Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

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Happiness and Headaches

February 1, 2012

Happiness

  • I’ve accepted the offer from the new job.  Man, does it feel good to know that I have landed without a gap in employment.  Hooray!
  • The new job agreed to my starting AFTER February vacation week, so I don’t have to be in stress-mode while Mouse is home from school and her friends are all away. Lemon will be traveling with her crew team, and we are not traveling without her.  We thought about it last February, when it was freaking cold out we didn’t yet know that I’d have this transition forced upon me.  But since today – February 1 – it was 60 degrees outside – we aren’t feeling too bummed about the change in plans.
  • The old job owes me 3 weeks’ vacation pay.  I didn’t know that until yesterday.  That will be a nice chunk o’ change. I am seriously considering a late-June re-do of last year’s vacation.  The house itself is very affordable, we will drive rather than fly, and we will all be happy with cooking in the house.  It could be great. It could be perfect.  Just what we need.
  • I’m home a lot. I don’t have much work left, and most of what I do have can be done at home.
  • When I’m home, I get to hang out with my kids.  And I like them.  And I have fun with them.  I love how much they make me laugh, I love how much they find what room I’m in, and hang out with me.  I love that Lemon came home today and laughed from the door way, yelling (to me), “Honey, I’m hooo-ooooome!” And that she then met me at her sister’s basketball game, and we went out for a sushi “snack” afterwards, chatting all the while.  Where are the nasty teen years?? (Don’t answer that.)
  • Mouse had a doctor’s appointment (annual physical) yesterday.  I picked her up early, we went and grabbed some burritos, and then went to talk about how damned healthy, tall, athletic and smart she is.
  • My girls are really enjoying each other lately. I may enjoy that more than them enjoying me.
  • Tomorrow is mine and David’s 5th wedding anniversary.  When we went away for our birthdays this year, we realized that it was also our 10 year “dating” anniversary.  He got a haircut today, and he looks super-cute.  Also, he probably noticed today at the basketball game that I raided his sock drawer, but he didn’t complain.  He’s a great guy.

 

Headaches

  • I had a 3 day headache.  For real.  Like, my head hurt.  An Advil fixed it, but I had to complain, because it just fits here so well.
  • While I had posted previously that the Ex “was less resistant” to the idea of kicking things back to the level they should have been at all along, I was being overly optimistic. We are going back and forth with proposals.  He’s dragged the sharing of travel costs and tax deductions into our discussion, and he pisses me off.  Then he throws in his usual condescending asinine comments (i.e., “I am very sympathetic to the financial and professional difficulties you face at the moment . . . “), and I want to rip his face off.  For reals.  I still think we can reach an agreement, but dealing with his bullshit in the meantime drives me bonkers.
    • I wanted to retort that while I am facing a paycut, it was something I always knew was coming, AND!  Another thing!!  This is not a “professional difficulty,” at all!  This is a very logical and typical move at this stage of my career, and is resulting in increased experience!  You dummy!  Instead, I ignored his blah-blah, and responded only about the issues at hand.  So, ha!  You cannot rattle me!  [except that, really, he did.  because he’s a jerk.]
  • Also, the Ex just canceled the girls’ summer visit again.  So now David and I will both be working, and I think that the girls will be home.  Without much to do.  Last year, with me making gobs of money, we filled the time with crazy-costly camps (no, really — the girls were in camp with the grand-daughter of the owner of the Patriots, and with the daughter of the owner of Newbury Comics … we paid dearly).  This year, Lemon will likely be looking for someone to pay HER, and Mouse will be, uh . . . .
  • Just after I came to terms with my reduced salary, I called the H.R. person at the New Job to find out about health insurance details.  They were bad.  Very bad.  I almost cried.  I didn’t know what to do – I was totally unprepared for the costs.  I know I’ve been spoiled and spoiled and spoiled, but this was a blow.  I have since spoken with some people that tell me that while the number was double what I pay currently, on a salary that’s half of what I currently have, it’s “normal” and “fair.”  Fortunately, they told me that AFTER I decided to negotiate this point with New Firm.  So, this maybe should be up there in “happiness,” because it looks like there will be movement on the issue.

So, thanks for reading!

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Never Easy Anymore

October 25, 2011

When the Ex and I divorced, I carefully planned our holiday schedule.  I would have Christmas during odd years, Thanksgiving during even.  This was important to me, because around the same time our divorce agreement was being finalized, my sister and her (horrible, pathetic, wretched person of an) Ex were separating.  We were craftily finding a way that we could still spend holidays together, with our kids.

[In my opinion, our joint divorces are 1000% a testament to the sheltered upbringing and college educations that we both had. There was no reason for either of us to get married at 21 or younger, and no reason for either of us to have children half a second after that.  But, whatever, moving on … ]

This year, for the second time in three years, my Ex is forcing a reschedule of that carefully laid plan.

The first time was when his first child with his new wife was born, in 2009, the last time he was supposed to have our girls for Christmas.  The baby was due on 12/27 – or something like that – and it just felt too close for comfort for him. (Understandably – if his wife went into labor in one small city while the girls were due to land in another smallish city an hour away, it would have been very hard for him.  As it turned out, the baby was born 3 weeks early, and there was no conflict.  That wasn’t foreseeable.). It was fine with me, because I’m always thrilled to have my kids around.  He wasn’t able to swing Thanksgiving instead that year, because of ticket costs, so I just had Lemon and Mouse for all of the holidays that year.

Last year, Thanksgiving was his, and the girls went as planned.

This year, he had them for April vacation.  But then Lemon had a conflict.  He was quicker to accommodate than I anticipated, and it went okay. I got some me-time in, and my car got some additional miles.

Then this past summer — it was also a bit odd.  First, he said they shouldn’t go there, he would come here. Then he couldn’t come here, so he wanted them to go there.  But we’d already made plans to keep them busy because he said they shouldn’t go there, so it was tough.  But, again and as usual, we worked it out.

This coming winter, the schedule again says it’s his turn to have them for Christmas.  But in the universe of My Ex Is a Weirdo, his kids are in Turkey (not the part that was just devastated by an earthquake), even though he and his wife are in the Middle of THIS Country.  His son (who will be 2 this December) has actually been there since April.  His daughter since May (she was 3 months old when she left the U.S.).  The Ex left Turkey in June, and his wife left in September (or August?).  So . . . he really hasn’t seen his baby girl since she was 4 months old. Hasn’t seen either of his babies since June (maybe July?).

I do not understand.

But he and his wife want to go visit them (the babies are staying with his wife’s family; his wife is finishing her dissertation in the MIddle of THIS Country, where the Ex works). They plan to visit at Christmas-time, which I suppose makes a lot of sense, since the Ex and his wife are currently operating in line with a college academic calendar.

Therefore, he cannot (will not) have a visit with Lemon and Mouse at Christmas.

Again.

This time, we figured it all out in time for reasonable Thanksgiving airfare prices. Very reasonable. But his budget is so-very taxed (as one is wont to be when flying across the Atlantic  several times a year . . . visiting Europe and the Middle East) and so he could not afford 50% of tickets that kept the girls from missing meaningful school time.

We went back and forth several times about the best travel time.  I balked when he suggested they fly on Thanksgiving Day.  Really?  What kind of holiday is that?  He pushed back, insisted I ask the girls.  I was again pretty appalled when they just shrugged . . . but shrug they did.  So the tickets were bought.  Thursday to Monday.  They would miss school on Monday.

So we said in September.

Since then, Mouse got the lead in her play. Lemon’s dream-team was going to be missed. And the trip has seemed a burden to both girls.  WD and I looked into a repeat of our amazing Thanksgiving of a year ago, but the timing was too tight, and prices were too high, and things just too tense. So we can’t do anything with the time, except to stay home and – well – breathe (not such a bad thing, when you stop & think about it).

But it recently became clear that the Monday that Mouse was going to miss was a crucial day for her play rehearsals.  The play is soon after Thanksgiving, and the dress rehearsals start right after Thanksgiving.

I said too bad.  It’s the only day she’s missing, it will need to be fine.

She was miserable over it.

So I tried to swap some rehearsals around — we have two casts, because so many kids are involved in our shows (everyone who wants to participate gets a part … this is elementary/middle school, after all), and so I checked with her  counterpart, after talking to the director, to see if a switch was feasible.

It was not.

I said too bad again.  Mouse remained miserable.  I told her it was up to her to raise it with her father – and she did.  She wrote him a very kind, loving email, asking if the tickets could please be changed.

Once again, he’s being relatively accommodating.  Of course, it’s after I offered to pay the full change fee (stupidly).  But we still don’t know if it’s something I can even swing.

Maybe he’s being accommodating because in the same email that he discussed his semi-flexibility for Thanksgiving, he also discussed his already-changing plans for the summer.  Probably reducing the girls’ time there to 1-2 weeks, rather than the 3-4 that we worked out.

It’s just getting harder and harder to make this work across state lines.  And the distance that geography has brought* makes the relationships harder to prioritize.  Not by me – not at all – but by him and by the girls. I wonder, also, how much their relationships with him are treated as a lesser priority now that he has more children that are shared with a person he is actually married to.

* I maintain that his personality brings more distance than geography. But that’s just the ex in me talking . . . or not.

 

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Out of Town Guest

August 22, 2011

Last week, Lemon was in the Middle of the Country with the Ex.  On Saturday, they flew together into Boston.  He’s here to spend time with Mouse, who really wasn’t interested in heading out to his house on her own.

Mouse & I picked them up from the airport.

Seeing him – every time – is stressful.  I know he appraises my appearance, and is smug about the fact that I have weight to lose.  He used to say so every time, until I snapped his head off, “You have lost the right to comment on my appearance!” I also do not know how we will get along.  If he will be cool, rude, warm … what?

He was pretty cool (as in chilly, not as in …. a cool dude).  But not rude.  We drove to my friend’s house where he was staying.  I went in with him and the girls to make sure everything was in order.  We were pretty reserved in our conversation.  I drove him and the girls to the restaurant they chose for dinner.  During that short drive, we relaxed a little, had more conversation.  I dropped them off and went home, and WD and I went out to dinner.

The girls came home at 8.  A little puzzled about why he sent them home that early.  But we had fun watching a couple of Gilmore Girls episodes.  I asked Lemon, “do you have plans with him for tomorrow?”  She said, “I guess, but I was kind of hoping to have a sleepover with some friends.”  I told her we’d figure it out with him.  If he was going to be done hanging out with the kids at 8, she could probably get together with friends at that point.  Then I asked Mouse, “did you make plans for the morning?”  And she said, “Daddy said if we’re having breakfast, he doesn’t want to invite himself over, but it could be nice.”

I checked in with WD – is he willing?  Willing, yes.  Enthusiastic, not quite.  So I went back to the girls, “do you want him to come for breakfast!”  “Yes!!”   Clear answer.  I asked them for a time and a menu, and texted the invite.

“French Toast, 11 a.m.” (sleepy-head girls).

I had evening plans.  And was thinking of cooking.  And baking.  Figured the Ex would take the girls out – wouldn’t be so eager to stick around.  Maybe gone by noon?

Try 4:30.

I ordered pizza for my company, instead of cooking.  I bought cakes at Trader Joe’s, instead of baking.

In the meantime, the Ex and I talked about the people we both knew.  The places we’d both been.  Some memories about the girls when they were small.  The moves we made.  Etc.

My friends came by at 6ish, the crowd ended up larger than anticipated.  We had fun.  Ate pizza, drank beer & wine.  A friend & I arranged for her husband – who is entering the Ex’s field – to talk to Ex.  So the Ex brought the girls back at 9ish, and hung out while my friends and I played Mah Jongg.  I was betrayed by my friends, when they laughed at his stupid jokes.

The boys talked.  The party left.  The Ex did not.

Not until 1 a.m.

This conversation, from 10:30 to 1 a.m., was a bit more …. intense.

We talked about What Happened.  The divorce – the crumble of our marriage.  The ignorant children we were at the time.

He was … very decent.  He accepted responsibility, didn’t point fingers.  Not sure there was an all-out apology, but there was definite acceptance of responsibility.  There were compliments toward the girls, and the job I’ve done with them.  Sharing of regrets and disappointments.

Neither of us said (or thought) that we wished we were still together.  That’s not what it was about.  Even with us both being a lot more mature, thoughtful, careful, and fully-formed adults, we aren’t the right people for each other.  We are both a lot happier with the people we are with.  And who knows – if we were together, still, we may not have ever been able to become the mature, thoughtful, careful, fully-formed adults we are today.

So, that was intense.

I wonder how long until our next argument?  😉

 

 

 

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Foggy-Headed

August 17, 2011

Yeah, I’ve been quiet.

The girls have been in & out, but mostly out.  And work has remained slow.  Most of my peeps are out of town visiting this island or that country, or maybe some other part of this country.  I feel listless, and a little bit pointless.

Mouse has been at camp since last weekend – she comes home this Saturday.  I’m looking forward to seeing her, but it’s a little odd in that once she gets home, we have to go to the airport to pick up not only Lemon, but also the Ex.

Having him in town, or even intersecting with my life, is never my favorite. Lemon is with him now, and already, it’s impossible to speak to him without there being some sort of crossed wire or subtle dig.  It’s just not-fun.  I say, “Lemon had more stress than anticipated about flying alone, there were tears.  She’ll love a big hug on your end.”  His response, “I always hug them when they get off the plane.”  The assumption that everything *I* say is a subtle dig bothers me, too.  Because it’s not.

This past weekend, WD and I saw three movies.  Friday night, we saw Lincoln Lawyer, in our living room.  On Saturday, I went running and then met my running partner for a shopping outing, and while we were out, we realized we were both free that night.  So we thought “movie night!” All four of us (both couples) brainstormed movie choices.  We had every movie known to man on the list (in the theater).  Independent films, documentaries, etc.  Consensus could not be reached.  Where did we end up?  Captain America.  I was entertained, nonetheless.

Then on Sunday, WD and I brought Lemon to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Two days; two big dumb movies (as we refer to them).

My vacation is in 8 days.  I think I can tread water through this funk knowing that’s around the bend.  Then, school starts and life gets back to normal.  Hopefully, once the deadness of August in New England passes, work will pick up again after Labor Day, too.

And that’s all I’ve got for now.

Off for drinks with a colleague who is also bouncing off the walls.

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By the Numbers

July 7, 2011

Remember the whole dispute, with my Ex, about his salary and appropriate child support and college savings?  I eventually went to talk to a lawyer – one I’d consulted with before.  I met with her on May 18th.

In the meantime, I’ve been asking the Ex to help out with some of the girls’ summer expenses.  Because I’ve paid $10,000 (this includes only a slight amount of rounding — mathematically acceptable rounding.  Meaning the literal number is something north of $9,500) toward camps and sports activities in order to keep the girls engaged and happy all summer long.  Typically, I would pay approximately $2,000, maybe a little bit more, because he usually has them in July.  So I thought a contribution would be fair.

But he refused to agree to any amount of a contribution until he knew how much additional child support I’d be asking for.

Despite his apparent willingness to contribute some money, I was very doubtful.

If, say, he was thinking he’d give me $1,000 toward summer expenses, and then I said, “I think that in light of the fact that you make DOUBLE the salary you’ve previously admitted to, you should pay an extra $100/mo in child support,” my belief was he would say, “well, I was going to give you $1,000 toward the summer expenses, but now I need that $1,000 to cover the extra child support that you’re demanding, and that I cannot afford.  I don’t know what I’ll do after the 10 months is up.”

But nevertheless, I started to harass that attorney I had spoken to (meaning … a full 4 weeks after I met with her, I called her.  Then again.  Then again.) I had left her office on May 18th, with the promise for an estimate of appropriate and realistic (i.e., what a judge would order) child support in light of the Ex’s true salary.

Finally, on July 1st, she sent me a letter.

Now I’m going to talk numbers (his, not mine).

The Ex had been leading me to believe that he made something like $58,000/year.  Based on this belief, I believed that my salary was some multiple of his.  Based on what I saw as fairness, I had agreed – upon the start of my job in BigLaw, to $500/mo – total – in child support.

I waived contributions to extra curricular activities.  My thinking was that it was unfair for me to make unilateral decisions on what the girls would participate in and require him (with such a low salary) to contribute equally.  So we decided that when they were with him, he would pay for activities, and when they were with me, I would pay for activities.  (Which, of course, only resulted in them sitting around watching t.v. all day during the time they were with him.)

This was also a considerable reduction in costs for him because he was no longer paying toward child care.  Because the girls got old.

From the point of that decision to accept $500/mo (knowing that the Massachusetts child support guidelines suggested that the right number was $850+/mo), my salary increased each year, while he shared tales of woe and budget freezes and increased expenses and general poverty.

So much so that one summer he convinced me that if he had to send me child support while the girls were visiting him, he would be unable to feed them.

That began our summer waivers.  Because how could I possibly deprive my own daughters of FOOD?

So, my recent discovery was that he is in fact making over $100,000/year, plus significant income ($30K, approx) in the summers.  And this is in the Middle of the Country, where the cost of living is approximately 60% of what it is here.

Now – just to be clear.  I am actually not looking for more money to flow into my budget right now.  The entire inquiry into his salary came out of a meeting with a financial planner to talk about funding the girls’ college education.  Because the Ex and I together made the decision to have our children when we were young (22 and 24, to be exact) and not yet done with our own educations, we did not begin saving for college during our marriage.  He did not finish his dissertation until months (years?) after our separation, and never had a salary during our marriage.  I supported our family with various part time jobs and my own business while we were married.  After our divorce, I struggled to make ends meet as a single mother of two pre-school aged children, and again, was not saving for college.  I think that after our divorce, it didn’t even dawn on him that he may have some responsibility toward the girls’ college education.  He did not save.

As I told him, my proposal is that any amount that any increase in child support will be deposited – either by him or by me – into a savings account for college.  Whether alongside my own aggressive monthly contributions, or in a second account. (Although I’ve also made clear that any arrangement we make is contingent on me keeping my current job.  If I move on from BigLaw, I will not have the same considerations, as this salary is only available from this kind of job.)

My lawyer took the new salary figures, taking into account my salary, and told me that she believes that the proper figure for child support paid by him is somewhere between $1,800 and $2,000 per month.  This only includes his annual salary, and not his summer income.  (He insists that his summer income is variable, and refused to come to any agreement if summer salary was factored in.  In reality, adding in the summer income changes the equation by approximately $60/mo, and so I don’t care.)

Under the current arrangement, he makes $107,000/year (at least), and contributes $5,500/year toward the support of the girls.  If we were to take the low side of the lawyer’s numbers, he would be contributing, instead, $21,000/year.

But I think that $1,800 is too high.

I did tell him that is what she came out with, and of course, he freaked out.  “I can’t afford that!” And then regaled me with a full explanation of his budget.

I told him to stick it.  I don’t give a crap about his budget.  Child support is not made of whatever is left over at the end of the month.  It is a starting place from which you create your budget.  It’s one of the very first line items.  Like rent, and loan payments.

But, still, I think $1,800 is too high.

I told him that I’d been thinking an additional $500/mo, deposited into a savings account.

Funny how talking to him about an additional $1,300/mo affected his thinking about an additional $500/mo.

He was completely receptive.  Fine.  What kind of account?

I guess this just goes to show that he knows he was wrong in deceiving me about his true income. Like he was just waiting for this shoe to drop, and is resigned toward it.

Also – he’s sending me $750 toward the summer.  Which is fine.

So there’s that.

I guess next up is a dispute over next summer & the girls’ time.  As Lemon has increasing commitments for school sports, and Mouse just does not want to go there – like, ever – it is only getting harder.

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Paralyzed

May 4, 2011

I hate that I have been divorced.  I hate when something happens in a conversation with someone I’ve recently met that requires me to divulge this information about myself.  For example:  “What do your kids do in the summer?”  Or, “Oh, did your husband help change diapers when the girls were little?”  Or even, “oh, you lived in California, what were you doing there?”  Well, I was there while my husband went to grad school.  No, not this husband.  The other one.

It’s not a huge issue in my life, and I don’t try to hide it.  It’s pretty much on par with the way I try to avoid the question of “and where did you go to undergrad?”  Because I’m embarrassed of that, too.

I’ve considered myself fortunate that the Ex and I do not bicker too much.  Whether it’s because we’re adults or (more likely) because he lives so damned far away, I’m pleased that we don’t invest too much time or energy in spatting with one another.

When something does come up, I prefer not to broadcast it far and wide.  I will share with my closest friends, and I will share with WD.  But I don’t bring it up with everyone I bump into on the street, or in the course of typical conversations with co-workers.

I don’t even tend to discuss everything on my blog.  Because the divorce and the disputes therein are not who I am.  They are not a part of what I consider my life to be.

But the most recent thing that came up is weighing heavily on me, and I’m going to use this cloak of anonymity to vent, and to try and think through the situation that I find myself in.  Maybe some of my very few readers will even have some advice for me.  To help me as I wrestle with my options.

_________________________

Last week, WD and I went to talk to a financial planner.  I think I’ve mentioned before that it’s time that we get a bit more organized in our finances.

My life has taken such a non-traditional path.  My trajectory is so different from that of most of my peers:

  • Work hard at building a career while single;
  • get married in the late 20s/early 30s;
  • continue to build your career as well as your financial portfolio;
  • buy a house,
  • have a baby or two,
  • maybe buy a bigger house;
  • tweak your career to accommodate your family, but not so much that you aren’t still adding to that portfolio,
  • raise your kids with confidence that you can pay for their college and enjoy your own self once they get the hell out.

No.  That was not me.  I did this instead:

  • put choice career on hold for the sake of getting married at the ripe old age of 21;
  • continue to put choice career on hold for the sake of having babies at the ripe old age of 23;
  • work at non-choice career to support baby-faced husband as he pursues his choice career;
  • continue to work at non-choice career while said husband decides his choice-career is actually something different, and requires 7 more years of schooling;
  • divorce said husband;
  • continue to work at non-choice career for another 2 or 3 years while figuring out how to be a single mother and to pay off divorce-granted 1/2 of ridiculous debt accumulated during ex-husband’s non-working student days and while paying for full time child care for 2 preschool aged children and for a decent apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the country;
  • decide to pursue choice career;
  • get remarried to a great guy who also did not follow typical life-path;
  • finally graduate from law school;
  • realize your pre-teen and teen children are getting really fucking old, and you have very little savings to speak of because you’ve spent so long hoping that there will be enough money for food.
  • freak out.

And that’s what brings me to a financial planner.  At long last.

I’ve long-ago come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to ever buy a house.  Not in this town I chose.  This town that I’m now pretty committed to, both because of my kids’ community, and also because of my own.  We’re also committed because of the great schools and other opportunities, the location, the culture, the politics.  We love where we live.  So we rent.  For half the monthly cost than we’d be paying if we chose to buy a place with half the square footage of what we’re renting. (I’ve kind of come to terms with it.  I still lust over houses.  I sometimes have searing pangs of jealousy when someone buys a house.  But it’s fine.)

But I’m not coming to terms with the fact that I may not be able to fund 100% of my kids’ college expenses.

When I went to college, my parents were able to pay for 100% of my college.  True, through the power of the purse, they insisted upon that school (or one like it), and they refused to pay for the schools that were academically sound and that I was very eager to attend, based on both finances and on what they perceived as “moral depravity.” (i.e., there were signs up on campus about a pro-choice rally.)   Back then, college cost $10,000/year.   It was not a drop in the bucket to them, but it was not 1/4th of their salary.  It was a single digit percentage.

Today, a year’s college tuition is 1/4th of my salary.  Which I know puts me in better shape than most, but the reality is that I do not know how long my salary will stay at the level it is currently at.  I may have a different job by the time Lemon heads to college in 3 years.

3 years.

God.  When I think about how quickly the last 3 years went by …

So – financial planner.

She tells me I need to seriously consider paying for half of their college instead of all.  If I pay for all of it, I can retire when I’m 95.

She asks about grandparents, the Ex – can they help?

Nope.  I say.  My parents are way too stressed about their own retirement, in light of the fact that they didn’t start saving until relatively recently (because of their own kids’ college, etc.), and there is no way they are going to have money to contribute.  The Ex’s parents might have a little money, but not much.

But what about the Ex?

Oh.  He can’t.  He makes very little money.

We move on.

Later, I’m chatting with a friend about college expenses.  She is currently married to a college professor, and is wondering aloud why we both made choices to marry people who make so little money. Why did we not marry investment managers or even fellow lawyers.

While I was chatting with her, I found myself – FOR THE FIRST TIME – questioning the Ex’s salary.  I mean, he’s been a professor for a very long time.  He has tenure.  While still chatting, I employed my sweet friend Google.  After all, the Ex teaches at a public university – his salary is likely public record.

Why is this the first time I thought about this?

I guess because I really did think we were adults.

Google tells me, no.

The Ex makes 2x the amount he has told me that he makes.

2x.

Meaning, the amount he had been letting me believe he makes, and then that amount again.

The amount he had been letting me believe was low enough that I said, “oh, never mind the child support guidelines, I understand things are tough for you, you can pay $300/mo less than that.”

And when he made tenure, and I said, “did you get a raise with that?”  Did he say “yes, approximately $40K!” (And that it was on top of an already-much-higher number than he’d been leading me to believe.)

Nope.

He said, “Only about $3K.”

Huh.  Because according to the website, the first # was the right number.  Not the $3K number.  The $40K number.

And last year, when I kind of put his back to the wall about who gets to claim Lemon for tax-purposes, he surprisingly caved on the issue.  Now I know why.  Because if he fought me on that, and we went to court, he would have to submit financial records, and then I would know that he’s been lying to me.

I was pretty upset.  Not tears upset (I’m not a cryer, after all), but angry.  Because he and I were in the midst of a very cordial email thread (wherein he told me that no, his parents won’t be contributing to college, and either will he), I just told him what I saw.  He basically said, “yeah, well, fuck you” in response.  First, he tried to say that he didn’t tell me because “it didn’t come up.”  Which is, of course, bullshit.  He didn’t just “not tell me” – he lied on multiple occasions.  He let me fill in erroneous numbers for our little child support calculator without correcting me.  He outright lied about whether he’d received raises more than once.  Of course, I obsessively checked my email history to gather proof of these transgressions.

He left it as, “So, have your lawyer contact me.”

And then I slipped into a funk.  For at least a couple of days.  Mostly feeling disillusioned over the fact that I’ve prided myself in being fair, and in being, even, kind.  And in response, I’ve been lied to.

I am no longer in a funk, but I still haven’t done anything about this.  I know now that when taking into account my salary and his salary, he should be paying more than twice the child support he currently pays.  But you know what?  I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to open up a court file here in Massachusetts.  I don’t want to take him to court, from 1/2 way across the country, to get more money out of him.  Is it my fault he has two new babies?  No.  But I still feel like if I drag him to court to insist on some higher amount of child support (any such increase would, of course, go entirely to the girls’ fledgling college accounts), I’m a jerk.  A real jerk.

I know that when it comes down to it, the court cannot (will not) make him contribute toward tuition.  And even with his true salary being 2x what he had told me he was making, it’s not a huge salary.  He likely cannot pay for half of their college.  So increasing child support to the appropriate level and using that increase to supplement the savings is the most I can expect.  I can probably also extend child support past the girls’ 18th birthdays, until they graduate from college.

But even if I do get this increase … it won’t help tons in the overall picture.  In the three years between now and when Lemon heads out the door, the increase maybe will have accumulated to equal 1/2 year of college.  One semester.  But there’s two kids.  So …. ?

Is it worth it?  I just don’t know.  I really do not want the fight.  I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want the fact that I have been divorced to take up that much of my time and thoughts.

Not one person I have spoken to thinks that it is appropriate for me to let this go.  Every single person thinks I should take him to court and get the higher number.  Of course, if I were to talk to his mother, or perhaps another divorced non-custodial parent, I would get a different perspective.

Also to note, if I were to get the increase to the levels that the MA guidelines state as the true level, he would be paying considerably less than 10% of his gross salary to child support.  Which means, yeah, he’s currently paying about 4% of his gross annual salary toward child support.

Another thing – I do not know that his salary is all he makes.  He also has several speaking engagements per year, and participates in many other professional endeavors.  Those could be supplementing his salary in a significant way.  And since I know that he does not feel like it is his responsibility to ensure that he’s providing Lemon and Mouse with support appropriate to his income, I know he would not volunteer this information.

For now, I have asked him for his last 2 years’ tax returns.  I don’t know if he’ll provide them.  I’m guessing if his salary is it, he’ll send them.  If there’s more, more to hide, then he will not.

h1

Lunch with the Exes. All of Them.

April 19, 2011

As I’ve mentioned (ad nauseum?) – I am driving to the middle of the country this coming weekend.  Mouse doesn’t want to be there alone (of course, however, she’s doing FINE now that she is), and she hates to fly. In an attempt to make this easier for her, I am going to fetch her, instead of putting her on a plane.

I’m still pretty much fine with it.

I had toyed with asking the Ex to meet me in Chicago.  A 2 hour drive for him, shaving that much off my drive.  Mouse was actually the one to suggest it:  “Seriously, mom, if you’re driving 18 hours, I think he can drive two!” But then, within a heartbeat or two, she said, “although, if you come all the way, you can see the baby!  And you can see dad’s apartment!”

I’ve had the ex here, at my house, before.  Him and his wife.  They’d come to town for one of the girls’ many plays, and I had them over for brunch.  It actually went well.  I brought out the baby albums, we all laughed.  There were no bad moments.  Not a one.  I was very proud that I could show the girls that they are not being torn apart by their parents, that they didn’t have to choose, that we could all be together.

He’s come a few other times, too.  Incidentally, when on the east coast for a conference.  It was always fine.

So, he texted me today to ask when I planned to be in his town.  I thought about saying, “can you meet me in Chicago?”  Instead I said, “noon.”  He said … “we’ll make lunch for you.”  I said, “okay.”  He said, “is it just you, or WD, too?”  I said, “Just me.”  He said, “Well, of course, we would have made lunch for him, too.”

Oh, the kindness.

Honestly, if it were just him, his wife and their babies, I would be pretty darned neutral about the whole thing.

But it’s not.

It’s him, his wife, one of the babies (because of the whole, “our family is above togetherness” that goes on with them), and his parents.  His parents!

Agh!

I do not like his parents.  I honestly never did.  His mom is hard.  Very hard.  His step-dad is mean.  Very mean.  He’s mellowing with age, but he was mean when I first met him, and even meaner when my ex was a young child.

I’ve seen them a time or 2 since the divorce.  It didn’t go so bad.  I’ve emailed with his mom.  It didn’t go so well.  I’ve been clued in about things they’ve said about me – they weren’t such nice things.  But I know that I’ve said more not-nice things about them (with confidence it wouldn’t get back to them).

So this will be challenging.  And, as Lemon said, “Awktopus.”  (Ridiculous word, but still an understatement.)

And it’s true.  I’d feel a hell of a lot better about it if I were thinner.

[Why is that???]