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Old 05-14-2008, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There was a recent suggestion that the govt look into where the cs is going, and see if it benefits the children. Those of you who have your own kids are well aware of the costs, but for those new to momhood, it can be surprising to see how fast the money vanishes.

Here are my daughter's average monthly costs, not including med and daycare. This represents the actual cost of raising her, not including hits to my earning ability due to being custodial (and permanently on-call, since ex will likely stay seriously mentally ill). We have a 1600 sqft house with a 1/8th block yard, a mile from a good public elementary school and a quarter-mile from the safer highschool. Housing and energy prices here are below national median. We live in a fairly dense area and not a lot of driving is required, so fuel/auto costs are also below median.

House/energy/water: $650-800 (beyond my single-living housing expenses, which are easily calculated)
Food: $150
Activities: $125 (1 or 2 activities)
Clothes/shoes: $50
Camp/summer activities: $100 ($1200 budget)
Incidental: $60 (birthday presents for friends, admission to skating, etc.)
Ed enrich and school/classroom supplies: $125

Total: $1335. This doesn't include things like taking her to visit my family, which runs me about $1500/yr.

Suffice to say that my c/s is less than $668/mo; I pay more than half her daily expenses.

Beyond c/s, ex also pays half of medical, half of daycare, half of her religious instruction, and $85/mo towards college savings, which brings his monthly total to about $1100, barring serious medical problems. Note that this does not cover half her expenses. I make up the rest. His income is roughly twice mine, and his non-daycare-non-med costs as an NCP are about $200/mo. over his costs for himself alone.

I buy myself nice things -- jewelry, massages, cookware, things for the house. I also take my daughter on trips. I can do this because I make enough money to do it. However, it does not mean that I am spending the child support on myself.

Kids are expensive, and more of the cost of raising them falls on parents than used to. There's a sort of myth abroad that involves dreams of 1972, with 8-year-olds running around on their own in the golden summer and the schools lining them up for Suzuki violin and trips to the ballet. This world no longer exists. Not only do I need to provide whatever arts education my dd's going to have, but because of the way my district teaches math, for instance, I will be responsible for teaching her long division and making sure she learns the times table -- if I want her to be able to do these things. I am also responsible for providing classroom materials -- paper, snacks, boxes of tissues. This is in a well-funded, well-regarded school district.

Please don't assume that just because your dh pays a lot of money, and the CP is decked out, that the money is not being spent on the child. It may be so. But before you make that assumption, be sure you have the numbers. The cost of raising the child over and above childless-adult expenses may be significantly more than you're assuming.
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:30 PM
 
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:52 PM
 
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I have to add that I understand that many people are dealing with cp who are unreasonable and not always looking out for the best interest of the child. After floating around in this forum for a while I'm actually semi-glad that my kids dad disappeared and neither sees them nor pays a dime.
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:30 PM
 
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OK, I don't want to get into the whole "is CS spent on the child?" argument. Let's assume that it is. I just have to react to your numbers.

(Using your numbers just for the sake of argument here.)

I have 3 kids. Let's assume that I save some $ using hand me downs among the 2 younger kids, the infant is not in school yet so I would only have education costs for two. And I'd only have to pay rent once, but might need a 3BR vs 2BR. My incidentals would include things like diapers and instead of camp I might need to buy a tricycle.

House/energy/water: $800 (I used the high end of your scale)
Food: $450
Activities: $250 (1 or 2 activities for 12 y.o + 3 y.o.)
Clothes/shoes: $100
Camp/summer activities: $200
Incidental: $180
Ed enrich and school/classroom supplies: $250

I'd still be at ~$2200/month without daycare. Daycare would be an additional $2400/month, so I would have $4600/month in child related expenses before I even factor in food for myself, clothes for work, renting a DVD. I just can't agree that my costs were ever anything like that. I never received CS, so I would have been broke all the time.

I agree with you that earning power can be decreased by having to be the on call parent who misses work for sick days or if the sitter flakes. But even as a childless person I still needed a roof over my head, and as a single female I would not choose to live in a bad neighborhood just to save money. I'd probably live in the city vs suburbia, which would be more expensive.

I'm not trying to dispute your math or the choices you make about how you spend your $ on yourDD. I spend way too much on my kid's clothes, always have. I just think you and I are of differing opinions about what constitutes "chlidren's expenses."
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:59 PM
 
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I think it also depends on where you live. We live in a more inexpensive area but have high CS. I think it also depends on how each parent views what a child needs, for instance what our bio mom views as a "need" we see as a luxury. According to her, Dss "needed" the $500 she recently spent on him for clothes. She chose to take him to the most expensive stores in the mall, buying fewer bang for the buck. We were appalled.That was one half of CS for that month. She also thinks he needs football camps (2 of them) this summer. We disagree and think his time would be better spent with a tutor or at the library as he came very close to failing school this year. She also recently bought him an xbox (it was not birthday or Xmas) but now cannot make her half of the dental copays. That is why I would want some type of accountability. Was it Dh's money or hers that paid for that xbox? It was Dh's money that bought those expensive clothes. I would rather she pay for the neccessities of his life with CS and not see them drain away into unneeded luxuries, either hers or Dss's. If she wants to use her salary on extras then that is her business, but it is our business when she cannot afford to go by the divorce decree because she has squandered the money.
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not trying to dispute your math or the choices you make about how you spend your $ on yourDD. I spend way too much on my kid's clothes, always have. I just think you and I are of differing opinions about what constitutes "chlidren's expenses."
OK. I'm pretty good with a budget, and my numbers come from actual expenses paid. I was working with xh on c/s issues at the time, so I went through the check registries and bank statements. The biggest bite for me comes from housing (daycare is relatively low, because working freelance means I don't have to put her in fulltime). My number comes from actual expenses paid for (mortgage/taxes, gas/elec/water, home maintenance, and lawncare) minus (mortgage/taxes, assoc dues, elec) paid on the little condo where I used to live on my own before I met my ex. In this area, unfortunately, there is no way to significantly lower our mortgage without moving to a problem-school area, which means the savings would be more than offset by paying extra for tutoring or other private ed.

I did consider moving us back to the condo. But apart from the school problem, dd would've had nowhere to play or ride a bike, and as she grew up she'd have had little privacy. The neighbors are students who come & go, so you don't get that support network. There's no play space or gardens outside, just parking lots and a busy road. The neighborhood's not what it was. Great for a single writer, in other words, but not great for kids. Better-situated condos cost more than our house. Rents have risen to the point where there'd be no saving by going that route. After dd's grown, though, I'll sell the house and move back to the condo again. I liked it there, and I can't say I enjoy taking care of house and garden.

My dd does mostly wear hand-me-downs. Her shoes are expensive, though, because she's got wide feet and (now) orthotics. Camp for her is mostly a form of daycare; I can move my work around, but at some point during the day I have to make some money. Having her roam the neighborhood solo while I work is not a possibility unless I want CPS here.

Do you really pay $1200/mo, though, for each of your little ones' daycare? And no aid or scholarships? I can see it, maybe, in metro areas, but I don't think I know any around here that go that high. Even the Montessori doesn't charge that much. We pay about $300/mo for dd's part-time care -- usually around 11 am to 4:30-5 pm.
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:49 PM
 
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Do you really pay $1200/mo, though, for each of your little ones' daycare? And no aid or scholarships? I can see it, maybe, in metro areas, but I don't think I know any around here that go that high. Even the Montessori doesn't charge that much. We pay about $300/mo for dd's part-time care -- usually around 11 am to 4:30-5 pm.
I have a 3 y.o. and a 3 month old. Infants have the highest costs at the daycare center. If the two of them go FT it would cost that much. I could decrease the expense to ~$500 week by hiring a nanny to come into the home. There you run the risk though that the person is unreliable or quits without notice.
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:21 PM
 
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I always try to remind people that child support is the 'childs' money, not dads or moms money. IMO it is money spent making the two homes whole. Does that make sense?
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:25 PM
 
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I'm willing to assume that a lot of CP's spend it all on the kids. But I'm not sure that always leads to reasonable financial decisions.

I mean, it's human nature that if we go to a store where everything is 50% off, we buy more. So if we split the cost of everything but I get to make all the spending decisions, then I might decide to be less frugal with your money than I would have been with only mine. (Well, not me personally -- I'm a cheapskate with anyone's money, but you get the idea )

So while my DSC's mom may in fact spend it all on the kids, to do that would almost require her to buy things they don't need, particularly if she chips in any of her money. So she does silly things with it like send DSS to a private school that's less able to cater to his needs than any of the excellent public schools in the area. She also buys absurd amounts of toys and overpriced clothing. It's one thing to tell DH he has to support his kids. On that we all agree. But to not have any say in how it is spent can be frustrating. (Just saying it's frustrating -- not saying I have a solution to this or that she ought to be micromanaged). And that's a case where she probably DOES spend all or most of it on the kids and she does pay her part of medical costs and the like. She's probably a good egg, in the grand scheme. I doubt she's saving any of it for college, but that's another story.

How much worse to be in a situation like angilyn where her DH's money goes to frivolous things while DSS's dental bills go unpaid so her DH is perhaps guilted into paying more for that just because of DSS's mom's poor money management.

Maybe in the same way NCP's who don't pay regularly can have their wages garnished, perhaps CP's who receive CS but can't manage to spend any of it on required shared expenses (like copays) should have that just deducted from the CS before they receive it. Same principle.

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Old 05-14-2008, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a 3 y.o. and a 3 month old. Infants have the highest costs at the daycare center. If the two of them go FT it would cost that much. I could decrease the expense to ~$500 week by hiring a nanny to come into the home. There you run the risk though that the person is unreliable or quits without notice.
Oh, I see. And I agree; I gave up on the nanny thing a year ago. Reliability and no-notice quitting/leaving-town was definitely an issue.
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Old 05-14-2008, 10:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe in the same way NCP's who don't pay regularly can have their wages garnished, perhaps CP's who receive CS but can't manage to spend any of it on required shared expenses (like copays) should have that just deducted from the CS before they receive it. Same principle.
You might run into some problems on that one. In my state, for instance, the avg child support order is $300, based of course on NCPs' income. The state doesn't require the NCP to pay for any childcare. So it would be entirely reasonable for the average CP here to be using all the cs for child-related expenses, yet not be able to cover shared expenses.
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Old 05-14-2008, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm willing to assume that a lot of CP's spend it all on the kids. But I'm not sure that always leads to reasonable financial decisions.

I mean, it's human nature that if we go to a store where everything is 50% off, we buy more. So if we split the cost of everything but I get to make all the spending decisions, then I might decide to be less frugal with your money than I would have been with only mine. (Well, not me personally -- I'm a cheapskate with anyone's money, but you get the idea )
Violet, this makes sense if you've got open-ended discretionary things in the decree, like extracurriculars. (The solution to that is not to leave them in your decree before you sign it.) However, it doesn't work so well when you're talking about fixed amounts like c/s. Regardless of where the mom shops, she's not going to get more than the stated c/s. If I spent $500 on my daughter's clothes, or sent her to private school, I'd be the one paying the entire bump up in cost.

If the c/s don't cover half of the kid's frugal living expenses, it's not going to cover half the tony living expenses, either. In that case, if the NCP got upset about the expenditures, he'd be upset about how the mother was spending her own money, not the money he was paying for support of the child.

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How much worse to be in a situation like angilyn where her DH's money goes to frivolous things while DSS's dental bills go unpaid so her DH is perhaps guilted into paying more for that just because of DSS's mom's poor money management.
Yes, this is not so good. I think the credit-related problems are probably much bigger.
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I always try to remind people that child support is the 'childs' money, not dads or moms money. IMO it is money spent making the two homes whole. Does that make sense?
Yes.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:09 AM
 
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Violet, this makes sense if you've got open-ended discretionary things in the decree, like extracurriculars. (The solution to that is not to leave them in your decree before you sign it.)
Yup. I'm still shocked when I see stuff like that in decrees. DH's is comparatively simple.

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However, it doesn't work so well when you're talking about fixed amounts like c/s. Regardless of where the mom shops, she's not going to get more than the stated c/s. If I spent $500 on my daughter's clothes, or sent her to private school, I'd be the one paying the entire bump up in cost.

I guess I should explain my logic here a bit. I'm coming from the perspective of someone whose DH pays a whole lot more than your state average, and, in fact, pays plenty to cover most reasonable expenses. If he paid this to some selfish person who wanted to go live the high life (ok, it's not enough for that but you know what I mean), she would do as you say and be frugal with the kids' stuff and spend on herself. If, on the other hand, we assume a more typical mom who has her kids as a top priority and feels like the CS is theirs, (especially if she assumes we'll pay for college so she doesn't need to put any aside), then she's more likely to try to spend it all on the kids every month, and will need to be a bit lavish to use it all up.

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If the c/s don't cover half of the kid's frugal living expenses, it's not going to cover half the tony living expenses, either. In that case, if the NCP got upset about the expenditures, he'd be upset about how the mother was spending her own money, not the money he was paying for support of the child.
Well, yes, for $300/mo your argument makes more sense. For what DH pays, maybe not. As I've said before, the CS amounts vary wildly and many CPs are shortchanged, but so are many NCPs. It would be impossible to create a formula that would create a fair circumstance for all cases.

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Old 05-15-2008, 01:06 AM
 
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Well, yes, for $300/mo your argument makes more sense. For what DH pays, maybe not. As I've said before, the CS amounts vary wildly and many CPs are shortchanged, but so are many NCPs. It would be impossible to create a formula that would create a fair circumstance for all cases.
The problem is, it's hard for anyone to really see "The Other Side". Ironically, I was shortchanged on both sides. My son's Biological Father paid a whopping $24 dollars a month for years now. Was it enough to support my son? Maybe buy him milk for the month. But I did happen to know for a fact that, my son's Biological Father really could not afford to pay more. Then there's my Hubby. I'm not gonna get into numbers right now, but long story short, he pays 80% of everything for his daughter, is required to put away a certain ammount for college every month for my stepdaughter. Her Mother lives with my stepdaughter's paternal Grandfather rent free, goes clothes shopping (with my stepdaughter) and for manicures and pedicures weekly (with my stepdaughter) and on at least two real vacations a year. Yes, all the money we give (40% of my Hubby's earnings) goes to my stepdaughter's Mother and she (I think) spends at least a good chunk of it on my stepdaughter, but when you see everything that "The Other Side" is doing while you barely have the money to pay the bills, much less buy things you need, like clothes and household materials (never mind the occasional movie or outing that never happens), it's hard not to get depressed about how much money is getting sent out while you're going without. My stepdaughter's Mother has been doing this since they seperated- when my stepdaughter was a couple months old. For three years before I moved in with my Hubby, my Hubby slept on his Father's couch, because after paying the child support (and alimony), he only had enough money left for food and gas to get to work. When you see that happening, you can't help but wonder if, maybe, just maybe, things could have somehow been evened up between households so that there wasn't someone living "high off the hog" and someone sitting at "rock bottom". In theory, child support (and all that other divorce crap), is for the "best interest of the child", but how is it in the best interest of the child to be exposed to such extremes between houses? It's hard to keep from becoming cynical when faces with these circumstances.

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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Old 05-15-2008, 01:09 AM
 
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I wish I was working with your numbers, mama41! My entire household (of 3.5) runs on slightly more than you budget for one child. In a major metropolitan area. This includes budgeting for vacations, Christmas, saving for a new car and computer when the current ones die, insurance, everything. And, of course, CS.

I know the numbers because we budget by spreadsheet and envelope in order to save for my tuition.

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Old 05-15-2008, 02:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yow, pinksprkly, that is not enough money, esp in a metro area! Here's hoping that after you graduate there'll be a significant payoff. Fwiw, if I was doing this at your age, I'd have been living much like you guys. Side effect of waiting till you're of advanced maternal age.

(Are there decent benefits where you are? Around here, at under $20K for that family size, the packages are actually pretty good. You can get childcare vouchers (also avail for students, hooray), excellent health insurance for both kids and adults, and food aid, and if you own your home, you can get block grant money for home repairs.)

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I guess I should explain my logic here a bit. I'm coming from the perspective of someone whose DH pays a whole lot more than your state average, and, in fact, pays plenty to cover most reasonable expenses. If he paid this to some selfish person who wanted to go live the high life (ok, it's not enough for that but you know what I mean), she would do as you say and be frugal with the kids' stuff and spend on herself. If, on the other hand, we assume a more typical mom who has her kids as a top priority and feels like the CS is theirs, (especially if she assumes we'll pay for college so she doesn't need to put any aside), then she's more likely to try to spend it all on the kids every month, and will need to be a bit lavish to use it all up.
I see the logic, but it would put her at odds with most single moms of my acquaintance. The ones who make enough to support their kids on their own tend to just put the c/s away for the kids. Part of that's a pride thing -- the idea that they don't need the guy, and there's no little anger involved -- but part of it's that often the guys have been less than reliable, and they don't want to put themselves in the position of having to rely on them again. Personally, I don't see the point of spending c/s just to spend it, or in holding it separate from other household money, but that's me.

I'm betting that what actually governs the expenditures, btw, isn't "what can I get with the money" but "what do my kids' friends have". I know that this is something my married friends are much concerned about, and that there's a definite appearances/income gap for some of them that is a real source of anxiety. Luckily for the household budget, I think it's salutary to get left out and have to entertain yourself sometimes.

If your DH pays enough to cover all reasonable expenses, then I must tell you, this is either a very unusual or a very wealthy guy. My lawyer's a fighter, but she wanted nothing to do with looking for more than the state-mandated amounts, whether or not they covered half dd's expenses. She didn't understand why anyone would agree to that anyway. And she's done nothing but divorce for decades. I had to fight her to get that college-savings provision in. I was shocked, because -- well, I'd had no idea. I'd just assumed most guys who could afford it did the decent thing. My dad did. But apparently that's very unusual and their own lawyers try to convince them not to do it.

I remember my xh trying out the arguments on me, too -- basically suggesting I should take dd to grow up in some cramped apartment in a lousy neighborhood to cut the living expenses. I don't know how seriously he ever meant it -- he tends to just repeat the last things people have stuck in his ear. But I remember just staring at him and telling him that no, he had a very nice income, and if he wasn't going to be a stand-up daddy and go halfsies on raising his daughter like a middle-class kid of two well-educated parents, she wouldn't be the one to pay for it. And that's how it's gone.

I looked up the numbers on it about a year ago, and as I recall, of about 13m single-mom households, fewer than 3m have household incomes at or higher than US median. Even generous c/s isn't going to boost most of the rest over that median; these women are poor, and I'm guessing that most of the women making less than, say, $30K have exes who're also poor and not paying much. Single dads do considerably better moneywise, enough to put us to shame, really, though I don't know what kind of childcare arrangements they have, or avg age of the children & dads. (I'd actually looked it up because I was thinking of doing a single-mom finance column, and I was annoyed by the presumption that single moms are so poor they don't have enough money for savings, investment, other normal middle-class stuff. I wanted to see if there was enough of a well-off single-mom market to justify a column.)

So I am a little wary to begin with of assumptions that the single moms are in general wasting the c/s. Could it happen? Sure. But if the census numbers are anything like accurate, I don't think too many of those women are in a position to spend lavishly on much of anything, even if their c/s is good. (Again, it could happen. I've certainly watched as seriously poor single moms did reckless "I gotta do something for me" things like spend ghastly amounts of money on dreamcatchers and trips to [state you wouldn't have thought of as a vacation spot]. But on the whole, I just don't see where they've got enough dough to waste it as a way of life.)
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:12 AM
 
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Yow, pinksprkly, that is not enough money, esp in a metro area! Here's hoping that after you graduate there'll be a significant payoff. Fwiw, if I was doing this at your age, I'd have been living much like you guys. Side effect of waiting till you're of advanced maternal age.

(Are there decent benefits where you are? Around here, at under $20K for that family size, the packages are actually pretty good. You can get childcare vouchers (also avail for students, hooray), excellent health insurance for both kids and adults, and food aid, and if you own your home, you can get block grant money for home repairs.)
Mama41, are you talking about decent benefits and such for the person paying child support? If you are, may I bring something to your attention that you may not be aware of? Medical benefits usually arent' too much of a problem, as long as the noncustodial parent can get it through his job, but when applying for medical insurance assistance, housing assistance, food stamps, and child care vouchers, they count ALL the income you make, but do not take into consideration the money that goes out, paying for child support. For example, a couple years ago, I lost my job and my Hubby was fully supporting our family, as well as paying child support. For expenses references, we live just North of NYC and for our three bedroom apartment (which we're required to have, in order to have my stepdaughter for overnight visitations), we pay $2081 a month. Since my Hubby made roughly between $4500 a month at that time (gorss- don't forget taxes) and he was paying $1000 a month in child support and $1200 a month in alimony, plus 80% of daycare for my stepdaughter (lets forget for a moment that, at that point in time, my son was also in daycare), you can see the problem, moneywise. You would think we would have qualified for some kind of assistance, right? You would think that with $219 a month for our living expenses, we would have qualified for SOMETHING, right? We were told repeatedly by all these places that, nope, our entire income is what counts and, quite frankly, we just make too much money to qualify. We ended up borrowing from my Father-in-Law (), but if we didn't have that to "fall back on", I don't know what we would have done. Any kind of government help is simply not availablew for people paying child support. The system is broken.

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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Old 05-15-2008, 10:57 AM
 
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Indeed, what Harley said. We "make too much money", but they don't care that half of it we never see...

I know I'm going to get jumped on here.. but I'm sorry... my personal opinoin houseing costs shoudn't count into figuring out C/S. The NCP has to provide the extra bedroom same as the CP and we certainly don't get help for it.

Three bedrooms are hard to come by in this area, and their cost is much, much more. I'm looking easily at a $1,300/month rent vs $800 for a two bedroom.

It's both parents child and both have to provide housing regardless, so housing costs should not be part of C/S... both parents have to pay it, why should one get help on it over the other?

To me child expenses are to do specifically with the child... the child's medical care, the child's clothes, school supplies, extracurricular supplies...


What makes me sad... I see DSD in ratty second hand clothes at times, but yet her Mother buys a new Coach bag just about every month, plus travels every other weekend 3 hours away with the lovely gas costs to visit her boyfriend, then whines to us we aren't giving her enough money. Stop buying the outrageously priced purses every month?

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Old 05-15-2008, 12:49 PM
 
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Yow, pinksprkly, that is not enough money, esp in a metro area! Here's hoping that after you graduate there'll be a significant payoff. Fwiw, if I was doing this at your age, I'd have been living much like you guys. Side effect of waiting till you're of advanced maternal age.
I should clarify - we make more than that. We are just putting a lot into savings every month. Pharmacy school is about $80,000, and we want to be able to pay for most of it out of pocket. It will pay off in the end, I know. Plus it is teaching me excellent frugal money management skills that will hopefully become second nature by the time I am making the big bucks.

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Old 05-15-2008, 01:13 PM
 
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I don't think all cps are wasting cs. Some are, like mine and some of the pps. I am so glad that there is not alimony in our state, especially when biomom has live in boyfriends that come and go. Recently one boyfriend was paying $300 a month to live with her. This was his share of room,board,utilities. So using her own reasoning for room and board etc, that means Dss's should only be $300 a month leaving him $700 a month for clothing, medical copays, entertainment, school fees etc. When we asked her about this she said all of the cs goes to make the house payment. Seems to me, boyfriend should have been paying more and mom should have been paying some of her own house payment. Soon there will be a total of 6 people living in that house. Four will be working adults. Does this mean that Dss will have more discretionary money for his use? I doubt it. I think a lot of our child support will be going to the new baby living there who it Dss's nephew from his half sister.
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mama41, are you talking about decent benefits and such for the person paying child support? If you are, may I bring something to your attention that you may not be aware of? Medical benefits usually arent' too much of a problem, as long as the noncustodial parent can get it through his job, but when applying for medical insurance assistance, housing assistance, food stamps, and child care vouchers, they count ALL the income you make, but do not take into consideration the money that goes out, paying for child support.
Sorry, hhm, I thought pinksprkly was saying her entire family had an income of like $18K/yr, and at that income level, depending on where you live, there can be some pretty good benefits. Medical benefits...well, that really depends on where you're employed and what state you're in. I have a friend who's a teacher, and his insurance is OK, but to add a child is outrageously expensive. People go on CHIP instead, and CHIP here is actually very good.

I actually think it's appropriate to count outgoing c/s as income. It's money you make for the support of family children; they just aren't the children living in that home, or living in that home fulltime. You count the rest of your earned income that goes to support kids as income; the CP also counts her earned income that goes for support of kids.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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But do you pay half your paycheck to your daughter? Cause essentially that is what a lot of NCP's end up doing.

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Old 05-15-2008, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know I'm going to get jumped on here.. but I'm sorry... my personal opinoin houseing costs shoudn't count into figuring out C/S. The NCP has to provide the extra bedroom same as the CP and we certainly don't get help for it.
Well, let's see. My ex pays $600 for a 2br duplex, which around here is an incredible deal -- most 1brs go for about that. But let's say that if he weren't a dad, he'd be able to find a similar steal in a 1 br. His housing cost still wouldn't be more than about an extra $150/mo for her. She sleeps over there once a week, and he feeds her two meals a week. That's his child-related non-med/daycare expenses as an NCP. Mine, about $1335.

In my state, if the NCP is actually providing a home for the child, and the child's spending a significant amount of time there, child support is adjusted accordingly, because it's assumed the costs are higher. If it's shared custody, they calculate c/s for each as if each was the NCP, and the wealthier parent pays the difference between the two.

One thing you might consider is that many, many NCPs do not go to the trouble of keeping an extra bedroom for kids who sleep over twice a month. The kids sleep in the living room, or the dad gives up his bed. When my mom was an NCP, she didn't keep a 2br apt, though after my brother moved back in with her, she did. Nor did my dad, when they were first separated and she was custodial, even though he had enough money for a 2 or 3 br. My brother and I just didn't stay over there often enough to warrant it; we slept in the living room. When the states set up the rules, they deal with average circumstances, not "go the extra mile" circumstances (which is why I had to fight my lawyer to get "yes we will send her to college" provisions in our draft of the decree, which I'd likely have lost if we'd gone to trial).

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What makes me sad... I see DSD in ratty second hand clothes at times, but yet her Mother buys a new Coach bag just about every month, plus travels every other weekend 3 hours away with the lovely gas costs to visit her boyfriend, then whines to us we aren't giving her enough money. Stop buying the outrageously priced purses every month?
JSMa...you're making a packet of unwarranted assumptions, I think, and it's going to end up setting up unnecessary opposition.

Of course your DSD is in ratty second hand clothes. I dress mine that way, too, for everyday. So do my married SAHM friends with six-figure household incomes. There's no point in dressing up kids who're running around playing. Mine's currently outside playing in the dirt. I guarantee you she's not out there in Laura Ashley.

Unless you've seen the receipts, you don't know where those Coach bags are coming from, whether they're real, or who paid for them. Nor do you know who's paying for the gas.

Do I think my ex is paying enough? No, because he's not paying half the cost of raising dd, and frankly I think he ought to be paying for the childrearing inequity, too, but that's not in the realm of political reality. So if I thought it'd do any good, I'd be complaining to him, too. Do I also spend some of the money I earn on nice things for myself? Sure. Am I spending the c/s money on me? No. All of it goes to dd's expenses, and, as mentioned, it does not cover half.

Now, if an outside observer were intent on framing that picture as "evil mom spends lavish c/s on herself and whines for more", all the pieces would look to be there. Evil mom thinks dad doesn't pay enough, dad pays a big lump of money each month, evil mom has nice stuff, kid is dressed in ratty clothes. But does that picture fit reality? No. And if you assume it does, with prejudice and without facts, that's liable to lead to significant and unnecessary friction between two women involved in the life of one child.

The bottom line: It is likely best not to take your frustration about lack of money out on the custodial mother. (The only person on this board I've heard who's clearly justified in that is angilyn, and frankly, even though the ex's behavior is despicable to the point of crime, at bottom it was her husband's responsibility to make sure his credit was disentangled after divorce, and her responsibility to check that he had no major financial bogeymen before getting her own finances involved with his.) Why? First because it's a means of deflecting frustration with your man; second because it's bound to create tension for the child; third because it reflects frustration with the inability to control someone else's behavior instead of deciding what you'll do about your own; and fourth because in the end, you have the power to control your own money. If you don't want to help support another child, nobody but you is making you do it. So to jump in voluntarily, and then complain that it doesn't go the way you like, but refuse either to get out or make peace with it -- to me this is a way of wilfully making unhappiness. I don't see the payoff for anyone. If you just personally don't like her, that's another story, but don't tangle it up with the money.

Maybe there should be a book for prospective stepmoms that lays out in very blunt terms what they may be buying themselves. Sort of a consumer warning label. I mean I can see from here what you guys go through, and I'd never do it. In-laws are bad enough.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But do you pay half your paycheck to your daughter? Cause essentially that is what a lot of NCP's end up doing.
Around here you need to be supporting an awful lot of kids to pay half your income (and if I had that many kids, then yes, I'd be paying half and more). The state-mandated amount is around 20% of the NCP's income for one child, 33% for two, after the NCP's taxes and some basic living expenses are paid, including childcare. If you don't make enough money to support yourself and also pay 20% of your income, in other words, the CP won't collect 20% of your income. That's not an unusual set of state policies.

Pension money the NCP can't touch immediately is never counted. My xh gets about $1K/mo paid into his retirement account. It doesn't get counted as income, even though he'll have the full advantage of the money and its yield in retirement. My retirement investments would be counted if we did things the other way around, because I'm not employed by a large institution that puts the money away for me; I'm self-employed and, if dumb, could choose not to save for retirement, so technically the money is "available" to me.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I should clarify - we make more than that. We are just putting a lot into savings every month. Pharmacy school is about $80,000, and we want to be able to pay for most of it out of pocket. It will pay off in the end, I know. Plus it is teaching me excellent frugal money management skills that will hopefully become second nature by the time I am making the big bucks.
No doubt. They definitely work for it, but the pharm grads here do very, very well. Good luck --
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:57 PM
 
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I'm not making assumptions... DSD's Mom feels the need to brag and show me all her coash purses she buys herself. She also loves to brag that she is lving rent free with her Mom.

You should count yourself as lucky for living in a state that seems to make many considerations... if you read here not all states are like that. DP has ONE daughter... oer 40% of his pay goes to her because he pays half her living expenses as determined by the governement, and half of daycare.

Also... it's a law here that you must provide the child their own bedroom for overnight stays. It doesn't matter how many nights a month you have them... the CP can fight it and we could lose overnight visitation. We have no choice but to get a bigger place. This has nothing to do with going the extra mile... just being a parent.

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Old 05-15-2008, 05:07 PM
 
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I actually did a credit check on Dh before we were married and his credit was excellent. I also did a background check as well. I also had him make a full disclosure about his personal debt, bank accounts etc. Again, he was stellar. The money issues about bio mom's credit cards only came up within the last 6 or 7 months. So I did check, I'm not naive.

I don't think there is a payoff being a stepmom and I think that is what is being said. It is thankless for the most part and we do have a lot of frustrations, many of which are justified. My payoff is that I get to live with the nicest, sweetest man I have ever met. The downside is that I see Dss with all the problems he has and a mom who is financially and emotionally irresponsible. I can't help, I can't complain, I can only watch the mess. Dh in the past has tried to get custody and failed. We could try again but in the long run I think that would hurt Dss, who like most kids adore mom.

I understand the comments that a pp made about the coach bags. I can recognise a real one from a fake. I can tell the difference between Walmart Clothes and upscale clothes. I can have an opinion about how bio mom is spending her money when Dss doesn't have his fees for school. And when I see her solar nails, my teeth just clench because the upkeep for those nails for two weeks would have paid his fine arts fees. She also frequents tanning booths, hair salons for dye and perm, and has very expensive clothes, car and lives in the most expensive part of town with the highest taxes. Most of us on a school teacher's budget that is supplemented with cs would not live a champagne lifestyle. We would shop at Target, or Ross, brown bag it for lunch and do our own hair and nails. We would lay out in the sun for a tan (though that is not good for our skin, but neither is a tanning booth). We would buy economy cars and save on gas. We would find an area to live where the taxes aren't so high. That is what Dh and I do. We don't mind doing it a bit. And that is why we have the half of dental copays, the school fees and other needed things for Dss. Her spending habits are why she doesn't. We recently moved to a new three bedroom home. We wanted Dss when he came to have more space and a gameroom. So we have the added expense of a bigger house with more utilities and more taxes. I am not complaining about it, but it means more money on our side being spent so that Dss can have a decent life while with us. Dh has started taking the bus to save on gas and to just economise. Again, this is not complaining, this is just life and I wish bio mom could wise up and see what she needs to do to play this game of life in such a way to benefit Dss.
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Old 05-15-2008, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For example, a couple years ago, I lost my job and my Hubby was fully supporting our family, as well as paying child support. For expenses references, we live just North of NYC and for our three bedroom apartment (which we're required to have, in order to have my stepdaughter for overnight visitations), we pay $2081 a month. Since my Hubby made roughly between $4500 a month at that time (gorss- don't forget taxes) and he was paying $1000 a month in child support and $1200 a month in alimony, plus 80% of daycare for my stepdaughter (lets forget for a moment that, at that point in time, my son was also in daycare), you can see the problem, moneywise. You would think we would have qualified for some kind of assistance, right? You would think that with $219 a month for our living expenses, we would have qualified for SOMETHING, right? We were told repeatedly by all these places that, nope, our entire income is what counts and, quite frankly, we just make too much money to qualify. We ended up borrowing from my Father-in-Law (), but if we didn't have that to "fall back on", I don't know what we would have done. Any kind of government help is simply not availablew for people paying child support. The system is broken.
Oh, HHM, I just reread more carefully and realized you're in NY. Yes, things are going to be tougher there; I think they are generally in states with high welfare loads. Did you ever talk to your state rep? I'm sure there are other families in this circumstance right now. Although, frankly, I'm sure the rep and maybe even the rep's staff would say or get, "Well, why is that our problem? The guy had more kids than he could support, and she took a gamble on having a kid with him but didn't save anything for a rainy day -- she knew he couldn't help out if she lost her job. Tell him to stop having kids." But the concern there is chronic offenders, people who'll get on the system and never come off. I bet there are caucuses you could work through, esp. now, to get some kind of temp aid, 3-6 mo maybe, for families in your circumstance, esp. homeowners. Nobody wants more foreclosures because of something like that.
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Old 05-15-2008, 05:09 PM
 
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I actually think it's appropriate to count outgoing c/s as income. It's money you make for the support of family children; they just aren't the children living in that home, or living in that home fulltime. You count the rest of your earned income that goes to support kids as income; the CP also counts her earned income that goes for support of kids.
That might make more sense if the NCP could count the kids they support with that money. The CP gets the money, doesn't have to claim it as income, gets to claim the kid for aid purposes and gets the tax deduction (in our state this is standard -- DH was told no tax deduction unless she voluntarily gives it to us).

Also, sometimes the amount going out (as we discussed here) is way more than one would spend on a child in-house, so the number of children listed as being supported is way off from a realistic scenario. See, for example, JSMa, whose DH pays 40% for one kid (so 80% for two if her new baby is to have the same resources!), and has to provide a bedroom as well.

Ours isn't quite as far off as that, but DH pays the same amount regardless of her income or his parenting time. So, when he had them 50% of the time, he still paid full CS, as he does on EOW, as he does now at long distance, and as he would if he never saw his kids again. It's a big financial disincentive to see them at times! When he had them 50/50, she would unenroll them from daycare if he had a full week so he'd have to pay, even though CS should cover it. Not all states are like yours.

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