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Karmic dough

I got my first piece of mail at the new house today: a great big fat cheque which made me chuckle.

A couple of weeks ago on my birthday I popped into Irene’s Pub for a beer in the afternoon. One of the people I talked to that afternoon was my son’s father. He bought me a Stella, complimented my expensive taste in beer, and then explained a little problem he was having. That pesky Family Responsibility Office at the government of Ontario had seized his bank account, presumably to give it to me for all those years in which he didn’t make his child support payments. He also owes the government money, because they paid his child support while I was on social assistance.

“How much did they get?” I asked.

“About $7,000,” he replied.

“YOU have $7,000?” I asked.

“I HAD $7,000. Now I have nothing.” he said.

“That’s too bad,” I said.

“I’d appreciate it if you’d give it back to me when they give it to you,” he said. Seriously. He said that.

I smiled. He smiled.

The next day I contacted the government of Ontario to give them my new address.

And today the cheque arrived! It’s a pretty big chunk of money.

Of course nothing’s ever that simple. Now I’m trying to figure out why I feel vaguely guilty about keeping the money.

Maybe it’s because in my own mind I’d written it off many years ago, and I told him so whenever we discussed it. The thing is, it’s easy to write it off in theory, when you don’t even think the money exists; it’s a little harder when it’s sitting in your hand.

Maybe it’s because now I work more regularly than he does, and earn more money, so I don’t feel quite right taking money from him.

Maybe it’s because we get along okay, which works for our son, and I feel uneasy about rocking that boat for money.

Maybe it’s a combination of all those things.

So…what do YOU think I should do with the money? Should I keep it? Give it back to him? Split it with him? Put it into our son’s education fund? Do a 3-way split between him, our son and me? Or something else?

15 comments to Karmic dough

  • Greencolander

    Son’s education fund. As tempting as that kind of dough is, your son’s father does have a legal (and moral) obligation to help raise his son – and since you have a decent paying job and aren’t having financial issues, definitely it should help benefit your son.

    VERY tough position to be in!

  • Two way split…education and yourself.

  • If you could get along with him when he legally and morally owed you and your son $7000, he should be able to get along with you when you owe him nothing.

    Maybe the next time you see him, you could buy him a Stella.

  • Yes! A Stella. And for yourself, perhaps a new roof.

  • Nancy

    Great that you get along with your son’s dad. As for the dough, I would vote for the education fund, and our friendly government will top it up, too. Best of all, it gives you a bit of a financial cushion so you can indulge yourself without guilt from time to time!

  • TechWood

    Tough choice when put on the spot – but I vote you hold on to it – either for an education savings plan or something for yourself – anything that doesn’t include giving it back. That money was rightfully yours.

    Think of it as one of the few benefits you receive from the governments efforts on your behalf – in this case as your only form of collection on something thats been owed to you for a very long time.

    Don’t forget to check out any rules regarding tax liabilities and or shelters for it.

  • Put it towards your son’s education for sure… or invest it or something.
    ANd then you wouldnt have to feel guilty. If your son’s father really needed help then you could do so cos yo’d still have the money… it seems from your description that if you gave it back to him you may as well just chuck it in the bin??

  • Thanks everybody. Lots of good ideas. I notice nobody thought I should give it back to him.

    A couple of points of clarification:

    1) He kept the money in a joint account with our son (!) in the mistaken belief that jointly held assets would be exempt from seizure.

    2) The govt took everything he had in the account, but it’s still less than half of what he owes me.

    3) The child in question is 24 now, so it can’t be invested in an RESP. (But good point about the taxes Techwood – I wonder if it’s considered taxable income, and if so would it be taxable in this year or in the years in which I should have received it?)

    I really appreciate everyone’s input. I haven’t finished thinking about it, but I do know that I’ll be spending $7 on a Stella for my son’s father. :)

  • Dave

    I think it should go to the David X fund and you should buy a stella six pack for whoever cleans your apartment

  • Hey Dave, welcome to the blog! (Everybody, this is the infamous Dave X.)

    You know, I COULD put it in the Dave X Change Challenge, but there are VERY strict rules governing which money qualifies for the Challenge. I’m pretty sure a great big crazy-ass government cheque doesn’t meet the qualifications.

    A 6-pack of Stella, though, I’m pretty sure that could be arranged. :)

    Now that you have an email address, is the next step a blog of your own?

  • Dave

    What’s a ‘b’ log? Is that like Capt. Slog on the Starship Enterprise?

  • Rita

    Since I had the same experience with my Ex and the only
    reason I got money ( at that time my kids were 20 and 24)was that he made two more children with some other women. She went after him, so the court gave me a smaller amount than her. Go figure!!!
    I had my kids first.
    I recommend that you stash it somewhere, Something will come up
    that you will need the money for. Suggestion: Take your son on
    a trip maybe to Italy where they make Stella’s

  • Mary Jane

    Hi Sue!!
    I think you should not worry about this windfall. It was owed to you for a very long time. My best friend’s ex has owed her money for ages. With all the legal fees involved she just gave up. Now the youngest of her two sons is attending university and moved in with his dad downtown for the school week. He goes home to Almonte on the weekeneds. Can you believe that his jerk of a dad actually had the nerve to ask her for support??? This is probably the first time he has ever had to feed his son. Apparently they eat pasta 24-7
    Happy Friday

    Happy Friday

  • […] Some of you might remember a few months ago when I received a surprise cheque from the government of Ontario for a portion of the child support my ex has owed me for many years. They’d seized the money from his bank account. […]