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Why Does He Ignore My Co-Parenting Questions?

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ignoreDear Chump Lady,

Unfortunately, I have to text my Cheater every couple of days regarding logistics with our son, and divorce issues.

What’s up with him ignoring or deflecting direct questions? He will either answer another question, or just ignore them. Why doesn’t he at least give me a yes or a no?

Thank you.

Highview

Dear Highview,

Yes and no are so definitive. Where’s the power in that?

Highview, you’re looking at this logically. Son has need. Both parents try to meet that need and share need-meeting responsibilities. Communication ensues.

Wrong. To a freak it goes like this:

Son has a need. Ex has a need. Who the hell does she think she is? Not the boss of ME!  You wanted a kid — YOU parent. 

I have to do So Many Unfair Things! Pay court-ordered support. Actually SPEND TIME with my child, although the upside is that deprives you of the child, and that really seems to irk you. But children are needy, logistical nightmares, what with their birthday parties. dental appointments, and sports schedules. You want me to answer QUESTIONS that YOU decide upon? I’m not your little bitch, Highview. 

You just want a question answered. He sees answering questions as relinquishing some sort of power. He’s not going to be party to your perverted agenda!

Does that make you insane with frustration? Does it keep everyone waiting on him, conferring centrality and kibbles? Does it just make you try harder? (And confer yet MORE kibbles?) WINNING!

Obstruction is for WINNERS! Cooperation is for LOSERS.

I hear you, Highview. But, but… we’re partners! We created this little human together. Surely we can put aside our differences for the welfare of our child?

There is only one child — your ex. He is the center of his universe and you are peripheral. You used to be of some use, Highview. But then you did the unthinkable and are DIVORCING HIM. You shall be punished.

The divorce was his idea? Doesn’t matter. You’re supposed to just understand what he wants without him ever having to communicate it. You failed to receive the unspoken message? You shall be punished.

The child? Children don’t need answers or schedules or predictability. If cheater freak is happy, the child-extension will be happy too. If child is not happy? If child failed to received the unspoken message that said “I am NEVER wrong! And my happiness is paramount!” Child shall be punished. Or at least ignored because his needs are inconvenient.

Highview — he’s getting off on thwarting you. It’s just what these fuckwits do.

If you think I’m being harsh — try and come up with a reasonable alternative for his stonewalling.

He really doesn’t have the answer? He’s got short-term memory loss and forgot what you asked? He’s got dementia and forgot you two exist?

If he doesn’t know — he can say: “I don’t have an answer to that, but I’ll find out.” He could give you some kind of information to work with that acknowledges the importance of his job as co-parent and his child who is effected by his answers.

But the fact that he does NOT help you, that he withholds and thwarts, means he values the kibbles of obstructionism over everyone else’s welfare.

I suggest that you don’t try to co-anyting with this guy. Use scheduling software and only communicate with him by that software or email (which is time-stamped). Abide by your custody order. Document every time he fails to respond, and what effect that has on your child’s welfare. 

Eventually, you’ll probably have to be back in court with him, but at least you’ll be armed with a load of documentation that demonstrates his REFUSAL to co-parent.

I survived co-parenting with a fuckwit, which is another way of saying solo single parenting. Try to do everything humanly possible to not involve him or need him to perform ANY parenting role that is not court-ordered. Keep communication to an absolute bare minimum. Does that mean more work for you? Yes. Is that fair? No. But it’s much better for your child to have one sane parent who shows up consistently.

His non-responses and subterfuges mean that you’re in this parenting gig by yourself. Wake up to that reality. No amount of nag-by-net reminders are going to change that. You bred with a fuckwit. I feel your pain.

The good news is that this shit is survivable (I survived it, you will too) and that children know who shows up. Be the sane parent and stay the course. (((Hugs)))

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Of all the terrible things that have happened during my divorce the one thing that is the saving grace is that my youngest is 16 and 3/4. I am nearly at the end of having to deal with this person.

    I would suggest that if you actually have to contact him about something you first say to yourself, “what is the logical resolution to this issue?” More than likely you’re going to be able to find it within yourself. Then you can just do what needs to be done.

    I spent a lot of time making co-decisions with my STBXH. Now I have to reframe all of that. I’m the only one that can make the decisions. Sometimes I have a conversation with myself to try and talk it out. But even if I had to conversate with my STBXH I know it wouldn’t be productive because he’s still in it to hurt me whenever he can.

  • I’ve got to say… as the male CHUMP… and as the primary caregiver to the children… and in my efforts to set boundaries and go no-contact… I most often do not respond to my ex-wife’s requests for information. I hope that is not perceived as stonewalling. She never – NEVER – ends a communication thread. There is ALWAYS a follow-up question. Always trying to engage. I stick to brief facts for answers the first time and then I don’t respond anymore and I let the thread die.

    Maybe I’m just having a moment. Her lawyer sent a disgusting email yesterday and they’ve reduced me to rubble.

    Aren’t stonewalling and no-contact the same thing?

    • No, not at all.

      I read and respond to appropriate communication if it is required.

      Once the conversation stops being appropriate, i stop reading the emails.

      Yes, ive been told i am being non cooperative and threatened with court.

      That from someone who only recently stopped addressing me as “child’s mother” and now addresses me by my maiden name……

      3 years out and NC except for our family wizard…and even then there are 3 emails i refuse to open.

      At this point his efforts to goad me into a response, his need for me to pay attention to him is obvious, it just makes NC even easier to stick to.

      i was 100% right about getting a lengthy detailed parenting plan ….worth every penny of the fight.

      • Thank you. I’m up to 14 messages in OFW that I won’t open. She misses visitation, stands the kids up, won’t follow the rules, doesn’t pay child support, is 90 days behind on medical expenses, and her lawyer wants to go to trial. I’ve got a Guardian Ad Litem and 3 therapists who I believe would all recommend me as the parent who has their shit together. And still she and her lawyer threaten and bully. I am a man living most single mother’s nightmares.

        • Her lawyer probably doesn’t know she’s behind on her payments and everything else. If he/she new, he/she would scold her. If he/she does know, he/she is a shitty lawyer and I would welcome the going to court.
          Hang in there man

          • Agreed, I bet she hasn’t told her lawyer she is behind in her child support. I had to file a petition for contempt against my X, he wasn’t paying child support and basically holding the kids hostage all during the pandemic because he considers “working from home” to mean the same as “off work”. He’s allowed to have extra overnights if he takes off work to spend time with the kids. He lied to me in the beginning of the pandemic and has since refused to follow the court order schedule, and because it is “50/50” now with his hostage nights, that is why he thinks he owes zero child support. We had our hearing 2 weeks ago and I’m still waiting for the judgment.

            • Please let us know how that decision ends up.

              I went to court on Oct 9 2018 and didn’t get a decision until Dec 6. It was a long wait.

              • Thank you Kintsugi, I will definitely let you know! My lawyer said we got the Magistrate who usually makes a quicker decision but he said that can still take up to a month!! I had not idea it could take that long!! I’m just praying everyday that the magistrate could see it for what it was!

            • Poor kids. I’m glad they (throughout this thread) have a stable parent, but I know it really hurts to be a bit player in the FW drama and never to be loved.

          • Yeah exactly, narcs don’t tend to brag about their true colors to their attorneys. I think my ex’s attorney had some surprises in the court room bc ex didn’t tell him everything. By the end, ex’s attorney seemed really annoyed with him.

        • Daddypants, I am glad you are sticking with this and documenting. You are smart to not engage because you know anything can be trusted. Hope it goes well for you in court with what she is pulling. Don’t be intimated. Forward her lawyer crap on to yours.

        • She has nothing to complain about and I wouldn’t worry about her lawyer. Just document all the things she’s not doing and let her waste her money on the lawyer. It’s not like she’d otherwise spend it on the children instead.

        • I am the single mom! Living the same nightmare. I spoke with my attorney this week and Ex is in contempt about 14 ways and she said I would win the contempt all day everyday. But I would be better off spending court money on the kids. Because he is not going to change. The state will go after him for back child support. As far as custody no Judge is going to care unless he’s on drugs or physically abused the child. I don’t really ask ex questions. So we have joint on healthcare, school, etc. with independent rights to make decisions. I don’t respond to about 95% of his messages as they are accusation and name calling. But I open them, so it doesn’t look bad on me.

          • I too am the single parent mom living this nightmare. I filed the 86 counts of contempt in summer of 2019. We’d been divorced a little over a year at that point. He claimed to be too broke to hire an attorney and wanted to settle out of court. The contempt issues relate to medical, extracurricular, and vehicle expenses we are to split per our voluntarily agreed to mediated parenting plan. He’s managed to pay some, but still owes me over $13k. He is supposed to have every other weekend parenting time and alternating Wednesday nights. He has no overnight time. In actuality, he sees the kids (teenagers) about once or twice a month for a fast food meal. Since I have the kids almost all of the time, I end up paying for everything. When DD turned 18 this past summer, the fuckwit decided to unilaterally cut the child support in half. I reached back out to my attorney to have the fuckwit set straight on the process of modifying child support…and that we would do that for him if he would pay me for the outstanding reimbursements. Yeah…fuckwit wanted the issues separated; he was all for the lower child support, but needed time to think about the reimbursements. Nopity, nope, nope. Not a thing. He still doesn’t seem to have a lawyer. I could take him to court over this, but he wouldn’t be able to pay the judgement and he has no assets. He rents an apartment, leases his vehicle, etc. Since the divorce was finalized 2.5 years ago, he and his Craigslist find (now wife) have gone through thousands and thousands of dollars. In 2020 I have been refusing to front his portion as much as possible. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, such as paying a copay on the spot. Getting him to pay his portion is a nightmare. I text him the bill. He ignores. I get collection calls. I text him again. I get more collection calls. I threaten to forward the matter to his parents. Mind you, he’s 46. I have a few more years until youngest turns 18. This shit really sucks.

            • Unbelievable. I don’t understand people who don’t step up to their basic responsibilities or at least have some humanity.

            • This is so relatable. I have done almost 4 years and have 9 years to go. I basically have to find a way to cover everything. Health insurance he hasn’t paid in 6 months and hasn’t reimbursed any of the doctor visits / co-pays. I asked about helping pay for school extracurriculars. Just got told I have a stick in my A**. Child Support is never on time, that’s if he pays that months at all. He takes his weeknight visitation for 2 hours and the kids arrive home at 8:00 and have had no dinner. He has spent the last 4 years bitchin every which way to Sunday about school pickups, he has literally beat the horse to death 45 ways. He has moved 3 different women in with kids without notifying me. One was a drug addict, one has a domestic violence charge and the second one I never even got her name. He takes the kids for visits to have them clean the house and help him with his business (which he pays them nothing). He makes a big deal every year about birthday possession (wanting a change, etc.) then buys something he wants and tells the kids it is there present. I have been cussed and accused of everything possible on our family wizard. It appears to be useless in my case! To echo your words – This shit really sucks.

              • If you have a court order, can you get the child support attached from his pay? In some states, you can also get an attachment for back medical payments?

          • In my experience most states still do far too little to enforce any kind of child support. If you are financially well enough off that the kids aren’t starving or homeless, then enforcing support isn’t considered important to many judges (sure, they’ll issue an order, but they won’t jail the delinquent parent or do anything that generates results). If you are on the verge of being evicted or have lost your car or are desperate, then you cannot afford to hire a lawyer to get the child support order enforced.

            One reason I would tell any young woman to develop a profession and continue to practice it at least part-time is that our legal system is not reliable when it comes to child support (not to mention spousal support) No matter how lovely one’s spouse may be in the beginning, we all need to have the resources to support ourselves in the chase of death, spousal health crisis, or “soul mates.” (This is true for men too, we just have different social messaging for them–they are already told to have a profession and have to negotiate public suspicion if they decide to be the primary childcare provider. And while there must be men who decide they’ll be full-time house husbands permanently, I’ve never met one. The men I know who stay home with the kids always frame it as a strategy for a few years and one that they’ll pair with part time work as soon as the kids are out of diapers.)

        • Please write a book. I think the world needs to start reframing. This is not a ‘single mother’ problem. It’s a sane parent problem and that judges and lawyers and police and social workers are all predisposed to assume that mom is winner… it puts kids at risk. I’m sorry you have to fight for this.

          • My uphill battle with the legal system and everyone’s predispositions deserves a book all by itself. My own lawyers, the mediator, the judges, even the guardian ad litem all ASSUME that Mom is looking out for the kids and Dad is just a control freak. I’ve had to win every single person over one at a time. Unfortunately it all comes in hindsight and at the expense of the kids.

        • My ex’s lawyer was blindsided when at court-ordered mediation he found out that less than 10% of CS had been paid for 2 years!! The lawyer asked for a recess and the two went into the annexe room, closed the door then we could all here the tone of voice which was more or less “Dude!! You have to pay CS!!”
          Same lawyer was also shocked when I could supply emails, phone records, text messages which showed that I wasnt keeping ex from the children, but that he was ignoring them, not wanting to have time with them etc etc. The sad stories are not based in fact. If you document the hell out of everything you can disprove their tragic tales.

    • Hi Daddypants,
      The end result of stonewalling and no contact are the same thing, but the difference is the intention behind each. With no-contact, the intention is to protect yourself from manipulation, abuse, drama, etc. You realize that communication often leads to negative results, so you limit communication to the bare necessities in order to shield yourself from negative consequences….it’s a healthy boundary. Your intention is to create peace in a chaotic, stressful situation.
      With stonewalling, the intention is to purposely withhold information to inflict stress, abuse, etc. on another. You withhold information to gain power over another. Your intention is to create conflict where there was none before.
      So even though the end result is the same, there’s a world of difference between them.

        • Daddy: You might send those unopened messages to your attorney as part of your case. Your X is at the same time refusing to follow the court’s orders and sending you messages. The content may illuminate her bad faith. So someone needs to read them. And you need to know what your lawyer says about refusing to do so or she will bring this up in court, guaranteed.

          • It may be that each message can be answered with: “You have missed X child support payments and you are 90 days behind in medical reimbursement.”

      • Mighty Might, that analogy is brilliant! Thank you. I’ve been mostly NC with my ex for 7 years, but I’m copying and emailing your response to myself for future reference. Thank you!

      • Great explanation of the diffTerence. I have questioned myself about this, too. My NC is a protective measure and his stonewalling was abusive. Thanks!

    • For insane accusations embedded in a communication that has something you have to respond to about your child, I use the following:

      “While I am not going to address the numerous false allegations in this (letter/email/whatever) as that is not productive, (your comment re the child issue)….”

      That way you have not ignored them. After one round, no need to respond further.
      This was–inevitably–brought up in court against me on numerous occasions: “BWAHHHH! she won’t answer his emails!!!”

      My response: “I promptly and politely respond to any emails regarding our child. It is true that I do not react to the numerous false allegations and personal attacks that X sends me as that is neither productive nor in child’s best interest.”

      My X also (on at least 3 occasions) tried to get the court to force me to respond to every email he sent within 24 hours. Not successful after trotting out the explanation above.

      Lose the fear. After that, it becomes easier.

      • Isn’t that exhausting, though?

        I used to send simple responses like “your characterization of X is inaccurate”, but it would just trigger demands that I explain exactly what I was referring to, with XW often writing things like “if you don’t respond and tell me what you think is inaccurate then this means you were lying”.

        It got to be too much, so now I generally ignore her untruths. Every once in a while (usually about once a year) I say something like “Please remember that a lack of response from me does not mean that I accept your statements. Choosing not to refute an allegation does not mean that I accept the truth of the allegation”.

        • I typically keep it brief and state something like. “I did xyz in accordance with the plan. This is why your statement is neither fair nor accurate.” It shuts him off. But it does not resolve the issue. He just tries with something else. Luckily he is also cheap and will not want to go back to court as it will cost money.

          • My ex just responds with 4 more messages of accusations and abuse if I respond. My attorney said unless it has a specific question about children, don’t respond and only answer that question in the least words possible.That even in court he would have to prove an accusation, no need to defend yourself. Consult your lawyer, show them what the other party is doing and ask how you should handle it. I think fear is the only game the abuser has.

        • Oh, boy. That sounds familiar. My EX would also insist that I was agreeing to anything I wouldn’t engage with or that my refusal to keep arguing about something was evidence that I couldn’t defend my position/had been caught lying/etc. (and now he has our kids doing the same thing). I wonder if there is a name for this kind of bullying tactic

    • Please be patient with the predominantly female responses and posts. We are not used to dealing with a male chump, a responsible and caring father. I think my Ex loved his sons as much as it is possible for a narcissist to love anyone. Which I interpret as he thinks he should project a loving image since he is their father. Also it still gives him a family image. The reality is even when he was with the boys, both before and after the divorce, he was never fully present. He usually said yes to things I suggested for the boys because it required no effort on his part, and he would rather pay half of something than have to spend any of his personal time or change any of his personal activities. He was smart enough to calculate the cost of getting along versus the cost of paying lawyers and court costs.

      Every chump on the site has a different experience, but the commonalities are pretty consistent. When an ex is in a power play designed to hurt and destruct, no matter the cost, it is hard for the chump to understand why. It is not a logical or economical move, and often has negative effects for the children. We just have to play the cards we have, and believe that eventually time will take care of some problems. Good luck with your legal maneuvers, and your trip to MEH!

    • This is why the software is such a good option for ALL communication. It takes the guess work out. And the emotion.

      There are legitimate reasons to be in touch and illegitimate reasons. I tried to be clear on the advice, keep communication to a MINIMUM. And always do what is in the order.

      I had a stonewalling, obstructionist fuckwit for an ex. He wouldn’t give me insurance information (he was required to carry it) when my son was in the emergency room. He wouldn’t provide an insurance card. He wouldn’t commit to travel dates. Or holiday dates. You get the picture.

      All of this kind of antagonism should be DOCUMENTED and deployed in court, IMO. It sounds like the law is on your side. Just keep your side of the street clean. You’re allowed to not respond to non-essential child care stuff.

    • This is such a good question. I’ve gone no contact with an emotional abuser. He’s trying really hard to get me to engage and is ‘shocked by my silent treatment’ – which was his MO. I’m not giving the silent treatment. I’m escaping abuse.

      • I’ve had to think about this, too, as I feel that my behavior (purposely limiting conversation) is objectively the same as his. The motive is different. I am protecting myself. This tells me that our relationship is NOT healthy in any way. I have had to adapt to a bad situation & I am not able to be the wife I want to be. Time to go….and end this honorably.

    • yes, sure BUT for one key difference; you noted that you answer a practical question around childcare or similar. You actually say ”yes Tuesday for the soccer match is in the diary” or ”no, he hasn’t been to the dental hygienist already this year”.

      That’s all that’s required and you do that, which is 100% perfect. No need to then get drawn into stupid chit-chat.

      Also! Do not, under any circumstances, allow her lawyer-who-is-paid to make you feel anything at all.

  • Daddypants,

    I think that you only have an obligation to respond to necessary kid stuff. You say she never ends a communication thread, so I assume she’s trying to keep you engaged and get kibbles. You don’t need to play that game. Although you don’t have to answer to non-kid related texts, you might end the never-ending threads with a quick emoji or a terse “K” or “Yep” or “Got it.”

    You could also make it clear to her (with your courtroom voice) that, going forward, communications should be short and only about the kids, that you will stop responding to lengthy texts. She might need direct instructions, or maybe use one of those parenting apps.

    I don’t have young kids (the one silver lining in my personal shit sandwich), but I can appreciate that you have to preserve your own sanity. Grey Rock seems like the way to go until the kids are no longer part of the ping-pong game.

    I’m sorry about the legal stuff. That truly sucks. Hang in there! As CL puts it: “The good news is that this shit is survivable (I survived it, you will too) and that children know who shows up. Be the sane parent and stay the course. (((Hugs)))”

      • I have to say it makes my blood boil when my ex uses emojis. This is now a business transaction between two adversarial parties that includes two highly contentious topics if your partner is even half the fuckwit my partner is- that is your money and time with your childrem.

        No emojis. No jargon. No communication that wouldn’t be appropriate in a business transaction.

      • I end with Received and Noted. To me, saying anything else “Yep, Got it” is acknowledging his need for dominance. Keeping it as businesslike and sterile takes away the acknowledgment he demands.

        That’s just me and my sitch, but something you might want to consider.

        • I love ”noted”. It’s entirely courteous, anyone could read it and know precisely what it meant and yet it’s somewhat insulting. It’s ideal.

          Unrelated to this specific thread but I’ve been dealing with an incredibly rude, arrogant, pushy person who sends lengthy diatribes relating to communal property and matters arising from that, explaining carefully why I am A/ wrong and B/ always wrong and C/ trying to con people into solving my problems. My response to the most recent essay was ”noted”.

          Sent them livid, but what could they do?

          • That’s the best.

            I think it’s it’s dismissive and condescending without being obvious about it. Like you didn’t desire to take any time engaging.

    • “courtroom voice” is brilliant. I love this. thanks

      My ex, of course, gets upset with me when I refuse to speak casually with him, but on the very few occasions when I’ve broken my courtroom voice to try and “keep it real,” he immediately takes it as a sign that he can go FULL ASSHOLE and go back down that rabbit hole of personal insults. Somehow, by and large, the courtroom voice keeps him in relative submission.

  • Agree that this is a power play and that you avoid the conversations when you can…but there are inevitably times that you actually have to communicate and no parenting software sorts out this problem.

    You need TACTICS.

    The tendency is to ask an open ended question, as one would with a Normal Person. This is not a Normal Person. No open ended questions.

    Let’s say, son needs new winter coat and he’s supposed to pay half.

    Wrong email:
    X, Son needs new winter coat. Are you going to pay your half?
    Response: crickets from fuckwit.

    Better strategy:
    Dear X (remember, you are actually writing at all times to your judge),
    As we agreed, we are splitting the cost of necessary clothing. I know how busy you are so I am going to get son the winter coat he needs. Unless I hear from you by tomorrow at 5 pm, I’ll assume we are in agreement.
    Thanks,
    Me

    Basically, the key tenets are:
    1. Very polite bordering on friendly
    2. Write it to capture the reality (or illusion) of a prior sane coparenting agreement in child’s best interest. This part is hard because you are honest and maybe there never was an agreement to share the cost of the winter coat. Well, any reasonable parent would get their child a coat, so attribute these generous impulses to him, and let him tell you (ie the judge) that he never agreed the son can have outerwear.
    3. ALWAYS frame the “question” as something that is AGREED unless you hear by a certain time in the very near future. It will elicit a response–typically rage but who cares? either he sends batshit crazy stuff or he is stuck having to agree or come up with a solution.

    This is not foolproof but made a lot of difference.

    Finally, for questions generally, frame them to get a “no”. Download the Blackswan Never Split the Difference Negotiation Study Guide (free)
    https://blog.blackswanltd.com/resources
    This guy was the US’s chief hostage negotiator. And you are in a hostage negotiation situation. Very useful advice for your ex and others.

    Good luck. You will never turn him into a decent parent, but you will develop some ninja skills that help.

    • Love that book! It is my bible for negotiations. I always keep his ideas in the back of my head and try to use them in day to day interactions with everyone. Also love Bill Eddy’s advice for high conflict personalities – BIFF – Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm.

      Daddypants, I’m sorry you are going through this. Sometimes it seems like it will never end, doesn’t it?

  • Ditto to everything CL said above… it is all about “you’re not the boss of me” nonsense.

    Here is what worked for me. My son was in 3rd grade when Mr. Sparkles ran off with the OW (and her two kids).

    – Courts like paperwork… so I put any and all requests to Mr. Sparkles in writing… whether he responded or not was not my problem, I did my due diligence of notifying him of a request for decision and advisement that I’d make the decision if I didn’t hear back.

    – Cozi.com and other calendar sharing tools exist… and they are great for co-parenting with fuckwits. I put my son’s activities on the calendar and Mr. Sparkles had access. Whether or not he showed up for the soccer game or back to school night was not my problem. (In fact, I advised my son’s school to add Mr. Sparkles to all their distribution lists so he got every announcement that I did.)

    – When it comes to child support and splitting costs for things like braces, summer camps, etc… it does get trickier. But nothing says comply better to a fuckwit than a court order, so don’t hesitate to get your lawyer to bring in the big dogs early and show him you will not be ignored on that front. I’m a huge fan of having child support deducted and paid through the court so it is never late 🙂

    I think that the hardest thing in co-parenting after they’ve blown up your world and your kid’s world is that you are still recovering from it and on some PTSD level, you want any contact you can have with the cheater so you can feel that at least they haven’t forgotten you… let that shit go… they forgot you years ago, the first time they cheated and every moment after. Grey rock and 99% no contact (and even then only in writing) are what freed me in time.

    You can do this… be the sane parent (you likely were throughout your whole marriage anyway)… build a new life and a new family without the cheater… it is much sweeter than you can know today. I’m six years out and I can’t even remember who that woman was that was scared of him leaving me… you’ll get there!

    • ICanSeeTheMehComing!

      You just made my day……Friday, tomorrow, is my final JOD. I am crushed. Your comments are so supportive. Thank you for your intuition on the Worlds Biggest Shit Sandwich!

      My child survived childhood cancer, I walked a walk with her that I thought never, ever thought could be worse. But then this…..an affair with his secretary. He convinced her to get a divorce now too. He even paid for it. So Sweet. He told my kids life will be better now. New house, new FRIENDS (her kids), new toys……They are 13.5/12/12, toys??????

      PTSD of his behaviors and terrible words he used at us while he was melting down and cheating, is our biggest battle now.
      The affair made him crazy. My kids can’t even handle the sound of a delivery truck pulling up the driveway without thinking he is showing up unannounced. (Exclusive possession didn’t/hasn’t stopped him.)

      Grey Rock and NC have helped. He wants to go on like nothing happend…….at all. Things got ugly while he was still living here, I let it happen. My fault. I thought I could do the pick me dance 24/7 for 5 month to have him see how wonderful our life is. I finally had him removed. Like my dad said “Best thing you ever did.” He was right. Boundaries heal.

      But now. Communication IS difficult. Business transaction. I keep it simple. I don’t jump to his text.
      I have boundaries, that I learned I deserve. DADDYPANTS, I hear what you are saying. I don’t want to over engage via text, I send schedules for sports. BTW he is (9/130) of showing up for practice or games in the last year. That is it. I am no longer his secretary. You stay the sane parent. Kids know. They are smarter than us. She is writing her legacy, not you. You know you deserve better.

      I keep hearing I will “get there”, I believe everyone that says that…..IT IS JUST SOOO SAD until that “Meh” comes. I feel like I am living Monday’s of the Ground hogs Day movie.

      • Sounds to me, StillSMH, that you aren’t giving yourself enough credit. One of the first things I took from CL and CN was “give it time, motherfu**ing time”… and they were right.

        Your JOD is tomorrow – YAY YOU! You had him removed from your house – YAY YOU! Your kids are old enough to smell a stinking pile of shite when they see one – YAY YOU! Stop counting the days he misses anything from tomorrow onward. He tries to engage you – not your monkey, not your circus anymore. You’ve got TEENS to raise and believe me, they will love you for being sane… for keeping boundaries that keep them safe… for modeling what GOOD and SANE looks like… you don’t need to do more than that.

        Good luck tomorrow, keep your tears for the shower and times out with friends. Brave face today becomes a brave heart and mind in the future. You’ve got this.

    • It’s so true.

      When my adult daughter became pregnant a couple years ago, she joked/predicted that her dad would have trouble competing for attention with THE BABY.

      She was right. Unbelievable!

      I suppose he’s getting all the attention he needs from the live-in OW or OWife (who knows?). Bottles (wine), diaper changes (gross but kind of), co-sleeping, cooing, stroking, consoling…ugh!

      But he’s lost the attention he used to get from his entire family. Maybe we were easily replaced by this new source of kibbles. Again, who knows, and who cares? (Ok. I’m being glib. Honestly, it still stings. Also, my daughter saw as obvious the upcoming baby competition; I laughed it off. Spackle Queen!)

  • I used to get this treatment too. My way of dealing with it-
    Me: i think the weekend of —— is a good weekend to see kid. I’m around at 3pm for you to pick them up. If I don’t hear back, I will assume that’s ok with you. They need to be back at —— time.

    Then I give an hours window to show up.

    You see I figured a person (Them) can’t have everything. You can’t withhold information AND have control over what time you show up. You either have one or the other.

    If you (You) Are ok with either outcome then you have less stress.

    I feel this also needs flow chart, love flow charts

    • After months of issues with me EX where he would change pick up times 10 minutes before or after the set time, arrive hours late, call every hour or two explaining why he would be another hour or two later, my lawyer told me to do two things:

      1) Document the time agreed on for child exchange and give him an unquestioned hour’s grace no matter how inconvenient (that meant I had to change my work schedule and make all kinds of other accommodations on the assumption I would always be an hour late to anything).

      2) Have a witness or record to any situation where I picked up the kids or took then with me after he was an hour late. The schools hated it. I would come get the kids when they called me after he was a no-show. But then we would sit in the lobby until the 60 minutes was complete, and I’d have them document the time the kids were signed out. They understood my legal dilemma, but sometimes he was forcing underpaid folks to stay 30 minutes past their work day. If I was home alone waiting for him, I’d send a text at the hour mark saying, “Sorry, you weren’t able to get the kids at 2. Since it is now 3 and we have things to do, I’ve left with them.” These strategies really pissed him off. They made him “look bad” and showed that I was “unforgiving.” They did not persuade him to be more timely. He simply stopped pretending he had any intention of picking the kids up.

      Taking these actions made my life better because they set a routine. I had a plan, and always worked on the assumption that he would be an hour late or never show up at all. (And I had a contingency for either option). Before, I had been constantly off balance trying to renegotiate my life with a 30 minute delay or a 3 hour delay, etc.

      Once the kids were independent enough to be home alone, it was hugely freeing not to make 3 sets of plans depending on whether Dad showed up, showed up an hour late, or never showed up at all.

  • Dear GOD thank you for this response. Perfectly describes my situation and will help me explain to others just to share this. Last night I realized that along with everything mentioned, fuckwit is not exposed to COVID because he spends no time with his high school/college-age children. I will quarantine with them while he goes to work and continues to get paid and accrue vacation time. It’s gonna be a staycation for us I suppose.
    Forever incommunicado with a fuckwit baby daddy

  • HOW I FIXED THIS PROBLEM

    Outside of documenting, I “pretended” in my mind that I was a true single parent (aka a widow). What decision would I make? What was best for the kids and also worked for me? Then if I needed to get input from X, I would text him something like this…

    “Kids need X or Y, which would you prefer? If I don’t here back from you by (insert date) I’ll move forward with X”

    Or

    “Kid1 wants to attend X camp which is $600. I think it would be good for them, and I can come up with my half. If you do not want them to attend let me know by Y, otherwise I’ll assume you agree”

    This included things like holidays and pick up times.

    “Are you planning to take kids for your weekend? If so, what time will you be coming to pick up them up? If I don’t hear from you by Thursday night, it’s no problem, I’ll make other plans with them”

    Obviously you may want to check with your attorney. But in the second one…the first time he showed up and had to sit waiting because I had taken kids to the movie was the last time he pulled that shit. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • My ex is similar. Let’s me handle all the heavy lifting, but only answers promptly when it suits him. Otherwise he just responds whenever.
    I decided to basically not engage with him. My kids are old enough where they can orchestrate most of their own schedule with him.
    But is is frustrating regardless. We were married after all. But I started believing he was one of this jerks / jackasses / assholes when I read more here at Chumplady Nation. I basically learned that he followed every step of the cheater playbook and never ever considered anyone but himself. He even now prioritizes the feelings of the OW over what my kids think and feel.
    And… he still loves the control games with all of us. Like not responding to things in a timely manner.

    I absolutely cannot wait till he marries the OW, so the negativity, control, and abuse shifts fully to her. She deserves it.

    https://notmymonkeys.net/blog/3n63brdt9aay2j1tkfbyhiq0mr6xim

  • THIS! Thank you Highview for writing this. And thank you Tracy for explaining the profound mind-f*ckery involved in why cheaters choose to be uncooperative and refuse to communicate even over the basic logistics of their own child. I wish I had read this 5 years ago! As the chumps, many of us were not prepared in any way for any of this foolishness. We didn’t know people did this — stonewalled the other parent rather than making things better for their kids. Many of us (see: me) thought we were in a good marriage and then had the crazy and trauma thrust on us. So after DDay, when cheater left for schmoopie co-worker (see: instant new family with her 2 kids), and I had to seek legal counsel and made to sit with cheater f*ckwit with a coparenting coordinator every week (at a cost that was beyond my means)… I BELIEVED that cheater would AT LEAST parent! I was told by EVERYONE (lawyers, therapists, friends, blah blah blah) that I needed to be the bigger person — that cheater d*ckhead was only angry at ME, but he truly loved his son and wanted to be with him and I shouldn’t get in the way. So I would try to coordinate with cheater f*ckwit. I would send a text — no response. I would email a schedule. He would just blow me off and ignore me. Then we’d go to creepy Dr. (a co-parenting coordinator in the DC area — if you are asked to meet with Dr, I highly recommend you refuse. He contributed to my trauma… allowing cheater to scream at me in sessions until I got my attorney to pull me out of the incessant abuse). Dr. would tell cheater how we need to be professional with each other. That he needed to respond to me within 48 hours. And we’d pay the $350+ (!!) per 50 minute painful session… return a week later… nothing changed. And the co-parenting coordinator would shrug and say “see you next week.” He knew that f*ckwits don’t co-parent or cooperate… but he was just collecting the money. 5 years later, I send the info through Our Family Wizard. And if he doesn’t respond, oh well. Now he barely shows up for his son. He used maybe a week of his 5 weeks of custodial vacation so far this year. He doesn’t even want his son on his custodial weekends anymore. 3 weeks ago cheater asked if he could have Sunday Oct 25 with his son. I agreed immediately (even though it was technically my custodial time). And at 11:30pm Oct 24th Saturday night… he tried to send a text after I went to sleep (surpise, a$$hole, I was awake) to say he wasn’t coming. I responded that our son expected him to be there at 9am on Sunday. No response. So I texted him the next morning that it was ok, that my boyfriend wanted to take him out… and he immediately responded on text: “I can pick him up. We can go to Silver Diner.” LOL — they are so stupid. Seriously, thank you. The BS we deal with from these f*ckwits knows no bounds.

    • Michelle, you mustn’t write exact names of therapists, social workers etc. because this might make CL legally viable for lawsuits like slander or similar.

      Also, a few weeks ago a CN member described really well how she efficiently deals with the cases like yours. You must agree that the visitation can’t be cancelled less than 24h ahead (or whatever) and in the case of non-show up, he must arrange himself and pay for the nanny or you call social services for abandonment of a child. You’re not his baby sitter and you have the right to alone time with your partner. It worked really well for her and her ex is no longer pulling such tricks.

      • If CL needs to delete the name of the therapist, I’m ok with it. I can’t edit it to do it myself. I’m sure she will if needed. However the advice you give from another CN member didn’t work with my ex. Everything was legal and in writing regarding visitation and custody. So detailed that the attorneys were overwhelmed by it. But these f*ckwits ignore the legal agreement. I had to keep going back through my attorney. Kibbles. Games. Tricks. Mind-f*ckery. So although it worked really well for her, it usually doesn’t work. My attorney was even trying to get him held in contempt for not upholding the legal agreement. Clearly you don’t know how crazy-making this can be if you think that one bit of advice prevents them from pulling tricks. If only. My son is now a teen. So if ex doesn’t show up, there’s no nanny or babysitter to pay. And even if it were abnadonment, I’m not calling social services (oy! really? no) — I’m going to be there for my son. My kid comes first — regardless of the idiotic games from f*ckwit. As for alone time with my partner, that is what cheater wants to avoid. And it was super helpful that he lied to his lawyer and said that I still loved him and was obsessed with him… and that I was making it hard for him to see his son because I was super needy and had to have my son to keep me company. Then when his attorney met me, I brought my boyfriend along and asked her if she knew about him. She had no idea — and we’d already been together over 2 years at that point. So he had tried to f*ck with his own attorney. She now understood that I truly wanted my ex to follow through with his custodial time because I wanted time with my boyfriend. His own lawyer dropped him and gave him to another attorney in the firm LOL! They are liars. Narcissists. Idiots.

  • I feel this so hard. I had full intentions of making this a full co-parenting partnership after the demise of relationship. What I found out was that all the values we shared about parenting went out the window as soon as he was the only one to enforce it. Why shouldn’t he let them watch tv for hours every day or only eat one kind of food? It’s too HARD not to. All of my attempts at finding common parenting values were ignored flat-out and with “you can’t tell me how to do it.” Um..ok. So we have what I call, “parallel parenting” and it is basically me doing all the hard shit and him…well, doing what’s easy and fun. BUT it is far better than worrying about all his nonsense and banging my head on the wall. Thankfully, it is nothing dangerous or out there, mostly just differing opinions and he’s been slightly more responsive of late but STILL.

    • I don’t even think it’s about being too hard. You never really shared values with him. He was just mimicking yours. They have no values.

      • So true. My ex gave three weeks notice that he was moving out for good. And it was Christmas season. I immediately went into conciliatory mode, reading articles on co-parenting. Made the suggestion of monthly family activities, such as do dinner with the kids or go bowling. He agreed. Read articles about conscious uncoupling for the kids. I was out of my mind.

        I hosted the first dinner a few weeks after he left. It was dreadful. He was a miserable fool. Ignored me, made no offer to help, attempted to leave right after the meal without even helping to clear the table or do dishes. It was too domestic for him.

        He never offered up an idea the following month. Two and a half years later, nothing. He didn’t mean any of it. Just mimicking my values as he did the whole marriage. I finally understood why I was so frustrated for years…he seeming to agree to something and then not doing it or doing it half-heartedly.

        Now, I have no expectations of him. Barely talk to him. No co-parenting happening. I feel so free now.

  • My Exfw also did not respond to texts, calls etc and he does not respond to our sons now unless he wants something. It used to drive me crazy. Then he would complain that he wasn’t consulted on family plans or issues. It was so liberating to just inform him of whatever and not expect a response. Yes I made all important decisions cuz he either said I don’t know or didn’t respond. I am sorry our sons now have to deal with him but so happy to be free from that stupidity.

  • Yep, it’s obstruction and thwarting. I’m lucky my ex is 2,000 miles away. He left and abandoned the kids, and my kids are under Court Orders in the state wherw I live and they’re thriving and doing well, based on teacher’s reports, Principal’s reports, doctor’s reports, and sport’s coaches reports. My ex likes to *say* “I want to be consulted and involved in where they go to school, if they get braces, what extracurricular activities they are involved in, their medical appointments”, but it’s solely to try to force me to be his Personal Assistant again.

    This concept of having a Personal Assistant/Lackey was so central and crucial, I actually have pages and pages dedicated to it in my Divorce Agreement that I am *not* his Personal Assistant. Five years on, he still tries to rope me into being his Personal Assistant. With the end result even if I consulted with him, he’d make NO decisions and/or answers, with the result being many times we’d miss deadlines for School Enrollment, Extracurricular Activities deadlines missed, etc.

    In addition, he refuses to pay for anything, so that is part of the Endgame of Obstruction. In order to avoid paying for braces for my oldest, he demanded “get a 2nd opinion”. After I got a 2nd opinion, he demanded “get a 3rd opinion”. I got a 3rd opinion, and guess what he said after that? You can guess where this is going. With the end result being I just unilaterally made the decision and paid the $10k solely by myself.

    I am a super busy single mom with a pretty demanding job. Because my employment history is stable (unlike Dracula, who can’t keep a job), he KNOWS my job is pretty demanding, and the other side of the Endgame coin is that he LOVES to try to make me run around for 50 “2nd opinions” for doctors and dentists and orthodontists appointments. I refuse, and I add it to my hundreds of pages of “evidence” that I’d drop on a judge’s desk in case Dracula ever fought for full custody and move my kids 2,000 miles away. I have close to 1,000 pages now of documented thwarting, game playing, obstruction.

    Not to get into a discussion of politics, but it’s exactly like the Trumpsters who get off on their agenda of “annoy a Liberal”. No policies, no agenda, they get off on “annoying a Liberal”. All they are is Trolls. My exhusband is a Troll. It’s exactly the same behavior. He gets off on annoying me, the mother of his children. No different than a Troll.

    • Holy cow! I can’t believe how much this CL post struck a chord with me. And everyone responding… we’ve been through this. I always felt so alone.

      Chris – you said “My ex likes to *say* “I want to be consulted and involved in where they go to school, if they get braces, what extracurricular activities they are involved in, their medical appointments”, but it’s solely to try to force me to be his Personal Assistant again.” <<<< YEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!

      That's exactly what I dealt with. My ex still wants me to be his personal assistant as well — birthday party? Medical? Therapy? Sports & activities? School? — ALL ON ME. But… I am supposed to get his agreement and inform him and blah blah blah. He only stymies and costs me time and money.

      I'm also 5 years out and like you, "he still tries to rope me into being his Personal Assistant. With the end result even if I consulted with him, he’d make NO decisions and/or answers, with the result being many times we’d miss deadlines for School Enrollment, Extracurricular Activities deadlines missed, etc." <<<<< YEP!!

      And this too: "In addition, he refuses to pay for anything, so that is part of the Endgame of Obstruction."

      I am also a super busy single mom with a demanding job and stable employment history… while he can’t keep a job.

      Thank you for this post. You are not alone. And now I know that I'm not either.

      • Hi MichelleShocked – nope, you’re definitely not alone! I’m super fortunate that I don’t need Child Support to live. Dracula is also almost $30,000 behind in Child Support, much less he never pays for “extras” that are outlined in the Divorce Decree. This BURNS him up, to no end, that I’m not begging for money to help support the kids.

        The withholding/game playing I KNOW is increased when he feels the power imbalance that kids still get clothed, fed, vacations, activities, and it has nothing to do with his ability as a Provider. It’s the only “lever” he has left with me, if you will.

        Another poster commented “I’m not sure why they care anymore, I don’t”. I 100% agree with that sentiment, but this is their addiction – the kibbles of annoying us. It’s their crack, their alcohol. Even if you don’t react or respond, they’ll still engage in this thwarting/withholding behavior.

        • “…this is their addiction – the kibbles of annoying us. It’s their crack, their alcohol. Even if you don’t react or respond, they’ll still engage in this thwarting/withholding behavior.”

          So much YES! You are awesome. I feel like you and I were married to the same a$$hat.

        • I’m always baffled by these stories of deadbeat parents dodging child support without consequences. How do these assholes not get arrested? Fined? Anything???

          My aunt’s ex abandoned the family and never paid a dime in child support, either. Never faced any legal consequences for it. I never understood it.

          • The courts are an absolute mess. And The Deadbeats know how to work the system, when the Child Support Office contacts them to ask about it. They just say “I’ve applied to 7 trillion jobs and nobody will hire me”.

            I fully endorse the legal premise that Child Support is for the child. It’s not my money. But the problem is that if I spend MY money with a shark lawyer to go after a Deadbeat, with very slim odds of recovering anything, then my kids lose out on both Child Support AND the benefit of MY money from my job. It’s a Lose-Lose-Lose for me and my kids.

  • “Try to do everything humanly possible to not involve him or need him to perform ANY parenting role that is not court-ordered. ”

    This.

    X 1000.

    The nutjob sperm donor did very little parenting when we were together and totally abdicated his role as soon as we separated. This was 3 months before I filed for divorce.

    Heck, after taking me back to COURT and demanding more time with the children than in the initial custody agreement, the fuckwit I bred with did not show up to pick up the children from school for his weekends with them. Not once. It was bizarre. He had simply been using the court system to abuse me and the children further. The first month of school I had to wait for my son to call and tell me that “Dad” wasn’t there so I could pick them up. I wasn’t surprised because he had been skipping his weekends all summer. Eventually it because a non-issue because it wasn’t going to happen.

    Of course by this time my teenage sons were royally pissed at the way he had been treating them for nearly 2 years. No, he never did anything to fix the relationship. Yes, my sons are also no contact. They know who was there for them and who wasn’t.

  • Over the past 7 years, I’ve read many of these stories and two things

    1. Chumps are SHOCKED when a cheating jackass refuses to cooperate, co-parent for the benefit of the kids, or even respond to reasonable requests for information.

    2. And they are SHOCKED in spite of the fact that this lack of cooperation is just a continuation of the asymmetrical power relation that the cheater set up before and during the affair.

    I wasn’t married to Jackass nor did we have a child, but even so the hallmark of the discard period was his ignoring what should have been necessary communication, since he left a lot of furniture and other stuff in my basement. But what I got was…. . It took me months to wrap my head around the fact that the cheating and the silence were essentially the same character issues: Entitlement. His sense of being superior to me (and others) and more important than other people. His love of “I know something you don’t know” and “You aren’t the boss of me.” It’s worth thinking about how this power game around providing information parallels how the cheater treats the marriage. They withhold what we want and need: in the beginning, during the marriage, they withhold time, money, love, affection, respect, investment in the household, and exclusivity. During separation and divorce, they withhold information; cooperation with divorce procedures, parenting, and finances; and obviously, they continue to withhold the truth of what they did to break the marriage–when they started infidelity, how long it lasted, and the cost of it in marital money.

    “Withholding” is a major power move, a tool that keeps any situation operating asymmetrically, with one side having the advantages.

    Someone who uses the manipulative power tactic is, as CL says, not a normal person with whom you can both give and take. Letting go of that fantasy is an important step. And finally, once the chump undestands this game, the power imbalance can be addressed by limiting contact, being strategic (see the great advice above) and not expecting the cheater to change.

    • FABULOUS analysis, LAJ! Totally spot on about how the facts & circumstances change depending on the phase of the relationship, but the outcome remains the same throughout. Withholding is central throughout.

    • Absolutely spot on, LAJ. Illuminates all the bullshit behaviour of the fuckwit during divorce.

      He totally ignored, for *months* the request to sign the sales agreement on our property, resulting in my missing out on a very good offer. When he *finally* signed the damn thing, and I accepted a lower offer, he had the *gall* to complain. Fucking gobshite. 👿👿👿

    • Add me to the chorus. Illuminating, useful analysis of withholding as power move by an entitled abuser. I was nodding my head to your ticking off the ways the cheater treats the marriage.

    • Yes to the above. But…. if you share kids with a cheater it is a special kind of hell. If you are a working parent there are times you aren’t available. Having a person abuse your child to get back at you is horrible. Ie. child works on a school project and finishes it at cheaters. Cheater ‘forgets’ to pack the project and child gets in trouble at school for failing to turn it in on time. There is ONLY so much you can do when you have an enemy plotting against you. One willing to sacrifice their child to do it. Seeing our kids suffer is something we never get used to.

      • I wouldn’t argue one bit. It’s a special kind of hell, with vulnerable kids involved plus money, time, and possibilities for unwanted contact, but the cherry on top is that it lasts for years and often continues after the kids are grown.

    • Thank you LAJ. This is so very useful. I think this is a big part of what keeps me stuck — my disbelief at how he does not seem to care about the negative impact his actions have on our (nearly adult) children. We have recently gone through a painful struggle involving one of our (young adult) children, and I guess part of me honestly, truly thought this might have been the “wake up call” that would have made him realize how much pain & trauma he has caused, but nope. Not going to happen. I need to accept that, go as no contact as possible, and move forward.

      • Not ever going to happen, MehBeSoon. If he could do that, you wouldn’t be divorced. He wouldn’t have cheated. Character does not change readily or without massive work.

        • Sigh. I know you are right. I think the issue with my child – along with some pandemic related logistical challenges – have set me back somewhat in my journey to Meh. I guess there was some part of me that believed he might have at least shown some remorse for inflicting such pain on them. In some ways, his callous disregard for the children’s emotional well being stings more than his infidelity and betrayal of me as his wife.

    • I think we hold on longest to the belief that the cheater loves the kids. Maybe the cheater is disappointed with us or lied to us or we misunderstood the values of our marriage . . . but the cheater does really love the kids.

      Of course, we are wrong about that too.

      • Eilonwy — completely agree. It’s traumatic enough that we were lied to and discarded by a cheater, but it’s even hard to accept that they don’t really give a cr*p about the kids either. Most of us had no idea how truly selfish they are. It’s like we all got to live through a horror movie with our own monster.

        • “Most of us had no idea how truly selfish they are. It’s like we all got to live through a horror movie with our own monster.”

          Yep coming to terms with that is not easy. I knew of course he had a selfish streak, and his faults; just as I did. But, I loved him and trusted him in spite of it. I could have never done to him, what he did to me.

          I think in hind site what gets me about cheaters is that they blame the spouse for their cheating, and I guess the assumption is they were perfect, because after all the chump didn’t cheat.

  • I found his inexplicable and infuriating at first. Just incomprehensible given I was never contacting him about anything except for the mundane, dull life admin around scheduling the life of our lovely daughter. Agreeing costs where we had a joint say. Telling him what was said when it was my turn to attend parents evening. Basic adult, civil comms about anything relating to our child where we were both interested parties.

    In return I got answers that took weeks (your not the boss of me), being ignored (your not the boss of me), responses with words in italics or underlined in case I can’t understand what he means (pass agg to the max).

    However a couple of years out I just carry on like any non fucked up adult would and watch while he doesn’t. It no longer frustrates me, I just imagine him in a nappy with a rattle balling his eyes out like a tiny baby. It’s so childish. It’s all to try to undermine me. I wonder why he still gives a shit. I don’t.

    It can be an unending burden though and sometimes my friends would say if he doesn’t tell you things (about daughter) why do you? Because I cannot and will not stoop to that appalling behaviour when we are discussing something that concerns OUR child. I have low expectations of him but not of myself.

  • I get to co-parent regarding toddlers.
    I have 16 more years of this shit.
    Look up the OMB (One Mom’s Battle) Canned Responses, they are gold.

    Stbx hates replying with a yes or no.
    Me: “Can you drop off the daycare forms tomorrow?”
    Him: “That sounds reasonable.” <— no actual commitment, grey area for court.

    Now I use, "Please drop off the daycare forms tomorrow." If he does not drop them off, I say nothing and document it. I ask very few questions.

    When I am required by the court order to get his consent, I use:
    Me: "Do you consent to the kids getting their shots at the doctor visit? If I do not receive a yes or no response by X date, I will assume that you consent."

    If you are asking for details of when the kids are with him, he doesn't owe you those answers. Read your court order carefully. There are questions I get asked that I do not directly answer.

    "What doctor do the children see?" – "Please reference the OFW address book."

    "What are the kids' sleep habits and routine like at your house?" – "The children sleep well."

    "How is child feeling today? What are you doing to take care of them? Do they have a fever this morning?" – "I continue to provide appropriate care and support for child. I will inform you of any new major medical developments."

    "Do you want to split a photo package for the children?" – ignore, does not impact the children

    "What have you been feeding child? They are pooping a lot." – "I
    continue to provide appropriate care and support for child."

    "What items do I need to drop off at the daycare for x event?" – "That information was provided to you in the emails from the daycare."

    "Are you willing to delay your possession time to a different day if we are in hurricane conditions at the exchange time?" – "Yes, the safety of the children is my top priority."

    I'm actually jealous that he ignores your questions. Stbx answers my questions, but they are a gigantic load of bullshit. I would much rather get nothing.

    Me: "Child has a massive bruise, how was he injured?"
    Him: "Child was running around the house having a blast laughing excitedly and happened to slip and fell into the wall a little bit. He got right back up and smiled at me and went back to playing and having a delightful evening before we ate a vegetable loaded home-cooked meal."

    Me (to child): "It looks like that bruise hurts, how did you get it?"
    Child: "I was jumping on the couch at Daddy's house and fell off onto the coffee table."
    *sigh*

    • Me too! Just finalized our parenting plan for our 16 month old. Reading Tinas books and Chumplady helped prepare me SO much for this process. I have a looooong road ahead. I’d love to connect with you. Are you in the Reddit group?

      I have exact times for exchanges and holidays, locations for exchanges, communication only through our family wizard, first right of refusal for overnights, etc. I’m sure I missed some things but I spent thousands to get a parenting plan that is detailed and if he fucks up, back to court we go.

    • I think you’re a modern day hero to have to deal with all of this! And way to go keeping your side of the street clean. My child was older when we split and it was loads easier because I too have a stonewalling, indirect response ex, so I could just ask the kid to handle a lot of the stuff that parents otherwise have to coordinate on (like ensuring they have their supplies at school…that is my pre-teen’s job).

      Best of luck to you…it looks like you’re on the right track.

  • My STBX and I agreed in mediation to: respond to communications within 24 hours, pay into a long-term savings account for our daughter’s university fund and pay into an expense account to cover things that are outside of child support such as school uniform, clothing, hair cuts, medical and dental. He paid for 2 months and then stopped and has never once communicated with me in a timely manner. I get inconsistent child support. He doesn’t respond to emails about things like holidays. I have tried everything. The recent one was the parenting app failure – it took me MONTHS to get him to sign up and agree to use it. Then after I set it up, he immediately went into it and changed the co-parenting schedule to a 50/50 one and deleted the real calendar, which is every second weekend and one week during each school holiday period (year round school here). I can only assume that was to try and use it as proof to the tax department that he has our child 50% of the time, because he’s been trying that shit for the past year in order to reduce his child support payments. I keep having to find new ways to “prove” that my child is in my care, given we do not have a court order in place (may need one but my child is 14 so it’s a bit trickier here). So, I deleted the app, which of course makes me look bad, but I don’t care – it upset my daughter when she saw it because she thought it meant she had to go to her dad’s more than she wanted to. She has access to her savings account so she can also see that he doesn’t pay into her university fund – that probably doesn’t make her feel good.

    It’s maddening, it’s control, it’s bullshit. Going to court won’t help me – he won’t follow orders but he also won’t initiate anything on his side of things that he might want or need. I’ve sent so many emails with a plan and then say, do you agree? Or, I send a partial plan and say, how might this work for you? My lawyer doesn’t think a court order would be useful either – I’ll just have to keep paying to roll things through court when he doesn’t follow them so what’s the point of that? So, I’m stuck for the next 4 years letting him try to control me from afar, not being able to make plans, not having enough money. There is no justice in this. It gets me down, it takes my energy and there is no way this can be good for our child.

    I am “no contact” and only when I need something, which isn’t often. He doesn’t even text me when he’s picking up our child – he’s suppose to be here at 5.30pm for pick ups and he usually comes an hour late, or sometimes early. He won’t let me drop off – he insists on doing drop offs and pick ups and I comply with that because I would prefer that my daughter was at least sitting in my home safe rather than me dropping her off at his if he’s not there, or I have this fear in my mind that I’ll drop her off and he’ll be doing something gross! He uses the excuse that he’s very busy so he needs to do drop offs and pick ups (he doesn’t have a job). Fuck…will it ever end?

    • I despise these people who refuse to work and then torture the parents who actually does child care and hold down a job.

    • For the pick-ups, confirm the pick-up time, then tell him that you will both be busy until right up until that time and have things to do that evening, so if he is early he should wait in the his car. And if he hasn’t arrived by (15 minutes after pick-up time) you will take your child with you, and he can see them at the next time he has visitation.

      Then find something to do up until 5:30, even if it’s driving around in the car singing, and after 15 minutes take off, even if it’s to go driving around singing.

      He’ll learn.

      And you absolutely can make plans. Assume he will not do anything that doesn’t suit him, and plan around that. DO NOT BE FLEXIBLE for his sake nor for your child’s sake. Stick to what you’ve agreed to, no more, no less. He wants to cancel a visitation? No problem. But he’s getting the next planned visitation, not taking your time to replace what he’s cancelled.

      Don’t make plans and ask if he agrees. Make a plan, present it as ‘the best for child’ or ‘a reasonable option’, and tell him that if he OBJECTS, he has to notify you AND PROVIDE A DIFFERENT PLAN by end of day on X date (max 3 days later is great). Then carry through on the plan.

      This situation is hell, but there are things you can do to make it less hellish. Keep breathing!

    • I hear you. I know CL is smart when she says use a parenting app, but mine refused to do so as well. (He kept saying he wanted a different app–three apps later, each of which he found insufficient or too difficult to use, I concluded the only thing he wanted was to make me dance his tune.) The choice ends up being take him to court over it or develop your own well-documented system of communication (or, lack of communication on his part). I chose the latter. The courts weren’t enforcing other aspects of our agreement, there was no reason to believe they would do anything but scold him for not using the parenting app. Sure, they would scold him, but they wouldn’t fine him or reduce his custody time, etc.

  • “You just want a question answered. He sees answering questions as relinquishing some sort of power.”

    ^^^ This was my life for 15+ years. I could never get a straight answer to any question, whether it had to do with cheating or not. I wasn’t the boss of him.

    Fast forward 3 years. Life is SO peaceful without my Ex in it.

    • Ah yes, the quiet exhale of a peaceful life. Good for you. And what a relief to be out of the daily mindfucks. Never again.

  • A person has to keep in mind that every contact is an opportunity for more abuse. As is every special occasion, every holiday, every event.

  • OurFamilyWizard has been extremely helpful for me. His stonewalling came to a screeching halt. My STBX uses it like it’s performance art though, so it’s scary/hilarious. You can tell he’s playing for an audience of judges and lawyers. We are immigrants to the US and normally, we converse in our native language. But on OFW, we speak in straight English which is so unnatural for us. He also says things like “At your behest…”, “Pursuant to our last discussion…” and “Thank you ever so kindly.” The passive aggressive legalspeak just makes me laugh. He’s an idiot.

  • My ex never answered questions directly, like ever. I used to think it was because he had this pathological fear of being wrong–like a sad wittle boy insecurity, but I came to realize that it was just run-of-the-mill control tactics. Also, it allowed him to never really commit to anything and therefore never be held accountable for anything, which allowed him to play whateer sad sausage card he felt like playing.

    Like…
    Ex: “Why’re we having beans for dinner? beans don’t sound good.”
    Me: “I asked if I should make beans for dinner and you said that was fine.”
    Ex: “I never said that, I said that beans were healthy and I don’t hate them and that they’re a fine food. I didn’t say I wanted them for dinner. And anyway, I didn’t know you were talking about tonight’s dinner.”

    Ah…I see what you did there. Now I get to be the inattentive wife serving beans and you get to be the suffering husband who will do the nice thing and endure the beans. And, later on you’ll get to complain about how often I made dinners for you that I KNEW you didn’t want.

    Lather, rinse, repeat and apply to virtually everything. I was an exhausted, insane wreck when we split because of all this semantical wrangling. I still have PTSD over this crap and, if I ask someone a simple yes/no answer and they equivocate, sometimes I go batshit crazy on them. Not proud of it, just is what it is.

    Now, like many others in CL land, I ask zero questions of this guy–I make parenting statements where I make it clear that his silence constitutes consent, as in “I’m taking daughter for her eye exam on [DATE] at [PLACE] and will forward you any meaningful results. If you have any concerns about this appointment, please respond by [DATE].”

    • Yup. I’m a corporate lawyer that deals with small business corporate mergers and startups, and we get a shit ton of what I call “talking about eggs when you were asked a question about chickens.” I have a solid rule that I don’t get professional at home, so if you give me bullshit answers that require me to grill you like a douchebag startup bro trying to be the next Elizabeth Holmes? Peace out. I only do that for $400 an hour.

      • That’s a great way to put it. I’m an attorney too and at one point I had my divorce attorney remind my ex that his non-answers won’t satisfy a judge…that if we go to court because of his lack of cooperation, he will be required to directly answer a judge’s questions or possibly be held in contempt, and that all of his answers and actions would be a matter of public record, because we would attach EVERYTHING to our filings (every email, text, etc.). I honestly think that influenced him to just settle…I think his non-answering is so pathological at this point that the thought of having to be held publicly accountable for his answers and actions scared the crap outta him.

        Sometimes, in the end, once our eyes are opened to the truth, we are able to use these disordered people’s proclivities against them…and I think that’s just desserts.

        • Ain’t that the truth! 2+ years later and I still get triggered, but I’m working on it because I’ll be damned if I let this control the rest of my life. These fuckers take so much from us. It’s a total battle taking it back, but as CL reminds us all the time: it’s possible.

          • I get this word salad shit too – he’s the pro at it. As I’m trying to settle the property matters and act direct questions I get, “That will be sorted out in time, and I believe we are working towards that,” which means, “No, I won’t do that and I hope that you are really frustrated by having to wait on me all the time.” When I asked for child support I got, “You may think that asking for this is a matter or fairness, or you may be having financial difficulties. Either way, you’ll need to describe your context for this so that I may understand…” blah blah blah. It all means “No”.

        • I’ve really been hoping to use that strategy too. My STBX is so into image management and he loves to think that he’s got the upper hand, that I do believe he would feel very exposed as a huge asshole in court. My firm used this fact against him when they were trying to fire him – he didn’t show up for mediation but just settled at the 11th hour because he would have looked like an idiot in mediation.

          • It’s the power of keeping a record. I kept everything he sent me. Some real nasty stuff. I think his arrogance stopped him from considering that all of that stuff could be used against him–that I would even save it.

            In fact, when he learned how much of his own words I had saved, he got enraged and accused me of setting him up, lol. Yea right pal, I choreographed this whole thing…secretly got you to cheat on me, manipulated you into refusing therapy and counseling, baited you into sending me up to 15 nasty emails and texts a day for months, mindmelted you into threatening my safety, and then tricked you into demanding the lions’ share of our assets so that you would look unsavory to a judge. That’s me, Geppetto the puppet master. OR…you are just an absolute asshole.

            So, FormerlyKnownAs…I highly encourage using their own words against them.. For me, it finalized my divorce and got me a fair settlement without ever having to appear in front of a judge. But, be forewarned that it will take complete patience and non responsiveness from you because when confronted with their own terribleness, these MFers will lash out big time. And your job is to not respond.

            Also maybe, to trust your gut and hold off on filing. My lawyer really wanted to file for a court order early on because my ex was dragging his feet and being a real jerk and she knew we’d win. I held her off because I didn’t want to go to court, for personal reasons, and I had this feeling that if I could compile a personal record and threaten him with it, he’d cave. And he did.

      • “Talking about eggs when you were asked a question about chickens.” I love that, Traffic Spiral. I’m keeping that one and crediting it to you.

        My ex’s favorite obfuscation, in addition to some of the ones mentioned here, was to be evasive/waffley in any conversation that involved making plans: back and forth, back and forth ad nauseum with nothing resolved…. Then, after he had worn me down and the conversation had ground to a halt–usually with him snapping at me and stomping off–later he would act as if a decision had been made (it had been of course, unilaterally by him). When I would say, “I don’t remember us coming to a conclusion about that,” he would insist we had and then act as if *I* were being the exhausting one by trying to change plans on him.

        Totally fucking exhausting. Talking to him was like trying to talk to a squid that keeps shooting ink in your face and swimming away in the black cloud.

        I recently looked at a picture of myself from the month my divorce was final, and one from the year prior (you know how your Photos on your phone do the, “On this date last year…” “On this date two years ago…”thing). And even though in the most recent pic I was was completely wrecked from all the legal and emotional shit, I *still* looked 100% better and happier and more energetic and more myself than I did while still in the marriage. That was as precise a measurement as I’ll ever get of exactly how much emotional energy my ex-emotional-vampire was sucking out of my veins on a daily basis.

        • About 2 years post-divorce, I had to get my drivers license renewed, new picture and everything. The DMV took my old license, took my picture, and went in the backroom for about 30 min, making me wait. They called me back up and said “these pictures don’t match, this isn’t you”. I was dumbfounded like, “of course it’s me, you just took the new one 30 min ago!” And then they proceeded to ask if I have had facial reconstruction surgery since my first license picture (taken the last year of my marriage), and I told them “no”, they asked if I was in a major car accident and I told them “no” and then they called the DMV supervisor over and he told me “the facial recognition software can’t discern your face between the picture taken 30 min ago, and the one 5 years ago. You must have had something major happen in your life to cause the facial recognition to not work”. I then told them I had divorced a sociopath 2 years prior, so was finally sleeping 8 hours a night for the first time in almost 20 years. They all looked at each other and nodded and said “yep, we see that often. By the way, even though it’s 5 years later, your most recent picture makes you look 20 years younger than your license from 5 years ago” (when I was married to Dracula).

        • Thanks. I can’t take full credit for it, though. It was in a book I read as a kid. Something like “if a guy wants to talk about chickens but you haven’t got any chickens, talk about eggs, and most people will be fooled into thinking it’s the same thing.”

          I never thought too much of it until I became a lawyer, but after one too many cases of getting promotional ted-talk blathering in response to a direct question it just clicked and I was like “waaaait a minute! This is that thing with the eggs and the chickens, and this fucker ain’t got no gatdamn supply contracts/permits/program that does what they want their app to do/funding/chickens!”

    • NotaNiceChump,

      “I was an exhausted, insane wreck when we split because of all this semantical wrangling.”

      Yes! Semantical wrangling! They bob and weave, change and dodge questions, are routinely evasive, and turn questions back on us, even when a simple “yes” or “no” is all that is needed.

      They are EXHAUSTING.

      • I think it took years off my life. I’m devoted to making the remaining years even more fulfilling, but it’s taken me a very long time to shake of even a part of the total and complete emotional wreckage that was left behind from my marriage and divorce.

  • I’m so sorry. And I understand. I too am in the recovery phase.

    The last time I spoke to my Ex, he volunteered that when the term of his car lease expires, he intends to purchase the car for our daughter. I asked him when his car lease is expected to expire, which I thought was a reasonable, simple, inoffensive, follow-up question. He furrowed his brow, was silent for a moment, and then asked, “When does she need a car?”

    I’m still shaking my head. And yet, this is his standard operating procedure. He literally cannot, or will not, give a straight answer to even the simplest of questions.

    EX-HAUST-ING

  • In 2.5 years of separation, my ex has only ever emailed me about the kids once and emailed me about money matters twice.

    I only email him about matters pertaining to the kids, nothing more. There is an average of about 10 emails a year. Informing him of an appointment or outcome of an appointment. Schooling, extracurricular registrations and schedules. We have a child with Autism, so there tends to be more issues to address around therapies and school. Basically, I am simply giving him reports. It’s take a few days to get a response and then it’s a few sentences. No real contribution to any sort of parenting conversation.

    So I now have roughly 30 emails that shows/documents all of my parenting. I do it all. Should he ever attempt to go for more time, I will not agree to it. If he pushes it, I’ve got the evidence of who has been parenting.

    Long gone is the hope that we would ever be co-parents. When I came across the term “parallel parenting,” I was relieved. I will do what I think is best. He can do whatever. As long as the kids are being fed and there is no exposure to anything damaging, then I expect nothing more from him. I guess this is was what he was hoping for in the marriage, but then I had to ruin it with expectations and all.

    The result? An amazing relationship with my kids. Priceless.

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