Is 75% Enough?

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My ex and I were together for twelve years. We’re lesbians but that
matters only in the sense that neither of us adopted the other’s bio-
child. The oldest, hers, just got into a very expensive private college
which she prefers to a state school. She got very little financial aid and
I am being blamed (!!!!) because my family and I set up a trust fund
for her education. There’s about $150K in it now, which is roughly
three-quarters of the tuition/room and board that would be required.
It’s on the other side of the country so there’s travel and incidentals to
pay for as well. Assume we’re about $75K short.


Her mother, who took me to court (and won ?!?!) to get access to the proceeds
of a vacation home that I owned before we got together is pleading poverty.
She’s a real-estate agent. I know the market is bad and the vacation cottage
may not sell for a while. Also that she doesn’t like to work, as
witnessed by the significant depletion in my own net worth during our
time together. I want Hannah to go to the college she wants to, but I
don’t feel that I should have to foot 100% of the bill. The clock is
ticking on saying yes. I know they’ll keep coming back to me for
everything and as much as I love Hannah she is brainwashed by her
bio-mom. I also don’t trust my ex not to skim funds for herself.

Is 75% Enough?

Dear 75%:

I think you have some solid ground to stand on regarding lifting more
than half the expenses, and some righteous leverage to put your ex’s
feet to the fire, assuming you don’t want to pay 100% of everything.
I’d counsel an email, to both of them, that goes roughly like this:

Dear Hannah/Ex: I’m glad you decided on Good School over State.
Here’s my understanding of costs. Four years will be about $200K. My
family has put about $150K into funds for Hannah’s education. I’m
happy to transfer that into a trust fund in her name, and to have that
fund administered by an attorney who will pay the school directly. In
addition I will put another $25K into the trust fund after the vacation
home sells. I’m happy to be able to help you go to college and hope
you succeed in your dreams. I think this contribution is a strong show
of love and support. I think Ex should be able to contribute the
remaining amount of tuition/expenses those out of her proceeds from
the sale of the vacation home. I love you lots – Mom
Nothing can keep your ex from trying to nickel and dime you to death.
But you can set some boundaries that have legal teeth.