Friday, October 10, 2008

Money makes the world go round...the world go round...

Remember that song? Unromantic, boring and annoying as it may be – it happens to be true and is a very important issue in stepfamilies and especially for stepmums. Money (or frequently the lack of it) is considered one of the major reasons for second marriage breakdowns.

Unfortunately for the stepmother, their beloved's first marriage partner, and especially their children, generally are entitled to some (and frequently quite significant portions) of money. As this is a reality for most stepfamilies - and if this is true for you - it is very important that you know the extent of your new partner’s financial commitment. You won’t be pleased to discover AFTER you’ve tied the knot that most of your darling's wage lands in the ex-partner’s pocket.

So, romantic or not, money issues need to be discussed well and truly before you decide on the ‘big step’. Whilst it may be uncomfortable for you at the time, it will stand you in good stead in the long run. Once this issue is clarified, no-one will be able to say: “but I had no idea……”. Questions you may like to ask can be focused on:

* What is your prospective partner’s income?
* How much of that income goes directly to his ex?
* How much of it goes into child support?
* Does he receive any child support money? If so, how much?
* Is your partner paying for or contributing to his children’s private school education? If so, how much?
* How much extra money (that is not included in the legal child support payment) does he spend on the children – this could be extraordinary expenses such as clothes, school excursions, sports activities, braces for his children's teeth, birthday parties, the portion they may intend to (or feel they are expected to) give towards their child’s graduation gifts, wedding expenses etc.
* Does he have any joint assets with his ex (such as property, business …)?
* For how many years does your partner expect that he'll need to make these payments?

These may sound like difficult questions to ask. To make the task easier, just imagine finding out after the wedding that you cannot possibly afford to stop work in order to have that much longed for baby….or that there is no way you can go into the early retirement you’d secretly been planning because now you have a gaggle of step-kids that need to be supported by YOU. Does the imagery help???? I hope so, because you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache if go for the reality check rather than the (extremely dubious) romantic trip into wishful thinking, unrealistic dreaming or simple denial. Only KNOWING will put you into a secure position of basing the decision about YOUR future on reality. Anything short of reality before you step into stepfamily life will potentially be your greatest stumbling block once you are in it. So, do yourself a favour and take a big leap into the “land of reality” before you take the huge step into becoming a stepmother.

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