How should my husband and I set up our bank account(s) if we have a blended family?
I married a man who had three children and we have two children together. We both work and I have a slightly higher income than he does. We have a joint bank account into which we put 100 percent of our paychecks. From this account, my husband pays child support as well as other expenses for his three children from his previous relationship. We both pay college loans out of this account, but I have paid mine significantly down (I owe a third of what he does) from inherited money from my family. I am uncomfortable with this arrangement because I feel like a portion of my income is going to support his other children. What is the best solution here?
I'm going to suggest a Yours/Mine/Ours approach. Accordingly, you would each have individual checking accounts into which your paychecks are deposited. Those are the "Yours" and "Mine." Then a third account that is a joint "Ours" account. You will both need to agree on which of your expenses you will share and in what proportions, like 50% of mortgage, 50% of utilities, your two children's expenses, etc. All those bills are paid from the "Ours" account after each of you transfer the agreed upon portion from your individual accounts to the joint account. You may then agree that each of you will pay certain individual expenses from your individual accounts, like child support, those other expenses for children from prior relationship, student loans, auto loans, personal clothing, lunches, etc.
A word about child support: A child support payment is calculated to be the difference between what each of the parents will provide for the children as a result of the time spent with each parent. Therefore, each parent "supports" a child on the days spent with that parent. The difference in the number of days spent with each parent, combined with the difference in the parents' respective incomes, are the key components in determining child support. Therefore, if you feel that the three children are with your family to the extent that they consume utilities, food, etc. that concern you, you may want to share some rate other than 50/50 on these expenses, like 60/40.
From what you have shared, it is going to emerge that you have more disposable income, after expenses, than your husband. If it is your desire to identify that money, which I assume you will save and invest, as your own, you will need a post-nuptial agreement to identify such. Otherwise, if the day comes that the marriage may dissolve, all property acquired during the marriage will likely be considered marital property and subject to division with your husband, regardless of how your perceive it. If these are concerns for you, I suggest you consult with a family law attorney in your state.
I totally understand your frustration/concern. I would recommend that you two have a conversation. Even though it going to be diffcult. I would rather you both be in agreement. If you two are not on the same page it could cause other problems in your relationship. Once you discuss both sides, then you should create a plan. Here is an article I wrote about that same issue.