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College Money Settled, Still Separating Finances

RedRedVines's picture

Update to my last post about paying for the skids college tuition.

I went and saw a lawyer about the decree by myself because DH dragged his feet. I did not have much hope but you never know. Turns out it is enforecable so BM would have to voluntarily agree to amend the decree. Great. That was all I needed to initiate separating finances. DH said to give him time to figure it out but I said no.

He did email BM last week. He was too deferential to her in my opinion but asked if she would be open to modifying the tuition agreement and accept whatever amount he had saved up by the time SD graduated HS. He put me on cc so I would know he did it. BM was a dead end as I expected. Wrote back of course she was going to hold him to the terms of decree, but she would agree to add whatever amount DH needed to her half of college expenses as long as DH agreed to put that same amount plus interest in SD's wedding fund. He did not reply to that.

BM forwarded DH's email over to MIL. I don't know the details of what went on but MIL and FIL were mad with DH. Very very mad. They are going to pay whatever amount DH can't, if needed. A small part of me did not want them involved, even though what they offered will lift a huge burden from DH. They already think that DH's life has gone downhill since he met me. They think I am responsible for his career change, they think I tricked him into having DS1, and I'm sure they saw me CC'ed and now think I'm the bad guy for wanting all of DH's money for my greedy self (when I make a little more than he does) and convincing him to attempt to renegotiate college expenses for the skids.

I'm trying to look on the bright side. With them paying the remainder, now we can have separate finances but still stay married. I made it clear to DH that separate finances or not, I will divorce him if he wants to take out loans for the skids for any reason.

The skids are clearly entitled to a standard of living that is far better than anything my children, even my DS1 with DH, can expect. College, weddings, grad school, a house, who knows? I get it now. Separating finances with all of these expenses in the future is a necessity. Last weekend we separated our finances and I opened new accounts. Happy Valentine's Day to us! We hammered out most of the big stuff. We are splitting household expenses and DS1's expenses equally, and will contribute a set dollar amount to savings and a vacation fund that is just for us every month. Any joint purchase over $100 has to be cleared with the other person. All joint expenses will be logged on a spreadsheet and zeroed out quarterly. Family vacations will be split based on how many of our kids come. Both of us will put a set percentage of our pay in our 401k's. His percentage is more than mine because he is older. I think that covers everything. We are probably forgetting some things but nothing else comes to mind.

Even though I know that this is the right thing to do, I am sad about separate finances. It feels unnatural and definitely not how I was raised to believe marriage worked. This is also so not romantic. I half expected DH to log Valentine's day dinner on the spreadsheet as a joke. Lucky for him he did not.


Jsmom's picture

Don't be sad...It is practical. We have done it since we met. No fights over money.

But, I will say this about college expenses, make sure he only pays if he has a relationship with that kid. My husband doesn't for SD so he pays nothing. He does with SS, so he will pay it all.

I pay everything for my kid and DH pays nothing...What we do that is different, is we pay for their groceries on the family Credit card and split since we each have one kid. Fair is fair.

ybarra357's picture

"They already think that DH's life has gone downhill since he met me" Hahaha i would wear that as a badge of honor hahaha My IL can't stand me since SK's got booted out of the house and I WILL NOT allow them to move in. HAHA. Sorry, OP I couldn't help it!!

hereiam's picture

Marriages that bring kids from a previous relationship just work differently, especially financially, than the "first everything" marriages. You have to protect yourself and your kiddo's future.

Indigo's picture

Separating finances seems to be a great move to protect you and your children. Your earnings cares for and protects your kids; his funds are a bonus. Yes, he needs to support your communal kids.

Modifying existing stipulations of standing because they are now inconvenient seems poorly done. Expecting DH's parents to cover his obligations seems very, very poorly done. He's a grown-ass man. If DH accepts his parents paying his light bill, his diaper bill, his kids college bill, his mortgage, his food bill is freakin' bull. Next it'll be his beer and pizza bill. Scrawny testicles.

Yes, the concept of additional children in subsequent marriages or meaningful relationships should NOT negate whatever crap-ass contract DH made prior. No, further children from subsequent relationships should not have less care, less love than previous kids.

Kinda thinking accounting terms: FIFO -- first in/first out.

RedRedVines's picture

BM probably makes more than ten times what my DH makes. College expenses, even at $300k, would be nothing to her. We have never needed help from DH's parents, even when DH was unemployed. This expense will be huge. We could buy a house for that tuition price.

Indigo's picture

I did not mean to imply that you as a family could/could not afford DH's prior contract. DH made a deal from what I understand. A take-to-court, written contract, a Judge-Judy-enforceable contract. Black and white, even if it seems insurmountable to you now.

I do dislike the idea of fobbing off of choices and obligations upon auxuillary parenting figures.

I do have a neighbor who has a second 15 hour/week job to help pay for his child's CO college education. Does his 3rd family suffer because of lost time since he is still paying off his obligation/contract with BM1, yeah. Of course.

College tuition is through the roof.

Indigo's picture

Was there a qualification for Tier 4, Tier3, Tier2 colleges in the CO? If not, perhaps there should be. Return to court to clarify that DH will only pay for community college now. Or nothing after 18/21 yrs, or whatever, now.

He is asking his parents as a grown-ass man to cover his responsibilities. Responsibilities that he signed off on ...

Yes, his parents will be paying for his cable bill and food bill if they are paying for ANY PORTION of his annual responsibility.

twoviewpoints's picture

And the grandparents have good reasons to be "disappointed in his not being able to meet his obligations".

They already put up 1/2 of Dad's share ($70,000 plus, per kid) and now they have to finance Dad's other half because Daddy has jack saved. How many grandparents do you know that put $150,000-$300,000 for the grandkids to go to college?

This is not the grandparents problem. This father should be ashamed of himself to let his parents cover this additional cost just so he doesn't have to. Daddy originally agreed to unlimited selective schools. Daddy still wants kid to do so... but he wants his mommy and daddy to pay for it.

notsobad's picture

It's BM and DH's alma matter and they have known she was going to go there for years.

BM asked for and got agreement from DH that he would pay his half of the skids school. SD has studied and worked hard to get into this school and has probably been planning on going there since birth.

I agree that things change but I don't think this is a case of that. DH made a huge mistake not telling SM that he'd made this deal and how it was going to impact their life together.
Yes, his circumstances changed but he knew all along that his kids were going to go to a very expensive school. This isn't something that SD and BM threw at him recently.
He should have been up front with SM about it in the beginning.

notsobad's picture

I wasn't sure if there was another skid but thought that there might be.

So yes, I expect that Vines will find herself in this same place in a couple of years.
I also think that there will be a lot of resentment when her child doesn't get the same treatment from the grandparents.

RedRedVines's picture

The funny thing is I'm sure SD does have money set aside for her wedding already. If she never gets married she would probably just get it to use on a house or something. BM won't give an inch with DH. She probably thinks she was more than fair. Getting every last penny of what DH owes but giving him more time to pay. 10 years instead of 2.

My in laws Sad I was hoping they would be as involved with DS as they are with the skids. Did not happen. He's the only reason I even try with them. Although I know that their opinion of me is all up to DH to fix.

twoviewpoints's picture

I'm surprised BM didn't demand all wedding expenses in the decree. Unlimited, destination bride's choice.... BM seems have slacked off (snark)

stepsmother's picture

I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't see why parents are obligated to pay their kids or skids college tuition... I am still paying for my own college loans. My parents didn't pay for my college and my husband's didn't either! My husbands ex has give him so much crap because he can't afford to pay for his daughters college. But she is the one who kept spending all their savings during their marriage and overspending making them broke no matter how much money he tried to earn. All of his retirement went into the down payment on the house she lives in and my ex got his retirement and I got the house in our divorce so neither of us have retirements. I don't see how people can pay for their kids college when they have no retirements to live in the future! I'm sorry for your predicament, I think the mom should pay for more than half of the college if she makes so much more, but see that he agreed. I'm glad I came into the picture before my husband agreed to anything like that.. I hope it all works out for you. I also hope your in laws don't hold any of it against your child together. I try to remind myself that love is stronger than money, but it's hard I know to deal with all of this. His kids will be grown in a few years it sounds like and you will be done with child support at least!

LikeMinded's picture

I'm soooo glad you took charge of your life! Good for you. You absolutely did the right thing.

I think it's stupid to force any parent to pay for anybody's wedding. I didn't ask my parents for a dime.

notasm3's picture

I would immediately divorce any man who cosigned on any loan (college, house, car or anything) without my agreement.

robin333's picture

I hope the judgmental snot doesn't get in either. A little humility would be the best thing for this SD that's too good for public universities.

I don't care if parents are wealthy, I still believe kids have to have some skin in the game.

notsobad's picture

It's very unfair of you to say she's a judgmental snot.

She's worked hard and done well in school. Her whole life she's been told that if she does that, she'll get into a good school. The same school both her parents graduated from. She's grown up with parents who got degrees and good jobs that gave her the life and comforts she has. She isn't expecting them to take care of her and keep paying her bills forever. She's planning on doing what they did, getting a degree from a great school and taking care of herself.

You have no idea whether she thinks she's too good for a public university.

Disneyfan's picture

It's possible the kid grew up with her parentd joking about state schools. Hell, they may have drilled in their heads that if they don't do well, they will end up going to a state school.

RedRedVines's picture

It's true she does work hard and does well at school. But she also thinks she's too good for state school.

notsobad's picture

From the last post I don't think it's like that.

Both DH and BM graduated from this school and I'm sure SD has heard her whole life how wonderful it is.

DH was by all accounts very happy that his daughter has done so well and wants her to go to this very expensive school as much as BM. He just didn't save up as much as he'd agreed to. Now the grandparents are going to pony up or DH has to get a loan which will affect the OP and the child she and DH have together.

Disneyfan's picture


It sounds like both parents and the grandparents had this all set from the time the kids were born.

Dad agreed to this. Dad has been putting money away to fund it. Even after the OP found out the the terms of the CO, dad was all for it. Dad is just as excited about the kid attending that college as the kid, mom and the grandparents are.

The problem is dad is the only one who isn't able to come up the funds to make THEIR dream a reality.

This is not PAS. Mom isn't trying to get out of something they both agreed to.

Disneyfan's picture

When in the world did providing your kid with a college education become a handout????

RedRedVines's picture

I said something similar to DH one time. How are your kids going to grow up and be successful and responsible adults if everything in life is handed to them? His response was that he grew up having to work for everything and BM grew up with everything handed to her. Out of the two of them who ended up more successful?

notsobad's picture

"he grew up having to work for everything and BM grew up with everything handed to her"

But now his parents are going to pay his portion? I mean nice that they are and he doesn't have to get a loan but they were willing to put money away for the grandkids but not for him?
Did his parents come into money later in life?

Disneyfan's picture

I think the grandparents know that their son is a flake,game player....because nothing they do makes much sense~from spending every Christmas with their exDIL to agreeing to shell out that kind of money to cover his obligations.

RedRedVines's picture

With his parents - they grew up not well off and made their money later (real estate investing). When DH was successful at such a young age they were so proud of him and what he had become. DH wasnt happy but he was successful. He had to deal with years of politics and backstabbing he was relieved when he was laid off. He has a job he enjoys now, although he makes much less money. This was a major backslide in his parents eyes. I supported him because I never imagined that he would be so stupid as to agree to pay this amount and not tell me. I regret that.

They love BM. She is the daughter they always wanted but couldn't have. They think she was the best thing that ever happened to DH. They are more than happy to spoil the skids but very mad that DH made the choices he made.

notsobad's picture

I'm glad that the OP got the finances separated but I'm on the BM/SDs side of this one.

DH knew SD was going to go to an expensive school, he agreed on how much he'd contribute.

He got married, had another child and changed jobs, all decisions he made knowing that his daughter had plans to go to an expensive school and that he had agreed to pay for a portion of it.
He should have been more prepared.

I read on here all the time about how BMs remarry, have more kids and can't pay bills. No one has a hard time saying how she should have been more prepared, how she shouldn't have had kids she couldn't afford.

SD has studied, done very well in school. She seems to be on a path to launch, have a good job and take care of herself. What more could a step parent ask for? Oh wait, she should have to pay for school herself too or lower her standards.

It amazes me to see people write that they hope she doesn't get into the schools she wants or that she fails. Some of these Skids can't get a break, get into a good school and we hope you fail. Don't go to school at all and you are waste and you're not living here. They simply can't do anything right.

robin333's picture

Whoa, I never said I wanted her to fail. I said a dose of humility would be nice such as not getting into that school. And I did call her a snot. I call my DD a snot when she acts superior than ANYONE or entitled.

I hear what some folks are saying about perhaps the parents and grandparents degraded state colleges. I have a very difficult time accepting that someone that smart is incapable of making her own judgments and thinking for herself.

I think her statement and things from the other thread (if I recall correctly) reflect a snotty kid. A hard working, smart and talented young woman that is a snot.

I agree DH is the root of the problem. He signed an agreement, changed to a lower paying job and failed to plan. The worst was lying by omission to RRV about his agreed upon financial obligation.

notasm3's picture

I think one should EARN the right to attend advanced education - especially the expensive stuff. This is my version of equal status for all. Children whose parents can pony up tens of thousands of dollars should not have an advantage over children who work their asses off to EARN something.

There are many, many expensive as hell schools that quite frankly are not in the top tier academically. The mediocre student who wants to attend a mediocre $60,000/year school should not be enabled by anyone.

The very, very top schools (Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale) do not even require student loans for the top students. There are many great schools not necessarily in the top 20 schools that give MERIT (not financial need) scholarships to outstanding performers.

Parents with so-so students that just sort of stumble along should NOT be forced to pay for $60,000/year college costs.

Icansorelate's picture

If the BM makes big bucks and can afford to pay for Sd's college then she should pay and DH should contribute what he can, without the bs of a "wedding fund". I say this as a BM that makes "big bucks". I paid for my kids college and never even asked my ezx husband to contribute, even though via our divorce agreement, I could have.

I wanted my kids to go to college. I could afford to pay for it, even to the point that we turned down scholarships and I allowed them to go the schools they were most interested in. This was no small $$$, between all of my kids, I estimate that I have paid over $500,000 in tuition. My kids were smart and hard working and I wanted them to go to college.

If BM can afford it, and wants her kid to go to college, then she should pay for it. By pressing Vine's DH to pay what he cannot afford, she is just demonstrating that her true motivation is sticking it to him.

I do not believe that someone should be an indentured servant, having to remain in a job just because an ex wants to extract blood, for their entire life.

Again, as a person who makes the "big bucks", I am acutely aware that my fortune can literally change tomorrow, and I may never make the big bucks again. If that happened before my kids went to college I would have told them to find a lower cost alternative, and you know what? Because I raised them to be considerate as well as hard working, they would have done so. And, they would have been fine.

TwoOfUs's picture


My dad was a Harvard attorney making big bucks before I went to college. He got sick with a mystery illness for ten years. Wiped out his well as his earning ability. My parents were still able to help me with college, but not to the extent they might have been. So I worked. Still made good grades...went for an MA and a PhD and am doing fine. My dad died after being sick for ten years at the age of 49...and my mom had to start her life over in a lot of ways after nearly going bankrupt with his illness.

But you know what? I'm gonna pour and cry because DADDDYYYY didn't take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt for MY education! Give me a break.

I honestly don't understand taking on debt for your kid's college. If you have the money...then, yes, it's a good investment. But to go into debt? And I don't understand how divorced parents can be forced to go into debt for college expenses. Circumstances change all the time...and it doesn't mean he's a bad dad or a bad provider for his kids.

still learning's picture

In the future use BCC if you want to be included in emails.

It seems like the next generation of educated people are all going to be entitled COD's whose parents were forced to pay for college. They won't have to work part-time or "earn" it like many of us did. I suppose this lack of work ethic and being "self made" will eventually backfire on the entitled COD generation. College will soon be seen as unnecessary because those with degrees can't be expected to work, pay their own way, or deal with real life issues. *rant for the day*

twoviewpoints's picture

Actually, I haven't read the grandparents "won't pay for their youngest grandchild, her kid". What I read was there is zero in any college fund. The baby is newly born. The two skids and OP'S baby are not the only grandkids. OP mentioned in another blog about her BIL/SIL , and they have children. I have no clue what, if any, fund the other grandkids have from grandparents.

Regardless, after the grandparents finding out now they have to cover all but $20,000 of Dad's half, they may feel they can not afford yet another account fund for the baby. Amusing around this site how everyone worries and squeals about their own retirement security and savings, but have no problem with the same concerns for the grandparents old age security.

If Dad wants this or that college for his daughter I suggest he get a second or even third job to cover his want and obligations. He's got two if not three more years to flip burgers evenings and weekends for all I care. His wants, desires and previous obligations should not financially affect the OP nor should Dad slack off on his new financial obligations to his new baby.

If the grandparents have a lick of sense in their heads left and anymore dimes to their names, their will needs to state 'we leave $1 to our son Mr RedRedVines as he has already received his due amount during our lifetimes '.

TwoOfUs's picture

She's worried about it bc her husband has already tried to shortchange their mutual child in favor of his kids...who are clearly already well cared-for. I'd be worried about it, too.

TwoOfUs's picture

That's not the case. In her last post she said that she is putting aside the agreed upon amount but he is not.

RedRedVines's picture

That's another poster. I remember reading that somewhere but with us, we agreed to give DS1 a cash gift when he graduates to help a little with college. DH is on board with that, and it comes out of our paychecks already.

twoviewpoints's picture

Yes he is, if he ends up doing a loan. The household and baby expenses would shift more to OP. Dad's would be going out towards the loan. They have agreed on baby basically finding baby's own way through college, but that's 18yrs away. It's the day to day needs now of a household that would swing towards SM if Dad has a new loan to start paying off.

The grandparents seem to be riding to the rescue so their son won't have to do the loan. So the baby will now still have Dad/SM support as current and Dad/SM will both still be able to do however current household expenses are shared. OP has the grandparents to thank for that.

I'm sure hurt feelings will naturally linger to a point, that perhaps baby won't get the same treatment as all the other grandkids have throughout the years. But when viewed at from a different hard but true angle, baby is getting to keep the full support from BOTH parents baby might have lost if loans would have been the only solution. Grandparents riding to the college crisis is in the end, a positive for baby.

notsobad's picture

OP has stated that if DH gets a loan for anything for the skids she will divorce him.
She may want to use BMs lawyer to make sure she gets for her child what BM got for the skids.

twoviewpoints's picture

I'm really curious as to how much longer Dad would have hidden the 'oops , I forgot to mention' from the OP. She wouldn't know now if SD hadn't said what little SD did at the dinner.

Maybe next year as he's packing to take the tours with SD and SM asks what the suitcase is for :O

Disneyfan's picture

I said it before and will say it again. This guy is a game player. BM knows it. The grandparents know it. He knows it. The OP is just starting to to find that out.

TwoOfUs's picture

I'm referring to a previous post OP wrote. She and DH agreed to set up savings for their child...just like he's done for his previous children. She's been paying into it and he has not.

RedRedVines's picture

DS1 gets the same deal my other 2 bios get - a small cash gift to help with freshman year, and thats it. That has been agreed upon.

Disneyfan's picture

Oh for goodness sake

Parents paying for their kids to attend college isn't new. Plenty of intact families make this choice.

This isn't a case of a divorced man being forced to pay for his children's education. He agreed to this and still wants to do it. Had the OP not found out what everyone else already knew, this guy would have happily forked over the money.

TwoOfUs's picture

Sure. But circumstances changing beyond a parent's control and kids being expected to pitch in to their own education or to choose a more reasonably-priced school is also nothing new. I don't think the OP is out of line to question this or to be upset that he was planning to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans in order to do this. That's not realistic or reasonable.

RedRedVines's picture

This is a common question, so when was DH planning on telling me about this obligation? Never. He showed me how with the $140k from his parents, plus his $50k in savings (25k per skid), plus his bonus every year until SS12 graduated he would actually have $13k left over for emergencies. Except he thought college plus extras would cost $60k per year max including extras, and he didnt take into consideration that college tuition increases 4% every year. When SD started talking about college more frequently he went back to check, realized that for the 2 skids he was now short almost $80k and panicked and didn't know how to tell me.

Also my bios do not have college funds, they get the same deal as DS1. I believe kids should be responsible for their own educations. I would not expect my DD and DS to have to pay, but my DS1 get a free ride. I do NOT like the blatant favoritism my in laws show the skids. I do not like how the skids expect everything to be handed to them and that household money is being used for that purpose.

RedRedVines's picture

I'm not talking about material favoritism. Although I'm sure in the future that will be an issue. They do not come over unless it's our week with the skids. They come to a lot of this skids activities but they had to "let us know" about our baby's first birthday party because they were flying to Florida for the weekend that same day and they weren't sure what time. From what DH told me, they were very involved when skids were babies. With DS they have very low interest.

DH did not want another child, and we weren't planning on having more. I was on birth control. SD is very close with my in laws and likes to tell them our business and was the one who told them how upset DH was when we found out I was pregnant.

WalkOnBy's picture


"She was eavesdropping" but of course, HRNYC assumes it was the SM and dad's fault. Heaven forbid anyone think a skid would eavesdrop.

Disneyfan's picture

"SD is very close with my in laws and likes to tell them our business and was the one who told them how upset DH was when we found out I was pregnant."

When she told your ILs, did they take her word for it or did husband confirm what she told them?

No wonder your ILs treat your son the way they do. More than likely they think you tricked/trapped (I hate those terms) husband into having a kid.

RedRedVines's picture

They already knew we were done having kids. When we told in laws we were engaged MIL asked me point blank if I was pregnant and we told her nothing like that because we had all the kids we needed. She did call DH to confirm what SD said. He said only positive things but his voice was strained and I'm sure that confirmed everything for her.

Yes, I know they think that, I said so in my post.

twoviewpoints's picture

This explains at least partly why SD does not 'like' or want anything to do with the baby. She knows how angry/upset Dad was when baby news broke.