Admit it. Getting your baby’s daddy to pay child support can be like pulling your eyelashes out one by one. Why can’t he understand that you both made this child so he needs to help support this child? All the excuses are getting old and tired.
The bills need to be paid.
The baby needs shoes? Food. Uniforms. Doctor visits. Clothes. All the things that make survival possible.
So how can you get him to pay up or get off the #struggletrain? Stick with me and I’ll share a few practical ideas you can start using today to make the struggle less stressful. Hopefully, the following tips will also prepare you to go into the battle with a better strategy.
My ultimate goal is to inspire you to seek a different path to financial freedom.
Reality Check: Honestly, unless you are a baller ex-wife, boo, or side chick, was married to a CEO or a business owner; it will be hard to make a living, much less a life off of child support. You will be more successful taking action on the tips I share in the second half of this article.
A 7-Step (Mostly) Conflict-Free Process for Getting Child Support
Step 1 – Decide How Much You Need
What will it take to raise your child and meet all his needs? Check your food, clothing, utilities, and all the things your child uses and needs. When you have a number divide it in half. This is how much you need from your ex to raise your children. Be realistic about his ability to pay. Next access his finances.
Step 2 – Assess His Finances
How much does your Ex make? You may not know the exact amount but you can research his job position and the average pay for that position. Be realistic about how much he gets paid when you are considering your child’s needs and his income. There may be a huge gap.
Step 3 – Communicate Your Demands
The next step is to say what you need to care for your child. There is a difference between demanding money because you think he owes you something and asking for money because raising a child requires money. I suggest you go as far as itemizing the cost of everything your child will need for the year. Write it on a piece of paper and give it to your child’s father. Wait for a response then go to the next step. Negotiation.
Step 4 – Come to an Agreement
In this step, talk about the list and decide, together, what he can realistically do. Sometimes it’s just not as cut and dry or black and white as you think. He honestly may not be able to give you everything but can do something. Ask him if it’s truly the best he can do. Keep at it until you both feel this is something you can live with for at least three months, six months, or a year.
Request a review after agreed time limit has passed to see if he’s in a better position to do more. Men need facts to make decisions. They do not rely entirely on their feelings. If you make it about feelings and drama you will get less than you think you deserve and he will make it harder to get it even at the risk of going to jail, back taxes, or anything to keep you from winning.
Step 5 – File the Paperwork
When you have an agreement put it in writing and you both sign it. This is now your contract to keep or file with the courts if that is part of the agreement. If it is part of a child support order, send it to your attorney or complete the forms yourself. The point is to have a record of the agreement and preferably a witness.
Step 6 – Communicate Regularly
Decide how you will communicate and what you will communicate with your Ex. Keep everything brief and business-like so you stay focused on what matters; your child. Keep your emotions in check and do not allow him to bait you into a conversation about your past relationship, your current relationship with someone else, and all the things you or he did wrong. The less you talk about unresolved personal issues when discussing child support the better off you will be.
Decide if you want to tell him about any special purchases you needed to make because of school needs, medical needs, or other needs outside of the usual food, clothing, and shelter he is contributing to with the child support payments. Make a communication schedule that you can agree on and stay within those guidelines.
Depending on how volatile your relationship is you may decide to only use text messaging, only email, and rarely a phone call. You may use a combination of it all. It is up to you. Whatever you decide to do, be consistent.
Step 7 – Wait for the Check/ Deposit
Now you wait for the child support check to arrive. It may feel stressful because you are not sure if it will come. If it doesn’t communicate with him and ask when you can expect it. If it does come send a quick text saying you got it and say thanks the first few times. The more you appreciate his effort and integrity in sending it the more goodwill you create.
How to Get Off the Child Support Struggle Train in 7 Steps
Now that you have tried the tactics to get child support I’d like you to assess how much you can actually survive off that money. Is it enough to pay the rent, car note, buy food, clothing, school project materials, take a vacation? Can you live off that amount combined with what you make at your job? Are you still struggling to make ends meet? Are you willing to think about the reason you are still struggling?
It’s likely that even after all the tactics and strategy, the child support is still not enough or nonexistent because he barely keeping up with the payments or not making payments at all. You can’t even depend on a steady payment every month. The struggle is truly real. So how do you get off the child support struggle train?
I’m glad you asked!
Getting off the #struggletrain won’t be easy but it is worth it if you want emotional and financial freedom.
Step 1 – Create a budget that does not include child support
Save your sanity and simply plan your spending around the money you bring in. You will introduce financial stability into your life and step away from the emotional struggle of depending on a child support check that may or may not come.
Step 2 – Create an Income Increase Plan
Now that you see your budget you are probably thinking to yourself, “This won’t cover all my expenses and it still feels like I’m struggling!”. I get it which is why your next step is to come up with an Income Increase plan. This means you think about ways you can increase your income.
Can you create a side gig? Can you take an online certification course to get a better paying job? Can you sell toys on Ebay? Create a long and short term income increase plan and start on it immediately.
Step 3 – Deal with Your Child’s Father Differently
Clear the negative energy you feel for your ex. Do it by any means necessary because as long as you feel anger, resentment, depression, fear, or hostility toward him, the more he is in control. You are better than that and can control yourself, your life, and your destiny. Anytime we hold negative emotions about someone we give them control over our lives.
Step 4 – Focus on Creating a Life You Love
Focus on what you want. Nothing else. When you learn how to focus only on what you want you get it. All distractions pull you back into a dysfunctional life and none of your dreams can come true. Focus on the goals you had before your relationship went sour, or before you had kids, or before your divorce.
Create a list of your top three goals and add a date you want to reach that goal. Keep the list in a place where you can see it daily. Your bathroom mirror, your bedroom door, or your phone lock screen are good places to keep your three goals visible.
Next Steps to Getting off the Child Support Struggle Train
Step 5 – Ask for help
Find someone who has been where you are but is happy and successful. Ask them to mentor you and keep you accountable to your goals. This kind of support will do wonders for your life. The biggest challenge with this is trusting someone enough to open up about your struggles. Pray for the right person to come into your life.
Step 6 – Join or create a support group
Find a group of women who are positive and want the same thing you want. It should be a group of women dedicated to problem-solving, not problem re-hashing. Whiners and complainers are not interested in forward progress and rarely get past the navel-gazing phase. Skip those kinds of people. Fine solution-oriented groups.
Step 6 – Trust your intuition
In your heart of hearts, you know the right answers for you. Trust yourself to make good decisions and you will. Do the research, ask people questions who have the answers, pray for wisdom, and know you can always start over if you make the wrong decision.
What’s Your Next Move?
There are two schools of thought on how to get the child support you need. Rely on the child’s father, who may or may not come through or rely on yourself, who will always come through. Some say he owes you but I say an unhealthy dependence on child support puts him in a position to emotionally and financially OWN you. I was put on this planet to empower single moms, through my own experiences and through practical solutions.
I’ve shared what I think are two solutions that may satisfy both schools of thought. You can pursue child support actively using the methods I shared in part one. You can even pursue it passively by simply filing paperwork with the state. But I think the second part of this article is feasible and definitely more satisfying. Of course, it’s up to you to choose the best course of action.