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by Abigail Van Buren

Ex-Wife Offers to Pay Child Support She Owes to the Kids

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 16 years. His ex was supposed to pay child support, but didn't. He worked in his career for only one year after we married and since then has held menial jobs, which have kept his future retirement intact. I have provided him and his children a home for which he has never made a mortgage payment or taxes, utilities, clothes, etc. His children have never lacked for anything.

His ex now wants to resolve the back child support issue by giving the settlement amount of money to the kids. I don't feel they should get it because it is owed to him. I'd like to see him use it to pay off some of his credit card bills, which are high.

She has told the kids what she is offering and plans to guilt him into giving it to them. He doesn't have to settle that way if he chooses. He doesn't know that I saw the letter, and he's lying about the amount she's willing to pay. What should I do? -- PRESENT MRS.

DEAR PRESENT MRS.: After having supported your husband and his children all these years, the least you are owed is honesty. What you should do is discuss this with an attorney of your own immediately and, while you are at it, raise the subject of what is and is not considered community property in your state. You should also determine to what extent you might be responsible for paying those high credit card balances should he renege. Once you have the answers, you will be better able to determine how to handle this.