My wife of ten years divorced me about four years ago and as the Court Order said I must pay X maintenance, I did: but only for about a year. The affair that was the final cause of my divorce ended a few months after the divorce, but then about a year later, I got involved with another woman and this time, I thought it was the real thing.
My new love had children from a previous marriage and I didn’t want her to suffer as she had in the past with her previous husband, so I tried spoiling her by paying for most everything. It seemed to make her happy and I thought this would last. She had three children – 2 girls and a boy. I had two boys. At last I had the daughters I’d always wanted.
I wasn’t prepared for the fact that her girls seemed almost twice as expensive as my boys. They’re clothing alone was costly – not to mention the fact that one went to ballet classes and the other wanted to be a drum majorette. Her son was introverted and quite a studious young chap – he had private chess lessons.
There wasn’t enough money for her children and mine and somewhere down the road – over the next few years – my own maintenance payments tailed off to a hit and miss thing and eventually became non existent.
My ex wife was more than reasonable about this. She phoned and threatened but didn’t take it further, so I was in the clear financially to do as I pleased. My sons were regular boys; they weren’t all that studious and played sports just as I had – or so I thought.
It’s amazing how wrong you can be when it suits your purposes. My ex wife kept trying to draw my attention to the fact that my eldest son was showing great talent with classical piano; and my youngest was turning out to be a star at swimming but not at his studies. She told me she had been forced to take two jobs to manage this situation and I knew she was talking rubbish. They lads were just like me – scrape through but don’t work hard at anything but don’t fail either. Of course, I’d somehow lost touch with them – I suppose my new family and guilt played a big part in becoming disconnected from them.
The new woman in my life spoke all the time of marriage, money, and making our way up the social ladder. When I wanted to go to visit my boys, or bring them over for a visit, she got really bad tempered, or had a previous social engagement which I had to attend with her, or had a sudden illness – which departed as quickly as it had arrived, once I’d given up on seeing my own children.
My new life was fast becoming tarnished and something of a drag. It was like keeping up with the Jones’ all the time. There was little or no affection or warmth for me either from my partner or the girls, they were too self centred to be bothered with anyone else. Her son sought me out to become his companion, but when I showed no interest in learning how to play chess, and refused to treat him better than the girls, even he turned away from me. After that my only role was that of their own personal autobank.
Suddenly two things happened, My ex wife phoned me for help but my partner took the call. Not only did my partner tell her that I never wanted to see her and the boys again, she also failed to tell me about the phone call. The Ex was desperate and my boys were suffering through being deprived of any financial assistance, so she went to see the Specialist Maintenance Attorneys at Martin Vermaak Attorneys. Shortly after that she got quite sick and couldn’t return to work for a long time. Life at her house began to unravel; and you can imagine how surprised I was to hear from the Attorneys – who told me the truth of the matter.
Obviously I went to the Maintenance Attorneys, and the Attorneys there explained to me the error of my ways and that I could easily be imprisoned if I kept refusing to pay maintenance.
When I got to my ex’s house I discovered that all she’d been trying to tell me was actually true - and more. I ended up spending quite a lot of time having my eyes opened. After that I did everything I could to be of assistance.
I felt terrible that I had abandoned them for so long. My youngest son was becoming a very promising swimmer but had abandoned his academic studies in favour of this and now needed extra tuition. My eldest son had amazed the teachers with his musical abilities and looked set to compete for a musical scholarship - they were talking concert pianist - but unfortunately the tuition and preparation for this required money. My ex had medical bills – I’d taken her off my medical aid – and couldn’t pay them. I began to understand what I’d done to them.
Between myself, my ex and the Maintenance Attorneys we worked out a really manageable maintenance and contact arrangement and I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am towards these Attorneys who were really great with their handling of the matter. They didn’t judge, they negotiated and were really understanding and reasonable about the whole thing. It was so easy to talk with them it was just like getting sorted with a business arrangement.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, the woman and her three children who’d lived with me for the last three years, just up and left me. I stayed at my ex’s house for a few days to help out and set up some new systems for the future. When I got back to my place they’d already gone - probably to look for someone who could properly afford them! You know what? I didn’t really mind in the end.
Although we’ll never get back what we had or live together again, I feel really relieved now that the situation is being address and now that I’ve taken my place back in the family structure. I now know that I’ll always be a part of this, and do my share – which makes me feel less of a loser. They, in turn, have the security of knowing that I’ll always be a constant in their lives.