Stepmothers, second wives & girlfriends of divorced fathers
Being a divorced dad can be crazy-making. But being in a relationship with a divorced dad can also be - in fact, you may have even less control over the situation than he has.
You can take some comfort in knowing it's not just happening to you - it is the result of a crazy divorce system that affects millions of fathers - and, in turn, their relationships and stepfamilies.
Here's what one stepmom writes:
The stepmother's plight: A memo on child support and visitation rights
by: Stepmom from LI (NY)
The following is a true story. Stepmom's two stepchildren live with
her every weekend, part of the summer, and alternate holidays--about
40 percent of the time--yet her husband under New York State law is
considered a "noncustodial" parent and so has fewer parental
rights than the children's mother. Stepmom, of course, does not even
exist in the eyes of the law, so when issues of child support and
visitation are re-negotiated, issues that affect her money and her
time, the family court judge doesn't want to hear from her.
Stepmom and her husband provide a home for her stepchildren--and have all the expenses of raising a family, from allowances to vacations. But they would not be able to afford their home or take a family vacation if it wasn't for Stepmom's salary, because a large chunk of her husband's income is sent in so-callled child support to the children's mother, who has no legal
obligation to account for how it is spent. Stepmom and her husband also provide the children with medical, dental, and life insurance, and pay for uncovered medical expenses. And yet Stepmom is told by her stepchildren that "Mom supports us, Dad doesn't."
Stepmom and her husband put 5,000 miles a year on their car just transporting the children between homes. Stepmom works to help support the children; cooks for them (and their friends); does their laundry; helps with homework; attends open school night; plays with them; drives them to music lessons, basketball practice, birthday parties, and play dates; takes
them (and their friends) to the library, museums, the beach, the theatre, etc.; takes them to the doctor and dentist; attends their school plays; plans birthday celebrations, holidays, and family vacations; and so on. Stepmom also listens to her stepkids, praises them, disciplines them, teaches them, encourages them, hugs them, laughs with them, and cries with them. Just like a "real" parent. And just like a "real" parent, Stepmom gets little appreciation from the children. In fact, every May, her friends and relatives call to wish her a happy mother's day--but her stepkids completely ignore her.
Pity the poor stepmom? Maybe we should canonize her.
Stepmom from LI (NY)