How do you folks handle shared expenses (clothes, college)? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just getting a pulse here. For context: For once, this is not about my situation, but a divorce I'm handling at work.

In this family: Mom wants to split clothing 50/50 (with a yearly cap on reimbursement), Dad wants each party to be responsible for clothes at their own house (with the understanding that some will travel). I see a 50/50 arrangement being a disaster in our house, but I know for some it works.

Also, both agree on splitting college to the best of their abilities--the language is very convoluted on that point (they're both now responsible for half, but that can be adjusted based on future earnings)--but they are disagreeing about the source of the $. Apparently Dad has a very wealthy brother, who has no children, and who has seeded a *very* generous 529 plan for the son. Mom does not consider this to be Dad's contribution, and wants Dad to "struggle like she does" (her words) to pay for his portion. I see her point, but at the same time, I don't. I'd like to see them split, to the best of their abilities, any portion of college that is not covered by external sources, be them scholarships or family contribution, but they don't like that, either.

What say you?

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#2 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 11:09 AM
 
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We buy DSS clothes that stay in our home, his mom buys him clothes for her home. We send him home in the same clothes he comes in (washed.) If the weather would change or something like that, we might send him home in jeans vs the shorts he came in. If they make it back here, fine. If not, we buy another pair of jeans. I wouldn't want to get into splitting clothes 50/50. You'd need receipts for everything and there could always be debate over why the child needs Gap vs Target clothes, why can't you get this on sale, I don't think he needs another pair of sakteboarding shoes, etc.

The way it works with college in my state is that the expectation is set that parents both will contribute. The amount of the contribution is TBD when the child is in college and the costs and incomes of both parents are known. I think it's petty for the mom to object that her son has a 529 plan. What if she gets an inheritance down the line? Or wins the lottery? Is it not fair for her to use that money to cover the child's college related costs? I think you are right that they should share the remaining costs after scholarships/grants/529 plan is exhausted.
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#3 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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For us, neither are addressed in our agreement. Given our situation, it is pretty much understood that I, as CP, am responsible for 100% of "regular" clothing but that her father is welcome (and has once or twice) to also buy her any clothing he sees fit. All clothing is hers, however, and goes where she goes since it is ridiculous for him to maintain a wardrobe for her use 5 weeks out of the year at his place. I do not, however, provide him with some specific, bulky specialty items (came up with snowpants specifically) as they take up too much space in her/our suitcases, given that she has a cousin the same size as her near her father from whom she can borrow most such items if/when a need arises.

For college, I operate under the assumption that her college choices will be dictated in part by what is financially possible for her and I (how much I have managed to save, plus whatever financial aid/loans she can obtain) when the time comes supplemented by whatever her father is willing/able to chip in. This is less of an issue for us that it would be for a 100% American couple since the French university system is excellent and practically free--which means that she (dual citizenship) has options that are not usually available to US kids.

For the family you mention, I would be tempted to suggest (don't know if either would go with the suggestions) the following.

Clothing: A combination of both. i.e. Each party responsible for general, all-purpose clothing at their own houses with the understanding that some will travel, and a 50/50 split (with or without a cap) of the purchase of "obligatory/mandated" clothing (defined in the agreement as those items of clothing whose style is determined by third parties such as school uniforms, uniforms/outfits/equipment for agreed-upon activities such as sports/band/etc., specialty items requested by school, etc.).

For college, that's tougher. I fully agree with you on wanting to "see them split, to the best of their abilities, any portion of college that is not covered by external sources, be them scholarships or family contribution".

One possibility is to maintain splitting college to the best of their abilities (pro-rated %), listing the sources to be taken into account when determining their respective abilities and include on that list "voluntary contributions by private individuals other than the parents" (vague/specific enough to include the uncle, AND others who wish to contribute) as being "allocated" to the parent through whom the relationship exists. And specifying that external sources by entities (scholarship funds, grants, etc.) be deducted from the total before the calculations. And that loans if needed come AFTER the calculations, to cover the respective amounts owed.

That sort of removes the issue of whether or not the uncle's contribution is part of the dad's as it is both taken into account when calculating his % of contribution, AND clearly a separate thing.

HTH. Good luck getting them to agree!
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#4 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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For us, neither are addressed in our agreement. Given our situation, it is pretty much understood that I, as CP, am responsible for 100% of "regular" clothing but that her father is welcome (and has once or twice) to also buy her any clothing he sees fit. All clothing is hers, however, and goes where she goes since it is ridiculous for him to maintain a wardrobe for her use 5 weeks out of the year at his place. I do not, however, provide him with some specific, bulky specialty items (came up with snowpants specifically) as they take up too much space in her/our suitcases, given that she has a cousin the same size as her near her father from whom she can borrow most such items if/when a need arises.

For college, I operate under the assumption that her college choices will be dictated in part by what is financially possible for her and I (how much I have managed to save, plus whatever financial aid/loans she can obtain) when the time comes supplemented by whatever her father is willing/able to chip in. This is less of an issue for us that it would be for a 100% American couple since the French university system is excellent and practically free--which means that she (dual citizenship) has options that are not usually available to US kids.

For the family you mention, I would be tempted to suggest (don't know if either would go with the suggestions) the following.

Clothing: A combination of both. i.e. Each party responsible for general, all-purpose clothing at their own houses with the understanding that some will travel, and a 50/50 split (with or without a cap) of the purchase of "obligatory" clothing (defined in the agreement! e.g. clothing whose style is determined by third parties such as school uniforms, uniforms/outfits/equipment for agreed-upon activities such as sports, specialty items requested by school, etc.).

For college, that's tougher. I fully agree with you on wanting to "see them split, to the best of their abilities, any portion of college that is not covered by external sources, be them scholarships or family contribution".

One possibility is to maintain splitting college to the best of their abilities (pro-rated %), listing the sources to be taken into account when determining their respective abilities and include on that list "voluntary contributions by private individuals other than the parents" (vague/specific enough to include the uncle, AND others who wish to contribute) as being "allocated" to the parent through whom the relationship exists. And specifying that external sources by entities (scholarship funds, grants, etc.) be deducted from the total before the calculations. And that loans if needed come AFTER the calculations, to cover the respective amounts owed.

HTH. Good luck getting them to agree!

Thanks! This is very helpful (as was the PP)...I do like your suggestion of splitting "obligatory" clothing and will pass it on to my supervising attorney. (I'm doing almost everything for this divorce, but since I'm not a lawyer yet, I can't do it without direct supervision.)

The Target-vs.-Gap problem would be a big issue here, too...we're champion thrifters (and we're attempting to reduce our consumption of new stuff in general); SD's mom likes the mall.

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#5 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 11:45 AM
 
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Glad it helps. I was editing for clarity as you posted, so you might want to re-read my first post.. But the changes were minor.

Are you ever in contact one-on-one with the parents? Because the appropriate legal wording for the college arrangement I suggest can be "sold" in different terms while still being clear about what it implies.

To the mom, you could stress that including the uncle's contribution makes sure that she is not left struggling unfairly to provide more than her fair share (I would think--I don't quite get her objections, nor the father's basis for objection).

And to the father you can stress that this ensures that any future changes in circumstances will be taken into account, or whatever aspect of his objections is "fixed" by the suggested wording.
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#6 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 12:00 PM
 
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As for clothes, I buy stuff in my house and ex buys stuff for his house. I always send him to dad's in the clothes he came home in last time.

College....well nothing was in our agreement. I have full custody and he has visitation. I am saving for his education and knowing his dad, he is not.
I don't know if what I save will cover all his expenses....but hey thats what summer jobs are for. I never had my education paid for at all, so I figure anything I do manage to save is a bonus for him.

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#7 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Glad it helps. I was editing for clarity as you posted, so you might want to re-read my first post.. But the changes were minor.

Are you ever in contact one-on-one with the parents? Because the appropriate legal wording for the college arrangement I suggest can be "sold" in different terms while still being clear about what it implies.

To the mom, you could stress that including the uncle's contribution makes sure that she is not left struggling unfairly to provide more than her fair share (I would think--I don't quite get her objections, nor the father's basis for objection).

And to the father you can stress that this ensures that any future changes in circumstances will be taken into account, or whatever aspect of his objections is "fixed" by the suggested wording.

Thanks for pointing me to the edits.

We're representing Dad, so I'm not going to be in contact with Mom (we go through her lawyer). I'm not sure why either of them are objecting--often, people object for the sake of doing so. They don't want to appear like they're giving in (which many people equate compromising with).

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#8 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 11:02 PM
 
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I take it Dad's significantly better-off than Mom is and that Mom's family is pretty much bust, financially.

If this is so, and Dad is amenable, I would do a lump yearly contribution for clothing and other incidentals (sports, trips, etc), to be revisited not more often than every five years, unless income changes significantly. I see far too much squabbling over these minor things, and I think it's much simpler to say, "Here's the budget; work with it." If Dad wants to be involved in activities decision-making, I'd separate that from the money, and write in the mechanism for discussion and tiebreaking. Just nail it down.

As for college, I'd take "struggle" off the table right away -- this is about the kid going to school, not revenge. I also think it's a bad idea to revise responsibility on the basis of future income, because at that point you may as well drop the idea of responsibility. If at the time the kid goes to school the parents don't have the money, and haven't saved, of course the kid is out of luck for the moment. But later, if the parents come into money, the kid can recover some of the college costs, because the responsibility stands. On the whole I'd say the "if I have money right then" thing is a cowardly stance. Either commit to your kid's education or don't.

What concerns me more about the 529 is the question of whether the brother can later change the beneficiary, because the brother is not bound by this decree. If the brother has that power, and you've got some sort of requirement in there for college saving, I'd say don't count the 529 as the father's contribution. If the father is the only custodian over the 529, though, then I see no problem with it.
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#9 of 40 Old 05-31-2008, 11:08 PM
 
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Oh, as for how the college responsibility's divided here, we've both committed to 45% of reasonable in-state public U costs. 10% is still a sizeable chunk of change for a kid just out of high school, and neither of us wants her walking out with debt. She can go whenever she wants, but our contribution lasts four full-time years, all told. We have a monthly savings requirement built into the decree; it isn't onerous and will do the job. If she wins enough scholarships to leave money over, it's still hers for future ed.
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#10 of 40 Old 06-01-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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I like the idea of a mandatory contribution to an education account before hand. My ex still hasn't paid any of my judgements against him. I can only imagine how it would feel to take your dad to court to get a judgement for your college expenses.
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#11 of 40 Old 06-01-2008, 02:49 PM
 
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I think letting each parent buy clothes makes sense. If the kid is at the mom's house the majority of the time and thus needs more clothing there, then I could see a lump sum yearly amount for clothing.

On college, if the uncle has money set aside for the college fund - and this is guaranteed - then I think they should calculate what needs to be paid on top of what that fund will pay and split it. The uncle contribution is a gift that I think both parents should benefit from because the gift is to the kid not the parent. I don't believe in splitting 50-50 because people have different financial circumstances. I would like something proportional scaled to the income of each.

Of course, I say this as someone who's ex barely pays anything because he's broke all the time, unemployed a lot and I just assume that I am the primary person financially responsible. I dream of the day when my ex gets a real, stable job future and can begin to kick in for some of her expenses - but I'm not holding my breath. You could say it's not fair, and it's not, but my ex just doesn't have the money so it's irrelevant.
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#12 of 40 Old 06-01-2008, 05:50 PM
 
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I like the idea of a mandatory contribution to an education account before hand. My ex still hasn't paid any of my judgements against him. I can only imagine how it would feel to take your dad to court to get a judgement for your college expenses.
Suckage, I would think. But possibly less so than watching your dad live it up while you struggle to pay off loans because he ditched his commitment, or because your ed was poorly timed with his ups and downs. An ethical dad who'd made that promise and came into money would write the check voluntarily.
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#13 of 40 Old 06-01-2008, 11:39 PM
 
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Well, personally, I think it's ridiculous to require divorcing parents to commit to paying for college. Married parents don't have these requirements, and if it's in the decree then the parents can't withhold tuition for, say, flunking classes. The kid is answerable to no one. I think it's absurd. But if they want to put it in there I'd say just split it. And if Dad gets money from his brother to help, well, that's Dad's business where he gets the money, not hers. And yes, that should "count" as part of his contribution.

On clothes, I'd say whoever gets CS should buy the regular clothes. Splitting it with no cap on spending is a recipe for disaster.

We have a weird college scenario over here. When DH and his ex split up, DH's mom went a little crazy with her (religious-based) disapproval of the divorce, and set up a college account in DH's ex's name where she put 10 grand. Yes, DH's mom gave his ex 10 grand when they split. Now, the way she tells it, it's like she got swindled. She was all proud of it being a 529 and seemed to think that meant neither DH nor ex could touch it and therefore she had been neutral in giving money to the kids. But a 529 is owned by an adult and that adult is DH's ex. Not sue if MIL understood this or not. So if it ever comes down to fighting over paying for college, she'll probably use MIL's money as "her" contribution, even though MIL thought it was a neutral gift to the kids. I'm not sure how it all happened but either ex swindled MIL and stole her money or MIL gave 10k to the person who was trying to rob her son blind. I find it unforgivable either way, but not sure which one to not forgive... But as it stands there's no policy in the decree about college, and anyway I'm a prof so they can go to school for free wherever I'm teaching and DH's ex can keep her ill-gotten money.

ETA: oh yeah, and DH's ex actually offerred to let him contribute to HER 529 account "for the kids" and give her extra money instead of investing it himself. Seriously.

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#14 of 40 Old 06-01-2008, 11:55 PM
 
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Well, personally, I think it's ridiculous to require divorcing parents to commit to paying for college. Married parents don't have these requirements, and if it's in the decree then the parents can't withhold tuition for, say, flunking classes.
Violet, the states do that because the dads had made a habit of using the "I won't help pay for college" card to get the moms to reduce c/s below state mandated. It backfired.

As for married parents not having the requirement... not by law, no. However, some of us regard it as an obligation before we even get around to conception. And if you reeeeeally want your kids to be paying off ed loans at age 50, well, that's up to you, but it's hardly self-preserving. Rich children are good when you're old.

Personally, I don't think flunking classes is a problem, so long as the kid is actually doing something in college. Besides, I don't want to know the grades. Not my business unless the kid is falling apart, in which case college is the wrong place anyway. How she uses the time is up to her. I just hope she doesn't wander off into the humanities, would make dinner conversation unbearable. (Please, please, no disquisitions on the politics of porn.) If she must, though, she must.

Finally -- keep in mind that the tuition benefit, if you're teaching at an institution that still offers it, is free to them, not to you. For you, I believe it's still taxed as income. With SLAC tuitions running at $35-40K/yr, that's not trivial, so don't leave that out of the planning.
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I would say part of this depends on their parenting time arrangement.

We are in and every-other week situation, and since that really got off the ground, it has been each house provides its own clothing. That includes, for the most part, extras. DSD had dance leotards at each house, for instance. We provided the dance shoes, but we paid for the lessons. That sort of thing will probably eventually be split 50/50. If you read my recent thread, you know how specially requested clothing items from the school goes down.

When DF just had DSD every other weekend, her mom provided clothes, end of story. He figured his CS covered clothing. He would buy her things now and then that her thought were cute, but they didn't stay at his house.

As far as college goes, we will be paying for that (or at least will be the only contributors). Not because the parenting agreement addresses it (it does not), but because by that time we will have the means to do so. I will be done with school by then, and in theory, making good money. I would be surprised if DSD's mom will have the resources to help with DSD's higher education. It would be ridiculous to put something in the parenting agreement (it is in progress), because DSD's mom would fight tooth-and-nail to remove it. I don't think that she places the same value on a college education as we do.

Because my college education was not funded by my parents, I don't necessarily feel that it is a parent's responsibility. If [arents have the means, great, but if they don't, that's what loans are for (or in my case, the US Army). So while I plan on helping the kids with college, I won't feel like a terrible person if I cannot bankroll the entire thing (especially since I will be bankrolling DF's college as soon as the ink is dry on my Pharm D diploma).

In the case of your clients, if the 529 is a guaranteed thing (I don't know that much about these types of funds), I would count it as part of the father's contribution. If it is something that could be transferred to another person, then I would not count it, because it isn't a sure thing.

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#16 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ETA: oh yeah, and DH's ex actually offerred to let him contribute to HER 529 account "for the kids" and give her extra money instead of investing it himself. Seriously.
Yeah...no.
My partner's ex/SD's mom blew a gasket when his father and stepmother funded 529s for their grandchildren. Why? Because SD's mom had gone through the trouble of setting up a 529 for their daughter, had notified all extended family and ex-family, and the grandparents chose to contribute to a different fund. She felt she was being undermined as a parent. And she didn't seem to understand why her ex parents-in-law wouldn't want to put money in a fund that she controlled (they got along superficially but never liked each other), and that could be used for a family member of *her* choosing (meaning: a sibling, future child, spouse, whoever) that they have never even met and is in no way their family.

Here in WI, parents aren't required to commit to their child's higher education in case of divorce, but plenty of parents put it in their parenting plans anyway. Usually, there are some restrictions--the parents are only on the hook for the equivalent of tuition/room/board/fees at a state school, and only through a bachelor's degree or trade program. Sometimes, the agreement says the parents (and child) have to approve of the school itself (and one agreement I've read even includes very narrow grounds on which disapproval may occur, so that disapproval isn't used as a pretext for not paying).

Heck, I've heard of parenting agreements that address the child's wedding costs.

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#17 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 12:18 AM
 
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Heck, I've heard of parenting agreements that address the child's wedding costs.
Man, I wish my parents would have heard of this (says the woman who - with her df - is largely paying for her own wedding this Sept). Heh.

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#18 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 12:23 AM
 
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Violet, the states do that because the dads had made a habit of using the "I won't help pay for college" card to get the moms to reduce c/s below state mandated. It backfired.

As for married parents not having the requirement... not by law, no. However, some of us regard it as an obligation before we even get around to conception. And if you reeeeeally want your kids to be paying off ed loans at age 50, well, that's up to you, but it's hardly self-preserving. Rich children are good when you're old.

Personally, I don't think flunking classes is a problem, so long as the kid is actually doing something in college. Besides, I don't want to know the grades. Not my business unless the kid is falling apart, in which case college is the wrong place anyway. How she uses the time is up to her. I just hope she doesn't wander off into the humanities, would make dinner conversation unbearable. (Please, please, no disquisitions on the politics of porn.) If she must, though, she must.

Finally -- keep in mind that the tuition benefit, if you're teaching at an institution that still offers it, is free to them, not to you. For you, I believe it's still taxed as income. With SLAC tuitions running at $35-40K/yr, that's not trivial, so don't leave that out of the planning.
Well, personally, I regard it as my obligation to my kids, but that's just me. It doesn't need to be enshrined in law. Also, as a college prof, let me assure you that LOTS of kids in college right now have no business being there. Some will get nothing out of it because their aptitudes lie elsewhere, and many more are simply woefully underprepared and wasting their time and money.

On the tuition benefit, I'm not 100% sure, but my understanding was that it is taxed as income if it's not for a degree program, but not taxed if it is.

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#19 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 09:12 AM
 
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Is there going to be a financial support order? If there will be, then get rid of the clothing issue entirely. The purpose of financial support is to help provide things (clothing, shelter, etc) for the child from the NCP. Really, the mother does not need to dictate how much dad spends on clothes for the kids. That's what the support order is for, to support the kids however the CP sees fit. Otherwise the NCPs could go in and try to set up a budget and dictate that this much goes to school supplies, that much for food, that much for clothes, etc. It doesn't work that way, both parents are going to have to learn to deal with some loss of control.

Re: college, I think it's reasonable to split 50/50 any costs NOT already covered by other assistance. However, I think it should be written so it does NOT become a burden if the other parent loses a job or downsized. Again, the mother does not need to dictate *how* the funds come, if dad wants to set up an ed savings account and use that he should be allowed to. Also, it should be written so the child cannot just slack off and force the parents to pay for it. So, if a pattern of failing grades develops, the kid can pay for themselves. This comes from personal experiences, a friend has been paying for TEN years for their child to go to college while that child has repeatedly failed, changed their mind, switched schools, left mid-term, etc. At this point, the "child" is no longer a child with no degree in sight.

It looks (from the tiny bit of info I saw) that she is looking for ways to "stick it" to her ex, which is not beneficial for the children at all.
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#20 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 01:17 PM
 
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violet, it seems to vary by school, though I'm not sure I understand why; I do know that there have been menus of tax choices for institutions on other items, though.

MamaChel, I think it depends on the relative incomes. State-mandated support may not come close to paying half the costs for the way the child's been living, and presumably -- if this dad is interested in things like paying for college -- he's not looking to see her standard of living suffer just because he and his wife are divorcing. (Yes, I know that in many cases the kid's SOL does suffer. Many parents work to see that this doesn't happen, though, apart from loss of parent in the home.) So in that case a top-up would be a reasonable thing for him to do, and would also let the parents avoid the many-times-a-year tug-of-war over this extra and that, which is all to the good. But you're right, there's no way to dictate what it would be spent on. If I were in that situation, I might say "let's try it for a few years, here's a list of items this money can go for, let's see how it goes". If the mother was willing to do the recordkeeping, it might be a decent thing to do.

Re college, yes, I think it's important to put limits. I don't think that grades should be a limiting factor, though, because there are too many legitimate reasons for poor grades, including using college for one of its purposes: trying things out to see if you're interested in them. I'd be more inclined to say, "You have this many years fulltime, up to you to use them wisely and walk out with a degree."
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#21 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 01:56 PM
 
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I have a good friend whose decree mandated 1/3 each to mom, dad, and child, for a maximum of 4 years of in-state public university costs. It seems to be working well for their family. Both mom and dad were prepared for the child's college years, and had a definite amount for which they knew they would be liable.

Almost all of the child's portion was covered by scholarships, so his hard work in high school was rewarded. He's still doing a minimal hours work-study job. I think he's working 10 hours a week at his school's library, as well as summers for his uncle's landscaping business. He's a responsible kid, and is taking a lot of pride in partially earning his own way.

The same family had a lot of issues when he was younger, though, with clothing/haircuts/school fees/music and sports equipment/etc. They had a 50/50 split, which worked fairly well for parenting time, but as a friend I got sick of hearing the never-ending bitching over reciepts and costs between households. Each household would go ahead and purchase whatever was needed for the child, and then add it to a spreadsheet. The costs would be totalled monthly and divided 50/50, with whichever household owed the other money paying monthly.

It seemed very *fair*, but the result was one in which each household was endlessly keeping reciepts, tracking $3.95 purchases for school supplies, and just being really, really petty. I say this as a good friend of one of the parents--this approach really seemed to maximize resentments between the households.

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#22 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 02:26 PM
 
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ProtoLawyer, don't forget to keep us updated on what they finally agree on if you ethically can, especially if any of our suggestions helped reach their solution! Ok?
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#23 of 40 Old 06-02-2008, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ProtoLawyer, don't forget to keep us updated on what they finally agree on if you ethically can, especially if any of our suggestions helped reach their solution! Ok?
Will do, if they figure it out (or get it court ordered) while I'm still working there (it's a summer clerkship that may or may not go beyond August...I'd love to work for my firm after graduation but it's teeny and they may not have the work, so we'll see).

As for ethics: I've been advised that so long as I keep things vague, and post anonymously (as I do), and change or omit identifying details, I'm fine.

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#24 of 40 Old 06-03-2008, 12:27 AM
 
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off topic so you can PM me to answer my questions. I was wondering about your lawschool kid experience. I just finished my first year but I am pregnant again so next year part time. Just curious when I see your stuff about when you are done? How your experience has gone? etc...

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#25 of 40 Old 06-03-2008, 09:57 PM
 
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For us, clothing is not addressed in the wording of the agreement. It is just part of the expense of raising a child. I don't really understand. It seems like in the situation, the mother will receive child support and that is to go towards clothes. I'd expect that the dad would buy clothes, too. We've never billed for expenses! Things not covered by child support I'd imagine would be split based on portion of income (like 75/25 for example). But, honestly, I can't imagine the constant back and forth of receipts! When dss was younger we bought all the clothes and expected them to come home (dh has custody) but with a teenager, I don't feel like it is any of our business where he leaves his sweater or which shoes are at which house.

College is not addressed in our agreement either. I've heard of people being responsible for a portion based on their incomes.
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#26 of 40 Old 06-04-2008, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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For us, clothing is not addressed in the wording of the agreement. It is just part of the expense of raising a child. I don't really understand. It seems like in the situation, the mother will receive child support and that is to go towards clothes. I'd expect that the dad would buy clothes, too. We've never billed for expenses! Things not covered by child support I'd imagine would be split based on portion of income (like 75/25 for example). But, honestly, I can't imagine the constant back and forth of receipts!
Yeah, usually, variable expenses subject to reimbursement (i.e. not counted in CS) here include medical expenses, school, child care (but only child care due to parents' work/school--a babysitter for a concert doesn't count) and agreed-on extracurriculars. Even with that, there are a lot of receipts (my partner and his ex have stopped passing the receipts back and forth--if anyone wants to see them, they exist, but now, it's just a monthly "you owe me X, less the Y I owe you for the prescription."

Clothing is almost never mentioned--of course, parents can contract to reimburse each other for just about anything. I've been asked about food! (Um, no...that's really considered part of CS and your cost of having a child, and if you're having trouble paying for food, maybe it's time for a CS increase, or perhaps public assistance or some financial planning if your ex is already paying what s/he should be.)

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#27 of 40 Old 06-05-2008, 03:04 AM
 
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Clothing is almost never mentioned--of course, parents can contract to reimburse each other for just about anything. I've been asked about food! (Um, no...that's really considered part of CS and your cost of having a child, and if you're having trouble paying for food, maybe it's time for a CS increase, or perhaps public assistance or some financial planning if your ex is already paying what s/he should be.)
PL, I can see why the wife might ask, even if CS is being paid in full. CS (as we've been over in other threads) may not come close to paying half the child's basic costs. For some custodial-mother/kid households in areas with high housing costs, the issue may not be "do I go on public assistance" (probably not eligible, if the mother's working FT), but "if you don't pony up, we're going to have to move to a lousy neighborhood, and the kids will have to go to a dangerous or crummy school, because I've tightened the belt all I can and we still can't afford to live here and eat." And in that case it's basically an appeal for the children's welfare. There are men who recognize this problem, are not interested in having the children pay for the divorce in an "everyone suffers materially after divorce" way, and will commit legally to paying more than the state requires -- to avoid month-by-month hassles, to avoid the demeaning business where one ex has to go monthly to the other cap in hand, and to give the ex-wife enough security that she can make plans based on a reliable budget. (That was actually the divorce world I knew; I was shocked to find out that most men will stop at whatever the state requires, but then I was also shocked to find out how badly so many people behave in divorce, and afterwards.)

Because the CP is frequently under greater constraints than the NCP is, when it comes to freedom to work late, weekends, go to work when the kids are sick, etc., telling the CP, "Well, get a better job, then," may not be realistic until the kids are nearly grown. This is well-documented.

If the NCP's going to be well-off after CS is paid, and if CS plus the woman's earning ability aren't adequate to maintain the kids' standard of living, I don't see a problem with asking the guy to do a decency-based general top-up based on the kids' actual expenses, including housing. Maybe the woman's lawyer is telling her to justify it by attaching it to a specific type of expenditure.
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#28 of 40 Old 06-05-2008, 09:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Mama41...I suppose I can see *why* someone would ask for food expenses, but I can't imagine keeping up with the accounting (as you mention). And how would you do it? Would the payer have to/get to approve or veto the food provided by the payee? Or would he have to directly reimburse for Froot Loops or veal or (insert food for which s/he has a personal or moral objection)?

I have heard of families splitting the cost of school meals, which would be less of a headache, since those often get paid once a month (or 20 at a time, etc.) and the expenses are regular and predictable (although that then brings up "why should the kids eat school meals when it's cheaper and healthier to pack them?" from the NCP and "there are only so many minutes in the day and if you want to spend them making lunch, feel free" from the CP).

Financial disclosure sheets, here, require an itemization of expenses, including food, clothing, housing, gas, entertainment, health care, you name it, by both parties. This includes money spent on children, spouses, live-ins, parents, random strangers--anyone in the household who receives any money or support from you. CS can be ordered to deviate from the formula if one party's expenses, related directly or indirectly to the children involved, are legitimately higher than expected or suck up a greater proportion of income than would be fair.

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#29 of 40 Old 06-05-2008, 11:50 AM
 
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Well, my DH has a standard decree. CS to mother (who has sole physical, shared legal). CS should cover all clothing, haircuts, food, extracurriculars, basic medical expenses. Extraordinary medical expenses (like the braces he needs) are split 50/50. At one point DH suggested they start a college fund, she declined. There is no provision for college or anything past the age of hs graduation, which in his case is 19 I think.

I agree that maybe the easiest thing is to have a flat amount that is supposed to cover a certain list of things. There will always be petty issues, no matter how the relationship is arranged. When the CS covers clothes, mother can be cheap and tell SS to "ask your father." When clothing is split, there is nickel-diming and a difference of opinion on needs, cost, etc.

The problem with the clothes is that DH actually isn't responsible for buying anything, but we have to keep some items at our house for sS and the X won't send them, so we buy them. We try to let ss control his own clothes (what is where, etc, within reason) but it does get annoying when nice/special items disappear.

proto, I think that there will be certain issues that won't ever go away, though I recognize that what you're trying to do is minimize them.

As for college. I have to be honest, and I may come across as a bitch, but I am not inclined to pay for ss's college. Our income is too high, so using it on his FAFSA will disqualify him for aid. I'm sure his mother has no plans (she never does). At the most I guess I can see contributing 1/3 of in state costs and offering him a roof. I think a PP's suggestion of the 1/3 split is great because it doesn't give the kid a free ride.
Like I said, maybe I"m a bitch, but the college thing chafes. I have retirement, a huge student loan debt of my own, DH's loans, possible montessori for our kids, and two other colleges to think about. :
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#30 of 40 Old 06-05-2008, 12:22 PM
 
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I wouldn't expect clothes to be a separate issue... I would expect it to fall under CS costs.


We technically aren't responsible for clothing either I guess... but as Mom never sends any... DSD has a full wardrobe here too. If we had to pay for clothes twice, that would really irritate me.

As for college... I know it differs state to state if the parents are responsible for it or not. I finally found out in PA we aren't. The governement can't make "in-tact" families pay for their kids college, so why should they be able to force split families? Seems unfair. Granted the whole having to provide your parents income for possible aide when they aren't paying a dime isn't fair either... tis why I didn't go to college right off the bat. With my parents income I didn't qualify for anything, but I certainly didn't have the money, and I don't know why the governement thought my parents did, because they didn't. Eventually I got approved for a loan. But not one of the no interest nice ones... still fell into too high a bracket, go figure.

So I'll just stop while I'm ahead.. beacause honestly I feel the entire college funding in the country needs to be reviewed.. the costs is ridiculous, and there isn't enough aide... seems silly for something that is becoming as standard as high school and it costs that much and it's screwing everyone.

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