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Still Snotty

October 17, 2014

This cold is a pain in my ass.  For 40 years, I had the immune system of the gods.  Nine times out of ten, a sniffle or scratchy throat would resolve itself within 24 hours.  Throughout the latter half of my thirties, I enjoyed a position of great smugness, in relation to my 10-years-my-senior husband.  A bug would come into the house and he’d be on his back for two weeks.  I’d blow my nose once, and go about my business.  Now, since I’ve turned 40, I lost my advantage.  I have a COLD.  Not the flu, certainly nothing hysteria-worthy.  It’s a COLD.  But it won’t go away, and I can’t sleep a solid night without coughing and finding myself unable to breath.  I can’t take NyQuil, because then I can’t wake up and go to work (at least not efficiently).  It’s been 10 days!  What the hell!!??

In other news ….

I had a court hearing last week.  In an interesting turn of events, I wasn’t the lawyer, I was the client.  After 10 years of amicable negotiations and renegotiations, through job changes, moves within and without the country, new children (his) , remarriages, etc., etc., my ex and I ended up in court.  Fighting over college costs.

Here’s the deal:

My kids are looking at (and in one case, attending) relatively prestigious colleges, and these colleges base their financial aid primarily on need.  They can’t give merit scholarships, because then everyone would get a scholarship (so goes their tale of woe).  Happily (???) I qualify for financial aid.   And that’s good, because after becoming a single mother when my kids were in preschool, and choosing to go back to school to improve our quality of life, and having the requisite loans that go with that, I’m not in the same financial shape of those who maybe started their careers before their kids were born and paid off grad school loans in time to start saving for college.

But of course, we knew this.  And we discussed what kind of aid we needed, and what we could do.  As both girls think about and consider colleges, we talked about looking at schools that have aid to give, and about having safeties not only as to admissions, but also as to tuition (i.e., state schools).  From everything I was looking at, the “net price calculators” that all schools provide, my income resulted in significant financial aid (i.e., leaving our balance under $20k/year), and the resulting numbers were something I could pay from income and savings.

I filled out the financial aid paperwork, and so did the ex.  Through discussions with the financial aid office of E’s school, I know what the school sees as my financial contribution, and it matches up with the net price calculators (and after some negotiations regarding my own outstanding educational debt, it went down by a decent bit).  It’s very reasonable, based on my salary.  I can do it.

Problem is, they also expect E’s family to contribute what they determine as the Ex’s financial contribution. Which is also very reasonable, based on his salary.

They don’t send a bill to him and a bill to me.  They send a bill to E.  It’s her schooling. If she doesn’t come up with all of it, she doesn’t go.

The ex and I were in touch through the whole process, and it seemed like we were on the same page that we were each contributing, AND that we supported the girls pursuing these schools.  Meaning, the girls and I weren’t/aren’t skipping off toward expensive private schools while he is arguing that we should be limiting ourselves to state schools.  We all knew what were getting into, and what the ramifications would be.

E applied.  Got into her first choice school.  She received her financial aid package, and the ex and I spoke about the numbers.  It looked to me during these discussions that I’d end up shouldering part of what the school saw as his contribution, but based on the sum total of our lives, that was okay.  I’d pay 2/3ds and he would pay 1/3.  I thought it would be harder than if I was only covering “my” share, but it still wasn’t devastating.

He agreed to that.

Then he changed his mind.  He decided nah – he’s actually not going to pay anything.

Now that was devastating.

We argued.  I spoke to a lawyer.  He spoke to a lawyer.  He dug in harder.  Litigation ensued.  (Because in my state, a non-custodial parent is obligated to contribute to a child’s support until they are 18 unless they are full time students, then it goes to 21 or 23.  Support is defined to include college costs.)

And, because of some legal peculiarities between the state I live in and the state we divorced in (and not because of his income or any other practical reason) — I lost.  He’s done at 18.  E is 18 now, and J will be 18 before she even graduates high school.

And he is paying nothing.

Now I’m trying to figure everything out in a way that avoids crushing debt for either me or my children.

I think we’ll be okay ….  ramen is actually pretty yummy!!!

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One comment

  1. […] In a Minute gets caught up in the differences between states in family law and college costs. My blood just started to boil. […]



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