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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 12-18-2009, 09:17 PM
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Default Child Support: Guidelines vs "I Want Money!"

From our past court experiences with child support, "I want money!" always wins; even if it means the judge ruling against the child support guidelines.

Go figure! Make me wonder why we even have "guidelines!"

Many of you know my and my husband's situation when it comes to dealing with his son's mother. Nothing matters except how much money she can get out of us. And she stops at nothing!

Long story short, my husband - who worked in financial services for many years - hasn't had very good luck maintaining a secure, salaried job since he lost his employment when the market crashed in October 2008. He has been unemployed for half of 2009, and during the other half, has been taking odd jobs and working outside his field in order to make a buck.

Because of his lack of steady income, he asked the court for a reduction in child support, yet instead got ordered an increase, based on a job he had for only 3 days on the day of court, and one he lost only 2 months later due to company "re-organization." Since that time, we have been desperately trying to determine a more appropriate amount of child support, to no avail.

Basically, my stepson's mother doesn't care about my husband's financial circumstance, all she cares about is how much money she can get.

She is now going after my income, claiming that my husband is "voluntarily unemployed or underemployed," and that I'm supporting him, therefore I should pay child support based on our household income.

My husband has sent her several offers to settle, ALL abiding by the guidelines. He has offered to pay child support based on his previous year's total income (as per his income tax return), or based on the average income of the past 3 years. The only 'condition' is that whichever method of calculation is used, that is the method that will be used for EVERY calculation, on a yearly basis. No more of this "we'll calculate child support using the method that will yield the highest amount" bullsh*t, that has been the way his child support has been calculated for the past 3 years, even in court.

The problem is that my stepson's mother doesn't want to agree to that. She feels she is entitled to "whichever method of calculation yields the highest amount at that specific point in time."

She has declined all the offers, and plans to file her own motion for child support, claiming that my husband is voluntarily underemployed.

We know this because my husband attempted to meet with her to discuss child support options, and the meeting was not at all what we expected. She did not want to discuss calculation methods or the offers served on her, but came with a list of 30 questions that she wanted answers to. Questions pertaining to his employment history, his job search, his living expenses, his standard of living, and most shocking... my income! She even had the nerve to ask for "documentation" in terms of original copies of his job contracts, pay stubs, ROEs, etc!

Needless to say, my husband provided her with zero answers, and in an angry and frustrated huff, she ran away crying. (Her requested meetings ALWAYS end this way.)

All we want is for child support to be calculated using one just method of calculation, a method which shall be followed yearly for all child support adjustments in order to "provide the fairest determination of actual income and determine an amount that is fair and reasonable in light of any pattern of income, fluctuation in income, or receipt of a non-recurring amount during those years." (As written in the Federal Child Support Guidelines.)

Why can't the court give us that one just ruling?

Why does "I Want Money!" ALWAYS win?

Does anyone have any advice on how we could attain a fair and proper ruling in this regard?

We are at our wits' end!

Thank you in advance.
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:53 AM
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We just received an email from her indicating the following:

It is my belief that you are/have been purposely underemployed / unemployed. However, I would be inclined to consider one of your settlement offers and avoid proceeding to court based on the information in the following documents:

-A copy of the “conditions of employment” held for each job held in 2008 and 2009

-A copy of your ROE for all positions held in 2008 and 2009

-Documentation that your position with XXXX was costing you more than your earnings

-Medical documentation of your back injury

-Medical documentation that you cannot perform physical labour as a result of the back injury

-Medical documentation that you are resolving /resolved this back issue (please confirm start/end date of this treatment)

-Full documentation of your job search efforts, starting Oct 2008

-A copy of your lease agreement that states your name, the cost of rent and date of when this lease was signed

-A recent, updated Financial Statement

If you choose not to disclose this information to me by January 8, I will be asking the court for this information to be provided as soon as possible.


Any thoughts?

Are we obligated to disclose this information to her upon her request?

Would the court rule for this information to be disclosed to her?

How do the courts handle claims of un/under-employment?

Any advice would be fantastic!
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:13 AM
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How much Child Support She claimed for? Is she asking for an amount more than table amount? What do you mean why she always won in past? What is the reasoning behind she ask for more money? Did your husband has agreement settled before?
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:15 AM
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My personal feelings would be, I don't mind submitting such information to authorities, but I don't "submit" to my ex. I don't jump to attention when she enters the room and I don't report to her on my activities. She isn't my supervisor, manager, agent, CEO, parole officer or any similar role. That doesn't stop her from trying to act like it.

If you start submitting to her all of your personal records (most of which you wouldn't even have on hand, it will take weeks I imagine to collect everything she is asking for) just because she threatens you with court, what will you do next year, and six months after that, and after that? It will never end.

My ex didn't go nearly this far but she tried the same game, including phoning the house regularly to see if I was at work, checking with daycare to see when I picked up my 5 year old after school, etc. It is punishing to be under such scrutiny. After it was all over (this was leading up to our first court date) she admitted that having such an obsession was unhealthy and she had been discussing it with her doctor and therapist. She also said that a friend had been "encouraging" her and made the whole activity worse... Enough about me.

This simply isn't a situation you will want to live with. I would recommend that you write her back and in simple, polite sentences tell her pretty much what I just wrote: That she is not your manager and you don't report to her. If she feels she has a case then she can take you to court, but otherwise she can keep her nose out of your personal affairs.

Since she's taking you to court anyway, you should express these feelings to the judge and say that you will be fully co-operative in providing the court with any documention required, but that you feel the ex's ongoing behaviour is harrassing and controlling, and that is exactly what you ended the marriage to get away from. (I'm sure among other things.)

She feels that because she has some kind of financial claim, she can use this as an opening to keep being a controlling little pest. Shut her down. The longer you enable her, the worse it gets. The more you stick up for yourself, the better you will feel.
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:41 AM
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Sounds like you are very frustrated and angry about the whole matter, which you have a right to be if she's constantly poking around trying to yield a payday.

But you have to live your life, and you might want to consider strategies for dealing with her behaviour in ways that will not cause you so much day to day grief.

If she remains unreasonable, then get her ass into court to revise CS to the appropriate level. Unfortunately if she remains unreasonable then you will have to wait it out while the glacial judicial system does it thing, all the while ignoring her unreasonable position. When it's done, anticipate that she will continue to act like a clown and develop strategies for not allowing her behaviour to stress you out so much.

Easier said than done, but what else can you do?
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maple_2009 View Post
How much Child Support she claimed for? Is she asking for an amount more than table amount? What do you mean why she always won in past? What is the reasoning behind she ask for more money? Did your husband has agreement settled before?
Basically, this is what has happened in terms of child support:

November 2007: My husband went to court to determine child support as per the guidelines, as up until then, he was paying voluntarily amounts that were agreed-upon by him and the recipient, amounts which - we realized in August '07 - were higher than the table amounts. My husband asked to pay the table amount based on his previous year's income. The recipient argued that she is a full-time student and needs as much support as possible, and so the judge ordered an amount based on my husband's "current" income at the time of the court appearance.

October 2008: My husband lost his job and tried to agree on a more appropriate amount, to no avail. So he took the matter to court. In court (2 months later) the judge claimed that he wasn't unemployed long enough and ordered child support to remain in the previously set amount, plus ordered that my husband pay the recipient's court costs because he was "premature" in taking the matter to court. (Thus increasing monthly payments, despite my husband's unemployment.)

December 2008: My husband attempts yet again to compromise with the recipient on a more appropriate amount, as he cannot pay the increased amount he was ordered to pay, as he is still unemployed. Nothing. So, he sets another court date.

March 2009: My husband goes to court. He has been employed at a new position for 2 weeks, and still on probabtion. Despite having been unemployed for the previous 5 months, the judge orders that he pay child support based on his 2008 total income as filed on his tax return, despite his "current" possible-commissions-based-salary at his new position being $10,000 less than his 2008 total income. His child support goes up again, and he is still ordered to pay costs to the recipient.

June 2009: My husband returns to court as he left the commissions-only position (it was costing him more to work than he was bringing home in earnings) and simply wants to pay the table amount based on his 2008 total income as depicted on his notice of assessment. Two days before the court date, he was offered a retail position paying an annual salary that is $5,000 higher than his 2008 total income. Despite only having been employed for TWO DAYS, the judge orders he pay child support based on his "current" income at the time of the court date. So, his child support increased AGAIN.

August 2009: My husband was laid off from the retail position due to "company reorganization." He again tried to reach an agreement with the recipient, but she's happy as anything having an order for the highest amount of child support yet! So, she runs to FRO to get in enforced. Meanwhile, my husband hurts his back and is unable to seek employment until his back injury is resolved. (Was could not move for 2 weeks, and attended physio every-other-day... then had to "take it easy" for 4 weeks.)

October 2009: My husband sends the recipient an offer to settle, indicating that he will pay child support as per the guidelines, either based on his 2008 total income, or on the average income of the previous 3 years - whichever she chooses. The only 'condition' is that whichever method she chooses, that'll be the method used for ALL child support calculations from this point forward. No response to the offer to settle.

December 2009: My husband sends a second copy of the offer to settle. He attempts to come to an agreement with the recipient by meeting with her to discuss the options. She is in no way interested in his offers, but in building her case against him claiming voluntary un/under-employment, and trying to go after MY income by asking for child support to be based on our household income.

So here we are now... curious about what can happen with such a claim of voluntary un/under-employment.

Has anyone gone through this?
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mess View Post
She feels that because she has some kind of financial claim, she can use this as an opening to keep being a controlling little pest. Shut her down. The longer you enable her, the worse it gets. The more you stick up for yourself, the better you will feel.
You are absolutely right, Mess.

At some point over the next few days, my husband will simply write back saying that she is not entitled to any such information, and that as per the court order, he is only obligated to provide her with copies of his notices of assessment. Nothing more.

Not only that, but a lot of of the information she is demanding, we don't even have! Especially the medical documentation. We have a great family doctor, and she usually honours our ridiculous requests, but when we asked her for a doctor's note regarding my husband's slipped lumbar disc, she explained that she cannot provide such a note unless it's on a proper disability insurance form. (She explained there is a lot of fraud when it comes to injuries and claiming disability, so there are rules to what information she can and can't provide, and in what form.)

Anyhow, I agree that this needs to be stopped.

But again, I wonder how a claim of voluntary un/under-employment is approached in court. Any thoughts?
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:09 PM
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Correct me if I am wrong, but you offered to settle CS with her and she is essentially disagreeing with your offer to settle. Offers to settle should be open and transparent to the other party, meaning she should be able to determine his "true income" for the purposes of determining what the child support would be. Has he submitted a financial statement within the last 30 days? That is what is required in family law, a new one every 30 days or an affidavit saying there are no changes.

Hmmm... that said, the medical information seems very intrusive. Your offer to settle is confidential at this point with the court, so if she brings this matter up, your offer is not disclosed. Only if you had a trial on child support would any offers to settle be looked at by a judge(only to determine costs).

She sounds serious that she is going to ask for this information if you don't provide it. She has to serve him with a request for information first before he has to make those decisions whether to provide it though.

Gosh, I don't know what you can do to deal with this woman. She sounds really angry. Based on how she is dealing with you guys, and how you are having such a tough time with it(believe me, it is understandable) I think your whole situation is ready to boil over soon.

Maybe you could write back that the offer to settle you sent is open for acceptance until XX, and that you have provided an updated financial statement on X date, which is correct and accurate as of today.

The terms of the Offer to settle are not contingent on production of any other documents except for my financial statement and income tax returns. As such, any documents that you are requesting will not be provided for the purposes of your decision to accept or decline my offer to settle.



I take it that you want a reduction of CS without the expense and risk of going back to court to get it. It seems unlikely that this is going to happen. She has nothing to gain by accepting the offer because she is going to get less right? The onus is on him to bring the motion, which unfortunately backfired the last time on him.

Tough situation. Whatever you decide, good luck.
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadtotheend View Post
Sounds like you are very frustrated and angry about the whole matter, which you have a right to be if she's constantly poking around trying to yield a payday.

But you have to live your life, and you might want to consider strategies for dealing with her behaviour in ways that will not cause you so much day to day grief.

Easier said than done, but what else can you do?
Very true, DadtotheEnd. And my husband tells me this all the time. I just don't know how he can "forget" about this mess and enjoy his day-to-day life.

I'm thinking it's easier for him because he doesn't have a choice in the matter. It's his child, and he understands that these constant demands will continue, and there is nothing he can do about it.

Me, on the other hand, I have made the choice to be with him, and therefore involved in this mess. And in a way, I feel that because of my choice, I am at the mercy of my stepson's mother, and I don't like that one bit. Especially when she is coming after my money.

I just want to feel better prepared and know how I can protect myself and my assets.

And if I know how the courts handle claims of voluntary un/under-employment, then maybe I'll be able to protect myself and for a minute forget about this mess.

You know what I mean?
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
The terms of the Offer to settle are not contingent on production of any other documents except for my financial statement and income tax returns. As such, any documents that you are requesting will not be provided for the purposes of your decision to accept or decline my offer to settle.
I love this paragraph! So does my husband. We are going to use it in our response to her demands! Thanks!

And thanks for your understand and support too!
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