“My ex is using maintenance to control me”

Parenting costs: Every cent counts

As the primary caregiver, my child lives with me and spends most weekends with my ex.  As any parent knows, raising a child is a very expensive task. There are the obvious costs like school fees, medical, clothing and food bills, but often the person who does not live with the child overlooks the small daily expenses. Things like petrol to school, sport, parties & play dates. Then there are presents, school outings, snack for the lunch box, endless bottles of suncream, Panado and plasters. School requires R 20 here and R 40 there for various reasons and so does aftercare.

In addition, there are household expenses like rent, electricity, water, insurance, baby-sitting, toys, games, books, phone calls etc, etc.

“I’ll cut you off”

My point? If your ex annoys you, gets a new partner, says something you don’t agree with and so on, it is not okay to threaten to withhold maintenance. My ex is a bully and knows I cannot afford to live without the maintenance that the court said he must pay. On a monthly basis, I am told how I cost him a fortune and how he pays for everything, and, if I don’t toe the line and be a good little ex, I will never see another cent from him.

How can I get it through his thick head that the money is not for me?  It is for his child’s comfort, education, medical care, safety and general upbringing.

Unreliable is almost as bad as non-existent

He has withheld maintenance over the years here and there and then I go into the red on my credit card and spend months paying the bank back with interest. Obviously I have the option to go to maintenance court but this guy is clever.  He never misses payments in consecutive months.  He threatens and withholds and then the next month he pays.  He lulls me into a false sense of security and I end up being grateful to him for the payment.

My child is young and so I have another decade or so to live like this. What are my options? I cannot/should not have to live with this constant worry and fear that I might be a naughty girl and be punished by my ex.

Covering the shortfall

My current plan is to take on as much extra freelance work as I can.  I am working as many extra hours as I can and trying to build myself up to point where it no longer matters.  If I get maintenance I will put it in a savings account for university one day.  If I don’t get maintenance, I will still be able to afford to look after my child in the usual manner.

It’s a very unfair system and I can only hope that what goes around comes around.  I know I am doing my best and I do not deserve all these threats and stress.  
I would love to hear from people who are in the same boat.

Do you think maintenance issues make parenting relationships more complicated?
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