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I am no Super Step-Dad

I met my girlfriend on a dating app two and a half years ago. The first 6 months were a whirlwind, she was at the start of divorce proceedings and I was worried that I would get dragged into it, so we saw each other just a couple of times a month and I for one, was still actively dating. A new divorcee wasn’t really in my plan. Plus, I was 54 when I first got with her and she was 42 with three young children.  

My children were late teens. I didn’t want to start again with another man’s children biting at my ankles, as I am not sure I was ever even that interested in my own. I saw them every other weekend but their Mum had all the major responsibility and I paid her for that, which was the easy part. I paid maintenance via the CMS and I remember getting really angry when I started a new job, on a much higher pay. Within a few days a letter from Child Maintenance had dropped through my letterbox saying that my payments had increased. I was furious.  

I told my partner this recently thinking that she would be on my side, but she wasn’t. She said that it was right for my ex to get more out of me if I was earning more and told me in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t just a case of paying for the children’s needs, my ex had all the emotional responsibility too, dealing with them when they were ill, school runs, homework etc. I think I only had children as my ex and I had been together for 10 years and it was “expected”. I was cajoled into getting married and then the children came along. I love them very much, especially now they are older, but I wasn’t great with them when they were younger. I just found it all really irritating. The mess, the noise etc. I am just not great with kids. I am probably selfish.  

When I split with my wife, we didn’t go through the courts. She had a part-time job and I was the breadwinner. I didn’t want the children to suffer from the separation so I gave my wife the house and walked away with not even enough for a deposit on a flat. With the depression which I faced after, I ended up spending most of it on booze and women, which I now regret.  

For 4 years I was on-off dating and messing around. I spent most of my time in the pub and had no responsibilities. I just saw the children every other weekend and even then, as they got older, I just left them to it at my place and did my own thing. I travelled with work and met women for dates while I was in different parts of the country. It was pretty sad really. I was probably a bastard and I maybe still am.  

After kind of dating my current girlfriend for about 8 months things were not going well for her. Her husband was very wealthy but he was a nutter and was not going to do the right thing by her or the children. She had discovered that he hadn’t been paying the rent on their huge house (which he had told her they were going to buy after selling their matrimonial home – may people think he set her up.. selling the only asset and getting rid of the money and then just renting). He had put lots of debts onto her previously empty credit cards and had been hiding the bills when they came in. It came to the point where the landlord was throwing my girlfriend and the children out of their rented house. The local borough had nowhere for them to go and with no credit rating she couldn’t rent. They were being made homeless. A woman and three young children. It was three days before they were moving from their lovely home into a shelter and the Father of the children just didn’t do anything.  

Part of me kept thinking that he was just messing with her and would step up to the mark but he didn’t. In fact, every time she asked him for money, he just threatened her with police action, said she was harassing him.

I couldn’t bear to see her and the kids going into a shelter so I went to an estate agent and paid a year’s rent up front. Because of her credit rating she couldn’t do anything herself. Her friends and family seemed to have closed their eyes to the situation. She was desperate. She never asked me for help. I offered it. They moved into the flat and everything was great for them. I was so pissed off with her ex-husband and the Father of those children. There were endless court cases and she was taken to court for all manner of things, even harassment at one point, but it never came to anything, the Judge saw right through her ex. The stress was unbearable and it was all we ever spoke about. Her ex then wanted 50:50 shared care as it would help him with his finance case. He was a millionaire and didn’t want my girlfriend to get any of that, so his position was to bully her into 50/50 and then they would both have an equal need. All his money was tied up with issues abroad, so it wasn’t going to be simple. He turned up to court and told her that she even gave him 50:50 or he would make up a load of lies and say that she had abused the children. She would lose them immediately until things were proven otherwise.

Man looking pensive by window
She gave in and reluctantly agreed to the 50:50. She was blackmailed into it. She told Social Services and CAFCASS but they just didn’t listen. Her ex even went onto falsely accuse her of hitting him… he called the Police with his pack of lies but they didn’t even interview him. They simply called her 2 months later and said that they knew he was lying as they had seen the CCTV footage. Social Services had also interviewed the children separately and they had all had the same facts and it was established that nothing happened. Were there any repercussions to his made up crap? No. Nothing. He didn’t even get done for wasting police time! He walked away with a leaflet from Victim Support, which he called and two years later he still sees a counsellor for something which didn’t even happen. Can you believe that?

I paid for this man’s children for two years and I admit that I am bitter and I get angry.

I take it out on my partner and I just can’t help it. I love my Partner and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. We rent a house and it’s great on the weeks the children are with their Father but when they are around, I will admit to finding it difficult. I get cross inside my head when the children say how wonderful their Father is, when they are well aware that he left them literally homeless. I don’t do this, but I want to scream at anyone who will listen that he is an absolute bastard. I have made the odd comment to the children and I know I shouldn’t, it always causes an argument with my Partner.

3 brothers enjoying Christmas

My girlfriend has endured many court cases and the children’s father has managed to get away with not giving her a penny. He is such an arsehole that he thinks he is clever getting away with that. A few months ago she forced her barrister into giving up. She simply ran out of money to fight him for financial help and to get what she was due. I told her that I would support her in that decision. It had got to a point where I had said that I would put £20k into the pot to help her to beat him, but where does it all end? He has a bottomless pot of money and was playing the long game, so she walked away with nothing. Absolutely nothing. This leaves me to fund her and the boys. She is working now, but she doesn’t earn enough to pay for holidays and days out, birthdays, Christmas etc… she can only do those things with my backing.  

Even as I write this I am getting infuriated that this man, who is supposed to be a Father is allowing me, to look after his ex-wife and children when they are with me and my girlfriend. Has this man got no pride? I would feel sick thinking that another man was funding my ex and my children, however crap I feel that she now has the big house and a line of boyfriends staying there. She did bring my children up and they are good kids. I definitely cannot claim to be the reason why they are great.  

I didn’t have an affair or anything like that. I found out that I was ill and my ex told me in no uncertain terms that she was not going to be stuck looking after me. So I left. I am better now and no longer ill.

Going back to my partner’s ex, there he is absolutely loaded with his hidden assets (which will now appear again as the court proceedings are over) and here am I, I have given everything to my ex-wife and children and am now in another negative situation. I just hope that the children appreciate me when they grow up and don’t abandon their Mother for the bright lights and money their Father will give them when they are with him. It would give me at least some satisfaction if they took the money from him and came home telling me that he’s an idiot. Saying that, the eldest has already established that his Father is a liar. I sound as though I am all me me me, but I am not. It just infuriates me that this narcissistic knob swans around with not a care in the World and I on one hand, want to help these children and then on the other hand, am angry.  

I don’t know what the future holds and I am not entirely sure if the relationship will last. Maybe I will be eaten up by the bitterness of it all. I keep thinking that there is an easier life out there. I have thoughts of meeting an older divorcee with no baggage and having a nice retirement, but then I truly love my girlfriend. She is fun and ambitious. I am at odds with myself and my thoughts. I argue with my own head. I guess I am just angry that this man, who is not even British got away, with this country almost protecting him and playing into his hands. The law needs a shake up and I would really like to punch him, man to man, but that would be exactly what he would want as he plays that he is the victim in all this. I do take my anger out on my girlfriend and we sometimes argue with the frustration and I sometimes do make comments I shouldn’t to the children. Part of me just wants to make them aware of who their Father is. I just can’t bear the thought that they think it’s ok and normal for them and their Mother to be destitute and for me, not their Father to fund their life 50% of the time. When they are rude, I think “how dare they, after all I have done for them?”  

That’s my story. Like it or hate it. It’s the truth.  

Male, Wiltshire.  

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

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Written by The Group Hug


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