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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 06-24-2010, 09:17 AM
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Default An Offer to Settle...help!

Let me begin by telling you that I am unrepresented. I am unable to afford a lawyer. Therefore, my ex-husband's lawyer sends all letters directly to me. The latest thing I recieved in the mail is an "Offer to Settle". Currently, my ex should be paying $500.00 a month which he hasn't paid. He is about $17,000.00 in arrears. As far as access goes, he has the child two saturday's a month for a full day (11:30am to 4:30pm).
In the offer he is asking for weekends for Friday to Sunday, 4 wks in the summer and holidays. As far as child support goes, he would like to settle arrears by giving me $2000.00 and lower his payments to $120.00 a month. I obviously do not want to settle for the above. What do I do now? My court date (Case Conference) is on June 30th. Am I allowed to not reply to his offer but wait for the court date?
PLEASE HELP ME! Thank you.

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Old 06-24-2010, 09:34 AM
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You must respond if you want the judge to hear your side, you should have the forms to respond in your package he served you. You will have a date in which you need to respond by and file with the court. You can and should reject his offer, it is unreasonable. If he owes over 17000 in arrears 2000 does not cut it. Why is he asking to now pay 120, is that foe repayment of arrears or is it the new amount of cs he wants to pay because of a material change such as job loss?
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:36 AM
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Why is he only getting two saturday's a month for a full day (11:30am to 4:30pm)? Standard would be pretty much what he is requesting for access, together with every other long weekend, 1/2 of christmas and every other march break.

As for child support it is non-negotiable as it is mandated by law to be the guideline amount. If he is paying more/less then he is supposed to according to his last tax return, then it should be lowered/raised to the correct amount. The arrears amount I have no idea about as I don't know if you have a court order already providing for a specified c/s amount. If you have no agreement or court order, then I doubt you would get any arrears, but again with the limited information provided it is hard to say anything.
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:41 AM
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You are allowed to not reply if that is what you choose.

Try to separate the issues of access and support payments in your mind. I know it's hard. The courts will treat those completely separately, he should have access whether or not he is in arrears.

The courts love it if you can settle at least some issues yourselves, it also makes you look reasonable and the judge will be more open to what you are saying. So if you are ok with this access request, consider responding that you agree with some issues but not others, and you would agree in principal to the access (or a variation that you suggest) but not to the financial offer.

Without knowing your financial detail, it's hard to comment. Is the $500 per month the Table amount? (Child Support Guidelines Tables) His offer doesn't sound remotely reasonable and you would not be hurting yourself if you reject the financial offer. His offer for access is reasonable, so if a court decision awarded him the access but not the support decision, the court costs could be split between you.

So it is wiser to split the issues and agree with the ones you can live with, at least in principal (not yet in writing, you can change your mind later, put "Without Prejudice" at the top of every response letter.)

Regarding the arrears, can you show that the $17000 has caused yuu and your child hardship? Have you had to do without, or cut back on clothing or the child's recreation? Have you gone into debt? Anything you can show about this strengthens your case to receive full arrears.
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:08 AM
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Thank you for your prompt reply. Just answer some of your questions, yes the child support is the table amount. I do have a court order for him to pay that amount. In regards to the access. It was an extremely abusive marriage and he also has uttered death threats to both the child and myself. He had no access for 2 years, than 1 hours supervised for a few years and now it has moved slowly to half a day in the community. I am not willing to give overnight. I am affraid mostly of the emotional and psycological abuse he will inflict. Therefore, it is the access I am more concerned about and I need to try and convince the court that he should not get overnight access.
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Old 06-24-2010, 12:01 PM
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What difference would overnight access make? As it stands he has unsupervised access...

Is he more of a danger to the child in the evening vs. the afternoon?
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Old 06-24-2010, 12:18 PM
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You don't think having her for 48 hours opposed to 5 hours would make a difference in how much of an influence he has on her life? To me that is a BIG difference!
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Old 06-24-2010, 12:44 PM
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It doesn't matter what we think. Questions like that are good for you to think about, you have to have logical answers prepared.

What exactly is the difference between 5 hours and 48? How much "influence" will that be? What is his behaviour like with her? You have to show these things, not just assume everyone will understand and agree with what you are thinking.
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Old 06-24-2010, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mess View Post
It doesn't matter what we think. Questions like that are good for you to think about, you have to have logical answers prepared.

What exactly is the difference between 5 hours and 48? How much "influence" will that be? What is his behaviour like with her? You have to show these things, not just assume everyone will understand and agree with what you are thinking.
Agreed.

Unless you have some documented proof that he is a danger to the child (like those death threats were via email) it would turn into your word against his and a court will have to make a determination about credibility and the best interests of the child.

Personally, I don't see how (having the child ~12.9% of a month compared to your 87%) that he would be able to be that big of an influence on the child. But what he is requesting is pretty much standard. If you don't agree with it you will need to provide the courts with valid reasoning/explanation of why you disagree and provide proof to back up your position.
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Old 06-24-2010, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c_najo View Post
You don't think having her for 48 hours opposed to 5 hours would make a difference in how much of an influence he has on her life? To me that is a BIG difference!
He will have the child for 96 hours a month, you will have the child for the remaining 624... I'd bet that you would use your time to the benefit of the child and that your influence on her would greatly outweigh his...

That being said, he is her father, and as such he SHOULD have an influence in her life... and a "big" one at that.

My intention was to question your reasoning.... if the child is considered by the courts (and yourself), as being physically safe with her father for ANY unsupervised access, why should you/they restrict him from having the standard access schedule as outlined in his Offer?
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