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Decisions, decisions, decisions

Old 10-30-2018, 06:45 AM
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Decisions, decisions, decisions

I dunno if this is the right place to post this; if not, I apologize in advance.

My overall question is this: Pulling the trigger versus letting the stuff settle.

I *feel* like I may be rushing into some decisions I might regret later on.

At the same time, my "lawyer brain" can see the logic of making the decision now versus later on.

I won't repost the entire history here, but AW is currently in a in-patient rehab facility. After that she plans on doing 3 months in a "sober living" facility. After that?? Who knows??

AW quit her job this summer. Because her job provided our health insurance, it allowed me to continue with my law practice. But, now we're on COBRA which is expensive. And the "market place" isn't much better.

I recently got a job offer from a government agency. It's less money, but the benefits are really good. In sum, I can get a HSA/High-Deductible plan for me, the spouse, and 2 kids for $180 per month. My prospective ER also makes a small contribution into the HSA (which I can contribute more to). Preventive care is 100% covered by insurer (which some HSA/High-Deductibles do not). I have pre-existing conditions and they'd be covered. It also comes with some life insurance (1x salary), long-term disability, pension (vested after 5 years), etc. Things I don't.

My problem is: I cannot and do not trust AW alone with our youngest (DS 4 y.o.).

I'm willing to allow her to be around DS, but only under guidelines that insure that she is not drinking. That's non-negotiable. If she only has 90 or 120 days of "sobriety" underneath her, that's not enough to rebuild my trust with DS.

Until, AW decides where SHE is going to live after "sober living" - DS will need to be in daycare.

If I accept the new job (which I'd like to do) then, with the lower salary, income vs. expenses is very, very dicey -- I can cover 10 months of daycare from limited savings, enough to get him into public school kindergarten in Fall 2019, but if *anything* goes wrong in the next 10 months (need a new furnace, etc.) I'm screwed.

Housing is my biggest monthly expense.

We have equity in the house (at current FM prices). We're 15 years into a 30 year mortgage, so equity starts building faster (as much going to principal as is applied to interest).

Option #1

It would take some $$$ to get the house "market ready." We built this house and many of the original items were "builder grade" and due/overdue for an upgrade/overhaul. My emotional world right now is sooo upside down that I don't really want to put the time or the money into the house to make the necessary repairs to bring "top dollar." I also don't look forward to keeping the house in "show condition". But, the potential equity to us (combined) would be $40,000 or more. Which I'd split evenly with AW.

My plan would be to move myself and DS in with my brother (who has a 3 bedroom house, no kids, no wife) - and split expenses with him. That should provide enough to cover DS's daycare without raiding savings.

Where would AW live?? Who knows, in some respects I feel it's not really my problem.

Option #2:

Alternatively, I think we could do a quick sale with a "We Buy Ugly Houses" type investor. In this case, the buyer buys as-is type cash on the barrel head, no contingencies sale. It would net a lower offer than hiring an agent, but it saves me some "emotional" energy and exertion (just wiped out these days). But, the total equity would be more like $15,000 to $20,000. Which I'd split evenly with AW.

My plan would be to move myself and DS in with my brother (who has a 3 bedroom house, no kids, no wife) - and split expenses with him. That should provide enough to cover DS's daycare without raiding savings.

Where would AW live?? Again, who knows, not really my problem.

Options #1 and #2 require AW's "cooperation" as she would have to sign off on any sale of the house.

Option #3A:

Stay in current house, raid savings for daycare and cross-fingers. AW lives with us at current house (or elsewhere), but DS attends daycare and I pick-up and drop off never leaving her alone with him. She has supervised visitations with DS for some unknown amount of time until she can demonstrate she's not drinking.

Option #3B

Stay in current house, AW lives with us, but agrees to be monitored for AW use - such as Soberlink. DS does NOT attend daycare. AW stays home with DS.

I don't *have* to choose right now to move in with my brother. That option is always in the background.

But, I don't do "limbo" or "uncertainty" particularly well. I'm much more emotionally built to have a plan or direction (see, lawyer brain).

Are there options I'm missing?? Or are these options even, ya know, options or wishful thinking??

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Old 10-30-2018, 07:09 AM
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Hmmm. These are really big decisions during a super stressful time in your life. I hate that for you. Question, do you forsee any future at all with your AW? I would say lots hinges on that.

I personally would not plan to let her be alone with my child for at least six months of being sober and having an attitude of recovery, AFTER she gets out of sober living. That's just my opinion. I also wonder, don't you also have to split the savings with your AW??

Just a few questions. My heart is with you. I hate that you are going through all of this. Congratulations on the job offer, that is always an honor.
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Old 10-30-2018, 07:19 AM
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In the first third of your post, you write that you cannot and do not trust AW with DS4 - that immediately disqualifies Option #3B in my mind. And I think everything should build off of there.

Getting a gov't job with benefits and the retirement options they have surely must be a good deal, especially since you are paying COBRA. COBRA at my company, even on HSA, is around $1400/month for me, AW, and one kid. That difference alone should cover childcare. Now, can I ask how much of a salary hit you would take? Long-term, having a gov't job almost always pays for itself in terms of benefits and pension. You also have to think long-term.

You don't HAVE to sell right now, do you? I understand that you are trying to save $$, but that would be just another disruption to DS, and if AW is not working, she is going to want living expenses, and if you just leave her in the lurch, she will probably get a lawyer and sue you for living expenses - which then adds additional things to your burden.

IMHO, and I'm not you as a parent or spouse: get DS ASAP from her family in State C and get him back home BEFORE she gets out of rehab. Step 2 - get him in daycare ASAP and get him established there, and get him him into a safe routine. Step 3 - accept the new job unless it's a horrendous hit to your bottom line - remember, you are traveling far-and-wide for clients, will this new gig afford you to be home, and/or closer to home more often? That will save you money and stress.

Bottom line - look at the total overall costs associated with this job. But first and foremost, get DS back, get him in daycare, and make sure he doesn't spend ONE SECOND of time alone with DS. Oh, and get moving with an atty. who can help you with all of this.

We're rooting for you and DS
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Old 10-30-2018, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by CentralOhioDad View Post
In the first third of your post, you write that you cannot and do not trust AW with DS4 - that immediately disqualifies Option #3B in my mind. And I think everything should build off of there.

Getting a gov't job with benefits and the retirement options they have surely must be a good deal, especially since you are paying COBRA. COBRA at my company, even on HSA, is around $1400/month for me, AW, and one kid. That difference alone should cover childcare. Now, can I ask how much of a salary hit you would take? Long-term, having a gov't job almost always pays for itself in terms of benefits and pension. You also have to think long-term.

You don't HAVE to sell right now, do you? I understand that you are trying to save $$, but that would be just another disruption to DS, and if AW is not working, she is going to want living expenses, and if you just leave her in the lurch, she will probably get a lawyer and sue you for living expenses - which then adds additional things to your burden.

IMHO, and I'm not you as a parent or spouse: get DS ASAP from her family in State C and get him back home BEFORE she gets out of rehab. Step 2 - get him in daycare ASAP and get him established there, and get him him into a safe routine. Step 3 - accept the new job unless it's a horrendous hit to your bottom line - remember, you are traveling far-and-wide for clients, will this new gig afford you to be home, and/or closer to home more often? That will save you money and stress.

Bottom line - look at the total overall costs associated with this job. But first and foremost, get DS back, get him in daycare, and make sure he doesn't spend ONE SECOND of time alone with DS. Oh, and get moving with an atty. who can help you with all of this.

We're rooting for you and DS
It is a big money hit (about $20k income side less first year). But, my biggest client (90% of my income) has dropped off significantly this year and appears to be in the process of retiring or closing up shop. So going forward, as I see it, I'm pessimistically counting it as a zero or near zero going beyond mid-year 2019. (Glass half empty vs. Glass half full). Also means I don't have a huge book of business to sell to other firm's either. I can't complain, it's been a good 6 year ride -- but I can see the last station up ahead. It may come later than mid-2019... Better to jump now on my own time schedule, than be pushed on its.

Other than health insurance, I've been hanging naked on life insurance, disability insurance. Comparing TOTAL COMPENSATION (cash and benefits) it's about the same). There is no such thing as paid annual leave or paid sick leave in my own business -- but with the Government gig, I accrue both on a fairly generous schedule so if DS is sick I can take-off to care for him.

I'm also, um, "older" (over 55 y.o.). And finding a salaried job is much, much tougher now. However, the Government doesn't seem to discriminate against older. So, it's hard to pass up the only offer I've had in X resumes sent.

I have an ok pension from a *prior* government job (before I launched my own business) -- and this would supplement that. Looking into the future, my pensions plus Social Security would/should cover my future expenses (so far as they can be determined now). And all of them index for inflation (COLA). Retirement savings are puny -- had counted on having substantial equity in the house (pay off mortgage) that could be tapped into if needed.

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Old 10-30-2018, 08:12 AM
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I think you need to plan to take care of the child alone for the future. I know that's overwhelming. I do it, you can do it as well. That being said, it does require a position with lots of flexability, which it seems you would have with the govt job. And we all know, the health insurance issues are going to only get bigger, and more expensive.
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Old 10-30-2018, 08:46 AM
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AW is currently in a in-patient rehab facility. After that she plans on doing 3 months in a "sober living" facility. After that?? Who knows??

I think the key word in that statement is “she plans”. Who knows what her actual plans will become. Historically you know exactly how “her plans” have worked out in the past. And a pretty good indicator of someone’s future lies in their past. History doesn’t repeat itself – people repeat history.

I agree, no plan moving forward at this point should involve her caring for the child at all.

At this time, how cooperative do you think your AW would be with a legal separation or divorce? Selling the home?
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Old 10-30-2018, 09:13 AM
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I also think it matters whether you've already decided on divorce or not. For me, that would affect how fast/slow I was willing to move in some directions - no point in pulling off the band aid slowly unless you have to, right?

The childcare issue is short term but as DS ages he'll need you for lots of other stuff in the after school & evening times like sports, friends, events at school (book fair, math night, family game night), etc. Would the gov't job also afford you more emotional time with him that he'll need in the absence of his mom?

While you might take a significant hit in income over the first couple of years, would you realize it's impact so much if you are sharing expenses at your brother's vs. maintaining your home? (will your overall expenses be lower even with the added childcare?)
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Old 10-30-2018, 10:50 AM
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But, my biggest client (90% of my income) has dropped off significantly this year and appears to be in the process of retiring or closing up shop.

Seems like the job is an easy decision given the questions regarding your practice. Having a kid myself, I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility and paid time off that working for the government offers. Makes parenting easier.

Another option, while in no way ideal, would be to kick the can on the home sale knowing you could set up a home equity line of credit. I keep one open for emergencies and home repairs when I don’t want to dip into savings. I realize the pitfalls of borrowing to meet expenses, but it might buy you some time as you ponder your living situation.

Leaving DS with mom might cause you (and possibly her, and maybe even him) more stress than it’s worth until she puts her feet on firmer ground. So sorry your hit with so much at once.

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Old 10-30-2018, 04:59 PM
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Yes taking some equity out of your home might be wise. Even if you remortgage, rather than having a line of credit. Will give you some funds to do the repairs and perhaps some upgrades on your house and a little more wiggle room in the budget. That would enable you to get top dollar for your house if you do decide to sell.

Whatever your new salary is won't remain stagnant, so there is that. Perhaps there are also ways to make a few extra dollars on the side, notary work etc? Might not be a huge influx of money but it all adds up.

I had a notary come to my house to witness a couple of signatures, I think it was around $75-$100 for that (cant' remember exactly), his prices were based on a set fee and then additional $$ for each signature he witnessed.

It's handy to have someone who will travel locally so that the people you have witnessing documents don't have to travel to someone's office.

Anyway, just an idea.
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Old 10-30-2018, 07:50 PM
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Have you thought about renting your home? That would generate extra income, and could buy you time to address repairs, etc. You have the added benefit of being an attorney, which can be intimidating to renters who are looking to get one over on a landlord.

If you do get custody of the children you could pursue child support.

Can you get her removed from COBRA? That might save you some on the insurance expense.

Is your wife on the deed to the property? Is she on the titles/registration on any vegicles? Do you have any joint bank accounts that she has access to?
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Old 10-31-2018, 03:46 AM
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I wouldn't make any decisions based on AW being sober. Sure you could monitor her, but what's the back up plan if she falls off the wagon (they don't tell you, they just keep pushing the envelope on Soberlink, read Sasha's thread)?
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Old 10-31-2018, 07:28 AM
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What FeelingGreat said. What A's plan to do, and what the TRULY do, are usually not in the same ballpark. I've heard some many proclamations and such to make your head spin!! How many times has she actually DONE what she said she would do, and kept it up?? Umm, that would be ZERO.

It also sounds like you have made up your mind that divorce is imminent, correct? if not, then thoughts of selling the house and such might be premature. As we all have said (numerous times), the first priority is DS - getting him home, getting him in daycare, and making sure that AW is not alone with him.
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Old 10-31-2018, 05:47 PM
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She is not going to be a reliable person to watch over your child.

Frankly, she'll be a mess and really needs to focus on her own recovery.

I think I'd take the government job if things are fading where you are now.
I work for the state, and having security, health care, and a pension when I retire is a good feeling.
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Old 10-31-2018, 07:50 PM
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If you do go with 3B, you'll need to have a contingency plan in case she tests positive/doesn't test/otherwise screws around with SoberLink.

And while SoberLink is great for allowing safe visits between a child and an alcoholic parent, it also saddles the non-alcoholic parent with the job of monitoring and surveilling the other parent. Plus it can be expensive - unless your ex agrees to pay for it, you're probably looking at a couple of hundred dollars a month in addition to the up-front cost of the device.

If I were in your position? I think I would

a) take the government job - because you're probably going to be the primary if not only parent for your kid, and flexibility (time off as needed) is an absolute godsend (says one who knows). And given your age, life insurance and pension (with the kid as your beneficiary should you pass away) are a really good idea;

b) sell the house as-is, even with the financial hit. For me, the time and emotional effort that would go into fixing the place up for sale added to the uncertainty of selling the house at some future date would cancel out the potential additional $10K, especially if I took the government job and so my long term financial concerns were lessened. But I am extremely risk-averse and your mileage may vary. (And if it looks like the financial hit from the ugly-homes people is going to be bigger than expected - very little equity or negative equity - then you could consider taking out a line of credit and fixing the place up to sell. But if it were me, I think I'd try to sell it as-is first).
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Old 11-01-2018, 01:43 AM
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It might be possible to put the house on the market as-is? Or close to that? I didn't think my little cabin would sell. I'd bought it needing attention, did some work, and after a couple years, decided a 1-2 hour commute each way wasn't working for DS and I. The real estate agent I worked with did a great job lining out the items that Must Be Done and lining up contractors and bids to choose from. It was still stressful, but not as stressful as it would've been if I was trying to do everything on my own. So shopping around for a great agent might help the house-sale option.

Option 3B would make me super nervous. I worked through supervised visitation issues with AXH and DS, so I'm looking at it with hind-sight goggles on my situation, but I'd find that infinitely more stressful than doing all the repairs and upgrades on the house. Just something to consider.
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Old 11-01-2018, 07:45 AM
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Lots of good ideas - some workable, some not.

Here's an update - DS will be returning next week.

I consulted with a lawyer and am moving forward with a Child Protective Order (CPO) - which hopefully the court will enter ex parte (without a hearing) to be turned into a 1 year CPO (after a hearing).

In the CPO, I listed went back and listed *every* episode of AW's "neglect" of DS since he was born and recounted her DWI arrests even before that.

It starts with the recent accident and recent arrest for DWI while DS was a passenger in her car.

As the "responsible parent" - I have AW's medical records from her prior rehab attempts and written statements she made during treatment about how her drinking has effected her family. So, I drew some from those documents. In those documents, she admitted that her drinking caused her to forget that she had food in the oven, which eventually caused the fire alarm to go off (scaring DS to death). Also, she stated that because she drank every night, she'd have to have a drink every day to stop the shakes.

Every past attempt at rehab and every pledge to remain sober broken. Past promises to agree to have an interlock device on her car voluntarily which ended up with her taking MY car (without the device) and me wondering why *I* was the one blowing into it every day.

I want the order, yes.

But, I wanted to write it in such a way that if - in the future - my DS (or my elder daughter) ever read it, he'd hopefully see the looonnnggg history of how AW's alcoholism has affected our family, her own words of how it affected her family, the steps, "bargaining" and broken promises that have finally led me to seek the order of protection.

It helped me to recall things that I had forgotten (hard to believe that you'd forget some of these things, but there's been so many). Put it this way, I got to a paragraph starting with the letter "o" - that's 15 separate things for you folks playing at home. And that is just to do with DS or our children. It doesn't include the arguments between AW and me. The financial burden of the rehabs, increased cost of insurance, etc.

Additionally, I spoke with AW on the phone yesterday. She is - as she should be - focusing on her getting well.

Assuming for the sake of argument that she really, really works it this time, my thought is this: she's like a burn victim who has to do soooo much work to get better that she's really NOT in a position to think about the best welfare of DS. That, like many other things, falls on my shoulders due to the extent and severity of her wounds (i.e., alcoholism).

I'm NOT truly to the point of seeking a divorce or legal separation.

But, seeking and obtaining the CPO may likely start WWIII between AW and me or, at least, between some or all of her family (my in-laws) and me.

My own family (consisting of my siblings) is 100% behind whatever I decide to do.

I just wanted to have some documentation, clearly written and with enough detail that I could point to it and say: "you want to know why I did what I did?? Here, read this and then get back to me."

Crossing fingers and saying a few prayers.

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Old 11-01-2018, 07:57 AM
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I think that's a really great starting place MCE. Let the chips fall where they may as far as hurt feelings & angry reactions - you're obviously putting the kids' wellbeing first. Anyone who wants to argue with that is showing what matters more to them.

More will be revealed, I'm sure. Hang in there.
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Old 11-01-2018, 08:14 AM
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Wow, MCE - BRAVO!!! I've been documenting discussions, black-out episodes, etc., for the past 6 years. I also have NUMEROUS pictures of her passed out on the toilet, a $4000 repair bill for the car, pics of broken cabinet doors, etc. I wish she had put something in writing as well, that would have been the icing on the cake. But I think I have enough - and I think you do as well. It is amazing how we tend to forget some of the MANY things that happen. I think it's because there ARE so many things, and if we keep reliving them it brings us down even more. Sometimes I will look back on my journal and say, "Holy crap, I forgot about that!"

You have made a ton of progress, and I hope and pray that it all works out in your favor, and f not 100%, you should be able to get enough protection in place for DS to make things calmer for you, and safer for him. Good for you.
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Old 11-01-2018, 08:45 AM
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Good for you!!! Very proud of you, your son is lucky to have you protecting him!
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Old 11-01-2018, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by MCESaint View Post
But, seeking and obtaining the CPO may likely start WWIII between AW and me or, at least, between some or all of her family (my in-laws) and me.

My own family (consisting of my siblings) is 100% behind whatever I decide to do.
I really hope this all works out well for you MCE.

Just wanted to say, your statement above. Yes, your AW and her family probably won't be too happy with this turn of events and really it's understandable. Your family supports you 100%. While her family are probably aware of her "mis-deeds" (for lack of a better term) they love her and she is their child/Sister and they care about her and your child.

There will be fear, if they are close to your child, that they will be cut off from seeing him. They will see the fear and perhaps anger from their loved one (your AW).

It's a lot for you to deal with and I have no doubt you are entirely capable of doing that, just perhaps keep in mind there are a lot of people that care about your child, I'm sure and maybe contact with some of those other family members is not a bad thing for him.

(I don't know the dynamic there, of course, just thought it was worth mentioning).

Do you plan on having some visitation in place for your Wife to see your child?
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