I had a court hearing today for child support...and it went OK, but I learned a few things.
The bad part was the judge awarded me more income than I actually make (again) even though I presented my case well. He read the statute regarding whether I am intentionally underemployed, and in essence it says the only justification for making less is if I'm doing so with the intent of making more later, such as an apprenticeship or school. Well, I do intend to, but construction has been extremely sparse in my town. I know if I stick with it and get my name out there again, jobs will come along, but then again if I do make more...I just pay more to the ex.
As things sit now, I can either pay it to her or pay it towards school. If I become a fulltime student I won't have to pay her squat...which is exactly what she did to me to gain her RN degree. Somehow she fails to realize this or remember that she told me I would only be paying until she got on her feet, then she'd help a lot more with the expenses.
For those of you that may be thinking I'm trying to get out of my financial obligations to my children...think again. I'm barely surviving here while she's making more than I ever have as a carpenter...and gets a fat check from me on top of it. I really wish I could say it's going toward my kids, but the truth of the matter is she's just addicted to receiving a check from me and doesn't really care if I go under trying to provide it to her. She's remarried, I'm remarried, and either one of us could handle raising the kids if I wasn't paying her. Enough about her.
I am now looking at going "back" to school, both for my educational benefit as well as the financial position. Thing is...I have no idea what for. Those of you that know me well are aware that I dream of opening a bike shop. I was actually poised to do so in January and walked away due to it not being a profitable enough business to make a living and service the debt. I'm burned out on carpentry, having done little else since I was 17 to now at 43. The bike business excites me, but I realize it has to be done in a certain way to turn a profit at all, though it can be done if managed and promoted properly. A business degree could help with that, for both what I'd learn and for building confidence in potential investors or lenders.
I am also an incessant tinkerer and learner. As a cyclist I have a great interest in efficiency, and the field of renewable energy is also intriguing. With so much of the stimulus money put out there for this area, I have considered getting an AAS in either wind power or solar...or both. One of the jobs that slipped through my fingers recently was to be for a long time friend that specializes in passive solar design. He was and is very interested in teaching me how to contract these designs, so I could also go in the direction of CAD architecture or project management. Not as exciting as bikes, but certainly with more potential for profit.
For some time now I've had a few ideas for cottage industry manufacturing. Again the business degree would help me manage something like this, and I'd also still be able to flex my artistic muscles. I'm really happiest when making cool stuff. Call it ego, but I really like it when folks like my stuff and find it useful.
Although it's not my strength due to lack of experience and schooling, computers are also another possible avenue. I repair machines for friends and build all my own. The downside is this market is saturated. Most likely I'd be better off combining computer skills with another industry.
At this point I'll have to wait. The Fall semester has already started, though I may be able to get a jump on the next one by getting all my paperwork done and testing out of as many basics as possible through the local adult education center. I'll also need to draw on all my resources to see if it's even possible, but at this juncture it appears the prudent route for ol' Wordbiker. Please, feel free to add some input.