Unusual child support question... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 05-25-2010, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My ex and I were never married and never went to court. We wrote up an agreement on our own, which has worked pretty well for nearly 13 years.

When we split up, we had 2-year-old twins with special needs and I was at home with them full time. He offered to pay an amount of child support which let me choose: Live frugally and continue staying home (and as the kids got older, work only during their school hours) or work more and live pretty comfortably, between salary and C/S. I chose the 1st.

We didn't look it up at the time, but I'm sure that what he pays is more than he would've been ordered to pay, if we'd gone to court. Although he made plenty of money back then and has now become wealthy, we've never altered the C/S amount, which I consider quite fair. Initially - when I really depended on that support to stay home with the kids - he sacrificed a bit, to pay as much as he could. Now that they're older, what he pays is a much lower percentage of what he makes, but I'm able to work and I've also gotten married, so it's appropriate that I'm not so reliant on the support. (To clarify, I do not mean to comment on anyone else's arrangements or choices. Our situation is fairly unique and this is what has worked, for us.)

Anyway, he suddenly is really pushing to increase what he pays me. At first I said no, but he's not letting it go and wants to go out for coffee and discuss it. Before I schedule our coffee date, I want to clarify in my own mind what my position is. So advice would be welcome!!!!

We could really use the money, even if it's just a couple hundred extra, each month. My husband and I have a toddler and I'm working a little bit, but for the next few years until he's in school, it's not going to be more than a few hours a week. My husband's in federal contracting, which is starting to rebound, but during the recession, he's gone through months at a time without work. Every time he does get work, it's just enough to catch up and take care of us until he gets another contract. My husband also got custody of his son shortly after we got married. We're still making payments to his attorneys and his ex doesn't pay child support. All in all, we're OK - we never worry about having enough food, for example - but it's been tight. My ex is very much in the opposite situation, financially. If it's no skin off his nose to pay a little more - and it would make it easier for us to afford extras for the kids - then taking him up on his offer sounds reasonable.

On the other hand, there's a pretty good rapport between my ex and my husband and I don't want to mess that up, by letting my ex feel like he's "helping us out" because my husband's not making as much as he is - or making my husband feel like we need that help. I'm uncomfortable discussing this with my husband, for some reason. I'm not sure what that means.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#2 of 13 Old 05-25-2010, 01:15 PM
 
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I'm not sure what to tell you.

I suppose if I were in your shoes, the first thing I'd do is go to http://www.in.gov/judiciary/childsupport/ or wherever is appropriate if you're not in Indiana and see what the guideline support would be based on your respective financial situations.

Not that you have to follow the guidelines, but knowing if what your ex is currently paying and now wanting to pay is way over or way under the guidelines would be useful information for me to have.

Then, I'd want to have a talk with my ex to find out why he wants to pay more.

Finally, I'd take a really hard look at why I was hesitating about taking more money. What are my real fears? Why is this not a "no-brainer-thanks-that's-great" thing for me? And look at why I was uncomfortable discussing it with my husband?

Child support is not "helping out" the receiving parent. It is not a hand-out. It is not charity.

It is (or is supposed to be) a fair reimbursement of the cost of raising joint children, and a way to even out the financial situation between both houses for the good of the children.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.
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#3 of 13 Old 05-25-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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I'm really sorry you feel uncomfortable talking to your DH about this. This is in no way a reflection on how he supports his family. This is about a Dad financially supporting his children. In my state, CS is a percentage of what the NCP makes. (Not sure if this is the case in every state.) But if you went through the courts in my state, your CS would have increased as your exh's income increased. This would be a non-issue for your DH as he has no say in it.

Yes, the timing might be uncomfortable for your DH as he's stressed about money. BUT, no matter the timing, this is about your children with your exh. If your current H has trouble with the extra money, put it in a separate bank account and use that money for college for your twins or for the extra activities they need/want. That way your current H can see that the money isn't supporting his family, but the children of your exh. (Which is what CS is anyway.)
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#4 of 13 Old 05-25-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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Maybe ask the ex if he would be willing to put the extra money into accounts for the kids, to go toward their education later on.

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#5 of 13 Old 05-25-2010, 03:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is good feedback.

In our state, C/S is a complicated calculation based on the # of kids, combined income of the parents, who pays for health insurance and childcare, etc. There's a plateau, so a NCP who earns $1 million/year isn't necessarily going to pay more than someone who earns $300,000/year. It's definitely not a percentage of income. That would make it a lot simpler to just say, "OK. That sounds right. Why didn't we do this a long time ago?"

Based on my guess about what he might make, what he's paying is just slightly over the guidelines. But he may be earning twice that. And I really have no idea how his trust funds and investments factor into that - or whether they do at all. Bottom line: what he's paying is quite reasonable, legally, but he could certainly afford to pay more, if he wants to.

I don't think C/S is charity! Please don't let me offend anyone, about that. I simply think what he has paid is fair and I feel uncomfortable taking more. Why?
* This definitely reflects on the growing disparity between our lifestyles and him "worrying whether we're OK". He's moving from a huge house into a mansion, right now. He vacations with the kids all over the world. He can buy them anything they want. We're just average. And I don't want him - or our kids - to think there's something fundamentally wrong with that, which needs to be fixed. When he and I had our first apartment together after college and he was supporting himself for the 1st time in his life, he was literally depressed and skulking for a couple of weeks because we couldn't afford to buy one of the 1st digital cameras - which were $800 for 1 megapixel, back then. It wasn't that he would've bought one, if we'd had the money. It was silly to spend top dollar on new technology before they worked out the kinks - and he thought so, too. It was that IF he had walked into a store and decided he wanted one, he couldn't have it, because he didn't have enough money. He had never dealt with that before. Can you imagine? I don't want my kids to be like that. I think it's healthy for them to be exposed to normal life, with me. Sure, it'd be nice if our normal life were a little easier, sometimes. But what I perceive as my ex's attitude that it must be desperate and worrisome that we can't afford all he can afford makes me feel icky.
* He tends to feel like when he applies money to something, he should be in control of it. I don't want to overstate that. So far, this hasn't been an issue - or what issue there was, I nipped in the bud years ago. Again, I feel like what he has paid so far is reasonable. It's his obligation. I haven't felt guilty or indebted, for accepting it. I think I might, if he paid more. I also wonder if there's something he's looking to take control of. But I guess I'll only know that after I talk to him.
* For better or worse, my husband and I don't separate out our money: this is for MY kids, YOUR income can go toward your kid. That might be proper, legally. But how could we really be a family, that way? Some months, child support has been more than what my husband and I bring in, together. And there's no child support for my step-son. I can't spend more on the twins in a month than I do on the rest of the family, combined! So, although the twins comprise only 1/3 of the family, sometimes child support has covered more than 1/3 of the bills. That's not where we want to remain, but right now it's reality. But obviously, it was my choice to double the size of my family, not my ex's. So I feel funny about him being an even larger source of our family's income, regardless of the circumstances.

As far as my husband...??? Sometimes he gets touchy and assumes that if I mention something my ex and his wife have or did, that I'm wishing we could have or do that, and finding him wanting for not being able to provide it. Which really isn't true. Sure, everyone wishes they could live free from worries about money and I'm no saintlier than anyone else. But there are things my ex's wife tolerates, being married to him, which I would not want to live with. I don't ever wish I could trade places with her. And I knew my husband was in a financially difficult place, when I married him. It was from fighting for his son, which I believe he was right to do. And I believe we'll be more financially comfortable, eventually. Anyway, I expect he will be touchy about the thought of taking more money from my ex and I just don't want to have that conversation again, where I feel like I'm having to prove I don't wish I were married to someone else. It's been a long time since that's come up and I'd prefer to keep it that way!

The idea of putting the extra money in savings for them is good.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#6 of 13 Old 05-26-2010, 10:13 AM
 
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"He vacations with the kids all over the world. He can buy them anything they want."

Then he should keep doing that!

If your ex wants to start college/technical school/assisted living funds for his sons (I don't know the extent of their disabilities, so I don't know what's appropriate there), then he can certainly do so. But that should be something he manages and controls, not money that he gives to you to be steward of. He can put you down as the alternate trustee if he should pass away.

Bottom line is, if you feel weird about it, there is a reason for that. Not necessarily some deepdarkevil, just a reason worth paying attention to.
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#7 of 13 Old 05-26-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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I discussed this thread with my DH, and I gave him some background on your situation.

His view was, "never turn down free money!" But he does not get very hung up on "the man is responsible for providing for the family," etc.

I'm sure you won't be able to say this to your DH, but my DH said that he thought it was some sort of karma-coming-back-around thing that your ex was interested in upping his CS. Something to balance out all of the legal bills and lack of CS from your DSS' mom.

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#8 of 13 Old 05-27-2010, 08:58 AM
 
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I guess I'm chiming in late, here, but I wouldn't stand in the way of letting my ex take more responsibility for the children. If he's insisting that he pays more, that means that he wants to be more involved (even if only "more" in the financial sense). I don't think it's polite to tell him no.
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#9 of 13 Old 05-27-2010, 11:49 AM
 
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Perhaps because your twins are now roughly 15 ish (infered from your first post) and he realizes that teenagers definitely cost more money, he just wants to genuinely assist with the kids expenses. Think about just the fact that your car insurance will go thru the roof over the next few years?
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#10 of 13 Old 05-27-2010, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
I'm sure you won't be able to say this to your DH, but my DH said that he thought it was some sort of karma-coming-back-around thing that your ex was interested in upping his CS. Something to balance out all of the legal bills and lack of CS from your DSS' mom.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#11 of 13 Old 05-27-2010, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blazer View Post
Perhaps because your twins are now roughly 15 ish (infered from your first post) and he realizes that teenagers definitely cost more money, he just wants to genuinely assist with the kids expenses. Think about just the fact that your car insurance will go thru the roof over the next few years?
In lighthearted agreement that this is probably the main thing going on:

My ex and his wife are more food-conscious than we are. They don't eat meat every day and she generally cooks and serves portions she considers reasonable. However, she's pixie-sized and the twins are...well...athletic 15-year-old boys - enough said? They usually come home from their Dad's and can't get through our kitchen doorway fast enough, to supplement what they had for dinner there.

Last week, my ex chaperoned the twins' field trip to a minor-league baseball game in our city's beautiful new ball park, where EVERYTHING is very expensive. On the way to school, the twins reminded me that I didn't need to pack lunches for them, because the field trip fee included lunch. My husband and I got a good laugh, imagining the twins finishing their measly hot dog and mini bag of chips, then begging my ex to buy them more food. We figured - at ball park prices - he'd probably wind up wishing he had just taken them to a steak house for lunch!

Indeed, he called my husband after the field trip and said, "The twins ate 5 hot dogs each! Did you know they eat so much? OMG, I had no idea!" And it WAS shortly after that, that he started bugging me about raising C/S.

One woman in a house full of men:  my soul mate:    or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son:  (a sophomore) ... our little man:   (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all:  our
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#12 of 13 Old 05-27-2010, 02:16 PM
 
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Okay, that's awesome. Let him chip in some more grocery money!

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#13 of 13 Old 05-27-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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The fact that you sound uncomfortable with it gives me pause. If you don't like the idea (even given that the idea includes more money for you and your family), then there is probably a good reason. Not wanting to talk to your DH about it also sounds like an issue.

Discuss it with your husband first, and make sure he's really comfortable with it. A lot of men would have a problem with this, since it's extra, and they don't want to feel their wife is a "kept woman" of some other man. I know it's not that, but really, men look at this stuff a bit differently than we do. More grocery money is great, but it's not worth straining your marriage.

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