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Need advice on my rights in divorce.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 



I divorced over a year ago, thinking my now xdh was a trustworthy person.  I was also extremely confused by the process.  Now I know why... he was psychologically abusive to me for 14 years and I could hardly think straight. 


Now that I am putting all the puzzle pieces together, I am starting to really realize that something is fishy with the divorce settlement.  We didn't use lawyers because I trusted him so much.  But it's a nightmare negotiating with him, and he hasn't followed through on some of his financial obligations.


Does anyone have good online resources for figuring this stuff out?  I have no idea what I should have negotiated for.  I have absolutely no money with which to pay a lawyer.  I think I basically just signed myself and my kids up for 11 years of poverty, while he makes almost $100,000/year and has them less than 25% of the time.





post #2 of 12

Check into your local legal aid-they may be able to help you for free or reduced cost.  It will definitely be worth it to make sure the kids are taken care of!


Most states (as far as I know) have a formula for calculating child support and alimony.  Even if you agreed to something earlier, there is likely a time period that it will be up for review so you may be able to change it just by filing with domestic relations.  I would google for your state and child support calculator and see what it comes up with (if that is the issue here)-if he is giving you much less than you think you should be getting, call your county's domestic relations and ask about reviewing the order.


Good luck!

post #3 of 12
If your decree was signed by a judge you your state may enforce payment through the child support enforcement office. After a certain point you can take him back in and ask for arrears.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks, guys!


I've been living in a state of confusion for so long that I didn't even know what I was asking.  I"m already getting child support - that's not the problem.  I am getting a standard 30 percent of his base income each month for 2 kids, but that is assuming he takes them up to 45 percent of the time, but he really has them about 20 percent...


Anyway, I am meeting with lawyers this week, will call legal aid, and have appts. with domestic abuse counselor/group.


I realized what I really have questions about is alimony/spousal maintenance so I'm going to start another thread.


THanks for replying and helping me clarify to myself!!



post #5 of 12
You also want to make sure you got a fair percent of any savings and retirement benefits.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Wow, i never even considered that. I signed away my rights to almost everything, i think. greensad.gif
post #7 of 12
It might not be too late if you act fast. Where I am there is a time period to open it up again.

I didn't realize for years I was in an abusive relationship either.

Make it your primary job with as much focus as possible. I hope you can improve things.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Springshowers!


That is SOOOO what I needed to hear!


I didn't realize it until you said that, that I have been fighting that very instinct.  I have so much energy to deal with this NOW - like it's an emergency, but my xdh is really angry and clamming up with all my questions, trying to settle waht is really going on...  and I don't have enough money to make it to the end of the month, so I have been feeling guilty for not focusing on that and on starting up my business that I have been putting off ever since I developed PTSD months ago at the discovery of all of this!!


Thank you so much - you are like an angel giving me permission to do what it is that I absolutely need to do right now.



post #9 of 12
No matter what he says it is not greed. You are not taking HIS money. You are asking for help (not from him obviously) to get what is legally yours to let you take better care of your children.

Did you two own the house you lived in? What about cars?

I think he has badly cheated you and your children. I am glad you are no longer married to him. Now you just need to sort out the finances. I really hope you can. Hugs!
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
We never had any assets, except a car i paid for that he still owes me $500 for. We were in poverty almost the entire marriage, so i felt like i couldnt expect to go any higher. But we lived an above poverty level lifestyle bc if student loans and credit cards... so we shall see. But thanks for pointing out its not greed. I spend almost every penny i have on the kids or my own mental health .
post #11 of 12

As an example of what the possibilities may be, this page seems to sum it up nicely for New Jersey - http://www.divorcenet.com/states/new_jersey/may_I_reopen_my_divorce_case (completely arbitrary state selection there). I have no personal or close experience on that front. My state almost never orders spousal maintenance (requires a minimum marriage of 10 years and even then, a good argument). None of my friends have ever gotten it. One friend's ex, a SAHM who intended to SAH with the 2 kids post-divorce, tried and was quickly dismissed because they were only married for 6 years. As has been said before, move quickly--I don't imagine your right to request an extension of spousal support would exceed the duration of the order for spousal support itself, if it can be extended at all. The copy of the judgment you received from the court (request one from the court clerk if you don't know where it is anymore) may give some insight as to the option of modifying the spousal support order, perhaps even saying something like "EX shall pay N dollars for one year unless otherwise modified.



In any event, the court maintains continuing jurisdiction over the child support (and child custody) issue (you can't waive the court's authority on this issue even if the agreement said it can't be modified ever). While the amount of evidence required varies by state, a common standard is that you can motion the court to modify ("amend") the child support portion of the judgment at any time if a material (sometimes called "substantial") change in circumstances has occurred. This might mean a significant change in income (10-30%), a significant change in the children's needs that could not have been foreseen at the time of the judgment or last amendment (child care!), or a major change in the parenting schedule ("visitation" or "custody") that has been sustained for 6 months to a year (varies by state). If the circumstances indicate that child support should be adjusted, this should be straightforward (i.e. lower legal cost than arguing for continued spousal maintenance if your state doesn't usually modify awards post-judgment) way to get additional financial help for raising your children. The requirements for requesting the court to consider modification of the child support amount without a material change in circumstances varies by state--mine requires over a year to have elapsed since the judgment/last amendment and I've heard of others that require 3 years to pass.


Many (maybe even all?) states expect the non-custodial parent to contribute to child care expenses, usually above and beyond the basic child support amount. I assume your divorce agreement didn't address the issue (or at least didn't assign responsibility to pay for child care expenses) under the assumption that free care would be available for you to work. The circumstance has changed--free child care is no longer available.The judgment needs to be modified to consider the change of circumstances. In particular, if having help on the child care front would enable you to become self-sufficient, this is a good modification to pursue. If you were the obligor I would advise "don't get your child care contribution built into the child support amount owed" because you'd have to go back to court to get it removed when the kids don't go to daycare anymore!" but as the obligee, I say "get it in the child support amount owed so the state can withhold that too." :-)


I'm not personally aware of a state that orders the NCP to pay 30% of income for two children (close to, but 27-29% is the highest I personally have heard of--my state is nearly 20%). This is not to say that you're "lucky" or anything of the sort--perhaps you're even just rounding--but I would verify that it is for sure your state's current standard guideline before you open the can of worms. It would be incredibly unfortunate if this would backfire and make the situation worse by discovering he's paying 30% and the statutory amount is only 25%, for example.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you!!

I dont know where i even got the 30% #... but whatever hes paying is the norm. ... i was awarded spousal maintenance, and in fact i still do get some from him. We were married 12 years.

I left the marriage with absolutely nothing, but 99% childcare responsibilty and a ton of debt. He now takes the kuds 20%. Somehow i jyst dont understand how the system can agree with him, but i go talk with a lawyer today. I do work 1/2 to 3/4 time now but my earning power is a tiny fraction of his because while we were married he got 3 degrees! (He has a PhD).

Anyway, maybe im just ranting now. Every time i get a chance to call legal aid, theyre closed, and im seeing a lawyer tonite at the domestic abuse shelter.Thanks for all your help and i will do more rearch on all of this ASAP!
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