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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: ericbonabike on May 01, 2018, 01:24:41 PM

Title: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 01, 2018, 01:24:41 PM
My story:

I am a 41 year old engineer. 
I am recently divorced (about a year ago) with 2 kids (13 & 11).   My exwife was a stereotypical consumer (fancy vacations, brand new cars, etc) and as I discovered the mustachian lifestyle (paid off house, started socking money away, began adventuring) and it chaffed. Wasn't the only reason we separated, but it was a big component.

I'm also recently remarried (about 6 months ago) to the perfect woman....a fellow mustache set on early retirement. We are expecting our first child in about a month.
Good news:  I'm LOADED!  Despite the ugly divorce, I walked away with about a million bucks.  My new wife is quite a bit younger than me (28), and her stache is correspondingly smaller.  Her net worth (before we got married) was about 200k.   So, we have about 1.2 million. 

We live in a modest house (1500 sq feet). With mortgage balance of about 90,000 on a 15 year loan at 3.49% APR.   We drive two paid for used vehicles (slightly nonmustachian midsize pickup truck and a minivan).   Our gross salary is about 200k, we max out our 401ks and IRAs.  And are saving about 50% of our takehome pay right now. 

While I was married to my exwife, I was operating under the illusion that I had to work until I was 60.  But I like being outside, riding my bicycle, swimming in the rivers, and enjoying a simple life.  When I got remarried and began reading JL Collins and MMM, I realized: I have enough money right now to retire. 

Here's my question: My exwife makes about 100,000k a year.  I make about 120,000 a year.  I agreed to pay her $700 a month in child support.  I pay for health care for kids.  And I split all out of pocket medical expenses for kids. I had to agreed to pay for half of extracurricular activities, but my exwife has been particularly difficult and I opted out through the use of a bit of a loophole.  I have my girls for 6 out of 14 days (almost half but not quite). 

My current wife and I both want to drop down to 75% as soon as our son is born.  But that would drop my income below my exwife, which was her primary justification for pursuing child support. 
I could: pursue reduced child support payments to my exwife based on this reduced income.  Everything I've read says that "early retirement is optional and you will have to continue to pay full child support",
or
I could just suck it up and keep paying full support? 

My oldest will turn 19 in 2024 and my payments will cut down to 350 a month until my 11 year old turn 19 in 2026.  All told, I'm looking at sending my exwife about $60,000 over that period of time. 

But if we keep working fulltime till my oldest turn 19, my projections show us with $2.2 - $2.5 million.   And if we work till my youngest turns 19, then we'll have between $3 and $3.2
(Assuming we can maintain 50% savings rate AND have between 5% and 7% ROI.


Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: tweezers on May 01, 2018, 01:56:34 PM
I'm not divorced and have never gone through a divorce. However, I feel the need to point out that you're not paying your wife $60k over the next 8 years, but supporting your two children.  When I think about the cost of housing, feeding, clothing, and paying for activities for my two children, $700/month seems like a bargain. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE on May 01, 2018, 02:30:26 PM
Consult a lawyer regarding child support in your state.

In two states where I've lived, a parent could pursue child support if the other parent voluntarily reduced their income.  Some people do that to be a jerk.  Some people do that to better themselves and their situation (e.g. going back to school).  Some people aren't really doing it on purpose (e.g. job loss), but are still imputed income.  But regardless, the children still need to be housed, clothed, fed and cared for regardless of whether or not you are working.

But - this doesn't mean you have to keep working until 65.  It just may mean a large enough stash to cover the child support obligations until 18/19/out of school.  You could also try reducing your income, and filing a request for a modification and seeing if your ex objects (ETA: which I anticipate she would).
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: CheapskateWife on May 01, 2018, 02:38:46 PM
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. 

We did however, prefund the CS in a separate account away from our invested assets to ensure that the obligation is fully covered, but outside our FIRE plans.  She receives a monthly transfer from that account, and we no longer track it as our assets.  That might be an option that feels good to you and your new wife, and automates it for the support of your children. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: CupcakeGuru on May 01, 2018, 03:50:03 PM
I'm not divorced and have never gone through a divorce. However, I feel the need to point out that you're not paying your wife $60k over the next 8 years, but supporting your two children.  When I think about the cost of housing, feeding, clothing, and paying for activities for my two children, $700/month seems like a bargain.

+1
$700 is peanuts! You are supporting YOUR kids.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on May 01, 2018, 06:50:14 PM
$700/month for 2 kids isnít that much. You still have a lot of money and youíll still be working. Donít quibble and invite any more drama over relative nothingness. As the others have said, re-frame your thinking, itís for your kids, not wife and let the bitterness go. Youíre fine. Nice stache, new young wife, new son and FI mindset. Donít waste your energy making anything more complex. Focus on bringing as much peace, love and happiness to your whole family as possible.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Awesomeness on May 01, 2018, 07:28:25 PM
Going out on a limb here with an assumption, you feel you got ďluckyĒ with that loophole you mentioned and now not going to share half of their activities and you feel you got a ďwinĒ.  So now you want to cut back hours and and pay even less and get another win.   My bad if Iím wrong but ouchie.

Dude you got away easy and if I was your ex wife Iíd say take me to court.  Iím betting on your income numbers Iíd come out with double the child support payments at least.  700$ a month is nothing!   So poke that sleeping bear you got,  wake it up and donít be shocked when a judge awards those kids more.   Seriously.  Your income went to 200 when you got married. Come on! 

Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Norrie on May 01, 2018, 07:36:19 PM
Let me get this straight:

Youíre trying to figure out how to pay your ex wife less than $700 per month to support YOUR CHILDREN? Meanwhile youíve only been divorced for a year but have a new wife who is already eight months pregnant with a new child and youíre ready to live this wonderful, gloriously free lifestyle with your new family?

Iíd say that you need to slow your roll, be super grateful for the million bucks that you have, and not try to run away from a responsibility that you have to your older children. Because they will learn about it and it will tell them exactly where they stand in your life. $700 a month is chump change in terms of what youíre earning now and even in terms of what youíll be earning if you go to 75%. Come on, now. Kids are not a line item to try to cut down to the bare minimum. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE on May 01, 2018, 08:00:08 PM
Let me get this straight:

Youíre trying to figure out how to pay your ex wife less than $700 per month to support YOUR CHILDREN? Meanwhile youíve only been divorced for a year but have a new wife who is already eight months pregnant with a new child and youíre ready to live this wonderful, gloriously free lifestyle with your new family?

I missed this part - the new baby on the way.  So his gf got pregnant only about 4 months after he divorced, he married her 2 months later, and he is now trying to figure out how to avoid supporting his original kids so he can play with his new younger wife?  All together, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Tuskalusa on May 02, 2018, 12:48:28 AM
My husband watched his dad drag him mom to court over child support for years. His relationship with his dad still suffers to this day (we are in our late 40ís). Donít quibble over a few bucks at the expense of your kids. While youíre at it, figure out how to start funding their activities again.  Your kids are noticing this.

Not trying to be overly harsh here, but Iíve seen what this behavior can do to the kids close up. It impacts the kids far more than you may realize. Please donít make this mistake.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: elliha on May 02, 2018, 02:18:16 AM
I agree that it is your children's money and that you should keep honoring this agreement. Your kids are more important that money and you can clearly afford to pay it. Cut down your hours if you like and invest some of that time into being with your kids, that is a true investment in my view. Any unnecessary bitching with exes will not be worth the trouble. If you had problems with her getting to see your kids I would be totally supporting you in taking things to court but not over this.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Villanelle on May 02, 2018, 03:26:39 AM
Your kids are old enough to realize that daddy resents supporting them.  Is that the message you want to send?

Even if it is, you are correct that it is very possible that since the reduced income would be by choice, you'll have to pay anyway. 

Also, you are spending ~$100,000 per year.  So while you claim to be mustachian, I'd argue you aren't terribly so.  If you want to save more, do it my cutting your own wasteful spending, not doing less to support your children. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: marty998 on May 02, 2018, 04:24:56 AM
Let me get this straight:

Youíre trying to figure out how to pay your ex wife less than $700 per month to support YOUR CHILDREN? Meanwhile youíve only been divorced for a year but have a new wife who is already eight months pregnant with a new child and youíre ready to live this wonderful, gloriously free lifestyle with your new family?

Iíd say that you need to slow your roll, be super grateful for the million bucks that you have, and not try to run away from a responsibility that you have to your older children. Because they will learn about it and it will tell them exactly where they stand in your life. $700 a month is chump change in terms of what youíre earning now and even in terms of what youíll be earning if you go to 75%. Come on, now. Kids are not a line item to try to cut down to the bare minimum. 

Your kids are old enough to realize that daddy resents supporting them.  Is that the message you want to send?

Guys... I think some calm is called for. I'm prepared to give the OP the benefit of the doubt for the following reasons:

1) we don't know what the relationship is between OP and ex wife - or who is jilted or at fault or whatever
2) the OP has the kids for 6 days out of 14, so I don't think you can insinuate that he is not "supporting his kids" If anything, he is really paying $700 a month for the 2 extra days that the ex wife has each month. In this regard, you could probably say $350 per day is an overly generous child support payment he is making to his ex.

Look, I get it... to me he sounds like a bit of a tool, I'm thinking perhaps this is simply due to to writing style.

If not, by all means throw the book  ;)
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 02, 2018, 05:59:37 AM
OK, so I scanned the responses, did not read in detail as they were starting to resemble mine.

I did not see any the specifically come from a father who is divorced and can directly relate, which I fit the bill for so I'll respond.

As others started, the payments are for your kids.  You are not paying alimony you are paying child support and working to support your kids activities.  There is nothing negotiable here and the fact that you are trying to find a way and already used a "loophole" as you call it, smacks of being a crappy father.  I get that is harsh, but I'm going to call a spade a spade.  Provide more detail that paints a picture other than someone trying to save money for his new wife and child and shaft his original kids.  Every payment you are talking about has ZERO to do with your ex and how you feel about her.   And if her biggest sin is that she is a spendypants and she argued with you and made you feel bad, you should count yourself lucky compared to others who may be dealing with infidelity, abuse, drug habits and not wanting to be a mom.  In short, you are in great shape, so stop whining.

I have my kids 80% of the time, and based on that my ex who was a stay at home mom for all intents and purposes (she worked part time every few years for a few months when she felt like it) was to pay $120/month in child support for our three kids.  My attorney and I decided it was best to wave any support obligation as she'd never pay and it would cost more to take her to court to try to collect than it was worth.  We also split medical and activity bills at that percentage.  To date I have seen $200 after 8 years from her.  By all means she is a deadbeat and the kids know it and resent her for it.  If you want your kids to feel the same way about you figure our a way to stiff them from their child support.  I had to pay $1,200/month alimony for five years.  I did get out early because she started living with someone which was a stipulation of the agreement because at that point she has additional household income.  She tried to hide it and made a mistake and I used that to stop support, but again, this had nothing to do with my obligations for the KIDS.  If you were here asking if it made sense to find a loophole for a alimony with the income levels you speak of, I'd be supportive.  In my case I made $100K and she had no income, so while I'd have preferred not to have to pay anything to my ex, I put on my big boy pants and accepted the responsibility of that obligation based on divorce law and fairness.  I pay 100% of my kids costs for everything other than for food for the time they are with mom which is six days a month.   

The courts also are not stupid about people trying to find ways to reduce income.  I had someone working for me that tried your trick of going part time and guess what?  They still calculated his support obligation at his full time rate.  Then he tried to get us to pay him less so he owed less.  Our HR group called bullshit and said no.  If you care nothing about your reputation go ahead and try to find a way, but most people who have to help you with your scam will not think very highly of you.  You are asking how to stiff your kids because you tired of their mom and her spending and chose to go find a new model.  The answer is "suck it up" as you say and pay what you owe, which is a pittance compared to most calculations.  I get that your ex may never use a dime of it for the kids and may pay for things you view as wasteful, but that is not yours to control.  What you are controlling is your ability to look your kids in the eye when they are adults and say "I'm sorry your mom and I got divorced and the impact it had on your lives.  I know that was hard.  I paid every penny I could to make sure you guys were covered.  It was the least I could do after putting you through something you had no choice in."

ETA:  By the way I am also remarried and we each inherited 3 kids, so we have 6, and parents on both ends who do not pay a dime.  One has a chronic health issue that has cost us over $10,000 YTD (yes in just four months).  We're blessed enough to have good income (not as high as you and your spouse) so we find a way to cover things, but man it would be nice if their dad covered the half he's supposed to. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Villanelle on May 02, 2018, 06:04:50 AM
Let me get this straight:

Youíre trying to figure out how to pay your ex wife less than $700 per month to support YOUR CHILDREN? Meanwhile youíve only been divorced for a year but have a new wife who is already eight months pregnant with a new child and youíre ready to live this wonderful, gloriously free lifestyle with your new family?

Iíd say that you need to slow your roll, be super grateful for the million bucks that you have, and not try to run away from a responsibility that you have to your older children. Because they will learn about it and it will tell them exactly where they stand in your life. $700 a month is chump change in terms of what youíre earning now and even in terms of what youíll be earning if you go to 75%. Come on, now. Kids are not a line item to try to cut down to the bare minimum. 

Your kids are old enough to realize that daddy resents supporting them.  Is that the message you want to send?

Guys... I think some calm is called for. I'm prepared to give the OP the benefit of the doubt for the following reasons:

1) we don't know what the relationship is between OP and ex wife - or who is jilted or at fault or whatever
2) the OP has the kids for 6 days out of 14, so I don't think you can insinuate that he is not "supporting his kids" If anything, he is really paying $700 a month for the 2 extra days that the ex wife has each month. In this regard, you could probably say $350 per day is an overly generous child support payment he is making to his ex.

Look, I get it... to me he sounds like a bit of a tool, I'm thinking perhaps this is simply due to to writing style.

If not, by all means throw the book  ;)

First, I don't think I was overly harsh.  If his kids get wind of this, that is how they will perceive it, very likely.  I'm not sure what is not "calm" about stating that.  Perception is reality here.  Can the mom be trusted not to tell the kids about this directly or let them "accidentally" learn about it?  It doesn't sound like the very best co-parenting relationship, so I wouldn't get on it. 

Second, the bolded isn't how child support works.  Even if they split time exactly evenly, down to the minute, support is also meant to cover differing income levels and the resulting lifestyle.  One could argue that's not reasonable or fair in at least some cases, but it's the reality of the legal system, generally speaking.  If daddy makes $1m and mommy makes $25k, even if they split time equally, there's a big disparity in what each parent can provide, and generally the State will address that via child support. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: SaucyAussie on May 02, 2018, 06:09:38 AM
Considering the overnights are fairly even and the salaries aren't far apart either, $700 does seem on the high side.  Did a court award that amount, or did you two come to that agreement yourselves?

And for all those saying the money is for the kids - how do you know the money goes to the kids?  The ex could be using that money to boost her own retirement savings or taking an annual cruise, for all we know...

But all in all, even if you do re-work the numbers, the amount of savings would be so small, it's really not worth rocking the boat.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 02, 2018, 06:14:18 AM
Considering the overnights are fairly even and the salaries aren't far apart either, $700 does seem on the high side.  Did a court award that amount, or did you two come to that agreement yourselves?

And for all those saying the money is for the kids - how do you know the money goes to the kids?  The ex could be using that money to boost her own retirement savings or taking an annual cruise, for all we know...

But all in all, even if you do re-work the numbers, the amount of savings would be so small, it's really not worth rocking the boat.
Saucy,

With all due respect, those questions are irrelevant.

Just because the ex may be a douche and uses it for a cruise does nothing to change the purpose of the payments.  If we allowed personal judgement to enter into if we owed that bill, everyone would rationalize it away.  After all we are not divorced from our exes because we think they are stellar people. 

The key thing I tell everyone as I lead divorce support groups is that our feelings for our ex are irrelevant in relation to the kids.  They are no longer our spouse, but they will always be that child's parent.  And therefore any decision we make needs to go through that filter, not the "my ex is crap" filter. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: SaucyAussie on May 02, 2018, 06:21:09 AM
Considering the overnights are fairly even and the salaries aren't far apart either, $700 does seem on the high side.  Did a court award that amount, or did you two come to that agreement yourselves?

And for all those saying the money is for the kids - how do you know the money goes to the kids?  The ex could be using that money to boost her own retirement savings or taking an annual cruise, for all we know...

But all in all, even if you do re-work the numbers, the amount of savings would be so small, it's really not worth rocking the boat.
Saucy,

With all due respect, those questions are irrelevant.

Just because the ex may be a douche and uses it for a cruise does nothing to change the purpose of the payments.  If we allowed personal judgement to enter into if we owed that bill, everyone would rationalize it away.  After all we are not divorced from our exes because we think they are stellar people. 

The key thing I tell everyone as I lead divorce support groups is that our feelings for our ex are irrelevant in relation to the kids.  They are no longer our spouse, but they will always be that child's parent.  And therefore any decision we make needs to go through that filter, not the "my ex is crap" filter.

Of course.  And for all we know, that's how the OP thinks, but a lot of people are jumping to conclusions regarding the OP and we simply don't have enough information to do that.  Now I do admit the OP has a slight communication problem, and doesn't paint himself in the best light, but that could just be him being brutally honest in order to get the best advice.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: GetItRight on May 02, 2018, 07:22:52 AM
I don't understand why you would be paying her child support when you and her have nearly the same income and effectively 50/50 time with the kids. Shouldn't all the necessities and basics for the kids just be split down the middle? I know the family courts are designed to destroy families, and men particularly, but this just sounds extra insane to me. I'd be inclined to do whatever it takes to ensure a fair and equitable split of the expenses or otherwise she gets nothing at all. Sounds like extortion to me.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: obstinate on May 02, 2018, 07:33:22 AM
I too really donít understand the umbrage for op. He is doing almost 50% of the caretaking, and nonetheless is paying a substantial amount. 60k is not peanuts ó itís a significant amount to pay for what is effectively about 8% of the remaining cost of raising these kids. That implies a total cost of >600k over the next 7 years, which is way more than kids actually cost.

That being said, is it worth getting into an acrimonious fight over? Possibly not. Depending on your relationship with your ex, I might just talk to her and see if she thinks itís reasonable. Or, failing that, ask for true joint custody at the same time as you ask for the reduction. Above all, talk to a lawyer if it is not possible to settle it amicably.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: scantee on May 02, 2018, 07:43:15 AM
This post...yowza.

Stop looking for new and creative ways to financially dick over your kids. It is disturbing to me that you are bragging about finding a ďloopholeĒ to have to not contribute to their activities, as if that is something you should get back pats for. You should want to contribute to activities your own children enjoy! You need to work on your character: shift your mindset to believing how providing this support  is one small sign that you care for them. Be proud to meet this obligation.

As others have said, your girls are old enough to sense whatís going on. They will know it if you try to weasel your way out of being a parent to them, whether that is by trying to get out of your support obligations or just by neglecting to pay attention to them now that you have a new family. Do you want to have healthy relationships with them into their adulthood? If that is important to you, then you really need to step up your game and start putting their happiness above you own. Being there for them wholeheartedly is a virtue; frugality and ďadventuringĒ are just lifestyle choices, nothing more.

Oh, and start contributing to their activities again. Itís truly the least you can do.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 02, 2018, 07:51:17 AM
I too really donít understand the umbrage for op. He is doing almost 50% of the caretaking, and nonetheless is paying a substantial amount. 60k is not peanuts ó itís a significant amount to pay for what is effectively about 8% of the remaining cost of raising these kids. That implies a total cost of >600k over the next 7 years, which is way more than kids actually cost.

That being said, is it worth getting into an acrimonious fight over? Possibly not. Depending on your relationship with your ex, I might just talk to her and see if she thinks itís reasonable. Or, failing that, ask for true joint custody at the same time as you ask for the reduction. Above all, talk to a lawyer if it is not possible to settle it amicably.
Based on your comments I am going to assume you do not have personal experience with the divorce process.

Child support if not something you settle.  If is a calculation handed down through statutes from the court.  You cannot negotiate child support amounts or who owes it.  It is plain math.  Look at what I shared in my case.  My ex did not work, did not have a college degree and I made a lot of money by anyone's standards and I had the kids 80% of the time.  The worksheet then showed she still owed me a bit of money.  She cried foul, it's not fair.  Sorry it's the law.

One may disagree with the math and it has about as much effect as disagreeing with death.  You got divorced in that jurisdiction and that is the process.  It's too late now, so the umbrage comes from the fact that, having gone through it myself, I realized my feelings of fairness were selfish, so I feel I can call bullshit on someone else having been in his same circumstances.  I have no sympathy for people who got married, chose to get divorced and then complain about the costs.  We should have done a better job of picking who we married then.  I include myself in that.  Once I got past of the pity party, I accepted my responsibility.  That is what does not sit well with me with OP.  He's not doing that.  He's finding a way to shirk responsibility to his children.  Kids cost a lot.  They cost a lot more with divorce because you are now supporting them in two households.  Costs are not just split, they do go up (usually more clothes, toiletries, etc.). 

ETA:  And I think  most of us are being very kind in leaving other things off.  With the age difference meeting a lot of stereotypical situations with the money there's a lot of mud that could be slung that no one is.  Calling a guy out for complaining about how his offspring cost money is not one to leave off.  I've got my wife's ex who does not hold down a job and does nothing to support his kids but I'm not going around town asking for a trophy.  I made the choice to add stepkids in and I gladly pay what comes with that.  Part of being an adult.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: haflander on May 02, 2018, 08:08:23 AM
I'm not great at math, but felt the need to point this out. You got your new gf pregnant basically a few months after your divorce...wtf? And that's if we translate your "got divorced about a year ago" to exactly a year. And you were 40 at that time...not 18. I can't even fathom this. Holy s***, SLOW DOWN. You couldn't even settle your divorce and figure out life before dating someone new? And basically got her pregnant immediately? If you didn't get her pregnant immediately, then basically you were dating her during your marriage. I'm much younger than you and have been dating someone for five months, or longer than you did when ya'll got pregnant. I really like this girl but there's no way I'm thinking about marriage and kids with her right now. Some day? Maybe, I could imagine that if everything kept going well. The best choices are those that are made slowly and carefully after settling your past and KNOWING YOURSELF. I feel sorry for your daughters. I really hope this is a troll situation.

And this isn't even getting into the financial side of things, just the life choices side. I also don't understand the hefty payments considering the income and time with daughters are basically the same. But I know nothing about divorce and kids so I won't say anything more about that.

All those saying to calm down and we don't know the situation? He's explained the numbers and timelines. These are his words, not speculation.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 02, 2018, 08:27:43 AM
I'll try to reply to everybody.  Regardless if you think I'm a dbag, I appreciate your input.  I was trying to be brutally honest as I want unfiltered advice.

1)  I take care of my kids 42% of their lives.   Annually, my ex gets my kids 52 more days per year than I do.   When I agreed to pay her 700 (we settled and this was not mandated by court), I had no inkling that I could retire if I lived more simply.  I have 1.2 million at 4% spend down = 50k annually.  We spend about 60k annually.  and that means I have a bit of gap. 

2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation.  I did not appreciate the extent to which I would resent this, as my ex uses this as a weapon against me.  During one of the handovers, this driving was costing me about an hour so that I can pick up girls clothes (that she was responsible for providing).  I asked her to compromise and meet at work for this transfer (we work less than 2 miles from each other).  She refused.   She was expecting me to drive an hour to pick up a volleyball jersey for my girls.  So, I said that I can't continue to pay for expensive extracurricular activities if she can't compromise.   I also went out and bought a bunch of clothes for my girls, at no small cost to avoid this drama.  When I have the girls, I don't ask my ex to subsidize OUR extracurricular activities.  My daughter signed up for a swim team for the month that I have them for summer...I paid the fee.  My other daughter signed up for a volleyball camp...I paid that fee. 

3)  At my full salary, I make about $20k more annually than her (120 versus 100k)  which in her mind requires me to give her about half of the differential.  REGARDLESS of how much time I spend taking care of kids.  I don't understand this, as it seems irrational to me.  If she found I got a huge raise, would she hit me up for more money???? I dunno...divorce is irrational. 


4)  Why does it matter?  I'm loaded right? I dunno...if I make 120k and owe her half of the differential, it seems that if I start drawing down my income, then maybe that number should change a bit?  I'm not sure...I've come to terms with the notion that the money I send her MIGHT be used for things like housing, food, etc or MIGHT be used for frivolous things.  And I've come to terms that it's none of my business how she spends that money...it's hers.  It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

5)  Somebody said I was spending 100k annually and therefore not mustachian....Really?  We are saving 60k annually in after tax income, saving 37k annually in max 401k savings, and 11k in roth IRA.  I reckon we could save a bit more, but it's getting pretty lean.  We don't have car payments, live in a very small home, we don't eat out, we stopped drinking when my wife got pregnant, I ride my bicycle to work when I don't have the girls, bike to grocery store occasionally. It might not be 100% mustache, but we probably live within 10% of that ideal.

6) I understand that this is an emotional subject for me, and maybe some of you.   I want what's best for my girls.  I don't want them to resent me (that's something I hadn't considered in my math).  I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon. 

Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 02, 2018, 08:30:45 AM
$700/month for 2 kids isnít that much. You still have a lot of money and youíll still be working. Donít quibble and invite any more drama over relative nothingness. As the others have said, re-frame your thinking, itís for your kids, not wife and let the bitterness go. Youíre fine. Nice stache, new young wife, new son and FI mindset. Donít waste your energy making anything more complex. Focus on bringing as much peace, love and happiness to your whole family as possible.

Thanks man. I need to hear that. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: CheapskateWife on May 02, 2018, 08:32:48 AM
I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.
This one you are going to have to let go of.  My DH is the dad in your situation, and it just isn't fair.  But we love his kids, so we do the best we can for them.  So she gets more time and influence over the kids, and we get to pay for more of their support.  And we do what he said he would in their decree, without requesting modification.  Your EX and her "family" has worked the current level of support into their plan for their future.  If you pull it, you impact your kids (and the ex).   So do what you said you would.

The beautiful thing about this is that even with the CS, you can retire young, right?  So focus on that.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: SaucyAussie on May 02, 2018, 09:01:56 AM

Based on your comments I am going to assume you do not have personal experience with the divorce process.

Child support if not something you settle.  If is a calculation handed down through statutes from the court.  You cannot negotiate child support amounts or who owes it.  It is plain math.

You are the one who is misinformed.  Child support can be negotiated outside of court, as I did, along with many others. 

You are projecting your own situation onto others.

I see the OP has provided an update, he too is providing child support voluntarily, not court mandated.  Based on the numbers provided, he appears to be paying more than a court would order.  I think you owe the OP an apology.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: scantee on May 02, 2018, 09:29:23 AM
Your update doesnít really help clarify what the issue is here. As youíve said repeatedly, you are very close to being completely FI with your current stash. Both you and your new wife could retire completely in the very near future. Despite that, you both plan to continue to work at least part-time which will you provide you more than enough money to meet your expenses and pay child support and save a ton of money.

So why focus so much on the child support? Because it bothers, it ďranklesĒ you mentally (not financially). I agree it is no fun being mentally bothered but it is kind of a state of being that comes with being an adult with competing obligations. You donít have a financial problem, you have an emotional problem. As such, what you need is an emotional solution: see a therapist to think through it, study Buddhism or philosophy  (I personally find this very helpful when Iím in an intractable situation) to come to peace with it, or just accept it swiftly and move on.

It is completely a mental trick of the mind, but one thing you could do is divert all of your non tax advantaged extra savings to a ďchild support fundĒ until you get to $60k. It sounds like this should only take you a year. Then youíre done. Youíve saved up for you entire child support obligation and you can slowly draw down the fund. You can then move on to other savings goals or early retirement. I donít think that approach is better financially, but it might give you some mental peace about the situation moving forward.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: MommyCake on May 02, 2018, 09:54:35 AM
This thread is interesting to say the least.  On so many levels.

Judgment aside, to ericbonabike:
Because I have nothing to do at work today, and because I was curious, I entered in your info on the NJ child support payment calculator.  http://quickguide.njchildsupport.org/quickguide.jsp.  Based on the info you provided, the court here would likely order you to pay 147 a week for a total of 7644 a year.  You are currently paying 700 a month for a total of 8400 a year.  So you may be overpaying, but according to this calculator, not by much, less than $800.  I have a friend who used to work as a probation officer for the child support division, until she got promoted.  According to her comments over the years, I can tell you this:  1) You make 20% more than your wife does, and she is the primary (has them more of the time) caretaker, so yes, in NJ you would be required to pay support.  2) Lack of income due to unemployment will not reduce your child support obligation in NJ.  The state will just garnish your wages when you start working again to pay the past due.  With that said, I think its safe to say voluntary loss of income will not reduce your obligation either.  My advice would be, stay out of court and keep your current arrangement and keep the peace as well, as best you can.  I have heard of cases where a request for a reduction results in an increase, which would not benefit your goals. 

Judgment:
Unless your wife is neglecting your children, what she does with the child support is her business.  Don't forget, the majority of the money you won't really see in actual bills.  The main thing (I believe this is part of the state calculation) is housing.  Your wife has no option to rent a studio apt.  She has to get or maintain a bigger place for the kids.  Food costs with children will be much higher.  Electricity, etc etc.  If she is taking vacations, or going shopping, don't assume it is out of "your portion" of her money.  Many people spend money to try to resolve their emotional problems.  Not saying it's right, or smart, but it's true.  I'm sure your personal situation (pregnant wife) is hard for her and for your children to swallow.  I am sure it is in your children best interest to avoid rocking the boat any further right now.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: honeybbq on May 02, 2018, 10:34:39 AM
Let me get this straight:

Youíre trying to figure out how to pay your ex wife less than $700 per month to support YOUR CHILDREN? Meanwhile youíve only been divorced for a year but have a new wife who is already eight months pregnant with a new child and youíre ready to live this wonderful, gloriously free lifestyle with your new family?

I missed this part - the new baby on the way.  So his gf got pregnant only about 4 months after he divorced, he married her 2 months later, and he is now trying to figure out how to avoid supporting his original kids so he can play with his new younger wife?  All together, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

You forgot, he got through the "loophole" so he doesn't have to pay for any extra curriculars for his other children, too.

I'm the 2nd wife to my spouse who has 2 previous children, and I would be AGHAST and how you are scheming to treat your "first" family.

Consider the emotional aspects to the divorce and "new family" on your current children, then what is clearly not an amicable divorce, a brand new half sibling - and the kids are old enough to do the math. Pretty soon you're going to be splitting $700/month on counseling alone.  Speaking from experience here.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: shelbyautumn on May 02, 2018, 10:43:43 AM
I'll try to reply to everybody.  Regardless if you think I'm a dbag, I appreciate your input.  I was trying to be brutally honest as I want unfiltered advice.

1)  I take care of my kids 42% of their lives.   Annually, my ex gets my kids 52 more days per year than I do.   When I agreed to pay her 700 (we settled and this was not mandated by court), I had no inkling that I could retire if I lived more simply.  I have 1.2 million at 4% spend down = 50k annually.  We spend about 60k annually.  and that means I have a bit of gap. 

2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation.  I did not appreciate the extent to which I would resent this, as my ex uses this as a weapon against me.  During one of the handovers, this driving was costing me about an hour so that I can pick up girls clothes (that she was responsible for providing).  I asked her to compromise and meet at work for this transfer (we work less than 2 miles from each other).  She refused.   She was expecting me to drive an hour to pick up a volleyball jersey for my girls.  So, I said that I can't continue to pay for expensive extracurricular activities if she can't compromise.   I also went out and bought a bunch of clothes for my girls, at no small cost to avoid this drama.  When I have the girls, I don't ask my ex to subsidize OUR extracurricular activities.  My daughter signed up for a swim team for the month that I have them for summer...I paid the fee.  My other daughter signed up for a volleyball camp...I paid that fee. 

3)  At my full salary, I make about $20k more annually than her (120 versus 100k)  which in her mind requires me to give her about half of the differential.  REGARDLESS of how much time I spend taking care of kids.  I don't understand this, as it seems irrational to me.  If she found I got a huge raise, would she hit me up for more money???? I dunno...divorce is irrational. 


4)  Why does it matter?  I'm loaded right? I dunno...if I make 120k and owe her half of the differential, it seems that if I start drawing down my income, then maybe that number should change a bit?  I'm not sure...I've come to terms with the notion that the money I send her MIGHT be used for things like housing, food, etc or MIGHT be used for frivolous things.  And I've come to terms that it's none of my business how she spends that money...it's hers.  It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

5)  Somebody said I was spending 100k annually and therefore not mustachian....Really?  We are saving 60k annually in after tax income, saving 37k annually in max 401k savings, and 11k in roth IRA.  I reckon we could save a bit more, but it's getting pretty lean.  We don't have car payments, live in a very small home, we don't eat out, we stopped drinking when my wife got pregnant, I ride my bicycle to work when I don't have the girls, bike to grocery store occasionally. It might not be 100% mustache, but we probably live within 10% of that ideal.

6) I understand that this is an emotional subject for me, and maybe some of you.   I want what's best for my girls.  I don't want them to resent me (that's something I hadn't considered in my math).  I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.

My parents divorced when I was 3 - I don't even have memories of them being together. I have a couple pieces of advice from the child's perspective.

1. Do not bad mouth your ex-wife in front of your daughters or your newborn son EVER (he'll tell your daughters what he hears you say). Save that for conversations with your wife. You loved your ex enough to marry her, you can find a couple good things to say about her now. NOTHING makes me happier than when I hear my dad say he's proud of how far my mom has come since she left him and that he forgives her for everything that happened between them.

2. Try to approach your ex-wife about the driving and activities again. Tell her you want to co-parent as efficiently as possible FOR YOUR GIRLS and that you'd like to come to a better compromise that works for both of you. Split transportation and activities. If your daughters can see you two work together for their benefit, it will mean the world to them. Fake it till you make it if you have to. It's absolute bullshit that she wouldn't meet you at work, but I would try to approach this topic again. Side note: I lived with my dad and saw my mom every other weekend. After my mom got her shit together, she took my dad back to court to get a more defined custody agreement in place. It pissed him off, but it worked. We had a set schedule of when I would see her, what holidays I would spend with each parent, etc. and it helped. If your ex-wife isn't willing to work something out, consider going back to court in a couple years. It sucks, but it works. My dad eventually got over it and understood why my mom did it.

You do sound like a good dad who wants the best for his children. However, divorce is never fair for anyone...get that idea out of your head. And don't give your ex-wife ammo to bad mouth you to your daughters. You moved on really quickly and I'm sure she already holds that against you. FWIW - $700 a month does seem excessive to me, but keeping the peace and honoring your commitment may be worth that price. Your daughters have gone through A LOT of difficult changes in the last year (divorce, new step-mom, new sibling), you owe it to them to keep things as amicable as possible.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 02, 2018, 10:48:29 AM
Let me get this straight:

Youíre trying to figure out how to pay your ex wife less than $700 per month to support YOUR CHILDREN? Meanwhile youíve only been divorced for a year but have a new wife who is already eight months pregnant with a new child and youíre ready to live this wonderful, gloriously free lifestyle with your new family?

I missed this part - the new baby on the way.  So his gf got pregnant only about 4 months after he divorced, he married her 2 months later, and he is now trying to figure out how to avoid supporting his original kids so he can play with his new younger wife?  All together, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

You forgot, he got through the "loophole" so he doesn't have to pay for any extra curriculars for his other children, too.

I'm the 2nd wife to my spouse who has 2 previous children, and I would be AGHAST and how you are scheming to treat your "first" family.

Consider the emotional aspects to the divorce and "new family" on your current children, then what is clearly not an amicable divorce, a brand new half sibling - and the kids are old enough to do the math. Pretty soon you're going to be splitting $700/month on counseling alone.  Speaking from experience here.

My loophole:  "The parties shall split equally, 50/50, all reasonable costs associated with mutually agreed upon extracurricular activities for the minor children".   So, maybe loophole isn't the right term.  Maybe I'm just 1/2 of the parental unit and I don't want to pay for a crazy expensive activity when it is being used punitively against me.  I could sign my kids up for private flying lessons and would me exwife be REQUIRED to pay half?  nope....she has to agree to pay half. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: scantee on May 02, 2018, 11:12:25 AM
Quote
My loophole:  "The parties shall split equally, 50/50, all reasonable costs associated with mutually agreed upon extracurricular activities for the minor children".   So, maybe loophole isn't the right term.  Maybe I'm just 1/2 of the parental unit and I don't want to pay for a crazy expensive activity when it is being used punitively against me.  I could sign my kids up for private flying lessons and would me exwife be REQUIRED to pay half?  nope....she has to agree to pay half.

You think your ex is purposefully signing up your kids for expensive activities to get back at you by...asking you to pay half? Have you considered whether these are activities your children genuinely want to do? Or does that not factor into your decision-making?

Why did you agree to all of this if you think it is so unfair to you? If you had showed up here 18 months ago I would have told you not to agree to a lot of this stuff, or at least be more explicit about who will cover what and when, but you didnít do that. My guess is that you agreed to it because it was the easy way out and you wanted the divorce ASAP. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, you realize you made some poor decisions and you are again trying to take the easy way out by looking for ways to shirk your obligations and place the blame on your exís tricksy ways. Donít do that. You entered this arrangement willing, if you want to change parts of it, take ownership of that and approach the situation with transparency and a readiness for negotiation and compromise.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 02, 2018, 11:16:01 AM

Based on your comments I am going to assume you do not have personal experience with the divorce process.

Child support if not something you settle.  If is a calculation handed down through statutes from the court.  You cannot negotiate child support amounts or who owes it.  It is plain math.

You are the one who is misinformed.  Child support can be negotiated outside of court, as I did, along with many others. 

You are projecting your own situation onto others.

I see the OP has provided an update, he too is providing child support voluntarily, not court mandated.  Based on the numbers provided, he appears to be paying more than a court would order.  I think you owe the OP an apology.
I'll respond to OP on his update separately, but reply to you here.

It can be negotiated.  I said I waived what I was to get from my ex.  $1,400/year or so was not going to make a dent in anything and I'd just be pissed when she didn't pay it.  And while you negotiated yours, have you ever had a court get involved to try to enforce payment.  I have.  Total waste of time and money, so unless the amounts add up to your fees to get a garnishment, which can cost about $20K by the time you are done you just have to let it go.

I see nothing in the OP update that his amount is more than would have been mandated.  I know of no jurisdiction in the US that does not mandate child support, but you are right the court will take an agreed amount as long as both parties agree.  But if they do not and you go back to court, you get what they mandate and it IS math, so I do not owe him or you an apology.  This applies to every state "At a minimum, 45 C.F.R. 302.56 requires each state to establish and publish a Guideline that is presumptively (but rebuttably) correct, and review the guideline, at a minimum, every four years." even yours in NC.  It's a federal law.  The amount on that worksheet is what it is.  My point was you cannot negotiate with the court on this amount, it did not imply you could not suggest something else outside of court, so your attitude comes down against your interpretation of what I was talking about.  And I also have been involved in plenty of cases where the court rejected the negotiated amount and slapped the mandated amount on because they felt one party was being coerced or was too ill-informed or did not care about their children and therefore was not representing them appropriately so the court did what was needed for the children. 

Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE on May 02, 2018, 11:52:36 AM
2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation. 

Ok, so you were stupid in what you agreed to - but you DID agree to it and may have gotten concessions elsewhere for it.  (such as a quick divorce so you could marry again quickly?  I agree with scantee). Next time, you know to think these things through more so you understand the full ramifications of your decisions.  I still don't think that means you should avoid putting the kids in joint activities to avoid doing the driving.  But hey, you've taken a hardline negotiating stance here, so maybe your wife will back off the transport to get your agreement to activities.

You may put your daughters in activities while they are with you, but particularly as they get older, I see it as possibly harder to just segment out their activities to just your time.  For example, they may want a week of volleyball camp in the summer, or to expand volleyball from say, Tuesdays to Thursday as well (i.e. time when they are with your ex), because those are the days that the high school volleyball team practices.

It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

1) You got the benefit of her working part-time: presumably she did more chores around the house, admin stuff for you guys, meals on table, etc.  Your kids got the benefit of a parent at home.  If none of that is true, your problem was those 10 years (not now).  Frankly, she's got more issues than you with the part-time work, as it sounds like she didn't get any temporary alimony: trying to get full-time work after lengthy part-time work history, having lost out on seniority at a job (she'll likely never max out as high on salary as she would have working full-time the entire time), etc.

2) You can still reduce hours.  I'm now getting irritated with this repeated claim.  You just need to allocate sufficient money in your budget for the child support.  You don't even need $60k, because it'll grow during the time that you have it.  You need maybe $45k now to fund the full amount over the next 6 years.  You need another $300k for the rest of the funding gap.  You can get there with part-time work, or full time work.   You're currently saving 108k? a year (60+37+11)?  Considering growth of your principal as well, you can easily knock that out in less than 2 years full-time work or longer for part-time work.
[/quote]

Let me get this straight:

You’re trying to figure out how to pay your ex wife less than $700 per month to support YOUR CHILDREN? Meanwhile you’ve only been divorced for a year but have a new wife who is already eight months pregnant with a new child and you’re ready to live this wonderful, gloriously free lifestyle with your new family?

I missed this part - the new baby on the way.  So his gf got pregnant only about 4 months after he divorced, he married her 2 months later, and he is now trying to figure out how to avoid supporting his original kids so he can play with his new younger wife?  All together, this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

You forgot, he got through the "loophole" so he doesn't have to pay for any extra curriculars for his other children, too.

I hadn't missed that in the first reading, I just choose to ignore it the first time around.  But yes, all taken together, if this were a friend, I'd be smacking them in face.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: formerlydivorcedmom on May 02, 2018, 12:00:26 PM
I'm qualified to speak on this one (see username)!

I have 2 biokids 70% of the time (state standard).  I also have a stepkid who lives here 35% of the overnights (but 50% of the non-school hours because we get weekends).

When I divorced, my ex was making a little more than you are and I was making just a little less than your xW is....and I receive 2.5x in child support what you are paying for your two kids.  Per Texas state law, he's required to pay that amount even if I have the kids just ONE DAY more a year than he does.  Plus he has to carry medical insurance and pay half the out-of-pocket medical expenses.  My ex doesn't complain about the money, and I like to give him credit that he understands it's best for our kids for our household incomes to be similar.

My H pays about half what you do for his daughter, and he makes about 25% of what you do.  He quit work to go back to school full-time and we still paid the same child support, because it was his choice to go back to school.  When he gets a job making more money, he'll up the amount of child support he pays....without being brought to court....because that is what his best for his daughter.  If we retire before she graduates, he'll keep paying at the same rate.

You can check the guidelines in your state to see how much you would owe given your current income, and how big a difference that is from what you are currently paying.  The guideline here also changes if you have other children to support (as you will shortly).  If you are underpaying per state guidelines on your current income, DO NOT rock the boat.  If there's a child support review, you will lose that one.

My ex and I have a decent coparenting relationship.  However, I will also warn you that because my ex decided to be an uncooperative <naughty word> about certain things in the custody agreement, which ended up costing me time and money, I've requested a child support review.  I know he's gotten raises in the years since we split, and the state formula changed.  After years of me putting up with certain relatively minor things ("loopholes", etc) , I got fed up, and this latest month of being a <naughty word> is going to cost him an extra $3k/year in child support for the next 10 years.  Beware of pushing your ex too far with your "loopholes".

As for the clothes?  We keep a full wardrobe for each kid at our house.  It would suck for my stepdaughter to have to carry a suitcase with her every week.  She  isn't visiting - she LIVES here.  We can't reasonably expect her to pack every thing she might need every week.  The exception is sports uniforms.  Your girls are old enough to be responsible and bring those back and forth with them. I expect that of my 12-year-old.

And, on a totally unrelated note, I hope that your girls are in counseling.  They've had a lot of changes to process in a relatively short amount of time.  My ex remarried 6 months after our divorce was final, and I remarried a year after that.  Counseling helped our kids enormously to be healthy and well-adjusted with the changes - and counseling for me helped make sure I was fully ready for my second marriage and prepared to be a great step-parent as well.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Schaefer Light on May 02, 2018, 01:03:28 PM
All I've got to say is there is nothing fair about the divorce process.  It sucks for anyone to go through one, so I'm sorry you've had to go through this.  Given what I know about the way support is rewarded, I'd be careful about letting a judge make a decision about how much I should be paying.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: mm1970 on May 02, 2018, 01:28:10 PM
Okay.  So I haven't read all of the responses, just some of them.

And I'm not divorced.

But a few thoughts:
1.  Your income and your ex's incomes compared to each other are basically irrelevant.  This is not alimony.  It's child support.
2.  $700 a month doesn't seem bad to me.  Heck just feeding my two boys costs about $300/month and housing is quite a bit more than that.
3.  Check your state.  You have the children 42% of the time, so the amount of child support should be calculated based on that.  There's no reason why you cannot get it adjusted - but keep in mind it might not work out in your favor.  I have a HS friend whose ex takes her to court every single year to either try to adjust child support down OR get full custody.  And he loses every year.  And has to pay court costs and her salary for the day.

That's not to say that you SHOULD lose.  But it's entirely possible that you and the ex decided on $700 being reasonable.  But the state might decide that at your two incomes, the cost to raise a kid is "X".  Well, what if X is a high enough number that the difference between your 42% and her 58% is more than $350? 

I think that the important point here is that you have joint/ partial custody.  It's not like the "old days" when one parent kept the kids and the other only got visits.  You need to feed and clothe and provide housing for them also.

When it comes to activities though, you need to be on the same page as the ex AND the kids.


That's not the only story I have.  My neighbor's ex-wife was a real b*tch and took him to court a lot, and always lost (she was the rich one, and just constantly yanked his chain trying to take his weekends/ holidays away). A former coworker's husband asked to have the kids for an extra long holiday during "her" week.  And so she agreed.  Then after the fact sent her a bill for half the 2 weeks in Hawaii.  She refused to pay.  He took her to small claims court.  The judge's first question: "does he pay child support?" Yes. "is he in arrears?"  Yes.  "Open up a claim to garnish his business taxes to pay back child support."  Dummy.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: formerlydivorcedmom on May 02, 2018, 01:54:24 PM
I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.

Those are my goals for my kids as well. 

You're going to have to let go of "fair".  We operate under a "what's best for the kids" policy, which is almost never "fair" in at least one parent's view.  As you get further out from divorce, it's easier to do that, as the emotions tend to fade.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 02, 2018, 02:49:33 PM
I'll try to reply to everybody.  Regardless if you think I'm a dbag, I appreciate your input.  I was trying to be brutally honest as I want unfiltered advice.

1)  I take care of my kids 42% of their lives.   Annually, my ex gets my kids 52 more days per year than I do.   When I agreed to pay her 700 (we settled and this was not mandated by court), I had no inkling that I could retire if I lived more simply.  I have 1.2 million at 4% spend down = 50k annually.  We spend about 60k annually.  and that means I have a bit of gap. 

2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation.  I did not appreciate the extent to which I would resent this, as my ex uses this as a weapon against me.  During one of the handovers, this driving was costing me about an hour so that I can pick up girls clothes (that she was responsible for providing).  I asked her to compromise and meet at work for this transfer (we work less than 2 miles from each other).  She refused.   She was expecting me to drive an hour to pick up a volleyball jersey for my girls.  So, I said that I can't continue to pay for expensive extracurricular activities if she can't compromise.   I also went out and bought a bunch of clothes for my girls, at no small cost to avoid this drama.  When I have the girls, I don't ask my ex to subsidize OUR extracurricular activities.  My daughter signed up for a swim team for the month that I have them for summer...I paid the fee.  My other daughter signed up for a volleyball camp...I paid that fee. 

3)  At my full salary, I make about $20k more annually than her (120 versus 100k)  which in her mind requires me to give her about half of the differential.  REGARDLESS of how much time I spend taking care of kids.  I don't understand this, as it seems irrational to me.  If she found I got a huge raise, would she hit me up for more money???? I dunno...divorce is irrational. 


4)  Why does it matter?  I'm loaded right? I dunno...if I make 120k and owe her half of the differential, it seems that if I start drawing down my income, then maybe that number should change a bit?  I'm not sure...I've come to terms with the notion that the money I send her MIGHT be used for things like housing, food, etc or MIGHT be used for frivolous things.  And I've come to terms that it's none of my business how she spends that money...it's hers.  It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

5)  Somebody said I was spending 100k annually and therefore not mustachian....Really?  We are saving 60k annually in after tax income, saving 37k annually in max 401k savings, and 11k in roth IRA.  I reckon we could save a bit more, but it's getting pretty lean.  We don't have car payments, live in a very small home, we don't eat out, we stopped drinking when my wife got pregnant, I ride my bicycle to work when I don't have the girls, bike to grocery store occasionally. It might not be 100% mustache, but we probably live within 10% of that ideal.

6) I understand that this is an emotional subject for me, and maybe some of you.   I want what's best for my girls.  I don't want them to resent me (that's something I hadn't considered in my math).  I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.
So as I've said, I have gone through this process.  If you want some input, I'll be happy to share what I can.

First, divorce is not fair.  My divorce was amicable and swift and the judges response at the end was "You both look unhappy with where we ended.  Good.  That means where we arrived is likely fair".

So I contend that what you should look at is reframing how you view everything you spoke of.

For #1, my ex wanted to just have me have the kids 100% of the time.  I did not agree with that because the kids want to see their mom.  Our divorce decree as written has her having them 4 days a month and me the rest, or using your math, 86% of the time I take care of my kids lives (I feel both parents are always involved but I get your point).  Even with that she still owed me child support per the worksheet.  She was upset.  The judge let her know, "Child support is not negotiable.  It is mandated." (to Saucy's point, as I said you cannot negotiate with the court, only with each other and then the court needs to agree).  She owed $120/month for three kids or $40/child/month.  In consultation with my attorney we granted a waiver.  After all someone who does not even want the kids will not pay and then we need to go to court to try to get garnishment, which I was shown how tough that is and it also a percent of what they make, and she has low earning potential so it would likely be 40 years before I could see what she owes me.  I'll explain in point #2

For point #2, do not punish your kids for your exes failure to comply.  Reframing.  Taking away the kids activities because you have to spend more for transportation because your ex does not do her part is a bad spot to be in.  She can then just turn around and let the kids know, "mommy would like you to go to x, but I can't pay by myself and daddy won't pay his part".  How are you going to respond to that?  You going to throw mom under the bus?  I can tell you how that will go because I've counseled dozens of people who did just that in divorce support groups.  It's ugly, your kids will hate you for it and it will still be your fault.  It does not work, because it is true.  Daddy is not willing to pay his part.  It does not matter that mommy did not do another part that had nothing to do with the kids and only had to do with your wallet.  I am in this exact situation.  We are to split transportation just like you and she also immediately let me know that she can't afford to drive/does not want to do it.  I explained why I thought tossing the kids in with consequences is a poor choice.  So what do you do?  At this point the kids are old enough to drive on their own.  We have a car they drive over in.  My ex then had them run errands using our gas and car to do them.  I tell her I would like her to not do this every once in a while.  She ignores me.  So what can I do?  We once thought about not allowing the car over there, but then her response is she cannot get the kids to their activities/jobs because it costs to much/she's too busy, so then we end up driving over to take them which takes more gas than if they just use the car for extra errands at times.  I also have $10K of medical and dental costs she paid $200 on until she decided she wanted no more of it.  The first summer after we divorced I had to place the kids in YMCA day camp because they were too young to stay home by themselves and I had to work.  For three kids that was about $8,500 for the summer.  A reliable babysitter for three kids was $20/hour for 50 hours with travel time for 12 weeks, so more.  Daycare would have been more for elementary and middle school kids.  She paid nothing.  Told me to let the kids stay home and it would be fine.  Again, after several conversations with an attorney about how the process to try to collect this worked, and likelihood of favorable result, it just became not worth it as I'd likely be out legal fees and still get little or nothing.   I also decided it was best to sell our house instead of keeping it (she could not afford mortgage so she moved to an apartment).  None of us like the McMansion she had chosen so to improve cash flow I figured this out.  My attorney wanted me to change the agreement before we finalized, but if I left her involved in the sale she'd be able to refuse offers, drag on deciisons, in short have a major ongoing impact on my cash flow, so I agreed to go forward with paying her half of the equity out and also covered all real estate costs which added up to about $70K I lost because I sold with no equity but still owed her half of something that was gone (2011 housing market) so sell quickly.  But in the math I could unbury myself faster by doing that.  I nearly had to borrow money from my parents to scrape up the $7,500 downpayment to get an FHA loan.  All other non-retirement savings was cleared out in that process.  The other thing you learn is that domestic court is it's own animal.  For me this was the biggest education of getting divorced.  I foolishly thought that you go to trial get a judgement and then it is done unless something significant changes.  But no, in domestic court you can go back as often as you want.  Don't like the judgement?  Turn around and file again tomorrow and do it again.  My wife's ex goes pro se does not work and lives off welfare so has all the time in the world and he uses this, to use your wording, as a weapon against her.  At times she goes in pro se, but she has to take off work, loses income and risks losing her job (which happened in her divorce as it was over 30 days in court over 18 months).  When it is serious, as in medical decision making for a child with a chronic health condition that dad ignores doctors  instructions on and does not monitor, we hire an attorney and it costs tens of thousands of dollars each time with unknown outcome.  If you've ever gone through the process you know once it begins, you are along for the ride.  Guardian ad litem fees, court appointed psychologists all kinds of fun.  It costs what it costs because there is no control when you are against someone who has no interest in settling because their whole goal is to just make it as expensive for you as possible, as a weapon.  I offer all this detail again, as a source, a motivation if you will to reframe your thinking.  You ain't seen nothing yet if you think this is uncomfortable in what an ex can do with you in terms of cost.  Be happy it is only $700 and some extra transportation.  You adjust your budget, your plans and you live your life.

Point #3.  Divorce is irrational.  I made some really weird looking financial choices up above, but you have to look at a bigger picture.  Reframing.

Point #4.  This one definitely needs reframing.  Do you not see how you were able to have the career you did and become a high earner because your spouse only worked part time?  It was the same for me with a stay at home mom.  I could focus on the job, travel on a whim and do everything the company wanted which allowed me to advance quickly and high.  We did not have to pay child care.  Saying those things are free is not realistic.  I could have avoided all the mess if I had actually made the choice of who to marry in a logical and rational way like I did with my second wife.  But relying on "feelings" I ended up with a poor choice and it was a mess and we divorced.  I consider what I had to pay in alimony payback that helped me learn what a poor decision I made and learn a lot from it.  I also could see clearly the benefit I received from her being part time or at home.  I could avoid worrying about the home front and it helped me advance at work.

On your last point, if you want to do what is best for your girls, just pay your child support, adjust your plans and your budget accordingly and live and learn.  Focus on being a great dad.  As you need to spend less on their activities us that to teach them the hard lessons of life and how to live within your means.  Maybe you'll decide to cut other things so they can do their activities and you can teach them that way.  Only you can decide if you are going to pick you over them.  I could certainly retire 10 years earlier if my ex paid her part and/or I just told the kids they can't do anything.  My kids did nothing to decide to end up where they are.  Taking out the fact that my ex and my wife's ex do not do their part is not a rational decision to make and trying to get your ex to do what you want is an exercise to drive you quickly to insanity.  Make peace with what it is and move on.  Your situation is not really bad at all.  It is also important for you to realize that in many cases the kids cost more because you are divorced (clothes, toiletries, etc.) that they are not going to carry back and forth, so they have nearly full wardrobes and such at each house.  So it's a fallacy you need to reframe that somehow all this has no change to finances.  You ended up in an exceptionally great situation.  Stop crying over the little pain you have compared to most other situations.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: partgypsy on May 02, 2018, 03:22:42 PM
I too really donít understand the umbrage for op. He is doing almost 50% of the caretaking, and nonetheless is paying a substantial amount. 60k is not peanuts ó itís a significant amount to pay for what is effectively about 8% of the remaining cost of raising these kids. That implies a total cost of >600k over the next 7 years, which is way more than kids actually cost.

That being said, is it worth getting into an acrimonious fight over? Possibly not. Depending on your relationship with your ex, I might just talk to her and see if she thinks itís reasonable. Or, failing that, ask for true joint custody at the same time as you ask for the reduction. Above all, talk to a lawyer if it is not possible to settle it amicably.

It's 60K over the entire time until the kids age out. It's 8400 per year. In my state the courts use a formula that simply puts the income of each of the parents, you put in the percentage of time you have nights, and it spits out a number. Most likely it was something like that. Even though their salaries are similar, between the difference in days and his higher salary makes the number. The formula is color-blind. For example as I make more than my ex, I would pay him child support. We agreed out of court how to split expenses that differs from the formula, but it is what it is. The thing I don't understand, how does he walk away from a divorce with a million? Did he inherit money or have significant assets before marrying. In my state assets are essentially split down the middle and it's pretty straighttfoward. OP, can you explain this? Did your ex also walk away with a million?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: honeybbq on May 02, 2018, 03:29:19 PM
I too really donít understand the umbrage for op. He is doing almost 50% of the caretaking, and nonetheless is paying a substantial amount. 60k is not peanuts ó itís a significant amount to pay for what is effectively about 8% of the remaining cost of raising these kids. That implies a total cost of >600k over the next 7 years, which is way more than kids actually cost.

That being said, is it worth getting into an acrimonious fight over? Possibly not. Depending on your relationship with your ex, I might just talk to her and see if she thinks itís reasonable. Or, failing that, ask for true joint custody at the same time as you ask for the reduction. Above all, talk to a lawyer if it is not possible to settle it amicably.

It's 60K over the entire time until the kids age out. It's 8400 per year. In my state the courts use a formula that simply puts the income of each of the parents, you put in the percentage of time you have nights, and it spits out a number. Most likely it was something like that. Even though their salaries are similar, between the difference in days and his higher salary makes the number. The formula is color-blind. For example as I make more than my ex, I would pay him child support. We agreed out of court how to split expenses that differs from the formula, but it is what it is. The thing I don't understand, how does he walk away from a divorce with a million? Did he inherit money or have significant assets before marrying. In my state assets are essentially split down the middle and it's pretty straighttfoward. OP, can you explain this? Did your ex also walk away with a million?

I find this whole perspective so interesting. My spouse paid over 60k a year between alimony and child support (Texas!). He made more than OP but not that much more.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Reynolds531 on May 02, 2018, 07:22:22 PM
You've come through a bad process relatively well. Some things I don't see mentioned above.

Do everything in your power to protect your current marriage. 75 percent of second marriages fail.

Try to get that seventh day. When the ex starts dating she may be open to this.

I wouldn't push them but make sure the older two are never excluded from things.

I don't agree with all your choices, and you certainly have your work cut out for you. Good luck.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Villanelle on May 02, 2018, 08:16:23 PM
I'll try to reply to everybody.  Regardless if you think I'm a dbag, I appreciate your input.  I was trying to be brutally honest as I want unfiltered advice.

1)  I take care of my kids 42% of their lives.   Annually, my ex gets my kids 52 more days per year than I do.   When I agreed to pay her 700 (we settled and this was not mandated by court), I had no inkling that I could retire if I lived more simply.  I have 1.2 million at 4% spend down = 50k annually.  We spend about 60k annually.  and that means I have a bit of gap. 

2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation.  I did not appreciate the extent to which I would resent this, as my ex uses this as a weapon against me.  During one of the handovers, this driving was costing me about an hour so that I can pick up girls clothes (that she was responsible for providing).  I asked her to compromise and meet at work for this transfer (we work less than 2 miles from each other).  She refused.   She was expecting me to drive an hour to pick up a volleyball jersey for my girls.  So, I said that I can't continue to pay for expensive extracurricular activities if she can't compromise.   I also went out and bought a bunch of clothes for my girls, at no small cost to avoid this drama.  When I have the girls, I don't ask my ex to subsidize OUR extracurricular activities.  My daughter signed up for a swim team for the month that I have them for summer...I paid the fee.  My other daughter signed up for a volleyball camp...I paid that fee. 

3)  At my full salary, I make about $20k more annually than her (120 versus 100k)  which in her mind requires me to give her about half of the differential.  REGARDLESS of how much time I spend taking care of kids.  I don't understand this, as it seems irrational to me.  If she found I got a huge raise, would she hit me up for more money???? I dunno...divorce is irrational. 


4)  Why does it matter?  I'm loaded right? I dunno...if I make 120k and owe her half of the differential, it seems that if I start drawing down my income, then maybe that number should change a bit?  I'm not sure...I've come to terms with the notion that the money I send her MIGHT be used for things like housing, food, etc or MIGHT be used for frivolous things.  And I've come to terms that it's none of my business how she spends that money...it's hers.  It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

5)  Somebody said I was spending 100k annually and therefore not mustachian....Really?  We are saving 60k annually in after tax income, saving 37k annually in max 401k savings, and 11k in roth IRA.  I reckon we could save a bit more, but it's getting pretty lean.  We don't have car payments, live in a very small home, we don't eat out, we stopped drinking when my wife got pregnant, I ride my bicycle to work when I don't have the girls, bike to grocery store occasionally. It might not be 100% mustache, but we probably live within 10% of that ideal.

6) I understand that this is an emotional subject for me, and maybe some of you.   I want what's best for my girls.  I don't want them to resent me (that's something I hadn't considered in my math).  I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.

You agreed to several things without understanding the ramifications, and it sounds like now you have buyer's remorse.  Unfortunately, but the time for that was before you gave your word.

I think you need to stop thinking about what is "fair".  As you said, you and your Ex (and probably your kids) are all going to have very different versions of that, so you will never, ever get there.  Instead, think of what is tolerable (without using "fair" to influence that--forget what she does and says entirely, and just ask, "are my girls worth sending $700 a month to?  Is that an acceptable expense for maintaining a relationship with kids I love?").  Focus entirely on the girls, and them alone.  Forget what your Ex pays and says and does and spends her money on.  It is all no longer part of your sphere of influence.  What you can influence is your relationship with your kids.  And yes, that may mean delaying FIRE.  Are the relationships worth that? (And at a time where you are having a baby with your new wife, your kids are likely to be hyper sensitive about the idea of being "replaced", so this is even more true in light of that.  Right now would be a good time for behaviors from dad that very, very strongly reenforce they are not being replaced and are not going to play second fiddle to the new baby with the new wife.)

You'd also be delaying FIRE if you were still married to a spendthrift.  Or if you got sick and had major medical bills.  Or if you lost your job.  Life happens, and it often costs money.  In your case, "life" includes a divorce and a shared custody situation, and the resulting child support.  Perhaps if you think of that as comparable to a job loss or pay cut or car accident, it will help reframe it.  It's a thing that costs money and thus will delay FIRE, just like every other thing in our lives on which we spend money.  Even needing to eat and going to the grocery store for frugal food is a thing that delays FIRE. This is your path.  You can't go back and marry a different woman or not get divorced or not have kids.  You signed a contract, and trying to rework that contract may well damage your relationship with your girls, which it's clear you don't want.  So accept that this expense is part of your path, pay it just like you do rent/mortgage, utilities, the grocery bill, your travel fund, and expenses for your new baby. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Tuskalusa on May 02, 2018, 10:42:48 PM
OP, I also think you deserve props for working through this on the forum. I do think youíre getting good advice here about preserving your relationship.

I can understand that youíre frustrated with the situation. And I think itís very good for you to rant to this group of internet strangers about it. Then you can think through your options, find a solution that prioritizes your kids, and then make peace with it.

If we are helping you keep this away from your kids, then itís a good thing. Your kids need to see you as the kind, fun dad that Iím sure you are. They wonít be able to see or interpret everything that led up to your wanting to change a deal about child support or activities. And you donít want to be cast into a poor light over something that will seem small in the long run.

Thanks for sharing your honest story with us. I can only imagine how challenging this is for you. I can assure you though, sucking it up and keeping the deal will pay dividends when your kids are older.  I sincerely wish in laws would have learned that lesson with my DH.

Good luck!
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 03, 2018, 05:36:53 AM
I think you need to stop thinking about what is "fair".  As you said, you and your Ex (and probably your kids) are all going to have very different versions of that, so you will never, ever get there.  Instead, think of what is tolerable (without using "fair" to influence that--forget what she does and says entirely, and just ask, "are my girls worth sending $700 a month to?  Is that an acceptable expense for maintaining a relationship with kids I love?").  Focus entirely on the girls, and them alone.  Forget what your Ex pays and says and does and spends her money on.  It is all no longer part of your sphere of influence.  What you can influence is your relationship with your kids.  And yes, that may mean delaying FIRE.  Are the relationships worth that? (And at a time where you are having a baby with your new wife, your kids are likely to be hyper sensitive about the idea of being "replaced", so this is even more true in light of that.  Right now would be a good time for behaviors from dad that very, very strongly reenforce they are not being replaced and are not going to play second fiddle to the new baby with the new wife.)
To the OP this is one of the biggest things to be aware of.

My ex very quickly had a baby, even though she said she wanted no more kids, with someone else after we got divorce (within a year).  She just recently married the guy after five years or so, but the whole time my kids would come home with stories about how they were always deemed an expense by their now stepdad.  A couple weeks ago my 17 year old daughter got so upset when a debate about paying for airline tickets to take them to FL arose (keep in mind my ex and her new family have always scheduled vacations to occur when the rest of the kids were not there so they could be excluded, so it was just her, her new baby and the new baby daddy).  My kids have been upset about this for years.  It finally blew up vocally in the last month and my ex was somewhat surprised.  Don't be my clueless ex.  Your kids will be hyper sensitive.  You are popping out new kids that compete with them.  You're going to spend money on that new kid, and like it or not kids can do math and they understand that adding one more to a divisor means less for them.  When I got remarried and added step kids there was a lot of that going on too with the kids being open about how they felt about having to split what we had with more people.  I get they were speaking from a point of selfishness, and they were good teachable moments.  I am not suggesting to let your kids drive decisions about your life and more kids, but I am saying it has an impact on your previous kids and you are going to need to manage that forevermore even through adulthood.  Blending is tough, whether it be with half-siblings, steps or whatever the mix in is.  I blog about this regularly and I've never yet met anyone who had smooth sailing.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Kyle Schuant on May 03, 2018, 05:47:25 AM
My current wife and I both want to drop down to 75% as soon as our son is born.  But that would drop my income below my exwife, which was her primary justification for pursuing child support.  [...]

I could just suck it up and keep paying full support? 
I don't care if you're getting US federal minimum wage cleaning public toilets and she's the CEO of Exxon. They're your children. You pay.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: begood on May 03, 2018, 07:10:03 AM
Your resentment of your wife's ten years of "part-time" work is tough to read. What was she doing the rest of the time, lazing on the couch eating bon-bons? Of course not. She was raising your daughters.

Is your new wife planning to work full time after the baby is born? Or will she work part-time or be a stay-at-home parent? Will you resent her too if she doesn't pull her weight financially?

Someone has to take care of the baby. You can stay home with your new son, your wife can, or you can both work full time and arrange paid child care for the baby. But you pay with either time or money, or some combination of both. Having another kid at 41 will delay your FIRE plans as much or more than paying the $700/month for the children you already have.

 




Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Car Jack on May 03, 2018, 07:46:52 AM
In my skimming, perhaps I've missed it.  But......

I would replace the word "FIRE" with "Paying for college for your kids" and be done with it.  Work till all your kids are done with college, or when you have the college money sacked away plus 50 times spending....then retire.      (that is the plan I am currently on.....1 year to go for me)
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 03, 2018, 07:56:56 AM
I'll try to reply to everybody.  Regardless if you think I'm a dbag, I appreciate your input.  I was trying to be brutally honest as I want unfiltered advice.

1)  I take care of my kids 42% of their lives.   Annually, my ex gets my kids 52 more days per year than I do.   When I agreed to pay her 700 (we settled and this was not mandated by court), I had no inkling that I could retire if I lived more simply.  I have 1.2 million at 4% spend down = 50k annually.  We spend about 60k annually.  and that means I have a bit of gap. 

2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation.  I did not appreciate the extent to which I would resent this, as my ex uses this as a weapon against me.  During one of the handovers, this driving was costing me about an hour so that I can pick up girls clothes (that she was responsible for providing).  I asked her to compromise and meet at work for this transfer (we work less than 2 miles from each other).  She refused.   She was expecting me to drive an hour to pick up a volleyball jersey for my girls.  So, I said that I can't continue to pay for expensive extracurricular activities if she can't compromise.   I also went out and bought a bunch of clothes for my girls, at no small cost to avoid this drama.  When I have the girls, I don't ask my ex to subsidize OUR extracurricular activities.  My daughter signed up for a swim team for the month that I have them for summer...I paid the fee.  My other daughter signed up for a volleyball camp...I paid that fee. 

3)  At my full salary, I make about $20k more annually than her (120 versus 100k)  which in her mind requires me to give her about half of the differential.  REGARDLESS of how much time I spend taking care of kids.  I don't understand this, as it seems irrational to me.  If she found I got a huge raise, would she hit me up for more money???? I dunno...divorce is irrational. 


4)  Why does it matter?  I'm loaded right? I dunno...if I make 120k and owe her half of the differential, it seems that if I start drawing down my income, then maybe that number should change a bit?  I'm not sure...I've come to terms with the notion that the money I send her MIGHT be used for things like housing, food, etc or MIGHT be used for frivolous things.  And I've come to terms that it's none of my business how she spends that money...it's hers.  It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

5)  Somebody said I was spending 100k annually and therefore not mustachian....Really?  We are saving 60k annually in after tax income, saving 37k annually in max 401k savings, and 11k in roth IRA.  I reckon we could save a bit more, but it's getting pretty lean.  We don't have car payments, live in a very small home, we don't eat out, we stopped drinking when my wife got pregnant, I ride my bicycle to work when I don't have the girls, bike to grocery store occasionally. It might not be 100% mustache, but we probably live within 10% of that ideal.

6) I understand that this is an emotional subject for me, and maybe some of you.   I want what's best for my girls.  I don't want them to resent me (that's something I hadn't considered in my math).  I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.

You agreed to several things without understanding the ramifications, and it sounds like now you have buyer's remorse.  Unfortunately, but the time for that was before you gave your word.

I think you need to stop thinking about what is "fair".  As you said, you and your Ex (and probably your kids) are all going to have very different versions of that, so you will never, ever get there.  Instead, think of what is tolerable (without using "fair" to influence that--forget what she does and says entirely, and just ask, "are my girls worth sending $700 a month to?  Is that an acceptable expense for maintaining a relationship with kids I love?").  Focus entirely on the girls, and them alone.  Forget what your Ex pays and says and does and spends her money on.  It is all no longer part of your sphere of influence.  What you can influence is your relationship with your kids.  And yes, that may mean delaying FIRE.  Are the relationships worth that? (And at a time where you are having a baby with your new wife, your kids are likely to be hyper sensitive about the idea of being "replaced", so this is even more true in light of that.  Right now would be a good time for behaviors from dad that very, very strongly reenforce they are not being replaced and are not going to play second fiddle to the new baby with the new wife.)

You'd also be delaying FIRE if you were still married to a spendthrift.  Or if you got sick and had major medical bills.  Or if you lost your job.  Life happens, and it often costs money.  In your case, "life" includes a divorce and a shared custody situation, and the resulting child support.  Perhaps if you think of that as comparable to a job loss or pay cut or car accident, it will help reframe it.  It's a thing that costs money and thus will delay FIRE, just like every other thing in our lives on which we spend money.  Even needing to eat and going to the grocery store for frugal food is a thing that delays FIRE. This is your path.  You can't go back and marry a different woman or not get divorced or not have kids.  You signed a contract, and trying to rework that contract may well damage your relationship with your girls, which it's clear you don't want.  So accept that this expense is part of your path, pay it just like you do rent/mortgage, utilities, the grocery bill, your travel fund, and expenses for your new baby.


You make a lot of good points. I like this perspective.

Here's what I think I'm gonna do:

1)  I will continue to work full time for the next 2-3 years.  Socking 100k a year away.   
2) I will continue to pay full child support without seeking an amendment to that when I begin phasing into early retirement.
3) I will not agree to paying for any extracurricular activities while
     a)  I am not given a say in those activities (equal pay for equal say)  (My daughters have played rec league volleyball for 4 years (And I was the coach)).  This year my exwife decided to have them play club volleyball and it was super expensive AND deprived me of the ability to coach my kids)
     b)  I am required to make absurdly time consuming trips across town for trivial clothing exchanges when we work less than two miles apart.
4)  I am going to start carrying my youngest daughter to a counselor.  I will give my exwife the option of paying half of that cost.  If she declines, then it will impact my desire to fund other non-medically necessary expenses.
5) I will drive my daughters to and from all extracurricular activities and I will continue to strive to be a good father.  My wife and I believe that when the girls are with us, that we focus on them.  We don't watch TV, don't play video games, don't play on our phones.  We interact with the girls in meaningful ways when we have them. 


Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 03, 2018, 08:02:32 AM
Your resentment of your wife's ten years of "part-time" work is tough to read. What was she doing the rest of the time, lazing on the couch eating bon-bons? Of course not. She was raising your daughters.

Is your new wife planning to work full time after the baby is born? Or will she work part-time or be a stay-at-home parent? Will you resent her too if she doesn't pull her weight financially?

Someone has to take care of the baby. You can stay home with your new son, your wife can, or you can both work full time and arrange paid child care for the baby. But you pay with either time or money, or some combination of both. Having another kid at 41 will delay your FIRE plans as much or more than paying the $700/month for the children you already have.

I don't resent it at all.  I do not think (like I seem to understand from some of the comments) that it was purely a one way transaction. 

That is:  Poor exwife who couldn't work full time and therefore couldn't make as much money as she otherwise might have.   

She was provided the option of not working, working part time, working full time.   At least some of that option was provided because I worked my ass off.  Yes, I understand that me working my ass off was possible because she could take care of the kids.  I get that. 

That's why she:  walked away with 100% of her 401k, 15% of my 401k, 50% of all non-retirement accounts, 53% of home resell value, a paid for 2014 minivan.

In my mind that squared that up.  15% of my 401k was about 150k that she received.   That means that I was contributing to my 401k at a tune of 18500 per year, and she got 8 years of contributions.  Don't you think that brought us up to parity?    How much more should I have given her for that terrible assignment of spending quality time with the kids? 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Padonak on May 03, 2018, 08:07:58 AM
This whole tread is an advertisement against getting married and having kids.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: begood on May 03, 2018, 08:14:29 AM
Your resentment of your wife's ten years of "part-time" work is tough to read. What was she doing the rest of the time, lazing on the couch eating bon-bons? Of course not. She was raising your daughters.

Is your new wife planning to work full time after the baby is born? Or will she work part-time or be a stay-at-home parent? Will you resent her too if she doesn't pull her weight financially?

Someone has to take care of the baby. You can stay home with your new son, your wife can, or you can both work full time and arrange paid child care for the baby. But you pay with either time or money, or some combination of both. Having another kid at 41 will delay your FIRE plans as much or more than paying the $700/month for the children you already have.

I don't resent it at all.  I do not think (like I seem to understand from some of the comments) that it was purely a one way transaction. 

That is:  Poor exwife who couldn't work full time and therefore couldn't make as much money as she otherwise might have.   

She was provided the option of not working, working part time, working full time.   At least some of that option was provided because I worked my ass off.  Yes, I understand that me working my ass off was possible because she could take care of the kids.  I get that. 

That's why she:  walked away with 100% of her 401k, 15% of my 401k, 50% of all non-retirement accounts, 53% of home resell value, a paid for 2014 minivan.

In my mind that squared that up.  15% of my 401k was about 150k that she received.   That means that I was contributing to my 401k at a tune of 18500 per year, and she got 8 years of contributions.  Don't you think that brought us up to parity?    How much more should I have given her for that terrible assignment of spending quality time with the kids?

You're still talking about fairness. I'm talking about your attitude. You seem to reduce the value in the marriage to a financial perspective, and in that perspective you don't think your wife deserved what she got in the divorce. It's not fair, in your view, because she didn't work full time for ten years, and you did. You had to give her money you earned while she took the option of not working (full time, outside the home) for those years. You now refer to it as "spending quality time with the kids", when in truth, there's just a whole lot more to it than that.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: MaybeBabyMustache on May 03, 2018, 08:28:51 AM
I'll try to reply to everybody.  Regardless if you think I'm a dbag, I appreciate your input.  I was trying to be brutally honest as I want unfiltered advice.

1)  I take care of my kids 42% of their lives.   Annually, my ex gets my kids 52 more days per year than I do.   When I agreed to pay her 700 (we settled and this was not mandated by court), I had no inkling that I could retire if I lived more simply.  I have 1.2 million at 4% spend down = 50k annually.  We spend about 60k annually.  and that means I have a bit of gap. 

2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation.  I did not appreciate the extent to which I would resent this, as my ex uses this as a weapon against me.  During one of the handovers, this driving was costing me about an hour so that I can pick up girls clothes (that she was responsible for providing).  I asked her to compromise and meet at work for this transfer (we work less than 2 miles from each other).  She refused.   She was expecting me to drive an hour to pick up a volleyball jersey for my girls.  So, I said that I can't continue to pay for expensive extracurricular activities if she can't compromise.   I also went out and bought a bunch of clothes for my girls, at no small cost to avoid this drama.  When I have the girls, I don't ask my ex to subsidize OUR extracurricular activities.  My daughter signed up for a swim team for the month that I have them for summer...I paid the fee.  My other daughter signed up for a volleyball camp...I paid that fee. 

3)  At my full salary, I make about $20k more annually than her (120 versus 100k)  which in her mind requires me to give her about half of the differential.  REGARDLESS of how much time I spend taking care of kids.  I don't understand this, as it seems irrational to me.  If she found I got a huge raise, would she hit me up for more money???? I dunno...divorce is irrational. 


4)  Why does it matter?  I'm loaded right? I dunno...if I make 120k and owe her half of the differential, it seems that if I start drawing down my income, then maybe that number should change a bit?  I'm not sure...I've come to terms with the notion that the money I send her MIGHT be used for things like housing, food, etc or MIGHT be used for frivolous things.  And I've come to terms that it's none of my business how she spends that money...it's hers.  It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

5)  Somebody said I was spending 100k annually and therefore not mustachian....Really?  We are saving 60k annually in after tax income, saving 37k annually in max 401k savings, and 11k in roth IRA.  I reckon we could save a bit more, but it's getting pretty lean.  We don't have car payments, live in a very small home, we don't eat out, we stopped drinking when my wife got pregnant, I ride my bicycle to work when I don't have the girls, bike to grocery store occasionally. It might not be 100% mustache, but we probably live within 10% of that ideal.

6) I understand that this is an emotional subject for me, and maybe some of you.   I want what's best for my girls.  I don't want them to resent me (that's something I hadn't considered in my math).  I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.

You agreed to several things without understanding the ramifications, and it sounds like now you have buyer's remorse.  Unfortunately, but the time for that was before you gave your word.

I think you need to stop thinking about what is "fair".  As you said, you and your Ex (and probably your kids) are all going to have very different versions of that, so you will never, ever get there.  Instead, think of what is tolerable (without using "fair" to influence that--forget what she does and says entirely, and just ask, "are my girls worth sending $700 a month to?  Is that an acceptable expense for maintaining a relationship with kids I love?").  Focus entirely on the girls, and them alone.  Forget what your Ex pays and says and does and spends her money on.  It is all no longer part of your sphere of influence.  What you can influence is your relationship with your kids.  And yes, that may mean delaying FIRE.  Are the relationships worth that? (And at a time where you are having a baby with your new wife, your kids are likely to be hyper sensitive about the idea of being "replaced", so this is even more true in light of that.  Right now would be a good time for behaviors from dad that very, very strongly reenforce they are not being replaced and are not going to play second fiddle to the new baby with the new wife.)

You'd also be delaying FIRE if you were still married to a spendthrift.  Or if you got sick and had major medical bills.  Or if you lost your job.  Life happens, and it often costs money.  In your case, "life" includes a divorce and a shared custody situation, and the resulting child support.  Perhaps if you think of that as comparable to a job loss or pay cut or car accident, it will help reframe it.  It's a thing that costs money and thus will delay FIRE, just like every other thing in our lives on which we spend money.  Even needing to eat and going to the grocery store for frugal food is a thing that delays FIRE. This is your path.  You can't go back and marry a different woman or not get divorced or not have kids.  You signed a contract, and trying to rework that contract may well damage your relationship with your girls, which it's clear you don't want.  So accept that this expense is part of your path, pay it just like you do rent/mortgage, utilities, the grocery bill, your travel fund, and expenses for your new baby.


You make a lot of good points. I like this perspective.

Here's what I think I'm gonna do:

1)  I will continue to work full time for the next 2-3 years.  Socking 100k a year away.   
2) I will continue to pay full child support without seeking an amendment to that when I begin phasing into early retirement.
3) I will not agree to paying for any extracurricular activities while
     a)  I am not given a say in those activities (equal pay for equal say)  (My daughters have played rec league volleyball for 4 years (And I was the coach)).  This year my exwife decided to have them play club volleyball and it was super expensive AND deprived me of the ability to coach my kids)
     b)  I am required to make absurdly time consuming trips across town for trivial clothing exchanges when we work less than two miles apart.
4)  I am going to start carrying my youngest daughter to a counselor.  I will give my exwife the option of paying half of that cost.  If she declines, then it will impact my desire to fund other non-medically necessary expenses.
5) I will drive my daughters to and from all extracurricular activities and I will continue to strive to be a good father.  My wife and I believe that when the girls are with us, that we focus on them.  We don't watch TV, don't play video games, don't play on our phones.  We interact with the girls in meaningful ways when we have them.

There is A LOT going on in this thread, and it's really hard to read some of this. Your perception of your wife's financial & family contributions feel really one sided, but ignoring that for the moment. . . Addressing the bolded part (counseling). . . Can I assume the divorce was your idea? Are you really going to tie extra curricular funding to counseling for your daughter??? Really? You're not going to say, divorce is hard on kids. My daughter needs counseling, and all of the life changes we are about to embark on (new wife, new baby) will be a difficult transition for her. At the same time, staying involved with her friends & activities is also good & healthy for her. For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE on May 03, 2018, 08:32:18 AM
I have no idea if the financial breakdown was fair based on the numbers you describe, but here's what I see as fair for Amy & Bob (both full-time working parents) and Charlie & Danielle (one works full-time, the other part-time): 50% each of the pie.  In other words, the exact same for Amy and Bob as for Charlie and Danielle.

I don't see it as poor wife/poor husband. I see it as an agreement you made that has repercussions after you end.  I ALSO see it as being more difficult on the part-time working spouse to get full-time employment/with longer lasting career impact on that person.  (Go read frugalparagon's thread of her challenges in securing full-time employment, eventually successfully after a year or so.)  That's why in some cases, temporary alimony may be appropriate.  Sounds like you're lucky to avoid that.

> 3) I will not agree to paying for any extracurricular activities while
     a)  I am not given a say in those activities (equal pay for equal say)  (My daughters have played rec league volleyball for 4 years (And I was the coach)).  This year my exwife decided to have them play club volleyball and it was super expensive AND deprived me of the ability to coach my kids)
     b)  I am required to make absurdly time consuming trips across town for trivial clothing exchanges when we work less than two miles apart.

a is reasonable.  I suspect your wife wanted them out of the rec in part because you *were* the coach.  Did you consider asking her if you did not coach, if she'd agree to keep them in there?

b, I think you are obsessing over a one time incident.  That said, I would just point out the ex-wife if she forgot to send appropriate clothing with the child, it doesn't directly relate to participation in the activity.  I'd also get a set of clothing for each house as suggested by other divorced parents, to minimize this type of interaction (and stress on your daughters).

> 4)  I am going to start carrying my youngest daughter to a counselor.  I will give my exwife the option of paying half of that cost.  If she declines, then it will impact my desire to fund other non-medically necessary expenses.

This is punishing your daughters for your wife's behavior/choices.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: SimpleCycle on May 03, 2018, 08:38:24 AM
I haven't read every reply, but I have been through a divorce.  Divorce sucks, and it's hard to not focus on how unfair the whole thing feels, financially, emotionally, logistically.

But you need to work on putting that aside for the sake of your kids.  Even if your marriage was a mess, you got two incredible children out of the deal, and I would suggest trying to switch to a mindset of gratitude that something so good came out of a marriage that in the end didn't work.

$60k over 7 years is nothing.  You say you save $60k a year right now, so work a year to sock away an extra bit of stash for the kids and be done with it.

The rest of the stuff (transportation, kids activities, therapist for the little one) is stuff that needs to be worked out diplomatically, with the best interest of your kids always in mind.  I really do believe the best interest of your kids is your priority, and I understand it can be hard to keep that front and center when negotiating with an ex.  Always take the high road.  Always set an example for your kids of how to treat their mother.  It is hard, but it is part of living a values centered life rather than a reactive one.

I wish you the best.  Divorce is not fair.  The best you can do is rise above the most "fair" outcome to try and get to the best outcome.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 03, 2018, 09:02:07 AM
For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.

And therein lies the evil.   

Mom:  "My ex is a terrible father so I need primary physical custody of my girls"
Mom: "OMG, my ex wants to coach my daughters rec league volleyball.  GASP.  He'll get to spend MORE quality time with them than the paperwork says".

Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Bracken_Joy on May 03, 2018, 09:04:23 AM
For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.

And therein lies the evil.   

Mom:  "My ex is a terrible father so I need primary physical custody of my girls"
Mom: "OMG, my ex wants to coach my daughters rec league volleyball.  GASP.  He'll get to spend MORE quality time with them than the paperwork says".

You're being incredibly dismissive of the emotional impact of all this, on both your ex and your children.

You don't think it's difficult for your wife to see you head off and immediately start a new family with a much younger woman? A woman who, if I'm doing my math right, was FOURTEEN when your ex got pregnant with your first child?

Relevant: https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc (https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc)
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: MaybeBabyMustache on May 03, 2018, 09:16:06 AM
For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.

And therein lies the evil.   

Mom:  "My ex is a terrible father so I need primary physical custody of my girls"
Mom: "OMG, my ex wants to coach my daughters rec league volleyball.  GASP.  He'll get to spend MORE quality time with them than the paperwork says".

You're being incredibly dismissive of the emotional impact of all this, on both your ex and your children.

You don't think it's difficult for your wife to see you head off and immediately start a new family with a much younger woman? A woman who, if I'm doing my math right, was FOURTEEN when your ex got pregnant with your first child?

Relevant: https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc (https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc)

This. No one said you're being evil (although, you may want to step back & look at some of the things you've said). This sounds like an incredibly challenging situation on all sides. You can either accept that & try to partner with your ex to work around this, or fight each & every step of the way. Also, have you spoken to your ex wife about the change? Perhaps it's your daughter who prefers you no longer coach. It very well may be your wife (which, again I think is a reasonable feeling for her to have), but it would be worth asking.

Give people time to adjust & transition. You have moved on, but the rest of your family is still adjusting to all of the changes, and that's not going to be resolved tomorrow or the next year, just because you want it to be so.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: SaucyAussie on May 03, 2018, 09:24:19 AM
For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.

And therein lies the evil.   

Mom:  "My ex is a terrible father so I need primary physical custody of my girls"
Mom: "OMG, my ex wants to coach my daughters rec league volleyball.  GASP.  He'll get to spend MORE quality time with them than the paperwork says".

You're being incredibly dismissive of the emotional impact of all this, on both your ex and your children.

You don't think it's difficult for your wife to see you head off and immediately start a new family with a much younger woman? A woman who, if I'm doing my math right, was FOURTEEN when your ex got pregnant with your first child?

Relevant: https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc (https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc)

Everyone says "do what's best for the kids", so OP wants to coach volleyball, sounds good right?  But no, that's too hard for the ex to deal with.  Poor OP can't win with you lot.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: JanetJackson on May 03, 2018, 09:32:35 AM
This whole tread is an advertisement against getting married and having kids.

+100,000,000,000 NEVER.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: charis on May 03, 2018, 09:37:15 AM
For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.

And therein lies the evil.   

Mom:  "My ex is a terrible father so I need primary physical custody of my girls"
Mom: "OMG, my ex wants to coach my daughters rec league volleyball.  GASP.  He'll get to spend MORE quality time with them than the paperwork says".

Wow, you are really focused on how terrible your ex is.  And it really shows throughout your posts.  I don't know if she's terrible, but I'll take your word for it.  But please stop taking it out on your daughters.  Try looking at each scenario by taking your ex out of it completely.  Ask only how will my actions affect my daughters, in direct or indirect ways?  Am I considering their feelings, in light of trauma that they've been through and my good financial circumstances (with my new family)? 

As an aside, club volleyball is a common and often valid step for volleyball players that are progressing in their skills.  How might your daughters' benefit from participating, even though it's more expensive?  How might they benefit from you not being their coach at this point? Be honest.  These are questions that parents ask.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: honeybbq on May 03, 2018, 09:37:21 AM
For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.

And therein lies the evil.   

Mom:  "My ex is a terrible father so I need primary physical custody of my girls"
Mom: "OMG, my ex wants to coach my daughters rec league volleyball.  GASP.  He'll get to spend MORE quality time with them than the paperwork says".

You're being incredibly dismissive of the emotional impact of all this, on both your ex and your children.

You don't think it's difficult for your wife to see you head off and immediately start a new family with a much younger woman? A woman who, if I'm doing my math right, was FOURTEEN when your ex got pregnant with your first child?

Relevant: https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc (https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc)

I agree. At the moment he is very cavalier about the whole thing. I'm surprised there aren't more questions involved from the OP, considering he is wading through a mine field unaware of what he's doing.

I say the rest as the second wife to my spouse, who has played a similar game before and seen the consequences (though our circumstances were very different). In H's circumstances, he basically paid for everything and would do anything for the kids and it still wasn't enough. Reading through the OP's attitude expressed here makes me very, very sad for his existing kids.

Right now he has everything he wanted. The new young wife, the new house, the new baby, and the new dreams of FIRE. Meanwhile his other children are probably reeling, and the new baby isn't here yet. The kids went from 2 parents to one at a time, and when the new baby is along, they will get even less. They will now have to share Dad with the "new" family which of course is preferred to the "old" family by definition. The ex-wife is probably blindsided by this whole thing. I'm making assumptions here, but I'm thinking the OP wasn't upholding his marriage vows given the speedy pregnancy and remarriage to wife #2. Now, all this is fine and dandy, the OP gets to make his own choices and to do what he wants. He's not asking for judgement or opinion on that.

But what he is asking for is ways of getting out of paying for his choices. And I'm not down with that. Getting what you want costs a price. Wait til you have to fight about college expenses. The children will forever see their quality of life go down. They will focus on why Daddy can't take them this weekend, why Daddy won't pay for this and that. While the ex- wife shouldn't speak ill of the Dad, chances are time and time again the words will be spoken "I'm ok with you doing this but Dad won't pay his half of it and I can't afford it without." The OP is going to be the cause and responsible party for all bad things from now until eternity, whether it is his fault (and a reasonable denial) or not.

OP, you need to start picking your battles and picking very carefully. Otherwise you are going to completely alienate your children, and probably end up in court. Best of luck to you.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: shelbyautumn on May 03, 2018, 10:04:24 AM
For my $.02, I wouldn't be thrilled about having my ex coach my daughter's volleyball team, forcing me to have to see him on a more regular basis than as planned, particularly if he's going to be bringing along the new wife & child.

And therein lies the evil.   

Mom:  "My ex is a terrible father so I need primary physical custody of my girls"
Mom: "OMG, my ex wants to coach my daughters rec league volleyball.  GASP.  He'll get to spend MORE quality time with them than the paperwork says".

You're being incredibly dismissive of the emotional impact of all this, on both your ex and your children.

You don't think it's difficult for your wife to see you head off and immediately start a new family with a much younger woman? A woman who, if I'm doing my math right, was FOURTEEN when your ex got pregnant with your first child?

Relevant: https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc (https://youtu.be/MJEAGd1bQuc)

I agree. At the moment he is very cavalier about the whole thing. I'm surprised there aren't more questions involved from the OP, considering he is wading through a mine field unaware of what he's doing.

I say the rest as the second wife to my spouse, who has played a similar game before and seen the consequences (though our circumstances were very different). In H's circumstances, he basically paid for everything and would do anything for the kids and it still wasn't enough. Reading through the OP's attitude expressed here makes me very, very sad for his existing kids.

Right now he has everything he wanted. The new young wife, the new house, the new baby, and the new dreams of FIRE. Meanwhile his other children are probably reeling, and the new baby isn't here yet. The kids went from 2 parents to one at a time, and when the new baby is along, they will get even less. They will now have to share Dad with the "new" family which of course is preferred to the "old" family by definition. The ex-wife is probably blindsided by this whole thing. I'm making assumptions here, but I'm thinking the OP wasn't upholding his marriage vows given the speedy pregnancy and remarriage to wife #2. Now, all this is fine and dandy, the OP gets to make his own choices and to do what he wants. He's not asking for judgement or opinion on that.

But what he is asking for is ways of getting out of paying for his choices. And I'm not down with that. Getting what you want costs a price. Wait til you have to fight about college expenses. The children will forever see their quality of life go down. They will focus on why Daddy can't take them this weekend, why Daddy won't pay for this and that. While the ex- wife shouldn't speak ill of the Dad, chances are time and time again the words will be spoken "I'm ok with you doing this but Dad won't pay his half of it and I can't afford it without." The OP is going to be the cause and responsible party for all bad things from now until eternity, whether it is his fault (and a reasonable denial) or not.

OP, you need to start picking your battles and picking very carefully. Otherwise you are going to completely alienate your children, and probably end up in court. Best of luck to you.

I'm gonna have to pipe up and wholeheartedly disagree with this. My parents are divorced and I AM SO GLAD. I cannot imagine how terrible it would be to have them married to each other. I hit the jackpot on step-parents and half-siblings. I love my step-siblings, too, but we're not super close (I never lived with them). Sometimes divorce is the best thing for the children IF all parties involved decide to do what is best for the kids. My parents did that. My mom and dad have had some gnarly fights over the years, but it's always been because they don't agree on what's best for me, not because they hate each other. And then they come to an agreement and it's fine. Also - paying for college was awesome for my parents - they split it 50/50 and it became way more manageable. She took the fall semester, he took the spring semester, I mostly paid for books.

I really do think OP wants what is best for his daughters, he is just not communicating that very well. He has definitely said some things that reflect pretty poorly on him, but he's also said he wants to contribute, but not to things his ex is punishing him with. Their agreement clearly states that they split costs of AGREED UPON activities. She is the one who signed them up for activities an hour away from him without giving him a heads up and then asked him to pay for it. That is a dick move. He also paid 100% of the activities he signed them up for. Because he didn't get an agreement from her first. 

Just because his ex doesn't want to see him at volleyball doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to be there. Why does he have to look out for her feelings and she doesn't have to consider his? She also participated in the unhealthy marriage and the divorce, and assuming that he cheated is not fair to him when you have zero evidence. I feel like OP is being made to be the villain because he moved on really quickly. That can be painful for the people involved, but that doesn't absolve his ex from any responsibility. SHE is the one that started using the children as a way to punish him while refusing to compromise on anything. To me, that's a lot uglier than knocking up and marrying a younger woman.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE on May 03, 2018, 10:34:23 AM
Just because his ex doesn't want to see him at volleyball doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to be there. Why does he have to look out for her feelings and she doesn't have to consider his? She also participated in the unhealthy marriage and the divorce, and assuming that he cheated is not fair to him when you have zero evidence. I feel like OP is being made to be the villain because he moved on really quickly. That can be painful for the people involved, but that doesn't absolve his ex from any responsibility. SHE is the one that started using the children as a way to punish him while refusing to compromise on anything. To me, that's a lot uglier than knocking up and marrying a younger woman.

If they've mutually agreed on participation, then yes, he has a right to be there, within any limits they agreed upon.  If he's paid for it and is taking them on his own time, then he has a right to be there.  But he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there.

In this whole long thread, I think there has been only one insinuation of cheating prior to the divorce.  (I certainly wondered if that might be the case and thus cause for rancor on her part given the timing, but didn't inquire/mention it.)

Can you point me to what he's said she's done that is using the children to punish him?  I don't recall any, but it's possible it was buried in the thread.  (Beyond the uniform example, which 1) he has repeated over and over but seems to just be one isolated incident rather than a pattern and 2) we lack full details on why the clothing exchange needed to happen to know if it was "punishing" or not.)  Or failed to compromise?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: honeybbq on May 03, 2018, 10:35:47 AM
OP's post talked about his new family, his new baby, and his new wife. He doesn't sounds like the type who is trying to go 50/50. Maybe because his is emotionally charge about all this and the way he is talking about i. I dunno. Maybe he is concerned and it's just the internet filter. I'm not saying he shouldn't be divorced. Too late, water under the bridge. I'm saying he should try to bend over backwards right now to preserve his relationship with his existing children. He also needs to realize he may need to give more than 50% right now since (my assumption) is that he wanted the divorce and it was not amicable. So the ex is angry and not fulfilling her end of the bargain right now (whether she asked for it or not). He needs to compensate, not come up with an escape plan. I hope it all works out and his children feel as you do in the long run.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Bracken_Joy on May 03, 2018, 10:44:53 AM
OP's post talked about his new family, his new baby, and his new wife. He doesn't sounds like the type who is trying to go 50/50. Maybe because his is emotionally charge about all this and the way he is talking about i. I dunno. Maybe he is concerned and it's just the internet filter. I'm not saying he shouldn't be divorced. Too late, water under the bridge. I'm saying he should try to bend over backwards right now to preserve his relationship with his existing children. He also needs to realize he may need to give more than 50% right now since (my assumption) is that he wanted the divorce and it was not amicable. So the ex is angry and not fulfilling her end of the bargain right now (whether she asked for it or not). He needs to compensate, not come up with an escape plan. I hope it all works out and his children feel as you do in the long run.

Yep. Fair does not matter. If his ex isn't playing fair? Then guess what, he has to try EVEN HARDER to maintain the relationship with his kids. It isn't about fair, it's about the girls.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: mm1970 on May 03, 2018, 10:50:48 AM
This whole tread is an advertisement against getting married and having kids.

Not really, but you have to go in with your eyes open and realize that at some point, you don't have 100% control.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: shelbyautumn on May 03, 2018, 11:13:24 AM
Just because his ex doesn't want to see him at volleyball doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to be there. Why does he have to look out for her feelings and she doesn't have to consider his? She also participated in the unhealthy marriage and the divorce, and assuming that he cheated is not fair to him when you have zero evidence. I feel like OP is being made to be the villain because he moved on really quickly. That can be painful for the people involved, but that doesn't absolve his ex from any responsibility. SHE is the one that started using the children as a way to punish him while refusing to compromise on anything. To me, that's a lot uglier than knocking up and marrying a younger woman.

If they've mutually agreed on participation, then yes, he has a right to be there, within any limits they agreed upon.  If he's paid for it and is taking them on his own time, then he has a right to be there.  But he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there.

In this whole long thread, I think there has been only one insinuation of cheating prior to the divorce.  (I certainly wondered if that might be the case and thus cause for rancor on her part given the timing, but didn't inquire/mention it.)

Can you point me to what he's said she's done that is using the children to punish him?  I don't recall any, but it's possible it was buried in the thread.  (Beyond the uniform example, which 1) he has repeated over and over but seems to just be one isolated incident rather than a pattern and 2) we lack full details on why the clothing exchange needed to happen to know if it was "punishing" or not.)  Or failed to compromise?

I guess I don't understand why he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there. He's her dad and has nearly 50% custody. Why wouldn't a dad be allowed to go to a child's activity? My mom, dad, step-mom, and step-dad were always welcome to anything I was participating in and they would even suck it up and sit together. Because it was good for me to have all of my parents there cheering me on.

I don't think he said she is using the children, that's just how I see it. If my dad used to be a big part of an important activity in my life (volleyball), and my mom signed me up for a new class that meant it was hard for him to come, I would be really bummed. The ex didn't consult OP in the decision (which she is supposed to), and in doing so removed something that used to be a big part of his relationship with his child (he used to be her coach), and then asked him to pay for it. She used the child's activity to punish him - both in his relationship with his daughter and financially. If his daughter had said "Dad, I really think I want to take this volleyball thing to the next level. I'd like to join a club team." I think he would have understood. If the daughter said that to her mom, she should have passed that message along. Also, I think if the ex was petty enough to not meet for the uniform, he's probably got a slew of other examples.

OP's post talked about his new family, his new baby, and his new wife. He doesn't sounds like the type who is trying to go 50/50. Maybe because his is emotionally charge about all this and the way he is talking about i. I dunno. Maybe he is concerned and it's just the internet filter. I'm not saying he shouldn't be divorced. Too late, water under the bridge. I'm saying he should try to bend over backwards right now to preserve his relationship with his existing children. He also needs to realize he may need to give more than 50% right now since (my assumption) is that he wanted the divorce and it was not amicable. So the ex is angry and not fulfilling her end of the bargain right now (whether she asked for it or not). He needs to compensate, not come up with an escape plan. I hope it all works out and his children feel as you do in the long run.
OP is obviously a poor communicator, which probably doesn't help in his dealing with his ex. When I read his first post I thought "wow, this guy is a douchebag", but the more he explained the more I started to see his side. I think his main problem is that he is a 50/50 type and doesn't feel like his ex is contributing her 50 (which then makes him think he shouldn't have to contribute his 50). However, you're right, he needs to get over the 50/50 fair agreement thing and compensate for his ex. I think he's having a hard time seeing that it's for his kids and not for his ex. In my first post I told him to suck it up and fork over the money. But I also don't think he's a deadbeat dad for seeing this as unfair. People have come after him like there isn't another responsible party involved in all of this.

I was a little younger than his daughters when my first sibling was born (I was 9 and 11 when my brothers were born and 13 when I met my step-siblings). I went from being an only child to the oldest of 5 in less than 4 years. It was a big, uncomfortable, change and I certainly didn't feel the way I do about my parents when I was younger. However, the older I get the more I can see how selfless my parents have been and how good my life is because they ended their marriage. Those feelings won't happen overnight for his girls (or any child of divorced parents), but if he and his ex can figure out a way to get over themselves and COMMUNICATE, his daughters can get there. And that might mean he has to do the heavy lifting until his ex is no longer angry.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jouer on May 03, 2018, 11:13:58 AM
Quote

If they've mutually agreed on participation, then yes, he has a right to be there, within any limits they agreed upon.  If he's paid for it and is taking them on his own time, then he has a right to be there.  But he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there.


My parents divorced when I was an early teen. If one of them didn't allow the other to attend my events I would have flipped the fuck out at them. Hard. And I'd still be talking to my therapist about it today, 30 years later. Talk about doing something shitty to your kids.
Wow.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: patchyfacialhair on May 03, 2018, 11:39:12 AM
Holy moly. That's a thread.

Some observations:
1) Dude...slow down. The math says you got your GF pregnant a couple months after a divorce was final? So you were dating while separated? I get it...what's done is done...I shouldn't harp on the past...but I think it speaks to a little bit of your character as well. Be deliberate with your decision making in the future so you don't find yourself in this situation with two ex wives and two sets of custody agreements.

2) Someone commented about how this thread is a PSA for not getting married or having kids. Semi-agree. It's more of a PSA to not jump right in and out of relationships especially when there are children involved. For once, put your selfish desires to bed and put the kids first, then once things are settled, put yourself out there again.

3) I can now confidently say that if my wife and I ever split...bringing another woman into my kid's life is the last thing I'm going to do. Give the kid time to adjust before adding a potential stepmom for goodness sake. I can seek companionship when she's not around. It's not right to make her process the newness of a new girlfriend/stepparent when she just went through seeing her parents split.

4) If you're really saving 100k per year, then you're almost done. Save to where your 60k spend is covered by the 4% rule, then save an additional $X, referring to how much child support you have left. Be sure to include taxes and health insurance in that 60k if you haven't already, or increase it to cover.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: MaybeBabyMustache on May 03, 2018, 11:41:48 AM
Quote

If they've mutually agreed on participation, then yes, he has a right to be there, within any limits they agreed upon.  If he's paid for it and is taking them on his own time, then he has a right to be there.  But he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there.


My parents divorced when I was an early teen. If one of them didn't allow the other to attend my events I would have flipped the fuck out at them. Hard. And I'd still be talking to my therapist about it today, 30 years later. Talk about doing something shitty to your kids.
Wow.

OP should correct this, but I don't believe the ex wife has actually said that. Rather, the wife changed a sport for the daughter (from a parent coached, to a club sport). There was speculation (including by me) that she may have done that because she was uncomfortable seeing him all the time. Of course, it may have been a bunch of other reasons. The request of the child involved. Her skills evolved beyond parent led teams (this is the right age for that, etc), ex was unclear if OP would have time/energy to coach with new family. In an ideal situation, this would have been discussed & agreed upon as a parenting team. I don't think there's any disagreement about that. The question is, how do you want to manage it now, and minimize drama/do the right thing for the kids involved.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE on May 03, 2018, 11:46:21 AM
Just because his ex doesn't want to see him at volleyball doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to be there. Why does he have to look out for her feelings and she doesn't have to consider his? She also participated in the unhealthy marriage and the divorce, and assuming that he cheated is not fair to him when you have zero evidence. I feel like OP is being made to be the villain because he moved on really quickly. That can be painful for the people involved, but that doesn't absolve his ex from any responsibility. SHE is the one that started using the children as a way to punish him while refusing to compromise on anything. To me, that's a lot uglier than knocking up and marrying a younger woman.

If they've mutually agreed on participation, then yes, he has a right to be there, within any limits they agreed upon.  If he's paid for it and is taking them on his own time, then he has a right to be there.  But he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there.

In this whole long thread, I think there has been only one insinuation of cheating prior to the divorce.  (I certainly wondered if that might be the case and thus cause for rancor on her part given the timing, but didn't inquire/mention it.)

Can you point me to what he's said she's done that is using the children to punish him?  I don't recall any, but it's possible it was buried in the thread.  (Beyond the uniform example, which 1) he has repeated over and over but seems to just be one isolated incident rather than a pattern and 2) we lack full details on why the clothing exchange needed to happen to know if it was "punishing" or not.)  Or failed to compromise?

I guess I don't understand why he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there. He's her dad and has nearly 50% custody. Why wouldn't a dad be allowed to go to a child's activity? My mom, dad, step-mom, and step-dad were always welcome to anything I was participating in and they would even suck it up and sit together. Because it was good for me to have all of my parents there cheering me on.

Quote

If they've mutually agreed on participation, then yes, he has a right to be there, within any limits they agreed upon.  If he's paid for it and is taking them on his own time, then he has a right to be there.  But he doesn't have a unilateral right to be there.


My parents divorced when I was an early teen. If one of them didn't allow the other to attend my events I would have flipped the fuck out at them. Hard. And I'd still be talking to my therapist about it today, 30 years later. Talk about doing something shitty to your kids.
Wow.

I want to clarify, because I think my comments are being misunderstood.

Just as he has the right to sign his daughter up for an activity on his own time *and pay for it*, his ex has the right to sign them up and pay for it.
Just has he has the right to refuse to agree to an activity (and thus pay for it), his ex has that right to refuse to agree to a joint activity and pay for it.

Thus, if his ex doesn't want the kids on the rec team, she doesn't have to agree for them to be on it (and pay for it).  If it's during her time with the kids, he can't make the kids participate.  They have to agree for that to happen.  Hence my "not unilateral right" to be there comment.

And, she might agree to the team, but only if he doesn't coach (that's my "within any limits" comment, but I made it generic because it could be any limit).

I also believe that if it is her time, and the kids are in an activity, that although he can attend, she could refuse to let them interact with the dad if she wanted (e.g. he can watch the volleyball game, but she could decline to let the kids join him at halftime to hang out).  It's likely not best for the kids, but it is legally an option.

As a side note, shelbyautumn, I think you're making some assumptions about this volleyball that we don't have enough facts to make, to conclude the ex made the change to punish him.  We don't know why his ex wanted to switch teams. 
- It could be she didn't want him to coach them anymore. 
Pro him perspective: Maybe she's pissed about the divorce/quick remarriage. 
Pro her perspective: Maybe he's a shitty coach who is too aggressive and she thinks that's bad for the girls. 

- It could be the girls didn't want to play on team anymore. 
Neutral: Maybe they were being bullied by their teammates/had a falling out. 
Neutral: Maybe they are becoming teens and don't want to be seen with parents (dad as coach).
Neutral: Maybe they wanted to move up leagues.
Pro him perspective: Maybe because the ex complains about it all the time and they just want to reduce the conflict.
Pro her perspective: Maybe he's a shitty coach and they don't like it.

Point is, we don't really know.  (We do know that he could have refused to pay for the new team though as he did not agree to it in advance.)
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: partgypsy on May 03, 2018, 12:24:56 PM
Well, if this is how a person who identifies as mustachian divorces and re-marries, then maybe I'll be looking for non-mustachian men to date from now on. 

Perhaps i'm cynical, but the fact that the biggest thing you fault your ex for is her spendiness "stereotypical consumer" , and also that she didn't work ft when the kids were young "It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them."  and "that means that I was contributing to my 401k at a tune of 18500 per year, and she got 8 years of contributions.  Don't you think that brought us up to parity?    How much more should I have given her for that terrible assignment of spending quality time with the kids?" OMG the contempt toward the mother of your kids is showing.
 
Yet at the same time he himself says that he is 41 years old and almost financially independent AT THIS POINT! His own words "Good news:  I'm LOADED!" And, you've only been divorced a year. Well it makes me doubt his views of her spendypants, and hence his other comments as well. For example inputing that since she wants the kids to play club volleyball it MUST be to somehow punish him.

I do not like is the tit for tat attitude, for example if ex does not pay for half of therapy, then he will not pay for other medical expenses? Do you see how this is going down a road that is NOT good for your children?

Don't forget the saying of the man who "knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing".

ps, some of the stuff you are complaining about are trivial. Clothing. My kids have go-bags for when they are switching from one parent's place to the next. It is their responsibility to have the clothes and items they need. Or if your kids are still young, just buy a couple duplicates so you don't have a reason to bitch one more time how unreasonable your ex is.

My Dad divorced my Mom and because he felt uncomfortable around my Mom, blew off major things in the kids lives, including my college graduation. It didn't feel like my Dad was mad at my Mom. It felt like he didn't care about me. And did it occur to you, it might not just be the ex who may be uncomfortable with you showing up to volleyball with new wife and soon to be newborn? It might be your kids. I know I didn't want to be around my Dad's new girlfriend. It was UNCOMFORTABLE. So be the bigger person and if you do go to these events, go solo so you can focus on your kids from your first marriage. They will appreciate it that you put them first.
 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 03, 2018, 01:00:45 PM
I'm going to decline bashing my exwife anymore than I already have. We stopped being right for each other years ago.  She would agree with that.  My single regret in life is not asking for a divorce many years ago.   I thought (at the time) that things could be fixed.  But that wasn't the case.   

I understand that I can't dictate to her how she spends her money.  I think it's slightly ironic that people here think that I shouldn't have remarried so quickly, that I should have considered her feelings in it?  Why?  We ain't married and she certainly didn't consider my feelings when she blew $30,000 on brand new furniture three weeks after the divorce was finalized.     That's her choice.....

My beautiful wife has a masters degree in engineering (like me), she's active/outdoorsy (like me), she's frugal (like me), she loves adventure and is unafraid of the world (like me), and we share similar religious views to boot.  In short, she's perfect for me.  And she loves my daughters. And my daughters like/love her.     I understand how/why this would cause some small amount of stress on my exwife, and I wish that wasn't so.  I'm not gonna live my life afraid of stepping on her toes.   If my exwife had moved on and married some fancy doctor/lawyer big spender type, how many of you would be telling me that I need to just accept husband #2 as it's her choice?   But, if that big spender type loved my daughters and they love/liked him, I'd walk up to him shake his hand and say "thanks man".  Cause I'd much rather have a stepfather in their life who helps/nurtures my daughters than somebody who is either apathetic or an asshole.   

Lastly, if you think that two consenting adults can't/shouldn't have a relationship because of a 13 year age gap...well, then I really don't want to continue this conversation. 

Meh, thanks for all the fish.  I've settled on path forward, which I enumerated above.   
I will amend that plan with the following caveat:  All money that I decline to pay my exwife for "non-mutually agreed upon extracurriculars" will be put into my girls 529 plan.  They can have that money when they go off to college.   
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: partgypsy on May 03, 2018, 01:05:29 PM
We get it. Your new wife is young, and beautiful, and perfect.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: shelbyautumn on May 03, 2018, 01:08:13 PM
I'm going to decline bashing my exwife anymore than I already have. We stopped being right for each other years ago.  She would agree with that.  My single regret in life is not asking for a divorce many years ago.   I thought (at the time) that things could be fixed.  But that wasn't the case.   

I understand that I can't dictate to her how she spends her money.  I think it's slightly ironic that people here think that I shouldn't have remarried so quickly, that I should have considered her feelings in it?  Why?  We ain't married and she certainly didn't consider my feelings when she blew $30,000 on brand new furniture three weeks after the divorce was finalized.     That's her choice.....

My beautiful wife has a masters degree in engineering (like me), she's active/outdoorsy (like me), she's frugal (like me), she loves adventure and is unafraid of the world (like me), and we share similar religious views to boot.  In short, she's perfect for me.  And she loves my daughters. And my daughters like/love her.     I understand how/why this would cause some small amount of stress on my exwife, and I wish that wasn't so.  I'm not gonna live my life afraid of stepping on her toes.   If my exwife had moved on and married some fancy doctor/lawyer big spender type, how many of you would be telling me that I need to just accept husband #2 as it's her choice?   But, if that big spender type loved my daughters and they love/liked him, I'd walk up to him shake his hand and say "thanks man".  Cause I'd much rather have a stepfather in their life who helps/nurtures my daughters than somebody who is either apathetic or an asshole.   

Lastly, if you think that two consenting adults can't/shouldn't have a relationship because of a 13 year age gap...well, then I really don't want to continue this conversation. 

Meh, thanks for all the fish.  I've settled on path forward, which I enumerated above.   
I will amend that plan with the following caveat:  All money that I decline to pay my exwife for "non-mutually agreed upon extracurriculars" will be put into my girls 529 plan.  They can have that money when they go off to college.

I don't hate that plan. Just make sure you tell your daughters (and your ex) that you are doing it and WHY you are doing it. Communicate often and well. Paint clear pictures so that they know and understand why things are being handled the way they are. Try to communicate with your ex, even if it is fruitless. I'm convinced that I turned out happy with my parents' divorce because everyone learned how to talk to each other without contempt.

Best of luck to you, your daughters, your wife and son, and your ex. I truly hope all of you end up feeling like the divorce was the best thing that ever happened.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: charis on May 03, 2018, 01:14:18 PM
I'm going to decline bashing my exwife anymore than I already have. We stopped being right for each other years ago.  She would agree with that.  My single regret in life is not asking for a divorce many years ago.   I thought (at the time) that things could be fixed.  But that wasn't the case.   

I understand that I can't dictate to her how she spends her money.  I think it's slightly ironic that people here think that I shouldn't have remarried so quickly, that I should have considered her feelings in it?  Why?  We ain't married and she certainly didn't consider my feelings when she blew $30,000 on brand new furniture three weeks after the divorce was finalized.     That's her choice.....

My beautiful wife has a masters degree in engineering (like me), she's active/outdoorsy (like me), she's frugal (like me), she loves adventure and is unafraid of the world (like me), and we share similar religious views to boot.  In short, she's perfect for me.  And she loves my daughters. And my daughters like/love her.     I understand how/why this would cause some small amount of stress on my exwife, and I wish that wasn't so.  I'm not gonna live my life afraid of stepping on her toes.   If my exwife had moved on and married some fancy doctor/lawyer big spender type, how many of you would be telling me that I need to just accept husband #2 as it's her choice?   But, if that big spender type loved my daughters and they love/liked him, I'd walk up to him shake his hand and say "thanks man".  Cause I'd much rather have a stepfather in their life who helps/nurtures my daughters than somebody who is either apathetic or an asshole.   

Lastly, if you think that two consenting adults can't/shouldn't have a relationship because of a 13 year age gap...well, then I really don't want to continue this conversation. 

Meh, thanks for all the fish.  I've settled on path forward, which I enumerated above.   
I will amend that plan with the following caveat:  All money that I decline to pay my exwife for "non-mutually agreed upon extracurriculars" will be put into my girls 529 plan.  They can have that money when they go off to college.

This entire post is about you, your new wife, and your ex wife.  So there we have it.  But I can't help myself, what about the extra curricular activities that your daughters want to do now?  What about their feelings?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: haflander on May 03, 2018, 01:19:40 PM
Do we really need to spell this out for you? Ok I guess I'll be the one to do it. I don't think people have a problem with you remarrying because of your ex-wife's feelings. Rather, it's the rapidity of it all.

Moving on that quickly suggests an unwillingness to be alone for even a short time. This could be caused by low self-esteem, fear, no confidence, but ultimately zero true independence. Constantly needing someone other than yourself to validate your worth to the world and make you feel better about yourself is a very sorry way to live if you ask me. Ask anyone in the world and they'll tell you that it's best to wait a while after a breakup before starting a new relationship, especially one that produces yet another being into this world (while figuring out child support for the previous ones!!!!!). This time between relationships should be multiplied for someone who is going through a divorce with kids involved. It's just good to take time and figure out life and your own emotions, so you don't make more decisions that you may regret later.

I'm not saying the first few sentences of the preceding paragraph is you necessarily. What I'm saying is that all of the above is common sense for anyone over 21 years old. You are twice that age.

You like your new wife. Great. Congrats. However, I find it hard to believe that these feelings will last for 30 years considering they were began in the midst of a divorce and quite possibly even during the end of your marriage, as the timeline implies. And to think you've already brought another child into the world during all the rest of this turmoil...sigh.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Gronnie on May 03, 2018, 01:37:44 PM
Grunch after reading the first ~20 responses:

LOL at all of you that are disparaging OP for not "supporting" his kids when he has them essentially half time and his and ex's incomes are almost the same (did any of you even read that detail? if so, I am having trouble understanding your responses...). If anything, there should be very small support payments or none at all needed.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 03, 2018, 02:18:41 PM
Do we really need to spell this out for you? Ok I guess I'll be the one to do it. I don't think people have a problem with you remarrying because of your ex-wife's feelings. Rather, it's the rapidity of it all.

Moving on that quickly suggests an unwillingness to be alone for even a short time. This could be caused by low self-esteem, fear, no confidence, but ultimately zero true independence. Constantly needing someone other than yourself to validate your worth to the world and make you feel better about yourself is a very sorry way to live if you ask me. Ask anyone in the world and they'll tell you that it's best to wait a while after a breakup before starting a new relationship, especially one that produces yet another being into this world (while figuring out child support for the previous ones!!!!!). This time between relationships should be multiplied for someone who is going through a divorce with kids involved. It's just good to take time and figure out life and your own emotions, so you don't make more decisions that you may regret later.

I'm not saying the first few sentences of the preceding paragraph is you necessarily. What I'm saying is that all of the above is common sense for anyone over 21 years old. You are twice that age.

You like your new wife. Great. Congrats. However, I find it hard to believe that these feelings will last for 30 years considering they were began in the midst of a divorce and quite possibly even during the end of your marriage, as the timeline implies. And to think you've already brought another child into the world during all the rest of this turmoil...sigh.
Yes, I've not commented about this because the thread was not there and at this point the guy is married and expecting a child so if the damage is done it is done, but now it has and I would like to add my input from the standpoint of being a divorce group counselor, perhaps to help someone else who is earlier in the process to understand the massive red flags here.

OP did not say how long he was married, but judging by the kids ages (13 & 11) and that he was divorced a year ago, I'm going to say over 10 years, probably closer to 12.  As many people have properly indicated divorce is a massive, massive drain on a person at all levels including emotionally.  One of the sections we cover is on relationships, and the advice from professional counselors on it.  The most unhappy news almost all our attendees get is how long it takes to properly process your divorce and work through it, during which time you should stay away from relationships.   That measure is 1 year for every 3 years you were married, so in OP timeline, yes the red flag went up for me from post #1 as his timeline should be about 3-4 years before he's involved with anyone again, let alone married and expecting.  Yes, we hear all the "life is short", "I'm different", "That does not apply to me".  And the counselors address that.  The world is full of those people and that's why the divorce rate for second marriages is 65+% and third marriages is 75+% and keeps going up from there.  People do not take the time to learn how they contributed to the divorce, what they did wrong.  The example given is someone with a broken leg.  They break their leg and then pump themselves up on painkillers and then say "Wow, my leg is fine!  It's great!"  All the while doing damage to their leg that they can't feel.  When they finally come off the painkillers they see how things are much worse because they did not allow things to heal right.  The counselor indicates that a new relationship is like the painkiller for the leg.  All it does is mask the healing that needs to happen and makes you feel like everything is great.  After all, OP just told us how awesome everything is.  Of course it is.  You're barely in and everything is still new.  I just pray that I'm wrong and you are not just setting up to ruin another set of lives (your new wife and kids) because of the haste to latch on to the new sports wife.

And that is the second massive read flag, and perhaps the poster just did not go there, but my gut tells me I'm just trying to be nice, because all the comments lean in the same direction.  OP sees nothing really wrong in himself that needed to change, it all is just the ex and how she could not move to his new found mustachian world and all the other pieces of discord he raised.  The kids are almost an afterthought and the phrases saying he wants to do what is right for the girls are directly contradicted by his own words that show he is planning on doing anything but.  It will take a very mature 13 & 11 year old to appreciate the point that I could not do activities now because Dad did not want to spend the money due to fairness, but he did HAVE THE MONEY and instead chose to save it in a 529 for me later.  In no world is this anything else than punishing your children because you are pissed at your ex.  You're not having them miss their activity because you can't afford it, you are deliberately withholding money YOU HAVE AND ARE ALLOCATING FOR THEM, but just not now, because your ex makes you mad, when they would like to enjoy some activity versus having some extra college savings.  I believe this is a very poor plan and will do nothing but upset your kids.

I'd really suggest the OP go to a solid divorce support group.  Everything you've said in this thread shows that you are far from having processed this in a healthy way and healed.   Don't write it off because you feel you are past that point or you run a very high risk of heading down a similar road with your new marriage.  These unresolved issues will likely come back to haunt you.

I could go on, but I'm guessing the OP has moved on as he said.  Hope this can help someone else.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: patchyfacialhair on May 03, 2018, 02:52:13 PM
I'm going to decline bashing my exwife anymore than I already have. We stopped being right for each other years ago.  She would agree with that.  My single regret in life is not asking for a divorce many years ago.   I thought (at the time) that things could be fixed.  But that wasn't the case.   

I understand that I can't dictate to her how she spends her money.  I think it's slightly ironic that people here think that I shouldn't have remarried so quickly, that I should have considered her feelings in it?  Why?  We ain't married and she certainly didn't consider my feelings when she blew $30,000 on brand new furniture three weeks after the divorce was finalized.     That's her choice.....

My beautiful wife has a masters degree in engineering (like me), she's active/outdoorsy (like me), she's frugal (like me), she loves adventure and is unafraid of the world (like me), and we share similar religious views to boot.  In short, she's perfect for me.  And she loves my daughters. And my daughters like/love her.     I understand how/why this would cause some small amount of stress on my exwife, and I wish that wasn't so.  I'm not gonna live my life afraid of stepping on her toes.   If my exwife had moved on and married some fancy doctor/lawyer big spender type, how many of you would be telling me that I need to just accept husband #2 as it's her choice?   But, if that big spender type loved my daughters and they love/liked him, I'd walk up to him shake his hand and say "thanks man".  Cause I'd much rather have a stepfather in their life who helps/nurtures my daughters than somebody who is either apathetic or an asshole.   

Lastly, if you think that two consenting adults can't/shouldn't have a relationship because of a 13 year age gap...well, then I really don't want to continue this conversation. 

Meh, thanks for all the fish.  I've settled on path forward, which I enumerated above.   
I will amend that plan with the following caveat:  All money that I decline to pay my exwife for "non-mutually agreed upon extracurriculars" will be put into my girls 529 plan.  They can have that money when they go off to college.

Nobody has said that. I posted that you rushed into things very quickly with the new woman, and that you should consider your kids feelings before even considering new relationships. In fact, I think everyone has been clear that we don't care about your ex-wife's feelings.

I really hope that it's just your written communication that needs work, and that things are amazing for everyone. You come off as holier-than-thou and without fault, yet I'm sure that's not true. I say this as a young, married father... just don't let the negative experience of a divorce impact the kids more than it already has. Part of me wonders if the excitement of Daddy's New Wife and a new half-sibling is still in its honeymoon phase. When the girls start testing more boundaries, you'll hear plenty more about the age difference, or why they can't play the sport they want to play, and hopefully you have already thought of how you're going to answer that.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: nessness on May 03, 2018, 03:39:03 PM
Since you seem to have a contentious relationship with your ex this might be tough to do, but it would be best for the girls if you presented a unified front on extracurriculars.

For example: Your daughter asked to take ballet lessons. If you're willing to pay for it 100% AND lessons take place during your scheduled days, you can say okay. Otherwise you say you'll consult with the other parent. Then the two of you talk about it, come to a decision, and one of you presents the decision to your daughter as a mutual decision. "Your mom and I decided that..."

And please don't make the decision on what you'll pay for for your daughters contingent on whether their mom shares counseling costs with you; that's just crappy.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: formerlydivorcedmom on May 03, 2018, 04:11:05 PM
It will take a very mature 13 & 11 year old to appreciate the point that I could not do activities now because Dad did not want to spend the money due to fairness, but he did HAVE THE MONEY and instead chose to save it in a 529 for me later.  In no world is this anything else than punishing your children because you are pissed at your ex.  You're not having them miss their activity because you can't afford it, you are deliberately withholding money YOU HAVE AND ARE ALLOCATING FOR THEM, but just not now, because your ex makes you mad, when they would like to enjoy some activity versus having some extra college savings.  I believe this is a very poor plan and will do nothing but upset your kids.

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS.

It's not about "fair".  It's about what's best for the children. 

My ex asked for our divorce, he remarried very quickly, and he was totally, totally pissed at me for YEARS (I neither know nor care why).  I continued to communicate in as businesslike a way as I could about the kids so that he was properly informed.  I bent over backwards to coparent and to do what the kids needed - even paying for things completely on my own rather than fighting about it.  After about three years, he started coming around and communicating more and now we have a much better coparenting relationship.

Maybe your xW can't do that.  That means it's up to you to be the bigger person.  The kids notice this stuff.

I'm glad you're going to get counseling for the younger child (not the elder?), and I second the suggestion that you might also get some for yourself to make sure that your current marriage is going to remain strong and stable.  Getting counseling doesn't mean you're admitting there's anything wrong with you -it is a way to make sure you're building a solid foundation.  My ex has already divorced the wife right after me and remarried again (and rumor has it this marriage is on the rocks, too).   Don't be a statistic.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 03, 2018, 04:21:56 PM
My current wife and I both want to drop down to 75% as soon as our son is born.  But that would drop my income below my exwife, which was her primary justification for pursuing child support.  [...]

I could just suck it up and keep paying full support? 
I don't care if you're getting US federal minimum wage cleaning public toilets and she's the CEO of Exxon. They're your children. You pay.

man, that's sexist.  We spend a lot on my kids, and we don't spend over a $100k per year on them (and $107k is what you get if you apply the support he is paying per day she cares in excess of what he does; and that's ignoring providing insurance).  I think the mother making $100k a year can maybe bear some responsibility for the costs of raising the kids? 

And to your hypothetical, if the mother is the CEO of Exxon, maybe she could even actually pay some towards making sure the father can provide a reasonable lifestyle when the kids are with him? 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: snapperdude on May 03, 2018, 05:00:52 PM

... because of the haste to latch on to the new sports wife.




Wow! And you're a divorce group counselor?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Awesomeness on May 03, 2018, 05:07:13 PM
Sorry but your posts just read to me that you cheated on your first wife with this ďyounger perfect womanĒ.  I see lots of resentment towards her which in your mind justifies all that you did.  Dude I really hope you did a prenup. Not too late for a postnup especially while youíre still in this honeymoon phase. Odds are not with you on this second marriage. 


I could be completely wrong and Iím sorry if I am and I offended you.  Donít mean to be rude with this assumption but it looks obvious to me. Of course you donít even need to acknowledge this at all. Itís your life.

Yes I just went through a nasty divorce and he cheated on me.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: charis on May 03, 2018, 05:20:25 PM
My current wife and I both want to drop down to 75% as soon as our son is born.  But that would drop my income below my exwife, which was her primary justification for pursuing child support.  [...]

I could just suck it up and keep paying full support? 
I don't care if you're getting US federal minimum wage cleaning public toilets and she's the CEO of Exxon. They're your children. You pay.

man, that's sexist.  We spend a lot on my kids, and we don't spend over a $100k per year on them (and $107k is what you get if you apply the support he is paying per day she cares in excess of what he does; and that's ignoring providing insurance).  I think the mother making $100k a year can maybe bear some responsibility for the costs of raising the kids? 

And to your hypothetical, if the mother is the CEO of Exxon, maybe she could even actually pay some towards making sure the father can provide a reasonable lifestyle when the kids are with him?

What is sexist? Who said the wife wasn't paying? Where are you getting any of this?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Kyle Schuant on May 03, 2018, 05:44:39 PM
This whole tread is an advertisement against getting married and having kids.

No, it's an advertisement against getting married, having kids, and then divorcing.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Reynolds531 on May 03, 2018, 05:45:52 PM
Or possibly an advertisement for a new sports wife!

Sincerely though NO ONE including OP got married expecting to end up divorced. And strain breeds bad decisions before, during, and after. I can't throw stones.

One day, one good decision at a time.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Kyle Schuant on May 03, 2018, 06:16:41 PM
man, that's sexist. 
Boohoo. "Men are oppressed, they should go their own way, it's all a conspiracy against men, maybe there should be a paternity check just in case, damn greedy spendy ex-wives, women don't understand men's struggles, now where's my fedora?"

I'm a man, addressing a man. A father, addressing a father. A woman can address women's responsibilities. I'm talking to a man. Well, I'm talking to a boy, but I'm encouraging him to be a man.

I don't care about his ex-wife and whether she was a meanie or whatever and the ifs and buts used to weasel out of taking responsibility. What's important here is a good relationship with the children. Now, in a divorce typically the children feel that whichever parent left the household - particularly if they hooked up with someone else straight away - is abandoning them, too. Children are not accountants. They don't know "fair". They just know whether someone is giving, or holding back.

Now if the children see their father evading responsibility and quibbling over a few bucks here or there, will that make them feel more or less abandoned, do you think? Do you think feeling abandoned contributes to a better relationship?

As he spends more time with his new wife and newborn baby, he will by necessity spend less time with his older children. Even in intact families, older children can be jealous of younger children. Will his spending less time with his older children make them feel closer to him? This is a very, very risky point in his relationship with his children. He must do everything he can to let them know he still cares. Everything.

If they see him doing absolutely anything he has to so he can contribute, handing over cash without regard to balancing it all up, not evading or making excuses, then they know their father loves them.

There's a scene in Cinderella Man where it's the Depression, there's little or no work and they're poor. The mother makes some pancakes for breakfast, they don't have much flour and all, so it's one each. Her daughter eats one and asks for more. "Sorry, there is no more." The father tells the daughter a story that he had a dream he was at a big fancy hotel eating a huge steak in a restaurant. "And the meal in my dream was so good, I'm full now. You have my pancake." And then he head out to try to find work that day, and if he found work it'd be physically tiring, and more so with no food that day.

That daughter did not feel abandoned, and did not doubt her father loved her. A daughter whose father argues accounts and quibbles over a few dollars here or there while spending time with his new wife and baby - that daughter will doubt her father loves her.

Is that sexist? I don't give a damn. I care about the man's children having a good relationship with their father. It's not the money, it's what it represents. And that is why I say, I don't care if he's working minimum wage cleaning public toilets and she's the CEO of Exxon. He should show up at the mansion once a week with a few bucks for his children. Because then they know their father cares, and will do anything for their welfare. Anything.


Man up, OP. It's shameful that you're even asking these questions.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: bogart on May 03, 2018, 09:52:36 PM
I married a man older than me, than the OP's new wife is to him.  He had 2 teenaged kids, and an ex-wife.  They'd been separated, and divorced, longer than the OP has by the time we married, but it was still a pretty recent, and of course, big, change in everyone's life.

I was really, really, really clear that the single most important thing I could do was try to minimize the ways in which my stepkids' lives changed.  Obviously this was challenging (one was heading off to college by the time DH and I married, the other was a bit younger and still had a few more years at home) for ALL of us and certainly not something anyone achieved perfectly, but it was sure a priority.  And yes, it involved all kinds of stupid expenses, like paying for half the cost of each kid to have a car while they were in college (a shocking extravagance, IMO, but something their mom decided they should have, and yes, we -- well, really DH, but me in marrying him -- had said we'd cover half their expenses through college.  We paid.  We didn't complain.).

I delayed having kids until DH's kids were grown and out of the house (and out of college, as things worked out, though that was partly due to a struggle with infertility, which my own age may have contributed to).  Because introducing a sibling (or half-sibling) is its own set of changes which, I don't care how happy those siblings are about the new baby, are extreme.

So -- yeah.  Abide by agreements you've entered.  Focus on your kids, not your ex.  You've already complicated your daughters' lives enough by adding a wife and with a baby on the way, and this is so no matter how much they like/love your wife and like/love the new baby.  Don't mess around with things at the edges -- the benefit to you is small, and the damage to them large.  I watched friends of mine go through their parents' divorces and their own resulting life changes as teens, and it was just a mess.  Minimize that. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 03, 2018, 10:19:09 PM
man, that's sexist. 
Boohoo. "Men are oppressed, they should go their own way, it's all a conspiracy against men, maybe there should be a paternity check just in case, damn greedy spendy ex-wives, women don't understand men's struggles, now where's my fedora?"

I'm a man, addressing a man. A father, addressing a father. A woman can address women's responsibilities. I'm talking to a man. Well, I'm talking to a boy, but I'm encouraging him to be a man.

I don't care about his ex-wife and whether she was a meanie or whatever and the ifs and buts used to weasel out of taking responsibility. What's important here is a good relationship with the children. Now, in a divorce typically the children feel that whichever parent left the household - particularly if they hooked up with someone else straight away - is abandoning them, too. Children are not accountants. They don't know "fair". They just know whether someone is giving, or holding back.

Now if the children see their father evading responsibility and quibbling over a few bucks here or there, will that make them feel more or less abandoned, do you think? Do you think feeling abandoned contributes to a better relationship?

As he spends more time with his new wife and newborn baby, he will by necessity spend less time with his older children. Even in intact families, older children can be jealous of younger children. Will his spending less time with his older children make them feel closer to him? This is a very, very risky point in his relationship with his children. He must do everything he can to let them know he still cares. Everything.

If they see him doing absolutely anything he has to so he can contribute, handing over cash without regard to balancing it all up, not evading or making excuses, then they know their father loves them.

There's a scene in Cinderella Man where it's the Depression, there's little or no work and they're poor. The mother makes some pancakes for breakfast, they don't have much flour and all, so it's one each. Her daughter eats one and asks for more. "Sorry, there is no more." The father tells the daughter a story that he had a dream he was at a big fancy hotel eating a huge steak in a restaurant. "And the meal in my dream was so good, I'm full now. You have my pancake." And then he head out to try to find work that day, and if he found work it'd be physically tiring, and more so with no food that day.

That daughter did not feel abandoned, and did not doubt her father loved her. A daughter whose father argues accounts and quibbles over a few dollars here or there while spending time with his new wife and baby - that daughter will doubt her father loves her.

Is that sexist? I don't give a damn. I care about the man's children having a good relationship with their father. It's not the money, it's what it represents. And that is why I say, I don't care if he's working minimum wage cleaning public toilets and she's the CEO of Exxon. He should show up at the mansion once a week with a few bucks for his children. Because then they know their father cares, and will do anything for their welfare. Anything.


Man up, OP. It's shameful that you're even asking these questions.

It is sexist, but the problem is probably more with what a messed up view it reflects of money and how it plays into a relationship with kids? 

As if giving the mother money, regardless of need and regardless of what proportion of child rearing costs the father is already bearing, is the only way a father can have a good relationship with his kids.  I'm more traditional than most as far as my views/expectations of fathers being able to be breadwinners, but even I think that's a messed up view.  If a janitor father is keeping his kids roughly half the time and being an attentive father and paying for the costs when he has them, and the kids can't appreciate him doing that because he isn't sending a check to the CEO mother on top of that, then that's a big parenting fail, but it's not in failing to send a check to the CEO mother.  It's in failing to raise kids that understand there are ways to show love other than cutting a check and that understand that parenting obligations of a father in an split household cannot be reduced to simply cutting a check to the mother. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Kyle Schuant on May 03, 2018, 10:57:59 PM
Yes, time is more important than money. I'm a stay-at-home father, I realise that. But as the OP has a newborn, he'll be spending less time with the other kids. That leaves money. It shows an effort. Kids don't expect perfection, they expect effort.


The kids will be sceptical of him, because if he can't keep his promises to their mother, why would he keep his promises to them? And when they see him trying to avoid even token money payments, they'll be even more sceptical.


The OP has to be around. He's in bad need of manning up. He fucked things up because he couldn't keep it in his pants. Well, that's life, you make mistakes. But he can at least get it right with his children.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 04, 2018, 09:17:44 AM

... because of the haste to latch on to the new sports wife.




Wow! And you're a divorce group counselor?
Yes, I am.  Part of what you have to do in that case is state things directly, when you get to the point that it is warranted.  This would be a person we'd speak to individually and directly and find out if the group made sense for them.  Part of our job is to watch out for the impact to the group.  Also, this is an internet forum on money topics and not a divorce support group.  Am I to imply by some of your responses on the internet that you must communicate badly at work because you said something on a dating site? 

The OP has been called out multiple times before I made that statement and it was simply made as an example to may or may not be true.  I have no idea, but it may get someone to think.  I hope that was not the case, but when most of the group is seeing the same warning signs, things point a certain way for a reason.  Otherwise you validate to the group that poor decisions are the way to go.  I'd hate to provide the advice to any group I led that the solution to a divorce is to go out and find someone new.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 04, 2018, 09:23:26 AM
I'm a man, addressing a man. A father, addressing a father. A woman can address women's responsibilities. I'm talking to a man. Well, I'm talking to a boy, but I'm encouraging him to be a man.
Kyle, this is a much more succinct response that I wish I had come up with to respond to @snapperdude feeling somehow my comment reflected poorly on me being a divorce support counselor. 

We have some conversation using these exact words ("you need to stop being a boy and be a man") as we counsel people saying what the OP is saying.  I used an analogy of trading up to the new sports car but it was deemed to hard by snapper, but at some point the only way to get through to someone is to be direct and maybe say something that is not PC but may be accurate.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 04, 2018, 09:53:48 AM
@Jrr85 not really wanting to wade into these sexist waters but wanting to add some perspective.

I have found in support group discussions that a lot of the "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" really does come into play in areas of high emotion like divorce.  As a man (divorced or otherwise) seeing another man shirk responsibility it hits a different nerve than a woman understands.  I have this discussion with my wife about my contempt for her ex who is the OP times a thousand.  She does not understand why in some cases I get so upset for her kids about what the jerk is putting them through.  And it all revolves around what Kyle seems to be upset about.  A good father has a really difficult time cutting a bad father any slack, and this is what we see when we listen to the OP and we understand to a woman that it may seem we are jumping to conclusions, but as I'm sure there are with ladies, guys can read between the lines with another guy much easier and we're seeing a jerk.  A guy will normally be very forthcoming with his fatherhood badge is he has anything to back it up.  On the internet this guy could tell us anything he wanted and how could we validate it?  We couldn't.  As a guy seeing this in a forum that would be so easy to show us otherwise, we read between the lines and see a guy that has very likely done what Kyle says and more, and it gets the reactions you see as harsh. 

I have seen everything in my stepkids reactions that Kyle mentions and many, many more.  Kids are excellent at reading effort.  Kids in divorce seem to be hyper tuned.  It is very, very hard to communicate with them what is appropriate and what is not.  It is exceptionally hard when you are trying not to bad mouth their father when he is being a total tool.  I walk that line every day.  We pay 100% of that deadbeat's expenses because we is unable and unwilling to, because he is willfully unemployed and uses his time to pick up women, live off their money and move on to the next one.  Again, I'm not saying OP is this type of guy.  But he's dropping the ball big time with his kids as one father to another.  As guy's we start with nice, but eventually we get to not so nice and then realize they just do not want their minds changed.  That's where we appear to be with OP. 

What Kyle suggests is something I totally understand and would do, so I get his point.  When I was out of work for three months, I did everything I could to cut everything else in my expenses before I would consider any impact to my commitments for my kids.  It was not a janitor and and CEO and Exxon, but it was a form of that.  And the difference between what we are seeing with OP is that it never entered my mind to be resentful or finding a way to avoid.  As I've said earlier we pay 100% for both sets of kids.  Our exes do very little.  My ex has told the kids she thinks they should have no activities and that she will not pay for them.  These are school teams or band that might cost $150.  I could never imagine telling my kids they will not do the activity because mom won't pay her share.  That's part of what sticks in my craw of the OP attempts to stop paying what are basic expenses.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: mm1970 on May 04, 2018, 10:34:33 AM
We get it. Your new wife is young, and beautiful, and perfect.

Sometimes it's not about that.  Sometimes it's about finding the right person.

I found the right person on the first go...yay me!

A lot of people don't.  In my late 40's, I know a LOT of divorced people.  And at this point I know lots of divorced couples who have remarried happily and have kids...and in some cases - I find out later that people in each half of the two couples used to be married!  Meaning, I'm friends with both of them, and they are both great people, but they were not a good match TOGETHER.

I also know people who WERE a good match but grew apart and were much happier after divorcing.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: mm1970 on May 04, 2018, 10:43:13 AM
My own perspective in the "rushing into marriage thing" - just observational.

That's what men do.  I don't exactly know why.  I'm sure people who study such things know why.  Just not me.

When I look back to everyone I know who split or divorced...when a man ended the relationship - he already had someone on the side or waiting in the wings.
When the woman ended the relationship, she just wanted out.
Generally, this meant that the women were single for quite a long time, usually, before another relationship.

This was true for my college friends, my friends in my 20's, 40's, my in-laws (60s).

When I was in my 20's, I used to think that it's because the men liked to have that "fresh new relationship feel".  After 3-5 years with a girlfriend, it wasn't like that.  So they broke up and married the next woman they dated, often within the year.


The other tricky thing (to me) is measuring how long you should be single by the length of the marriage.  A lot of people stay married in name only, when the relationship is long dead.  So how do you measure that?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 04, 2018, 10:53:31 AM
@Jrr85 not really wanting to wade into these sexist waters but wanting to add some perspective.

I have found in support group discussions that a lot of the "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" really does come into play in areas of high emotion like divorce.  As a man (divorced or otherwise) seeing another man shirk responsibility it hits a different nerve than a woman understands.  I have this discussion with my wife about my contempt for her ex who is the OP times a thousand.  She does not understand why in some cases I get so upset for her kids about what the jerk is putting them through.  And it all revolves around what Kyle seems to be upset about.  A good father has a really difficult time cutting a bad father any slack, and this is what we see when we listen to the OP and we understand to a woman that it may seem we are jumping to conclusions, but as I'm sure there are with ladies, guys can read between the lines with another guy much easier and we're seeing a jerk.  A guy will normally be very forthcoming with his fatherhood badge is he has anything to back it up.  On the internet this guy could tell us anything he wanted and how could we validate it?  We couldn't.  As a guy seeing this in a forum that would be so easy to show us otherwise, we read between the lines and see a guy that has very likely done what Kyle says and more, and it gets the reactions you see as harsh. 

I have seen everything in my stepkids reactions that Kyle mentions and many, many more.  Kids are excellent at reading effort.  Kids in divorce seem to be hyper tuned.  It is very, very hard to communicate with them what is appropriate and what is not.  It is exceptionally hard when you are trying not to bad mouth their father when he is being a total tool.  I walk that line every day.  We pay 100% of that deadbeat's expenses because we is unable and unwilling to, because he is willfully unemployed and uses his time to pick up women, live off their money and move on to the next one.  Again, I'm not saying OP is this type of guy.  But he's dropping the ball big time with his kids as one father to another.  As guy's we start with nice, but eventually we get to not so nice and then realize they just do not want their minds changed.  That's where we appear to be with OP. 

What Kyle suggests is something I totally understand and would do, so I get his point.  When I was out of work for three months, I did everything I could to cut everything else in my expenses before I would consider any impact to my commitments for my kids.  It was not a janitor and and CEO and Exxon, but it was a form of that.  And the difference between what we are seeing with OP is that it never entered my mind to be resentful or finding a way to avoid.  As I've said earlier we pay 100% for both sets of kids.  Our exes do very little.  My ex has told the kids she thinks they should have no activities and that she will not pay for them.  These are school teams or band that might cost $150.  I could never imagine telling my kids they will not do the activity because mom won't pay her share.  That's part of what sticks in my craw of the OP attempts to stop paying what are basic expenses.

You are not just jumping to conclusions, you are letting your emotions prevent you from seeing stated facts (assuming the OP is not lying).  I get that the OP comes off as if he is on the spectrum.  That could be a function of him being a stereotypical engineer combined with the sterilizing effect a typed communication has compared to verbal communication.   Or maybe he actually is a sociopath.  But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids.  He's meeting his financial obligations as a father, and any shortcomings he has are not financial related, even if he tried to cut the money paid to his wife in half.  (from the tenor of his posts, I suspect he has some other issues with being hyper rational to the point of seeming aloof and uncaring to his kids, but it's also possible that's simply a survival mechanism necessary to cope with an ex with a cluster personality and that his kids understand or even mimic the coping mechanism if they truly like the step mom; there's just not enough info to tell).

And kids in divorce are not hyper tuned to effort.  They are hurt and damaged emotionally and overly sensitive period.  Maybe there are times where doing something personally destructive actually is emotionally helpful to the kids as tangible proof that you care and on net the sacrifice is worth it; but that's because the kids have been emotionally damaged by the divorce.  You should not start with the premise that that will be the case, nor pretend that it's not a sign of a problem that needs to be healed over time rather than a "duty as a man".  The duty as a man is to figure out how to best help your kids heal while also ensuring the best you can that you are in a strong enough position to continue to provide primarily emotional support and parenting, and secondarily financial support. 

And yes, your lack of perspective and inability to remain objective even to a blog post is certainly concerning with respect to your fitness to being a divorce support counselor. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: SKL-HOU on May 04, 2018, 11:11:52 AM
I didnt read all the replies so maybe it is mentioned... you donít get to reduce your hours by choice then turn around and ask to reduce your CS obligation. I doubt a judge would agree to that.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: UnleashHell on May 04, 2018, 11:36:41 AM
Its very simple. You agree to child support at a set amount. You also agreed to all the transportation.

Given that the wages are similar and the night you have the kids are close Iíd suggest contacting a divorce lawyer to calculate what the formula would be in your state if you were to go that route.

If it works out way lees for you to pay Iíd take that to the ex and open a discussion regarding transportation and extra curricula stuff for the kids. You can suggest that the transportation has to be fair and you have to be involved in the scheduling of other activities. In return you will ignore the lower child support and continue at $700 a month (which is way lower than Iím paying for one kid!).


If the CS calculation is higher then keep quiet and suck it up.
Reduction in work and wages later is totally irrelevant to the conversation.


Then do everything you can to play nice with the ex when it comes to the kids and raise them as best you can. Thatís all.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: charis on May 04, 2018, 11:45:23 AM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Gronnie on May 04, 2018, 11:57:42 AM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

Think about it a little bit harder. He has the kids nearly half time, she only has the kids a couple more days per month than him. He ALREADY is providing nearly half their support, which is all he should be responsible for unless there is a drastic difference in income (which there is not).
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 04, 2018, 12:17:44 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

I read the post.  He says he has the kids 6 out of 14 days.  That's a little less than 156.5 days a year, which is ~ 26 days less than 182.5 days (which is exactly half a non-leap year).  So his $8400 over the course of a year, spread out over the 26 days she is covering that would get him to half, works out to $323 per day.  I got sloppy and just divided by 31 based on her basically having the kids a month extra (which would still be closer to $271 than 269; not sure exactly where I screwed that up).   

Also, again, that's not including health insurance, which is a pretty big contribution in itself.  (He states he provides healthcare and they split out of pocket costs, which I assume that means he provides insurance and they split the out of pocket costs). 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: partgypsy on May 04, 2018, 12:43:40 PM
There is no way of knowing reading here, because he has close the 50% nights, if that = 50% effort. When my ex left, he didn't have them a single night for the next 4 months, and after that it was scattered (2-4 nights a month) until he moved into his current place about a year ago. He also didn't take 90% of his stuff, so I'm the one having to go through all the stuff and organize the house.

Now we are techically 50/50, but I have them 4/7 nights of the week. I also inherited our 2 geriatric pets, so I'm taking care of them. I do stuff like if the kids need a new pair of shoes, or training bras, or need a form signed for school, or have appointments to be scheduled, or planning extra curricular activities or birthdays, they come to me. Because I stayed in the home, and was the one doing the paperwork, pretty much all recurring expenses and bills also fall to me. Now that is pretty typical that the kind of things fall across female/male lines, and I wouldn't be surprised if the mom was doing a number of things like this that falls under the radar.

In turn, ex DOES do more driving (which I hate) and I appreciate that.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: charis on May 04, 2018, 12:44:00 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

Think about it a little bit harder. He has the kids nearly half time, she only has the kids a couple more days per month than him. He ALREADY is providing nearly half their support, which is all he should be responsible for unless there is a drastic difference in income (which there is not).

I don't have to think about a random poster's irrelevancies a little harder.  The reasonableness of OP's child support obligation has already been determined by a court or by the parties' agreement.  There's no reason to break it down in this manner and quibble.  $8400 a year for two teenagers is arguably unmustachian, but certainly not objectively exorbitant for that period from a 120K household who has them for less time, even if it doesn't include an expensive sport.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: partgypsy on May 04, 2018, 12:48:34 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

I read the post.  He says he has the kids 6 out of 14 days.  That's a little less than 156.5 days a year, which is ~ 26 days less than 182.5 days (which is exactly half a non-leap year).  So his $8400 over the course of a year, spread out over the 26 days she is covering that would get him to half, works out to $323 per day.  I got sloppy and just divided by 31 based on her basically having the kids a month extra (which would still be closer to $271 than 269; not sure exactly where I screwed that up).   

Also, again, that's not including health insurance, which is a pretty big contribution in itself.  (He states he provides healthcare and they split out of pocket costs, which I assume that means he provides insurance and they split the out of pocket costs).

It doesn't work that way. The primary reasons childcare costs are split is to make living situations similar across parents. A larger percentage of that is housing, making sure housing is similar across the two houses. Unless they are living in hotels, breaking down costs by day doesn't make sense.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Gronnie on May 04, 2018, 12:57:10 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

Think about it a little bit harder. He has the kids nearly half time, she only has the kids a couple more days per month than him. He ALREADY is providing nearly half their support, which is all he should be responsible for unless there is a drastic difference in income (which there is not).

I don't have to think about a random poster's irrelevancies a little harder.  The reasonableness of OP's child support obligation has already been determined by a court or by the parties' agreement.  There's no reason to break it down in this manner and quibble.  $8400 a year for two teenagers is arguably unmustachian, but certainly not objectively exorbitant for that period from a 120K household who has them for less time, even if it doesn't include an expensive sport.

Sure you do, critical thinking skills are important. There's a pretty large lack of them in this thread from what I've seen (which mostly amounts to arguments based on emotion).
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: charis on May 04, 2018, 01:00:24 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

Think about it a little bit harder. He has the kids nearly half time, she only has the kids a couple more days per month than him. He ALREADY is providing nearly half their support, which is all he should be responsible for unless there is a drastic difference in income (which there is not).

I don't have to think about a random poster's irrelevancies a little harder.  The reasonableness of OP's child support obligation has already been determined by a court or by the parties' agreement.  There's no reason to break it down in this manner and quibble.  $8400 a year for two teenagers is arguably unmustachian, but certainly not objectively exorbitant for that period from a 120K household who has them for less time, even if it doesn't include an expensive sport.

Sure you do, critical thinking skills are important. There's a pretty large lack of them in this thread from what I've seen (which mostly amounts to arguments based on emotion).

Are you suggesting that I lack critical thinking skills because I expressed disagreement that your numbers break down is relevant?  That is a tough argument to wrap my head around.  Thanks for the advice.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Gronnie on May 04, 2018, 01:13:08 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

Think about it a little bit harder. He has the kids nearly half time, she only has the kids a couple more days per month than him. He ALREADY is providing nearly half their support, which is all he should be responsible for unless there is a drastic difference in income (which there is not).

I don't have to think about a random poster's irrelevancies a little harder.  The reasonableness of OP's child support obligation has already been determined by a court or by the parties' agreement.  There's no reason to break it down in this manner and quibble.  $8400 a year for two teenagers is arguably unmustachian, but certainly not objectively exorbitant for that period from a 120K household who has them for less time, even if it doesn't include an expensive sport.

Sure you do, critical thinking skills are important. There's a pretty large lack of them in this thread from what I've seen (which mostly amounts to arguments based on emotion).

Are you suggesting that I lack critical thinking skills because I expressed disagreement that your numbers break down is relevant?  That is a tough argument to wrap my head around.  Thanks for the advice.

You either completely missed the fact that he has the kids 1/2 the time and incomes are ~ equal, missed the relevance of that, or were being completely disingenuous in your question. Which was it?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 04, 2018, 01:36:32 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

I read the post.  He says he has the kids 6 out of 14 days.  That's a little less than 156.5 days a year, which is ~ 26 days less than 182.5 days (which is exactly half a non-leap year).  So his $8400 over the course of a year, spread out over the 26 days she is covering that would get him to half, works out to $323 per day.  I got sloppy and just divided by 31 based on her basically having the kids a month extra (which would still be closer to $271 than 269; not sure exactly where I screwed that up).   

Also, again, that's not including health insurance, which is a pretty big contribution in itself.  (He states he provides healthcare and they split out of pocket costs, which I assume that means he provides insurance and they split the out of pocket costs).

It doesn't work that way. The primary reasons childcare costs are split is to make living situations similar across parents. A larger percentage of that is housing, making sure housing is similar across the two houses. Unless they are living in hotels, breaking down costs by day doesn't make sense.

If you want to break it down at that level, and think it's an obligation of the higher earner to make the housing approximately equal for the duration of the minority of the kids, then he's still pretty much an adequate amount.  Even if they were talking about spending 30% of their gross income on housing, you're talking about $6,000 annual difference, which is probably somewhere in the reasonable range of the value of the health insurance he provides? 

ETA:  I don't think it's really reasonable to get down into the weeds like that.  They are both good earners and got half of everything when they split.  I do wish we had not given people a unilateral right to walk-away from a marriage, so that a spouse can take time off for children and then not end up with teh short end of the stick if a divorce happens and they have a permanently lower earning potential, but since we don't have that, splitting things down the middle when both parties make good incomes seems pretty reasonable. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 04, 2018, 02:31:25 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

I read the post.  He says he has the kids 6 out of 14 days.  That's a little less than 156.5 days a year, which is ~ 26 days less than 182.5 days (which is exactly half a non-leap year).  So his $8400 over the course of a year, spread out over the 26 days she is covering that would get him to half, works out to $323 per day.  I got sloppy and just divided by 31 based on her basically having the kids a month extra (which would still be closer to $271 than 269; not sure exactly where I screwed that up).   

Also, again, that's not including health insurance, which is a pretty big contribution in itself.  (He states he provides healthcare and they split out of pocket costs, which I assume that means he provides insurance and they split the out of pocket costs).
This whole method of figuring out cost is so off.  All those "costs" you add exist regardless of whether he is divorced or not.  He does not suddenly have to feed his kids or provide them with insurance because he is divorced.  He has to do that because he chose to have kids.  You don't get credit for paying the costs of being a parent. 

I get your opinion is that I am missing perspective or objectivity.  You're entitled to your opinion.  Since I've never had that concern raised by anyone in our groups and have had exactly the opposite I hope you'll pardon me if I disagree with your assessment to be a support counselor given that feedback from people who actually work with me in that capacity is 100% opposite that.  You can discount what I'm saying here, that's fine.  But crediting the guy with $269 or $323 per day because he pays for normal costs and saying that allows him to press back on his obligations and that those of us that question him are not objective is not fine.  His lifestyle sets those daily costs at that level, not his kids.  It's a choice he made, and whining about that choice is just whining.  Living through the process myself, my opinion is I see nothing in what he said that makes the whining justified, instead I see concerns. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: charis on May 04, 2018, 02:46:01 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

Think about it a little bit harder. He has the kids nearly half time, she only has the kids a couple more days per month than him. He ALREADY is providing nearly half their support, which is all he should be responsible for unless there is a drastic difference in income (which there is not).

I don't have to think about a random poster's irrelevancies a little harder.  The reasonableness of OP's child support obligation has already been determined by a court or by the parties' agreement.  There's no reason to break it down in this manner and quibble.  $8400 a year for two teenagers is arguably unmustachian, but certainly not objectively exorbitant for that period from a 120K household who has them for less time, even if it doesn't include an expensive sport.

Sure you do, critical thinking skills are important. There's a pretty large lack of them in this thread from what I've seen (which mostly amounts to arguments based on emotion).

Are you suggesting that I lack critical thinking skills because I expressed disagreement that your numbers break down is relevant?  That is a tough argument to wrap my head around.  Thanks for the advice.

You either completely missed the fact that he has the kids 1/2 the time and incomes are ~ equal, missed the relevance of that, or were being completely disingenuous in your question. Which was it?

I guess it should be obvious that it's neither.  And I'm not going to repeat - there are other posters who have basically said the same thing in more detail, so it's silly to rehash.  But your point about critical thinking is becoming increasingly ironic.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Gronnie on May 04, 2018, 07:51:16 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

Think about it a little bit harder. He has the kids nearly half time, she only has the kids a couple more days per month than him. He ALREADY is providing nearly half their support, which is all he should be responsible for unless there is a drastic difference in income (which there is not).

I don't have to think about a random poster's irrelevancies a little harder.  The reasonableness of OP's child support obligation has already been determined by a court or by the parties' agreement.  There's no reason to break it down in this manner and quibble.  $8400 a year for two teenagers is arguably unmustachian, but certainly not objectively exorbitant for that period from a 120K household who has them for less time, even if it doesn't include an expensive sport.

Sure you do, critical thinking skills are important. There's a pretty large lack of them in this thread from what I've seen (which mostly amounts to arguments based on emotion).

Are you suggesting that I lack critical thinking skills because I expressed disagreement that your numbers break down is relevant?  That is a tough argument to wrap my head around.  Thanks for the advice.

You either completely missed the fact that he has the kids 1/2 the time and incomes are ~ equal, missed the relevance of that, or were being completely disingenuous in your question. Which was it?

I guess it should be obvious that it's neither.  And I'm not going to repeat - there are other posters who have basically said the same thing in more detail, so it's silly to rehash.  But your point about critical thinking is becoming increasingly ironic.

Ok fine, I'm willing to consider that I may be wrong here. I just don't understand why he should be paying through child support when they are basically 50:50 on both time and income.

Can you explain to me why he should be on the hook for paying child support (ie compulsory, and through the government) as opposed to them just splitting costs of everything 50:50 (and with him getting a chance to say no to paying for non essential extracurriculars if he so chooses)? He clearly is very involved in his children's lives and supporting them as evidenced by him having them nearly 50% of the time.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Villanelle on May 05, 2018, 02:48:19 AM
I'll try to reply to everybody.  Regardless if you think I'm a dbag, I appreciate your input.  I was trying to be brutally honest as I want unfiltered advice.

1)  I take care of my kids 42% of their lives.   Annually, my ex gets my kids 52 more days per year than I do.   When I agreed to pay her 700 (we settled and this was not mandated by court), I had no inkling that I could retire if I lived more simply.  I have 1.2 million at 4% spend down = 50k annually.  We spend about 60k annually.  and that means I have a bit of gap. 

2)  At the 11th hour of divorce, my ex inserted a bit of language that made me responsible for 100% of transportation.  I did not appreciate the extent to which I would resent this, as my ex uses this as a weapon against me.  During one of the handovers, this driving was costing me about an hour so that I can pick up girls clothes (that she was responsible for providing).  I asked her to compromise and meet at work for this transfer (we work less than 2 miles from each other).  She refused.   She was expecting me to drive an hour to pick up a volleyball jersey for my girls.  So, I said that I can't continue to pay for expensive extracurricular activities if she can't compromise.   I also went out and bought a bunch of clothes for my girls, at no small cost to avoid this drama.  When I have the girls, I don't ask my ex to subsidize OUR extracurricular activities.  My daughter signed up for a swim team for the month that I have them for summer...I paid the fee.  My other daughter signed up for a volleyball camp...I paid that fee. 

3)  At my full salary, I make about $20k more annually than her (120 versus 100k)  which in her mind requires me to give her about half of the differential.  REGARDLESS of how much time I spend taking care of kids.  I don't understand this, as it seems irrational to me.  If she found I got a huge raise, would she hit me up for more money???? I dunno...divorce is irrational. 


4)  Why does it matter?  I'm loaded right? I dunno...if I make 120k and owe her half of the differential, it seems that if I start drawing down my income, then maybe that number should change a bit?  I'm not sure...I've come to terms with the notion that the money I send her MIGHT be used for things like housing, food, etc or MIGHT be used for frivolous things.  And I've come to terms that it's none of my business how she spends that money...it's hers.  It rankles me a bit that she got to work part time for 10+ years, walked away with half of our savings, I have to send her that much child support, AND I can't reduce that cause I want to work part so I can spend time with my newborn son and daughters when I have them.   

5)  Somebody said I was spending 100k annually and therefore not mustachian....Really?  We are saving 60k annually in after tax income, saving 37k annually in max 401k savings, and 11k in roth IRA.  I reckon we could save a bit more, but it's getting pretty lean.  We don't have car payments, live in a very small home, we don't eat out, we stopped drinking when my wife got pregnant, I ride my bicycle to work when I don't have the girls, bike to grocery store occasionally. It might not be 100% mustache, but we probably live within 10% of that ideal.

6) I understand that this is an emotional subject for me, and maybe some of you.   I want what's best for my girls.  I don't want them to resent me (that's something I hadn't considered in my math).  I want them to grow up to be:
 Independent, Kind, and Happy. I think the problem is that I want what I consider to be fair.  Ex might disagree with that last part I reckon.

You agreed to several things without understanding the ramifications, and it sounds like now you have buyer's remorse.  Unfortunately, but the time for that was before you gave your word.

I think you need to stop thinking about what is "fair".  As you said, you and your Ex (and probably your kids) are all going to have very different versions of that, so you will never, ever get there.  Instead, think of what is tolerable (without using "fair" to influence that--forget what she does and says entirely, and just ask, "are my girls worth sending $700 a month to?  Is that an acceptable expense for maintaining a relationship with kids I love?").  Focus entirely on the girls, and them alone.  Forget what your Ex pays and says and does and spends her money on.  It is all no longer part of your sphere of influence.  What you can influence is your relationship with your kids.  And yes, that may mean delaying FIRE.  Are the relationships worth that? (And at a time where you are having a baby with your new wife, your kids are likely to be hyper sensitive about the idea of being "replaced", so this is even more true in light of that.  Right now would be a good time for behaviors from dad that very, very strongly reenforce they are not being replaced and are not going to play second fiddle to the new baby with the new wife.)

You'd also be delaying FIRE if you were still married to a spendthrift.  Or if you got sick and had major medical bills.  Or if you lost your job.  Life happens, and it often costs money.  In your case, "life" includes a divorce and a shared custody situation, and the resulting child support.  Perhaps if you think of that as comparable to a job loss or pay cut or car accident, it will help reframe it.  It's a thing that costs money and thus will delay FIRE, just like every other thing in our lives on which we spend money.  Even needing to eat and going to the grocery store for frugal food is a thing that delays FIRE. This is your path.  You can't go back and marry a different woman or not get divorced or not have kids.  You signed a contract, and trying to rework that contract may well damage your relationship with your girls, which it's clear you don't want.  So accept that this expense is part of your path, pay it just like you do rent/mortgage, utilities, the grocery bill, your travel fund, and expenses for your new baby.


You make a lot of good points. I like this perspective.

Here's what I think I'm gonna do:

1)  I will continue to work full time for the next 2-3 years.  Socking 100k a year away.   
2) I will continue to pay full child support without seeking an amendment to that when I begin phasing into early retirement.
3) I will not agree to paying for any extracurricular activities while
     a)  I am not given a say in those activities (equal pay for equal say)  (My daughters have played rec league volleyball for 4 years (And I was the coach)).  This year my exwife decided to have them play club volleyball and it was super expensive AND deprived me of the ability to coach my kids)
     b)  I am required to make absurdly time consuming trips across town for trivial clothing exchanges when we work less than two miles apart.
4)  I am going to start carrying my youngest daughter to a counselor.  I will give my exwife the option of paying half of that cost.  If she declines, then it will impact my desire to fund other non-medically necessary expenses.
5) I will drive my daughters to and from all extracurricular activities and I will continue to strive to be a good father.  My wife and I believe that when the girls are with us, that we focus on them.  We don't watch TV, don't play video games, don't play on our phones.  We interact with the girls in meaningful ways when we have them.

I'm a little confused because it sounds like you liked (and presumably agreed with) the post you quoted, but your response is in pretty much direct contradiction.  The bit about refusing to fund extracurriculars if your wife won't pay for half of counseling?  That is absolutely about what you perceive as fair, and about extracting that fairness from your wife.  If you think your daughter needs counseling, why on earth would you not be willing to happily pay whatever it takes to make that happen, no strings attached.  And the fact that the string you are choosing to attach potentially punishes your kids for their mom's supposed transgression? 

I think you do love your kids.  You are *this close* to becoming the deadbeat dad who ditched his first family and upgraded for a better wife and better kids in their eyes.  You will be the dad who refused to pay for their beloved volleyball because you wanted to punish their beloved mom more than you wanted to support them, or is too cheap to pay for reasonable things for his kids (and likely their will relate this, fair or not, to you prioritizing spending for the new family over spending on the old one).

Of course I can't say for sure.  I'm some rando on the internet.  But there is a very good chance this is your future with your first set of kids if you don't change your thinking.  And maybe it is what you want, or at least not what you actively don't want.  Maybe subconsciously you've got a new wife and new baby and suddenly risking the relationships with the first set doesn't matter quite so much.  You wouldn't be the first guy (or woman) who sees the first family is disposable.  But if that isn't the case, you are on very tenuous ground and if you don't work, hard, to change your attitude and your approach, that is likely to be the perception.

You mention counseling for your DD.  Perhaps it would be helpful for you as well, so you can process your feelings about the divorce and maybe approach interactions with your Ex-wife and first kids in a healthier way.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 05, 2018, 01:53:51 PM
But the negative reaction to a person that is providing $269 per day for the care of their two children (on top of providing health insurance) is not explainable by being a man; if you insist on tying it to any sex/gender stereotypes, it's a sign of the opposite, a feminized, overly emotional response.  A person with a healthy understanding of obligations of parenthood and an objective, not hyper-emotional response would realize that as far as finances go, he is meeting his obligations and then some.  We spend a lot on our kids (probably an unhealty amount), and outside of health insurance (which again, he is providing), and housing, food, utiliites, etc. (which they are basically splitting, except for a 26 day difference), we probably don't spend more than $32,000 for three kids for an entire year.    He's providing $8400 for less than a month for two kids. 

Where are you getting these numbers?  The OP says in his first post that he pays $700 per month in child support to his ex wife.

I read the post.  He says he has the kids 6 out of 14 days.  That's a little less than 156.5 days a year, which is ~ 26 days less than 182.5 days (which is exactly half a non-leap year).  So his $8400 over the course of a year, spread out over the 26 days she is covering that would get him to half, works out to $323 per day.  I got sloppy and just divided by 31 based on her basically having the kids a month extra (which would still be closer to $271 than 269; not sure exactly where I screwed that up).   

Also, again, that's not including health insurance, which is a pretty big contribution in itself.  (He states he provides healthcare and they split out of pocket costs, which I assume that means he provides insurance and they split the out of pocket costs).
This whole method of figuring out cost is so off.  All those "costs" you add exist regardless of whether he is divorced or not.  He does not suddenly have to feed his kids or provide them with insurance because he is divorced.  He has to do that because he chose to have kids.  You don't get credit for paying the costs of being a parent. 

Again with getting overly emotional to the point of being illogical. Unless you are explicitly backing the sexist position that only fathers have financial responsibilities to their kids, then yes, when you are trying to figure out whether each parent is covering an appropriate share of the costs, you do have to account for the costs each parent pays. .

I get your opinion is that I am missing perspective or objectivity.  You're entitled to your opinion.  Since I've never had that concern raised by anyone in our groups and have had exactly the opposite I hope you'll pardon me if I disagree with your assessment to be a support counselor given that feedback from people who actually work with me in that capacity is 100% opposite that.  You can discount what I'm saying here, that's fine.  But crediting the guy with $269 or $323 per day because he pays for normal costs and saying that allows him to press back on his obligations and that those of us that question him are not objective is not fine.  His lifestyle sets those daily costs at that level, not his kids.  It's a choice he made, and whining about that choice is just whining.  Living through the process myself, my opinion is I see nothing in what he said that makes the whining justified, instead I see concerns.
I am not 'crediting' him for paying that amount per day. He is paying that amount per day and I am just acknowledging it. And it doesn't allow him to press back on his obligations. I was just pointing out that he is meeting his financial obligations.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: bugbaby on May 05, 2018, 06:30:11 PM
He agreed to the support payment in exchange for the prize (hassle free divorce to marry new wife?). Now it's time to pay and all of a sudden it wasn't fair all along???


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Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 07, 2018, 08:20:32 AM
I am not 'crediting' him for paying that amount per day. He is paying that amount per day and I am just acknowledging it. And it doesn't allow him to press back on his obligations. I was just pointing out that he is meeting his financial obligations.
You do understand that the whole point of his original post was how to avoid continuing to meet his financial obligations, right?  And for us to make him feel good about and and explain how to do it?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 07, 2018, 03:24:29 PM
I am not 'crediting' him for paying that amount per day. He is paying that amount per day and I am just acknowledging it. And it doesn't allow him to press back on his obligations. I was just pointing out that he is meeting his financial obligations.
You do understand that the whole point of his original post was how to avoid continuing to meet his financial obligations, right?  And for us to make him feel good about and and explain how to do it?

And you understand that I specifically weighed in on a hysterical response that it was his obligation as a father to pay at least $323 per day? 

There are lots of reasonable responses to his post.  The easiest one is "you're not going to get a child support modification based on you wanting to cut back your hours, so unless your ex-wife just loves you and would be happy to relieve you of the obligation, no need to waste time worrying about it."  Another one is "that child support decree was likely part of a global settlement of your divorce, and even if it's disproportionate to the actual needs of the children, you shouldn't ask to pare it back because it isn't really tied to the needs of a children, but to your desire to settle your divorce with your wife."  Another one is "Your wife is likely to have a negative reaction to you even asking, and considering your financial position, it's not worth messing with because of the potential that your children will pick up on it and internalize it and it harm your relationship with your kids."  Another one is "Dude, if you   are this clinical and rational when talking with your kids, they probably think you are a sociopath that doesn't love them; focus less on the financial issue and make sure you focus on the non-financial aspects of being a father."  I think these have all been more or less mentioned in this thread and I'm sure there are a lot of other ones. 

What is not a reasonable reaction is "ERhmygawd, you're not worthy of being called a man if you don't contribute more at least $323 per day or if you expect your 6-figure earning ex-wife to contribute to the financial costs of raising the children!!11!1!" 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: obstinate on May 07, 2018, 04:22:28 PM
And you understand that I specifically weighed in on a hysterical response that it was his obligation as a father to pay at least $323 per day? 

There are lots of reasonable responses to his post.  The easiest one is "you're not going to get a child support modification based on you wanting to cut back your hours, so unless your ex-wife just loves you and would be happy to relieve you of the obligation, no need to waste time worrying about it."  Another one is "that child support decree was likely part of a global settlement of your divorce, and even if it's disproportionate to the actual needs of the children, you shouldn't ask to pare it back because it isn't really tied to the needs of a children, but to your desire to settle your divorce with your wife."  Another one is "Your wife is likely to have a negative reaction to you even asking, and considering your financial position, it's not worth messing with because of the potential that your children will pick up on it and internalize it and it harm your relationship with your kids."  Another one is "Dude, if you   are this clinical and rational when talking with your kids, they probably think you are a sociopath that doesn't love them; focus less on the financial issue and make sure you focus on the non-financial aspects of being a father."  I think these have all been more or less mentioned in this thread and I'm sure there are a lot of other ones. 

What is not a reasonable reaction is "ERhmygawd, you're not worthy of being called a man if you don't contribute more at least $323 per day or if you expect your 6-figure earning ex-wife to contribute to the financial costs of raising the children!!11!1!"
Agreed. I have kind of given up on people seeing sense in this thread. I can only assume there are a lot of children of divorce or people who had difficult divorces themselves. Possibly some folks with deadbeat dads, or deadbeat exes? And they are projecting onto OP. I see lots of encouragement for OP to consider ex-wife's feelings, and almost no empathy for OP. Assumptions that OP cheated, etc., that simply are not well-founded. People pretending that the existence of a legal agreement at a particular time creates a permanent, ongoing, immutable moral obligation, and that failing to want to live up to this agreement makes OP a deadbeat. All this makes me suspect that people have had their judgments clouded by ~something~.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Kyle Schuant on May 07, 2018, 05:42:08 PM
All this makes me suspect that people have had their judgments clouded by ~something~.
Yes, by morality.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: obstinate on May 07, 2018, 06:27:26 PM
All this makes me suspect that people have had their judgments clouded by ~something~.
Yes, by morality.
If morality to you is tied to paying a specific, way above median amount for the rearing of a child, than I guess all I can say is that we have very different moralities. I suppose that's OK, though! OP, if you're still reading, hang in there. But you'd be wiser to not.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Kyle Schuant on May 07, 2018, 08:19:22 PM
The minimum we can ask of any person is that they honour agreements they have voluntarily entered into. Keep your word. That's part of morality.


We can't really complain about bankers defrauding the public of trillions, politicians lying, employers dismissing employees without notice or reason, landlords hiking the rent or evicting people without notice or reason, and so on, and then try to weasel out of our responsibilities to our own children. Once you let your sperm get anywhere near a woman's egg, you've made an implicit promise that you'll always be there for your children. Always. No matter how inconvenient that may be.


Keep your word. This is part of being a man. And a father.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: obstinate on May 07, 2018, 09:34:29 PM
The minimum we can ask of any person is that they honour agreements they have voluntarily entered into. Keep your word. That's part of morality.

We can't really complain about bankers defrauding the public of trillions, politicians lying, employers dismissing employees without notice or reason, landlords hiking the rent or evicting people without notice or reason, and so on, and then try to weasel out of our responsibilities to our own children. Once you let your sperm get anywhere near a woman's egg, you've made an implicit promise that you'll always be there for your children. Always. No matter how inconvenient that may be.

Keep your word. This is part of being a man. And a father.
Keeping one's word is part of being a person in general. It has nothing to do with being a man in particular. I can see from your previous posts that you have a thing for banging this macho drum, but I'd rather you didn't.

That said, a contract or an agreement is often subject to amendment when circumstances change. OP was asking whether and how he might go about amending the terms of an agreement he made, after seeing its effects and after a rather significant change in his own circumstances (to wit, a mindset change r.e. spending, and also an additional mouth to feed). There is zero in-thread evidence of him breaking any term of his legal agreement, and no intimation that he plans to either.

There is also zero evidence of him being a neglectful father in any sort of absolute terms. He is providing far more than the typical standard of financial support. Although we have no evidence of this, suppose it is slightly less than before. Well, I don't plan to send my son to $20k per year preschools for the rest of his life, although I do now. When he turns five, he's going to public school. Am I "not there for" my son because I'm spending twenty grand less on him each year? Not under any definition of "being there for" that seems reasonable to me.

To seek to amend one's legal agreements within the law is not to break one's word. That's pretty much all I have to say on the subject. (If you do not agree, I hope you have never changed your will, a power of attorney, refinanced or closed a mortgage, threatened to back out of a contract under contingency, etc.)
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Kyle Schuant on May 07, 2018, 10:22:29 PM
Keeping one's word is part of being a person in general. It has nothing to do with being a man in particular.
It's part of being a woman, too, yes. But we're not addressing a woman.

Nor are we addressing a man, really. But we're encouraging him to be one.

Agreements freely-entered between adults into can be amended by mutual agreement. That's moral. But he's not trying to do what's moral, he's trying to do what's legal. There's a difference. I don't give a damn about the law, I care about what's right. The law, for example, allows me in this state to be unfaithful to my wife with a 16 year old girl. The law allows ruinous credit interest rates to people who can't pay it, and all sorts of other things which are wrong. So I don't care about the law.

And the agreement you have with your children, the implicit agreement to be a father, is an agreement with minors, and minors can't alter agreements on their own in either the law or morality. Once you become a parent, you're a parent for life. You've taken on those duties and don't get to weasel out of them - even if the law allows you to.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: bugbaby on May 08, 2018, 04:25:26 AM
Kyle Shuant,
I applaud you for taking your time and effort to try and help OP ...

I suspect it's not only his ex and children that are seen as variables to be moved around in his own financial and 'happiness' equations. It's a world view and an enduring pattern.

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Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 08, 2018, 07:55:23 AM
The minimum we can ask of any person is that they honour agreements they have voluntarily entered into. Keep your word. That's part of morality.


We can't really complain about bankers defrauding the public of trillions, politicians lying, employers dismissing employees without notice or reason, landlords hiking the rent or evicting people without notice or reason, and so on, and then try to weasel out of our responsibilities to our own children. Once you let your sperm get anywhere near a woman's egg, you've made an implicit promise that you'll always be there for your children. Always. No matter how inconvenient that may be.


Keep your word. This is part of being a man. And a father.

Are you intentionally muddling your posts?  Or are your thoughts this muddled?  Yes, he has an agreement with the mother that is signed off on by the courts.  I think there is a philosophical argument about how voluntary such an agreement is, but that would also probably require some facts regarding the dissolution of the marriage. 

But regardless, any obligation with that agreement is separate from the obligations he has as a father.  If his ex-wife stops properly feeding and clothing his kids, he doesn't get to say, "I took care of them half the year, provided health insurance, and paid $8400 to help cover the costs of the other half of the year; I've met my obligations."  He has an obligation to take care of his kids, and it isn't relieved or diluted if the biological mother declines to meet her obligations even though she is able.  Similarly, as long as he is meeting the needs of his kids, financial and otherwise, the $700 he pays to the mother is not an obligation of parenthood, except to the extent that not paying it, when it is not a big financial burden, would cause strife that impacts his kids. 

Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: RetiredAt63 on May 08, 2018, 11:03:14 AM
Whew so much here.

First, if the kids see OP not paying for things that they think he would/should normally be paying, when he obviously can afford it,  they will feel it.  My ex had to be massively pressured when we first split to continue support for our over-18 DD who was in school.  That super stressed her out.  And his pattern has continued, with some really sucky examples that I will not mention here but really really hurt her.

Extra-curricular activities - I don't think the important thing is whose time the girls will be doing things on, or what they are or what they cost.  What matters is the total amount of time/energy the girls are spending on them.The girls are 13 and 11, right?  They are getting to an age where school is more demanding.  The parents need to coordinate how many activities the girls are doing without messing up their schooling.  And the girls need to be part of these discussions.  I saw many kids drop activities once they were in high school, the combination of more academic demands and moving up levels in sports/dance/other activities meant that they could not manage everything, something had to give.  Parents have to go with their kids on this, they shouldn't push for an activity to continue the same as before because they are involved in it.

OT - 1 year apart for every 3 years marriage - what do you do when you have been married 30-40 years?  Starting dating in the nursing home?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 08, 2018, 11:22:09 AM
That said, a contract or an agreement is often subject to amendment when circumstances change. OP was asking whether and how he might go about amending the terms of an agreement he made, after seeing its effects and after a rather significant change in his own circumstances (to wit, a mindset change r.e. spending, and also an additional mouth to feed). There is zero in-thread evidence of him breaking any term of his legal agreement, and no intimation that he plans to either.
Wow, sometimes I wonder if I'm reading the same original thread as other people.

The whole point of his original post was the clear evidence of him striving to break the term of his legal agreement.  He came here to ask if it was "fair" (which was properly pointed out as whinypants by many) and then how to change it, so clearly an intimation.  What were you reading?  Because it certainly does not seem to be the original post. 

The vehemence that some of us are showing is because of why he is asking.  He CHOSE to have another mouth to feed.  And now is upset about the impact and of all the options to improve his budget he chose one, that to many of us, is the most off-limits one he should ever look at, the obligations to his children.   Again, CHOOSING to make less money is not a valid reason to amend child support.  It's what a weasel considers.  Every. Single. One. Of his reasons is not the fault of his children.  Deciding MMM sounds awesome is not something his kids determined to do.  He should be parent enough to speak with them about how daddy is looking at things differently and how that impacts what activities they can do.  When I got divorced and money got tighter, I sat my kids down and explained that while in the past they had more activities now they could do one and it would not be something like horseback riding or ice skating because they were too expensive at this point.  They were very upset and it was a hard conversation to have.  But they key here is that those conversations happen outside of child support.  I promise the court worksheet in any state does not have a line that indicates that you want top of the line activities so there is a $1,000 premium to your support payment.  You have your support amount and adjust your budget accordingly.  So if you want to live more frugally, fine, but be frugal with things that you should touch.

If he lost his job and spent a year looking and could only find one at half salary, that is a change that warrants support review.  If he became disabled and could no longer work, that warrants support review.  Getting married and having a child is also a reason to do that, but it rarely impacts things the way he'd like and most of us explained that.  That's because that is a choice, not something thrust upon you so it rarely factors in substantially to your obligation.  Negotiating expenses is fine, but other than indicating his displeasure he did not show any work there.  Not all the money pots in divorce are accessible at will.  The whole issue with this thread is he is trying to touch one that is less accessible than others.  I get that he's having difficulty with the others because his ex wants expensive activities where he would like to cut down.  Again, conversations with his kids can handle this.  These are not fun.  And that is where I, and others, have little respect for how OP wants to handle these things.  He seems to want to avoid the hard and unpleasant work and just go on into fairy tale land of his new life.  Sorry buddy, it does not work that way.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 08, 2018, 11:31:43 AM
OT - 1 year apart for every 3 years marriage - what do you do when you have been married 30-40 years?  Starting dating in the nursing home?
Since I was the one that shared this advice from our support group materials, I'll respond.

The way we cover this is people can and will obviously do whatever they want.  Believe me, we've heard every excuse in the book, including this one.  And like any "rule" with evidence there will be some who do not follow it and it works out.  For most people married that long, yes they would likely not date again.  I've had two people in my groups that fit that time frame and neither had any interest in pursuing another relationship once they were through the program as they clearly understood they had a lot of work to do to be ready and that was their focus.  The professional counselors however will tell you that the ones that work are by far the exception.  It's tough not having love in your life.  You want to know what's tougher?  Not doing the work and the healing and dragging some poor stranger along into a marriage you are not ready for only to have it implode as well for much the same reasons and then doing it over and over again. 

That is what the guidance is designed to have people look at.  As we cover the topic of relationships and particularly this piece, another way we explain knowing if you are ready to date is that if you are at a point where you would be content to go through the rest of your life single, that is the point you are finally ready to begin dating.  If you get there faster than 1 year for every 3 years of marriage, then you have a good shot.  If you still need someone to complete you, to make life feel whole, or for someone to fill some gap for you, then you are likely headed to a poor outcome.   You need to be full and whole and have something to offer to someone in a relationship for it to work well.  If you need someone to rescue you, to make you happy to do something for you, then you will eventually suck them dry and be in the same boat. 

Hope that makes it a bit clearer.  Each session is about three hours long, so two paragraphs on the internet are not going to cover the depth and allow for all the discussion that happens, and this topic keeps coming up in subsequent weeks over the 13 week group, so I tried to give a very, very, very high level explanation of why and how it is explained that way.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 08, 2018, 11:36:56 AM
I suspect it's not only his ex and children that are seen as variables to be moved around in his own financial and 'happiness' equations. It's a world view and an enduring pattern.
Bingo.  You win the prize.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 08, 2018, 12:13:28 PM
That said, a contract or an agreement is often subject to amendment when circumstances change. OP was asking whether and how he might go about amending the terms of an agreement he made, after seeing its effects and after a rather significant change in his own circumstances (to wit, a mindset change r.e. spending, and also an additional mouth to feed). There is zero in-thread evidence of him breaking any term of his legal agreement, and no intimation that he plans to either.
Wow, sometimes I wonder if I'm reading the same original thread as other people.

The whole point of his original post was the clear evidence of him striving to break the term of his legal agreement.  He came here to ask if it was "fair" (which was properly pointed out as whinypants by many) and then how to change it, so clearly an intimation.  What were you reading?  Because it certainly does not seem to be the original post. 

The vehemence that some of us are showing is because of why he is asking.  He CHOSE to have another mouth to feed.  And now is upset about the impact and of all the options to improve his budget he chose one, that to many of us, is the most off-limits one he should ever look at, the obligations to his children.   Again, CHOOSING to make less money is not a valid reason to amend child support.  It's what a weasel considers.  Every. Single. One. Of his reasons is not the fault of his children.  Deciding MMM sounds awesome is not something his kids determined to do.  He should be parent enough to speak with them about how daddy is looking at things differently and how that impacts what activities they can do.  When I got divorced and money got tighter, I sat my kids down and explained that while in the past they had more activities now they could do one and it would not be something like horseback riding or ice skating because they were too expensive at this point.  They were very upset and it was a hard conversation to have.  But they key here is that those conversations happen outside of child support.  I promise the court worksheet in any state does not have a line that indicates that you want top of the line activities so there is a $1,000 premium to your support payment.  You have your support amount and adjust your budget accordingly.  So if you want to live more frugally, fine, but be frugal with things that you should touch.

If he lost his job and spent a year looking and could only find one at half salary, that is a change that warrants support review.  If he became disabled and could no longer work, that warrants support review.  Getting married and having a child is also a reason to do that, but it rarely impacts things the way he'd like and most of us explained that.  That's because that is a choice, not something thrust upon you so it rarely factors in substantially to your obligation.  Negotiating expenses is fine, but other than indicating his displeasure he did not show any work there.  Not all the money pots in divorce are accessible at will.  The whole issue with this thread is he is trying to touch one that is less accessible than others.  I get that he's having difficulty with the others because his ex wants expensive activities where he would like to cut down.  Again, conversations with his kids can handle this.  These are not fun.  And that is where I, and others, have little respect for how OP wants to handle these things.  He seems to want to avoid the hard and unpleasant work and just go on into fairy tale land of his new life.  Sorry buddy, it does not work that way.

By your overly emotional "logic," most mustachians are welshing on their financial obligations as parents.  I suspect there are quite a few people on this forum who have declined to pay for travel sports even though they could afford it.  Or declined to provide their teenage children a car, even though they can afford it and it's not the children who decided MMM sounded awesome. 

There are lots of potential things to criticize the OP for related to his approach to dealing with his kids and ex as far as working through things like extra curriculars and travel responsibility.  Considering dropping his financial support down from a very high level to a level that would likely still be higher than most people provide period is not a reason to criticize, any more than it is a reason to criticize people who choose to retire rather than building a bigger nest egg to leave to their children as an inheritance. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Awesomeness on May 08, 2018, 01:03:34 PM
OT - 1 year apart for every 3 years marriage - what do you do when you have been married 30-40 years?  Starting dating in the nursing home?
Since I was the one that shared this advice from our support group materials, I'll respond.

The way we cover this is people can and will obviously do whatever they want.  Believe me, we've heard every excuse in the book, including this one.  And like any "rule" with evidence there will be some who do not follow it and it works out.  For most people married that long, yes they would likely not date again.  I've had two people in my groups that fit that time frame and neither had any interest in pursuing another relationship once they were through the program as they clearly understood they had a lot of work to do to be ready and that was their focus.  The professional counselors however will tell you that the ones that work are by far the exception.  It's tough not having love in your life.  You want to know what's tougher?  Not doing the work and the healing and dragging some poor stranger along into a marriage you are not ready for only to have it implode as well for much the same reasons and then doing it over and over again. 

That is what the guidance is designed to have people look at.  As we cover the topic of relationships and particularly this piece, another way we explain knowing if you are ready to date is that if you are at a point where you would be content to go through the rest of your life single, that is the point you are finally ready to begin dating.  If you get there faster than 1 year for every 3 years of marriage, then you have a good shot.  If you still need someone to complete you, to make life feel whole, or for someone to fill some gap for you, then you are likely headed to a poor outcome.   You need to be full and whole and have something to offer to someone in a relationship for it to work well.  If you need someone to rescue you, to make you happy to do something for you, then you will eventually suck them dry and be in the same boat. 

Hope that makes it a bit clearer.  Each session is about three hours long, so two paragraphs on the internet are not going to cover the depth and allow for all the discussion that happens, and this topic keeps coming up in subsequent weeks over the 13 week group, so I tried to give a very, very, very high level explanation of why and how it is explained that way.


Personally not a fan of these guidelines, 1 year for every 3 is actually the worst one Iíve heard.  For me that means 8 and a half years for me to heal from my marriage.  Divorce is horrific and traumatic especially if you didnít want it. I wanted the pain to stop so Iím doing what I can to get better and when I first started see these guidelines, well it didnít give me hope.   I talked to my therapist about it and he said ďhow long do you want it to takeĒ.  Thatís what I needed to hear. I have a say in my recovery. 

Also have issues when people say we need to do the work and fix ourselves after a divorce.  Ha!  Iím not broken. I donít need fixing.  Hate the way that implies I had something to do with the choices my husband made.  I want to vomit.


Anyway I get what they both mean but to those that donít it can read you are a broken piece of crap so go be miserable for years.

I do like the way you described getting whole and content with yourself before dating again. I totally get that.  Sounds much better that the ďfixingĒ others suggest as thatís what Iím doing.  But even after a long 26 year marriage that ended horrifically I do know I would love to find a good mate someday.  A Charles Ingalls or Rocky Balboa would be nice.  Lol. Good men devoted to their woman. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 08, 2018, 02:47:29 PM
OT - 1 year apart for every 3 years marriage - what do you do when you have been married 30-40 years?  Starting dating in the nursing home?
Since I was the one that shared this advice from our support group materials, I'll respond.

The way we cover this is people can and will obviously do whatever they want.  Believe me, we've heard every excuse in the book, including this one.  And like any "rule" with evidence there will be some who do not follow it and it works out.  For most people married that long, yes they would likely not date again.  I've had two people in my groups that fit that time frame and neither had any interest in pursuing another relationship once they were through the program as they clearly understood they had a lot of work to do to be ready and that was their focus.  The professional counselors however will tell you that the ones that work are by far the exception.  It's tough not having love in your life.  You want to know what's tougher?  Not doing the work and the healing and dragging some poor stranger along into a marriage you are not ready for only to have it implode as well for much the same reasons and then doing it over and over again. 

That is what the guidance is designed to have people look at.  As we cover the topic of relationships and particularly this piece, another way we explain knowing if you are ready to date is that if you are at a point where you would be content to go through the rest of your life single, that is the point you are finally ready to begin dating.  If you get there faster than 1 year for every 3 years of marriage, then you have a good shot.  If you still need someone to complete you, to make life feel whole, or for someone to fill some gap for you, then you are likely headed to a poor outcome.   You need to be full and whole and have something to offer to someone in a relationship for it to work well.  If you need someone to rescue you, to make you happy to do something for you, then you will eventually suck them dry and be in the same boat. 

Hope that makes it a bit clearer.  Each session is about three hours long, so two paragraphs on the internet are not going to cover the depth and allow for all the discussion that happens, and this topic keeps coming up in subsequent weeks over the 13 week group, so I tried to give a very, very, very high level explanation of why and how it is explained that way.


Personally not a fan of these guidelines, 1 year for every 3 is actually the worst one Iíve heard.  For me that means 8 and a half years for me to heal from my marriage.  Divorce is horrific and traumatic especially if you didnít want it. I wanted the pain to stop so Iím doing what I can to get better and when I first started see these guidelines, well it didnít give me hope.   I talked to my therapist about it and he said ďhow long do you want it to takeĒ.  Thatís what I needed to hear. I have a say in my recovery. 

Also have issues when people say we need to do the work and fix ourselves after a divorce.  Ha!  Iím not broken. I donít need fixing.  Hate the way that implies I had something to do with the choices my husband made.  I want to vomit.


Anyway I get what they both mean but to those that donít it can read you are a broken piece of crap so go be miserable for years.

I do like the way you described getting whole and content with yourself before dating again. I totally get that.  Sounds much better that the ďfixingĒ others suggest as thatís what Iím doing.  But even after a long 26 year marriage that ended horrifically I do know I would love to find a good mate someday.  A Charles Ingalls or Rocky Balboa would be nice.  Lol. Good men devoted to their woman.
And as I said I tossed out a few points in two brief paragraphs of a topic that is discussed for three hours and would get into all your points.

To try to add some color to your input and how we'd address it.  No you did not have something to do with the choices your husband made, but it is also unlikely that everything you did was perfect.  We all need to examine how we contributed to our marriage not working out, and I've yet to have met anyone who when honestly being introspective did not find some significant changes to make before they engaged in another relationship.  Part of what we cover as we go through this is how not doing this perpetuates the cycle we see so often of people ending up with the same type of spouse they divorced.  Someone who is abused ends up in another abusive relationship.  Someone who was cheated on ends up with another cheater.  My wife was in the abused category and the first two people she dated very quickly after her divorce were abusers also, but luckily she had healed enough to recognize it early this time and get out.  She joined a solid support group.  Then she spent a few years on the sidelines and identified how she was co-dependent and enabling those types of behaviors and therefore attracting those types of men.  Taken in isolation, yes these points seem off, especially if people do not want to understand what they mean.  Nowhere in there does anyone say you do not have a say in your recovery.  The intent is that if it takes you 8 1/2 years to get there not to feel bad.  It is a tool to combat the societal pressure I'd say 70% of our attendees walk in with which is family and friends telling them to move on with life, start dating again, yada yada.  And then they crash and burn and don't get why.  The concern with "how long do you want it to take" without any further guidance (I assume your therapist offered more than that phrase in their therapy) is that far too many people will pick some time that is far too short for the work they need to do.  I get where you are coming from.  I was one of those people that went faster but in the process I spoke very, very heavily with other support group leaders, I was open to their feedback, I had them meet the woman I eventually married and was open to them saying I was not ready yet.  I was remarried one year after my divorce from a 16 year marriage and she was the one who didn't want it just like you.  I tried and fought yet also knew it was inevitable because it takes two people to stay married and I had realized that very fast after we got married.  What I found in my therapy and support group work was I had done a lot of the healing while still married because we were basically apart already, so I had 5-7 years of that before we divorced and that seems to have been included in my recovery time so I did have about 5 years of separateness.  And I was questioned and challenged hard, and extensively by my support network, just as we are doing with the OP.  That's the best way to know if things are really aligned.  And now six years into my last marriage my wife and I are doing great and we've weathered a lot.  That's why we confidently can help lead support groups because between us we've got basically all of the things that could happen in a divorce in our experience so we can counsel from a point of been there, done that and feedback we get is very good.

I do think it is important to be open to the fact that while broken may be a tough thing, it may be somewhat or very true.  I do not know your story beyond the few items you shared, but my wife came out of a horrific marriage suffering every form of abuse imaginable.  Part of our courting process was me meeting with her therapist and my wife and her therapist both described who she was after the divorce as broken, almost not human.  And she would say it was all because the choices her husband made.  For her to have not been open to admit that she was broken would have made impossible to recover.  She spent two years convinced she was not broken before she was led to understand she was and finally got the help she needed.  Just sharing that perspective as food for thought as to why fixing ourselves should not be discounted too quickly, because there is likely something that can use some adjustment and is, maybe just a little, broken.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 08, 2018, 02:58:14 PM
That said, a contract or an agreement is often subject to amendment when circumstances change. OP was asking whether and how he might go about amending the terms of an agreement he made, after seeing its effects and after a rather significant change in his own circumstances (to wit, a mindset change r.e. spending, and also an additional mouth to feed). There is zero in-thread evidence of him breaking any term of his legal agreement, and no intimation that he plans to either.
Wow, sometimes I wonder if I'm reading the same original thread as other people.

The whole point of his original post was the clear evidence of him striving to break the term of his legal agreement.  He came here to ask if it was "fair" (which was properly pointed out as whinypants by many) and then how to change it, so clearly an intimation.  What were you reading?  Because it certainly does not seem to be the original post. 

The vehemence that some of us are showing is because of why he is asking.  He CHOSE to have another mouth to feed.  And now is upset about the impact and of all the options to improve his budget he chose one, that to many of us, is the most off-limits one he should ever look at, the obligations to his children.   Again, CHOOSING to make less money is not a valid reason to amend child support.  It's what a weasel considers.  Every. Single. One. Of his reasons is not the fault of his children.  Deciding MMM sounds awesome is not something his kids determined to do.  He should be parent enough to speak with them about how daddy is looking at things differently and how that impacts what activities they can do.  When I got divorced and money got tighter, I sat my kids down and explained that while in the past they had more activities now they could do one and it would not be something like horseback riding or ice skating because they were too expensive at this point.  They were very upset and it was a hard conversation to have.  But they key here is that those conversations happen outside of child support.  I promise the court worksheet in any state does not have a line that indicates that you want top of the line activities so there is a $1,000 premium to your support payment.  You have your support amount and adjust your budget accordingly.  So if you want to live more frugally, fine, but be frugal with things that you should touch.

If he lost his job and spent a year looking and could only find one at half salary, that is a change that warrants support review.  If he became disabled and could no longer work, that warrants support review.  Getting married and having a child is also a reason to do that, but it rarely impacts things the way he'd like and most of us explained that.  That's because that is a choice, not something thrust upon you so it rarely factors in substantially to your obligation.  Negotiating expenses is fine, but other than indicating his displeasure he did not show any work there.  Not all the money pots in divorce are accessible at will.  The whole issue with this thread is he is trying to touch one that is less accessible than others.  I get that he's having difficulty with the others because his ex wants expensive activities where he would like to cut down.  Again, conversations with his kids can handle this.  These are not fun.  And that is where I, and others, have little respect for how OP wants to handle these things.  He seems to want to avoid the hard and unpleasant work and just go on into fairy tale land of his new life.  Sorry buddy, it does not work that way.

By your overly emotional "logic," most mustachians are welshing on their financial obligations as parents.  I suspect there are quite a few people on this forum who have declined to pay for travel sports even though they could afford it.  Or declined to provide their teenage children a car, even though they can afford it and it's not the children who decided MMM sounded awesome. 

There are lots of potential things to criticize the OP for related to his approach to dealing with his kids and ex as far as working through things like extra curriculars and travel responsibility.  Considering dropping his financial support down from a very high level to a level that would likely still be higher than most people provide period is not a reason to criticize, any more than it is a reason to criticize people who choose to retire rather than building a bigger nest egg to leave to their children as an inheritance.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  You have yours and I have mine.  With my experience and study of people having been through divorce I'm seeing things that you perceive differently.  I'm not at all suggesting he should pay for expensive activities.  You feel I said that.  In the answer above I already addressed how he can address those conversations with his kids and adjust.  He's shown only selfish effort here, not finding a way to engage with his kids.  Several people have asked him if he asked the girls if they want these activities and he never responded to that.  He's had lots of chances to show all the work he's done here and instead he just circles back to why it's hard for him.  I gave the guy the benefit of the doubt for quote a few responses.  Only when I saw a clear pattern of behavior demonstrated in what he focuses on in his responses did I feel I had enough to know where his interest lies, and I see that it is not with his kids.  Again, you can disagree.  A healthy individual would either take the constructive criticism and reflect and adjust if it was accurate, or ignore it as someone who does not have the detail they may not have shared and go on.  OP has a chance to show which one he is, but ending with the response of taking activity money and diverting it to a 529 and thinking that is a healthy response for the kids gave me all the validation that I needed to frame his original post as someone who is looking out for themselves and the new family ahead of his original offspring.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: obstinate on May 08, 2018, 03:26:46 PM
He's shown only selfish effort here, not finding a way to engage with his kids.
Maybe he just doesn't feel like he needs advice on that front? I don't come in here and ask for parenting advice either, and if someone gave it to me I'd be very likely to ignore them. This is a perfect example of what I'm talking about w.r.t. to people jumping to conclusions.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Awesomeness on May 08, 2018, 06:59:11 PM
@caracan. Hey I get what you are saying.  I guess I prefer the words healing and grieving versus broken.  To me it implies I had a role in what he did and thereís no way Iíll ever accept that. A perfect spouse never exists but I can guarantee that any issue he ever had with me was not what made our marriage deteriorate, he will say it was but honestly heís insane. I honored our vows from start to finish and didnít say in those vows Iíd be perfect. No one is. Basically alcoholism, abuse, intentional destroying of our finances and top it off with adultery and all that goes along with all of that is what I went through.  Anyway Iím 7 months out and do see now that I started grieving the losses while I was in the marriage still and that has helped me get to where I am now.  Sort of like you mentioned in your post. Makes me think of people losing a spouse to a long cancer battle. The relief can come not long after the death because they grieved during the illness.

My therapist is a gem and has helped me make sure Iím not a textbook divorcee like you mentioned.  Iíve witnessed people moving on too fast and that hasnít appealed to me. I see why they do it though.  Itís hard and you can think someone else can fill those gaps.  Like Rocky said ďI got gaps, sheís got gaps, together we fill gapsĒ lol.  But I donít want damaged goods and I donít want to be damaged goods, I donít want another man like I just divorced. Thankfully he wasnít like that our whole marriage. 


Divorce care wasnít for me.  I felt it focused too much on reconciliation and realizing my part in the break up and as you can see Iím just not going to go there. No human being can do anything to deserve what he did to me.  Thank you. And thank you for what you do.   Iím sorry you and your wife went through hard times to get where you are but itís wonderful you are serving others that are suffering. The best support often comes from those that have suffered and hurt as well and know exactly the pain it causes. I want to live the best life I can and sometimes I do get a chance to help someone else. Something good coming from such pain helps me heal too.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Jrr85 on May 09, 2018, 08:23:44 AM

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  You have yours and I have mine.  With my experience and study of people having been through divorce I'm seeing things that you perceive differently.  I'm not at all suggesting he should pay for expensive activities.  You feel I said that.
You are projecting your overly emotional state on this issue to others.  I don't feel you said that.  I don't have any baggage re: divorce or child support like you, so I am just responding to what is typed and not projecting my past experiences and issues into the conversation.  I pointed out that people stating or implying he is somehow failing to meet his financial obligations to his kids, either under the current payment structure or even at a reduced payment rate are attempting to impose an obligation on him that the vast majority of fathers in the U.S. can't meet, whether still married or not.  There are lots of flags with how he might approach his kids (but it's a few internet forum posts, so I'm not sure how much should be read into that), but assuming he is not neglecting them when they are in his care, he is doing more than enough financially.   

  In the answer above I already addressed how he can address those conversations with his kids and adjust.  He's shown only selfish effort here, not finding a way to engage with his kids.  Several people have asked him if he asked the girls if they want these activities and he never responded to that.  He's had lots of chances to show all the work he's done here and instead he just circles back to why it's hard for him.  I gave the guy the benefit of the doubt for quote a few responses.  Only when I saw a clear pattern of behavior demonstrated in what he focuses on in his responses did I feel I had enough to know where his interest lies, and I see that it is not with his kids.

That's mighty magnanimous of you to give him the benefit of the doubt for a few internet forum posts before you decided you know what kind of father he is. 

 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE on May 09, 2018, 09:26:04 AM
Agreed. I have kind of given up on people seeing sense in this thread. I can only assume there are a lot of children of divorce or people who had difficult divorces themselves. Possibly some folks with deadbeat dads, or deadbeat exes? And they are projecting onto OP. I see lots of encouragement for OP to consider ex-wife's feelings, and almost no empathy for OP. Assumptions that OP cheated, etc., that simply are not well-founded. People pretending that the existence of a legal agreement at a particular time creates a permanent, ongoing, immutable moral obligation, and that failing to want to live up to this agreement makes OP a deadbeat. All this makes me suspect that people have had their judgments clouded by ~something~.

I took a negotiating class.  Boiling it down to the absolute bare essence, you achieve the best negotiation result when you have as much information as possible about the negotiation, including the interests of both parties.  The OP seems particularly blind to understanding the ex-wife's possible motivations.  This is why I (and possibly others) pointed out he might want to consider her perspective.  It's not so much telling him he ought to consider her feelings (although that's a nice humane thing to do...) as getting him to think about how she might feel about his requests/actions, and how that might impact her reactions/decisions.  They're divorced now, he doesn't *have to* consider them anymore.  But frankly, imo, he'd be a fool to completely disregard them given that their fights affect their kids.  Again, not that he has to make nice, but at least making an effort to do so will reduce stress on their kids.

For more concrete example, what is his primary goal with keeping the girls in the rec volleyball team?  To save money?  Spend time with them as their coach?  More convenient practice hours/locations?  What is his wife's primary goal in wanting to change the team?  I gave some possibilities above, but it could be anything from avoiding having them be coached by the dad, to being on a more advanced team.  If his primary goal is saving money (as that's what he seems to be pretty upset about), and hers is avoiding having the girls coached by him...then they can both achieve what they what if he agrees not to be a coach.

[For someone who doesn't like assumptions, you immediately and ironically turn around and make your own about the posters in this thread.  Despite your assumptions, I have no particular baggage: I'm happily married and my folks are happily married.  But I did see our neighbor get divorced and how hard it was on their kids that their dad married a split second after the divorce, which was hard on one kid in particular.  I also don't have empathy for the OP because his follow-up replies have not engendered any goodwill, particularly his comments about deciding to pay for extracurriculars based on whether his ex pays for therapy for the kids.  I don't think he needs to pay for everything the ex/girls propose, but his reasons for rejecting paying are unsound to me, and demonstrate to me that he's punishing the girls for his ex-wife's behavior.  His many other comments also give me the impression he's replacing his old "flawed" family with a new shinier family.  I wonder if the girls think so too and I feel badly for them as a result, and therefore want to try to hammer some sense into him.]
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: obstinate on May 09, 2018, 09:59:30 AM
[For someone who doesn't like assumptions, you immediately and ironically turn around and make your own about the posters in this thread.  Despite your assumptions, I have no particular baggage
I made an inference about a group's tendencies, not about any particular person. I did not say, "Captain FIRE is divorced/was badly affected by divorce," I said, "A lot of people here probably were." (What I meant is that a disproportionate fraction probably are, to be specific.) And it does appear from some responses that disclose personal histories with divorce that I am correct. At any rate, I have zero problems with someone inferring properties likely shared by a group from how they are behaving. As you get into personal accusations against an individual of "not being a man" (something that was actually said to OP based solely on what he has disclosed here -- which again I maintain shows no past or anticipated act of neglect), I believe the standard of evidence rises sharply.

As to the rest of your post: sure, it's tactically wise to consider her feelings in certain cases. No evidence that OP didn't, though. What surprises me is the divergence between how OP is being told to treat his ex, and how he is being treated.

Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 09, 2018, 12:50:03 PM
@Awesomeness sounds like things are going well and you got help that was beneficial.  That's all any of can ask for in this process.

Like any program Divorce Care is highly dependent on the leaders you have.  Our sessions with three of us leading did not but undo focus on reconciliation, just offered it, as I think it is intended in the program, and an option.  There is after all only one week that speaks about it and even during that time we made sure to focus on when it is and is not appropriate.  After all, a lot of people who do what your husband did use it as a tool to keep a spouse entrapped.  It was a process my wife went through with her ex.  It is also important to note that you can reconcile short of remarriage.  One of our leaders returned to such friendly terms with her ex (who was also an alcoholic) that they once gave him a ride across country over 2,000 miles with her new husband to attend an event for one of their children.  I could do that with my ex, but we certainly could not with my wife's.  There is a lot that goes into it.  Sorry that the program you connected with pushed you away partly because of that focus as overall I think it is one of the best programs out there for providing a comprehensive support process.

I got involved and my wife joined in after we married exactly as you indicated, because I felt called to turn a negative into a positive.  Men especially tend to think they do not need help and I felt that serving as a leader could help that change in our little circle, and it has.  That was partly inspired by the fact that in the session I went through there was another man in it with me along, and  he chose to leave three weeks in because he felt he was all better.  Our leader encouraged us to see it through as there is a lot to learn and her chose not to.  No idea what happened with him, but I know I also felt I was not sure I needed the group myself due to my earlier grieving as you mentioned, but I learned a lot and saw extreme value in the process.  It is also interesting how some people return multiple times because at different times in your healing you get totally different things out of the program.  It really is a testament to how well designed it is.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: ericbonabike on May 09, 2018, 01:48:40 PM
Despite my better judgement I checked back in on this thread.  wow.

I will try to respond to the insults/insinuations/questions/comments.

1) I had an affair?  Well, I did inappropriately tell my current wife that I was attracted to her exactly 3 days before I asked my then wife that I wanted a divorce.  Why did I want a divorce?  Well, a) my exwife had refused to have sex with me for at least two years.  The last time I tried to make a move on her, she told me "Not Now Not Ever".  I took that as a sign that marriage was finally over.   (my only regret, is that I didn't ask her sooner).  BTW, when I asked her for a divorce she said "Thank God, I had been praying for this".   b)  I found myself strongly attracted to this other woman (which I knew was wrong).  So, those two events stirred me up to seek divorce.  I am proud of that.  I don't regret that.  If I had been my parent, I would have been jumping with joy as leaving my ex was unarguably the right thing to do.  About a month into the divorce proceedings, I did start/have a relationship with my now wife.  Unethical?  Maybe.  Depends on your individual perspective I reckon.

2)  I pay a paltry amount of money to my exwife?   Well, in my state, court ordered child support is ZERO dollars.  The state provided a table just assumes the default custodial arrangement (10 days every two weeks for custodial parent, 4 days every two weeks for noncustodial parent), and then it's just a simple lookup using custodial parent's salary, noncustodial parent's salary, how many kids you got, less any shared expenses, etc.  For us, this worked out to be about $1200 per month.   But, because I have 6 of 14 days (close to half), the court said that table is complete junk.  Our $700 was agreed upon amount that she told me would keep her "happy".  I never reckoned that she would hit me up for high-end activities, refuse to transport the children, and in general, play ugly.  And I never reckoned that I would be able to retire early.  Shortsightedness?  I guess.  Do all the people in this thread understand that my exwife walked away with about $1 million also?   

3)  My oldest daughter probably "needs" to play club volleyball. I wasn't particularly surprised by that.  What was surprising was when my ex told me that my oldest AND my youngest daughters were playing on the "Power" team, with a cost of $2000 per kid. My youngest daughter was 11 year old on the same U13 team as my oldest.  As a result, she was lonely on the team, didn't get much playing time, etc.    I wasn't asked about this or the fact that my oldest could have played on a slightly lesser U13 team for $1000.  My youngest probably should have just been playing rec ball again which she ASKED me to coach her team.   

4)  My last statement has been mischaracterized and I want to clarify.   I said (I'm paraphrasing) "I will not pay for extracurricular activities unless I a) have equal say in determining participation  b) find an equitable division of transportation."   Those statements are true.    I was happy driving my girls to/from school and swinging by my exwife's house to pick up their clothes/volleyball gear.  But then ex went on a rant and told me that I couldn't come by her house. "it made her feel uncomfortable"  I never went inside, just helped girls carry bags to the door.   Said I had to meet her at school in the morning of custody change, but I don't get out that way till I pick up my kids after school.  I told her no, and then sparked off a massive argument about clothing responsibility (she signed a paper saying she would provide clothing for the girls while they were at my house).  I choose not to enforce the clothing requirement because she told my girls that they would be carrying suitcases to school!

5) I am also carrying my youngest daughter to counseling.   My ex and I agreed to split costs for out-of-pocket medical expenses.  She carried the girls to get eyeglasses, and spent about $1200 versus the $300 that I had expected.  I paid her $600 for designer frames for two girls (only one of whom actually wears them).   I objected, but I paid.   She will be given an equal opportunity to reimburse me for my the counseling.    If she declines to pay that, I will perceive that as a "out of pocket expenses can be paid as each parent deems fit".  This deviates from our court decree, but if she's playing by those rules, I will too.  I don't think an 11 year old "needs" a $300 frame. 


6) I'm sorry if you all have perceived that I'm not a man of my word.  I guess that's true.  I signed a contract and expected to be treated with a certain amount of professionalism or courtesy.  As the divorce has progressed, that relationship has steadily gotten worse.  I conceded a lot during the divorce proceedings, and as one poster said "I bought a quick divorce".   I get that. 

Examples of bad behavior
She calls my wife a slut (in front of my girls).  Guess what my 11 year old called her older sister a couple weeks ago???
My oldest daughter told me that she wants to live with me, but is too afraid to tell her mom.   
My oldest daughter had a boyfriend who is black, and then my ex forced her to break up with him.   My ex's father threatened to disown my daughter for having a black boyfriend.   She's 13 years old....
My ex has repeatedly refused to allow me to buy the girls passports so that we could travel internationally.  Told me and my girls that she thought I would "steal them".
My ex routinely confiscates my oldest daughter's phone and chastises her for communicating with either me or my wife.
When I sold my house on the high-end side of town, and moved to a slightly cheaper area near downtown, she told my girls that they were moving to a high-crime area with lots and lots of "sexual predators".  Scared the crap out of them. 



In short, and I know my comments above have been blunt, there is a long sordid history here of conflict, strife, and borderline mania.  I will shoulder about 50% of the responsibility of the craziness.You all read some random guy's bitching on the internet and assume that he's a DBAG  father.  I am trying everything I can to limit the amount of damage all of the above causes my girls.   But, I can't keep giving ground to my ex.  She's a taker, and when I have given ground, she just takes more.  I am trying to be a good father.  And a better husband. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: honeybbq on May 09, 2018, 02:43:21 PM
Here's some of my thoughts:

Examples of bad behavior
She calls my wife a slut (in front of my girls).  Guess what my 11 year old called her older sister a couple weeks ago???


Yep, I was the slut, too. It's hard when one person moves on and the other doesn't. In the divorce classes they teach you to play nice, but the reality is that no one stops you from being an ass. The ex-wife basically made it impossible for me to have a healthy relationship with my step kids. You can try to avoid it, good luck. It ain't easy.

My oldest daughter told me that she wants to live with me, but is too afraid to tell her mom.   

This will happen time and time again. Or at least it did in our situation. Live with Mom, she has rules. Lives with Dad, he has different rules. Kids don't like any of them. Some times it vacillates on a daily basis, sometimes yearly. I would not put too much stock into this, though YMMV.


My ex has repeatedly refused to allow me to buy the girls passports so that we could travel internationally.  Told me and my girls that she thought I would "steal them".

While you may not like this, it is a law and you'll have to play by the rules. Be prepared to butter her up and/or bribe the ex-wife to get her to consent to these things. A passport is not enough, by the way, you'll need a signed affidavit that it's ok for you to leave the country with the kids (if you do get them a passport). While this law can be hard in situations like yours, think about the situations it prevents...


My ex routinely confiscates my oldest daughter's phone and chastises her for communicating with either me or my wife.

I don't think taking away a teenager's phone is a problem. In fact, I doubt this is done enough. But she should be allowed to communicate with you through other means.




Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: haflander on May 09, 2018, 02:55:40 PM
I'm going to decline bashing my exwife anymore than I already have....

You made it 6 days. Wow, talk about commitment!
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Villanelle on May 10, 2018, 08:11:13 AM
Your Ex sounds awful, and like an terrible person with whom to try and co-parent.

In a case like that, there are no good options.  But the least bad option is rising above.  You are choosing not to do that.

You are choosing to cede the high ground.  Will not paying for volleyball stop her from calling your new wife a slut?  Nope.  But it gives her ammunition to paint you (and the new wife and baby) as the bad guy. 

Will reducing child support prevent her from wasting money on designer eye glasses? Nope.  Will it prevent her from wasting *your* money on designer eye glasses?  Yes.  And at the cost of giving her--someone with a proven track record of being willing to badmouth you and your new family--something to throw in the girls faces about now that dad has a new baby coming, clearly he can't be bothered to pay for their things any more.  And given that this is something about which your kids are almost certainly insecure and afraid, that will work to great effect. 

Give your girls some credit.  When they here mom call stepmom a slut, they know that's bad behavior on her part.  The know it's not okay And in future, they will look back and realize that she made some bad choices and put them in an awkward position.  I'm sure that's little comfort, but it's probably all there is.  If you start sinking to that level--badmouthing her or punishing them by withholding money and experiences because of their mom's decisions, you are just as bad, small, petty, and selfish as she is.  None of this is about her.   

Right now, I feel awful for your kids.  They've been told by mom that they will have to carry suitcases to school unless Dad caves.  They hear their stepmom being called a slut.  And they also have a dad who is now wanting to go back on his arrangement to pay money that is called *child* support because he suddenly want to RE with his new wife and kids, and because he wants to lash out at mom after she lashed out at him.  He is going to refuse to pay for their activity if mom doesn't cave to him.  So they are basically surrounded by people using them as pawns and acting with hurting the Ex as a primary motivator, rather than being as supportive and loving as possible to them.  It's pretty terrible.  And while you have ZERO power of your Ex's share of that, you have full power over your half.  Instead of using that to rise above, show your girls they are worth far more than a small % of your income or net worth, ensure they know they are loved and valued, and make them feel secure, you are giving them more of the same as they are getting from mom.

You are in a bad situation.  I'm sorry for that.  But shame on you for allowing you to make yourself as bad as she is, all at the expense of your daughters.  They really lost the family lottery, and it is going to screw them up likely for life, unless you choose to get your shit together and be better than this.  Because right now, your posts make you sound just as bad as they make your wife sound.  I think it's because you are frustrated and lashing out, not because you are actually a selfish prick, but the result is the same, except that the former means there is a chance of you being better if you decide you want to be.

Good luck to you, and mostly good luck to your poor daughters who are trapped in the middle of this shit show you and your Ex have produced for them. 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Prairie Stash on May 10, 2018, 09:11:10 AM
Despite my better judgement I checked back in on this thread.  wow.

You should avoid this thread, its turned into personal conjecture. Its a trainwreck of asumptions and emotional opinions. None of us know the entire story, but we'll sure let you know what kind of person you are...Don't bother trying to defend yourself, someone will twist every last thing you say. If you follow this thread I think it might make you even more frustrated and negate any kind of help that may be on here.

I did therapy once upon a time (after a divorce), I laid out the good and the bad. I'm not perfect, I owned everything that I could think of and then some. One thing my therapist never did was insult me, call me a name or degrade me in the slightest.

Funny thing is, some of the points my ex thought were wrong, my future relationships think is right. There is no singular right way in a relationship. We discussed this at counselling, how to move forward. I was not encouraged to change everything to suit my past relationship, its about finding ways to become better for my next relationship. That includes being a better husband, father, friend and a person you can be proud of. If we attack you, it will ruin self confidence, that in turn ruins your ability to be a better father and friend. After a divorce, a large part of the healing is to make sure you are better too, even if the relationship ended years ago, most people carry some grief for years. We have failed you if we don't support you and help you so that you can further help those around you. Even when we end a relationship, theres still a part that misses the happier times, its never all bad or good.

To be clear, my counselling focused on exiting the relationship, not every counsellor will focus on saving a relationship that's doomed. The main takeaways I received help improve future relationships, that's what you need from this thread. You don't need attacks or punishments over the past.

A focus on the past is not going to improve anything unless we offer ways to help. Rehashing and trying to assign faults is not something my counsellor engaged in ever. The past is over, how you proceed from here onwards is what matter. Don't give any more thoughts to the past, focus your thoughts on the future.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn on May 10, 2018, 10:48:45 AM
Despite my better judgement I checked back in on this thread.  wow.

I will try to respond to the insults/insinuations/questions/comments.

1) I had an affair?  Well, I did inappropriately tell my current wife that I was attracted to her exactly 3 days before I asked my then wife that I wanted a divorce.  Why did I want a divorce?  Well, a) my exwife had refused to have sex with me for at least two years.  The last time I tried to make a move on her, she told me "Not Now Not Ever".  I took that as a sign that marriage was finally over.   (my only regret, is that I didn't ask her sooner).  BTW, when I asked her for a divorce she said "Thank God, I had been praying for this".   b)  I found myself strongly attracted to this other woman (which I knew was wrong).  So, those two events stirred me up to seek divorce.  I am proud of that.  I don't regret that.  If I had been my parent, I would have been jumping with joy as leaving my ex was unarguably the right thing to do.  About a month into the divorce proceedings, I did start/have a relationship with my now wife.  Unethical?  Maybe.  Depends on your individual perspective I reckon.

2)  I pay a paltry amount of money to my exwife?   Well, in my state, court ordered child support is ZERO dollars.  The state provided a table just assumes the default custodial arrangement (10 days every two weeks for custodial parent, 4 days every two weeks for noncustodial parent), and then it's just a simple lookup using custodial parent's salary, noncustodial parent's salary, how many kids you got, less any shared expenses, etc.  For us, this worked out to be about $1200 per month.   But, because I have 6 of 14 days (close to half), the court said that table is complete junk.  Our $700 was agreed upon amount that she told me would keep her "happy".  I never reckoned that she would hit me up for high-end activities, refuse to transport the children, and in general, play ugly.  And I never reckoned that I would be able to retire early.  Shortsightedness?  I guess.  Do all the people in this thread understand that my exwife walked away with about $1 million also?   

3)  My oldest daughter probably "needs" to play club volleyball. I wasn't particularly surprised by that.  What was surprising was when my ex told me that my oldest AND my youngest daughters were playing on the "Power" team, with a cost of $2000 per kid. My youngest daughter was 11 year old on the same U13 team as my oldest.  As a result, she was lonely on the team, didn't get much playing time, etc.    I wasn't asked about this or the fact that my oldest could have played on a slightly lesser U13 team for $1000.  My youngest probably should have just been playing rec ball again which she ASKED me to coach her team.   

4)  My last statement has been mischaracterized and I want to clarify.   I said (I'm paraphrasing) "I will not pay for extracurricular activities unless I a) have equal say in determining participation  b) find an equitable division of transportation."   Those statements are true.    I was happy driving my girls to/from school and swinging by my exwife's house to pick up their clothes/volleyball gear.  But then ex went on a rant and told me that I couldn't come by her house. "it made her feel uncomfortable"  I never went inside, just helped girls carry bags to the door.   Said I had to meet her at school in the morning of custody change, but I don't get out that way till I pick up my kids after school.  I told her no, and then sparked off a massive argument about clothing responsibility (she signed a paper saying she would provide clothing for the girls while they were at my house).  I choose not to enforce the clothing requirement because she told my girls that they would be carrying suitcases to school!

5) I am also carrying my youngest daughter to counseling.   My ex and I agreed to split costs for out-of-pocket medical expenses.  She carried the girls to get eyeglasses, and spent about $1200 versus the $300 that I had expected.  I paid her $600 for designer frames for two girls (only one of whom actually wears them).   I objected, but I paid.   She will be given an equal opportunity to reimburse me for my the counseling.    If she declines to pay that, I will perceive that as a "out of pocket expenses can be paid as each parent deems fit".  This deviates from our court decree, but if she's playing by those rules, I will too.  I don't think an 11 year old "needs" a $300 frame. 


6) I'm sorry if you all have perceived that I'm not a man of my word.  I guess that's true.  I signed a contract and expected to be treated with a certain amount of professionalism or courtesy.  As the divorce has progressed, that relationship has steadily gotten worse.  I conceded a lot during the divorce proceedings, and as one poster said "I bought a quick divorce".   I get that. 

Examples of bad behavior
She calls my wife a slut (in front of my girls).  Guess what my 11 year old called her older sister a couple weeks ago???
My oldest daughter told me that she wants to live with me, but is too afraid to tell her mom.   
My oldest daughter had a boyfriend who is black, and then my ex forced her to break up with him.   My ex's father threatened to disown my daughter for having a black boyfriend.   She's 13 years old....
My ex has repeatedly refused to allow me to buy the girls passports so that we could travel internationally.  Told me and my girls that she thought I would "steal them".
My ex routinely confiscates my oldest daughter's phone and chastises her for communicating with either me or my wife.
When I sold my house on the high-end side of town, and moved to a slightly cheaper area near downtown, she told my girls that they were moving to a high-crime area with lots and lots of "sexual predators".  Scared the crap out of them. 



In short, and I know my comments above have been blunt, there is a long sordid history here of conflict, strife, and borderline mania.  I will shoulder about 50% of the responsibility of the craziness.You all read some random guy's bitching on the internet and assume that he's a DBAG  father.  I am trying everything I can to limit the amount of damage all of the above causes my girls.   But, I can't keep giving ground to my ex.  She's a taker, and when I have given ground, she just takes more.  I am trying to be a good father.  And a better husband.
Eric thanks for peeking back in and for sharing some more.  I know this can be difficult.

The details vary, but many of us have exes that similarly use whatever means possible to punish us and make us "pay" sometimes with cash, sometimes with time, sometimes just emotionally.

All I've been suggesting is separate the support amount of $700 from everything else.  Leave the $700 alone as it was agreed in court, would likely take trip back to court to change (your ex will not agree) and given the chart you said they use seems about where you'd end up anyway.  The mil she walked away with is also apart from this.  You both agreed to split that pot however you did.

Your view on the activities makes a lot of sense and is what I figured would be going on.  It's what I have faced and many others I know to.  The trick is to figure out what you can control which is quite a lot.  Since the expenses are not mandated at a certain level, which I would be surprised if they were, I'd suggest speaking with the girls as many of us have suggested to set real expectations and get what they want.  The one thing I am uncertain of here is how much of your issue may be because of the expectations that a high end lifestyle may have instilled in your children.  I had a bit of that with my own kids, but we split about $300K in half not $2 mil.  As such, I had a lot of pissed off kids when I had to explain to then that they did not "need" to continue activities that we were doing they "wanted" to do that.  It certainly would be reasonable for you to clearly let your ex know that going forward you will not be paying half of anything you are not consulted on.  That's what co-parenting is about.  It sounds like she's not doing that, which as I said, was what you seemed to be saying at the start.  If your ex wants to give them the luxury of the team that is above what you would support, that's on her.  There is always a threat she'll choose to take you to court to collect on the items you are not paying for, but I think that is more rare than people think.  Again, any upset in your kids about this you just could handle with conversations, with no guarantee that they will go well.  My girls understand I'll pay for a reasonable prom dress for example (around $200) but not for much more.  We can talk about it but they understand what I consider reasonable.  They may not agree with it.  Their mom many times does not and that's her prerogative and also her option to pay.  Similarly, if I want to have them do something I do not expect my ex to cover whatever that may be if I do not agree ahead of time with her.  I've found that most of the times her answer is "they can just not do it at all".  At that point it is up to me if I want to pay 100% of it or not and talk with the kids from there. 

I just hope you can find a way to separate your kids from your ex in your decision making.  You're ex will be a jerk, say things and likely do whatever she can to upset you.  You seem to have a vindictive ex and that sucks.  You can't co-parent with someone like that, and that turns into the same situation I have.  I can't co-parent either so I have to take on 100% of the kids expenses.  It's not fair by a long shot.  And it means they are mad at me a good portion of the time because they need to understand what they want is just not in the budget.  My kids have always had to cover a lot of their expenses to learn responsibility like car insurance, some gas for the car.  They also were taught money management early on and if they wanted to buy anything they could use their allowance.  If it was gone, and it was not something I felt they needed, they went without.  That has kept the arguments to a minimum because they get more than most kids how money works.  As they have started working part time jobs in some cases that helps as well.  They have even more of their own money now and they understand how hard it is to earn $10 when it takes them an hour to do it.  None of them want to be in any $2,000 activities now.  Just drive those life lessons home at the level that works for your household.  If you have embraced the MMM viewpoint it can very rewarding to teach your kids how blessed they are with all the abundance your income makes available laid against how choosing not to just spend it all makes them learn to value things differently.  One of my ex's attacks against my household is that we make a lot more money than hers does and so she tried for a time to explain to the kids how mean I was for not spending all kinds of money on them.  It sucked having to overcome that crap, but it was helpful for them to get to hear me explain why we did what we did.  Why we did not spend $50K on a car just because we could.  Why I was not going to buy them all a car.  Why they would be contributing to their college.  It's the same conversations I would have had regardless of getting divorced, and I think it is similar to what you may need to do with your new frugal focus after the kids grew up with a lot of non-frugal before.

What you are working through is hard.  I'm glad you came back to see what you could learn.  Take one day at a time and try hard to take the high road even if it costs you more if it is the right call for the kids.  It's a very freeing way to approach the time after.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: mm1970 on May 10, 2018, 11:32:16 AM
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".

- 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.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Sibley on May 10, 2018, 12:10:34 PM
OP, I think that in a couple years, a lot of this is going to calm down. You just divorced, got remarried and are expecting a baby. That's a LOT of change in a short period of time, and it makes perfect sense for your ex to feel betrayed. You are also probably feeling a lot of strong emotions. Emotions are not logical, you can't reason them away. Hopefully the dust will start to settle and come to a new normal. Your challenge is, and needs to be, remaining a positive, loving presence in your daughter's lives and providing them with stability when they're with you, regardless of what your ex does or says.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: partgypsy 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.

Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: partgypsy 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.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn 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?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: gerardc 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.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn 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.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE 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.) 
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Schaefer Light 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.
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: caracarn 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?
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: gerardc 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 Motherís choices regarding the childrenís standard of living Ė 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...
Title: Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
Post by: Captain FIRE 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