I posted this in the child support forum, but maybe someone in this forum has input?
I will try to keep this as brief as possible....
My wife and I separated in October. She is leaving the relationship because of lack of love. I loved her dearly and was willing to do whatever it took to get our relationship back on track. She is just not interested.
We have a 4 year old son.
We made a civil arrangement; joint custody, no spousal or child support. We had planned to hire paralegal to help us submit documents and file for divorce to keep costs to a minimum. However my wife now has second thoughts and is delaying our divorce as she now wishes to speak with a lawyer.
My financial responsibilities associated to joint custody (above and beyond any money I spend on him when he is with me) are:
Provide health insurance until age 21 (or 24 if full time student).
Absorb routine medial/dental costs.
Responsible for his college savings in which regular weekly deposits are made into a 529 account.
50% of all daycare and/or educational costs (he will go to charter/private school)
I also buy him the majority of his clothes, toys, and provide majority of his entertainment. I get him Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and every other Wednesday giving approximately 50% annual time under my roof.
One major problem here. I earn MUCH more money than my ex. My ex is struggling with a commission only job as a massage therapist. She has never earned more than $15,000/yr in this line of work. This was not a problem when she was living with me, but obviously very difficult to support herself on. The recession has only made things tougher as many people are cutting luxury services from their monthly budgets. As a result, she is lucky to take home $1000/mo these days. (her rent is $900/mo)
The thing is...she REFUSES to explore other career options.
I explain to her that now she has decided to be a single parent, that her priorities must change and like millions of other single parents - she needs to find a job that will properly support her..let alone a child.
She refuses to explore other career opportunities, she 'loves' her line of work and feels that I should provide support so she can make ends meet. Sounds like she is confusing 'child support' with 'spousal support' as the child is well supported by me already.
She has college degree as well as marketable corporate job experience. She also is complaining about carpal tunnel syndrome in her wrists, so its clear the writing is on the wall for her massage therapist career. She still refuses to explore the corporate/office job market as she finds this work 'unfufilling' and feels job satisfaction is more important than income.
Further, I can demonstrate lack of judgment when it comes to her personal finance management...such as spending $200 on botox when she was $200 short on paying her rent...or going out partying on a Sunday night till 3am, sleeping in the following Monday till 5pm....all when she claims she is 'job hunting' (in same line of work) I dont know about you guys, but I think being hungover and sleeping in until 5pm isnt a good, or even serious, start to your weekly job hunt
Also, she is not divorced yet but is already heavily dating, am aware of at least 3 different men she is flirting with on one level or another. At this rate, she will have a new man in her life within 3-6 months.
I am seeking to protect myself and make the agreement we had when she moved out official.
But I fear she is going to go after sole custody to strengthen her case for $$ digging.
I do not feel obligated to provide her anything other than to support her when she lived under our shared roof and a sincere desire and willingness to repair the marriage. Since she was not interested in either, and claimed a desire to 'live independently' I would like to hold her to her words.
I KNOW that within 3-6 months when she finds another man, my 'support' money will be going to botox, night clubs, and vacations.
We are both very good, loving and responsible parents which shows in the nature of our beautiful son. She truly is a good mother and I do want her to be a part of his life. However, because I suspect my ex is on a money grab - I am looking to protect myself best way I can.
Is it possible for a responsible and loving father to be awarded sole custody on the fact the wife is financially unfit and refuses to explore other options in life?
Would the fact that I can also provide a history of mental/emotional illness that has never been fully resolved help?
This woman is 38 years old, and is acting like a spoiled 23 year old (IMO) Partying all night, flirting with random men, earning less than most 18 year olds - and looking at me to bridge her gap.
I am a good man, a family man who fought like a lion to save his marriage. Now I am fighting for my right to not be financially exploited just because I worked hard developing my career and she is unwilling to explore other career options.
PS - A coworker told me he heard of a similar case where the judge gave the father sole custody and gave the mother 24 months to prove her ability to properly support herself before coming back to the courts to reopen child custody negotiations.
Ideally, I would like to just make what we are already doing official. She was FINE with this arrangement...until things started to slow down at her job.
Does she have a 'god given right' to persue a career regardless of the fact it pays very little? Must I really be held financially accountable for her career decisions?
And when she meets a new man, I must continue to pay monthly for the next 15ish years? (twice as long as our relationship lasted)
...all because she fell out of love with me?