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

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  #1  
Old 12-23-2010, 08:46 AM
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Default Access Issues and Child Support

Hi All,
I hope everyone is having a relatively stress-free holiday season.

My former spouse and I signed a relatively open-ended separation agreement back in May. The agreement stipulated joint custody, however, primary access was to be with my former spouse. I did not contest this at the time because I had anxiety management issues. As well, my ex had indicated that she hoped I would become a hand-on co-parent as a result of the separation, so I didn't think I was exposing myself to too much risk that my access would be limited in any way.

Over the summer, as my anxiety issues became under control, I sought to increase my access to about 40 percent every month; in October, I actually did have my boys more than 40 percent of the time and sought to have the amount of child support lowered. My ex was against this and we have been in a dispute ever since.

She claims that we have to follow the separation agreement to the letter, which was open-ended and had no specifics regarding access. We are likely heading towards seeing a mediator, but before using a mediator, I'm hoping that forum members with experience can provide insight into how things might unfold.

Here are the facts:
1) In May 2010, we signed our separation agreement. At the time, my table amount for CS was 1453, plus I was responsible for 65% of section 7 expenses.
2) From May until early September, I was seeing my children less than 40% of the time and I was paying the full amount of CS.
3) In September, I started receiving EI and unilaterally changed the amount of CS from 1453 to 359; I also changed the percent of section 7 expenses from 65% to 28%. Naturally, this pissed off my ex.
4) In November, I started receiving disability insurance payments. Since then, I have remitting CS and section 7 on the basis of my disability insurance income.
5) Since October, I have been seeing my children approximately 40 percent of the time. I feel that my ex has been purposely limiting access because she wants me to maintain the full table amount.
6) Last week, my ex and I found ourselves at loggerheads regarding access and child support. She is threatening to go to the FRO. I have paid her in full for the CS for October, November and December, even though she purposely limited my access.

Grateful for any insights and wisdom you can provide.
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:55 AM
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Is your disability permanent or will you be returning to your former position?
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:00 AM
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Hi, it's hard to say. I've had anxiety and depression issues all my life. The stress of my separation didn't help things. I'm more aware of what I need to work on right now; I don't believe that I'll be "cured" of my anxiety and depression, but I hope to find better tools to manage them. While I hope that I'll be back to work in the not-too-distant future, I think that I'll be off for at least another six months.
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:16 AM
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The contradictory factor is that you suffered with the illness "all your life" and have demonstrated that you were able to work at your occupation.

What your more or less saying now is because of divorce/separation process, you are now totally disabled and unable to work at your occupation. I do think if the issue is forced to the courts that an income will be imputed.
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:21 AM
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Your "open ended" agreement stipulates primary residence with your ex. That you intended to bring the access up gradually is great but it seems that Mom is now unwilling to accept a reduction in CS due to your lower income and unwilling to revisit access. Sweet Momma. What was bargained in good faith at earlier now appears entrenched in her mind and you might be boxed into having to go to court.

Does the agreement specifically state the amount of CS or does it just say full table amount? If it stipulates a specific amount, then you are in breach of the agreement and if she registers the agreement with the courts you are going to find yourself in heavy arrears and subject to the FRO's heavy handed enforcement measures.

I understand that you probably decreased the amount of CS because you were no longer working and so you revisited the table amount based on your lower income. But in order for the FRO to recognize that you will either have to get your ex's agreement or go to court and bring a motion to change the CS.
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:17 AM
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Thanks for your questions and comments.

Our separation agreement specified basic child support of 1453 based on my annual income of 104,000. However, we also have a material change of circumstances clause which indicates that we can make variations to child support, custody, and spousal support in the event of a material change in circumstances.

I provided her with notification about my drop in income in late August and she did not contest it; I have an e-mail from her indicating her acknowledgement. She has indicated verbally that she wasn't happy about the change, but she has not sent me anything official, i.e. a letter or e-mail indicating that she does not accept the change. My ex has threatened to go to the FRO, so I have made sure that I have paid everything owing to her as the primary access parent based on my disability insurance income since October, even though I had my kids more than 40 percent of the time.

My hope had been that we would be mature enough to be able to negotiate a revised access and child support agreement. We appear to be between $200 and $375 between what I am willing to give and what she is willing to accept. On the basis of my having the kids a bit more than 40 percent every month on a consistent basis, my first proposal was to give her $150 above the net table amount.

(A note about the table amount: based on her income, assuming a 50/50 split on access, she is supposed to remit to me 920 as the table amount. Based on my disability income, I am supposed to remit 1079 every month. According to a 50/50 split, I would only have to remit 159).

Recognizing that we actually have a 40/60 split, I felt that adding $150 was fair, to compensate for her having the boys an extra 8 to 10 percent of the time. Her initial offer to me was for me to add $600 to the $159 that she is entitled to. I made a counterproposal that increased the amount of child support an additional $91 to give her a total of $400 a month as the table amount.)

I have also indicated to her that I am willing to let her claim the children as dependents every year, even though many co-parents rotate on a yearly basis. Based on my ex's income, she would receive an extra $2000 a year in her tax return, which is like getting $166 on a monthly basis.

I have also suggested that even if we agree to an access schedule that has the boys with me more than 40 percent of the time, I would not see a need for us to notify the CRA, this way, she can continue to receive the CCTB throughout the year. Because my disability income is relatively high, I would receive only $100 for six months, or $50 annualized. Because her line 236 income is relatively low, she'll continue to receive roughly $200 for the CCTB.

I have indicated since September that I am capable and fit enough for parenting my children. They are actually helping me get a grip on my anxiety and depression issues as I find that I am able to rise to the occasion when they are with me.

I appreciate logical velocity's questions regarding the validity of my claim. Frankly speaking, my work performance has varied quite a lot. Throughout my career, when my symptoms were in remission, my performance was pretty good. When I suffered my latest relapse, which started in April 2009, my performance went into the toilet. When we separated in February 2010, my symptoms were not under control, which is why I agreed to her having primary access; I did not think that I would be able to be a fit parent for my kids. The worse of my symptoms only started to abate in September. I had a hellish time at work throughout the spring and summer and figured if I didn't take some time off to get better, I wouldn't be any good to anyone. When I first started having my boys over at my place for sleepovers during the summer, i.e. once a week, I'll admit, I was easily flooded by anxiety. However, by the time October rolled around, things had improved and my ex was ok with me having them stay with me 40 percent of the time. When I asked for the child support level to be adjusted to reflect my increased access, she freaked out. We've been at loggerheads ever since.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:19 PM
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Yes, Depression and anxiety hurts.

I'm an optimist. It's obvious, finances are tight in their household. Seems like the two of you, as parent's, were reasonable enough to hammer out an initial Separation agreement. There's hope for Settlement without resorting to third party intervention but will take a bit of work and compromise on both parts. Before the FRO could intervene, the agreement would have to be filed and it's not clear whether or not that has been done.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New2thisforum View Post
I would not see a need for us to notify the CRA
The law requires you to notify them. It's not optional.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for your feedback. She told me yesterday that she has registered our agreement with the court. I had assumed that it was already done back when we first signed it. Nevertheless, I have made sure that I have paid her everything she is entitled to as the full access parent.

While I appreciate that finances might be "tight" in her household, things are also tight in mine too. I have been willing to be transparent to show her my monthly finances, on the basis of a 40/60 split. Under the status quo, where I am paying the full table amount, I am running a small monthly deficit, which I don't think is the intent of the child support guidelines. When I have asked her why she feels entitled to the higher amount of child support and she has not been able to provide a logical, fact-based response.

I personally think that going to a third-party mediator over a relatively small amount of child support is silly. Ultimately, I would rather my kids get the money than a third-party. We have had two discussions over the past month where she has appeared to agree to increase my access above 40 percent on a consistent basis and to a compromise number on child support. Unfortunately, after our discussions, she has doubts and winds up going back on what I thought we had agreed upon. Given her inconsistent track record, I have my doubts on whether it is even worth it to see a mediator. To play devil's advocate a bit, I also recognize that my actions, i.e. unilaterally changing the status quo on access and child support also appear threatening to her too. My feeling is that it takes to parties to have a conflict and it can also take two parties to resolve a conflict. Unfortunately, we may be heading towards the need for a third-party.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadtotheend View Post
The law requires you to notify them. It's not optional.
Hi dadtotheend,
If it is compulsory to notify the CRA, then I can see why she would be reluctant to give up half of her CCTB. Still, the dollar amount is not too significant. I can always propose to give her my portion of the CCTB which would be better than nothing.

Is my proposal to let her claim the kids every year kosher?
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