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#1 of 35 Old 12-03-2007, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ex and his wife have recently moved to a MUCH nicer house in a very fancy neighborhood. His income has gotten a lot higher in the past three years and increasingly, his household has a lot more material comforts and extras than ours does (like giant TV and computers, etc). My kids are obviously noticing this, and I find myself feeling really defensive when they mention how much nicer or more expensive this or that is at their Dad's house. This is clearly my own issue, but I am having a hard time not letting it push my buttons and get stressed about it. I do have some resentment about how he has fared financialy since our divorce compared to me, but I know I need to let go of that and just live my own life.

Anyway, any thoughts on how to deal with this difference in households and how the kids react to it?
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#2 of 35 Old 12-03-2007, 02:43 PM
 
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i deal with similar issues as a step mom. my step kids have said numerous things comparing their moms houshold to ours. i dont know that there mom makes more $ than DH but the kids seem to be in the phase where they are noticing the worth of material items and comparing households. its probably normal for kids in split homes, especially if one or both parents is competitive with the other parent and purposefully points out the value of material items to the kids.

it does make me feel weird and kind of like i need to prove to them that we are just as well off financially as their moms household. example- their mom keeps telling them that someday she and her bf will get married in mexico and that bf will buy her a big diamond ring. dss sees my very modest diamond ring (it is from an antique store and DH negociated a very good price- i dont really eblieve in buying diamonds but this was resale so i think if its recycled its ok ethically kwim?) and says its small and that his moms diaomnd ring will be huge. i tell him that what is truly important between grownups is how much they love eachother and that his dad and i love eachother so much. still it irks me that dss's mom needs to make these grandious concepts of wealth seem important to dss.
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#3 of 35 Old 12-03-2007, 03:15 PM
 
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I think it's even normal for kids who don't split homes to compare: "How come my friend has her own bathroom but I have to share?" "I want to eat dinner across the street because they have a big screen TV and they let us watch TV when we eat!" It's just harder to keep up with the Joneses when you used to be married to one of them.

The phrase: "Wouldn't the world be boring if everyone was the same and had the same stuff?" works well in our house.

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#4 of 35 Old 12-03-2007, 04:07 PM
 
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I have to admit to having similar thoughts and feelings at times :, and I'm lucky to have DP who always reminds me that "it doesn't matter", and that "there are more important things in life".

"We" rent a very modest place, "they" finished building on a third floor to their 6 bedroom house, installed jakuzzi, and this summer refurnished the whole first floor.
Guess who's paying CS and medical bills? Well.. it's not mom's household

Honestly, though, I would never want to trade places, I know that despite the comfort of material things they have pretty bad arguments (even in front of us on occasion). And that is a very good reminder to me of how lucky I am to have what I do. Regardless of what position you are in, there is always someone who has more, and you just have to look at "wow, I'm bless to have what I do in my life".

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#5 of 35 Old 12-03-2007, 04:36 PM
 
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It's a great opportunity to talk about what things are important in life, that different things are important to different people, and the everyone has their own tastes. Depending on how old the kids are, it could even start a conversation about making decisions with finances. Even if you had the same incomes, you might make different choices about what to do with your money than someone else. It goes without saying that it would be a discussion of how things are different and not a judgement about which lifestyle is better.

When DSD's doctor heard that she was vegetarian at our house and ate meat at mom's house (among other differences) he had a great perspective on it. He said it was great that she had the opportunity to grow up with both lifestyles as valid choices, and that she would have the opportunity to really decide what is right for her. We call it the "yin and yang" of joint custody. I know MY life was enriched by having two very different lifestyles, parenting styles, etc from my mom's house and my dad's house, and I have been able to take what is important to me from both and incorporate it into my own adulthood and parenting. Just think what a missed opportunity it would be if you and your ex had the exact same lifestyle!

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#6 of 35 Old 12-03-2007, 04:45 PM
 
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The way we deal with it is either with humour (well, if you ever stopped eating for five minutes then I could save enough to buy a whole island in the caribbean) or to talk seriously about our values, our budget, our financial situation, everything. My two sons know how much money we have coming into our family and what our weekly food and living budget is, and they get included in "we could go to x, but we'd have to save the money elsewhere" discussions.

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#7 of 35 Old 12-03-2007, 05:33 PM
 
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I deal with the same situation, though right now we're the ones with "the better" house. My SS's mom is in a really tight financial situation: her DH isn't working right now, she's a half-time nurse, they have twin girls, as well as my SS and her DH's daughter. She tries to live very frugally, so when SS goes her to house, he sleeps in the same room as his mom, his SD, and his steps-sister. Before, he used to share his room with his step-sister and the twins. He's mentioned to us a couple times how glad he is that when he's at our house, he's got him own room and that it's big and decorated to his tastes.

When he does, we always make a point of telling him about how we used to be in a tight spot too, and how, financially speaking, things can change really fast in a family. It helps that he remembers when he was very little, his "room" was essentially a well-decorated walk-in closet (which he LOVED). We also point out that he's lucky to have two bedrooms, and two beds, since most kids only get one.
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#8 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 10:24 AM
 
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Taking notes. :

My stepdaughter's Mother is the one with the "better house" and she's constantly reminding my stepdaughter of it.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#9 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 12:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by aricha View Post
It's a great opportunity to talk about what things are important in life, that different things are important to different people, and the everyone has their own tastes. Depending on how old the kids are, it could even start a conversation about making decisions with finances. Even if you had the same incomes, you might make different choices about what to do with your money than someone else. It goes without saying that it would be a discussion of how things are different and not a judgement about which lifestyle is better.
We do this. ATM DSD's standard of living is similar at both houses because we've been paying down past debts, are paying for a wedding and soon my tuition, but someday we will be done with this. So there may be a difference at that time. We do try to live simply, so she may not even notice material goods-wise. Right now we've been trying to educate DSD on the financial choices that we are making, so she will know that we worked hard to get to a good financial place.

Her mom gets into a lot of financial scrapes and is almost always scrambling to borrow money for things. We used to live like that, but decided that it was time to be more responsible with our money. Hopefully DSD won't make the same mistakes we did if we teach her to be responsible with her money from the get-go.

I think that the biggest difference that DSD will notice between houses is the level of stress that money causes. We don't stress about money anymore because we have some savings for a rainy day. And we have gotten good about planning for things that pop up (i.e. saving a little bit of money for car repairs every each month). Her mom does not do these things, so there is a constant undercurrent of financial worry. And we know what that is like because we used to be there! I grew up in a house like that. I have always sworn that my kids will never have to know that their parents are worried about finances. So I think DSD will notice that more than a difference in the number of material possessions at each house.

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#10 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 01:47 PM
 
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laurelavenue I have a totally different point of view on this one.

I think it is time to take another look at child support. There is no reason why there should be such a difference in the two homes.
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#11 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 04:19 PM
 
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laurelavenue I have a totally different point of view on this one.

I think it is time to take another look at child support. There is no reason why there should be such a difference in the two homes.
I respectfully disagree. You don't know how much of that money is his wifes, how much of it is piled up on credit cards, how well that Laurelavenue's ex H manages his money or what they've saved for.

My DH and I earn no more than my boys mothers household does between State Aid, Child Support from two different men, Social Security, and her DP's odd jobs, yet, somehow, we manage to have our electricity on legally, own a car, buy books and toys and computers (occasionally) have a *gasp* phone, make sure that the children have enough to eat without rationing out ramen noodles, and wear there own underwear. Nothing fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but we try. She, sadly doesn't. The children thought that church on that side of town was a place to go get clothing and food handouts, not a place of worship. She's bad with money. Does that mean that DH should have to pony up more child support to even things out? Should I, as the wife, be punished because the children don't have the same things at her house that they do at our house? Does their mother, by virtue of giving birth, still have the finacial rights as wife, even though they are no longer a couple?

People do things differently in their own houses. As long as the amount that she's getting is fair, then the issue of "Keeping up with the Joneses" is something completely different from, "Let's make sure that all is fair at all costs." The OP is no longer married to her ex. What he does at his house with his money is, outside of the care of their children, what he does at his house with his money.

And that, OP, is in a nutshell what I tell the children. "Your Mom and Dad are both responsible for loving and taking care of you, but they live in different houses. People do things differently in their own houses, but you still have everything that you need."

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#12 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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Phantaja There is a huge difference between being on state aid and
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My ex and his wife have recently moved to a MUCH nicer house in a very fancy neighborhood. His income has gotten a lot higher in the past three years and increasingly, his household has a lot more material comforts and extras than ours does
When I hear "much nicer house" I see the price gap from our working middle class home to the houses just "above" ours. It is a 100K dollar difference.

If the NCP income has raised significantly in the last three years, it is the both the NCP and the CP's duty to make sure the children are seeing that difference as well. If the NCP and CP are not materialistic, the difference should be in college funding. But the fact remains that many custodial parents end up with less after the kids have been raised. If I did not have the children, and their related expenses, we would be saving so much more money for retirement, our home could be smaller, and difference between our grocery budget alone would cover not only the child support lost, but also child support paid.
Financially speaking, the CP is ALWAYS on the short end of the stick. But we get the long end in terms of child time... which goes to prove what is more important to CP's.
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#13 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 05:28 PM
 
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If the NCP income has raised significantly in the last three years, it is the both the NCP and the CP's duty to make sure the children are seeing that difference as well.
Yes, it is important that both parents use every resource available to care for their children, and that the children are reaping the benefits to their fathers finacial gain, but it is NOT the NCP's responisbility to make sure that his ex wife is living a life comparable to his own. As long as he is paying his child support at an amount that is fair and agreed upon by him, his ex, and the courts, then what he does with the remainder of the money shared by him and his current wife is their business, even if it does create a "difference in the two homes."

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#14 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 06:37 PM
 
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Your argument is archaic at best, destructive to children at worst.


The children have the right to live the life they would have had prior to the divorce. Child support is based on the combined incomes of both parents.



When my income goes up, the amount of his child support goes down. (well actually it went up...) When his income goes up his child support goes up as well.

The reasons for this was too many NCPs leaving children behind, starting new lives and there were so many CP and children living on welfare. A real NCP (and I have actually known a few who did this) actually paid more than the state required when they started making the "big" money, so that the CP could and would stay home, or have the better life for the children. Whether that meant better vacation, food, schooling, activities, whatever... they wanted their kids to have a better life, EVERYWHERE, not just at the NCP house.
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#15 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 07:21 PM
 
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#16 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 07:36 PM
 
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Financially speaking, the CP is ALWAYS on the short end of the stick.
This is patently false. In MANY cases the CP is way ahead financially.

My husband, for example, pays all the medical and a huge chuck of CS every month. There is No WAY she could spend all the money we give her on the kids. It's just not possible. She could pay her whole mortgage, day care, and then some with it. In our state, the CP's income isn't a factor at all, so the fact that she is well-paid doesn't matter. He pays all their support. Those kids have every thing they could ever need materially. We wish we could spend some of that money on visiting the kids, as that would be valuable. Instead, his ex has a new SUV and new house, etc.

It's a shame that such disparities exist, and I think it's unfortunate that your situation is such a financial strain. I just wanted to let you know it can work both ways.

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#17 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 07:37 PM
 
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I respectfully disagree. You don't know how much of that money is his wifes, how much of it is piled up on credit cards, how well that Laurelavenue's ex H manages his money or what they've saved for.
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#18 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 08:03 PM
 
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Phantaja There is a huge difference between being on state aid and

When I hear "much nicer house" I see the price gap from our working middle class home to the houses just "above" ours. It is a 100K dollar difference.

Financially speaking, the CP is ALWAYS on the short end of the stick. But we get the long end in terms of child time... which goes to prove what is more important to CP's.
You'd have really hard time proving both points to me, since divorce left DP's house to his ex.. Which means today 12 years later mom lives in a house she owns with her husband, it's in 500K, newly furnished, has land... and she DOES get the long end in terms of child time as well.. We need permission to pick DSD on the weekends.. As long as we made orthodontist' payments on top of CS of course...

We rent a townhouse that is appraised at 200K. Well.. What else can I say... It's cozy Both have FT jobs, no extravagant vacations (in fact, we've never been on a vacation other than a weekend away trip that took 2 hours to get to ). We don't accumilate debt, we don't smoke. And believe it or not, close to $700 we pay for DSD hits our pockets pretty hard, and it is not easy for us to manage..

Pssst... Last CS argument brought the thread down to closing abotu 6 months ago.. I was guilty of starting that one

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#19 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 08:16 PM
 
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What I do believe in is..

1. There are moms who don't get enough CS (or don't get it at all, sadly enough)

2. There are dad's who pay too much (the moms from the statement #1 will have hard time agreeing with this, even though it is by no means reflection on their situation, it is simply what it is, situations can be scales can be tipped either way).

3. Sometimes the other side has perfectly good reason and explanation for living much more comfortable financially... Inheritance, new spouse's money, more consciencious lifestyle, etc. etc. etc.

4. Kids need reminders of what's important in life, but shouldn't be in the middle of flaming financial arguments (regardless which side of the scale you are on..)

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#20 of 35 Old 12-04-2007, 09:35 PM
 
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All good points, Oriole.

I want to add, too, that in our state, the arrangement for cs has no relation to who has the kids how much -- just who got residential custody. So, the amount we pay now if the same as it was last year when custody was 50/50 and my husband had to pay to take care of them, plus support his ex's lifestyle.


It seems to me that both incomes as well as time spent should matter.

I think it's terrible that some don't get CS at all, and some part of me feels like the guys who do pay their obligation pay more because people are so fed up with the deadbeat dads that they make these punative laws. It's not fair to the CPs who shoulder the whole financial burden, nor to the NCPs paying too much.

But back to the OP's question: what goes on or is purchased over there shouldn't matter. I'd take it as a teaching moment to explain how different people make different choices and have different spending priorities. When I was a kid, I asked my mom about a friend's house. My friend lived in a trailer, which I had some idea was cheaper than a house, but even though we lived in a house, we had a much smaller TV. My mother just told me everyone spends their money differently because people have different priorities.

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#21 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 12:59 AM
 
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All good points, Oriole.
It seems to me that both incomes as well as time spent should matter.
FWIW, in some states, this is how it is done. In MN, the laws changed the 1st of Jan last year to take both incomes and parenting time into account. Our CS dropped to less than half of what it was before the change.

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#22 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 09:35 AM
 
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What I do believe in is..

1. There are moms who don't get enough CS (or don't get it at all, sadly enough)

2. There are dad's who pay too much (the moms from the statement #1 will have hard time agreeing with this, even though it is by no means reflection on their situation, it is simply what it is, situations can be scales can be tipped either way).

3. Sometimes the other side has perfectly good reason and explanation for living much more comfortable financially... Inheritance, new spouse's money, more consciencious lifestyle, etc. etc. etc.

4. Kids need reminders of what's important in life, but shouldn't be in the middle of flaming financial arguments (regardless which side of the scale you are on..)
All good points, Oriole, but especially the one I highlighted. As a Stepmother, that's a really sore point for me, when my stepdaughter's Mother expects to add my income towards child support for her daughter. I love my stepdaughter and I want what's best for her, but I have a son of my own to support and she already has two parents who support her.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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#23 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 09:51 AM
 
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This is patently false. In MANY cases the CP is way ahead financially.

My husband, for example, pays all the medical and a huge chuck of CS every month. There is No WAY she could spend all the money we give her on the kids. It's just not possible. She could pay her whole mortgage, day care, and then some with it.

., his ex has a new SUV and new house, etc.

It's a shame that such disparities exist, and I think it's unfortunate that your situation is such a financial strain. I just wanted to let you know it can work both ways.

The mortgag, daycare, house and transportation are for the kids. It is so irritating when I see comments like the above posters. Unless the mom is spending the child support on trips alone or drugs or something, then she actually is spendind "all that money" on the kids.
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The mortgag, daycare, house and transportation are for the kids. It is so irritating when I see comments like the above posters. Unless the mom is spending the child support on trips alone or drugs or something, then she actually is spendind "all that money" on the kids.
Since my ex and I agreed to paying no child support to either of us, my comments are not really important to this thread.. however, I just have to say... my ex has 3 vehicles all new, including a huge SUV. I have an old 97 sedan. I also have 4 times as many kids than he does.
No one can convince me his three new vehicles are "for the kids." Since they don't care what they ride in, its more for the comfort and lifestyle of the adult.

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#25 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 12:22 PM
 
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#26 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 01:35 PM
 
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Good to see another Brit here, Bech

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#27 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 01:56 PM
 
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The mortgag, daycare, house and transportation are for the kids. It is so irritating when I see comments like the above posters. Unless the mom is spending the child support on trips alone or drugs or something, then she actually is spendind "all that money" on the kids.
Yeah, because single women don't need houses or transportation. The only reason that women have roofs over their heads are for the kids, therefore, a father is responsible for making sure that there is a car in the home, and that there is a home to begin with even after he is no longer responsible for the woman. Not a portion of it. Not enoungh to cover half of the childs need for it. All of it. You know, for the kids.


ETA: Okay, that was bitchy. I apologize for the tone, but I'm not changing it because it's true. It's also mean and I'm sorry.

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#28 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 02:45 PM
 
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No, not Brits. Well. Technically, way back when. I have family in Northumberland. LOL

But we were both born in the states to Americans. Dh is military, as is ex-h. Dh was there for 8 yrs - 3 at Alconbury, 5 at Mildenhall, and dsd's Mum is British, the daughter of a British woman and a "former" American - they live in Mildenhall. My ex did 3 years at Alconbury, 2 of which I stayed for. Ds1 was born in England.

Dh and I would love to go back, but it isn't likely.
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#29 of 35 Old 12-05-2007, 04:28 PM
 
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I'm not totally sure how this became a discussion about child support, but...

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Originally Posted by boobybunny View Post
Financially speaking, the CP is ALWAYS on the short end of the stick. But we get the long end in terms of child time... which goes to prove what is more important to CP's.
Everyone's situation is different, and I think sweeping statements like those about custodial and non-custodial parents make people upset. The amount the court determines for child support has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the NCP values time with their children. And CPs don't value their children more because their ex doesn't support them at the level they like. How much you love your child or value time with him or her isn't calculated into the child support formula.

The formulas that states come up with are an attempt to do what is most fair in most situations, but the same formula must be applied to many, many different situations... which means that it is going to work better in some cases than in others. People who receive child support will often feel they aren't getting enough and people paying often feel they pay too much. Problems with the child support formula are not the fault of the person paying child support. It is the nature of trying to apply a single formula to a wide variety of situations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boobybunny View Post
The children have the right to live the life they would have had prior to the divorce.
I just don't think this is realistic. If one parent worked full time and the other stayed home with their kids... then they got divorced and now had two separate homes for the children... how exactly are they supposed to maintain their pre-divorce lifestyle now that there are two homes on the same single income? It's just not possible.

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#30 of 35 Old 12-07-2007, 05:17 AM
 
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This whole entire list of posts is why we still have to fight in court and have other adults tell us what they think we should do with our children and how to live our own lifes. Some of you are even contradicting yourselves in the same post. Let the anger and resentment go.
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