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Wow, this is a lot of posts, lol. I got my info from my OP wayyyy back, so thank you. Given that DH1 and I have a good working friendship and thus far (including the actual divorce, custody, etc) have not had so much as a major argument, I think we can work out something in between. I do believe that I will take the short end of the stick because it will be easier and I seems to be the precident I have set.
I am going to try and comment on a few things, although I am really tired and overwhelmed with thoughts on this thread. I agree with both "sides". I have had more real life experience with fathers or non-custodials, getting completely reemed. Lack of better example...my current DH was married before. They have no children together, but she brought a teenaged son into the marriage, so my DH was a step-dad. Bio-dad signed off rights at birth. His first wife came into the marriage with $30k in debt and a $10/hr job. DH works in real estate and during that time the market was going crazy here. He was making probably $120k/yr or something crazy. He paid off her debt. He bought some investment property with cash he had saved before the marriage. The step-son was college bound bright kid and DH offered to pay for his college. (In addition to the fact that he was supporting him, helped him by a car, etc). 2 years into the marriage, step-son is a sr in high school and lands a drug habit. DW1 cheats and wants a divorce. She hires a bad-ass attorney (that he had to pay for). She got half of everything, including the investment property, etc. THEN she got the courts to mandate that he pay a lump sum for step son's college education because DH agreed when married that he would. This kid was living on the streets, getting arrested, shooting up, etc. And they rules that he had to do it. Now not the same, but I think sometimes...man, if they had had kids together, she would have spent the rest of her life sucking every penny she could while she spent $100/wk on hair highlights. Ironically, she also got a house free and clear in the divorce, took out a mortgage on it later, had it foreclosed and declared bankrupcy within 3 years.
So back to my current situation. The one item I go back to it what is fair to first and second families (sorry for the terminology, I am really not sure what the PC term is there). I understand all the step-mom's side on ex-wives being able to manipulate the system to suck everything from the "second" family. This is assuming that that parent is the non-custodial. In our situation, DH2 and I are about to have our second child together, then DD1 from marriage 1. So let's say DH1 and his new wife have a couple kids. She decides to stay home and money is tight. I ask for more $ somewhere in there...not out of greed, but because I am truly not getting close to a fair amount. So let's say I only ask him to chip in another little bit, not nearly what he should be paying. Let's say that DD1 needs braces in 5 years and he and new wife have 2 kids and she wants to stay home and I ask for more money (note: he sure could have been saving that $300/month that he should have been paying for DD1 for the last 5 years) to help with that. New wife is pissed. He says no, that he is just paying what is court mandated or whatever the agreement is. They just cant tighten the belt straps anymore. Not fair to new wife and kids. Whatever it is.
IT IS ALWAYS, at the end of the day, MY LIABILITY. So my options are to tell DD1 that she does not get braces as we cannot afford it. Or tell her that second family children on both sides are taking priority now since their families are intact and if she wants braces she will need to start eating canned tuna and ground round even though her second family siblings are getting organic farm raised meat, because we have to offset her cost of braces.
I mean, DH1 and new wife get to make the call to put their 2nd family kids first, but as the custodial parent with all the kids in the same house, I cannot do that. I cant tell her...oh, DH2 and I saved for your sister's college education and your dad and new wife saved for their kids, but your dad didnt want to chip in because he didnt see the value in college, and since his second family never had to take a hit for that, then DH2 and I decided we shouldnt either. Sorry bout that kiddo. DH1 will always have that luxury as the non-custodial. DH2 and I will always have to make it equal.
NOTE: I make this argument as someone that gets less than half what is reasonable, and will probably ask for another $100-$150/month from DH1, off the court record for NO OTHER REASON than to not piss off new wife and make things difficult. I will eat the difference. My "second family" will forever make the adjustments to give all kids equal opportunties and DH1 will never have to compensate.
Not sure if that makes sense, but deep down inside, that is the emotional side for me. Again, more times than not I see the non-custodial parent get raked over the coals. Knowing our situation is not that way, and never will be, the feelings I laid above are really where my sticking point is. My current DH works 60hr/week away from his kids, so I can SAH because that is what he wants for his kids. Therefore, because he supports this second family and wants that for his kids, he is picking up the slack that allows DH1 to work 40hrs/week and drive a new pickup truck, and give his new wife a fantastic life. My DH is essentially subsidizing his lifestyle, which right now, at it is 9:09pm and DH2 is still at the office, I feel pretty bad that I haven't asked DH1 to fill a bit more of his obligation. My youngest didnt get to see her dad tonight before bed, because he was working harder so DH1 doesn't have to.
He may not neccessarily be taking home $5,000/month... taxes, 401K contributions, health care contribtions, etc.
But regardless, I guess I just don't really look at it as a "oh non-custodial makes this much money, I should be entitled to X" as much as a "realistically how much does this child need for normal everyday expenses"
I'm not a fan of the entitlement clause that is part of so many states systems, because in the end it screws the second family. As I said, I know this turns into a hot topic, and I likely should have kept my mouth shut... but I think our perspective should be heard sometimes too.
I live in a state where the custodial parent can keep taking the non-custodial back through the system again and again for any kind of raise to their salary. They look at it as the child is entitled to more money because their parent is now making more money.
No one looks at nor cares if parent is trying to make more money just to start living after CS. I know this isn't neccessarily the case here... but well, in some similiar ways it is.
For instance, OP said she knows her ex and his fiance are planning on TTC soon. What if fiance is planning on being a SAHM? Then all of a sudden another $300/month needs to come out of budget. We have no idea what other financial obligations this family has... what may look good on paper, may not be.
My DH looks like he can easily afford the $600/month that he is paying... but in reality it leaves him with not much to live on. Thankfully he married me and I have an income so he actually gets to have a roof over his head...
I digress... my DH is looking to finish his degree in engineering where he can earn more and hopefully give me my dream of being a SAHM.
But I'm not going to hold my breath for my dream to ever happen... because I know well enough how my states system works and if ex wants to take DH back to get more money when he gets a better paying job, she can get it... leaving me no choice but to continue to work just so my family has a roof over it's head.
Just some perspective from the other side...
Yes, income is clearer than needs. I agree that it's usually the best way. But when there is no income there are still needs, and I recognize that when income goes to zero, support does not. That's all I meant. I mean, if we went only by income, then his child support would be zero right now, which probably isn't the right number either. There is no perfect formula. It sounds like yours is a lot easier to adjust than our is, though. Also, ours makes no allowance for parenting time. When DH had them 50% of the time, he paid the same amount.
As far as financial priority, I suppose we'll have to disagree. I would find it unconscionable to assign a priority to one child over another, in finances or anything else. Do you financially favor your oldest child? If so, then I'll at least grant that you are consistent.
And yes, when DH and I were on the rocky slopes and I was looking into what I'd get in CS, it was pretty disturbing how much less I'd receive compared to his first child, as first support order are never adjusted because the exact verbiage is "first families first." Let me tell you the warm tingles that gives me as a "second wife."
And exactly as the above post says... say DD wants to take dance class like her sister does in a couple years... right now there is zero extra dollars to pay for it. If DH were to pick up a part time job to help bring more income into our house so DD has some options at extracurriculars like her sister... well, we may well not see that money and DD is still out of luck with less options than her sister.
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