22 answers

Should I Help Ex in Taking Care of Kids?

I'm getting a divorce and he wants 50/50 which I'm happy to do so he'll be with the kids. We want to switch every other week. Only thing is, he works 50 miles away and although he can take them to school, he can't pick them up or come home until about 7:30pm. I believe kids should be with parents first before hiring a nanny but I'm wondering if my want to be with the kids as much as I can is the wrong thing to do. If I do this (take care of them after school during his weeks) I will be in the same place I was before.... bound to the kids every day of my life but now without a husband. I am not asking for alimony. I am not even asking for what the court says I should get. I really want to get him to stop controlling me and making me feel like I owe him my life since he pays for everything (he makes over $150K and I make $24K). I'll agree to calculating cost of the kids and then dividing by 2. He's pretty hell bent on not giving me anything. He wants to make sure all the money goes to the kids. Fine. But I came into this with the idea that I should help and be with the kids when I can. Should I let it go and make him be completely responsible for the kids during his week? Even though I may be 5 miles away... should I just sit around while someone else he hires does the job of picking them up and taking care of them until he comes home? I'm crushed as to whether I am clinging onto them when I should not. I do yearn for that break I never had but I also don't want to leave the kids, especially when I have nothing I'm doing. Maybe I take care of them but agree that I can break from it a certain number of times so I can go on a week vacation? Because as it is, if I take care of them during his weeks and mine, I never can leave. But for him, he can do what he pleases during my weeks. Should I learn to let go or am I right in offering myself to the kids?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

***********FInal Update on what happened********************
The way we calculated custody, we did the cost of living and he's paying that. That way, even if I lose my job I can still pay basic necessities. His child support amount came out to be so that both our monthly incomes are the same (that way we both can take care of the kids in the same way). He has a slight raise advantage over the years but I claim the kids since I'll be low income and the money will stay with us rather than the government. That means that we are back to the way we lived before when he paid for housing and basic bills and my money is for what it used to be (clothes, entertainment, food...) but now I don't have him to do the savings and extras that pop up (except I do have the retirement). No big deal to me. Honestly, he was at the brink of making me pay for half of living cost since it's 50/50. I knew it felt wrong but I can't stand up to him. You can't say I should just do it... I can't so the best thing for me is to get away by divorcing him. So... what made him go back to our original agreement of him paying for all basic needs? He talked to his mom that he has not seen since he was 7. I don't know what she said to him (I talk to his mom more than he does and I've tried to bridge the gap between them) but he got off the phone more calm and less angry. I think he found out his mom was not as bad as his dad made her out to be all these years.

As for the original question of taking care of the kids... I have to do it. I can't not. I can't see myself living with myself knowing that I have very little time with my kids as they grow up and 10 years is a stretch as the time period they really need me to be around them. My 3 year old could probably stay at home alone with his teenage siblings in 7 years when he turns 10... maybe even sooner. That means I really don't have that much time until they are teenagers and I won't be picking up and dropping them off. I'm not about to "teach him a lesson" about how hard it is to raise kids because the important thing is to raise the kids. Period. Thank you all moms who put things into perspective and I know I did not follow everyone's advice (or anyone's in particular), I'm doing what my conscious tells me. I was never mad at being with the kids all the time, I was mad that I didn't feel appreciated for doing so. I think the final papers being submitted really set me free (for now) because I no longer feel like I need his approval.
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Okay, read the replies, REALLY HELPFUL!

Clairify:
1.) He works 50 miles away, he plans to live within 5 miles to be with kid when he comes home so he will commute.
2.) 5 kids are 3-10 years old.
3.) He owned the house before marriage so he may not be able to give it to me but he plans on giving it to me and he plans to buy a new home (this one is really old and small).
4.) He has to give me $100K of his retirement because there's no way around that since it was made during marriage. It ofcourse can't really be touched so I don't think of it as anything.
5.) We do 75/25 for school, extracurricular and emergency medical insurance (basic medical is covered under me since I work for the state and have good coverage for the money).
6.) I'm a lecturer so I work flexible hours, take all regular school vacations (unless I want to take on a summer class). My full time is 24 hours a week so that's why I refer myself as SAHM. I can always not work night classes if need be. I have a physics degree (doesn't prepare me emotionally apparently) so the point is, I'm not completely dependent on him. He's always covered basics and my money has always been "fun" and other stuff he doesn't shop for like clothes and school stuff. Just a bit of background...

One poster is right, I want to be with my kids everyday, I don't need a break but I am already starting to feel resentful towards him and I just don't want to go there and live like that. I think we do need mediation so he will hear what a neutral person says and yes, I still want to complete this online but I think it's time to get some help to resolve this before we fill it out and turn it in.

Featured Answers

is it possible on "his" weeks you take the kids MWF and he gets help T/TH. so you kind of get the best of both worlds?

2 moms found this helpful

His week his responsibility, but I think one week with one family and another week with the other SUCKS for all involved and is a bad idea.

More Answers

Read Anita's post again. She is on the mark.

A 50/50 won't work with the distances involved. It's that simple. It's a little hard to tell from your post but I assume he lives near you and it's his job that's 50 miles from you both. Well, all the kids would be doing on "his" weeks would be sleeping at dad's -- that's it. If you do the arrangement you describe, where you pick them up after school, would you also keep them at YOUR house until he his home at 7:30 p.m. and then take the kids to his house, and repeat it the next day and the next? That means the kids are with him from about 7:30 p.m. until maybe 8:00 the next morning -- if they are elementary aged that means they are doing nothing at dad's other than sleeping. Is he really thinking he's going to have any quality time with them at all if this is the arrangement? No, he isn't thinking about it at all; he just wants his "share" of the kids like his share of any other asset.

He will get home from work tired after a long drive, ready to have his dinner and unwind, but each night for two weeks a month he will instead need to meet you for dropoff; get the kids to do homework (if you haven't already -- yes, you will be homework overseer ALL month long); get them ready for bed; get them up the next morning; get them to school. That's his entire interaction with them under the arrangement you describe.

Here's what will result: Very tired kids who are just being dragged between houses to sleep, for no good reason other than to fulfill a court order. Kids who forget homework, or leave their school backpack at your house so you have to run with it to school the next day, or at his house, so the kid doesn't have it at all the next day. Another scenario: He decides to be superdaddy and when he gets the kids at 7:30 p.m., he insists he have "his time" with them so he keeps them up far too late on school nights; doesn't require them to do homework when with him (because....YOU saw to that when you had them in the afternoons, right?), etc. Again -- tired kids who think dad is fun but who actually are stressed out because they are perpetually behind on homework and don't sleep enough.

Can you see how this arrangement is going to hurt your kids? They may love it for a while if he's fun-dad and lets them play video games every school night or takes them out to eat five nights a week because HE is hungry and tired after work. Or they may be resentful that they are hauled around only to sleep at dad's and little more. Either way the kids lose. Why agree to this for the sake of having some alone time?

Anita posted that you need a traditional arrangement -- where you have primary custody and he has a traditional visitation (often that means having the kids one night each week and every other weekend, plus much more time at vacations etc.). That would be much more consistent for your kids and would especially let them have consistent school-day schedules.

Oh, and when he needs to "go in to work early" or when he is stuck in traffic getting home from his distant job, you will end up getting call from him: "I am so stuck here -- can you just keep the kids overnight tonight" or "I have to leave early tomorrow so I'll take the kids out to dinner and bring them back to your house at 9:30 and they can stay with you tonight because I can't run them to school in the morning...."

Please think about the kids first and go for the more traditional arrangement. You frankly sound a bit resentful of your kids, and you want a break from them, but at the same time you say you feel you're clinging to them. You could consider some counseling to help you straighten out what seem like conflicting feelings about your kids right now, as well as your ex. But this 50/50 sounds like a recipe for disaster and a whole lot more resentment building up on your part very soon when you end up babysitting your own kids every other week. They do not need to be put into that position where you are resenting having them around because it's dad's week. I'm not saying you dislike your own kids!! I'm saying you are hurt and conflicted right now and agreeing to an unworkable 50/50 seems like it's letting him have time with them (and letting him have half the work involved) -- but it is not!

As for the money, go through the court and get every cent that the court calculates he owes you. Do not "make a stand" on not needing his money. Of course you do. Rejecting it on some principle of independence is basically letting him cheat your kids. Ensure your attorney is fighting for all money including both alimony and child support.

I bet if you DO go with this 50/50 he is eventually going to tire of it and try to rearrange it anyway.

If you and he can't agree, please ask the court for formal mediation over your child custody arrangements.

10 moms found this helpful

Well, if this is what would happen then it's NOT 50/50 custody! AND you're screwing yourself out of child support that you need and deserve for the kids.

If I were you I would push for a different custody arrangement and pursue the appropriate child support. Also, I'd make sure that I was getting all I was entitled to - alimony included.

7 moms found this helpful

Your soon to be ex is playing on your emotions and controlling you here. 50/50 custody is not possible when one parent lives 50 miles away and can't be with his kids until 7:30 in the evening. Besides, if you watch them in the afternoons, it's not actually 50/50 custody. Really. I'm going through a divorce myself and at least in my state - you watching them in the afternoons would change the custody. You'd have to basically lie to the judge and say that he was going to be taking care of them.

Were I in your shoes I would agree that he can have them every other weekend and one afternoon a week. How he handles the afternoon is his business. If it means they have a nanny, that will stink - but it gets him out of your life. If you have to watch the kids every afternoon you'll be seeing him EVERY day and you know he'll continue to make you feel like you've been feeling before. You'll basically be his employee. Can you imagine asking your ex husband for permission to take a break from watching your children? Do you know how guilty he would make you feel? Ugh. I could not handle that, and my soon to be ex doesn't sound nearly half as jerky as yours. Please please please make this a clean break. He deserves to see his kids, but not at your expense. If his high paying job prevents him from spending time with his kids during the week, don't let him have custody during the week. It's a simple as that.

It's really hard, but stand up for yourself. And even more important, stand up for your children. If you don't want alimony, that's your decision. But don't agree to less child support than your children deserve. It sounds all noble now to split child expenses in half, but do you really think that's good for your kids? Do you want to explain to your daughter that she can't have the cool pair of jeans her friends are wearing because you don't have enough money (but would if you had let the court figure out the appropriate levels of support?). Or do you want to tell your son that you don't have the money to sign him up for baseball (but you would if you had gotten the right amount of child support?). A lot of women think that if they don't take anything from their husbands during divorce it will make them more independent and stronger. But it really doesn't. It makes them poorer and MORE dependent, and bitter. And it hurts their kids more than anything.

For what it's worth, here's approximately what your husband would "owe" your children in child support in New Mexico (there's a great calculator provided by the state):

If you do 183 days with you and 182 with him (basically 50/50), and he pays $200 a month in medical/dental premiums for the kids through his work, he would pay you $1174 a month.

If you do every other weekend plus one day during the week, plus give him two full weeks in the summer, and he pays medical/dental premiums and $300 a month for a nanny to drive the kids to his house once a week and watch them until he got home, he would pay you $1832.

Please PM me if you need help working through this. I'm so passionate about this because I'm going through it myself... and I just hate to see someone get steam rolled by their controlling soon to be ex... and that is what is happening to you. Please please please get a lawyer to help you through this. In every state, the cost of your lawyer is a marital cost - so it comes from your joint accounts now, not the money you'll have afterwards.

7 moms found this helpful

Get a lawyer, you're getting screwed.

6 moms found this helpful

My initial thought to this is, of course you should watch your kids and make them as comfortable as possible.

However, you make very little money and he doesn't seem to want to contribute any additional support??? You need to negotiate that he pay for some activities and food aka support, during their stay with you.

So let me get this right, he works long hours to make good money, you work and make less money, he wants 50/50 and you keep the kids. Oh, I forgot the girlfriend that he will entertain while you keep the kids and eat peanut butter on crumbs of bread.

If I remember correctly, you were trying to handle your divorce online. Get an attorney.

By the way, he is still controlling.

6 moms found this helpful

If you go ahead and do the 50/50 split...and I do understand his house is 5 miles away not 50 (just his job).

On his weeks...if you keep the kids (which would be ideal as they would do best with you.) Write up a nanny contract, get your attorney to help, and make him pay YOU what he would have to pay a nanny. Get it in writing and signed...and if he doesn't pay your salary for picking up the kids and keeping them until 7:30pm. Then he can be on his own finding someone who is willing to nanny only two weeks a month. If he would have to pay someone anyways might as well pay you.

And I don't mean to sound horrible...but go after every dime of alimony and child support you can get...you deserve it!! Especially if you helped put him through school to be making the 150K job. If you end up not needing the extra money and can make it on 24K great, but what he pays you in the bank. Save it, one day you will need it. Get all you can now...don't be "noble" and I am a strong woman and I don't need you...take the money you are intitled to and use it to better the lives of your kids.

Sending you a huge hug...don't let him control you anymore or keep you from what you have given to this marriage.

And you will still have two glorious weekends a month with no children to enjoy and have some time to yourself.

Sending you a big hug!! Stand up for yourself...and if you just can't do it...find a therapist who will help you find your courage to demand what you deserve for yourself and your kids!!!

Let us know what happens!!! Please!!

5 moms found this helpful

If you do it, please get the child support AND alimony especially if the court is encouraging it. You're entitled to it and he can afford it, and it will supplement your salary until you can get a pay raise. I think it's great that you're willing to step in to be with your children during his weeks so that they don't have to be with a babysitter and put your former husband in the lurch... and your children get to be with their mom. But as you said he's binding you to the house and children during his time and in effect you're getting them for much longer than 50% time, technically... and should be compensated for that if only because it's during his time and children are costly. It would be cutting into the money he's already giving you.

Or you could decide not to make things easy for him and let him have to scramble to find child care and pay through the nose so that he can see that paying you additional child support and alimony is actually more cost effective.

4 moms found this helpful

I guess you have to weigh which means more to you - being with your kids instead of them being with a sitter, or breaking away from your ex. I don't think you mentioned the ages of your kids, but if he's picking them up to have an hour with them before bed, I don't see why they can't just live with you primarily and he can swing by in the a.m. to bring them to school. If you are the one taking care of them during his custodial time, he ought to be paying you. If he makes 6 times what you make, you should not be dividing the cost of the children's expenses by two. It's not done that way. Don't let this man bully you into letting him not be responsible for his kids. When you divorce, there's a formula that calculates the child support based on how much each person makes and assigning a similar percentage. This isn't you controlling him, it is the court controlling him, and if you do what he wants, HE is still controlling you. The kids should not have to live a poverty level lifestyle with you and a 6 figure lifestyle with dad, consistency is so very important for kids. Sorry if that sounds preachy. Good luck to you.

4 moms found this helpful

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