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Moving in together, schools and everything else!

(12 Posts)
badgerread Tue 22-Mar-16 21:08:22

I'm not really sure where to post this but it does have to do with blended families etc so I thought I'd give it a go here.

I have been with my DP for 3.5yrs, we don't live together because he is around 45 minutes from me and has his two boys (12 & 10) 50% of the time so needs to be near their school and clubs/activities etc. I have two boys as well (11 & 6). My exH moved 2.5hrs away to be with his GF and her 4 children and sees the boys every other weekend. DS6 is at the local primary and doing really well, he also plays football for local team, swims and goes to Beavers locally and my family are all within 20 minutes drive so I have a great support network and we are very close.

My DS11 started in Y7 last September and got an fantastic bursary (94%) to a nearby private school, each place has 10 applicants and he did brilliantly to get in, it is an amazing opportunity but the only downside is that he has to board. He has a leave weekend every 3 weeks but I see him about 3 times a week at matches, various events or just popping up to go for a walk. He loves it and is really happy and settled there. Boarding wouldn't be my first choice but we couldn't turn down the chance to deny him such a unique and fantastic education. The fees are means tested, dependent on household income, I work part time and am a single mother, hence the bursary.

Fast forward just over a year and DP and I would like to live together, however this means my household income would rise therefore making the fees unaffordable, even though my DS isn't my DP's son and my personal income won't go up (it will in fact go down as I will lose tax credits and child benefit). I can't expect my DP to help towards the fees when a) DS is not his child and b) he has his own children to support. There is no point even talking to ExH about it, he wouldn't contribute and I would be selfish for even considering it, even though he's moved 2.5hrs up the road with his GF and her children.

This means I cannot move on with my life with DP until DS has left school, which will be another 6 years (they have 6th form) and it will be even longer if DS6 goes.

The boys would love to live together, my DS11 said to me the other day, 'If we wait 5 years we'll be too old by then'!! we would have to look at somewhere halfway between the two houses allowing all children to carry on with their clubs and also to attend the same schools.


228agreenend Tue 22-Mar-16 21:16:15

Why don't you speak to the school and see what the financial situation would be? Maybe the bursary will remain, as you won't be married, or maybe they can offer a reduced bursary, but enough to make fees affordable.

badgerread Tue 22-Mar-16 21:28:27

Thanks 228. I did send them an email requesting a, 'quote', stating rough figures for our joint income and they came back with a figure of 6.5 times what I'm paying now. We could potentially go to 2x but no more than that.....

When we are ready to take the plunge (within 6 months if our houses sell) we could I suppose write a more detailed email detailing everything and stating the benefits of us all living together. Otherwise I've got to meet a millionaire who can help me with the fees or someone who's on the dole!

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 22-Mar-16 21:29:47

That's hard. Could he move next door?

badgerread Tue 22-Mar-16 21:33:11

The house next door was for sale and I did suggest that! smile but he has to be near his children's schools what with having them 50%...

HeddaGarbled Tue 22-Mar-16 23:18:38

It seems to be clear that if you and your partner move in together, your son will have to come out of the private school. What's the alternative? Are there decent state schools he could attend local to you? Is it this son who is encouraging you not to wait until he has left school? Does that mean that he would prefer you all to move in together than remain at his current school?

WannaBe Wed 23-Mar-16 10:08:34

Honestly? You need to look at the bigger picture here. The boys saying they want to move in together is a bit of a fantasy utopia which is going to potentially be much much different in reality.

Let's look at this from the kids' perspectives. Right now you have your two - one full-time and the other who boards. If your DP moves in you will have a situation where you have:

One child in primary who lives with you both full-time. Two children in secondary who will live with the three of you 50% of the time, and one child at boarding school who only comes home every three weeks. At the very least you are potentially going to be creating a situation where your DS1 will feel as if he is not a part of the bigger family by virtue of the fact there are other children living in his house while he is not.

If your DS1 is pushing for this move knowing that you potentially couldn't afford for him to stay at this school, is it possible that he is trying to tell you something about how he really feels about being at boarding school? Added to that, while the other two boys currently have 50/50, if your DP moves further away from them this may well impact the time spent with him in the future as they get older and want to spend more time out with friends etc if he is not easily accessible iyswim.

I would seriously explore your DS1's thoughts on his current school regardless, but tbh as hard as it is I would seriously be thinking that moving in together in the current situation isn't something I would be considering.

DontMindTheStep Wed 23-Mar-16 10:51:45

This situation is unfair on you. And it's a big dilemma of what you'd like, over whether the practicalities can be overcome. On top of this, your ex is free, and you have the responsibility of the children.

Absolutely, your partner can take on the financial responsibility of your childrens' school fees. He can make up the difference he would make to your finances, compared to how it is now.

The thing is, can he afford to?

I have seen this before. You are caught between a rock and a hard place.

It might seem scary, but truly, it is for you to make this decision (not your partner nor ex, nor your children).

I feel for you, so i will tell you my experience, with my children and steps, who were the same age...

-The children really wanted us to join as families (and couldn't AT ALL make mature decisions, their desire was genuine, but naive, and they didn't understand about money or the reality of it not being a constant sleepover party.)

-My now husband was more influenced by his kid's desire for us to join, than I realised. (And our outcome is very good, and we are happy). So perhaps my hubby was naive, and also didn't think through planning financially.

-To make my decision, I wanted to know that for every child and for me, our new set up would be an UPGRADE (ha ha - the term I used at the time) and not a sad "compromise" my friends advised. My new hubby was in for an upgrade, obvs :-)

- I noted that my house sale generated far more equity than my new husband's. I keep this in mind about how his larger income is spread between our blended family and that a) I am worthy of it, we are a couple and also co - parents to both sets of kids, and b) it will take years for him to make up the extra money I put into the house, and c) my ex husband still pays maintenance for my children.

BUT WHAT IF, becuase of money, the only choice is your boy leaves boarding school?

I would say No, don't join forces. Sorry. 😭
Put education first. You'll be a mum a very long time, and the childrens' childhoods go by so quickly. A school change, and a change at home is a lot to cope with. The step children influence the family culture, as a mum you lose independence, and living together the children have to be treated the same and there are wins and losses. Please note that if you truly believe the Good School is best for your children and you can get bursaries, then this might be worth more to you than the chance to 'move on' and live with your man, which will be (I promise) a complex, difficult, plate spinning emotiotional roller coaster!

There is a good option... If yours both end up boarding, could you 'sleep over' more at your partners? Many men would be satisfied with this arrangement! I really know that this would have been a sacrifice for me, because I longed to live with my partner soo much! But then, hubby was less unhappy with separate houses to be honest. But he did want to live with me, but his longing was intermittently strong and then it'd slacken off. Once married he loved living with me more than I did him! After buying together, the reality was quite stormy for a few years. Step families are tricky and it took 4 years to settle down. Had I felt guilty about trashing my children's education opportunities, I probably would have been broken entirely! But, as on paper I had ensured it was an UPGRADE, I held no such guilt.

I'm sure you are in a real anxious state with this dilemma. I feel your pain. I've seen couples break up in the same circumstances. It's often the women who miss out on moving on.

We sold two houses, bought one big one, blended the children, sent them to the same school, operate a "bio - parent first" parenting scheme, support each other, and we have all benefitted compared to the alternative- remaining separate. It can work. In my situation the ex's have caused trouble. We've spent money to help the 'blending', we have a huge mortgage, but I wouldn't change it because it's lovely! 😊 This (I'm guessing) is what you would like.

I wouldn't have done it though, if I could have got private ed for my children. I would have waited (and maybe lost my partner 😢)

MrRochestersDog Wed 23-Mar-16 11:09:52

If your DS is thriving at his boarding school, I would go through a lot to keep him there. Could you make an appointment with the bursar and talk through your situation?

badgerread Wed 23-Mar-16 13:11:25

Hedda – Yes this is the son who would like it to happen, but doesn’t want to leave his current school, his ideal would be to do both! My DPs sons go to an outstanding state school near him but that would mean uprooting my youngest….

WannaBe – I have thought of the situation that you have raised, how would he feel all of us moving in together and him only being there a small amount of the time. He is absolutely happy at his school and doesn’t want to leave, as I said to Hedda he would like to do both and to be honest I think his school would take priority over moving in together, you made some very valid points that I have though about but having them reiterated really hit home…

DontMind – Your post almost made me cry, it could be me! Where you say that my ex is free to move on whereas I can’t is very true even though I would never sacrifice my boys’ happiness or education for my own wants! My DP cannot afford to take on the fees and nor would I expect him to. Your UPGRADE comment really rang true as well, if we were to move in together I would be putting in around £220k of equity and he would be putting in £20k, whereas he is the higher earner enabling us to get a (huge) mortgage for a property big enough to house all if us. However, it would be a compromise I feel and not an upgrade, I would want my life to get easier not harder! My children’s education is more important than my current wants, we will have all the time in the world once they have left school! And my DS6 may decide that school isn’t for him (or he may not get in) so that makes the time to wait shorter still. We can use this time to pay more off our mortgages as well. If my DP feels he can’t wait then I could potentially lose him, but that means he’s not the one for me. Thank you so much for your post.

MrRochester – I think we will test the water but if it is a definite no no then moving in will have to wait. DS11 was moved in his primary school and didn’t settle well, I would hate to do it to him at secondary as well…

Thanks again everyone.

228agreenend Wed 23-Mar-16 14:22:08

Don't mind - what a detailed and superb post.

swingofthings Wed 23-Mar-16 16:04:39

This is a very difficult one. If you don't move in together for another 6 years, how is this going to affect your relationship?

If you do move in, your sons have to go to new schools, and then you realise that things are working out with your partner (things are very different when you do), and then you can't go back to how things are now.

It may be that in a couple of years time, if your DS does exceptionally well in what he got in for, they will be much more open to negotiate a fee that you can afford.

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