Jeannie - posted on 05/17/2016 ( no moms have responded yet )
Hi Moms, I am a 40 year-old, professional single mom of two toddlers struggling to find consistent, reliable, and cost-effective childcare. I live in Delray Beach and work full-time outside of the home from as far north as West Palm Beach to as far south as downtown Fort Lauderdale, although the majority of my work is in plantation. I do not have family support, and my closest friends/colleagues have young children of their own and also are employed full-time outside of the home, thus I would not want to be a burden and request child care assistance. I had someone assisting me part time with getting my daughters ready and dropped off at school in East Boca 3 to 4 mornings per week, and also picking up my daughters from school two or three days each week, staying as late as 11 PM or 11:30 PM on at least one of those evenings. This provider recently graduated from college and took a job at a local hospital which is proving to be too much for her in addition to the part-time childcare schedule. She has given me one week to find a replacement.
I would like to share my story related to my divorce, to see if anyone might have experienced anything remotely similar and have suggestions regarding childcare and legal assistance.
I encountered significant financial hardship secondary to my divorce, which was finalized in December 2015, although my former spouse and I most recently separated on or about 06/11/2015. This was a very conflicted separation/divorce, and I just returned to the marital domicile early in December 2015, about three weeks before the divorce was final, only to discover that my former spouse had refinanced the property several times, it is underwater, and although I am still listed as a deeded owner, my name was taken off the mortgage. I no longer can afford an attorney, and Legal Aid doesn't handle post - judgment cases. To make matters worse, there were errors on my financial affidavit resulting in a miscalculation of child support, as well as a major omission from our marital settlement agreement where I relinquished majority ownership of the family business thinking that I was receiving an additional settlement of 10K, when in reality, it was nonexistent. What I understood to be the settlement terms was my receipt of 10K in exchange for my relinquishment of majority ownership of the family business, and an additional 10k settlement for removing myself from the deed on the marital domicile and finding another place to live. My former spouse has not insisted that we leave, and he is begrudgingly paying the monthly mortgage payments, although I can never be certain what tomorrow will bring as he is unreliable and careless. I was required to pay quarterly maintenance dues of approximately $1200 in April. I spent the last bit of my savings returning to the marital domicile, which I left at the recommendation of law-enforcement. The rental property that my daughters and I resided in for the first few months of the separation developed a leak, and although I thankfully took out a renters insurance policy that covered a hotel stay, we were required to move several times which proved to be too much. It became increasingly challenging to maintain my full-time work schedule throughout the Tri-County area while adjusting to being a single mom. My six-year-old daughter can be difficult at times, although she has significantly improved since December. Nevertheless, I went through a few different babysitters when my former spouse and I initially separated, until my most recent private child care provider came to assist in October 2015. She has been known to my family for many years, as she was a daycare teacher for my younger daughter currently four years of age. Unfortunately, I only have a couple of family members living in the area and they are unwilling to assist with childcare.
I only returned to the marital domicile upon the urging of my former attorney, who cautioned she would "put it in writing "if I refused to follow her advice to return, which she believed would've been detrimental to my case. When my former spouse and I first separated, I was in a much better financial position, and I'm currently struggling just to get by. I depleted my savings to cover all child care related costs and expenses during the separation, as my former spouse agreed to cover all expenses related to maintaining the marital domicile as current until we could decide what to do with the property. The problem is, the family court order drafted in August 2015 reflecting this also contained errors, and referenced that I would be contributing half of the monthly mortgage and maintenance fees on the marital domicile, and the issue of how child-related expenses/tuition would be covered was left open. My former spouse and his attorney were consistently aware of my intentions/efforts to return to the marital domicile, and at mediation, they both certified verbally and in writing that all accounts related to the marital Property were current as of December 1, 2015. Approximately one month after returning to the property however, I learned that I was facing two foreclosure actions, because my former spouse failed to Pay the monthly mortgage and maintenance fees on time. Although he ultimately entered into a payment plan agreement with an attorney collections firm for the arrears on the maintenance account, he accepted a trial loan modification for the mortgage. I believe I have legal recourse, as I clearly entered into a marital settlement based on fraudulent information. To make matters worse, my former attorney informed me the day prior to mediation that she would be withdrawing from my case if I did not settle, as she stated I did not have the finances to take the case to trial and it was an inconvenience for her to represent me in another county. It was an eight hour long mediation that was extremely grueling and exhausting, and I was pressured to sign or face a loss of representation.
Since the divorce was finalized, I consulted with a few attorneys by phone, but do not have funds to cover another lawyer. Instead, I am following suggestions from friends and colleagues to focus on rebuilding my business instead of focusing on what my ex should be paying for child support (I agreed to reduced monthly support payments thinking my settlement amount would be double). The only consistent barrier to really furthering my professional endeavors is finding childcare, as I have been working primarily to cover this expense. My former spouse also agreed that mediation to cover half of private child care costs, acknowledging the significant commute I must make to work each day. Unfortunately he has failed to pay that as well as half of our daughters dental insurance premiums. I tried going the pro se and filing a motion, only to feel lost at the law library. My former spouse still has a lawyer (an aggressive and insulting one to boot), and I feel as though legally, all I can do is wait for him to drag me into court and I would then have an opportunity to defend myself.
I am curious about two possible cost-effective childcare options, which might include finding someone reliable looking for a live-in opportunity with a part time childcare schedule, or bartering childcare with other single moms. In addition, I am interested in meeting/connecting with like-minded and similar-aged single moms in my community to get together for play dates or just for conversation/emotional support. I have always been apprehensive about meeting people on the Internet, however my options are dwindling at this point. Any suggestions are welcome, as I practically work to pay for private childcare. In addition, I would be interested in hearing anyone's experiences/recommendations with mentoring/life coaching services specific to the adjustment involved in becoming a single mother. Thank you in advance, and I look forward to hearing any suggestions.