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dear pay dirt,
My ex-husband and I divorced four years ago. Six months later, she remarried to a man with two children. It was very difficult, especially for our daughter “Jane”.
My ex wanted Jane to make all the adjustments since she was the oldest (her stepsister was a year younger and her stepbrother was 9). I travel a lot for work, so it wouldn’t work for Jane to move in with me full-time. When I’m at home, she spends as much time with me as possible. This has been a point of contention between her and her mother.
My mother can no longer drive. I’ve been taking care of her old car ever since, with the express intention of giving it to Jane when she turns 16. My ex agreed to the plan: Jane kept her grades, got a part-time job with gas, and we split the difference in insurance costs. Jane turned 16 in December and kept her agreement. My ex lost hers.
She called me and told me she didn’t want Jane to have the car until college. I was confused and said that if money is tight, I will insure myself. But my ex wants to back out of our agreement and let our daughter down because she and her new husband won’t be able to do the same for her stepdaughter next year. Girls get jealous, it’s not “fair”. I told my ex that maybe instead of punishing Jane, she and her husband stepped up and really raised this girl. Life is not fair and 15 years old is enough to understand the situation. Jane getting stuff from my side of the family has nothing to do with her.
I told my ex that I would sell Jane the car if she ran out of it (her college dreams were overseas), but I still gave it to our daughter. My ex told me that either Jane had to share the car with her stepsister, or they didn’t allow the car to park at their house at all. At this point, I told my ex that I hoped this appeasement of pleasing her husband was worth her lifelong estrangement from Jane. I told her I would hire someone to be in the house while I was away so Jane could move in. My ex-husband accused me of trying to destroy her family. We haven’t really spoken since. Jane could tell there was tension in the air, and she wondered what was going on. I’ve stalled because I don’t want to further damage her relationship with her mom. They are inconsistent. what do I do? I feel like I’m sitting on a bomb instead of a birthday present.
– final countdown, countdown
Dear final countdown,
Give Jane the car. Your daughter’s stepsister is not your responsibility, and it won’t be the last time in her life to provide her stepsister with different resources and opportunities. The good news is that Jane’s stepsister won’t be able to drive legally for another year, so this sharing issue is still theoretical. My meaner side is tempted to suggest that you agree to let Jane’s stepsister share the car for a year, then renege on that agreement later and give your ex a taste of her own medicine.
However, I think you’d better stress to your ex that her stepdaughter hasn’t agreed to the car the way Jane has – even more unfairly, based on possible future jealousy.
Not to mention, no one is currently using the car. It just sits there. Your ex’s approach throughout the process seemed to imply Solomon: If neither daughter can own a car, no one can. That’s just plain inefficient.
Finally, if the car is in your name, you have the right to give it to your daughter, even if your ex doesn’t like it. Selling your ex is also worthwhile since Jane had a car when she was at her house. If your ex can’t drive, Jane’s ability to run errands or drive a sibling can be of great benefit to her. It is easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.
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