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unchien Offline OP
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Oh and Juju I agree that right of first refusal is the way to go if I am okay with this plan.

I thought, however, that people donít generally use right of first refusal for regular after school care situations.

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I believe any time the child spends with either parent is more beneficial, as long as they are good parents

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And you do bring up a valid point. Iím definitely not invalidating that

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I agree with G - unless your W is a whack job or addict, it's better for kids to be with a loving parent after school. And it might actually facilitate things like schoolwork getting done etc. If she can make a living seeing clients from 9-2 and caring for the kids after school, that's great - JUST so long as she doesn't then try to drag out the process when you come to pick them up. If she picks them up at 2:30 and you pick them up at 6:00 and it's clear to everybody, that's great.

And I agree with the poster above - she's giving up retirement and other benefits and making a lesser income in order to accommodate being there for her kids - those of us on the mommy track give up a LOT financially.

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unchien Offline OP
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Originally Posted by kml
And I agree with the poster above - she's giving up retirement and other benefits and making a lesser income in order to accommodate being there for her kids - those of us on the mommy track give up a LOT financially.

This one is tough for me. Things are not exactly amicable between us regarding parenting right now, and I'm allowing those other emotions to cloud how I view things. I don't think my W is a whack job, but I also don't think she respects me as a parent or views me as an equal, and that makes this process very very challenging.

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It does make the process challenging and it is not always fair. But you do have to put the interests of your child first. It doesnít matter if she respects you. You need to communicate with her in a way that how she feels about you doesnít even come up. Cold and purely logistical.


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You are right that this is going to be messy, and the longer you delay it the worse it will probably be for you because you are setting a bad status quo right now. The problem is deep down you still care about her, and deep down she wants you to drop dead, so she is going to keep steamrolling you. My advice is to consult with a couple of lawyers to find a fair, reasonable judgement in your area, propose something close to this but a little bit better for you, do this through mediation if that is normally done in your area, and don't give up anything in mediation past the fair "midpoint" (try to think of things to offer in negotiation that have value to her, but not to you. Like right of first refusal, expediency, more upfront cash vs long term support etc), and when that breaks down you get a lawyer to fight this out for you.

A fair proposal may be to start 50-50 immediately (delayed 50-50 = never 50-50!), max 2 years of spousal support (same amount of time she has been unemployed), she vacates the house in 3 months (it will never sell if she is in it, and this gives you a few months to get it ready for spring sales season), specify 50-50 for activity and college expenses (you will thank yourself in 15 years), and impute her income at the max of what she could make full time (Its no longer your job to support her dreams of part time work or a lower earning career path - she can figure that out on her own). Offer her right of first refusal in negotiation as a carrot because she can get this anyways. This means she has every right to watch them instead of daycare on your days if she wants to - but I suspect reality will set in and she will be too busy working so long as you don't fold on the financials. And stop thinking that them being with your WAW is better than daycare, and using this as an excuse not to fight on custody. First of all, this is just not a tenable option given that it requires you to burn through your savings. And, I promise that you will quickly change your mind when she starts attempting to alienate them from you and new guys are spending more time with them than you, and by then it will probably be impossible to change status quo to get more custody.

After you send your fair proposal in writing or mediation she will immediately reject this offer and counter with a proposal for you to go die in a hole but keep giving her lots of money. At that point you need to retain your lawyer and hide behind them. Your job is to push or contain (if they start overspending) your lawyer from behind, your lawyer's job is to negotiate with your WAW or her lawyer. Whenever she attacks you, simply refuse to discuss legal matters with her.

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unchien Offline OP
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fade - Your post hit me heavy (in a good way).

I think I need to give some brief background on my sitch. It may be that none of these details are relevant anyhow.

W and I moved away from her family 2 years ago. She also had to stop her budding private practice, which she was doing 1.5 days a week. At the time, this was a joint decision for financial and stability reasons, although she has morphed this into a decision purely for my job happiness. During and post-move, we both had difficulty adjusting. W seemed depressed. We had intimacy issues. We didn't communicate well. I felt super-stressed working, then coming home and trying to give her a break with the kids. The plan was that W would go back to work after about a year of restarting our lives up here.

We had some conversations about intimacy which turned into arguments. Nothing violent or physical. About a year ago, my son was hitting his sister in the back of the car repeatedly. I pulled over the car and grabbed his leg forcefully. It didn't leave a mark. I regret it, it was a poor parenting decision. My W calls this abuse. It was an isolated incident.

We did MC last fall. Rather than tell me she was upset about the move, my W told me she wanted more help around the house. I worked on doing more chores, more childcare. None of it seemed to help. She would periodically express frustration over several things all at once. I should have known then she was starting to resent me, but instead I was trying to listen empathetically and then address her concerns if possible. Things got worse and worse. Around March I discovered evidence she was considering D. I freaked out. She wouldn't talk to me about our MR. One night we were driving home from seeing friends, and I pulled the car over because I wanted to talk so badly. She was frightened by my heightened emotions and thought I was going to hurt her. I wrote some apology and love letters (yes, I know.....) and ultimately found my way to DB forums which sort of saved my life. We went a couple more months in limbo, then finally I insisted we go back to MC, where she asked me for a trial separation.

At MC, she hit hard with the abuse narrative. Pulling over the car was emotional abuse. Grabbing my son's leg was abuse. She didn't want me to have the kids stay at my house overnight. I was frightened and trying to pull it together with the hopes of saving our MR.

Things have calmed down quite a bit. We eventually settled on a 4-10 schedule (I get Friday pm-Tuesday am) every other week. It's not enough for me. Getting to that point, and getting settled in where there aren't accusations of abuse... it was not easy. It also isn't fair or right.

My W has yet to go back to work, although she does rent the office space she needs. She would like to keep our marital home, although the reality is we could barely afford it married when I lived there. She says she needs 6 months of demonstrated income (whether alimony or working) to rent somewhere. Sometimes I think this is a good reason to financially separate now, so we can start the support payments. I worry this is a reason she may delay things another 6 months. In our state, it is expected the D process will take at least a year.

I am torn emotionally when I look at this upcoming D. On the one hand, I agree with the cold calculating approach. 50/50 (or an agreement to ramp to it soon, and yes, I need to research this more). Imputed income after 2-4 years (I haven't decided what I think is fair). Financially separate sooner rather than later (I am effectively paying more than the support payments would be right now).

I admit I am terrified of my W's mindset. I'm not so concerned with her going to family court with abuse allegations. I am more worried if she doesn't go to court, but keeps waving this stick around, and then suggesting it's up to me to build trust with her etc. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of feeling like it's up to me to rebuild trust with her. But I do want to keep things civil and amicable for my kids' sake if possible. I'm just not sure that is going to be possible.

It does feel like this is starting to drag out, and it's only to her benefit. So I may start needing to press the schedule on getting mediation rolling. Otherwise, I'm just missing more and more time with the kids, and spending more and more money, while she does little (as far as I can see) to prepare for the next phase of her life (getting back to work, finding living accommodations, etc.)

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Lately as we have discussed beginning this filing process, she has said she wants to work the absolute minimum she can and spend the absolute maximum time with the kids. She is okay with me asking for 50/50, but not okay with the kids being in day care or after school care on my days.


Had a friend who tried this when she divorced her husband but he was smarter than she gave him credit for. Took a bit for reality to set in but she ended up working full time. As far as daycare goes I think its good for you to be thinking about this now but I have a feeling in the end it won't matter.

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I should say we are going to try mediation first, and then run our agreement by our own individual lawyers. I imagine at some point things may break down, however, so I am proceeding cautiously.


I've seen this work out well for the spouse who doesn't want the D. Five of my friends wanted out so bad that ultimately they accepted whatever terms their LBS offered to their detriment. My WAH hasn't filed but I've already decided I'm not doing mediation. I don't want this, we don't agree, I'm too emotional, and the stakes are too high.


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Any advice on how to approach the custody situation? I think her issue with 50/50 is that, in her mind, if I am working and the kids are out of school, she would like to have them. It's not a financial/support issue. I have thought about saying "Let's put 50/50 in writing, and then we can talk about what the kids do after school and work it out on our own."


I don't trust your wife so I'd want everything in writing.

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I like fade's answer better than mine.

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