Ex DH and I have been amicably divorced for almost 8 years. Both of us are remarried. He does not have any children from that marriage, but they are planning them. My new DH and I are expecting our third together. DD1 from marriage #1 is almost 13. We divorced when she was 5 and we were both students. A simple child support form had him paying $290/month. He made $13/hour then. Now he has finished school and makes about $50-60k. I had full custody of her and it took me awhile to get on my feet. After remarrying and having more kids I quite full time corporate job to SAH. I do some part time consulting. This was totally a personal choice...no lay offs etc. Basically, Ex DH and were discussing the fact that he should be paying more...in Kansas at age 12 the support goes up if you file the papers with the court, but also, we never adjusted it based on our incomes inflating. He and new wife are planning finances to be able to have a baby this next year, so he wants to talk over child support. I told him, let's just get the paperwork to the court and let them work it through. His side is...we have never had a money fight in 8 years, let's go through the forms and find an agreeable #. Basically, I told him I will do that, but if we struggle to find an agreeable #, or he fails to pay the difference and I have to bug him, I will have the court do it. He is fine with that.
My question is...how do I figure a fair income for myself since I quit full time work? I obviously do not think it is fair to say "i make $12k" now. But I would not be able to earn what I did my last year at work either (in sales, so there is a large fluctuation). Is there a general formula that is used in many states to find a fair #?
My income since the divorce has looked like:
year 1 - $13k
year 2 - $17k
year 3 _ $30k (fell into a new sales job)
year 4 - $48k (was good at said job)
year 5 -$70k (a good year at my job), I quit working here
year 6 - $10k (working part time from home, 15 hr a week)
year 7 - $0k (DD 3 born with health issue this year
this year - $12k (working part time from home, 15 hr a week)
I do not have a college degree, so really my earning potential is this one niche industry. All the jobs are on the coast so they are all telecommute and lots of travel. Realistically, I could go back to work now and make maybe $30k, getting to $40k over a year of two.
EX DH is kind of a pushover and still just follows orders. Because of this I feel sorry for him which is why I never asked for more money or help. So I am trying to find a balance between being fair to me and our DD and also to him.
Does anyone have experience with computing this type of income number?
It is different in different states, but the two ways I have seen it done are using minimum wage for someone who is unemployed and doesn't have much comparable work history (like someone who has never worked steadily, someone who has never worked full-time, someone who has been out of the work force most of their lives or never began a career-type job after finishing school).
The other way sounds more like what you are looking at doing, which puts in an income related to earning potential. If you had left a job recently, it would be reasonable to assume that you could make close to the same amount if you want back to work. If you had a certification or a degree, it would be reasonable to assume you could compute something based on the average salary with your combination of education and experience in your part of the country.
One thing that is NOT, in my experience, taking into account is that if you were working FT your young children would probably have to be in childcare. But, at least in our area, they will not compute a deduction for childcare cost for an imputed income, they will only deduct the cost of childcare if you are actually paying childcare.
I would say, if it is amicable, you could come up with a number that would be a reasonable estimate of what you coudl make. Sometimes career/job search websites have a tool to calculate average incomes in a particular field in your city/region... that would give you something based on some kind of data. You could also find a way to calculate your average income over the years since the divorce or your years working in the field you left.
Another option, if you aren't using the court's calculators anyway, is to see if the two of you can just come up with a number that seems reasonable to both of you. MAybe plug some numbers into the state's child support formula (many have an online calculator available) to get a starting point and then decide if it seems like a reasonable amount and adjust up or down to get to something that seems fair enough to both of you.
Good luck. I think money can be a really contentious issue, but if you can come at it in a way that keeps the focus on meeting your daughter's needs and both of you contributing in a fair way (even if you are sharing costs in a way that doesn't look equal on paper) you might be able to figure it out between the two of you.
Thank you for the reply. We met for coffee and I am surprised with as easy as it was. We talked over a few things...I actually thought of what you said about the child care. Like I could make $30-35k, but if I was willing to traveled 5 days a month I could make $40k, but then we are talking loads of childcare, etc. He agreed. We also talked over that if he works 40 hr a week he makes $55k, but on years they are slow he may get 30 hrs some weeks. But he also is trying to save so his wife can SAH when they have kids, so if he elects to work 20 hr of overtime do I get a cut of that? I thought it was fair that he kept that. But then again, my current DH works 20 hrs of overtime to pay for the childcare that ex dh doesn't.
Anyway, I gave an income for me that I thought was fair. He did the same. We both agreed to them. We worked the sheet, came to an agreeable summary, hashed through the details without a fight (like braces payments, future car insurance stuff, etc) and landed on an amount that we both felt good about. It is about $275/month more than he is paying now, plus half of additional medical expenses and a few other misc. We have two brackets here...one if our child is his only child, and another if he has additional kids. We used the scale assuming they would have one child in the next 2 years and if they don't we will bump to the higher amount. He gave in a couple areas. We both walked away feeling good about it. 8 years divorced and yet to have a real argument about our daughter or money or custody, etc. Feeling pretty good about things right now. :)
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