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Section: money, children, relationships, marriage

Dear Ann Landers,
I commend you for printing the letter from "Sick of It in South Dakota," whose children lived with their father after her divorce. She said it's time to accept the idea that sometimes the kids are better off with Dad. I am a divorced father with two boys, ages 7 and 9. They live with their mother. I pay out a lot of money for child support, but I doubt that the money is being spent on the children. If it were, I wouldn't have to take them for haircuts and buy them sneakers and winter jackets. I've asked my lawyer whether there is any recourse, but was told I could not dictate where the child support money goes. I have recently remarried. My new wife is very supportive and has a great relationship with my sons. She is more of a mother to them than my ex-wife. I see my children every Wednesday and on alternate weekends. When it is time for them to go home, they cry and tell me they don't want to go. They have asked to live with me. I know they would be happier if that were possible, and they would have a more stable and secure environment, but unfortunately, the courts do not see it that way. I have attempted to get custody of my sons, but the courts seem interested only in how much money I can pay. And have you noticed that when a couple gets divorced, the kids almost always end up with the mother, leaving the father with a painful court battle and an expensive legal bill? In spite of the aggravation, I refuse to give up. I'm still fighting for my boys. Ann, please tell all the divorced dads who love their children that they must stay in their children's lives, no matter what. Their children need them. -- Been There and Done That in New York

Dear New York,
Your letter speaks more eloquently than anything I might say. Every divorced dad who has walked in your shoes is grateful to you for writing.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

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Helen Fisher's Comment
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Reader Comment
As someone who has worked in the Family Law field for many years, just a few comments: First, most likely the child support you pay for the children is being spent on them in the form of housing, food and utilities. Child support, regardless of which parent is paying it to the other, is usually not enough to cover all expenses of the children. Secondly, it has been my experience that the children tell each parent that they want to stay with them when it is time for a change of possession. Thirdly, for the most part, the Courts do look at all the evidence to determine which parent should have primary possession. If you have been unsuccessful in a change of primary custody, there must not be enough evidence that you would provide a more "stable and secure" environment. If the mother's environment was "unstable" and "insecure" the Court would immediately Order you to have primary custody. Lastly, the mother ended up with a painful Court battle and expensive legal bill, too. It sounds as if you and your ex-wife are not on good terms and you should consider a Parenting Facilitator and counseling for the children so that your sons do not suffer the consequences of a bad relationship between parents.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them."
-Ann Landers