Thursday, February 28, 2008

Custody and child support

I have full custody of my kids, legal and physical custody. I have this because my children were both under a year old when I was divorced. Both of my exes pay child support based on their income at the time of the divorce. Both have had increases in child support due to the cost of living going up. Usually about $11.00 per month every other year. I am grateful for the support they pay and have never asked that their income be checked to see if it has increased. I know it has increased substantially for both. Of course my income has increased as well since I was not working at the time of either divorce. I feel the amount they both pay is fair. There is no way I could live off of the child support alone. I have to earn 4 times what I receive in child support to live.

The laws are changing in my state to now consider both parents' income when determining the amount of child support. Also considered is how much time is spent with each parent. If, for example, the children spend 50% of their time with one parent and 50% of their time with the other then child support should be a moot point and eliminated. This is how it is supposed to go.

I know of one couple that does not have child support. They split the time with the kids and pay for what they need when the kids are with them. They also split all other expenses. Theirs was not an amicable divorce but they have managed to be fair to one another in the financial aspect of their divorce. This practically eliminates all arguments between them.

I know of another couple who also split the time 50/50 but yet the father still pays a substantial portion of his income each month to his ex wife. Theirs was also not an amicable split and they have not been able to agree on anything since the breakdown of their marriage. If they do communicate it is negative.

All other couples I know fall somewhere in between. Except for the one couple above no one is ever happy with the arrangement. Everyone seems to think that they were treated unfairly. There must be a better way to support the children. I don't know the answer but money is such a hot button in most marriages and divorces.

One of the problems for instance is that in my son's school I was the responsible party. The bill was in my name and if it wasn't paid it was reported on my credit history. This is also the case for all medical bills. My ex, very generously, paid for all school. He wanted our son to attend a private school and since I could not afford it and he could he paid for it. He did not have to do this and I am lucky to have such a great ex and my son is lucky to have a dad who thinks that his education is the most important thing. There were a few times when the payment was late and the school would call me. They knew of the arrangement but because I had full custody they called me. I would then call my ex. It wasn't a problem and happened infrequently but surely it would have been more efficient to call him themselves. I should say the payment was made directly to the school and did not go through me.

I'm interested in any ideas anyone might have out there about a better way to handle this issue.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Birthday party

My daughter had her 'friend' birthday party this weekend. I think they all had a good time though there were many who cried including my daughter.

I invited her dad several weeks ago. At that point I wasn't sure where the party was going to be. Our daughter wanted it at the Mall of America or Chuck E. Cheeses. About two weeks ago she announced that she wanted to have it at home since she wanted to show her friends her room and toys. Whew! That announcement saved me about $100.00.

Getting back to dad...I never heard from him regarding the party. He told me he would have to let me know. Knowing him, I knew at that point he wouldn't be attending. I don't think our daughter was aware that he wasn't there or that he was invited. I don't think she cared if he came or not. This was about her friends. She had already celebrated with her dad and his family as well as a party with me and her brother so she has certainly celebrated with everyone. I could have used the help and would have appreciated it immensely. When I invited him I did say that I could use a hand with 9 children.

I'm not too surprised he didn't attend. It was on his weekend where he does not spend time with our daughter so I'm sure he had other plans. Actually it is probably better that it turned out the way it did. He was always the more strict parent and I don't think he could have handled 9 kids in one house for two hours. I would have been a wreck trying to make sure he didn't get upset. I also had help from some of the mothers so I had it under control (as much as that is possible with so many 4 and 5 year olds). Aside from the door knob incident (you can catch up here if you like) I think it went pretty well.

My ex and I have spent most Christmases together so our daughter can celebrate with both of us. We have attended funerals and other religious gatherings together. Except for this year we have always cut down a Christmas tree together. I suspect we (he and I) have probably reached that point where we will go off in different directions and probably won't do as many activities together. It may be for the best. It's got to be hard for a new significant other to see us spending family time together and not feel threatened. I'm glad we did these things together, they were never a chore but sometimes a little confusing.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Redhead Ranting

Today's post can be found at Redhead Ranting. However I will be commenting on this in a different connection tomorrow. I'm too tired to post tonight which will make sense after reading the other blog. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Something is going around

I have been sick the last couple of days. I had to spend a fair amount of time in the ER and while I was gone my son looked after my daughter. There is a ten year spread between the two so it happens every now and again that he baby sits. I am not prepared however to leave the two of them over night. I think he could take care of her just fine but there would be no one to nag him to get his homework finished or get up for school on time. He can't drive yet so he wouldn't be able to drive his sister to school and more importantly couldn't drive if he had to. Under these circumstances it seems appropriate to ask the ex to step in and take care of daughter for an extra day or two.

The ex has not been able to do this. I don't know why, he says he has other plans and can't help me out. Certainly it is his prerogative to help or not and certainly it is helping me out but it is also helping our daughter and he didn't see that. He is the only divorced dad I know who fights about having too much time with his child. We have the every other weekend arrangement. Every other guy I know who shares parenting responsibilities with an ex is fighting to see the child more often. I know he is anomaly. I know that most dads would spend more time with their kids if they were asked or allowed.

It doesn't matter as much now as the kids are older and not nearly as dependent on me but when daughter was little I couldn't afford to be sick. There wasn't time and there were too many other things to do than get better. His position was the same as it is now. He didn't want to help me out. Giving me a break would have been good for all concerned especially the baby. I am a better parent when I get a little recuperative time. He has never had daughter with him for more than a weekend at a time so doesn't see this I guess.

I find it interesting that now when ever I do get sick or throw my back out it always seems to fall on the weekend that I don't have children. The weekend I am supposed to be out being a single woman enjoying life. I end up stuck at home with soup and a blanket. When he dropped our daughter off she immediately sat down and curled up with me, which was great and made me feel better having her near, then she puked all over the couch.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm back

Hi all. I'm back. I have been sick for the last several days. Fever and all that I assumed was flu but was in fact not. I had an abcess that was incredibly infected. Two days in the ER and finally got some relief today with a little surgery. Feeling better. Even better after a real nights rest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day

Valentine's day is fast approaching. If you are divorced and still single it can be a difficult if not depressing holiday. But it doesn't have to be. Kids have the right idea: Give a card to everyone. Well maybe not everyone but certainly you can find a handful of close friends to give a little card or thought to. This is a great time to remember your other single friends and tell them how special they are to you.

If you have kids make sure to remember them with a special card or small gift. Help them remember their other parent by helping them create something on their own. If you are feeling really ambitious and your ex has a significant other help the kids remember them too.

Whatever you do try to remember to look outward on this day rather than inward. It's very easy to sit and feel sorry for yourself. It's very easy to replay the Valentine's days with your ex and become sad about the divorce all over again. Stop it before it starts by thinking of others.

And don't forget yourself. Treat yourself to candy or flowers or go get a new haircut or buy yourself some sexy shoes. There ain't nothing that a new pair of sexy slingbacks can't make better.

Enjoy the day.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I have not retained a lawyer since about a year after our divorce was signed and recorded. I didn't think I needed one anymore and I still don't. I often wonder as I am going through the reams of paper that my lawyer and his lawyer generated, if a lawyer was even necessary at all.

My ex left in October and I filed in January of the next year. It seemed liked forever that we were living in limbo. He wouldn't file, for reasons I don't really understand, but he wouldn't consider reconciliation either. So I decided it was time to move on and I filed. When I did I was scared to death. I had a 9 month old baby and a ten year old boy from a previous marriage. I was not working outside of the home at the time.

We needed lawyers to handle the business of separation. He was not supporting us and I had no idea how to make that happen without a lawyer. After the papers were served he retained a lawyer and there were no more pleasant conversations between us for years to come.

I would receive correspondence daily it seemed. My attorney would forward everything that she received from his attorney to me so there was usually a two or three day lag that I was behind. Upon receiving any correspondence I would immediately call my attorney at $250. /hr and ask her to explain to me what the letter was about. Usually it was incredibly inflammatory shit that made no sense whatsoever. Her response was that the letter didn't mean much of anything. But we would, of course, respond accordingly. When we asked for documents we were given a laundry list of why they were not available. We wasted the judge's time on several occasions because we never received information we had asked for. I remind you that this was at $250. /hr just on my side.

For every letter sent to me I fired one right back, again at $250. /hr. None of the bickering we did through the mail made any difference. We came to no conclusions at all. It wasn't until we got in front of the mediator that we made any headway. Once we did, the mediator ran down the hall to present it to the judge so no one could change their mind.

I feared going to the mailbox and not just because of all the unpaid bills or threatening letters from creditors. I feared another of my ex's attorney's letters. They were so brutal. His attorney was like a pit pull. He was not a family law attorney; he was a personal injury lawyer. Things went from bad to worse with every letter sent.

Ironically, everything I asked for in the original filing I received. I wasn't asking for anything that wasn't fair and the judge saw it that way. My ex still complains every now and then about the bills from his attorney. I assume he blames them on me. And I guess I blame him for mine. I just finished paying my attorney last year so I understand the desire to complain about it. Had he just accepted the terms of the divorce as I had requested when I filed we both could have saved about 20K each.

He still has an attorney though not the same one thankfully. We are working on a couple of things right now and have met with his attorney to try to settle a couple of things. It hasn't worked. When I get a letter from his attorney, or an email, they are so cold. His new lawyer is much easier to work with and much less abrasive but she is still working for him and the customer is always right. If he wants something she will try to get it for him. He is paying her after all and I am not. She represents him.

I asked if we, my ex and I, could sit down over coffee and try to figure these things out on our own. Just talk and come up with a solution. I specifically asked that we don't go through his attorney as it just makes everything cost more. Seems pretty simple to me. We aren't trying to change any custody or parenting time or anything that has to do with our child. Seems to me we should be able to work this out. His response was that he would talk to his attorney and have her draw something up. ARGHH!!!!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Still not talking

My most recent ex and I are still not talking. You can read about why in an earlier post. To say that we aren't talking is of course misleading. We have to talk with regard to his parenting time. Since the episode however there has been no chatting between us. Rarely a "hello". When he dropped our daughter off last Sunday he didn't even come onto the porch. He just sort of pushed my daughter through the door. It's really very funny. And it's better than getting upset in front of our daughter but it'd be nice if we had a place between getting along great and not getting along at all. This will pass. I will send him an email in the next week or so and give in. I will let him do the work he wants on his timeframe and his way. If I don't give in this will go on for ages and I don't have the patience for that. If I don't give in it will still pass but nothing will be resolved and that was what our marriage was like. Seems to me that was one of the benefits of getting a divorce... that we could get past some things. Of course that is silly. I knew getting a divorce wouldn't change a thing with regards to how well or poorly we communicate. He thought it would make a difference but that's because I was the problem. Sorry my sarcasm is showing.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Dating 101

When do you tell your ex spouse that you are seeing someone new? Do you wait until the relationship is serious or do you tell them everytime you see someone casually?

I haven't informed my ex of anyone I have dated. So far none of the relationships have been serious enough to warrant the possible backlash that I fear I might experience. He has also not told me about any women he has been seeing, I suspect for the same reason. Certainly if I were to be in a relationship where I might consider remarrying I would tell him but it seems pointless for a casual fling.

Since the kids live with me 95% of the time I don't date as much as I would like. I don't want to introduce my children to a guy who might not last so I refrain from introducing them to the person of interest. Consequently I date when my kids are with their dad. My ex and I don't have any rules for this. I can't make him not see people when our daughter is spending the weekend but I would appreciate it if he didn't. I don't grill my daughter when she gets home either. I do ask what they did and if she had a good time but I don't try and get her to divulge information that she has probably been told not to tell mommy. I think I keep potential mates from the kids for this reason. Plausible deniabilty. They can't tell if they don't know.

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