Some days I think that the dilemmas this divorce process has had me face have just not been worth it. As dysfunctional as our marriage was, as crazy and abusive as my ex became as things peaked and fizzled and peaked and now as they have plateaued, I actually find myself occasionally wanting to erase the last year and keep trying to make things work. Of course, usually I sit with that thought for a day or two and then some interaction with XH lets me know that I did make the right decision, really the only decision that could give me a chance at a healthy and happy life.
I do see though, ways in which divorce makes an already bad situation, worse. It just seems like it encourages distrust and dishonesty, makes things that are really complicated come down to just $$, etc. It just really sucks. A lot. But, I digress.
Did any of you agree to a lower CS amount than what FOC recommended? I did on a temporary basis, but as our divorce settlement is being finalized, have (with my lawyer) gone with the FOC recommendation. I just feel unsettled about it and it's hard to tell if that unease comes from it genuinely being the wrong decision or is just the discomfort that comes from changing my long-term habit of trying to save him from himself. At first, I knew that my XH could not afford the full CS amount including our child care costs, and my decision to accept a lower amount was all wrapped up in the same codependent problem-solving that I practiced throughout our marriage--basically getting in the way of him experiencing consequences for his poor decision-making. As we spent more time apart and I was able to detach a little from him, I thought about the fact that his budget is none of my business, that he could conceivably get another job, or make choices that reduce his monthly expenses, etc. So that was what went into my deciding to accept the FOC recommendation. I thought that if I just took myself out of the process as much as possible and let the court decide, that it would cease to be something that he felt was my "fault," that it could just be sort of matter-of-fact and business like.
XH and I are both pretty low-income. Like, we both make btw 23-25K/year and live in an area without much affordable housing. I moved into a cooperative of townhouses with subsidized rent and have done other things to reduce my expenses, but he moved into an apartment that is almost double the cost of where I live. I think he did this because he wanted to be closer to his job, thinking he could use his car less and bike more, save money that way, etc. Both of us have debt. The CS amount including child care costs is going to be about 1/3 of his income. I am a pretty frugal person, and even I can't figure out how he pulls off basic living expenses on what he will have left. I have no desire to have him be punished by this divorce and I feel pretty pained imagining how shitty his quality of life is right now. Aside from being broke, he's also pretty emotionally handicapped and isolated and has no family or close friends to help him deal with all of this. He's just going to stuff it and feel anger, outward toward me and maybe our kids and internalized toward himself. As much as he has hurt me and treated me poorly throughout this process, I care for him a great deal and it SUCKS to watch this pan out.
I need the money from CS, to pay for child care and my daughter's preschool costs and also to help pay bills, because my income is not enough for me, either. I don't want to make myself suffer more just to try and help him out, because that has been my pattern and aside from being bad for me it is also kind of insulting to him. He is an adult and can ask for help if he needs it.
I just feel this guilt that I don't know how to let go of. I don't know if I should be doing something differently or if I am taking on guilt for things that I am just not responsible for. In an ideal world, I would want us to still function as "family," in some ways. Like, it's in the best interest of our children that both their parents are healthy and happy and able to eat well and pay their electricity bills, so in an ideal world we'd work with each other and help each other when we are having trouble. But also in an ideal world, we'd communicate honestly and not take advantage of one another, which is not reality.
When is it unethical to accept all this money? When is it unethical NOT to, since the money is for our children and even if I don't "need" all of it to maintain our household, I could always put the extra in an account for our kids? I have considered sending any extra that I don't need for childcare/school/bills back to him at the end of the month.
Ohhhhh, any experience/advice would be welcome.