A decade-old marriage and its carefully separated finances teeter on the precipice as the Original Poster (OP) and her husband find themselves in a heated debate over their children’s unequal college funds. When her husband proposes combining the funds, it rocks the foundation of their initial agreement. Will they find a solution that upholds their initial pact, or will they be forced to redefine the financial boundaries in their blended family?
The Meeting of Two Families
OP and her husband, both in their 40s, have been married for ten years. They both brought now 17-year-old children from previous relationships into their marriage, he with a son and she with a daughter. Their decision at the onset of marriage was to keep a portion of their finances separate, owing to the complexities of blended families.
The couple’s financial setup involved a blend of shared and separate accounts. They pooled money for shared responsibilities such as mortgages, household expenses, and retirement but maintained distinct accounts for their children’s college funds. This financial separation meant that the exact amount in each child’s fund was not a common topic of discussion.
The College Conundrum
With both children now accepted into university, the specifics of the college funds became a pressing issue. The amounts in the children’s funds are starkly unequal, with OP’s daughter having a hefty $150k for college and her stepson has a meager $15k.
A Surplus of Scholarships
OP’s daughter’s scholarships make her college fund more than sufficient for both her undergraduate and potential graduate work. The excess from her fund, OP feels, could be saved for future milestones, like a down payment on a house. In stark contrast, her stepson’s fund, even with scholarships accounted for, is insufficient for his undergraduate expenses.
OP’s husband proposes a controversial solution: combining the funds to ensure both children are covered. This suggestion strikes a nerve with OP, who believes it breaches their initial agreement to keep certain finances separate.
The Past in the Present
The children’s expenses, which had previously been kept separate, were a crucial point of agreement before the couple got married. OP believed this would never be an issue and was ignorant of just how different their savings were.
The Question of Fairness
OP’s husband argues that it would be unfair to the children not to share the resources equally. However, OP points out that fairness has not been a concern in the past when her stepson benefited from having another parent contribute to his expenses. The sudden shift towards equal sharing when it comes to college funds strikes her as inconsistent.
A Discrepancy in the Details
In the pursuit of being “even,” OP’s husband overlooks the fact that his son would be getting more than her daughter. This is due to the fact that the daughter’s scholarships are more comprehensive and therefore require less from the fund. This is a detail that OP feels should not be ignored.
The Ticking Clock
OP is concerned that her husband’s proposal has come too late in the game, right when the difference in college funds is about to be noticed by the children. It seems that a decision needs to be made swiftly but with careful consideration because the two children are very close and share details of their lives with each other.
OP’s late husband was quite young when he passed, leaving little by way of inheritance or life insurance. This furthers OP’s stance that her daughter deserves a good start in life because, further down the road, she won’t receive anything.
While OP and her husband are locked in their financial debate, their children remain oblivious to the unfolding drama. Despite their close bond, they’re unaware of the substantial difference in their respective college funds. The potential for them to discover this financial disparity means that it could hurt not only their parent’s relationship but there’s as well.
OP fears that giving her stepson a larger portion due to the difference in scholarships could set a negative precedent. This move might imply that her daughter’s hard work in securing comprehensive scholarships is being penalized.
The Final Standoff
Caught between maintaining the agreed financial separation and addressing her husband’s plea for fairness, OP faces a tough decision. The discussion transitions from a simple talk about college funds to a test of their shared values and agreement.
Would Withholding College Funds From Her Stepson Be Appropriate?
The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter. Here are some of their responses:
One reader said, “It sounds like you did your job by preparing for your daughter’s college. She shouldn’t have to suffer because your husband didn’t plan for his sons.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote: “I bet if it were the other way around, he wouldn’t be offering to share his son’s funds with your daughter.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person states, “Your stepson has two parents who should have been contributing to his fund. The fact they didn’t contribute as much as you did to your daughter is not your problem.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another viewpoint on the story: “The agreement before marriage was these funds would be separate, and the shared categories were established. Even if you were able to contribute more during the marriage, that was the agreement.
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on their actions?
What would you have done in this situation?
This story is inspired by a Reddit thread.
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