where should SD be?

justnotmarthaJuly 26, 2009

DH has been offered a new position with many benefits, great pay . . . and travel three night a week, three weeks out of the month. Though it would be difficult in many ways taking it has many positives. The only worry is SD.

It wasn't until SD said "wow, I won't get to see Daddy much on the weeks I have weekends I visit my mom" that it hit me - her mom could make an issue of the fact I'm in charge of her the days her dad would be gone. I don't know that she would as she seems to recognize me as SD's parent (she's even referres to DH and I as SD's parents) but who's to say?

This is SD's 'home base' - her friends, school and activities are all here. Mom lives about 20+ minutes away and has a schedule that changes daily, so as I've talked about before getting SD here for school/activities presents a problem. Additionally, SD's starts high school in a month and has to be there at 7:30. That would make her morning all the earlier coming from moms.

All this said, there is that small part of me that wonders if it's 'right' for SD to be here and not with her mom when her dad is away? Should we address it with her, assuming DH takes the job, or should we just go on about the status quo and wait for BM to possibly bring it up? I really don't want to change anything and hadn't thought twice of being here with the three kids until SD made that comment.

As a side note - BM is separated from new DH of two years - she and SD's 2 year old sister have moved in to an apartment. Things have been a little hairy with the whole situation and I have to admit the thought of SD spending more time there as she's starting high school with all it's potential for bad situations brings makes me nervous.

This could be a make it or break it on taking the position, so I'm curious what you think.

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A lot of things going on here.

In an age approrpriate way, dad should explain to SD why this job has advanges for the FAMILY. She sounds like she is mature enough to understand. And Dad should reassure SD, he loves her; and should tell her time will get more and more busy very soon.

As children enter HS, their activities and studies take up more an more time. In short, it matters less and less who has custody -- the childs schedule is indenpent of the parents.

Given SD knows, I do not think you can ask her NOT to tell mom. That would be a mistake. However, my understanding is that unless there is a ROFR in the custody agreement, the mother's only option would be to go before the court and argue change of circumstance. In which case dad would put before the court the starting time at HS, childs schedule etc.

If things get difficult, dad might offer to put a % of his raise into college fund for SD.

Possibly if Dad is around friday nights, he can try to cut the EOW down to sat morning to sun afternoon. But still the issue is SDs school scheduel will take up more tim.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 10:25AM
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Her mom can make an issue of it, but the courts generally only consider changes that affect the child... and yes, she will see less of dad when he's out of town, but she will continue with school, friends & activities... and dad working different hours won't upset SD's routine.

It would be like saying a SAHM that gets a job should lose custody because she is now not home as much and the kids are in daycare a couple of hours a day. I guess it could happen based on individual situation circumstances, but in general, I don't see courts penalizing parents for working.

SD is at an age where her social life is going to take precedence. She is not going to want to be mom's babysitter and slave, so I doubt she would request going to live with mom. If mom requests it, she would have to show a change in circumstances that affects SD... not dad. As long as you continue to provide a home where SD enjoys stability in HER life, the courts will not be inclined to change custody, especially if a 14 year old is not requesting it. If SD should decide to join mom in requesting a change of custody, there may be little to stop it. She's at an age where the courts will listen to her and as long as she has an acceptable reason.. not, mom lets me spend the night with my boyfriend and dad has too many rules.. but if she just says I'd rather be with my mom since my dad is gone a lot, the court may allow it. But from your past posts, she does not sound like she wants to be mom's built in babysitter and going into high school, she will probably want to spend less time at mom's anyway... especially if mom is still using her to babysit.

If dad wants to set up a college fund because he's making more money, that would be great... but I'd warn against offering to set up a college fund in exchange for keeping custody. BM might take that as a bribe and SD might feel like she's a piece of property being bought by dad & sold by mom. Besides, from what we know, BM won't be in a position to pay much for SD's college anyways because she has a new baby and is now a single parent. Therefore, it will probably fall on dad to help with college anyways (and BM knows it) so it's not much of a bargaining chip.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 11:25AM
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Ima, I agree that dad will likely pay for college anyway -- but my point is covering a variety of things --

First, making certian SD understands that the family benefits from dad getting a better job. This situation isnt just about step family situations -- it also about dad having to travel. This can happen in intact families.

Second, as Dad will likely be paying college anyway, all it does is in the event that the court has to decide, will help increase him in their eyes.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 12:33PM
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In my state, the law is clear that having more money or being more generous with money, does not make one a better parent, nor does it give one the upper hand in custody matters. Of course, that isn't to say the one with more money won't win because they can simply afford a better attorney or have the means to build a better case with counselors & investigators, etc. But, simply having more money or being generous with the money, does not influence the court as to who is a better parent. In fact, where I live.. if a parent with more money tries to make an argument that they should have custody BECAUSE they have more money or can provide better, the court's response is to award more child support to the CP... not give custody to the wealthier NCP.

It's rather shallow to think the court will view a parent in a better light because they are doing what most parents do anyways. However, on the flip side of that, the court will look down on a parent that does not pay their support or avoids taking responsibility. But parents are not given, nor should they be given, extra credit for what they are supposed to do to begin with. Offering a college fund to sway the other parent to give up custody (or in this case, not fight for custody) could make someone look like a pompous ass that thinks they can buy out the other parent and then to think it will impress the court... I see that backfiring in a big way.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:12PM
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Ima, I'm confused. YOu say repeatedly that children are not owed college. Now you say most parents do pay for college. Althought statistically children of divorce are less likely than chldren in intact families to attend colelge. I happen to beleive that parents should provide for kids college. I just didnt know that you did.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:15PM
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I tend to agree with Ima that an agreement like that might backfire legally on dad---it looks too much like a "bribe." Court doesn't work that way, anyway. If it really came down to a custody battle--and that is a big IF b/c I am betting BM won't make an issue of this, hasn't she been kind of wishy-washy as a parent?---DH offering to set up a college fund in exchange for full custody won't mean anything.

I know what you are saying in theory, KKNY, and it sounds like a good idea that most *reasonable* parents would appreciate. BUT not everyone is of that mindset. I don't know what the BM is like in this situation. But I can tell you for sure that my SS's BM would not give a you-know-what about my DH setting up a college fund for him. She didn't go to college, her parents didn't go to college, her DH didn't go to college---the only person in her family to gone to college is her sister and she is definitely the exception in the entire family. Education is simply not important to them. My DH made some comment to her one time about how concerned he is that SS is on the "wrong track" school-wise, and that if things don't improve, if his confidence doesn't build and he doesn't start enjoying school, he is going to wind up not going to college. And BM said something along the lines of "who cares, not everyone is college material.'

To me--it should not be an option. A college degree is pretty much standard these days, and it's hard to get or go anywhere without one. It will be that much more important 10-20 years from now, as more and more people are becoming college-educated. So--I personally agree that it's necessary.

In my family and school, going to college was not just an option, it was expected/required. I went to very expensive and academically rigorous private schools and college counseling began in 9th grade.

But it is all about what's important and to some people, setting up money for college wouldn't mean anything. My DH does put money on a monthly basis aside for college for SS but if he were to tell BM that--she'd probably complain that she needs it NOW for this or that. When SS went to a private school for kindergarten, the tution was 13 or 14K, maybe even higher, I don't remember, and BM had an absolute FIT. She actually told DH that he if he wanted to spend that amount, he should just give it to her for child support! AUUGHHHHH. This was before court and before child support was set.

My point is that not everyone would view a college fund as something *that great* and to use it as a bargaining chip in OP's situation might backfire in a big way. I can totally see that BM just thinking "well, if he's making more money, than I am entitled to more child support" instead."

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:48PM
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We are all entitled to our opinions but the issue here isn't who pays for college, it has nothing to do with that. My opinion is that using the tactic of flaunting money to impress a court or sway the other parent to give up, is a bad idea that could backfire. That has nothing to do with whether kids are entitled to have college paid for by parents. My point is that if a parent is going to pay, they do not get an award for doing something good for their kids. If they don't pay for college,they are not bad parents either. In many places, it's not required. If it is required, then it falls under routine obligations. That's a jurisdictional issue and a moral issue, not a legal one in states where it's not required. On the other hand, not paying support for minor children does make them look bad.

Going above and beyond is certainly nicer than doing the bare minimum, but I wouldn't count on it to impress a Judge.

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    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:48PM
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"the only person in her family to gone to college'

HA. I meant the only person in her family to GO to college...

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 1:50PM
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Congrats to hubby on his new job!!!

To answer your question... leave it to her to bring up. She may not even think about it and bringing it up could give her ideas. You don't wanna make waves and if she brings it up, you are preparing yourself for how to address it then.

and as to: "I can totally see that BM just thinking "well, if he's making more money, than I am entitled to more child support" instead."

My opinion is that a court would be inclined to agree with BM.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 3:08PM
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Congrats to hubby too :)

Dumb question doesn't BM work the weekends SD is there? ...

if so she can't say boo about hubby being gone during the week .... if she does trade off a friday if she really cares.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 12:09AM
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Ima, I tend to agree with you that a court would increase CS if dad were to earn more. Which is why I continue to harp on dad trying to get the increase put into college fund, as an alternative, not a bribe. Maybe your experience is that a judge would not sign off on this, but if push come to shove, I would ask.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 9:48AM
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JNM's hubby has custody and mom does not pay any support if I remember right. So who should be stashing away money for college?

The cp or the ncp who doesn't pay any support?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Pseudo, as has been noted, dad will likely end up paying for college. My point is he might as well do it a way that suits him.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 10:14AM
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JNM's hubby has been out of work for quite awhile....

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 10:15AM
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He is the custodial parent so yeah if his DD wants to go to college 99% of it will fall on him to make sure its paid for .... so again IMA's point is .... why should he offer up something he will most likely have to do anyway.... whether or not he travels for work has a great job etc... it will be his responsibility anyway because BM has taken no financial responsibility for her child up to this point. What makes you think in 4 years she will decide to step up and help pay for college when she didn't help pay for anything else along the way.

Telling BM hey I won't be here all week but I have been putting in money college fund for DD isn't going to make a bit of difference to someone who hasn't offered any financial help in the last 14 years

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 10:22AM
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I think SD is old enough to make choice where she wants to live and courts would probably consider it. I doubt mom will make issue out of it, she doesn't seem to be too involved with her kids. congrats on him finding job, good news.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 2:17PM
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I agree with FD, I also doubt if BM will make a problem of it. She probably can't be bothered.

And if BM does make an issue of it then it'll be interesting to see what SD will do. Would she want to go and stay more with her mum? I'd say if it comes to that let her go, because she'll be back, soon!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 4:15AM
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Thanks all for the imput. I kinda danced around the issue with SD the other night "so with dad gone would you want to spend those nights with mom?" and she gave me a look like 'are you nuts' before stating 'NO!' So I guess we wouldn't have to worry about her, it would just be what BM thought when she found out.

Turns out that we don't need to sweat it though - DH opted against the job. He wants to be able to coach the boy's sports teams and be here for their school things - they are too young for him to miss out on the important stuff that will be such a big deal to them.

I have to say I was releaved - I told him to take it if he wanted and we would make it work, but I didn't really want him to. Truthfully I like having him home and would prefer he didn't go back to work at all, but he's starting to go stir crazy. He needs a job for the sanity!!

Side note - DH does have custody and BM gives about $100/mo in support. We know we will be covering college!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 7:28PM
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