My son, 35, has been married for 3 years and has a son. He recently came to see me with what I consider to be a staggeringly unusual dilemma. He wanted my advice on the idea of a second child, something he wants very much. He got married in 2017 and the first child was born in 2019.
“This does NOT appear to be a good use of money for a healthy couple who have had no trouble conceiving. ”
This does NOT appear to be a good use of money for a healthy couple who have not had a problem conceiving, and it seems to indicate a significant lack of judgment and sensitivity. My son inherited a decent amount of money in his 30s (about $ 1 million), an amount that once seemed like a lot, but is now basically the ability to buy a home and finance the children’s education. In our family, we have always adhered as closely as possible to the rule of “never resorting to capital.” However, he has already invested capital by covering his wife’s $ 250,000 in college and credit card debt before they were married – quite a heroic ransom! After the fact, I was surprised to learn that he had received a full scholarship at a perfectly good university (tuition, room and board), but turned it down in favor of NYU, without financial aid. He had no particular plan to pay off this debt; in fact, her initial ambition after college was to be a yoga instructor. As expected, that didn’t turn out very well. They now live near San Francisco, where they both have tech jobs – my son is a data scientist and my daughter-in-law has a job related to social media. His compensation is decent (hers possibly up to $ 100,000, his maybe $ 130,000), but not spectacular, certainly not in expensive Northern California. I’m pretty sure my son’s job (an established company) has a better future than hers (a “startup” reeling from COVID-19).
“In addition to this, my daughter-in-law’s parents are destitute, unemployed and completely dependent on them. ”
In addition to this, my daughter-in-law’s parents are destitute, unemployed, and completely dependent on them. From now on, they live with them and provide daily childcare for their daughter, better than paying the babysitter and parents’ expenses in a separate home, but a difficult situation in a small apartment. Parents are only over 50 years old. But wait, there is more. My daughter-in-law opposes my son’s desire for a post-nuptial arrangement, designed to segregate what remains of his inheritance from the marital property; in fact, he has indicated that he will only feel like “true partners” if he allows him to share his assets fairly. So far my son has resisted and seems determined to hold the line on this; she reluctantly agreed, but has yet to see a lawyer. I am not optimistic that an attorney will be helpful in this case. But I understand that in California, property contributed to a marriage is excluded in a divorce settlement, particularly in a short-term marriage. Finally, she is very determined to buy an expensive house which, to me, seems like an end to post-nuptiality, since once that capital is used to buy a house, it becomes a “marital asset.” Despite this story, which makes her seem like a tireless gold digger, she is a good person, loves and cares for her daughter and, I hope, my son. He seems to have a surprisingly casual attitude towards money – if it’s there, spend it! (Or, in the case of the university, even if it isn’t there.) I realize there are all kinds of issues here, not just the wacky surrogacy, but I would appreciate your perspective and wisdom on the complicated financial complexities here. Sincerely, Concerned Mother-in-law You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to the coronavirus at email@example.com Dear Concerned: The gods will judge us by the decisions we make. They will also judge us for judging others for the decisions they make. The best way forward is to think carefully about the first and do as little as possible about the second. With that in mind, let’s assume your parents are good people and your son and daughter-in-law are happy to help their parents, unless we have some other reason to suspect otherwise. Childcare can cost up to $ 22,000 a year in San Francisco, so it’s also a blessing to have them to help care for your kids while they’re at work. Multigenerational households are not unusual in many cultures. Working at a new company can be lucrative, and having studied at a prestigious university can open doors, whether through smoke and mirrors or not. I agree with the first part of your daughter-in-law’s position. It is your body and your choice. Whether she considers herself a feminist or not, she and only she can choose whether or not she wants to have another child. All people should have authority over their own bodies, despite constant interference with this most basic of civil rights. One thing I know for sure: childbirth and reproductive rights and finances are not two separate issues that exist in isolation from each other. Are not. The cost of surrogacy can range from $ 90,000 to $ 130,000 in California and much less in other states.
“If your worst fears come true about your abyss in priorities, the limits of this marriage will be tested to the limit. ”
And so to you son. He also has to make a decision on how to spend his inheritance or not. I understand that your wife may wish to explore the financial requirements of surrogacy, but the inheritance is considered separate rather than marital property for a reason. This is the money that the bequest wanted his son to have and use as he saw fit. If your inheritance looks like a jar on the mantelpiece that you can dip into at will, it will soon be wasted to nothing. If your daughter-in-law’s financial requests are part of a larger pattern, of course I am concerned that your son’s estate will be exhausted at the request. Ultimately, it’s a much more important conversation than surrogacy or even your daughter-in-law’s student debt. And that’s also where my concern lies. Your daughter-in-law should weigh the pros / cons of having a child by surrogacy, assuming your son agrees to pay for it, with the pros / cons of having another child. Your child must balance his desire for a second child with the cost of surrogacy. We cannot answer those questions for them. If your worst fears come true about your abyss in priorities, the limits of this marriage will be tested to the limit. Keeping their $ 1 million as separate property, given the very emotional issue they are dealing with, seems like a smart and fair move to me. Your child may say, “Your body, your choice. My heritage, my choice. “Sometimes, it takes so much openness and frankness. It’s not a pretty or easy conversation, however you decide to go into it. But you both better draw lines in the sand now, unapologetically, about how willing they are to compromise and what their expectations and plans are for how they see their family and finances moving forward. Delaying those conversations rarely leads to a better outcome. The Moneyist: When my parents died, my sisters and I divided Your wealth. I picked a painting that may be worth $ 50,000. Should I tell you? Hi, MarketWatchers. Check out Moneyist’s private Facebook FB group, + 0.04%, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money problems. Readers write to me with all kinds of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or comment on the latest Moneyist columns.