Broken Heart

When my marriage split, almost six years ago, I was severely broken hearted for a long time. Not however for the separation from my spouse, but more for the loss of my life as I knew it, and most importantly no longer living with my little children.

Things are much better now, as life has moved forward, however it took at least a couple of years to start even thinking straight again.

The worst times were in the initial stages living alone, feeling guilty for making the decision to leave my prior life and often wondering whether or not I did the right thing.

Although I had no regrets for leaving my wife, the pain of separation from my children was unbearable at times, and even though I knew it was not the right thing to do, it would have been easier to stay with someone in an unhappy marriage, than go through the stress and pain of separation.

If this ever happens to you – in the interests of sharing my experiences here are some ways I learned to cope and get on with life.

My tips to help mend that Broken Heart

Meet new people
Its very important not to spend too much time alone, after a split, think of it as your chance to become more socialable, immerse yourself into clubs, activities and find ways of meeting new people. Sometimes you need to stick your head out a bit, but all this is a very important part of the healing process.

Throw yourself into your career
Often this can also be a great opportunity to focus on retraining, or on furthering your career. By concentrating on your career, this is something positive that will benefit you long term, and keep your mind off whats been happening in your personal life.

Learn new skills
Never has there been a better opportunity to learn new skills, try out those hobbies you always thought about but never had the time for. Go back to school, or study a course in something that interests you.

Exercise
I cannot over emphasize enough the importance of exercise. Not only does it get you out of the house, you can use exercise to meet new people, and of course it makes you feel a lot better in a natural and healthy manner.

Make plans
Plan ahead, book in a trip to look forward to with friends, or to visit relatives. Its very important to have things to look forward to, the more the better!

Remember this, time truly is the healer of all wounds, so even though you may be feeling like the world is caving in, just take it one day at a time, know that the way you are feeling is perfectly normal, and even understandable. You will get through it!

Letting Go of Bitterness

Bitterness is a two edged sword that can literally control your life. That is something I have realised over the last few years and I really hope that now I am finally leaving all that behind me and pushing forward with my life.

I was living in a false sense of reality where my own sense of what was right, was clouded by the actions and attitudes of others.

Although the actions of others can affect your life, everyone is ultimately responsible for what they do ( or don’t do ).

I was blaming others and feeling resentment for things I was helping out with of my own free will – that in itself is not a very giving attitude is it.

It is not up to me to judge others, and its not up to others to judge me. ( although they can if they want to – that’s up to them ).

In order to get rid of the anger that I felt inside I had to come to terms with the fact that it was actually my problem and not anyone elses. Once that finally dawned upon me it was like waking up from a foggy dream and seeing the light again.

For those in the same predicament I propose the following three point plan. Use it or don’t – your call.

Own it
Firstly you have to stop blaming everyone else, no matter how reasonable you can make it sound to yourself. You were put on this earth a free person – every choice and action you have taken in your life has lead you to where you stand today. No one forced your hand – everything is choice. ( You might think that you didn’t force your partner to leave you or be mean to you or whatever – that is partly true however you did choose to rely or depend on that person, so in the end it was your choice to give them the power to let you down. )

Deal with it
By retaining anger and rage towards a person we give them power – let go of it and be free. Sounds simple and doing the step before will help with this step. No one can hurt you if take responsibility for your own actions, release your bitterness and anger and take control of your situation.

Move on
This is the hardest part, unfortunately and particularly if you have kids you may have to keep communicating and dealing with the very people that you held bitterness towards however.. think about this.

  • They are not the problem – you are
  • Of course they don’t see things the same way as you do and you will never make them
  • Who cares? In the grand scheme of life do you really want to waste your valuable time and effort on someone that makes you angry or bitter? Do yourself a favour and remove all emotion from any communications. If they want to carry on being bitter that’s their problem – you have moved to another level and they are stuck in that foggy, nasty world of self pity and bitterness.

I feel like a soldier that has been fighting in the trenches, giving his all everyday for a battle that didn’t even need to be fought.

Hopefully now this trooper can take a break and chill out for a while!

Seperation and Moving On – One Woman’s Story

My ex and I split up after 13 years of marriage. Our initial separation was a long and exhausting period – the most challenging two years of my life without a doubt – filled with moments of gut wrenching stress, anxiety, failure and loneliness, alongside feelings of new-found independence and strength. Most importantly it has been a time of personal growth for myself. Only just now, after two full years, do I feel strong enough emotionally to be able to both write about my personal experience and share it with others.

Due to the nature of our separation, I consider myself fortunate to be able to empathise with both those who have initiated separations and those who have been left by their partners. Although it was my ex who initiated the split at the beginning, it was I who later ended up moving on first and who in the end decided I did not want to salvage what was left of the marriage even when my ex decided that he did. The fact that I’m sitting here today typing that statement seems almost unbelievable to me at times.

From as far back as I can remember I believed I would be married forever. I never considered our children would ever know a life like the one they know now. Today we are happy and settled for the most part (I have a new partner and we’ve bought a home together) and I have no regrets about the fact that my ex and I are no longer together but it has been a journey of backwards and forwards – two steps forward followed by one step back (and vice versa) at any given time. As a result of my experience, I am a stronger, more independent person, however I will always hold in my heart feelings of sadness for a life that I started with someone but did not finish. Those who have stated that the end of a marriage is akin to death are not exaggerating. I have literally mourned the loss of my marriage and the life I knew before this one.

I have found the most difficult part of this journey has been trying to move forward without letting the past drag me down. More than the hardship of initially feeling rejected by my ex, more than the feelings of both physical and emotional exhaustion from trying desperately to hang on to a dying marriage (we continued to live together for nearly 6 months in separate rooms of our home before he moved out – a very bad idea in hindsight), more than trying to grapple with the challenges of being a working single mother, it is the moving on part that has without a doubt been the hardest.

In the early days after the split I felt such a huge sense of relief to have space and clarity away from my ex that I was at least somewhat happier than when in the marriage. The grief I’d experienced having to endure living with someone who barely spoke to or acknowledged me, caused irreparable damage and severed what I feel were the last remaining strings of our relationship. Fortunately we tried to shelter the children from knowing the gravity of the situation – he would go to sleep after them and wake before them so that they weren’t aware he was sleeping in another room, however the silence at the dinner table when we were together was excruciating. I had been burdened by such a huge sense of grief when my ex turned his back on our life together that when he finally moved out and I became close with someone 6 months later (9 months since our marriage had basically bottomed out) I was elated. Knowing someone I cared for found me attractive, fun and interesting, and that I could expect to find love again one day – even if this relationship was not destined to last – was a very positive influence on my life at the time.

Although initially I felt happy and excited about the turn my life was taking (I had grand hopes that this man was my knight in shining armour who had come to rescue the children and I from what was surely to be a lonely road ahead), as time went by I realised the relationship for what it was – an intimate friendship which provided a sense of comfort and security for me during a difficult time when I felt insecure and vulnerable. Although I feel some regret for moving on too quickly, in some ways I wonder if this wasn’t what I actually needed to boost my confidence and help convince me once and for all that I was capable of letting go and moving on. I had been existing in a state of limbo – separated from my ex and certain I could never be happy with him but afraid of saying it was over for good.

This sense of reclaiming my confidence was soon followed by an overwhelming sense of guilt. What brought about this feeling was not my actions themselves but that my ex (unaware of the intensity of my recent relationship) had informed me he had changed his mind and wanted to work things out. I felt immediately compelled to reveal everything but knew that if I did he would likely blame me for officially ending our marriage. Although he and I had discussed the possibility of meeting someone new and he’d even encouraged me to do so, I had been taught and believed that separation is not the same as divorce – I had committed adultery. I am Catholic and to say that this presented some challenges for me to deal with is the understatement of the century. I was so overwhelmed by anxiety that I broke out in hives. I met with our parish priest and a counsellor to try to help sort things out in my head. This helped somewhat. I became acutely aware that unless my ex forgave me I would never be able to forge ahead alone without feeling that I had been the wrongdoer and had ended the marriage on my own. I felt an intense need for him to acknowledge the marriage was not salvageable prior to this event happening. I ended up telling all to him within a week’s time.

Although my ex was hurt by the news, he ultimately said I had not betrayed him – that we both had been free to move on. Ironically though, he wanted more than ever to give things a go again. He told me he wanted us to move in together into a new home and start over again. There I was, being presented with what I had been wanting all along, and yet I no longer desired it. I had cut myself off emotionally from him, for the most part. Over the next three months I moved out to the country to a quiet, peaceful rental where the children and I could decompress after a very long year. Although it turned out to be the smartest move I’d ever made, it was only the first step in breaking free. I had a long road ahead of me and despite the happy times to come in our new life, the past was always waiting, ready to turn up at those moments when all I really wanted to do was forge ahead.

Ground 8 Child Support Review

A Ground 8 Administrative review is essentially as it is stated in the quote below taken from the IRD ir175 form.

The child support assessment doesn’t take into account the income, earning
capacity, property and financial resources of either parent or the child (or
children)

Reasons for this could be one party has experienced a significant change in income, we think that this would primarily be related to the paying parent as the custodial parents income is not considered when calculating the paying parents amount.

Once your submission has been received and accepted, there is the opportunity for both parties to enter a war of words and financial statements as everything that is to be considered at the hearing needs to be brought to the table first.

When the hearing arrives it involves meeting with a case review officer, the usual practice is for them to firstly listen to the applicant of the review, and then later on in the day the other party will have the chance to have their say.

The review officer talks through all the points that either party has raised and they tend to stick to the facts and the law. They will advise you what points are or are not relevant to the ground.

The hearing is very informal, its not like a court case.

Normally the case will be reviewed and a decision will be mailed out within a couple of weeks.

Administrative Review – Child Support

If you disagree with either the child support paid to you, or being received by you, then you can apply for an Administrative Review. There are a number of grounds that are listed in this booklet (ir175) and you need to explain in the application why you feel that your case fits one of these grounds.

Here is a link to the application form (ir470) for an Administrative Review.

The application does not take too long to fill in, depending on what supporting documentation you need to provide ( which is related to which ground you are applying under ).

You probably will need to disclose your financial situation, as well as your partners if you have one, this form (ir178) is found here.

The person that you are calling the Administrative Review on will have the opportunity to be part of it, or not to be part of it. You can attend the hearing or do it by phone or not at all.

Once the application is done, you pop it all in an envelope and send it off to Wellington. Then you wait.

What happens next we will be covering over the next couple of weeks as we go through this very process. Hang in there – we will keep you posted. Feel free to share your stories about Administrative Reviews with us, the good and the bad.

———- Update 12-Aug-2011 ———–

Well roll forward a week or so and we got a letter in the mail saying our application had been reviewed and accepted as a valid application!

The letter also mentions that a hearing will be held and the other party has every opportunity to respond and be part of the review. In some ways it could seem like a breach of the privacy act how all parties appear to be able to see full financial information of the others, however that’s the law so we just have to stick with it and trust that justice is done.

Stay tuned for more updates as things develop.

———- Update 18-Aug-2011 ———–

We receive a response from the other party in the matter, we cannot divulge the content of the response however fortunately our case is very strong and nothing that is said is really relevant to the review.

———– Update 23 Aug 2011 ———

We receive notification via mail that the hearing is scheduled in a couple of weeks. Watch this space.

———– Update 11 Sep 2011 ———

The hearing took place a couple of days ago, it was very infomal and it seems as though its a very straightfoward case. We now await a decision which should be through in the next couple of weeks.

Child support in NZ

The formula for Child support in NZ, although simple is certainly not very fair from what the team here believe.

At Child Support NZ HQ we have people on both sides of the equation and have spent hours in discussions and research on this very controversial topic. It’s never possible to make all parties happy however we see many areas of improvements that could be made. We have outlined some of the things that are wrong and suggested an alternative, that could be more fair in regards to our circumstances, however are very interested in others opinions and insight so please share your thoughts with us and have a say.

One thing that should be considered is that child support is about children and making sure they are fed, clothed and educated. This is not about supporting ex partners as that is an entirely different discussion that we can address in another article.

Here are some of the major areas we can see issues with the current 18 year old child support system and formula in NZ.

  • The custodian of the child does not have to spend the money on the children.
  • The more you earn the more the other parent claiming child support gets regardless of how much the children cost. i.e one persons kids according to the governement must be worth more and cost more than another persons, even though they may cost similar amounts to clothe, feed etc.
  • The paying parent is often the one that gets the least time with the child
  • The custodians income and living arrangements are not taken into account. For example the mother could have a high paying job, live with a high earning partner and the poor paying parent ( father in this case ) could be struggling to survive on a low income, yet still have to pay maximum child support and spend the least time with the children

Ways non custodial parents can and do dodge child support ( also highly unfair )

  • You can pay less by living with a partner that has children ( you get a higher living allowance, which is then deducted from your child support )
  • You can have a company where the losses offset your personal tax
  • Leave the country
  • Disprove that you are the parent.

Changes in front of parliament now – reform of the child support law.

There is currently a bill in front of parliament lead by Peter Dunne to suggest changes to the NZ child support law. This however will probably take several years to have a new formula decided apon and then implemented.

The child support formula – how to work out what you are going to have to pay.

The standard formula uses a process which works out the paying parent’s taxable income, takes away a set living allowance (the amount of which depends on their living arrangements – such as if they have a partner and how many children live with them), and multiplies the result by a percentage based on the number of children the paying parent pays child support for.

You can work out what your liability would be with the child support calculator.

Our suggestion for a fairer formula
Where custody is not shared half and half have a set rate that is worked out on how much a kid costs to keep and split it between both parents, if one wants to pay more thats fine, but surely both parents are responsible for their children as well. The non custodial parent would pay for the days of the week they did not have their kids, minus the days they do. Lets say that a child costs 15 dollars a day for bare necessities…

In this example case we have two children, Jonathan and Kirsten and the mother is full time custodian, the father has for an average of 2 days per week.

The custody would be agreed at the beginning and

Jonathan + Kirsten cost per 7 days = $210

Father pays for 7 days at $210, mother credits back for 2 days at the cost $60.

Father – Mother = Father to pay Mother $150 per week.

This way you are actually rewarded for the time you spend with your child and this could be applied across the board.

It would not matter if you are not working or not earning much, if that was the case then you better take care of your kid half the time or else it’s going to cost you and if you can’t pay then the amount accumulates as a debt until you can.

We welcome your comments and stories about how child support affects you or someone you know from both sides of the custodial equation.

What is the DPB and how much do solo parents receive?

The DPB (Domestic Purposes Benefit) is, in short, a weekly payment which assists solo parents that have one or more dependent children.

What is the criteria for recieving the DPB?
Well you will need to meet the below guidelines.

  • A dependent child under 18 years of age
  • Not be in a relationship with the parent of that child
  • Have no partner ( or have lost the support of their partner )
  • Be over the age of 18 in most cases
  • Be either a permanent resident or NZ citizen
  • Have been living in NZ for at least 2 years since becoming a resident or NZ citizen

How much do parents receive on the DPB?

The basic rate (after tax) for someone on DPB is $288.47 per week. With additional allowances and depending on location it is possible for a parent to get up to $580 a week!

What about Child Support?

Any child support that the other parent pays goes straight to the government to offset the DPB payments.

What about if the parent starts work?
Well it is possible to earn other income without the DPB payments being affected, however there are thresholds. Once the earnings become greater than 100 dollars a week, the DPB payments start to be reduced.

Is it a fair scheme?
In some cases a parent will take advantage of a situation in order to to receive this benefit unfairly. For example, if the solo parent has the type of job where they can earn cash without paying tax. Not only will they get the same benefit then, as someone who truly needs it, this benefit will be coming out of hardworking tax payers pockets.

On the other end of the spectrum are those that have to pay tax, pay child support and pay extra above child support to ensure that their kids have what they need – yet perhaps they don’t get a cent from anyone else.

Life as a Split Family

My partner and I have five kids between us – three full time and two part time. His two come to visit twice a week, staying overnight every fortnight. As with any family, our kids have their moments when they don’t get along however they also enjoy the fun times we have together as a big, combined family.

We’ve made some adjustments along the way to make life easier, much the same as any growing family does. We purchased a larger home together, worked out a feasible routine in order to share the burden of kids’ activities, transport, holidays schedules, etc.. Most importantly however, we’ve put communication first when it comes to dealing with issues that have come up regarding discipline, finance and scheduling commitments involving our kids. As in any dual parenting situation – it’s important that the parents agree on child rearing/discipline tactics so that they present a cohesive, united front to their children. I feel very fortunate that my partner and I share similar ideas on how to raise and discipline our children. I can only imagine how difficult things would have been had we not shared this in common. I highly recommend couples consider this matter seriously as its an extremely sensitive issue.

In the early months after my partner and I moved in together, there was a sort of “grace period” when I feel we both allowed our kids a bit more slack as they adjusted to their new, larger family. We did our best to mediate any conflict between the kids and were extra sensitive in situations when we needed to discipline the others’ kids.  In general, I think I was more comfortable managing his kids – we have them for shorter periods and as a result have fewer issues to contend with. He, on the other hand, lives with my children full time. We both were aware that he and they needed time to become comfortable with eachother before he stepped into a role of parent/disciplinarian. As with his ex, my ex is actively involved in my kids’ lives. My partner was conscious of this fact and did not want my kids worrying that he was trying to replace their father.

My 13 year-old daughter was the one I worried most about during this delicate transition period. Being the eldest and also the person that she is, she was very protective of me during this period. She was slower to warm up to my partner than her younger two siblings.  Although I tried talking with her about the new changes, she was reluctant to talk about it, probably out of fear of upsetting me. At my suggestion, she met with a guidance counsellor at her school and was able to sort things out/put things in perspective better. With her permission the counsellor met with me and helped to alleviate some of the concerns my daughter and I had. I would highly recommend this for families adjusting to new living situations such as this.

Fast forward a year down the track and things are going well. My partners’ relationship with my kids has grown to the point where they see him as a parent figure and are happy asking him for assistance as well as just hanging out and enjoying his company. I am incredibly grateful that things have worked out so well and that my kids are benefiting from his involvement in their lives. I realise that things don’t always go so smoothly in other split family situations, however keeping in mind some of the things I’ve suggested might help to alleviate some pressures.

I’ve heard my share of horror stories from acquaintances about challenges they’ve faced in their own split family situations – kids becoming resentful, angry, jealous, parent disagreements regarding the discipline of the other partner’s children, and parents feeling caught in the middle between their kids and their new partner. As a result I think I anticipate our real challenges as a split family could be lurking around the bend. In the meantime, however, we continue to learn and grow – both from our kids and with our kids.

Happy Parenting!

 

 

 

 

 

Child Custody

When I split from my ex wife, it was a nightmare. Being the one making the decision to leave and my ex wife not working at the time, the emotions and guilt around responsibility were incredible.

The loss of walking away from my family, the guilt from leaving my marriage were all mixed with the feelings of doing the right thing, building a life that I wanted and of course giving a fair chance for my ex to move on with her life, with someone that hopefully could give her more than where I was at.

My kids were very young at the time, my son just about to reach his second birthday and my daughter only six years old. In a way that was a good thing. My son seems to have no idea of what happened and no effects from the separation, however my daughter went through a lot at the time, which I wish she had never had to experience – we were very close. ( and thankfully still are ).

My ex was very shocked at the time, and didn’t react well at all. She went off the rails… ringing up members of my family and saying stuff to my daughter… very difficult times. I guess I can understand that it wouldn’t have been easy. It would have been preferable if she could have showed some restraint especially when it came to my six year old daughter.

I moved into my parents for a couple of weeks, then luckily for me house sat for friends while they were on holiday before moving into pretty much the cheapest short term apartment I could find.

The stress from trying to pay all the bills from my previous household, as well as support myself in my new lodgings were extreme. Eventually however she went on the benefit, we seperated our accounts and I entered the new world of paying child support as a non custodial parent.

My ex was very bitter and nasty towards me, and seemed to have in her mind that I- had left the whole family, although that wasn’t the case at all. I love my kids very much and wanted to spend as much time with them as I could. She made that very difficult for me especially at the beginning – not allowing them to stay with me for the night, casting doubt over the living conditions of my new apartment and so on.

Eventually we managed to arrange some kind of agreement and now I have them every second weekend, one night per week for couple of hours, and every other Saturday morning. School holidays are always a time for more negotiations however I normally get them for a good part of a week or so.

Things have changed for me however, I have a new partner, things have settled down a lot in my life and I am now ready to have them for a decent part of the time. I am looking at different options for getting more custody of my kids and can see its not going to be easy, but luckily the law itself treats a father just importantly as a mother.

In the perfect world I would like my kids at least half the time, I can drop and pick them up from school a couple of days a week, I work for an understanding employer and can also take care of them for a decent part of the school holidays.

There are two roads that separated people can go when it comes to sorting out child custody, if both are willing to work towards a mutually agreeable solution you can do it through the family courts for free and sort it out. If however communication and bitterness are involved then you are probably going to need a lawyer and it can cost a lot of money.

For me I don’t know which way its going to go yet, I am still trying to find the right way to broach the subject as 2010 begins to draw to an end, my one year old is soon to become a five year old and its time for my ex to put her bitterness behind her, and try to see what is best for our young children.

As I work through the process I will write more about it, so stay posted or subscribe to our feed. If you have your own child custody story to share please do so via the comment form on our site.

Moving On

One of the inevitable consequences of a Marriage or Relationship break-up is the fact that one or other of the couple will move on. This can be the cause of much bitterness as the other person realizes that the relationship is well and truly past the point of being repairable.

If you are the one doing the moving on this can be a fun, exciting and nervous time for you as you experience a multitude of emotions, often also mixed in with guilt and foreboding as you wonder if you are doing the right thing, and of course how your ex partner will react.

If on the other hand it is your ex partner that is the one doing the moving, this can either help you get over them once and for all, or it can turn into an ugly feeling of bitterness and hatred as you try to understand what is going on in your life.

You need to learn from your past experiences, but never regret them and then put them to rest once and for all. Think about what can happen ahead in your life and how great your future can be as it truly is in your hands the way future events will unfold.

Having been on both sides of the equation I know from experience that doing the moving is much easier than thinking or experiencing someone else moving on and if this is becoming a big issue for you probably counselling can help you talk about and rationilize what is going on. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life being bitter and twisted, life is too short so get on and live it with someone you truly love!