Author Topic: divorce/child care/early retirement  (Read 21615 times)

partgypsy

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #150 on: May 10, 2018, 12:36:38 PM »
Well, oftentimes before divorce there are communication problems. Getting divorced doesn't necessarily fix those communication problems (understatement). Setting aside a bunch of stuff, you and the Mom of your kids have different values on what say extra curricular activities your kids participate in. How do you decide? The best way of course, is for you two after getting feedback from the kids, talk like adults, and make a decision. Kind of like how people used to do over dinner, or at "family meetings". I think it is good to get feedback from the kids. Unfortunately if the relationship is this bad, I wouldn't be surprised your kids say 1 thing talking to you, and 1 thing when talking to Mom. An independent counselor or adult might be able to ascertain what values the kids place on different activities.

You as adults and parents, need to come to a unified decision. Maybe it's having an overall "budget" for activities for the year. Maybe it's having the kids rate the activities to help decide. Also important is how much travel, other trouble for the parents is involved (especially if one parent has more of the weight of this).
I guess the only thing I don't like, is having payment be conditional on things outside the kid's control (whether mom is paying for other things). Or having unilateral decisions that don't place any value or weight on how important it is to the child.


partgypsy

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #151 on: May 10, 2018, 12:38:55 PM »
Ya know, your divorce sounds pretty typical for the ones I know of, when kids are involved.

- It's not uncommon for couples to drift apart and become like roommates.  And want to move on, but feel like they should stay together for the kids, or stay together because it's in some ways easier.  In this respect, your marriage/ divorce sounds pretty typical.

- It's not uncommon for there to be a power struggle afterwards.  On either side.  I've seen it many many many times.  Everyone wants their "own way".  And when you were married, you probably discussed it, and you were, for the most part, a "team".

who was it? Curious minds

- It's not uncommon for people to speak badly about their exes. Sometimes because they suck.  Sometimes because you need to vent.  Our next door neighbor bought the house during his divorce.  They had one teenager.  Oh boy it was years and years of hearing about his evil ex.  Then on a long run one day I met this lovely woman...ah ha ha, guess who it was!  They actually mostly get along now, 12 years later.

- When it comes to paying for glasses, club volleyball, etc. - you are no longer a team.  Because you aren't married.  This is the thing that you need to get over.  You can refuse to pay for half, but it will only reflect badly on you.  Trust me.  My parents divorced/ separated when I was 15.  My  mom left with nothing.  I moved in with her later.  She asked for nothing from him, which he gave gladly!  They are both long gone now, but when I think fondly of my parents, and how they helped me get through college emotionally (if not financially) - guess who I think fondly of!  Not him.  He refused to even fill out FAFSA, which meant another $1800 a year I had to drum up, in the 80s.  You really just need to suck it up, unless you want 100% custody.

- Having 2 kids on the same team is way more convenient, and I won't fault her for that.

mm1970

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #152 on: May 10, 2018, 05:53:11 PM »
Ya know, your divorce sounds pretty typical for the ones I know of, when kids are involved.

- It's not uncommon for couples to drift apart and become like roommates.  And want to move on, but feel like they should stay together for the kids, or stay together because it's in some ways easier.  In this respect, your marriage/ divorce sounds pretty typical.

- It's not uncommon for there to be a power struggle afterwards.  On either side.  I've seen it many many many times.  Everyone wants their "own way".  And when you were married, you probably discussed it, and you were, for the most part, a "team".

who was it? Curious minds

- It's not uncommon for people to speak badly about their exes. Sometimes because they suck.  Sometimes because you need to vent.  Our next door neighbor bought the house during his divorce.  They had one teenager.  Oh boy it was years and years of hearing about his evil ex.  Then on a long run one day I met this lovely woman...ah ha ha, guess who it was!  They actually mostly get along now, 12 years later.

- When it comes to paying for glasses, club volleyball, etc. - you are no longer a team.  Because you aren't married.  This is the thing that you need to get over.  You can refuse to pay for half, but it will only reflect badly on you.  Trust me.  My parents divorced/ separated when I was 15.  My  mom left with nothing.  I moved in with her later.  She asked for nothing from him, which he gave gladly!  They are both long gone now, but when I think fondly of my parents, and how they helped me get through college emotionally (if not financially) - guess who I think fondly of!  Not him.  He refused to even fill out FAFSA, which meant another $1800 a year I had to drum up, in the 80s.  You really just need to suck it up, unless you want 100% custody.

- Having 2 kids on the same team is way more convenient, and I won't fault her for that.

Misplaced quotes @partgypsy

Who was what?

On that long run?  Chatting with a lovely woman, who turned out to be my neighbor's ex.  And she wasn't the devil incarnate.  That doesn't mean she didn't completely jerk him around during the divorce and after.  She was just used to getting her own way, all the time.

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #153 on: May 11, 2018, 10:44:49 AM »
You as adults and parents, need to come to a unified decision.
This is a goal, but I think it is unfair and causes undue stress to someone newly into the divorce pool.  Many, many times this will never happen.  My ex and I divorced amicably and speak quite cordially in most cases, but there are things (like kid's activities) that we have never been able to come to, not likely ever will be able to, a unified decision on.   Unless I wanted to come to her decision which is the kids do not need to do anything.  It's a waste of money in her eyes and when they grow up they won't even remember what they did.  For couple who are not able to behave amicably placing this "need" on them is not realistic.

My message is usually pretty simple.  You could not control your ex when you were married to them, what makes you think you can do any better now that you are divorced?

gerardc

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #154 on: July 02, 2018, 12:10:56 AM »
Highly recommend you plan to support at current levels regardless of your future income/or lack thereof.  Don't know your state, but imputed income is likely to be called into play if you make a choice to stop working and then ask for a reduction.

We are planning on just this thing as we are FIREing in May, but his Child support obligation will continue through the following summer.  We wouldn't dream of asking the court to reduce our obligation because we decided not to work.

There is something seriously wrong with that reasoning, and imputing income in a FIRE scenario.

I currently make around $400k/year. For 2 children in most states I'm looking at $60-90k/year child support payment. See the problem?

The problem is the law mistakenly assumes I spend most my net income, which is absurd. I plan to spend ~$40k with partner and 2 kids. I don't want to raise spoiled brats who would "need" $60-90k/year in luxury. If the support payments were ~$20k, that would be reasonable.

The second bigger problem is that $400k/year is soul sucking, and I'm implicitly making more effort now so that I can relax later (FIRE). Think about a lucrative $150k/year gig in remote coal mines @ 16 hours/day. Many people would sacrifice their time now and make bank for a few years, but it doesn't mean they want to make it a permanent lifestyle or that they'd be a deadbeat if they took time off later on, or that they want to spend $60k/year on their kids.

Why would we favor the guy who's been cruising at $30k/year all his life in relative ease, no schooling, no PhD, no big sacrifices, with lower support payments, when the $150k or $400k guys are actually aiming for the same lifestyle but choose to front load their earnings and amortize their expenses over a few years? Maybe the $30k/year guy would be able to earn $150k if he worked 16 hour days if he bothered trying and sacrificed most of his personal life, but he doesn't want to. Shouldn't we impute a $150k income to him too?

This imputed income rule is wrong and needs to be rethought. Earning $400k/year doesn't mean it's sustainable for you or that it's your life plan to supply this water hose of money to your spoiled wife and kids.

Note that I'd be in favor of imputing income up to the median income level, i.e. ~$50k, but not more. I'm not sure what courts do in practice, but in any case this should be spelled out in law.

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #155 on: July 02, 2018, 06:35:34 AM »
This is an interesting point.  One I have not looked at in our state, mainly because we will not be done working before the kids are 18 and anything like that would be off the table.  Also we currently have no child support obligation so it is less of something to figure out.  I earn a lot more than my ex but I have the kids 80% of the time.  Imputed income helps with my wife's ex as he does not work at all but they impute a base level which then washes out the obligation from her end, though we did get hit with repaying the state for CHIP funds, which we were fine with from the kids standpoint but we find it a little irritating that because he is a deadbeat we get to pay for his draw on the system.  We just make peace with it because it is a consequence of a choice that was made to marry the guy in the first place.

Captain FIRE

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #156 on: July 02, 2018, 11:00:23 AM »
The law can be a blunt instrument when applied to divorce/custody and the like.  It's trying to solve for the "most people" situations.

Most people trying to claim no income are getting income under the table and trying to avoid paying for their kid(s)/money going to exes.  Very few indeed are ones who worked for intense time periods to retire early.  (Very few do that generally, before narrowing it further to those with kids in divorce court, with high paying jobs previously, given up voluntarily.)

That said, I don't think judges are unfeeling beasts, and understand that sometimes you can't keep/don't want to keep soul sucking time sucking jobs and downshift.  At high incomes, the awards are discretionary in the states I know, because they are off the scheduled charts.  (Not sure where they end, but more like $100k than $400k.)

That all said, don't like how the courts will decide things?  Don't get divorced.  Then you aren't opening the door for the courts to be involved.  (Or don't have kids, try to come to agreement with your ex, etc.) 

Schaefer Light

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #157 on: July 02, 2018, 01:22:59 PM »
That all said, don't like how the courts will decide things?  Don't get divorced.  Then you aren't opening the door for the courts to be involved.  (Or don't have kids, try to come to agreement with your ex, etc.)
It takes two to marry, but it only takes one to get divorced.  Saying "don't get divorced" makes it sound like we have/had a choice in the matter.  In many cases, only one spouse wants the divorce and the other is just along for the ride.

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #158 on: July 02, 2018, 01:27:59 PM »
That all said, don't like how the courts will decide things?  Don't get divorced.  Then you aren't opening the door for the courts to be involved.  (Or don't have kids, try to come to agreement with your ex, etc.)
Spoken with eloquence and empathy from someone I assume has no experience with divorce?

It's pretty hard to stay married to someone who does not want to be married to you, so avoiding a divorce is not always possible.  And once you have had kids, as this person did, you can't give them back so the advice not to have kids really does no good at all.  Same thing with "come to agreement with your ex".  Gee, why did I not think of that one?  Silly me.  Do you honestly think that we did not try to come to an agreement?  I in fact did.  And then she felt it was unfair later and threatened to go back to court, she did not, but again, it would have been totally out of my control if she chose to.

This is the stuff that most people do not know about domestic court.  Most (including me before I went through it) assume it is like the court we are more familiar with, criminal or maybe civil, that we see more of on TV.  There is no burden of proof to file and start a case.  More importantly there is no double jeopardy, once your divorce is settled, that you would not go back to court unless something new happens.  Your ex can decide to file something as often as they want and you are along for the ride.  In certain cases, likely most, the system is built to assume that desire by both parties is to avoid court and the costs, but many cases this is not true.  If you have someone who does not care about the costs, or for their end goes in pro se and therefore can keep their costs low but is coming after you for something you do not feel comfortable going in pro se for on your own you are paying attorney fees that you have little control over.

So I come back to my original question.  Do you even know what you are talking about or are you just providing a set of unhelpful answers to be a jerk?

gerardc

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #159 on: July 02, 2018, 07:35:19 PM »
I think the key point for high earners is that we want to make sure support payments are reasonable (say <$20k/year for 2 children, or imputing an income equal to the median income) as long as you always raised your kids on that level of spending before, i.e. this doesn't result in a lifestyle degradation for the kids.

https://www.stoutadvisory.com/insights/article/case-you-were-wondering-child-support-high-income-cases

Quote
Ruling
An amount awarded in excess of the amount awarded as child support, below, would essentially result in Father providing support to Mother and/or result in subsidizing Mother’s choices regarding the children’s standard of living – choices that Father has historically not supported and inconsistent with his own lifestyle and the choices he has made for the minor children.

So, it seems that if you are consistent/congruent in your desire to raise your kids at a $20k frugal level when earning $400k/year, you would be safe to FIRE as long as you can maintain those $20k/year support payments, which I feel is the correct level if divorce occurs late in their development, so this is encouraging.

However you might have to fight in court for this, as the off-the-shelf child support calculators would yield $60-90k/year payments if imputing a $400k income, and almost $0 payments if not imputing income, for a FIREd non-custodial parent.

I still think it would be nicer if imputed income was capped at $50k/year in law. The counter argument is that if kids are accustomed to a $500k/year lifestyle, it might be "hard" for them to go back down to $20k...

Captain FIRE

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #160 on: July 03, 2018, 09:06:51 AM »
That all said, don't like how the courts will decide things?  Don't get divorced.  Then you aren't opening the door for the courts to be involved.  (Or don't have kids, try to come to agreement with your ex, etc.)
So I come back to my original question.  Do you even know what you are talking about or are you just providing a set of unhelpful answers to be a jerk?

My response was admittedly facetious at the end, but I stand by the serious comments I provided in the beginning of the post.  (Did you read those or just have a knee jerk response to the end and thus decide to ignore everything else?)  I was trying to inject a bit dark humor in my statement, which was meant to recognize that sometimes the law sucks because it's aimed at the majority and sometimes the best thing that you can do is try to avoid it.  I'll also note that while framed facetiously, it is definitely the case some people don't actually try very hard to stay married.  I've seen this in my personal experience.  Obviously, this isn't always the case (and maybe not even most of the time - hard to say), nor was it meant to be personally directed at anyone specific in this thread, but yes, in some situations, trying harder to stay married does actually work to stay married - and keep the government out of these types of decisions. 

In terms of my experience: I've provided pro bono legal advice in two different states, advising a number of low income people on family law issues, primarily related to custody and support.  (That's where I saw a lot of the aforementioned jerks hiding their income to avoiding paying anything for their kids that I noted above.  I still stand by my comment that these are far more common than the mustachians out there.)  I was the first in this thread to point out the concept of imputed income (and the concept of requesting modification), unpopular as it might be: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/divorcechild-careearly-retirement/msg1992129/#msg1992129
« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 09:13:29 AM by Captain FIRE »