The child support battle post-marriage

By Pham Nga   July 23, 2023 | 05:00 am PT
The child support battle post-marriage
Many people do not want to pay child support post-marriage. Illustration photo by Pixabay
Ngoc Diep felt frustrated and humiliated on many occasions when she had to beg her ex-husband for the VND2 million ($84.5) monthly child support he was supposed to pay.

The couple divorced when their daughter was three years old. The court gave her custody of the child and ordered him to pay child support.

"But I have to call and text to remind him every month; it feels like I’m begging for his money," Diep, 32, from Hanoi, said.

Her salary as a contract teacher is barely enough for them to get by, and so the VND2 million is a big amount for Diep and her daughter.

The court had said he has to pay on the 15th of every month, but he only does so at the end of the month, sometimes not paying at all. Then she has to go to his house to remind him.

"The problem is not that he is poor. He has a monthly salary and owns two or three Korean restaurants."

Last year, when her daughter moved to another school, she asked him to increase the payment to VND3 million and he agreed. But she did not see the money come to her account by the end of the month and texted him.

He said he did not have money.

Frustrated, Diep asked her lawyer to draft a new child support agreement and make her ex-husband sign it.

They agreed to meet at a cafe, but their conversation quickly turned into a quarrel so loud that everyone in the place could hear it.

He eventually signed the agreement after their daughter burst into tears.

Realizing this was a weakness, Diep has since told her daughter to remind him to send them the money every month instead of asking him herself.

But he still plays truant sometimes, she says.

Chi Duc, 31, a farmer in Tuyen Quang Province went on a social media group to seek advice from the single parent community after his ex-wife refused to pay child support. The couple have two children together, one aged six and the other eight.

During the divorce, she agreed to pay VND1 million a month to support the younger child, while the husband had to take care of the other by himself.

But it has been four years and he has not received a dime. He called and texted her numerous times to ask for the money, but she flatly refused claiming she "did not have any money."

Duc says if she defaults for a fifth year, he will go to the police station in the area where she lives.

"It may be only VND1 million a month, but it’s not a small amount over five years."

Nguyen Hong Thai of the Hanoi Bar Association said the regulations on child support are quite clear. While in some cases the two sides negotiate the amount of child support, in most cases it’s decided by the court.

"The court usually sets the amount at 15-30% of the income. If the income cannot be determined, it is based on the regional minimum wage."

It could be a one-time payment or monthly.

Thai says people who have a monthly payment obligation often flout the agreement, like in the cases of Diep and Duc.

"Many people who do not receive child support money consult lawyers, but because the amount of money is too low and legal procedures take so much time and effort, they give up."

Like Duc, hundreds of people (mostly women) ask single-parent communities online for the secret to making their ex-partners pay child support as agreed.

Pham Ngoc, 32, of Hai Phong says after their divorce, her ex-husband agreed to pay VND2 million a month. But he only did so for two months before stopping. Ngoc allowed him to visit the children every weekend, but not to take them out anywhere.

When he expressed his frustration, she said she was the one raising and taking care of the children and so he had no right to take them outside the house.

"I also made it clear that I can raise the child on my own, but paying child support shows the responsibility and love a father has or his children. If he does not provide, he loses his rights."

The chastened husband agreed to keep paying.

Psychologist Hong Huong says arguing about support not only causes frustration for both sides, but also makes children feel they are a burden.

Using their children as a tool to collect child support like Diep and Ngoc do is an uncivilized act and can psychologically affect them, she warns.

"These are toxic parents who can turn their children into gold diggers, taking advantage of other people for money."

She thinks when a relationship ends, civilized people have to break up in a dignified manner and put their children first.

After a divorce, both sides need to understand and treat each other with respect, she says.

If the child support provider has financial difficulties, it is necessary for them to tell the other person with a promise to resume later, she says.

"I have witnessed divorced couples who choose to buy houses close to each other for the convenience of raising their children so that the child can receive equal love from both parents."

After going through a difficult period as a single mother, Diep’s life and that of her daughter have improved. She has got a good job in a private school and earns money from private tutoring, and so her income has increased significantly. But she still asks for child support from her ex-husband every month.

"I cannot have children by myself, and so there is no reason for me to take care of everything on my own, while this irresponsible man married a beautiful wife and had more children, but does not spend a single dime to raise my child."

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