Have been divorced for 2 and half years now. 3 kids in total, eldest now 18 others are teen and pre-teen at secondary schoool.
Marriage was difficult as ex always wanted this that and the other regardless of cost. She could not work - 101 excuses for not doing so. We traded down the house when I was made redundant 10 years ago with a very generous payoff but that and the funds freed up got spent on a lifestyle not affordable in the long term especially as the eldest had to go to private school (there was not place at a good local state school).
Since the redundancy I had periods of unemployment and had to start freelance work which of course only pays when you work - no paid holidays and sickness, so income stability got worse but the ex wanted to keep the lifestyle up so the the debts built up.
Finally by 2013 we separated and of course that meant I was paying 2 sets of household bills as my ex was not working.
Since divorce I have paid and continue to pay as per court order, a fixed sum indexed linked for life as spousal maintenance and child maintenance based upon % of income as per CMS rules.
The ex sold the FMH after the final court stated it should be sold however she lost a huge chunk of equity in legal fees as she dragged the divorce through 3 court hearings. She moved into B&B with 3 kids and spent a fortune on that for around a year claiming that no-one would rent her anywhere even though I offered to guarantee the rent. Then she moved to 3 different rentals. She bought almost new top of the range cars (yes managed to get through 1 return it get another and return that and then bought another... all 4x4s even though she doesn't live in the country side). Then as my eldest hit 6th form she paid private fees for that.
The spousal maintenance just about covers their rent and the grand a month child maintenance and benefits she gets has to cover the rest.
As you can imagine the remaining house equity is disappearing fast. All along the way she has asked me for more money each month which I have refused whilst she has tried to maintain the same un-affordable lifestyle.
Eldest kid now at uni so I am having to pay a 3rd set of rent as her maintenance loan doesn't stretch enough to cover it in expensive west london. Other 2 kids now in secondary school and luckily very good ones so should be every incentive for her to either do what she can to live within her means within the same area or move so somewhere much much cheaper.
Of course along the way she blames me for the "unaffordable" situation she is in. Yet she now has 102 excuses why she cannot work (she tried a couple of jobs but couldn't hold onto them). The new reason she can't work is that my son's asthma is so bad he can't walk up the hill to his new school past the polluting traffic so has to be driven to school every day. The other reasons she can't work is that she has this ailment and that ailment which the doctor agrees are causing an issue but not officially medically recognised conditions plus she now has some heart problems. Historically he has had a lot of winter illnesses which the doctors put to enlarged adenoids and he has missed a lot of school so my ex has had to be at home. Doctors say this problem should reduce as he gets older however he just started secondary school in September and has had infections twice which has made his asthma worse.
Also all of a sudden damp and mould has been found in the bedroom which didn't seem to have been a problem last winter yet she refuses to air the rooms especially bathroom and kitchen so the water vapour has no means to escape. The room now has a dehumidifier and she keeps the flat at 26C yet the mould seems to be a problem which she has notified the landlord about.
My view on this is to stay away from her decision making but it stresses me watching the children suffer from being spoilt and for my ex using them as weapons against me. Contact is unreliable as I work abroad during the week, the kids refuse to stay in a 1 bed flat with me at the weekend and I have to pick them up during the day if they "feel like it". I have been on and off depressants for 5 years, currently off but fighting to resist starting them again. I can't afford therapy after paying rent and maintenance.
It is clear to me she can't help herself, she wants to make decisions in a way where she can blame anyone but herself for the consequences. She acts as she is the only single parent in the country who has ailments and excuses for not putting herself into a better position. She has now written an email (not logically put together) saying she must work but her son is very upset she won't be at home if he is sick. therefore she can't work so I have to pay extra money so they can move nearer his school and it must be a new build place where there won't be damp. There are many factual inaccuracies and exaggerations in her email and previous ones and I have learnt not to pick at those as she is blinkered and does not want to understand or listen to what is said if it is not what she wants to hear. This is for other people not just me so she seems to have lost some friends over the past couple of years as they realise what she is really like.
Support from my family is non existent. They have hated by ex since before we got married and see my kids as being "on her side" so my ex has banned me from letting me take kids to my family's place. Even without such a ban the kids have said they do not want to meet my family. Any advice my family want to give is to just go to war with my ex, but with the kids being put in the middle I will not do that. Also with my Father passing away and serious illness in close family there have been more pressing matters for them.
One option for me are to take the kids myself, but I would have to apply to court to stop the spousal maintenance otherwise I can't afford to rent a bigger place and work and get babysitter/nannys to cover my long hours and absences abroad. Even then paying for babysitter / nanny would be difficult I would have to get a lower paid job in the England so as to minimise use of their services. Getting ex to pay maintenance to me will be impossible as she won't be working at all.
The other option is to do nothing and ignore the emails and just keep paying as per the court order, in the meantime to put up with some quiet weekends when my ex tells the kids that I am a monster who cannot look after them. There have been many of these and many more to come which are always painful.
I can give support in non-financial ways but it falls on deaf ears. Surely... I am not the only one to be in a situation like this... is there really no other way or do I just sit this out until all the kids are adults?
How very sad. What you need to remember is the ex is now an ex, has had her settlement, and how she lives her life is not your business.
However, I understand that you feel the children are suffering because of it.
From what you say, you don’t have room for them to stay at yours, you are abroad in the week, and they don’t want to see you anyway.
If it were me, I would carry on living your own life, pay what you have been instructed by court to pay but no more. I’m sure your children will work it out in the end what really happened.
You are divorced and the mess she makes of her life is not your problem.