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#1 of 7 Old 03-06-2014, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am currently a married working homeschooling mother of 2 (ages 5 & 2). My husband and I have carefully arranged our work schedules so that I have them from waking up until he gets home M-F, then I go to work in the evenings and weekends. We use no school or childcare currently.

We're planning to divorce, and I'm very interested in finding a suitable arrangement for our separate households. I am a grocery store clerk in a very expensive city, but my job is flexible and provides insurance for myself and the kids (we currently pay $240/mo insurance deducted from my paycheck). I essentially make about 2x the amount I would be paying for the cheapest possible apartment anywhere reasonably near work. Typically, I would be required to earn at least 3x the cost of rent to qualify. Even if my husband co-signs for my lease, I will still be unable to afford a car or save any money.

My husband makes roughly 4x my income, and will have no trouble securing another living arrangement and has a reliable vehicle.

The only way I can imagine this working is if kids sleep at his house almost every night (or I would have to get them in a bike trailer or on a bus at 11:30pm each night). It makes more sense to have him pick them up on his way home from work, then bring them to me on his way to work each morning, I suppose. I am uncertain whether his housing them overnight would eliminate my ability to receive child support, even though I would spend more waking hours caring for them and feeding 2 meals plus snacks and daytime activity expenses.

The other option I can imagine is having to use paid childcare for the2yo and enroll ing the 5 year old into public school in order to work days. This would cost more money overall, but would eliminate the weird scheduling snafu about our current day/night schedule.

Has anyone divorced under similar circumstances? Does anyone have any ideas? I have little resume material and marketable skills, no degree, and a 6 year hiatus from working, since I became a mother. My best bet would be to stay with my current lower-paying job w/insurance, I imagine, or get a higher paying job that might not necessarily offer benefits as good as my current job. Another option would be Medicaid, if I qualify, for me & the kids.

Any ideas, suggestions, or experiences would help me weigh my options and come to some logical outcomes. TIA.
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#2 of 7 Old 03-07-2014, 12:47 PM
 
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I've read a bit of your story on the PaP board and it resonates with me a bit. Though my divorce wasn't similar emotionally (my marriage was very different than how yours sounds and I did not want a divorce), many of the logistics are similar so I can tell you how it worked for me in my situation and maybe that will give you some insights.

 

We had been together for over 9 years. The kids were nearly 7 & 3. I had stopped working out of the home when I was pregnant with oldest, and had run a tiny in-home business making a little income (about 10% of XH). We didn't have a lot of debt, since we'd had a bankruptcy about 2 years before, but we had no savings.

 

We live in LosAngeles, & though our rent was low for the area, it's very high for the country ($1275/month) and it's a high COL area in general. My family is very near-by, so there is no place that was more appropriate to move to. Oldest was in school but youngest wasn't and daycare is crazy expensive here.

 

Each purchased a car with fairly high monthly payments around the time of the breakup. The boys were generally with me 75% of the time (had breakfast with dad in the mornings and spend a chunk of Sundays having Daddy time while I did computer work)  My industry (fashion) doesn't really have part-time options so it's a matter of some type of job that you have and struggle to find child care (my family lives close but is not reliable or has any interest in helping with childcare except in emergencies) or do a WAH job.

 

He decided to move into the house next door which had become available at a slightly higher rent than the existing one. At first, I simply calculated how much HIS expenses would be (since I did all of the household accounting while we were married) and then asked him to give me what was left, which left me short by about a third of what I needed and was less than the state support calculators would give me, but I wanted to be fair to him and not have him be angry with me.  My parents helped for a lot of the first year until I nearly lost my car and I insisted he pay what the state required. I was also able to get a part time, at home job which gave me enough to cover the rest of our expenses. He had increased his time with the kids to about 40% but not enough to cover childcare for me to do any other kind of work.

 

 

One thing in all this that gave me the most reassurances was having access to the state's support calculators (which, at the time, you had to get directly from the software they used, now it's all online). I did impute some income for me, though there has only been about a year when I actually made that much each month, partly due to effect of the recession on my job. Our 2 households would be much more equitable if I were able to make that extra, but I still get nearly enough to cover general household expenses with a very tight budget (and he now lives with his fiancee' so his household has a much higher income)

 

Anyway, I think someone has mentioned this before, but, although there is a period in a divorce where you're just getting by, you want to have a life with your kids that can be maintained in the long term. You took this job to start getting a life away from your spouse, but you're setting a precedent that you do all the sacrificing to appease him. In a supportive marriage, one spouse sometimes works odd hours for a period of time when the kids are little while the other takes on greater childcare to get the family through a financial hardship, but that isn't sustainable in a divorce situation and that isn't why you are living this way now. You are entitled to have a livable life, to be with your children during normal parenting hours. A 50/50 custody situation makes sense if you really had equitable parenting in the marriage (or your area pushes for it), but if you were (before starting the job) doing most of the parenting for small children, then the courts make sure that you can be supported to do that.

 

You're sacrificing more of your life than any court would make you do and that hits me wrong.

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#3 of 7 Old 03-07-2014, 01:12 PM
 
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I just have a minute, so I apologize if I missed anything in your post.  My quick thoughts are:

 

Usually custody is decided by overnights, so if he had them every night, he would be considered to have primary custody.  So, not only would you not get child support, it's possible that you would have to pay him support, which would likely mean you'd have to get a job to make more money anyway.  I would definitely not do this! 

 

Are you able to get any daytime work hours?  Some 50/50 arrangements would let you set up your schedule so you have the same days each week, plus EOW, so you could potentially work two days every week, plus every other weekend.  I'm not sure if that is a possibility?

 

Run the numbers through your state's calculator to see how much child support he will owe-that might help make a decision for you.  I was in the same position as you that I didn't make nearly enough money, have enough saved for the security deposit, or have a high enough credit rating to get a traditional lease.  I was incredibly lucky that a friend put me in touch with a family member who was willing to rent without those things-I am still so grateful for this.  I'd let everyone you know that you are looking and the situation.  Can you not stay in your current house since your dh seems to be more able to move?

 

Good luck mama-this is such a stressful time while you are working out the details.  It gets better!

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#4 of 7 Old 03-07-2014, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't stay in our current house. Rent alone is more than I can earn each month. :-/

It looks to me like I will need to arrange to start the kids in school/daycare before divorcing so I can change my schedule. This is probably best anyway, so I can have potential to upgrade my status at work and split custody more equally. As much as I wish our current dynamic could work, it just won't. Thanks for the responses so far. I'm still interested to hear more if anyone wants to chime in.
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#5 of 7 Old 03-10-2014, 12:33 PM
 
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Have you had any consultations with divorce lawyers? That would be my suggestion. Most will do a brief consultation (~30 minutes) to answer your questions about their practice and how they'd approach your specific situation. I found it very helpful at the beginning.

 

IME if you have the kids for most overnights you'll qualify for child support. Based on your job history you may qualify for alimony for a time. And depending on your state and how the orders are written, he may need to pay some portion of daycare/childcare, their medical insurance premiums, uninsured medical care, or even to carry them on his medical insurance if you don't have any through your employer. 

 

If I was you I would definitely consider enrolling the kids in childcare/school and figuring out how you can best make enough money to support yourself and them in the best way you can. Would it be worthwhile for you to go back to school and re-train for a job? There are lots of evening programs and even reputable online programs now (I did my teaching degree online, except for the student teaching which you have to do in an actual classroom!).

 

FWIW I don't know if this datapoint is helpful, but at my employer it would cost $300 or less (depending on which plan I picked) to cover me and the kids. At my stbxH's, it costs only about half that for the employee + kids plan. Obviously it's going to vary by company (or if you get insurance from the new exchange), but I wouldn't stick with a job that pays less just for that particular medical premium.

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#6 of 7 Old 03-15-2014, 02:50 PM
 
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I know I have said this before, but please do not shortchange yourself!  Remember all you gave up career wise, and do not undervalue your mothering work.  I really think that getting legal consultations (several is usually a good idea if you can get pro bono consults).  Something about your h (from the other forum) just sounds like he is someone I would not trust to be reasonable if you actually stood up for what is fair and right.  I bet he can be nice as pie when things are going his way.  Imagine if he would agree to what you would like, then what kind of custody situation would be best for the kids?
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#7 of 7 Old 03-16-2014, 08:46 AM
 
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I've heard people talk about how if you do a legal consult with someone, they can't then represent your ex (and vice versa) due to conflict of interests. If this is true, it would be good to do consults with the best lawyers in the area you can, especially lawyers who specialize in father's rights cases. Just something to look into.

I realize that you don't want to screw him over, but it sounds like he'll be able to afford far better counsel than you and could easily decide to screw you over. It'd be great to assume he won't and he'll stick to the agreement, but you have to cover your bases just in case.

 

I really hope that you're able to have as amicable a divorce as possible, it really is best for the kids- but don't think that means you have to be a doormat for him!

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