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Biological Father Problems

Biological Father Problems

My wife and I have been married for about a year and her ex is a huge pain to deal with. My step kids –a boy and a girl- are both less than seven. This guy pays almost nothing for child support and makes every visit miserable for my wife (and me).  He seems to be a major control freak. Everything has to be done the way he wants it- when he drop them off, when he picks them up and sometimes even how long he decides he’ll keep them. He picked them up today and, as usual was a complete jerk about it. He doesn’t give us any notice some times on the days he comes to get them. It’s his day but a little heads-up would be a nice courtesy. My wife is always stressed out before he gets here and she’s stressed out the entire time the kids are gone. Then we almost always get into it with him when he brings them back because he’s so rude in the way he acts. I dread the weekends he has the kids because I know it’s going to be drama. Last week I made an excuse so I wouldn’t have to be home when he came for the kids. I want to do that every week because I don’t want to deal with this A-hole. I don’t know if I can continue to stay in this situation. DO you have any advice on how to deal with a guy like this?  –ArtJSN66

Many Stepdads report that the worst part about the job is the ex-factor. If you’re dealing with your wife’s challenging ex, then you’re in good company –and you’re not alone. I’m sure many of the dads in the Forum will have some nuanced advice so I recommend you pose specific questions on this topic there.  For the moment, let me talk about the situation you’re dealing with.

First: Let’s look at the legal aspects of your situation.8-17-13

Child support-

You mentioned that the father pays “almost nothing” in child support. If this is what the court ordered then you’ve got to be glad he pays it. You might be surprised to know how many men don’t pay anything. Deltabravo.net states that 62% of biological fathers in the US don’t pay child support. It’s reported in divorcemag.com that 74% of Canadian dads with a child support order are generally in a state of arrears (meaning they are not up to date in their payments).  The article on deltabravo.net goes on to claim that most mothers don’t even seek child support, so the statistic is flawed. In fairness of full-disclosure, the article was sponsored by S.P.A.R.C., which is an advocacy group for dads. They report this information as factual but they don’t support the statistic (about mom’s who don’t want child support) with a source. I feel comfortable sharing it because I’ve known plenty of single moms who haven’t asked for support. So there’s surely a good deal of truth to it.

There’s sometimes compelling reasons not to ask for money.  Here are some I’ve seen

1) It would be a waste of time because the father has no money

2) It would create an ongoing battle so it’s not worth the effort

3) It may make him angry. She fears retribution

4) She is self-sufficient and doesn’t need help from him

In a case where you feel a father isn’t paying enough and he isn’t giving enough heads-up when getting the kids and is keeping the kids longer that he’s allotted, then you can have your wife take it to the local District Attorney.  This is the title in most US states. It is probably a different title in Canada. The D.A. can bring it to a judge to reassess the amount he is paying. While this may increase the amount you are getting for the kids and stop the bio-dad’s bad habits with the kid’s visits, it will not help to improve his overall disposition towards you and your wife. If money isn’t really that tight, I’d suggest focusing instead on getting along. A strong working relationship with the bio-dad will strongly benefit the kids’ level of happiness. Building a bridge will also help reduce the stress in your home. What you gain will be much more valuable than the few hundred dollars of child support.

Stress-

The hard truth of being a Stepdad is that you don’t just marry the wife, 8-17-13 Quoteyou marry the entire situation. Few men fully understand what they are getting into when they marry a single mom. While no two situations are the same… you’ll be hard pressed to find a Stepdad who says it’s “easy.” There are emotional and psychological dynamics that were in play before you even entered the situation. The kids may be torn by their parent’s split up and feel like they have to choose. Your wife and her ex certainly didn’t separate because they got along too well. It’s would be surprising if they were excellent communicators now. Emotions are high and now the father sees another man stepping into his role in the home. There is a very primal thing at work here and it is territorial in nature. Bio dads can feel like the kids belong to them and that the presence of another man in their lives can be frustrating at best.

In most cases biological fathers don’t handle themselves as well as they might. Take a moment to consider how you might feel in his place. If your kids were being raised by your wife and another man who is now the person they interact with in a dad role most often you might feel emotional about it. Men, as you know aren’t known for handling their emotions well. There are plenty of cases of dads who are pushed to the brink when dealing with emotional matters. In 2011 a man shot eight people in a Seal Beach, CA salon, including his estranged wife. The man was in a bitter custody battle with the mother. Luckily, most men handle themselves better than that but it’s important to remember that he is probably struggling with a lot of emotion right now. His rude demeanor and controlling behavior are probably a sign that he’s trying to have some control over a situation where he feels powerless.

If you can muster the internal strength and swallow a bit of pride, asking him to coffeegrab a beer or coffee with you might be a good first step. Let him know that you know he must be dealing with a lot and that you don’t know how well you’d be able to handle it in his situation. Reassure him that you don’t want to replace him. I had this talk with my kid’s bio dad years ago and it has paid amazing dividends in the rapport I have with him. Unless he’s a completely irrational person, he’ll appreciate that you showed him some compassion. Once you’ve settled that you will be in a position to talk about what’s most important; the kid’s happiness. They will certainly be much happier if the adults in their lives aren’t arguing over them all the time, right? You don’t have to love the guy. You don’t even have to like him –but you do have to get along with him until the kids are grown. In fact, as long as you and your wife are married, he’ll probably be around because the kid’s will keep him linked to your family. It’s best to find some common ground –and soon.

 

14 Comments

  1. Flip42
    September 21, 2012

    A new stepdad..kinda, I have been married for just over a year but dating the same lady 3 yrs prior. She (at the time was divorced and had a beautiful 3 y/o girl) The lil one had very little sporadic contact with her dad the first yr I was in the picture. Now she’s about to turn 8 and the bio father is back. With no contact in the last 3yrs. We are devastated at the thought of this man now coming back into this girl’s life and ours. Drunkard, jail, rehab that sort of thing is his most recent lifestyle, but claims to be over that. For the girls sake I hope it’s true. I have mixed feelings about his return. As a father I hope he becomes a good one. But as a stepdad who is called and considered to be a “Dad”, I feel I will lose some of the relationship with her. I found your situation to possibly be a foreshadowing of things to come around here. The stress my wife feels now just waiting for things to happen (the court is involved) is thick as can be. Our other/my daughter 16 can now easily see the strain in the family over this situation. Good luck to you ArtJSN66. I hope your relationship with the bio guy gets to a manageable point. I would like to hear/read more from your situation if you care to share in the future. -Flip42

    Reply
  2. The_Step_Dad
    September 22, 2012

    Flip42, Thanks for sharing. There are so many Stepdads who face the same issue. It really can be a challenge. The great bond you've formed with your little girl makes it hard, but it's also the thing that will help you the most if the bio-dad becomes a permanent feature in her life. They may have DNA between them but you have LOVE.

    Keep up the good work, Dad!

    S. James Wheeler, Founder of Stepdadding.com

    Reply
  3. Biological father
    March 17, 2013

    I am on the other hand,a biological father who pay child support every month, but I have to deal with the mother of my child and her husband. This guy is a joke; he calls me when I have to call my son and he tells my son to tell me “I don’t want to talk with you” my son is only three. Besides that he confuses my son mind telling him that he is his dad…. I just want him to respect my relationship with my son. But seems to me that he hate me so much….. I have to be patient until my son can understand by himself what is going on here..I feel really bad for that guy since my son has something that he never can change ( my son genes ). I want some advice to stop this. Thank you.

    Reply
    • The_Step_Dad
      March 18, 2013

      Stepdad's listen-up. This is valuable perspective from a biological father. No one should try to block a man from access to his child unless that man is a danger to his kid,

      Biological Father,
      Thanks for taking a moment to share. Reach out to the mother and Stepdad. Talk with him especially and try to bridge the gap. Grab a coffee, a beer, or invite him to a ball game –whatever it takes. If something doesn't change soon your child will deal with un-needed drama. It's common for young kids to develop anxiety, confusion and even guilt because of the pressure they feel from the parents fighting for control. I always advocate for the best interest of the kids. It is the ONLY winning formula. If all the parent figures can agree to make their decisions (and communicate) based on the kid's best interest (instead of emotion or jealousy) the kid's win in the end. When parents engage in emotional tug-of-war with a child, the kid always suffers.

      Guys, always reach out to the other guy in your kid's life. Work as a team. Stepdad's don't fight for the title "dad," Just be the best parent you can be to the kids in your lives. They will appreciate it, appreciated you and grow from your good example.

      Reply
  4. Frustrated Step Dad
    March 19, 2013

    I'm a soon to be official stepdad, but I've been living with my kids for 3 years now. In our case the ex was abusive to my fiancee and has in three years through the courts been able to achieve visitation bi weekly with double overnights and two full weeks in the summer plus some short weekly visits and extended time for vacations. He has been negligent in many circumstances although nothing has been seen by the court as serious enough to reduce visitation time. The man makes no sense and as soon as we question him about things that go on with the children he immediately responds with complaints to us about things we are doing "wrong." He never owns up to anything and is constantly using the kids as a go between and telling them way too much about the custody battle that is going on. He frequently uses sarcasm and name calling tactics with my fiance. He is making our life miserable and I would also like to know how we can deal with this guy.
    I can't stand interacting with this guy and he doesn't want me to any way because he already knows I have a pretty low opinion of him. However, I feel like I have to be there because it's unfair for my fiance to deal with it on her own. I am worried about her having him hanging over her head all of the time. and she is terrified that something will happen at house and their won't be anyone responsible to make a good decision. Not to mention the concern we both have over what his presence and attitude are teaching the children.

    Sounds like there are a lot of us out there who love being a parent to our step kids but have to grapple with these horrible men to get there. I know there are many divorced bio dad's who are good parents, but these terrible role models who have biological kids are taking away too much time and attention from people who need a chance to help the kids they love grow up healthily.

    Reply
    • The_Step_Dad
      April 7, 2013

      Frustrated, Thanks for reaching out. This is a complicated issue so we've posted a long form reply to your question. You can find it posted in our Ask The Stepdad section.

      Reply
  5. The "real" Dad
    August 16, 2013

    I’m the bio-dad. I have joint custody, no child support, and a parenting schedule of one week on/one week off.

    Every time the kids’ mother and I are in the process of co-parenting the negotiations fall apart as she abruptly defers decisions regarding our children to her new husband. This is the same guy she introduced to our children as their new dad while we were still married. The same guy who beat my children with his belt eventually sending my youngest home with bruises and lacerations on his legs from his hips to his ankles. The incident gave me enough ammo to incur an investigation by police and children’s services. The same guy who sends me vitriolic texts stating he’s making up for my lack as a father.

    Needless to say I’m the difficult bio-dad in their minds. But, so long as I have just as much custody and spend equal time with my kids, step dad needs to butt out when it comes to decisions regarding my children. He doesn’t have children of his own, so he’s clueless about being a “father”. As far as I’m concerned it’s the step dads who make things difficult by attempting to be something they’re not: the “real” dad.

    Reply
  6. Dawa Namgyal
    February 4, 2019

    I am married to a divorce women having a son. I am a step dad raising the son along with my wife. But her ex husband is a huge pain to deal with. He pays nothing to his son though the court has made a decision with a written letter that he is liable to pay in order to raise the son. I have no issues whether he pays or whether you don’t pay but the main problem here is that he tends to distract the mind of the son by saying dad is always there for you, nobody can scold you, nobody can bit you and more so on.
    More over he calls my wife as if like a boss and tells her to bring son to his reach and calls her to come and get the son when ever he wish to. Same time my wife does as per his order….
    To this solution I asked many of my friends for suggestions. They suggest me to tell my wife not to let son deal with useless biological dad.
    Therefore I would like to get more quality answers that can help me out plz! Looking forward
    And same time can I consider my wife too a the one pushing this situation more worst?? Should I charge her???

    Reply
    • S.J.Wheeler
      March 29, 2019

      Dawa, You’re in a difficult situation. In the US Stepdads have virtually no legal rights. The only way you can have any hand in how things are done is if you wife works as a partner to you. Her actions are making this more challenging than it has to be. By going along with her ex she works against your ability to be a parent. Until she grows a spine it’s not likely to get easier.

      Reply
  7. jason pitman
    February 27, 2019

    long story short, my wife was not married however had a kid with her ex boyfriend, he has been a grifter for yesrs, uses women of intelligence and monetary of value till he gets caught, he has 6 of not more kids we know of with at least 5 different women, has never raised any of his kids, he assaulted my wife i did the wrong thing and beat his ass, he pressed felony charges for it and it was all dissmissed because he lied, we moved far away and he followed us to antagonize us, due to him being a bio father and me being a stepdad i get shit on, ive raised my son since he was 8 months old he’s now 7, stepson is in alot of trouble at school after his time with his donor, 1st grade btw, i have never had a fathers day, school functions or any time with my son due to her ex causing public issues, the donor tried to start public fights every time and pokes at me avery chance he can, police, schools, and every avenue treats me like nothing due to being a stepdad, what can i possibly do to protect my son

    Reply
    • S.J.Wheeler
      March 29, 2019

      Jason, I truly feel for you. You’re doing your best and (like all Stepdads) the deck is stacked against you. Most guys don’t understand how skewed the laws are until they become a stepdad. You gave him even more power when you hit him – and he obviously knows it. Sadly, Stepdads are treated like strangers in the eyes of the law, while biological fathers are given special status. DNA shouldn’t be more important than love and caring, but the laws are outdated. The rules are slowly changing. Until then all you can do is be strategic. Be the best parent you can be. Be the kind of man you want your boy to grow up to be. Raise your son to be a smart man and when it matters most he’ll know you’re the one who’s there for him.

      Reply
  8. Confused new step dad
    March 13, 2019

    I’m a 20 years old and I’m trying to become a step father to my girlfriends child. I was there for the birth and I have been there for the last 14 weeks of the pregnancy and the biological father hasn’t been around at all. And now hes trying to come around but everytime my girlfriend invites him around he acts like he wants to come around but he eventually cancels. When he finally does come around does anyone have any advice for me? Should I be protective or should I just kinda stand back and watch? Should I be jealous or should I relax?

    Reply

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