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A better understanding

Started by pixie84, Jul 05, 2008, 09:28:34 AM

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Basically I am here (I just signed up today) to gain a better understanding of my whole situation.

I am the step-parent in this situation.  My husbands daughter lives on the west coast with her mother and we live on the east coast.  I am extremely frustrated by the whole situation.  We are a young couple (in our mid 20s) my husbands daughter is 5.  He really hates this situation so he avoids it as much as he can.  I try to explain to him that this isn't something he can ignore and that he needs to do everything that he can.  He tells me that he wishes someone who's been in his situation could explain to me how he feels and that it's not something I can help him with.  Basically he feels that I can never understand how he feels because I'm not the one who doesn't have visitation with their child. To explain that last sentence my husband has 2 scheduled phone calls with his daughter a week and according to the decree of divorce visitation starting with 2 (1)week long visits from here to there (a more concrete schedule to be decided in meditation which didn't work because the mother won't agree on anything).  We have gone there once to visit so far and out of 8 days and 7 nights the mother allowed us a total of 17 and 1/2 hours of time with his daughter.  This discouraged my husband a lot.  Now the mother is saying that he needs to have visitation in front of a mediator to ensure the daughters safety, can she do this as it's not court ordered? He has never been violent or done anything to cause a need to ensure her safety.

Am I doing the right thing by seeking answers to his questions and getting him paperwork when I can and offering advice and support or am I totally in the wrong?  Any advice and support offered would be appreciated more that words can express. Thanks


have been around.  Stand by and see if people answer today or tomorrow.  

It's very hard when the BM (bio mom) doesn't want to work with the father.  Either she has valid concerns for the child's welfare or she fears a relationship with the father will interfere with her relationship with the child.  In this case, I suspect the latter.  Unfortunately, fear is a powerful emotion.

The wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!


In Short it can really suck sometimes.

It shows how much you love and support your DH and now realize just how unfair Family court really is!  It is also very sad that your DH doesn't have the ability to establish a wonderful loving relationship with his daughter.  I'm not sure how to say this...other than it's good that you support your DH in this matter but you need to take a backseat to this.  Unfortunately for his daughter, she has a Psycho BM that will alienate him from her and if she turns out to be a bad kid, will blame him because he wasn't involved in her life.  These women want it both ways and sadly many fathers can't do much about it.

A few questions....

Is there a court order for visitation?

Is your DH following that court order?

Is the BM?

Any chance of moving closer to the child?

I wish I could offer more positive advice...but I think your DH and you have a very long road ahead.  I think you should read up on PAS (Parent Alienation Syndrome), as well as "Divorce Poison".  If your DH has a court order he MUST try to follow it to the letter if at any time he wants to try for contempt against the BM.  If your DH is adament about not pursuing it, then respect that wish and leave it be.

BM's like that don't make any sense to people like you and me...sadly they never will.  I am a CP Mom and I'm THRILLED when my son goes to see his Dad!  When I talk to him while he's there, I encourage him to talk about the fun things he's done and I tell him that I'm happy for him...because I am.  EVERY child has the right to the love and support of EACH of their parents...Until the court ENFORCES that...then sadly many children like your stepdaughter will suffer!!
Now I'm living....Just another day in Paradise!!


I have been a stepparent for 13 years.  My DH was also long distance non-custodial for several of those years.  For your own sanity, you need to learn to distance yourself from the issues related to your stepdaughter and her mother.  This doesn't mean you don't love or do not support your DH, but you are the stepparent.  your steppdaughter is only 5 years old, and you have another 13 years of this crap coming.   Issues that crop up from all these dynamics can destroy a marriage in a heartbeat.  All your pushing and prodding to get your DH to not *ignore* what is going on will begin to grind at him and he might become resentful to you.

When you are a stepparent you have to learn to control what you can control and let go of what you can't control.  You cannot control your DH to step up to his ex.  He has to do this on his own.  You can support your DH to do this, but you can't make him.  You cannot control the ex to do the right thing and allow your DH to see his child.

The ex is enjoying the control she is taking over their daughter.  There are numerous steps that can be taken for your DH to enforce his visitation rights.  However, with you being coasts apart, this will probably require legal action.  You need to ask yourself how much money are you willing to part with and then live with it.  A lawyer will be expensive.  

Is the exisiting court order allow for visitation?  Does the existing court order recognize that your DH lives on the opposite coast of his daughter?  Your DH can only get the law to help to enforce an existing court order.  Encourage your DH to contact a lawyer in the county/state/city where the exisiting court order is established and he can probably get a free telephone consult to find out what his rights are.

If your DH shrugs off calling a lawyer, then dont' involve yourself in it.  You made the suggestion and he blew you off.  Dont' nag.  Don't keep asking him if he called.  If your DH chooses not to pursue it, it isn't your problem, nor is it something you can control.

Here are a few acronyms you need to become familiar with:
DH (dumb husband, dickhead husband, darling husband, whatever applies at the moment)
BM (Bio mom)
PB (Psycho b*tch from hell)
CS (Child Support)
CP (Custodial parent)
NCP (Non-Custodial parent)
SW (Second Wife)
CO (Court order)

There is a huge second wives cafe that you have to apply to in order to gain membership but it will be invaluable for you if you decide to join.  There is a lot of information on this site about disengaging and stepping back but still supporting your DH.

Here is a link:


Thanks for the advice and the acronym tutorial it helped a lot.

To answer your questions

No, there is no existing court order.  The judge only said that visitation would start with 2 1-week long visits by the father from here to there with a further visitation schedule to be decided in mediation.  This would have worked great 2 week long visits for them to become comfortable with each other and then the schedule they agreed on.  However, the mother wouldn't agree to anything she said she wouldn't buy any plane tickets, she wouldn't let her come for her birthday and Christmas, she said we could have one or the other, the problem is her birthday is only a few days before Christmas so travel at that time would be expensive and incredibly stressful.  My husband doesn't want to put his daughter in any uncomfortable situations because he knows visiting here will be uncomfortable enough.  He has even suggested that her mother come here with her so that if she needs her or wants her she will be available and she said absolutely not.

The court knows that we live on the other side of the country, they were generous enough to knock 50 a month of his child support to help pay for the cost of travel.  Which didn't do a whole hell of a lot with the cost of gas now.  I realize in the long run that's 600 dollars but for 3 round trip tickets (DH, SD, and PB) it doesn't equal out.

He has a lawyer who doesn't return his calls, or emails.  He doesn't respond to snail mail.  It's like he got paid and now he doesn't care.  He has ask him several times to call or write him back and hasn't had a response in over a year.  He has pretty much given up on the lawyer.  I don't nag him about the guy either.

I realized a long time ago to take the backseat.  I don't ask about how his calls went, or what his daughter said, I don't ask if he's talked to her mom about something he's told me he wants to talk to her about.  I assume when he's ready to tell me something or when he wants to he will.  I know I can't push for things, after all, it's not my daughter.

Thanks for the advice any more would also be appreciated.


Thanks a bunch.  All the info you provided is at least giving me ideas and things to look into.

To answer your questions

No there is no set visitation schedule that says anything like child will visit dad for x number of days x number of times a year.  The judge left that for them to decide in mediation and that didn't work out.

My DH does follow the court order he pays child support and we provide insurance for her.  PB complains that he doesn't pay half of her medical bills but we have never received a bill from her.  She complains we don't pay for glasses and other things she needs but she doesn't tell us she needs or send us copies of the bills so we can give her our half.

The BM follows the court order because it's all in favor of her.  It doesn't force her to have to allow the child time with my husband so she's loving it.

We have discussed moving closer to her so that visitation would be easier on everyone.

The thing that hurts me the most about the situation is that her mother tells her that she is very lucky and special she has 2 daddy's and 1 mommy who love her.  She doesn't even consider me a part of her daughters life.  And she's constantly throwing it in my husbands face when her husband does something for the daughter that he would have and could have done if he either lived in the same city or had been ask to provide her with whatever it was.


You will receive advice from all ends of the spectrum on this topic.  In the end, you have to decide what feels right to you.  And only you know whether it makes sense or not.

I would advise you to tread very carefully when you are encouraging  your DH to be involved with his daughter.  It sounds to me like he is not fully on board with it - even with having some legitimate qualms.

Some questions:

When was the divorce final?  What was his relationship with his daughter before the divorce?  Why is there a situation and order that limits his time with his daughter now?

Supporting our DH's when this is all said and done comes in a variety of forms.  You can be supportive of him loving his daughter and wanting to be involved - but only as much as he is willing to do for himself.  I know from first hand experience that it is so tempting and so rewarding at the time to jump in and 'fix' the situation.  However, I have learned that my 'fixing' in all reality has done nothing but make things worse - make my DH feel 'obligated' to do things he really was not prepared to do; make him feel like less of a man because I handled things.  Not my intentions, but that is what ultimately happened.  I ended up knowing his case better than he did - and that was not my place to be - I was not there when my SD was conceived and I was not there when she was brought into this world.  My DH has been taking care of her since day one with little to no help from her mother.  I was stepping in to help him and take on the mother-figure role in her life.  Finally at age 12 we got custody of her.  Everything should have been fairy-tale then, right?  Wrong.  Far, far from it.  No that we didn't have successes and good times - definitely they were there.  But, in the end spirits have been broken, feelings hurt, and hearts broken.  My kids have been overlooked - again, not intentionally; it's just how the cookie crumbled - but I'm working on that now with them.

My advice to you is to let your DH take the lead.  Don't go off with guns blazing on a relationship-saving-crusade.  Just keep being supportive to him - offer for him to come here and interact with other fathers who are going through what he is going through.  Maybe his opinion will change and he'll find a vision.  Then you can help him take action and make things available to him - it will cost mucho dinero to fight a cross-country custody battle.  Even if all you are looking to do is enforce time with the child.  Some will say it is worth it at any cost.  I say, you and your DH need to make that decision - and if you are willing to forego things and a family of your own to pursue, then go for it.  If you are not, then make things as good as they can be and be as involved as you can be.  Either way does not mean that your DH loves his daughter any less.

Good luck and please keep coming back!


dsm - 37; DH - 41; SD - 18; LO - 12; BB - 5
It's time for me to do for me and mine.  The others can worry about themselves for awhile.
dsm - 44
DH - 48
SD - 26
LO - 19
BB - 12
1 demon who provides cheap entertainment of the fluffy and furry kind.

My mantra - it's time for me to do for me and mine so we can live in the present and not fret about the past nor worry about the future.  What is, is


she's been more on the LD stepparenting thing than I have, but the only suggestion I can add is to just tell your DH that if he doesn't put effort into seeing his daughter now and trying to work what he deems fair will indeed set a precident against him for the future.  

I think he needs to retain a new attorney.  The BM doesn't get to decide everything.  

I think at the very least suggest your DH come to SPARC and talk to other dads who have been in his shoes.  


the only thing you can to do mitigate that is be exactly opposite of what BM says, without belitting BM (never EVER do that).  We vet SWs have an old saying...Take The High Road...no matter what.  


A court order for visitation should be extremely detailed and can take up to as much as 2 pages.  It will say what holidays/breaks/summer time he gets.  It will be impossible to get the existing order enforced since it is so vague.  Once the new order is in place, your DH can start documenting when she breaks the court order, then he can have contempt charges filed on her.  

I am assuming your DH moved from mom, or did mom move from DH?If your DH is the one that moved, then you will probably be mostly stuck with travel costs.

It is mom's responsibility to pay the medical bill for 100% of the amount, then send a copy of the receipt or cancelled check.  Then he would reimburse mom for his half.  It is not your DH's responsibility to deal directly with the medical facility or the invoice.  

The biggest thing to do is to not let this occupy your brain space ior start to obsess over it.  The more you think about it and stew about it the more of your *life* it will start to consume.  As it consumes you, then you will become resentful towards your DH and blame him for the mess.  When you find yourself obsessing (and trust me, you will) fill your head with something else.  Pickup a book, do your hobby, work in the garen, something, anything.  My second family woes almost cost me my marriage and it took about 2 years for my marriage to get back on track.  Adopting the Mantra... Not my kid, not my problem helped me.  Do I love my stepkids?  Yes, I love them very much.  Do I love and support my DH?  Yes, I love him and support him very much.  Because of the love I have for my DH, I took a backseat to the skid (stepkid) and BM issues.  I allowed him to be the parent without me being the nagging wife.  


You can't go the mentality of trying to "fix" things.  Us as woman try to fix everything and everyone and we are trying to do it for the better.  

In this stepfamily environment trying to fix this situation usually backfires.

Kitty C.

You mentioned 3 round-trip tickets for your DH, SD and BM....why?  Why would there even be a ticket for the BM?  And are you aware that your SD can fly unaccompanied as long as it's a direct flight?  Then once she turns 8 or 9, she can fly with one plane change?  You can go to any major airline website and search for their 'unaccompanied minor policies' to get the details and costs.  We had LD visitation for 10+ years and that's how DS got to see his dad, plus there are others on this site who have utilized it as well, so if you have any questions about it, just ask.

I agree with the other poster.......your DH needs a new CO.  But if you said that the judge left certain details of visitation up to mediation....and BM never agreed to anything in mediation....then it sounds like there isn't a final order anyway, as all details have not been worked out.  If mediation is a bust, then the court will decide the matter.  So you and your DH have a LOT of decisions to make.  

I agree with others in that you need to let him take the lead in how much or little effort is put into this.  But if there was anything that I personally would insist on is for him to understand just how important he is to his daughter's life.  I can understand how defeated he must feel, but if all his daughter ever hears is her mother's side of the story, she could very well grow up hating him for no other reason than from what she's been told.  Many adult children have harbored ill feelings to absent parents for many years, not knowing that what they had been told was all lies.  I, too, would recommend he come to this site...if for no other reason than to get a perspective on things.

If, when all is said and done, your Dh is unable to maintain a consistent LD relationship with his daughter, I would strongly recommend he keep a journal or write letters to her (but don't send them).  Then, when she becomes an adult, give them to her so that she can read for herself how much he loved her and that he did not forsake her.  It might go a long way to healing the wounds time, distance, and circumstances created.
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......


know when the kid might actually get to the mailbox first.  I did.  I got there three days before mine and my brother's birthdays.  First time we had gotten cards from our birth mother.  Found out later that it wasn't the first time she sent them.  
The wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!


No doubt there's an unspoken void in this little girl's life !!!

Kitty advised "But if there was anything that I personally would insist on is for him to understand just how important he is to his daughter's life. I can understand how defeated he must feel".

and that MUST be the one and only mindset he needs...nothing else really matters at this time under the circumstances and Prixey is critical in her support role for her to have him

Screw the so called court system ... he can overcome all the issues knowing he is not alone .... with this board and his wife and others.

Keep posting with more info (you've been asked) and good luck.


It's not about logistics, it's about control.  We did move from one coast to the other to be closer to my SD.  It was hell.  We wish we never had.  PB took DH to court ALL the time.  She would not follow the court orders, so DH still didn't get to see SD.  In the end we uprooted our family and lives for nothing.  


It's really hard to take the high road some days.  Sometimes I really just want to put her in her place.  She is such a PB and she knows how to push peoples buttons to make them do something to her or say something that she can manipulate to get a protection order.  I just stop talking to her when she gets like that but my DH doesn't know when to stop with her sometimes and it's hurt him in the past.


HE moved from her because BM was making his life miserable and he didn't want to live in the same city as her.  He doesn't care about paying for his daughter and himself he just doesn't want to pay for PB.  She also stated in something she filed that she wouldn't come here unless her husband could accompany her for her own personal safety.  My as I have stated before my husband has never been physically violent toward PB or daughter.  He has only met the sdad once so he's never done anything to him either.

Also my husband use to smoke pot.  He did when BM and him got together (this was 5+ years ago).  Because of this she is saying she needs supervised visits and to spend time with daughter in front of a mediator.  She said something about the pot smoking during their divorce hearing and the judge asked her if he'd ever been violent, to which she responded no, and he responded that it didn't matter to him then.  As long as he had no history of being violent toward her he didn't care what he did in his recreational time.  I thought it was a weird response.

Is there anyway that I can get copies of what exactly is said during the court hearings so she can't say one thing when really it wasn't said.

I do find myself obsessing about this.  She just makes me so damn mad which her crazy delusional beliefs and always thinking I'm the bad guy and out to get her.  I don't talk to her unless it's about something with the daughter.  She will engage me in other things which I feel rude not responding to.  I guess I need to stop responding.  I just hate it when I ask her for help buying something for my step daughter and she won't give me any information on what she wants or clarify what she's talking about.  Last year for Christmas my step daughter said she wanted leap pad books.  That was great but  there are multiple leap pad systems.  The PB wouldn't even tell me what kind she had so I'd buy her the right books until I called her practically crying and she said she felt bad so she returned my call.  I tried email, my husband email, asking the daughter, nothing worked it was like she wanted us to fail so finally when I was desperate and miserable she responded.  She tries to say she's not a control freak but that Christmas thing to me says otherwise.


When was the divorce final? What was his relationship with his daughter before the divorce? Why is there a situation and order that limits his time with his daughter now?

The divorce was finalized I think 3 years ago.  Before the divorce his relationship with daughter was pretty bad.  BM had several protection orders against him (for saying the wrong thing to her on the phone which she manipulated into a threat and example of this would be the time he(DH) told her(BM) they were stuck with each other and basically if something happened to her and she died he would be there for his daughter and thus probably at her funeral. She hung up called the police and said he threatened her life.  This protection order was extend for a full year because the day of the court hearing to decide the extent of the TPO DH's father passed away).  Their relationship is leaps and bounds better now that she's older and can understand things a little better.  She knows she use to live her when she was  baby, her mother moved back home with her when she was 6 months old.  BM told my husband he was welcome to come if he wanted!

Also some advice here would be appreciated, I told him to tell her the truth about why he didn't talk to her if he missed a call (which he hasn't in a while) or if she asked him about something, like why he doesn't visit her.  Is she old enough to be told the truth.  I'm not suggesting he bad mouth the BM and say it's her fault he doesn't see her.  But would it be wrong of him to tell her that he can't yet because it's not finalized in court the stipulations of the visitation?  Obviously in words she will understand.  

The only situation that limits his time with his daughter now is the LD thing and that her mother won't allow it unless it's set-up with a mediator.  


If you ever directly try to communicate with her, you will set yourself up for a verbal attack from her.  If you don't engage her, then there is no reason for her to attack you.

It doesn't matter what was said in court.  The only thing that matters is what is in the court order.  The court order is the bible and that is what needs to be followed to the *T*.


If she asks, just simply say that you're trying to make that happen but it may take a while.  Since she is 5, perhaps you could encourage her to practice writing?  Maybe send her some paper, envelopes and stamps?  Send her letters, keep them brief and written clearly so she can practice her reading skills as well.  KEEP copies of the letters that you send.  This will show the court that you wish to establish communication in a constructive way....
Now I'm living....Just another day in Paradise!!


to launch an attack.  

However, you're right in that if she doesn't engage, the opportunity won't be there.  
The wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!


Welcome to the joys of being a stepmom.  However, it isn't always bad (with the exception of dealing with the ex)

Moving closer won't help, hell we moved 600 miles away and have a better relationship with the kdis now as we don't feel like we have people lurking over our shoulders watching our every move.

Your husband really needs to get a court order with set visitaiton. I would read up on the laws in the state the order is in, sometimes mediation does not work and you would want to file a parenting plan and explain that you have tried mediation etc.

When my hubby ex always told me the kids and the divorce are none of my business, ya right what effects my hubby effects me. She hates that her youngest and I are close, my mom did that to me and my stepmom and I no longer really have a relationship with my mother but a great one with my stepmom.

It is hard road. Please make sure to NOT let her get between you and your husband they try and try.

Please come and ask advise many of us are stepmoms and know your pain.  

Best wishes

**These are my opinions, they are not legal advice**

Kitty C.

My SS's mom used to be a PBFH.......now she's just mildly brain dead, LOL!

But when DH and I got together, she hated me like no other!  During our 1st Christmas (when we were to have SS on Xmas day and 2 days after, per CO), she had no idea whether we were going to my family or DH's.  Prior to this, she sent SS in out-sized and out-of-season clothes EVERY time.  SS (at the tender age of 4) said that 'Mommy got all my clothes at a second-hand store for the bag to take to Daddy's'.  Quilted sweats in the summer, thin t-shirts in the winter.........and SECOND-HAND UNDERWEAR!!!  Get the picture?  But on that first Christmas when DH picked SS up, SS was literally dressed to the nines!  Even his socks matched his outfit!   Because if we were going to see MY family, she didn't want anyone to think bad of her...........she didn't give a rat's patootie about DH and his family, of course.  And we went to his!

That set the course and theme for the next 5-6 years.  I learned NEVER to engage her directly.  I would barely answer the phone if she called and ONLY if DH was there.  So to make the suffering less for SS, we bought clothes for him (and had some 'nice' hand-me-downs from my DS) and kept EVERY toy we bought him at our house.  When she realized that we would not play her game with her, she backed off.  She still would make noise occasionally, but the one VERY important fact DH and I have found is that living well and being happy are the BEST revenge!

When she remarried and got pregnant almost immediately, she asked DH why we weren't having a baby (we got married 14 days before she did).  DH told her: #1-'It's none of your business.' and #2-We choose not to have that responsibility to tie us down.  Almost 10 years later, she has another divorce and another kid going thru grade school, and we're off doing whatever tickles our fancy!  We live only about 2 blocks away and, given what SS (now 14) tells us, the fires of jealousy are burning quite bright there these days...I swear I've seen smoke, LOL!  So the #2 comment, while considered none of her business, was just a 'rub'!

She must have 'seen the light' in some ways during her 2nd divorce, and all of a sudden I'm not the wicked stepmother anymore!  But I ain't her friend, either.........and never will be.  Now she's dependant on me, with SS going thru the orthodontic program where I work (and getting a 50% discount because of ME) to save her (and us) money.  My, how the tables have turned!

Bottom line for you personally, avoid her as much as humanly possible.  Try to help your DH understand that he should ONLY give her as much information as she NEEDS to know.  Anything more than that and you give away your power to her, which she's feeds on.  Shelter your SD from as much of the turmoil as you possibly can.  Buy clothes and toys to keep at your home, even if that means she has the same thing at her mom's.   The PB may or may not eventually 'come around', but do not plan on it.  Expect her to be nasty and you won't be surprised.

But above all else..........DON'T give away your power to her!  Once you and your DH understand that and are able to utilize it in dealing with her, it will be a whole lot easier to live with, epecially emotionally.  That's part of being the 'better person'.  Remember, just because she made certain statements in filings of things she 'want's, that doesn't mean she's going to get them.  So if the judge doesn't see your DH as a threat, her request for her and her hubby to travel just because she's 'afraid' of him won't hold water and neither will the supervised visitation.  Nothing is a done deal until the final order is signed..........and if it ain't in the final order, she canNOT demand it!
Handle every stressful situation like a dog........if you can't play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away.......


I just wanted to say thank you so much to everyone that has responded with their great advice and support.  

I still hate her and I probably always will.  It's great to see that I'm not the only one who's in this situation.  It's easy to feel alone in this scary world of step-parenting.  

I didn't mention but maybe it was obvious.  I am "just a baby" by most standards.  I am in my early/mid 20s my husband is 2 years older than me.  We haven't been married long (two years this August).  He was 20 when his daughter was born  BM was 21 or 22.  I thought this info might help put things in perspective.

I know I shouldn't have talked to her.  I feel like it would be better for the daughter if we had some kind of civil relationship.  I am wrong for this line of thinking?  

Also my husband is court ordered to provide insurance for his daughter.  He does not receive benefits through his job.  I have offered to include her on my plan.  Should I do this or should I just forget about it cause it's not my kid, not my problem.  She does have insurance through her step-father so it's not like she's uncovered.  I feel like putting her on is the right thing to do but I don't know, I'm also pretty sure PB will find someway to use it against me or not allow it even though I have great insurance that makes everything for children virtually free, no copays, well child visit covered in full, no deductions or out of pocket maximum.  I also have a flex spending account that I can use to help pay for her glasses and other things that might arise.  The way it works is I get a debt card to use with the amount I choose on it all at once, I can then use it like any other debt card to pay copays or for glasses or whatever until it's all used up, my work withholds  money from my check every pay period to pay for it.  I can get multiple cards so I could send one to BM to use when she needs.  I would like to so that she can use it to pay for glasses and such I just don't want her to use in on her new baby and I think she might.  I feel in my gut like it's a bad thing to do.....


unrealistic.  Yes, it would be great if y'all had that type of relationship but she likely feels threatened by you or at least jealous of you and therefore, it probably won't happen anytime soon.  

Listen to your gut.  It's a bad thing to do because ultimately, you are responsible for that account.  Abusing that account will fall on your head regardless of who actually did it.  Only you and your eligible dependents qualify to use that account.  If BM uses it on her baby, that's fraud but you're responsible because it's your account and your card.  Also, even if she uses it completely legitimately, will she give you the receipts?  We have the same type of account where I work and even though I use the debit card, I have to keep up with the receipts in case they ever demand proof of the expense.

ETA:  I would add her to the insurance because it shows your husband is complying with the CO.  

Also, although you tried to be vague in your post, I could calculate your age, your husband's age and the ex's age based on the information you provided.  The only player's age I don't know is the stepdad's.
The wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!


stepdad is two years older than BM I think it's 2 years anyway.