SINGLE MOMS: How Do I Ask for Financial Support from My Ex?

Eva, 33, a single mother of an 8 year old daughter, separated from her husband of 3 years due to “inharmonious relationship”. She was reluctant to say whether it was because of abuse or other issues, but she felt it was better for her and her child if she were apart from her husband.

She is one of a growing number of single moms in Asia.

According to a study on global children trends, there is a significant number of children in single parent households in Asia. In Indonesia and the Philippines, as many as 1 in 10 children live with only 1 parent.

% Children in Single Parent Households
Japan 12%
Indonesia 10%
Philippines 10%
India 9%
Malaysia 6%
China 4%
Taiwan 4%

Source: sustaindemographicsdividend

While Eva is working, her salary as a sales assistant is not enough to provide for all her child’s needs. It is therefore only fair that her ex-husband shares in this responsibility, right?

Theoretically, yes.

In fact, in most Asian countries, the law requires the father to provide for the child, according to his ability, at least until the child is able to to care of themselves (21 years old in some countries, 18 years old in others).

However, according to Maureen Hitipew, founder of Single Moms Indonesia, despite the existing laws and the fact that some couples have child support agreements in place, still very few ex’s actually contribute for the needs of their children. In Indonesia's Single Moms community, only 2-3 single moms out of 300 (around 1%) get child support from their ex-husband.

There are many reasons for this and some of them may be out of our control. However, here are some ways that we can make this process less stressful and more fruitful.

  • Aim for balance. Have a written agreement with your ex-husband about his obligations as well as his rights to his child (regular visitation, vacations, etc). I realize that it is very difficult to be fair when there may be anger towards your ex-husband; but you need to set aside your feelings in order to reach an arrangement beneficial for your child.
  • Do not use your child as a 'hostage'. Avoid using statements like “if you do not give financial support, you cannot visit our child!". It's not fair for the child.

You may be feeling resentful, having to sacrifice and work multiple jobs to feed and support your child. This is a valid emotion. However, remember that he or she still needs a father figure. Do you really need to “ban” their father from their life? Of course, this changes if there is risk of physical danger to you and/or your child.

  • Be realistic. While your ex-husband may have a source of income, be conscious of his ability to support you and your child financially. If, while married you already that know he can only pay for school fees, do not ask that he buys a car with driver to pick up your child from school. This way, your ex-husband will recognize that you are being reasonable. 
  • Focus on your child’s needs. For example, monthly school fees, tutoring fees, school registration fees, medical fees when a child is taken to a doctor, and so on. No need to include our skincare and lipstick expenses, ok.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for the money you agreed upon. Especially if your ex-husband is the type who is indifferent to financial matters. Gently remind him to pay child fees, tutoring, and other expenses.

If necessary, give him the option to pay directly to the school / tutoring place, so he knows exactly how much it costs. Also, if there are trust issues between the two of you, it will re-assure him that the money is for his child and not for your new handbag.

No marriage starts with the intention of getting divorced. Divorce is already heart-breaking; it will be even more tragic if we allow money issues to keep us from moving on.

A wise man once said, learn to accept things, even if they are not according to what you want. Trust that whatever the reasons behind the separation, we can emerge from it a better person.

Power to Single Moms!

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