One Paycheck Away: Pete's side

Doing His Best?

"Does it bother you that your child is living in such financial straits?" Dr. Phil asks Pete.

"It absolutely does. It bothers me greatly," Pete says.

"Do you visit the child?"

"As often as I can. It costs a lot of money to come out here," Pete says.

"Have you thought about moving here?" Dr. Phil probes.

Pete explains that he lived in Southern California his entire life, but two years ago it became too much for him. "I couldn't deal with the stress and working all the time," Pete explains.

"But you have a child here," Dr. Phil points out.

"I do, but what good am I going to be to the child if I'm dead? And I felt like I was going to drop dead if I stayed here for much longer," Pete says, agitated.

"Did he visit the child when he was here?" Dr. Phil asks Stacey.

"Very rarely," Stacey says.


Pete plans on going to court in an effort to get the child support reduced. "I do want to pay child support, that's not what this is about," Pete explains. "I don't think that I shouldn't pay child support. I think the amount that was set, which was based off information that was almost six years old, is too high. And, I don't feel that I should support children that are not mine."

Dr. Phil addresses Stacey. "Why have you not prosecuted him to the full extent of the law about this?" he asks, noting that if Pete doesn't pay, Stacey could eventually have him put in jail.

"I wanted to avoid that," Stacey says.

"That's going to be a great solution," Pete interjects.

"What's she got to lose? You ain't paying anyway," Dr. Phil retorts.

"It's not what she has to lose, it's what my son has to lose," Pete

"She is charged with raising your son," Dr. Phil says.

"I would be happy to take over that responsibility," Pete says.

"How can you afford that? You only made $10,000 last year," Dr. Phil says.

"It seems like you're deciding, ‘I don't think that the money is going to go to my child. I don't like the system, so I'm just not going to follow the court's order,'" Dr. Phil says to Pete.

"Somebody has to stand up when something's not right.  I've been treated unfairly from the very beginning. I'm the one who wanted to keep the marriage together, and be a father, and be a responsible parent and do what it took to rai

se a child and have a family, and she wasn't interested in that. And now, I'm left holding the bag, and I'm the bad guy," Pete says. 

"If you don't think that's the right number, then you think the right number is zero? Because that's what you're paying," Dr. Phil says.

"No," Pete says. "This is not about not paying child support for me."


"Your child is hungry every month," Dr. Phil points out.


Dr. Phil and Pete engage in a heated discussion.


"The truth is you've paid zero. Maybe you can't pay $900, but maybe you can pay $100 or $200 or $300. Maybe you can send things to the child that fit your moral compass about whether they're going for him or not. There are a number of things you could have done, and you haven't done any of them," Dr. Phil tells him.


Dr. Phil addresses Stacey. "He's clearly not the whole problem here," he says. "Some of the decisions that you've made couldn't be any dumber if you tried."


"I know. I'll admit it too," Stacey says. 

Dr. Phil addresses both parents. "I see adults get in and just run agendas that just seemingly ignore the child," he says. "You two may not like each other, and that's OK, but that child didn't pick either one of you." He turns to Pete. "I think you need to step up and figure out how you can start contributing to the welfare of this child," he says. "If you don't see evidence of that money going to benefit that child in terms of food and clothing and shelter and safety and supervision, then you need to petition the court to stop or change that custody situation. But in the meantime, you're not her therapist. You're not her judge, and you're not the compass of the court. You need to pay what is required by the court."


Dr. Phil turns to back Stacey. "You need to stop having babies. You've had three children with three different fathers," he says, noting that Stacey has said her first and third children were mistakes. "And then also, in 2005 you went out and bought a new car?"

"That was when I had just gotten my new job. I had just graduated and thought that I was on my way up in the world," Stacey explains.


"You can't afford a new car!" Dr. Phil tells her.

"I could back then," Stacey says.

"No, you couldn't," Dr. Phil says, noting that her payment is $400 a month, and she can't afford it. "You need to get rid of that car. Whether [Pete] steps up and does what he needs to do or not, whether your parents help you or not, you need to stop making some of the bad decisions that you're making."

"That's why I'm here, because I want to get help," Stacey says, tearing up.

"I've said a million times, ‘You don't solve money problems with money,'" Dr. Phil says. "You solve money problems with changing your lifestyle, changing your attitude

s, changing the things that you do decision-making wise." He is going to arrange for Stacey to meet with a life coach. "I want to get somebody who is going to sit down with you and spread out all of your finances, see if you've got a plan moving forward, do everything that will help you get started," he says.


Dr. Phil introduces Life Coach, Dr. Kathleen Derrig-Palumbo. "We have to really identify your strengths and weaknesses and build on those strengths, but we need to also identify these obstacles and challenges that you keep repeating," she tells Stacey. "The best part of all of this is that all of our life coaches and our vocational

trainers are licensed psychotherapists."

Dr. Phil addresses Stacey, "I want to make a deal with you; you won't make a decision without conferring with your life coach." He also informs Stacey that for the benefit of the children, he is going to pay her rent through the end of her pregnancy.

Stacey tears up and says, "Thank you."