Dear Amy: I am a 37-year-old mother of two. My youngest child is 6. His father and I were never really a couple, and we never had a plan for a future together. He is just a big kid who has never really grown up and taken responsibility financially to help me with our son.
He also hasn't put his name on our son's birth certificate, for fear that child support services will garnish his wages.
When we went to court, they came up with a good-faith figure of $180 a month for child support. In the six years of our son's life, he has given me about $15 to $30 every two weeks, which is quite short of the amount he is supposed to pay.
My family and friends keep telling me to go down to child support services, start a case and play hardball.
We get along — my son has never seen us fight and we've even taken family vacations together as friends. I am scared that will change as soon as his wages get garnished.
What should I do?
— Hard working mom
Dear Mom: Surely when you deal with your own children you expect them to take responsibility for their actions and face consequences. You should expect at least as much from the father of your son.
Officially acknowledging that he is the father of this child is necessary. This is not for you or for him, but for your son.
You two have been to court before and have managed to keep things friendly. Obviously, he needs to pay child support, but you still have matters to negotiate.
Ask the court to assign a mediator to work with you. The matters on the table at this point are his requirement to acknowledge paternity and the amount of child support he realistically can/will provide. Reducing the amount from $180 to $125 might encourage him to actually make his payments in full.
Otherwise, if he is able to pay but is refusing to pay, then he is both a deadbeat dad and a baby, and he should have his wages garnished.
Dear Amy: Here's a solution for "Tug of War," who wanted to have a private destination wedding and not include family.
They should secretly have their dream beach ceremony, and then invite everyone to celebrate locally, wear the dress again and have the ceremony re-enacted. Let everyone think it is the "real" wedding.
Marriage is about the joining of two people, marriage is not a performance.
Dear Reader: Lying about your wedding seems like the ultimate performance.
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