My son, 35, has been married for 3 years and has one child. He recently came to me with what I thought was an amazingly unusual dilemma.
He wanted my advice on the idea of a second child, which he desires. He was married in 2017 and the first child was born in 2019.
It turns out that his wife, 35, is very reluctant not to have another child, as she claims, but to give birth to another child. She says she would agree to surrogate motherhood at a cost of more than $ 200,000. She claims this is her right as a feminist and that she has the right to control what happens to her body.
At that point I was completely at a loss. I can’t even imagine that physically, emotionally, socially or financially.
This does NOT seem like a good use of money for a healthy couple who have had no problems conceiving.
This does NOT appear to be a good use of the money for a healthy couple who have had no problems conceiving and seems to indicate a significant lack of judgment and sensitivity.
My son inherited a decent amount of money when he was 30 (around $ 1 million), an amount that may have sounded a lot earlier, but now it’s basically an opportunity to buy a home and fund education for children.
In our family we have always adhered to the rule “never immerse yourself in capital” as closely as possible.
Still, he already invested capital by covering his wife’s $ 250,000 college and credit card debt before they were even married – quite a heroic rescue!
In hindsight, I was shocked to learn that she had received a full scholarship (tuition, room and board) at a flawless university, but had turned it down in favor of NYU with no financial support. She had no particular plan to repay this debt – in fact, her original ambition after college was to become a yoga teacher.
Unsurprisingly, that didn’t go particularly well. They now live near San Francisco, where both of them work in engineering – my son is a data scientist and my daughter-in-law has a job in social media.
Your compensation is decent (her possibly $ 100,000, its maybe $ 130,000) but not spectacular, especially not in expensive Northern California. I’m pretty sure my son’s job (an established company) has a better future than yours (a “startup” faltering due to COVID-19).
In addition, my daughter-in-law’s parents are needy, unemployed and totally dependent on them.
In addition, my daughter-in-law’s parents are needy, unemployed and totally dependent on them. From now on they live with them and take care of the daily childcare of their daughter – better than paying the costs for a nanny and parents in a separate residence – but a difficult situation in a small apartment. The parents are only in their late 50s.
But wait, there’s more. My daughter-in-law rejects my son’s request to enter into a post-marriage agreement to separate what remains of his inheritance from the marital property. In fact, she has stated that she will only feel like a “true partner” if he allows her to share his wealth equally.
So far my son has resisted and seems determined to hold the line on this. She reluctantly agreed but has not yet seen a lawyer. I am not optimistic that a lawyer will be helpful in this case. However, my understanding is that in California, assets brought into a marriage are excluded in a divorce settlement, especially in a short term marriage.
After all, she is very determined to buy an expensive home, which seems like an end to the postnup to me, as that capital, once it goes into a home purchase, becomes a “marital asset”.
Despite this story that makes her sound like a relentless gold digger, she is a nice person, loves and cares for her daughter and hopefully my son. She just seems to have an amazingly relaxed attitude towards money – if it is there, spend it! (Or in the case of a college, even if it isn’t there.)
I understand that there are all sorts of problems here, not just Cockamamie’s surrogacy, but I would appreciate your perspective and wisdom regarding the tricky financial troubles here.
With best regards,
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The gods will judge us according to our decisions. They will also judge us for judging others by their choices. The best way is to think carefully about the former and do as little of the latter as possible.
With this in mind, let’s assume that their parents are good people and that your son and daughter-in-law are happy to help their parents unless we have another reason to suspect otherwise. Childcare in San Francisco can cost up to $ 22,000 a year. So it’s a blessing when you look after your child at work. Multi-generation households are not uncommon in many cultures. Working in a start-up can be lucrative, and studying at a renowned university can open doors, be it through smoke and mirrors or not.
I agree with the first part of your daughter-in-law’s position. It’s your body and your choice. Regardless of whether she considers herself a feminist or not, she and she alone can decide whether or not to have another child. Despite constant interference with these most basic civil rights, all people should have freedom of choice over their own bodies. One thing I know for sure: birth, reproductive rights, and finance are not two separate issues that exist in isolation. You are not. Surrogacy costs can range from $ 90,000 to $ 130,000 in California and much less in other states.
When your worst fears about their priority gap are recognized, the boundaries of this marriage will be pinpointed.
And so to you, son. He too has a choice of how to spend his inheritance or not. I understand his wife may want to investigate the financial requirements of surrogacy, but inheritance is viewed as separate rather than marital property for a reason. This is money the legacy desired and used your son as he sees fit. If his legacy is seen as a glass on the mantelpiece that you can immerse yourself in, it will soon burst into nothing. Of course, if your daughter-in-law’s financial inquiries are part of a larger pattern, I worry that your son’s legacy will be lost in the inquiry.
Ultimately, it’s a much bigger conversation than surrogacy or even your daughter-in-law’s student debt. And here, too, is my concern. Your daughter-in-law must weigh the pros and cons of having a child through surrogacy, provided your son agrees to pay for it, with the pros and cons of having another child at all. Your son needs to balance his desire for a second child with the cost of surrogacy. We cannot answer these questions. When your worst fears about their priority gap are recognized, the boundaries of this marriage will be pinpointed.
Given the emotional issue they are grappling with, it seems like a wise and fair move to me to keep their $ 1 million as their own property. Your son can say, “Your body, your choice. My inheritance, my choice. “Sometimes such directness and dullness are required. It’s not a pretty or easy conversation no matter how you choose to start it. But it is better than if both of you now – without apology – draw lines in the sand about how far they are willing to compromise, what expectations and plans they have, how they move their families and finances forward.
Delaying such conversations rarely leads to a better result.
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