Author Topic: divorce/child care/early retirement  (Read 22229 times)

ericbonabike

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divorce/child care/early retirement
« 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.



tweezers

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #1 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. 

Captain FIRE

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #2 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).
« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 07:49:04 PM by Captain FIRE »

CheapskateWife

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #3 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. 

CupcakeGuru

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #4 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.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #5 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.

Awesomeness

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #6 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! 

« Last Edit: May 01, 2018, 07:29:58 PM by Awesomeness »

Norrie

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #7 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. 

Captain FIRE

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #8 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.

Tuskalusa

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #9 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.

elliha

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #10 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.

Villanelle

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #11 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. 

marty998

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #12 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  ;)

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #13 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. 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 06:06:35 AM by caracarn »

Villanelle

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #14 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. 

SaucyAussie

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #15 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.

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #16 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. 

SaucyAussie

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #17 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.

GetItRight

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #18 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.

obstinate

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #19 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.

scantee

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #20 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.

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #21 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 07:54:25 AM by caracarn »

haflander

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #22 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.

ericbonabike

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #23 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. 


ericbonabike

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #24 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. 

CheapskateWife

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #25 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.

SaucyAussie

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #26 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 09:03:42 AM by SaucyAussie »

scantee

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #27 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.

MommyCake

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #28 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.

honeybbq

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #29 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 10:37:56 AM by honeybbq »

shelbyautumn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #30 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 10:45:19 AM by shelbyautumn »

ericbonabike

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #31 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. 

scantee

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #32 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.

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #33 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. 


Captain FIRE

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #34 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.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #35 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.

Schaefer Light

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #36 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.

mm1970

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #37 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.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #38 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.

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #39 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2018, 02:55:12 PM by caracarn »

partgypsy

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #40 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?

honeybbq

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #41 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.

Reynolds531

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #42 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.

Villanelle

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #43 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. 
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 04:21:11 AM by Villanelle »

Tuskalusa

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #44 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!

caracarn

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #45 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.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #46 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.

begood

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #47 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.

 





Car Jack

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #48 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)

ericbonabike

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Re: divorce/child care/early retirement
« Reply #49 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.