So hereís a complicated little pickle:
So when STBXWW (Iím just going to call her X for the rest of this post) decided to jump ship on our marriage, she was determined to move closer to the city, which meant living in a tiny, ridiculously expensive apartment about 35-minutesí drive away (assuming good traffic). However, we had to choose a preschool for our daughter before she knew where she would be living, which worked out well, because it means that this year, she is going to school closer to me. With our schedule the way it is now, X picks her up from school two afternoons/week and drops her off on Fridays. Itís a long drive, but she was willing to do it.
However, the school district she moved to is more desirable than the one I am living in, and I had a feeling that she would want to try to send our daughter to kindergarten there when sheís old enough. However, she brought up the issue sooner than I thought she would. Today, she sent me information about a preschool program near where she lives, talking about how great the school district is, how we could send her to kindergarten there in a few years, etc., so Iím staring down this discussion sooner than I thought.
Hereís the problem. Of course I want my daughter to get the best education, but I know that thereís more tied up in this than just school choice. The place where she goes to school is going to be her community. Sheíll be there five days/week; most of her friends will be there. The other parents at the school will know the local parent better than the other. In many ways, it will likely feel more like ďhomeĒ to her. In addition, the system we have now is probably not sustainable. X is able to drive 35 minutes in the morning and afternoon to get her to school because she is a student, and doesnít have a regular work schedule, but this will not last forever, and it certainly wonít be the case on my side. If she went to school near X, thereís no realistic way that I could brave traffic going into the city to drop her off several days/week. I have the strong suspicion that this distance between us is going to force once of us to become weekend mom/dad, at least for the school year. I refuse to become weekend dad! After all Iíve been forced to lose in all of this, I cannot let that happen.
Option number one is to move down closer to the city myself. I could live somewhere slightly cheaper than where X is living, but still be close enough to bring our daughter to school, and take advantage of Xís address in the good school district. Iím still on the job search, and if I get a job in the city, it could make sense. But the more I think about it, the less appealing this becomes. First of all, even if I do live in a cheaper neighborhood, the rent is still exorbitant. X is paying more in rent for 500 sq ft. than I am for 1200 where I am now. Besides, I would want to live in a good neighborhood anyway since my daughter would be living with me. It doesnít make any financial sense for me to make that kind of move. I donít think I can afford it. Heck. She canít afford it either, but sheís doing it anyway.
In addition, I want to remain closer to my current location because that is where our friends and support network are. All of our daughterís friends are here, as are mine, and I frequently trade babysitting favors with them, which is all the more important now that I am on my own. If I moved to the city, I would be cut off from this support network, and would have to build a new one.
Option number two is for me to move into a better school district here in the suburbs. The trouble there is the timing. I thought that I had somewhere around 2 years before I had to move in that direction, but it looks like if I want to be able to argue for keeping her with me for school, I may have to do this as early as this coming spring. At the moment, Iím between jobs, so I donít even know if I can move, since Iíd have to provide proof of income for any new rentals. The other problem is that even if I can move to a better school district, this does not guarantee that I will be able to convince X to send our daughter to school there. Itís a gamble. Still, as much as sheíd hate it, it is legitimately easier for her to drive up out of the city (against the direction of traffic) to bring our daughter to school than it would be for me to drive in. This is a possible argument in my favor.
Option number one is the one that would create the least conflict, but it compromises me financially, and in other ways as well. And it doesnít seem at all fair for X to move away and then put me in a position that forces me to move closer to her, especially after she refused to listen to my arguments for her to stay in this area, in spite of the fact that it was objectively the best decision for everyone involved (But of course, she has to get what she wants, and so whatís best is irrelevant).
Our divorce agreement is very open-ended on this question. It requires us to agree on where to send her to school. Somehow, weíre going to have to reach a compromise. If we canít, then the courts have to get involved, and I have no idea where that would go. We want to do all of this without the courts, of course, but I feel like I need to maneuver myself into a position such that if the matter were to go to court, the matter would be decided to my advantage.
If we can continue some version of the arrangement we have now, that would be ideal, but if we do have to alter the balance of custody, I want it to be altered in my favor, not hers. I want my town to be my daughterís school district, and I want to be able to find a way to get to my desired outcome without it seeming like I am fighting X.
Quite the wish list, right? Oh, and Iíd like to win the lottery too.
I do fear that in thinking this way, I am making it about what is best for me rather than what is best for my daughter, but I donít think that the two are mutually exclusive. I still havenít sorted out exactly what WWís infidelity means for her parenting, but I suppose thatís part of the problem. There are so many unknowns on her end. Is she stable? If she remarries, will she find a man of quality, or will he be a schmuck like the OM? If Xís home becomes our daughterís primary home, what will that mean for her? I donít know. But I know what her life would be like with me, and even after just a few weeks of single parenting, I feel like twice the father I was before.
So, what to do? This is going to require some very delicate maneuvering. Anyone have any advice?