A young mother who has five children with her husband became distressed after discovering he has a one-year-old child from an extramarital affair.
Worse, he's been providing financial support for the "love child" instead of allocating money for their other five children.
As she struggles to take care of five children—two of whom are twins—while being on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), she set some ground rules for her husband in order for them to thrive as a family with the additional child.
Her guidelines sparked a debate on Reddit's popular "Am I the A$hole" thread that determines whether someone involved in a non-violent argument is right or the a$hole.
Redditor twinpeakslvr is on an intrauterine device (IUD), and her husband uses condoms to ensure the family unit does not expand.
Here's the story.
"I have 5 children, only the oldest is school age. We now use condoms every time, and I'm on an IUD. We absolutely did not plan on 5 kids this fast or at all."
"Natural family planning, unfortunately, doesn't work. Also in my defense, 2 and 3 are twins. So 6, 4, 4, 2, and 6 months."
"I've recently discovered that my husband has been having an affair and has another child, who's about a year old (between my 4th and 5th kids). We now use condoms every time, and I'm on an IUD."
"I married very young, I only have a high school education, and with 4 children needing all day care, me working would cost us a ton of money."
She delayed her aspirations for further education and getting a job in order to take care of their kids before they are old enough to go to school.
"I'm only eligible for retail jobs anyway. Basically put, I HAVE to not work for the next few years. Our plan is for me to go to college when all the kids are school age and start working. He's the only income."
"We're on WIC now. We can't afford child support, and obviously this new child should know their siblings. Divorce isn't a practical option for many reasons, and I still love him."
"I discovered he was giving this woman money towards this new child, and I was enraged. MY children don't get money allocated to them in anywhere near the amount. He was robbing my other children."
She outlined for him the following stringent rules.
"1. I must be party to all communication with this woman."
"2. He MUST get 50/50. According to the calculator, this means no child support and this child should be part of the family. This is doable"
"3. He is not allowed to spend a dime on this child unless he has an equal amount of money for all the others. I won't have 5 children robbed for one."
This isn't what the OP signed up for when dreaming about having a family, but she assured she would never "mistreat" the other baby.
"I would never mistreat this child, but I didn't get married before having kids to watch them suffer because their father chose another kid over them."
The situation was open for discussion, and many responded by saying the OT was not the a$hole but also gave her props for her willingness to negotiate.
"NTA. I literally can't believe what I'm reading in the comments here, but apparently I'm going against the grain."
"You're a far better person than I would be, and you're damn goddamn right he better be putting his lawful children with the woman he MARRIED on at least equal funding to the child he decided to create 'for fun' on the side with some random."
"I also want to say that I think you're a better person than I am for forgiving your husband here, as literally a divorce would force him to step the fuck up and fully financially support your kids."
"Also, Holy s**t, woman, that is a lot of babies in 6 years. Are you getting any help at home looking after the 5 still not in school? I cannot imagine the exhaustion here, huge, huge props to you." – Damn_Farfegnugen
"I mean the thing with this is, they already have 5 kids so it won't be hard to provide for 6 without spending much more money."
"E.g. instead of sending money to the kids mom for shoes, kid gets hand me down shoes from big siblings. Which is fine, kid still gets what he needs, and other kids don't suffer while parents scrounge up that support money."
"It seems really practical actually." – DrakeFloyd
"Having a 50/50 custody arrangement absolutely does not remove a child support obligation unless both the mother and father make approximately the same income."
"If there is any type of disparity, the higher earner will be paying child support to the other parent." – stayoutofthe_forrest
But one Redditor pointed out that the real question here is about their troubled relationship.
"I am going to jump on this top comment here but How the f**k does OP plan on enforcing any of these rules even if OP's husband agrees to them?"
"OP has no real leverage by her own admission. IS OP going to sue him? Because other than that OP has no leverage other than leaving him. This whole thing isn't really an AITA question but more of a relationship question." – madevilfish
"Yeah... Clear underlying issues are clear and underlying. Completely agreed. But, the question was about whether she'd be TA for her list of demands or not, in the situation she's described. Soooo my vote is no..."
"BUT definitely agree that it doesn't sound like a healthy relationship, they definitely need some sort of counseling for their marriage, their legal situation, and their finances, and, even if he followed through on the demands as written, I'm honestly not sure I'd trust him not to cheat - unprotected cheat, at that! - again." – Damn_Farfegnugen
This user expressed doubts that the OP's husband would be capable of abiding by the stipulations and suggested legal assistance as a better option.
"This is where I'm at too. OP is NTA but I feel is being unrealistic about what her husband's ability to follow rules. If he'd been following the normal rules of being married this post wouldn't have been made. Thus making these rules feels like they also will be broken."
"Personally OP I think you should think about legal involvement. I know you say you don't have the funds for child support but your husband is spending money on 'love child' anyway."
"That child should receive some funding but how much and how often could be an issue which you two fight about constantly in the future which is why I'm recommending legal assistance."
"If 'love child's' mom wants money she'll get legal involved and he'll pay it anyways and then your right back to your rules being ineffective again." – Beaverhausen27
While most of her points were valid, one faced scrutiny by this user.
"For me the biggest issue is 'he MUST get 50/50' I'm assuming custody. This is something he can try to get but that really depends on the other women and potentially the courts."
"And I don't know how it typically works but I would assume a family on welfare with 5 kids under 7 may not come out with 50% custody and in that case he would likely owe child support."
"She can make those stipulations if she wants but they are not necessarily within his control."
"Also even with 50/50 they may still owe money for child care if the other women has the kid in daycare. I don't know many daycares that would take a kid every other week (and only charge for the weeks they are there)."
"So even if they are looking after the kid at home they would probably still have to pay for daycare that week."
"Not saying she's the ah but may not have realistic expectations." – webbie04
Finally, a simple statement summed everything up perfectly with this advice:
"You do not need reddit. You need a social worker to help you navigate this."