Thanks for the thoughtful message FlyGuySLO!
Here are my answers:
FlyGuySLO wrote:1. Why are you not fighting for 50/50 equal custody? This should be first and foremost what you settle. Unless there is some domestic violence on record, then you should have 50/50. Nothing else is acceptable.
For a couple of months after my STBX first asked for divorce, I (misguidedly) tried to keep the family together and explain that I simply don’t have enough income to provide for two households. She called my explanations ‘emotional abuse’ however and used to totally put me down in front of the kids. We finally had a big quarrel one day and some neighbour called the police, so now I have an arrest on record. Nothing particular happened, so I wasn’t even arraigned, but the arrest is still there. Plus, I probably waited too long to ask for a custody decision and—on top of it—landed an unsympathetic mediator, so the mediator just basically kept the schedule my STBX had forcefully imposed on me, rather than try to figure out what exactly was going on. I hope to get increased custody on 3/21, but that’s still a while off.
FlyGuySLO wrote:2. How much do you make?
I have $12,917 gross base income that—as I wrote in my original message—goes down to about $8,500 net. I also get quarterly stock that can give me another $2000 net if the price stays as is, but the STBX owns almost half of this, as it was granted during marriage.
FlyGuySLO wrote:3. Are you and your wife from the same country? What country are you from?
I’m from Bulgaria and she’s from Russia. Married in Bulgaria and the children have Bulgarian passports only.
FlyGuySLO wrote:4. Do you have any assets such as real estate, investments, retirement plans?
I have a retirement plan, but that’s only since Aug 2015 and at a bare minimum. All my retirement savings up to that point went to finance the move to the US and childcare so my STBX’s could study.
FlyGuySLO wrote:5. Does your wife have any separate property assets such as a trust, investments, bank accounts?
Nothing whatsoever, just debt. Back in the day, when we began living together in Germany, we started everything from absolute zero.
FlyGuySLO wrote:6. Have you asked your lawyer, or an immigration atty, about a plan to get her working asap? If she has the degrees she does I have to believe the court would impute her income to something substantial if she had a work visa. CA is a state that encourages the non- earning spouse to become self supporting as soon as possible. You can research "Gavron Warning" and see what I mean.
When we moved to the US, the immigration lawyers said my STBX should expect a work permit within a year. We struck bad luck with USCIS, though, and now the work permit is at minimum 2–3 months away, without any guarantees. As my employer is paying for the immigration work, I’m trying to get them to spur the lawyers along, but it takes time…
My divorce lawyer knows about the immigration situation and did tell me that my best option is for my STBX to get the work permit ASAP. If only I had any real influence on that… There will certainly be language put in to require her to do a reasonable effort to find a job, but I cannot ask for a deadline before she gets a work permit. Truth is, however, that with her credentials she could find a willing employer that’d get her an ‘extraordinary ability’ O-1 visa, but she hasn’t lifted a finger to look for a job like that.
With the private school, etc. I’m in trouble in two ways.
1. I still have several instalments to pay just to cover this school year—about $2,550 a month.
2. If these fees are not considered as add-ons (even counting that from a future date, say from next school year), the support calculation will mostly allocate my ‘surplus’ to the STBX and I’m again left with insufficient funds to pay my recurring expenses.
The crazy part is that one of my STBX’s (ex?) poly partners filed a declaration with the court, saying that she can live in his home with the children for as long as is necessary, i.e. until she finds a job. I, on the other hand, have a year-long rent lease that I’ll need to pay on until September. So she provably can have accommodation she doesn’t have to pay for (even though she moved out this week—no idea why), whereas I won’t have enough money to maintain mine and may get evicted… And my lawyer says the court probably won’t take this into account. To me this is the biggest puzzle in the whole situation. Shouldn’t there be some provision for leaving some bare minimum for food?!?