What is fair?


I have been in a 2 yr year relationship with my fiancee who is a wonderful, caring, hardworking guy..and he is a father to an 8 yr old and a 12 yr old girl.
I have been a single mom almost since the birth of my 6 yr old son, and although his dad lives 7 hrs away, he does see him for for long visits on all holidays and a few long weekends in between.
We have lived together a year or so, and been engaged 6 months.

In addition to working full time, I'm also pursuing my masters degree (as it is a prerequisite for my current position), and although I don't make quite as much money as my fiancee, I pay more than half our household expenses as he has so much child support to pay (almost 50% of his take home pay). This doesn't bother me in and of itself.

The BM has been preventing him from getting his name removed from the mortgage so she and the kids can continue to live in their marital home - she has never worked and doesn't want to unless it is for exorbitant amounts of money although she has no education or training in anything,nor has she been an 'involved' stay-at-home mom (her kids have never been in any sports or hobbies although they are interested, and she dumps them off at my fiancee's parents home every other day, sometimes for days at a time) - and threatening him with taking him for alimony, his pension, fighting for full custody, etc unless he continues to keep his name on the mortgage...which of course means we could not move from my small house as we can't get approved for a larger mortgage. When his kids visit, all 3 kids sleep in one small room (my sons), as there is no other space..basement not finished, etc.
(We now learned of a supreme court injunction that could be implemented to remove his name from the mortgage so she can no longer hold us hostage in this way...but he is trying to not be too aggressive with this info as she is volatile and it could mean she goes back on her agreement and fights for full custody/alimony/etc. so he's gonna finish. the painting and plan to list in a week or so).

This past fall I decided that if we were going to have a vacation we had to do it then (fall) due to my upcoming school and work projects. We had planned a trip with all 3 kids, but the BM kept going back and forth on her word about whether his kids could come and since they did not yet have the court papers completed, etc., he was in limbo as to custody, etc., and he decided that just the 3 of us should go as we couldn't afford to have her change her mind and we'd lose $ on the tickets, etc., and the kids who didn't know about the trip yet, would be really disappointed because of the last minute cancellation. The BM is really self centred and it would be nothing to her to do this, she rarely, if ever thinks of these children or their feelings ahead of what she wants for herself.

The other reason (my fiancee told me later) that he decided we should just go the 3 of us, was that he wanted the trip as stress-free, fun and memorable as possible as he knew that he was planning to propose to me while on the trip. Why couldn't this happen with his kids there? The 12 yr old was diagnosed last year with anxiety disorder, ADHD, and possibly ODD...after I arranged for her to see 2 specialists (colleagues of mine) as her behaviours are out of control, no one can manage her, and my son (although he loves her) is scared of her when she has these irrational screaming prolonged tantrums that set whatever household she is in, on edge, until she settles...sometimes this is more than an hour...with entire extended family (his parents, uncle, etc) all around...She is a big girl, taller than me, size 10 feet, and I have seen her haul off and headbutt her 8yr sister for accidentally brushing by her clothes! She has impulse issues... i have only ever seen children like this in psychiatric wards. Despite the favour of getting immediate referral to 2 renowned child psychiatrists and psychologist, hearing the diagnoses and getting a referral to a child psychologist nearer where they live, the mother (who has no job or hobby, etc other than partying) has never taken her daughter to an appt yet, its been over a year since the referral. My fiancee works approx 60-70 hrs per week just to meet his financial commitments, so he has not had time to take her. But it has gotten to the point where I put my foot down and demanded he do something as we could not 'blend' our family if the kids couldn't be together....I didn't want the 12 yr old around my son after
she taught him swear words, told him stories about inappropriate things (drunk people, drugs, and how it would be funny to burn the school down with gasoline, etc. a few weeks ago while on a weekend of rock-climbing, swimming, movies and restaurants - family fun- but she manages to wreck it...) my son barely understood what she was talking about, but its only a matter of time when he will...and he does repeat what he hears and this stuff is difficult to explain to teachers, other mothers, and my family...

So, they have an appt with a social worker she saw 2 yrs ago (for similar behaviours back then- of course, her dad had arranged the appointments, etc., all back then)....and he is starting a course for parents of children with behaviour issues in a few weeks...even though he will have to work less in order to attend these things...and we are having to really tighten our budget to manage. this just has to be done.

This daughter also plays one parent off the other, and does the same with her grandparents. She tells stories of hardship and unfairness at each household to get sympathy, and the grandparents (his parents) are only too eager to believe her, spoil her and think ill of the mother. However, his dtr does the same to us; stating we are too strict (we do require that kids pick up their dirty underwear off the floor, and clean up any toys they have made a mess with after they're finished playing)..other than that, they don't lift a finger, as we have to be careful not to put too much 'chores' into the very little time they spend with us (maybe 2 weekends a month) as they then tell their mom(or grandma - they are often staying with his parents) that they don't want to come to their dad and my place as we are so strict..., so we try to make it mostly fun...and we have to as well...they are so spoiled that unless we take them to restaurants, to buy them toys, or go on roller coasters/big ticket festivities- you get the picture... etc. OR let them play video games all day, then they don't even want to come to our home for the visit.

Yes, my fiancee, like his parents enables this somewhat as I believe he feels guilty about everything....that their family split (4 yrs ago now..her infidelity was cause), and that he doesn't see them more (but he has to work this much to pay their mom and afford to do things with them), and because he does worry that they will not want to come to our home if there are any more 'rules'.

We cannot compete with the grandparents (loving but enabling) and the BM who allow videogames ALL day long, don't enforce homework getting done (12 yr old now failing in school), and they allow cheese pizza, ribs and coca cola/gingerale every day. The 12 yr old is a resistant eater, and they just cater to this. No wonder she likes it at the grandparents the most...what child wouldn't...no rules, all junk food and video games. The mother doesn't cook at all so it suits her fine to heat up frozen racks of ribs/pizza every day.

So, anyway, the 3 of us went on the trip this past fall, it was great. His kids weren't happy about it, their mother told them he went without them and he spent time 'making up' for it, and they were spoiled rotten at Christmas by him.

We are planning a destination wedding next spring, with everyone (all kids and extended family).

Lately, my son started inquiring about Disney World, what is it, where is it, etc., as some classmates went on spring break, and all 9 of his cousins have been and filled him in on it. I hadn't been able to afford this as a single mom in years/careers' past, and now next year is out of the question due to wedding plans/cost, and following year is out of question as my only break from grad school program is at a time when his dad is taking him for vacation (government job- predetermined holidays) and he will not be taking him (to Disney) as they don't have enough money and are kind fo homebodies/don't travel. The year after he will be turning 9, and I'm told by my sisters/friends, that he mightn't be interested anymore at that point.

So, I want to go in a few months or so before his dad takes him for half the summer.My fiancee cannot afford for he and his girls to come with us and neither can I (afford to pay for 3 more people). I will be dipping into credit for 1/2 this trip even for the 2 of us. My fiancee says the 2 of us will have to go alone as he can't go on another trip without his girls ...
My fiancee's daughters went to Disney for a week last year with their mom, aunt and grandmother.
This doesn't seem right...85-90% of our lives, the 3 of us are a family...but then when it comes to this trip, its all or nothing....so if my son and I don't go, is that fair to my son who has never been to Disney?
Incidentally, the girls have been on a cruise before (my son had not), they have been away to the Caribbean to resorts, they go almost all summer to their grandparents cottage by a lake (fiancee's parents), as the grandparents care for these girls more than their mother..they are at the grandparents at least 50% of the time - they take them to school and back, etc...the mom has a busy social life.
They got to attend an elite kids camp (would have cost $2000/week) because their dad went with them last summer and worked at the camp for the week they were there, hence no cost, as he forwent pay so they could attend free). Ziplining, aerial park, watersports, bungee, etc. My son is too young to attend for another 2 years. They will do this again this year and next.

My son didn't go on those trips, or to the cottage... does it go without saying that if you're a stepchild (even 10-15% of the time), you still get 100% of the vacation time at every household where you visit/live in that year.
We're all single parents ( with dads who pay their fair share of support PLUS all the extras), and then have to pay for kids to go on EVERY vacation too or be guilt ridden?

There are obviously more issues here than this trip, but this is the most pressing issue right now...and I have no friends with stepkids in a similar situation....they all have their stepkids every weekend or have them 50/50...they have 'blended' more, and they don't have quite the level of drama/behaviours as we have with our lot...

(BTW, His ex won't allow the kids to live with us primarily -many friends say we should 'have' the kids so we can give them a stable, more normal upbringing...
but, despite her selfishness and near neglect of them, having the kids is what she sees as her 'ticket' to his money (child support) and the only way she can blackmail and guilt him into things. For example, he just spent every day after working 12 hr shifts this week, at her home painting rooms, because if 'he expects' her to be able to sell the house, he has to paint it and get it ready. No, she wouldn't consider painting it herself...or taking care of it (cleaning it) in the first place and so it was pretty rough to list 'as is'.) He does want her to get max value for his kids' sake. He is foregoing his half of equity in the home (and all its contents) so that she agrees not to pursue his having to pay alimony.

I'm new here. please forgive my lengthy post. I just finished a course (last assignment was tonight), so I'm not used to having time to myself before 3am - my usual bedtime after homework :P...I couldn't ignore the opportunity to seek advice.

Thank you.

Comments (11)
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If you loaned money to a couple, had both signatures on the note, & they got divorced, would you release either one of them from the obligation?

I don't know of any mortgage company that would do it either.

I didn't read your entire post, just not enough time right now, so please forgive if I've missed something, but...
Do you know any of this from independent sources?
someone other than your fiance?

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You need to get your priorities in order. I would not be using credit to pay for a trip. Your son will not be scarred for life if he doesn’t go to Disney World and it doesn’t even sound like he has his heart set on it anyway. It sounds more like you are concerned that your son is not getting the exact same things that other kids - cousins, fiancée’s daughter are getting.

My daughters have a cousin that’s an only child. She gets a lot of things that I can not afford to get for my girls. That’s life. You can not compete with your fiancée daughter’s family and what they do for her. If the girl’s grandparents want to pay for her to go to an elite kids camp, trips, etc. that is their money and their prerogative.

The second issue and more important one - I’m confused about the mortgage. How is it that the BM has prevented fiancée from getting his name removed from the mortgage? If BM does not work, the bank is not going to allow her to refinance it in her name only.
Like Sylvia says - the bank does not care who got divorced. If both names are on the mortgage, they are not going to release one person from that obligation. The only option is to sell the house. This SHOULD have been all worked out in their divorce decree but I’m not going to waste more of my time though on this because people have a tendency to post questions on this site and then never return.

If you have questions about the mortgage please come back and explain in more detail about it.

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--"and threatening him with taking him for alimony, his pension, fighting for full custody, etc unless he continues to keep his name on the mortgage."--

Does not sound as if the guy is divorced as of yet...these are all topics that are typically addressed in pre-divorce settlement negotiations.

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HI again,

Sorry if I wasn't clear on the 'whole story', my post just already seemed too long so I didn't go into all the details.

No, I know the bank can't just release him from his obligation to the mortgage. The issue has been that for over 2 years (first with mutual agreements penned between them, that were then supposed to be notarized, etc., but she would intermittently rip up the documents when in a rage and trying to make a point), anyway, for 2 years the BM had been agreeing to take over the mortgage by finding a co-payer, and /or getting a job and getting approved to carry the mortgage on her own. Each time the mortgage came up for renegotiation my fiancee would sign on for another 6 months; first because she said her mother was going to co-sign the next time and just needed to get her 'affairs in order' and then said her mother refused at the 11th hour leaving her in a 'tight spot' (entirely believable as her mother does have the means to financially assist, but they do have 'falling outs' and the mother will kick the BM and the girls right out of her house mid-visit and they won't speak for weeks to months after the BM says or does something rude/abrasive/etc..., then 6 months later she had led all to believe that she had started a good job that paid decent commission and she asked for some 'flex time' just to get through her training period at 'work' (she was convincing - grandparents babysitting time was at max volume due to all her 'work hours and overnight 'business trips', and he signed on again - then that job just up and disappeared - "it just didn't work out" the BM said..."not paying her what she's worth" (?).... the last time was purely a guilt trip ...he finally had the divorce papers in hand (they were delayed by almost 9 months due to his given name not matching the european spelling of his name on his birth certificate, and the process had to start over again with the amendment "AKA" 2 names acknowledged on the documents)...the divorce papers clearly give over his half of the equity in the home and all contents to her. And now that we know there is legislation that can be pursued to force her to sell the home (and/or remove his name from the mortgage), now that the divorce is final/signed, he will not be signing for another 6 months after this.
Anyway, she told him if he didn't resign (this last FINAL time) that the bank would foreclose as she didn't have money for the mortgage that month, she would lose the house and she and 'his' kids would be on the street. (of course these children would never be on the street, at least half the time they live with his parents anyhow...but she may be on the street as she has been disowned by almost every friend and family member she has had).

Anyway, despite the fact that the supreme court can force her through the selling process of the home...he has been (and all along) trying to avoid court, lawyers and 'setting her off' as she can be quite volatile and vindictive and using the children as pawns is not past her. Since she asked him to fix the place up to sell, he is being patient, charitable and reasonable, and is painting and doing some needed repairs that seem to be what any reasonable person would want done prior to selling their home. There is finally an appt with an agent and a photographer in a week, and so he has not thrown out the supreme court 'trump card' at her. The advice he gets is from a lawyer through his EAP. I don't go to these meetings with him (although I have been invited) as I'm busy enough between my work and my son......although my sister doesn't seem to think any of this is much out of the ordinary from the usual 'ugly divorces' with unreasonable parties involved and she is a family lawyer.

His parents have also spoken openly of this in front of me as his really lovely (but enabling and passive) mother (who would do anything for the grandkids) was wishing and proffering that she could co-sign the mortgage even though she can barely stand the BM...just so the kids could continue to have a home nearby her...but she just retired, husband is retired as well, so they are pensioners with not much money at all...and she is not eligible to be a co-signer for these reasons.

The BM's own mother (and sister), although both are well-off and employed will not help her...while they are at least on speaking terms with her lately, they do not support her choices, etc.

On to the next subject "getting my priorities in order" :) Thanks for the feedback.
Yes, at time of purchase of this trip (if we go), I will need to dip into credit...good thing that credit exists eh?
However, my employment organization chose to 'gift' me reimbursement for this semester's tuition which was entirely unexpected and thus 'found money' for me (this is half the trip by itself). I also have not yet received my tax return, and I cease making car payments in 2 months time ($600/mo!), so I am not so frivolous and irresponsible as you might think. I have worked out everything so that I have enough for my tuition for next year (non-negotiable; no leaves are permitted from my program, no taking a break or a semester off), and putting a small amount away each month until the wedding trip next year.

To be honest, perhaps I am a little concerned that I give my son what all "the other children around him are getting" to experience. After all, I got to go to Disney twice as a child and my parents did not have alot of money but they were able to make that happen for us. I have a better paying job than my parents had, or than any of my 5 sisters and brothers and yet, they have taken their kids to Disney at least once.
I am the only mother of my close friends, and of my sisters who works full time (actually more than full time, I have a small consulting/teaching job for extra money as well if needed) and I do feel guilty sometimes that I have to work as much as I do....and besides this, I'm not sure if this means anything to anyone but me, but my son was born 6 weeks premature, he had to be resuscitated at birth, he has nearly died a few times in his first months of life, has had some very serious heart defects and illnesses (he's okay now) and he's the only child I have, or will likely ever have. The other thing that probably affects my thought processes is that I work in critical care and see people (and children, babies) die almost every day through horrendous disease, illness and trauma. I see, hear and feel the grief not only of the pain of loss, but of dreams not fulfilled, plans put off to 'another day', and moments left 'un-seized'. I know how quickly and unfairly life can be stolen and I am vigilant about quality time, being spontaneous, and not putting things off for another time....or "when the time is right", "when the stars align the right way", etc....
I do adore my son in an exquisitely painfully tender way (I guess like any mom...lol) and want to at least give him the best childhood I can. I know it can't be bought, and we do spend 95% of our quality time on our own simple 'adventures', and picnics, and reading, and eating ice cream while sitting in parks or trying to skip stones across the pond and making arts and crafts and havign "mommy & son dinner 'dates'" ;)
I don't spoil him with gifts or spend alot on 'things' at holidays.
I don't think I am too extreme or 'off the mark' as a mother, for wanting to take him to Disney once.

And you are correct, whomever it was that said my son doesn't appear "to have his heart set on Disney".... where he really wants to go is India...to see his "little sister" (World Vision 'sister'...same age as him :) as we have researched her village, culture, religious practices, etc.,on Google and Youtube at least a few nights each week since we 'adopted' her, and he always wants to send her messages in person, take her the letters and care packages to her directly. I have to keep showing him the globe and how far she is, and telling him we will have to save our money for a long while. That's where his heart is set on going. But I can't make that trip happen anytime soon, and I can't give him the little sister that he wants...so maybe I'm trying to make up for it with a little Disney magic. India will have to wait :)

I do not feel any sense of needing to "compete for what my fiancee's girls get". All they get is 90% purchased and/or arranged for by him. I think you misread my post. His parents don't have money, they have a small cottage by a lake and take the girls there all summer as their mother is 'busy' with her own life....but they have never paid for any extravagance, no trips, etc. The girls got to go to the $2000/week camp because my fiancee worked there for free in lieu of paying for the girls camp registration as he has a specialized professional that the camp sought to employ. He just had to use a week of vacation time from work and forego a week of his salary to take them there....same plan for this year and next. This is a dent in our household budget though...a week without pay and the other week's pay going to child support means he walks away with about 20% of his normal take-home pay that month... except for those camp memories of course!
He also takes a week with them for the cottage with his parents...my son and I do not go...there is not enough room for all of us, and its nice for him to have 1:1 time with his girls as his work schedule is so crazy the remainder of the year.

My point was, that he is my son's stepdad too, the only 'dad' my son knows for about 11 months out of every year for the last 2 years (he actually does not remember us living alone for some reason, he was 3 when we met.)..my son misses him when he is gone (even just to work!) and was sad that he could not go to camp, the cottage, Disney last year with the girls, etc. But I don't take issue with it, I just do special things just the 2 of us when we can to distract him...

I just wonder if the same consideration couldn't be shown to my son with regards to this proposed Disney trip.

We are a family of 3 85-90% of the time, and a future of "separate trips ALWAYS" or "everything together ALWAYS" are not the only options...at least I don't think so.
The girls have done lots of travel, etc., on their dad's 'ticket' and with their dad and grandparents along, and did Disney last year with their mom and grandma. We are all going for 2 weeks to the Caribbean for the wedding together, and will surely have other trips together as well...

I was just feeling frustrated that I'm finally in a place to afford to take my son places this past year and now it seems like I either have to go alone with him (like a single mom again and have to answer him for why his stepdad couldn't come), or not go at all, as it feels 'unfair' to my fiancee for him to travel without his girls. His guilt guides almost every decision he makes.

I had just hoped for someone in a similar situation....not a blended family that lives together most of the time, or that has equal access, 50/50 visitation.....but someone in similar shoes to my own, to comment or suggest strategies or options....

I already have the 'nod' of informed 'approval' that my fiancee should feel free to come on this trip and it is not a betrayal or exclusion of his kids, that not EVERY opportunity can be afforded to every child every time (such as I've discussed), and that its a matter of dialogue and sitting down as a family and highlighting how each of them has been afforded their own special times, and that we would continue to do so....this all coming from my MSW friend from family court..... But, I don't just want to hear what is said in text books or articles, or decreed by family court judges or negotiated by mediators....I came to this forum because I want to know how other 'real life' Stepmoms and stepdads have done it (not the worst-case scenarios that my friend hears about), and what works and what doesn't.
This forum is potentially a great resource, I thought I would tap into it.

Ok, I'm done now :)

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Sorry, no I don’t agree it’s a good thing credit exists. Granted, people do need credit for big purchases, like houses and cars, but credit is the reason this economy is in the crapper right now. People buying things they can’t afford and frankly don’t need.

I understand this is your one and only son, your baby and you want to give him everything you can. Yes, life is short and you can’t take it with you, but at the same time you need to strike a balance. You admit that your son really doesn’t want to go to Disney land, it sounds like you are the one that thinks Disneyland is the thing to do.

If I were you, I’d save that money you were going to use on Disneyland, continue to save until you are able to do what your son really wants and take him to India. I don’t mean to be harsh, but is this really about your son, or about what you want? He wants to go to India, you want to go to Disneyland. I realize one is a lot cheaper than the other, but I think your son would appreciate the trip to India a whole lot more. He’s learned about his adopted sister’s village, her culture and religion. Think about what he would learn actually visiting India. You’d open his mind to other people and cultures. To me that is worth so much more than riding some amusement rides and seeing some cartoon characters. Not only that, but seeing as the trip would only be more memorable the older he is at the time, that gives you more time to save money.

My daughter wants to go to Paris. Yes, it is expensive, but I realize not only would this be a wonderful memory, it’s a great educational experience for her as well. Would I like to take her somewhere else? Sure. But it’s not about what I want, it’s about what she wants.

So the divorce is final. Good because it did sound like it wasn’t. The only thing your finance can do now is wait for the house to be sold. You can’t make someone buy the house.

A serious red flag is see in your fiancée is that “his guilt guides almost every decision he makes”. I dated a man for two years that was the same way. He felt guilty that his son came from a “broken home” and that he didn’t get to see him every day. As a result, he let his son get away with murder. His son was rude, disrespectful and disobedient. My two daughters and I were going to move in with him and his son. But I could not tolerate dad’s lack of parenting. He kept making excuses for his son, and eventually I could not take it anymore and broke up with him. I realized I could not live with a man that could not stand up to his son. I don’t regret my decision to break up with him at all.

I suggest you take a long hard look at your situation and think if you can continue to put up with the drama with the BM and your fiancé’s inability to stand up to her.

Another thought I had. You’ve mentioned that you pay over half of the household expenses because about 50% of your fiancée’s pay goes to CS. You say you’re okay with this, but for how long do you think you will be willing to tolerate this situation?

My exBF had financial problems too because of how much CS he had to pay. When talking about living together, he would say how wonderful it would be to have someone to share the bills with. That’s right. Not how wonderful it would be seeing each other every day, sharing a life together . . . I realized he was looking for someone to help him pay his bills - including his CS.

I’m not trying to say your fiancée is looking for you to do this, but it’s something you need to think about. I believe you said BM does not work and no one can make her get a job.

You work very hard and go to school, will you be okay with working so hard to pay CS to a lazy woman and crappy mother for the next ten years? Because that’s what you are doing right now. For how long will you be willing to do this?

This post was edited by Amber3902 on Tue, Apr 9, 13 at 9:51

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I completely understand your perspective on this. You would like to take your son to Disney and you want your fiance to go along with you. I also understand his perspective.

As a stepkid, I can tell you that I was hurt when my Dad took fun vacations with my Stepmom and Stepbrother and my brother and I were not included. I honestly think if your fiance is not comfortable with it, then he shouldn't go. I think you should take your son and have a good time.

Just think of all the special one-on-one time that your son gets with your fiance that his own kids do not get and try not to begrudge them because they are his reason for not feeling comfortable going. I do think if he parents from a place of guilt that he needs to work on that though. I don't think it does anybody any good, especially the child if the parent behaves like a friend rather than a parent.

I also don't understand why BM has so much leverage over your fiance. Why doesn't your fiance try to get 50/50 custody, especially given the fact that the kids are with his parents a good bit of the time?

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HI again,
Thanks all, for taking the time to respond. I do appreciate it.

India won't happen for years, and let's face it, I'm not going to forego yearly vacations in order to save for that trip...we all work too hard to be saving for a big trip like that years down the road. And, it does need to be years down the road as he turns 6 in June (same as his 'sister' in India) and we just 'adopted' her last year. I would like them to have established more of a rapoort, letter writing, ability to communicate and understand each other...she doesn't yet speak English but will apparently learn it now in school...before we go there. She also lives in a very dangerous area at present. I'm not going there alone with a small child in tow....I may not even go alone with pre-teen in tow...I have travelled with friends and still found myself in precarious and scary situations in Asia and Africa...India is no different....and now- this is back to my original query :) If my fiancee can't be guilt-free enough to go to Disney without his 2 girls, he won't be getting to India with us either! And unlike me, he has not travelled the world, he is very envious of my travels and hopes that we get to travel together to some of these places.....but we need to sort this stuff out. So, will we also not be going to India without the girls???

And yes, India is maybe my son's #1 choice right now, but don't take that out of context and turn Disney into 'my' want.....remember in my first post, I did say that HE (my son) initiated conversation, he has been asking about it and having me 'google' pictures and videos and talking about it with his cousins. Yes, I would like to give him the opportunity- but is it for me?! Nope....I wish another family was going to Disney and wanted to take him along, I would only be too happy to avoid the commercialism and line-ups and hoopla....the only thing I would miss of course is making the memories with him, seeing his expressions, etc., can't miss that!
Really, I would love to lie on the beach for a week- that would be MY choice...my job is cut-throat and so is my grad program...I would rather chill out.

yes, guilt is an issue with my fiancee, and he will need to work on it. I'm hoping the counseling sessions and getting 'permission' to be somewhat of a disciplinarian in order to help his 12 yr old daughter by having some structure, rules, consistency, will help with this... plus the course he starts in a few weeks on parenting kids with behaviour challenges. I think he has worked so many hours that he doesn't 'trust' in his ability to parent in these difficult situations, his daughter's outbursts are scary and would probably scare most veteran parents. We will just have t work through this together.

As to the money issue, it's not an issue as of now. Yes, I said I pay more than 50%, it's only slightly more than, AND, it's for our shared expenses only...his 'personal' expenses are not included in that (ie. child support, car payment, credit card, etc.). We each take care of our own personal expenses and share the joint/household expenses. So, I don't have to pay for a "lazy BM to sit at home" and take our money...he does. Nor would I, ever. And, where I live (Canada), I would never have to unless I became a legal guardian in a formal way, and/or he stayed at home instead of working 'by choice', and he would not be allowed to just avoid child support by being a 'kept man' or something...in that instance I would have to pay. That will never happen. As I said he is extremely hard-working. He works a full time job plus another more casual job to make the money he needs to, to pay for he and his girls' way.

I hate emails...so much miscommunication :P
I don't begrudge his time with his girls alone AT ALL! I encouraged and supported the camp idea (he and girls-alone a week each summer) that started last year and will continue...my son can't go for 2 more years, so I won't go either (they want to employ me as well - so my son could then go free as well) but until then, its them alone...fine - it's all good.
I encouraged and am absolutely FINE with him going to the cottage with his girls each summer without us - I hope they go and 'bond more' this summer too! I know that a dad and daughter's relationship is absolutely critical to their normal development and socialization...that it will form how they see themselves in the eyes of the opposite sex, how they will learn to teach boys to treat them in a relationship, etc. He has to do everything to ensure that they are not left with anything else except of a feeling of love, respect, closeness, trust, etc., with him - I get that this is priority #1....although somewhat challenging given the limited time they have together, the behaviour issues that need to be overcome, and the undermining at our attempts to instill normalcy, routines, standard expectations of respect for self, adults and each other, and each persons' responsibility within their home, by the lack of any of this at the BM's home, or even at the grandparents.

He is not comfortable with the idea of travel without them, but we can not take them everywhere everytime, so does he never come with us then? Do we travel/vacation as single parents or all together or nothing? This is my question.

If the expensive camp, cottaging, girls going to Disney, etc is 'ok' without us, why is nothing we do without them 'ok'?
The BM has had boyfriends, just no one serious enough to have stuck around thus far...but when that happens and they travel together as the 'family' that they will then be, is that what will make the difference? Surely if they get to vacation together, we (fiancee, son and I) can vacation together? But why would this make a difference? So, I need to wait for her to pick a boyfriedn that travels with them, or a stepdad for them? I'm now confusing myself! :P

Ah..."special one on one time that my son gets with my fiancee"....that's half the issue here, and part of the reason why I would like him to come along! When someone works 60-70 hrs per week, and then fits in time alone with his girls, and is painting their home, fixing that home...all away from us...(girls and BM, and grandparents) live 40 minutes away near his full time job so to maximize time with his girls he will go from work to his parents where girls are often living, and stay in order to try and ensure healthy eating, help with homework, try to establish routines (videogames, bed time, etc)....as we live 40 mins away, my job (and whole extended family, etc) is 40 minutes in the opposite direction, so we aren't about to move any further away from my work and childcare...we are right in the middle and this is the best we can make it for the time being. So, with all this going on, he isn't at home with us much at all! We might get one hour before my son's bedtime, if we see him at all, sometimes for a couple of days at a time (if he is working night shift he will get off work, get his girls breakfast, take them to school, go to sleep at his parents, get them from school, get dinner, do homework with them, and then go back to work), yes, sometimes we might get a whole day with him on a weekend, but its rare... this is why I would like him to come on vacation. My son loves him to bits, is always asking where he is, if he's coming home, asks to sleep holding his PJ shirt :), but will whisper things in my ear that he is too shy to ask him himself, he never asks him to read to him or to play with him...because despite the years passing, he doesn't yet see him as another parent since there hasn't been the time spent to establish that type of routine with him. I thought we could at least vacation together...and goodness knows, working as hard as he does, he deserves to get away.

And it is 'guilt', and not what he 'wants'....he even started toying with the idea of not coming for the whole week, but kind of 'sneaking down for a few days at the end, and flying back home with us". He doesn't really want us going alone, he will also worry about us, I know him. But he worries about what other people will say, think, and of course what would be told to his girls and if they would 'snub him' like they did post the 'engagement trip' in the fall, and only forgive him after copious presents were bought, restaurants attended, etc... He doesn't want the BM calling him a bad father or his parents judging him...

The BM, although not 'enjoying' or optimizing her opportunities with fulltime motherhood from my perspective, has this as her sole identity (I think). She does not seem to wish to have to work and sees the 'full amount' of child support that she gets as her 'income'. In Canada, if we have the children even 40%, he could apply for a small 'break' from the set amount (according to his income) and have to pay less. She will never allow for this. Plus, its only a 'small decrease' in the amount. So, he would still be paying alot, therefore have to work alot, and then who is looking after the kids who would then be with us 50%? I also work long hours and have my mom and a daycare lady helping me. We'd be paying more money in childcare and travel/commute for others to care for the kids!
Plus, his girls do not want to change from their present school/friends, and we can't manage that commute in opposite directions for work, school, etc. I would have to be a stay at home mom -oh wait! I can't afford to, and, his kids need him, not me....

Yes, the BM is happy to leave the girls with his parents alot, but that doesn't affect the amount of 'custody' or child support- so why wouldn't she collect max dollars and have other people care for her kids, that's her M.O. The garndparents will never say 'boo' to her, they would be afraid she would deny them access, but its a joke, she needs them too much so she can have her free time.
By the law, she could technically choose to send them away to boarding school and collect full child support even though she wouldn't be 'caring' for them for their day-to-day needs. So, getting 50% custody/access doesn't help us unless we all lived nearby AND she agreed to less child support so he would be around to parent his kids.
The grand parents live 5 mins from the BM and they take the girls to school, pick them up, etc., it doesn't disrupt their school, friends visits, and their choices (pizza, ribs and videogames!), like coming to our home does.
If the girls had a choice, the 12 yr old would choose to live with her enabling grandparents (the no rules, coca cola and pizza and chocolates for dinner everyday-house), and the 8 yr old would still pick her BM at this point.

Anyway...still wondering if anyone is in a 'similar' family footprint, and could comment on the vacation strategies/options/etc.
After all, we can't 'fix' the BM, might not be able to change much in 12 yr old' s behaviours if BM and grandparents don't get on board with the strategies suggested for kids with these challenges...and the fact that he will always be paying (and therefore working!) this much is not going to change either. So, while I appreciate the 'heads up' re: red flags...I'm aware and trying to work on things I can control, the rest I just ensure that I'm making an informed choice on the matters...I'm aware...not ignorant of facts, not naive...smarter than him (haha - aren't all women?! lol), and I am sure to keep my concern for my son at the forefront of all decisions I make.

My fiancee is a really good, caring, trustworthy, loyal and nurturing man....he is good with my son, he is a good role model (other than the guilt-ridden and confidence undermined by the 'system' keeping him working like a dog to pay for the kids and try to parent them alone with a fraction of the time or support that many other parents might get)... good people deserve chances. We all have our 'baggage', and just because his ex is a piece of work, he made a bad choice in her as a younger/stupider man, and his parents are oldschool european passive/enabling spoilers of kids who think tons of videogame time brings great hand-eye coordination :P...just because of this, he shouldn't be written off. He loves me and deserves me -lol :) , and I would be hard-pressed to find a guy as nice as him in the world, who loves me as he does, and who shares my interests.
So, here I am...giving it a shot... hoping to go on a vacation with my son and the man I love.... maybe could this happen? Just askin' :)

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When I mentioned paying CS for the next ten years - what I meant was:
Your future husband’s income is cut in half because he has to pay so much in CS. That is less money he has to contribute to your household. When unexpected expenses come up, car repairs, medical bills, etc. you will have to pick up the slack because his money will be eaten up by CS. So while you are not directly paying CS, by helping your fiancé with the household bills, you are indirectly paying CS to BM.

You may not see it that way, and that’s good, but some day you may start to see what I’m talking about and start to resent that your husband’s finances are eaten up by a woman who could get a job to support her children. Don’t believe me, just read some of the other posts on here - in particular Kellula’s post dated March 25th.

Not only that, since he has to work so much, that means less time he has to spend with you and your son.

There are so many bigger issues than the vacation going on here, but since you seem so fixated on the vacation here goes.

It seems the underlying issue with this vacation is that you want your son and fiancé to bond, to spend alone time together. It sounds like you want your fiancé to step in and be a step dad to your son. I don’t know if this is right or not, some men are up for that challenge, others are not. While it would be nice for your fiance to be a role model for your son, technicically, your son is not your fiance's responsiblity. And it sounds like he already has his hands full what with his work schedule and two spoiled daughters, one of which has special needs and is in therapy. It might be a little unfair to expect your fiance to take on a third kid that's not even his when his plate is already so full.

We can tell you there’s nothing wrong with your fiancé going with just you and your son on this vacation. The same way your son is not included in everything, he does not have to take his daughters with him on every vacation. However, that does not seem to matter to your fiancé. He still feels guilty.

You can get everyone on here to agree with you that your fiancé should go with you and your son, but the problem is your fiancée. He does not want to go without his daughters. And there are no magical words you can say to your fiancé to make him change how he feels.

The fact that he feels guilty and afraid of what BM and his daughters will do if he goes on this vacation without his kids is a huge problem. He is letting his guilt/fear stop him from going on this vacation, or he’s going to “sneak down for a few days”. Why does he has to sneak? Is he a teenager staying out late at night or is he a grown man? Is he the parent to his kids or does he answer to them? Is he still married to the BM or are they divorced? Why can’t he stand up to BM and his daughters like a real man?

He may be a really good, caring person, however, when it comes to his BM and daughters, he puts their wants/needs before your wants/needs. This vacation is just one example of a much bigger problem.

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Morrigan, is your Dad's father remarried? Either way, consider the scenario that he did marry a new woman who had a son the same age as your son and consider if he were to take his new wife's son to Disney and said he couldn't afford to take your son along even though your son was available to go during the same period of time. How do you think your son would feel about his Dad taking another kid to Disney and leaving him at home.

I know you probably don't think it's a fair comparison because your fiance's kids get to do fun things that your son does not get to do, but much of what they do is outside of your fiance and his relationship with them. I just don't think it's the right thing to do and even though your fiance WANTS to go with you and your son, I imagine he doesn't think it's the right thing to do either, which is why he either doesn't want to go, or doesn't want anybody else to know it if he does go.

I think you need to think of things from the perspective of his daughters rather than the perspective of a grown, adult woman. I just think as a kid, if you saw your dad taking another kid to Disney and not taking you, you would be hurt by it.

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I meant to say "is your Son's Dad remarried?"

I also don't think it matters if the Biomom gets remarried or not. It doesn't change the relationship your fiance has with his kids, one way or the other and it still wouldn't change their feelings if he were to go on a fun, kid-friendly vacation without them.

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Well....is this of much help? Seems like a whole lot of opinions, some of them pretty 'tough' ...seems to really depend on the person or perspective....maybe you're better off sticking with your colleagues with education and some experience in this area...this is all over the place....

"fiancee is gonna feel guilty" "it isn't right" vs "he shouldn't feel guilty"
"Yes, go on vacation, you're a family too" vs "no, how would you feel as a child if you were left out?"

I'm a step parent and I was a stepchild from mid childhood. Things weren't always equal amongst the 2 household, but I wouldn't say they weren't fair.
Much like your situation, there were circumstances where some of us kids got to to certain things, and my stepbrother & sister got to do other things or at other times. Neither household had a lot of money, so I think we actually would have had less 'trips' and such if either my mom or dad had felt that they had to ensure my sister and I went to every family vacation or whatever.
And I don't remember there being any sore feelings or hysterics about it either (not from us anyway).
Our parents talked with us a lot, its not like we didn't know what the other household was doing...we just knew that they would be fair to us, that if the other 2 got something now, that down the road 'our turn would come'....and it did.

It sounds to me like your fiance does have quality time with the girsl, and unless I'm mis-reading here, that almost everything fun they do is with HIM, except Disney last year.
I do think he needs to get over the guilt (whoever said that)..easier said than done, I get that.... but he needs to for his kids sake. My stepsiblings were more spoiled (it seemed like their mom did want them to have everything, or not say 'no', they didn't ever have to do much around the house (any house!) and they were spoiled)..and looking back they were more trouble to both their parents (and our mom!), and they are not very happy people, they're used to getting their way, used to not having to work for it, want life partners who provide 'stuff' more than being good partners to them...I feel sorry for them, they were set up to be disappointed by always getting too much and having to do too little for others.

Anyway...it will take time if you haven't already established a foundation of what to expect or not expect as far as things like vacation, gifts, opportunities, etc. go, but I think that's where you need to do the work...and then maybe the timing isn't great right now, but eventually go on your trip, with or without them. You both sound like good parents and I think you would make things fair across time.

And as far as the money talk/CS that your fiance has to pay - I think it's great you aren't making an issue over that. Let's face it, what choice does th e guy have unless he's a deadbeat dad and doesn't pay it?!
So any guy with kids would be in the same boat...and are you supposed to dump this guy just to look for some guy with no kids and no CS to pay? Sounds like he's a nice guy and maybe him being who he is is exactly one of the reasons you fell for him!
Your kid "already having a dad" and "you shouldn't expect this guy who has these kids with their own issues to take on your son"...THAT I don't agree with.
Your son is obviouly the most important thing in your life, people pick partners based on who will be good with their kids, good for their kids! Your son's dad is far away and only sees him for some vacations...well, sounds like, whether anyone likes it or not, fiance is the male role model...so he better eb good at it and not 'opt out' of it because you all live in the same house...this is also known as being a family ;) Your kid isn't a piece of furniture in that house - so he better have a good relationship with your fiance, or he isn't really being given his due consideration as an equal family member.

I wouldn't have married my husband if he couldn't be 'like a dad' to my kids- he wouldn't have ever gotten to live here if he wasn't great with them. That would have made him boyfriend material, even friend with benefits maybe (lol) (who would never get to meet my kids BTW!!!), but never would he be worthy to share their home if he didn't treat them as his own. I know he may not feel exactly about them as his own, I'm not from outer space :P

Anyway...we run our household the way I grew up...straight forward, they know about our budget, they know we will do 'right by' each of them...but it might not be in the same week, month or year....much like real life. I don't think you need to seek any 'validation' from anyone here. I think your guy needs to go forward with the counseling for his parenting/daughter with issues, and this will probably eventually get to addressing the kids expectations, and discipline, and how to manage, and leave him feeling less guilty because things will be better all around -well, you would hope.

Best of luck to you both :)

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