When she took stock of her back-to-school costs, Alexandra (first name has been changed), a forty-year-old Parisian, broke out in a cold sweat. It is impossible for her to continue to finance the private high school where her son attends. This mother of two children aged 16 and 4 no longer lives with the father of the eldest, from whom she divorced in 2010.
“I texted my ex-husband to tell him I couldn’t pay half anymore but in exchange I would pay for extracurricular activities, train tickets and a whole bunch of other things”, she says.
After opting, for several years, to pay alimony to Alexandra, who had sole custody, the separated parents revised the terms so that the young boy spent more time with his father. The forty-year-old agreed to give up the pension, and the former couple opted for management of expenses over time, with an almost equal distribution of all of the teenager’s education costs. But this equality is a trap for Alexandra.
Fear of “bad faith”
“My son’s father earns four times my salary. He has become so comfortable in recent years that I know he can take on this responsibility alone without the slightest problem.she comments. Until now, I have made it a point of honor to pay half to show that I too could assume responsibility, but I can no longer keep up, and given the gap between us, this distribution does not bother me. doesn’t seem fair. »
A few days after sending her message, Alexandra received a somewhat curt response from her ex-husband, telling her that he accepted this new arrangement, while wishing that she could “pay it back” one day… A sting that remains unanswered, since the mother refuses to approach the subject too head-on with her former partner, for fear of a possible “bad faith”.
The pattern Alexandra finds herself in is far from an exception. Many separated couples experience different budgetary realities.
“The separation acts as a revealer of the financial situation, analyzes sociologist and research director at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) Anne Solaz. As a couple, we pool resources and create a common standard of living. When it explodes, there are more costs and a loss of economies of scale. » As a result, children sometimes evolve in living environments that are polar opposites depending on whether they are “at mom’s” or “at dad’s”.
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