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Financial Issues This forum is for discussing any of the financial issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 08-02-2012, 01:43 PM
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Default Child Support - Step Dad

My wife and I separated 8 months ago after 22 months of marriage. She has a child from a previous marriage and has recently settled with him to get some child support but not according to the guidelines. We do not have a separation agreement yet as she wants everything, just give my furniture, etc I brought into the marriage. The matrimonial home was purchased by her however I know I have some right to the equity, however she thinks I shouldn't get anything. She is threatening to take me to family court to get child support as a step dad if I don't agree to her terms, basically walk away. There is approx $50 thousand in equity in the home.... after real estate fees to sell it and lawyers fees to fight it... is it worth it? What are your thoughts?
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:00 PM
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Research - in loco parentis - read - acted as a parent.

If you acted as a parent to a child whose parent you were in a relationship with (and they had custody of the child) you may be obligated to pay child support, notwithstanding any existing orders from other parents to pay child support for the same child.

She will have to prove you acted as a parent to the child. The marriage was brief, and it appears the Non-Custodial Parent was involved.

Whether or not you acted as a parent will likely be determined on a number of factors:

did you put yourself out to the public as a parental figure to the child
did you participate in raising the child ie. disciplining, schooling etc.
does the child see you as a parental figure

As for the house, there are some other factors. One factor was that you mentioned she bought the house. Did she own before you got married? You believe there is $50k in equity, but the reality is, you are only entitled to any equity gained DURING the marriage. So if the house was bought for $200k 5 years ago, you married <2years ago and it is now worth $250k, you would be entitled to a portion of the equity from the date you were married to the date of separation.

However, if there other matrimonial assets, you are entitled to equalization of those as well.

This is a very short marriage. Even if there is $50k in equity in the house which you are entitled to 1/2 of, how much in legal fees are you willing to pay to get that $25K (less real estate fees etc as well).

I understand not liking her take it or leave strategy and her attempt to blackmail you with c/s for a step child. I hope she sent that particular note via email as a judge would love to see how she positions her kid as a means of blackmail.

Just ensure any agreement you sign isn't signed while you are under duress like that. Have a clear mind and ensure you get sound legal advise.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:19 PM
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I understand not liking her take it or leave strategy and her attempt to blackmail you with c/s for a step child.
I don't disagree that this might have been delivered badly but I'm equally not sure about the mentality of wanting half of all the equity in the house after a 22 month marriage. (If the equity actually increased 50k in less than two years which sounds unlikely). To me, both seem a little unreasonable here. The legal mess and the cost of moving (for her) would be rather silly.

Very short marriage...she owned the home before...she's got a child living with her there and probably doesn't want to move...frankly, her suggestion to "walk away" sounds pretty reasonable to me.

I notice you didn't mention anything about seeing the child after this is over...only the $.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:26 PM
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You could have a potential windfall from the matrimonial home - she will argue that the short duration of the marriage should result in an unequal division, you will argue it was long enough. Similarly, she can argue that you were acting in the place of a father, whereas you will argue that your relationship with the child was not sufficiently established.

How successful each argument will be is something you should see a lawyer about. Since you are talking about several tens of thousands of dollars in either direction, it would seem imprudent not to do so.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:33 PM
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How successful each argument will be is something you should see a lawyer about. Since you are talking about several tens of thousands of dollars in either direction, it would seem imprudent not to do so.
Of course, whether you win or lose...the lawyer gets paid.

I feel that one should really take a look at the situation on their own and decide what they reasonably think they're truly entitled to with the circumstances of their marriage. If you really feel you're being cheated then by all means, see a lawyer. But the risk is going to a lawyer that promises you the moon and encourages you into fruitless longterm, expensive litigation.

Just my opinion.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:39 PM
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She wouldn't let me see him or talk to him on the phone when I called after our separation...her control over everything. Her ex husband has 50% shared custody and when I was laid off I would look after him after school... until she got home from work. I was not allowed to discipline him other than ask him to behave.
We lived common law for one year prior to marriage and paid 1/2 the mortgage, taxes, utilities. The home was purchasedby her 18 months prior to marriage. there are other financial obligation issues between us, credit cards, line of credit owing which is also shared.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:49 PM
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I feel that one should really take a look at the situation on their own and decide what they reasonably think they're truly entitled to with the circumstances of their marriage.
In an ideal world, this would settle 99% of family matters.
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Old 08-02-2012, 02:56 PM
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there are other financial obligation issues between us, credit cards, line of credit owing which is also shared.
My suggestion...type everything into a spreadsheet...figure out where you're at and make her a reasonable offer to settle it without going near the lawyers. You may want to estimate what the legal fees would be in there with it so she gets an idea of what she's going to be paying to litigate.

If she's still refusing any reasonable terms...then maybe use Orlean's suggestion and go to a lawyer that offers an initial free consultation so that you can see whether or not its worth it to you.

I'm sorry that you aren't able to see the child...particularly if you've bonded with him. Of course, if by some chance you do end up in court and she requests CS...at the same time, it would be an opportunity to request access.

Just a note...court is a long, slow, stressful process so really decide if its worth it to you.

Quote:
In an ideal world, this would settle 99% of family matters.
I think its easier to do with really short marriages like this though.
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:04 PM
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Her ex having 50/50 custody of the child may effect whether or not you are deemed to have acted as a parent. Also, if you are deemed to have acted as a parent, you may also be entitled to parenting time with the child. But then the issue arises of, there is already a 50/50, whose time get altered so that you can have parenting time?

Given the 50/50, one would believe that it would be more difficult for her to prove you acted as a parent. However, it isn't entirely improbable.
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Old 08-02-2012, 03:06 PM
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Given the 50/50, one would believe that it would be more difficult for her to prove you acted as a parent. However, it isn't entirely improbable.
ugh...3-way custody battle. The horror!
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