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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 02-18-2014, 03:37 AM
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Default "clean hands" and Spousal Support

I've been doing a great deal of reading and educating myself on family law and recently came across the "clean hands" doctrine. Here's how I believe it applies to me.

Nine years post divorce my ex has come after me for spousal support. She claims that she is unable to work more than 15 hours per week as she has to take care of our son, who is 12 and has some minor special needs...and I mean minor. However I spent many years trying to gain some sort of access to our child but this has been a very real case of parental alienation and the level of extreme hostility from my ex pretty much thwarted every single attempt t made to have a relationship with our child. She did a real number on our son and simply interfered with every single attempt I made to have him in my life and to be a father to him.

My position is that she should not be awarded any spousal support based on her claims that she is unable to work and has to be home with our child as she put herself in the position of unilaterally parenting by virtue of the fact that she is the reason why I don't have a relationship with our child. She brought on the hardship of single parenting with her actions and years of sabotaging our relationship. From day one of our separation I tried to see my child and fought for 50/50 custody but finally had to walk away after years of fighting for that right. She has damaged our child so much that I believe it would be virtually impossible to repair that relationship.

If ex had not done what she's done, she would have the ability to work full-time and we would share the parenting responsibilities. So why should I now have to support her financially when she put herself in the position she is currently in? Does she not have "unclean hands?"

She brought her own hardship on and is now seeking remedy from the court at my cost. Something is wrong with that.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:29 PM
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I don't know about the "clean hands" doctrine, but it doesn't sounds like your ex has a good case for spousal support. If your child has special needs which require special care and extra costs, that's a child support issue. If he needs someone to stay at home with him, I'm guessing that would be an extraordinary expense - and as far as I know, care provided by a parent is not a reimbursable S7 expense. If he requires a hired assistant at home, that might be different, but Mom (or Dad) can't expect to get paid for looking after his/her own kid.

This is also not spousal support. SS is only about economic disadvantages that may have resulted from the marriage - not about any needs of the kids. It's not plausible to me that it's taken her nine years to figure out that she was economically disadvantaged, so I can't see this as a spousal support claim. How was she managing for the last nine years without SS, and why can't she continue to manage in that way?

Whether she goes after this as spousal support or S7, the onus in both cases is on her to prove that she is entitled to this extra money, not on you to prove that she isn't. I understand that there's a lot of bitterness and anger (rightfully so) on your part, but I think your best move here is to just keep saying no, and don't even bother trying to justify it by talking about clean hands or parental alienation. What Mom wants isn't credible as a spousal support claim, and she can't claim extraordinary expenses for caring for her own child.

Of course I am a random stranger on the internet and could be completely wrong.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:22 PM
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1. Yes you can be ordered to pay spousal support because your EX has to give extra attention to a child. Spousal support is there to indemnify spouses against FUTURE income losses due to future rearing of the children (i.e: she gets paid to parent the child). Its in the guidelines.

2. in the past 9 year HAS she worked part/full time. Need some more info on that. More information on the arrangement during the marriage and what happened just afterwards. I understand failing to make a claim after marriage hurts your application for SS but I don't think it is fatal.

3. DO NOT mix up the parental alienation issues with spousal support. The judge will tell you that if you had a problem you should have gone to court and sued for whatever access you wanted and you should have re-attempted when you could prove alienation.

4. If you can really prove the alienation (proof means the kid hates you for stupid reason, openly admits to the mom constantly denigrating you, etc...). I have read cases where this has worked in court but the bar is high and its not always severe etc.... Not easy. Bringing it up now might be considered opportunistic. You would need a psychosocial/legal expertise.

Quote:
My position is that she should not be awarded any spousal support based on her claims that she is unable to work and has to be home with our child as she put herself in the position of unilaterally parenting by virtue of the fact that she is the reason why I don't have a relationship with our child. She brought on the hardship of single parenting with her actions and years of sabotaging our relationship. From day one of our separation I tried to see my child and fought for 50/50 custody but finally had to walk away after years of fighting for that right. She has damaged our child so much that I believe it would be virtually impossible to repair that relationship.
'

This is bad language, she was either AWARDED custody in the best interests of the child OR you consented - neither legally matches your perspective.

The whole "she brought hardship" by caring for your kid (with admitted special needs) is weak.

I would probably get a medical expert to testify as to WHAT if any extra care your child needs.

I would also see if you can identify if some unrelated incident is why she is bringing this motion up now.
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Old 02-23-2014, 01:43 AM
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Disregarding all the details which would make or break your case I will just comment to say as a general statement the extra demands placed on a caregiver to care for a special needs child can definitely be considered when awarding SS.

I have a SN child. Circumstances around his care made working outside the home unrealistic for me and I was awarded SS. It was awarded approximately 15mths post separation. Over time I was able to obtain employment and did not think twice about consenting to abandoning SS when negotiating my divorce. My lawyer cautioned me against this. He strongly advised the order for SS remain open because the future surrounding my child is uncertain (more so than a neurotypical child). It is easier to adjust an existing SS order than to re-open one. What we did was to decrease the amount down to a symbolic $1/mth.
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