, but you're an adult who chose to enter into a marriage with a recovering crack addict, chose to adopt the child, chose to stay in the marriage and have another baby with her (that being trapped stuff is bullshit, you agreed to have a child, regardless of what her motives were). Responsibility doesn't just come in the form of money. What if Lisa decides she doesn't want to have to be a parent anymore, either? She has just as much as a "right" as you do.
posted by elpea at 10:21 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Can you see a therapist for a couple of sessions to talk through your (completely understandable) anger against your wife so that you stop taking it out on your children?

They're your children. They're not just your wife's children. Including the child you adopted.

Not wanting to be a custodial parent doesn't make you a bad parent or a bad person--single parenting is not for everyone.

Wanting to cut off all contact with your children because you're so (understandably) angry with their mother? In my opinion, that makes you a bad parent and a bad person.

Calling an eight-year-old a "pervert" when he exhibits the behaviors that are demonstrably a sequela of sexual abuse? You really need help (I mean this very seriously) if you don't understand why that is inhuman.

Calling a child you adopted "not mine" is also pretty inhuman, in my book. Get professional help for yourself, as well as the professional help you need to resolve your divorce and child support arrangements.

I am sorry you have been treated so horribly by your wife, but you treating your children horribly isn't going to make anyone feel better, including you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:48 AM on December 5, 2010 [9 favorites]

You feel hurt and you feel stupid. You feel like you've been played and that now you've been landed with a mess you never wanted. All you wanted was to love someone and be loved in return. And, to a certain extent, you were played. And it feels like crap to be played.

None of that is your children's responsibility. Everything from this point on should be about them and their safety and their wellbeing. Derive a sense of fulfillment - or perhaps the true essence of love - from not repeating the mistakes of your partner, who essentially escaped from her responsibilities by returning to her addiction. You want to escape too - why can't you, she did it, and they were HER kids - well, be to your children everything that your partner can't be. I can assure you that it's far more worthwhile in the long run to all of you than running away.
posted by mleigh at 12:36 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't help but think reading this that no judge is going to give custody to a crack addict. IANAL, but wouldn't a judge automatically grant custody to you because you're the sane parent, even if you don't want it?
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
Thanks to everyone who has privately shown support for me AND those who've (constructively) let me know that I'm being a cad. I truly do view all of it as valuable input.

There is simply no denying that my kids don't deserve to suffer (financially or parentally) for their mother's actions. I will have to take that into account in deciding my plans. I do know that I'm NOT going to let them wind up in foster care, no matter what.

I'm currently seeing a therapist about all this, though I'm not really satisfied with the results. I will likely be seeking a new one. If Lisa will go into rehab, I'll attempt marriage counseling with her. Charlie has already had some therapy, but will be getting more. (I apologize to everyone here for calling him a "pervert". He's not, and that wasn't appropriate.)

If all of this fails, I'll be revisiting the very useful information I've gathered from this thread. But I will not let my kids fall through the cracks, regardless. My sincere thanks to all respondents.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've had it. I entered this marriage and fatherhood in good faith, and I've been betrayed. I want out.

You can certainly get out of the marriage, but you will never, ever be able to opt out of being a father to these children. You can choose to be an abandoning father, a negligent father, the father who walked out on them. But you can't choose not to be their father. There is no "out".

On preview:

There is simply no denying that my kids don't deserve to suffer (financially or parentally) for their mother's actions.

Or yours.
posted by hot soup girl at 7:53 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

I've been thinking about this question for a few days. I'm relatively open here about my childhood and this question really struck a nerve with me. I've been slow in responding because of that.

My parents pulled this shit on each other and on four kids. One of my most painful memories* is being told, in front of my siblings, that I was my fathers only child, and that he was raising the other three out of obligation/because he had been tricked**/even though they weren't his/even though he didn't love them. Sometimes he would use all of those reasons, sometimes he would loudly exclaim just one. But I was never permitted to forget that he was certain that other men had fathered my siblings.

The people in my life who one would hope might be my longest lasting allies, he turned into enemies, who jealously witnessed his obvious and unashamed preference for me.

Let me be clear, you are doing that to your two children, every time you inform or remind anyone that one of them is "not yours." And you're making a liar of yourself. Those children are both very much yours, and this is where I am restraining myself from calling you terrible names. Because my anger at the moment is with my father and it's not fair to project it onto you. But I can say, both of your children are likely to be (rightly) very angry if they grow up to have any memories of you asserting that one of them was "not yours."

And now I can move on to the business of drug addicted parents, because both of mine were that too. Fun times. NOT. Whichever one I was living with was usually not receiving child support from the other, because the other just knew that instead of rent, shoes, and groceries, those precious dollars would be going to feed a drug addiction. Might as well keep the money close at hand and buy drugs and booze here, instead of send it across the country. Either way, the kids weren't going to see that money.

And I grew up hearing this, from everyone. From the parent I lived with, "you can't have new shoes because your dad/mom won't send money for them. Thinks I'll spend it on _______." Which sucked, because the money in the house was already not going to shoes and clothes and food. It was going to _______.

Finally. I remember that these state systems have as their number one goal something along the lines of "rehabilitating and reuniting families." If that sounds very different from "what is in the best interest of children" you are a very good listener. You are the family of these two children, and from what little you've shared here (before your responses were removed), I think it's safe for me to say that you, Lisa, and the children all need quite a bit of rehabilitating. I wish you the best of luck in it, and I do believe that you can find the resources to be a good father to the kids, which I hope you do, because anything less will damage them.

*I'm not even remotely exaggerating. All of the sexual abuse, hunger, lying, fighting, hitting, humiliation at school, getting left home alone for days/weeks at a time.... much of that pales in comparison to being pulled from bed in the middle of the night to be lined up in the living room and screamed at for hours about how, "this one right here is the only one that looks like me, and I hate the rest of you bastards," or hearing another relative casually mention that "it shouldn't be a surprise the other kids were so __(derogatory remark)___, after all, they aren't actually his kids. Please don't do that to your kids. They are both your kids.

** By the time I was 9 or 10 I was angry enough, and mouthy enough to ask my father why he had ever had sex with my mother if he found her so despicable. As he sputtered, I insisted that surely he'd had some reason to be having sex with her. Because he got angrier, and I was already in for it, I asked him why he'd never had paternity contested, if he was so sure even when mom was pregnant that the others weren't his. If you want your children to remember you in this way, continue with your current framing of the situation. If you want your children to respect you, and trust your assessment of any situation in their adulthoods, please present them with a narrative that is not so blatantly lacking in logical cohesion. Children have very finely tuned bullshit detectors. Your story about being tricked into fatherhood, however true it is to you, reeks of bullshit.
posted by bilabial at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2010 [6 favorites]

I am aware that I have a child support responsibility here (roughly 30% of my salary), and I will fulfill it

You also have a parenthood responsibility here. Whether you like it or not, you have a responsibility to be sure your children aren't being raised by a crack addict. Fulfilling unpleasant/unwanted responsibilities has a name - it's called "adulthood". I understand that you feel betrayed, but it wasn't the children who betrayed you, it was their mother. Please don't take it out on them. Be the father they deserve to have.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:52 AM on December 6, 2010

"There is simply no denying that my kids don't deserve to suffer (financially or parentally) for their mother's actions. I will have to take that into account in deciding my plans. I do know that I'm NOT going to let them wind up in foster care, no matter what."

This is absolutely right. As I mentioned above, I did suffer both "financially and parentally" as a result of my father's abandonment. As a consequence, my childhood was very, very difficult. Regardless of the outcome of your marriage, I'm glad that your children won't have to suffer. They're just kids, and they don't deserve it.

I thought you sounded like a jerk in your initial post, but your follow-up has helped to renew my faith in your intentions. Thanks for thinking of your kids.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:14 PM on December 6, 2010

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