DEAR ABBY: I have a child with a woman I'll call "Kara," who is now my ex-wife. Our son lives full time with me and my new wife, whom I married three years ago. Kara was diagnosed with schizophrenia five or six years ago, which is what ultimately led to our divorce. She has only recently been able to keep a job despite her condition, which is only being moderately well-managed, but she has a pretty good one now.
Kara spends almost all her money on herself and rarely spends a day with our son without me present. I'm considering asking the court for child support payments, but I worry that because of her mental health issues, she'll end up taking it out on our child.
She's never been a very good parent, largely because of her illness, and she lived with us for almost a year because I didn't have the heart to see her homeless. I don't make a lot of money myself. I've been disabled for quite some time, and the extra income would make a big difference in our son's quality of life.
Am I wrong to request a child support judgment? If Kara loses her job, it could mean jail time, which would be devastating to her, but I don't believe she would comply with an informal request. I could really use some sound advice. -- STRUGGLING IN THE SOUTH
DEAR STRUGGLING: I agree, you do need advice, and the person you should seek it from is an attorney who specializes in family law. From what you have written, Kara appears to be doing the best she can just to get by as are you. You did not mention whether your new wife is employed. If the answer is no, because finances are strapped right now, would she be willing to find a job or part-time work in order to make things easier for your son? If she could, it might relieve some of your stress.