Fathers and Finance: Bret and Jennifer

Escalating Demands

"All I am is a paycheck to my ex-wife, says Bret. "My ex-wife is trying to get as much money as she can from me. Financially, she should be able to help out, and the court system doesn't see it that way. It's not right."


"I would like Bret's ex-wife to understand and know that he takes care of his responsibilities and that he's not a deadbeat dad," says Jennifer, Bret's current wife.


"My ex-wife does not like my current wife," Bret shares.


[AD]"We received a letter about a year ago that the daycare was increasing, and she just said, ‘As you know, you're responsible for half.' I couldn't stay at home anymore with my children. I was forced to go back to a full-time teaching position," Jennifer says. "Bret and I don't do anything extra. There's no social life. There are no extracurricular activities. We, basically, are only able to stay in our house."

"Jennifer and I have talked about divorce, because we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel," Bret reveals. "I feel that nobody's really benefiting except for my ex-wife."

"What do you want to see financially?" Dr. Phil asks Bret and Jennifer.

"Financially, I would like it to be realistic, because we've sacrificed and given a lot to insure that they live a comfortable life," Jennifer says. "We just want it to be fair."

"Did you plan ahead on this?" Dr. Phil asks Bret. "You knew you had these obligations when you decided to have two more children."

[AD]"If I would I have known that on top of child support I would be paying half her daycare and her extracurricular activities " Little did I know that the day care would be so expensive," he says.

"Everything in life goes up. You've got to plan for things going up," says Lis.

"I think a lot of men feel, rightly or wrongly, that what they're paying is child support plus alimony disguised as child support," says Mel. He suggests a solution. "Let's have a debit card or something so that a man knows that the money he sends to the child is going to the child."

"The biggest problem is when we received [the note] that the daycare was going up, there was no forewarning. She knew for months," Jennifer says. "She doesn't discuss anything with Bret, so how could we prepare?"

[AD]Mel stresses the importance of Bret's story. "I think it reveals an ugly truth about the child support industry," he says. "I don't think these folks really care about children."

Dr. Phil doesn't buy it. He notes that he's spent many days in court. "I've never heard a judge say, ‘Lady, we don't care about your children,'" he says. "You don't want to run people away from court." Turning to Bret, he continues. "If you have unreasonable demands, and things have changed economically " hers has gone up, or yours has gone down " there is relief available in the court for that. And the court's not going to tell you they don't care," he says.