It was the Spring of 2012.
I slid my lawyer the retainer check made out in the amount of $16,000.00 across her desk and sat back in my chair.
I was so frustrated... this was one of many, many multi-thousand dollar checks I'd written her and a long list of other lawyers over the past 3 years. This latest Family Court case was based on the fact my ex simply decided to start sending me monthly child support checks made out for a fraction of the court ordered amount.
For some reason, my ex had a fire burning deep in his belly to make me suffer financially, physically and emotionally for our divorce... even though he was the one who asked for it. And what made it worse was he could care less if our kids suffered too.
Don't get me wrong the marriage was horrible (I knew that early on) but I did my best to make it work because We. Were. “Married” and I believed that meant for Better or Worse and most importantly we’d started a Family.
The one thing I care more about than anything else in life are my three kids.
I valued family above everything and I was determined to work my hardest to make this family work.
My ex was determined to climb the corporate ladder and make a lot of money.
And his grandiose sense of importance, preoccupation with unlimited success-power-money, wanting to only be associated with highly successful or high-status people, his sense of entitlement and lack of empathy made him really, really good at it.
But, he was also not physically or emotionally available to me or our kids. When he wasn’t away from home on endless business trips, he was “working late” or preoccupied with a project. The only way he became involved with one of our kids is if they showed a skill or quality that heightened his sense of success, then he would hyper-focus his attention on exploiting that while losing sight of our child's well-being.
So, I worked double-time being the best mom and dad I could be by being hypersensitive to the needs of our kids. Taking care of 110% of everything in the household.
Believe me... I’m no Martha Stewart or Mother Teresa but I did become very good at spinning our home life reality into something that looked like a Picture-Perfect-Storybook.
But after endless (& useless) marriage counseling, 3 kids and 23 looooong years, I was exhausted and depleted. I actually looked forward to the divorce; hoping it would give me a respite and my kids a chance at genuine peace and happiness.
Little did I know being divorced from him would prove much worse than being married to him.
“What the hell is wrong with him, he walked away with a great divorce settlement he knows the kids and I are living in a much worse financial situation than he, when will he stop wanting more and MORE?!?!," I asked my lawyer in desperation.
We’d been divorced for 3 years. And at the time of our divorce, I didn’t have the stamina or desire to fight him in court for a better divorce settlement, so I accepted what NYS Divorce Law said I was “entitled” to at the time.
Herein lies a little-known fact that very few people know (or understand):
NYS Calculates The Child Support Owed Using A "Salary Cap". In 2009 This Salary Cap Was $80,000.00/year. Therefore, If The Parent Paying The Child Support Makes $1,000,000+/year... They Pay Child Support Based On ONLY a Fraction Of Their Full Salary. WTF, who made up THAT Law?!?!?!?
Therefore, I received:
- A one-time-alimony payment which was only 10% of his total annual income.
- Monthly child support checks which were also only 10% of his total monthly income.
Not a bad deal for him, huh?!?
He continued to live at 90% of his salary, while his ex-wife and kids lived at 10% of what they were accustomed to.
Weird how in the 21st Century a wife who devoted her entire life to being a supportive SAHM, walks away from a 23-year partnership with 10% of the life she and her husband created together.
It makes me wonder if we need to revisit some divorce laws.
My lawyer finally answered me with complete matter-of-fact confidence.
“He won’t stop. Not until your youngest child turns 21 and he can’t drag you back to family court anymore for MORE money. In fact, I can guarantee that he won't stop, until YOU have to pay HIM child support. Believe me, I know his type, unfortunately, I’ve seen it before.”
I literally laughed out loud. “No Way!!” I said. “THAT will never happen.”
And then she gave me priceless advice, "If I were you, I'd go home and read up on divorcing a narcissist. And by the way, yours is a "Covert Narcissist" which is the worst kind to face in family court."
To be continued... fast forward a few more years... yup... yeeeaaaarrrrssssss!!!