My children were gifted iPhones for Christmas by their father and his new wife. I am unhappy that there was no discussion ahead of time. I am not ready for them to have phones at ages 10 and 12 and I am not at all good at technology so I don’t know how to properly monitor what they are doing. But, that’s not the biggest problem.
He began deducting the monthly bill from my child support as of Jan.1. He claims because it is an expense of the kids, it needs to come out of child support. I cannot make ends meet this way and did not agree to the phones in the first place. I’m not sure how this is now my sole expense. When I told him it was not OK, he then said the phone are at the very least, an extra-curricular activity that should be shared equally.
I don’t want to waste my limited time to take him back to court but this just doesn’t seem right. Our agreement requires that we agree on any new extra-curricular activities before enrolling. If I take him back to court to get the child support back, can I also ask that he pay for me to take classes to learn how to deal with security for their phones?
You have every right to be upset about this. First, to be clear, he does not have the right to withhold child support for payment of something he thinks is a child expense — especially a gift he gave that he did not discuss with you in advance. Yes, the support you receive should be used to pay their expenses. But he also does not get to choose what the expenses of your household are. If you file a complaint for contempt for withholding child support, he will be ordered to pay it back. But, certainly the process will take up one of your most valuable resources — time, something a judge cannot give you back.
I offer two suggestions, you can send him a demand letter stating your disagreement and advising if you have to go to court you will be asking him to not only pay the unpaid child support but to either return the gifts because you believe it is inappropriate for children their ages to have phones or, alternatively, pay for you to take some classes at Apple to learn how to protect them in their use of the phones. If you think that would cause him to blink, start there.
The second suggestion is to acknowledge the children will soon be old enough to have phones. If you contribute to the cost, you can demand access to their passwords and have control over the security features so you can do your best to protect them. Condition your agreement to contribute as an extra-curricular on his paying for you to take a class on security and giving you control over their use.