Originally Posted by DragonSlayer
Thank you. The calculator does say he's paying approximately the right amount, but all the extra lessons, chiropractic, team sports, camps, etc. are coming out of my pocket and it finally hit me that that makes no sense. Now that you say that, it makes me wonder if the mediator who looked over our stuff just assumed we would split costs in a friendly way, not realizing that he has no intention of doing so, and that I can't talk to him about money because it turns into mind games immediately.
Well, thank you! I have a lot to mull over.
Here, each parent is expected to pay for the activities in which they choose to enroll the children - even private school.
Of course, it's ideal if both parents care about what activities the kids want to do and can work it out between themselves, as to who can best afford to foot the bill. But many times, the whole reason people are divorced is because they can't communicate. If mediation has been successful for you guys before, it might be worth trying again. Your ex might want to appear more reasonable and cooperative, in front of the mediator, than he is with you, so you might get him to agree to pay for some things, by discussing how important a sport or activity is to your child - or how critical a camp is, for staying competitive in the sport. And if he also uses a chiropractor, you might be able to get that considered an out-of-pocket medical expense (which should be shared), although it's not conventional medicine.
I wouldn't spend too much time focusing on the income/spending disparity. It's too frustrating. There's not a direct, simple correlation in child support calculators, where each parent is expected to spend the same percentage of their disposable income on the child. If you're existing on the poverty line, you might spend half your income trying to do as much as you could, for your child. If you make $100,000/year, you'd be able to do more for your kids with a smaller percentage of your income. If you're a multi-millionaire you might be able to provide pretty lavishly for your kids, on only a tiny percentage of your income. The calculators are a bit more complicated than that.
You asked if anyone gets more than minimum support? I do. My ex is wealthy and has gotten rather exponentially wealthier since we split up. (I haven't.) We weren't married and both wanted to avoid court, so we drafted an agreement that we've followed pretty well, for 16 years. He offered a monthly amount of support and I honestly have no idea if it's a bit more - or drastically less - than I could have gotten from him, in court. But it was enough to give me the option of staying home with the kids, if I was careful about my spending. They were two. I wanted to be home with them. I didn't want to spend money on attorneys and wind up spiteful and hating each other - either because I felt I got scr--ed in court, or because he resented how much money he was forced to pay me. He had offered what he felt he could afford, an amount that made him feel he'd be providing well for his kids, and it worked for my purposes. I accepted. Years later, when he moved out of his big house into a mansion, it occurred to him that I'd never asked for an increase, so he offered a pretty substantial one. I accepted. It let me put our kids in private school, without having to ask him to pay tuition.
That's the thing: he makes so much money - and so much more than I do - that it's kind of ridiculous that I ever pay for anything, for our kids. It would be no sacrifice at all, for him to pay the child support he pays and their tuition, and buy their uniforms and pay their sports fees, etc., etc. And if I specifically asked him to do all the extras, he probably would. But he'd also resent the idea that I'm always asking him for more money and he'd feel superior; and he'd forget and be late and I'd be the one left to deal with the consequences. And it's just not worth it. I like being broken up so I don't have to deal with the headache-y parts of his personality (or our personalities combined). I'm sure it's the same, for you.
I say, take all the reasonable steps to get appropriate child support. If you know he's had a big income increase, make the effort to get support adjusted. If you think mediation over some of the extras would help, do it. But beyond that, suck it up. Assess the funds you have available and decide what you can afford for your kids, based on that. Feel good about yourself for managing your money - even if you can't give your kids everything. Feel good about yourself for not letting your ex create extra stress in your life, because you choose not to fight with him over money when you don't have to. Feel good about not letting yourself get mired in jealousy that his financial life is easier than yours. Feel good knowing that in the end, your kids see that you are the parent whose life revolves around them, who will sacrifice for them, who consistently puts them first. They really do know, even though they may not be mature enough to thank you until they're in their 30's. Being the mom you are really is its own reward - and something it sounds like your ex is missing out on, whether or not he knows it.