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lower child support so he can visit?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have a good relationship with dd's dad, so I want to be clear that this is a genuine question and not a rant or anything.

Dh and I are moving from CA to MA in two weeks, and all three kids are coming with us (his, mine, ours-- for clarity). We've been planning this move for a year, and dd's dad agreed to it. He originally said that he would move to the East Coast, too, so that he could still be close to dd. He changes his mind a lot, though, and now he says he wants to wait a year to move out to make sure that we're really going to stay there. I know that's reasonable, but I'm slightly annoyed because he got dd's hopes up about it. Another post.

Anyway, yesterday he said that he wants to visit her once a month, and he asked if he could stop paying child support or lower the amount so that he could afford the plane tix to fly.

He does spend a lot of time with dd now. He has her two eves a week and every other weekend. I would love it if he could visit her once a month, but I suspect it may not happen as often as that. We can afford a lower payment, but it will mean being more frugal. Also, dd is going to need braces soon, and I'm not sure how we'll pay for that without cs.

I guess I feel like we made the choice to leave, so I should do whatever I can to encourage his visiting -- we even told him he could stay with us-- but I don't want to be duped, either. He has good intentions (usually) but poor follow through.
post #2 of 22
Instead of lowering the cs why not agree to pay a portion of the plane tickets. That way if there are months he doesn't visit he will still pay the full amount. It is not uncommon to share travel costs anyway.
post #3 of 22
Sharing travel costs sounds really good. I don't think the courts would go for lower child support and I don't think that is a good solution because she will need other things besides the braces as the years go by and you have other kids to think about as well.
post #4 of 22
I forgot this. Here in my state if one parent moves away they are responsible for all travel costs. You may want to look into that for where you live now.
post #5 of 22
I think it would depend on the relationship. My eldest who is 16 lives with his Dad and has for a while, well 6 years ago I moved from Chicago to Maine so we could all be close since while we have joint legal custody ds was with him and the ex moved from Chicago to Maine. Both my current dh and I gave up a 6 figure income and great positions to move to Maine which its a beautiful state, is a lousy place to make a living, our income dropped and is nowhere near what it was in Chicago.

Last summer the ex decides to move back to the midwest because his girlfriend who is from Chicago was tired of living in New England. Ds wanted to stay with his Dad for at least the first half of the school year since he was looking forward to being able to be close to my Dad and brother in Chicago. Anyway over the years I have always paid for health insurance and child support since the time split has been like 60-40 with me having 40% of time.

Long story short, this move 1100 miles away coincided with me losing my job so my family income dropped plus as a condition of the move ds wanted to come back to Maine monthly. There was no way I could afford CS/health insurance and monthly airlines tickets so ex agreed to let me stop paying CS. So far its worked out for us, yes I know he would like the money but I still am picking up extra costs like ds's cell bill plus he went to Prom and I paid a chunk of that.

However if you think your ex won't honor his committment and actually come out or you feel uneasy maybe its not the right choice but I do know that it was the only way I was willing to let ds move 1100 miles away after I had already made the move to be closer to him.

ETA: Its been years since my ex and I have been in court and with our sone being so old I think we are both at the point we just want to avoid anymore legal stuff.

post #6 of 22
If his intentions are good, but his follow through poor, I wouldn't agree to a flat reduction of the CS across the board. My DD's dad was the same way--he always planned to visit, but could never quite get everything aligned to make it happen. And he paid $0 in CS, so those visits would have been his only expense related to DD.

Airfare costs fluctuate so much--the same flight is $200 one week and $450 the next. If you gave him a reduction of $200/month to help defray travel costs, would your ex be willing to cover whatever the difference might be? Or if he couldn't find a cheap enough flight maybe he just wouldn't come that month?

I know you are just trying to help him maintain the relationship with your child. But agreeing to let him stay with your family is already saving him a significant amount. I think the pp has a good idea of potentially offering to split the cost of the airfare with him. That way you can make sure you are not paying for trips that don't happen.
post #7 of 22
I think sharing the travel costs makes a lot more sense than lowering the CS. Who can predict what travel expenses will even be? Airfares have increased a lot over the past year. Lowering CS sounds like a precedent you might not want to set.
post #8 of 22
In some states, extraordinary travel expenses will lower child support. So, even if you don't agree, he may be able to go to court to lower CS due to the travel costs.
post #9 of 22
Why don't you just set up a bank account and deposit the differnece between the current cs and his requested amount. That way, plane tickets can be purchased from it, and if he doesn't come once a month, you can still use that money for your dd.
post #10 of 22
The judge ruled 50% of travel expenses was fair in our case. Mind you, he didn't specify if that only applied to sending DSD back and forth, or if it would apply if DH went there. Will your daughter fly out to visit her dad at all?
post #11 of 22
It is my very personal opinion that if you are choosing to move and creating the distance between a child and involved parent, you should be willing to bear the cost of his visitation.

Since it is his intention to move in a year, you could agree to do it for a year, then revisit when the year is almost up.

We are the parents who moved away, and we bear the cost of my husband visiting every month. We share the cost of my step-daughter's travel here with each parent paying for the leg of the trip to start their parenting time (so we pay for her trip to come here and mom pays for her trip to go there).

I think it is really, truly worth it to your child to have her father physically present in her life on a regular basis... if you can afford it, it is really an investment in your daughter's well-being. My husband and his daughter have maintained an extremely close bond despite the geographic distance between them most of the month.

Just my opinion...
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your responses. I googled it, and it looks like the CA court does take travel expenses into consideration for re-negotiating CS.

I just don't know how much to lower cs or if I should just eliminate it altogether. Right now a round trip ticket costs more than he gives us. I think whatever I decide we could do it on a trial basis. I think.

She will fly to visit him, too. We just haven't sorted that out yet because I don't have the school calendar for next year. So many details and so much guilt.

I feel like I should add that we're not just moving on a whim. My in-laws are giving us a house-- something we could never afford here.
post #13 of 22
You could go here to figure out what the courts in CA might calculate for child support based on the new situation:

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the link. According to that calculator he'd only pay $20 less a month, which doesn't really seem fair to me. Ugh.
post #15 of 22
It sounds like you feel lowering child support somewhat significantly would be fair. What about looking at the average cost of a plane ticket and reducing his child support payment by half that. Commit to it for a certain length of time, but agree to re-examine the issue after that... if he is only coming out every other month, if tickets turn out to be more expensive than predicted, he wants to come out for longer periods of time, etc.

When your daughter heads to CA, you could share the cost of those trips individually... there is a good chance they will be more expensive if they are happening on school breaks. The way we have done it is we pay for her to come to us (plus the cost of the adult travelling with her), mom pays for her to go there (plus the adult). One person's expenses may turn out to be significantly higher because of where the beginning of the break falls in relation to an actual holiday.

Now for some unsolicited advice from the "been there done that" files: There are a lot of things that are going to come up that you won't have thought of ahead of time. Since you have a good relationship, hopefully you will be able to work those things out between you... but the more flexible and accommodating you can both be, the better. It's a really hard situation to make work, and your daughter really needs to know that dad is still part of her life... every effort you can make to keep that true, the better it will be in the long run. And the more connected he feels to her and her life, the more likely he is to move east, making everyone's life easier and less expensive!
post #16 of 22
Sounds like it will be a really tough adjustment for your daughter if she goes from being with her dad 2 nights/week to being a plane ride away. If you can swing it, I would go with dropping the child support so that he can afford to fly out. Is there any way to stipulate in a court approved agreement that he must pay child support for months he doesn't fly?

If your ex is willing to move in a year then that sounds totally ideal and I would really encourage him to do that. I know that I may want to move to Chicago (from NYC) at some point and I've talked to my ex about moving with us. He has nothing tying him here in NYC and so I'd hope he'd do it. My motivation is that my reason for moving is something very important (life goals related) that he and I would have done while married if necessary and that what I would benefit from the move is way more than what he would "suffer" (if at all) from the move - and we both want him to be in our daughter's life on a daily type basis so will make these kinds of decisions together as much as possible. If he won't move then I would probably still move but do as much as possible to facilitate visitation and a relationship.

That being said, one thought that I have no idea if it's possible is: if your in-laws are willing to give you a house, is there any way to sell that house and use the proceeds to buy a house wherever you already live? Or is moving kind of the point - ie., the in-laws want you close?
post #17 of 22
If it were me, I'd leave CS the way it is, but agree to put the money aside in a "travel account" and be prepared to use those funds to pay for travel expenses. That way, there's always money available for a plane ticket, but in months where he doesn't visit, you're still setting aside some CS money (perhaps to save for braces).

I think lowering CS so he could pay for travel might cause conflicts about money in the months where he didn't visit, yk? If he's "bad with follow-through", setting aside CS for travel might ensure that things run more smoothly.
post #18 of 22
do whatever you can so that they are not separated totally. money is not happiness, being with a parent you love is.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by betterparent View Post
do whatever you can so that they are not separated totally. money is not happiness, being with a parent you love is.
No, it's not happiness, but it does by the groceries, and dd does like to eat. :
post #20 of 22
You say you don't necessarily need his child support, so it is not really an issue of whether or not you will be able to provide for her. But for him, it very well could become an issue of not being able to see his daughter because he has to pay child support. What a horrible choice for a parent to have to make.

If he were the one moving away, I would certainly assign more responsibility to him for taking the cost of child support plus visitation into consideration as part of his decision making... be he is not the one making the decision and creating the situation, so I don't think the full financial responsibility should fall to him.
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