Child support question from custodial mom (s/o from the afraid thread) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So my xh and I never went to domestic relations, we just put in our divorce papers that he would pay me $75/wk while that was a reasonable amount based on his income. He was a salesman at Mens Wearhouse. He actually has been paying me $100/wk.

I paid before school care for half of the year, he paid the other half.

We tend to split big things like ballet costumes, lessons, etc.

He recently received $55K from his equity in our house and got a store manager job. I'm assuming he's making more money and I'm kind of struggling.

My school taxes and homeowners insurance went up, making my mortgage payment go up. Other household/grocery, etc costs are going up.

I do a lot of the incidentals because it seems silly to nickel and dime him. (school yearbook, field trips, scholastic book orders, stuff like that) His $100/wk definitely gets spent. I don't want to take him for everything he's got but I'm just wondering if a revisit of the cs is in order. What do you guys think? Please be honest...

The main reason I'm doing it is because of his new job and the cost of living, increase in prices, etc.

And do I just talk to him and keep it on the side, or go through domestic relations? We haven't dealt with them at all yet.
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#2 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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again, I don't know why I'm feeling defensive...I'm reading my post back and it sounds so out-to-get-him.

I was trying to cut him a break because he'd lost his teaching job and moved to the salesperson job. He has a masters degree in education. He is choosing for this to be his job. He's not currently looking for a teaching job. (which, ok, whatever, that's other baggage.)

Ok.

Back on point, please, Chantelle.

I went with the original agreement on the money because I was trying to cut him a break. He doesn't need that break anymore as he is certainly more financially comfortable since the windfall due to the house and the promotion at work.

There.

Hope that's more clear. Just want to get what my dd is truly entitled to, not just some random number based on what he thought he coulf afford months ago.
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#3 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 01:25 PM
 
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I honestly don't know how I would feel about it if I was "the mom", but here is what I think (I apologize in advance, it's not what you want to hear ).

1. You are no longer a family. He is his own person, you are your own. You are to maintain your finances, and he is to keep his own. Be honest with yourself, if you just got a financial break, would you tell him you'd like to lower CS?

2. Of course he is a father and must provide for his child. You are saying he is paying $100 while he is supposed to be paying $75, correct? AND, by your own words he chips in for childcare and classes (which technically CS is supposed to cover). Both of those things show responsibility and commitment.

3. I don't agree that raising a child is one parent's job. You should not carry the weight of every single appointment, every single school conference, etc. etc. etc. But I also don't believe that every single penny for your child should come from your ex's pocket.

4. If you truly need the money for school supplies, and such, I'd ask your ex to help on case by case basis. Tell him you are going through rough times, and see if he can get the jacket for the kid that she needs, or art supplies for her next class, etc. Raising CS because you want to live on the same financial level as he does is not the right reason though.

That's just what I think. From your post sounds like you guys have good relationship and concentrate on what's best for your child. Building up resentment between the two of you might not be the best way to go.

That's just what I think. And don't feel defensive *hugs* I haven't walked in your shoes, I have only walked in mine... I hope whatever you choose will work out for you guys.

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#4 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 02:05 PM
 
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It really just depends upon income levels in my state. Increased expenses or windfalls don't really come into play.

Him getting a higher paying job is certainly a valid reason to get the amount of support readjusted.

If you know his income, see if there are calculators online for your state that will get you a good estimate of what the legal obligation is. Then you just have to go from there... And if you don't have something in your agreement about him paying half of childcare and extracurriculars he may balk over that if CS goes up.

Try posting this over in single parenting as well.
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#5 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 02:32 PM
 
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Like Oriole, I am not the "mom" right now, so take my comments as you like. I have been a single parent, and I never received any CS from her dad.

I tend to think that as far as money is concerned it's easier not to get caught up in comparing what I have to what anyone else has. I always just assume that there's more out there for me as the future unfolds. Thus far, that's proven true.

If you owned your home jointly with your partner, then you do have a right to 1/2 the profit on the sale. Did you not discuss how to handle the house when you split? That's a pretty significant asset. If you didn't handle it during the divorce, I don't know how it would be divided retroactively.

It sounds like you guys get along pretty well thus far. You try to be fair with him and he has shown you the same courtesy. It's hard to put a price on fair, and many of the best relationships have deteriorated over money. Moving from a salesman to a manager in a retail environment is likely not a big increase in pay. A lot of times it comes with more responsiblity than money.

I would consider how much of a CS increase you want/need, not how much you think you could get, and try to negotiate with him from there. Going through the courts is never a pleasant experience, even when you "win".
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#6 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 04:49 PM
 
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I agree with Oh The Irony...if you know he's making more money use one of the online calculators to figure out how much support you should be getting.

I currently get child support from my daughter's father, the amount a month is based on income, so a increase in the paying parents income is a very good reason to get the amount of support looked at and adjusted.

Good luck!
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#7 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 05:18 PM
 
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In my state, CS is calculated as a percent of income, so if income goes up, so would child support. The other parent's income is not relevant, the idea being that there is not one constant sum to which the child is entitled so one person gets to pay less if the other pays more, etc. The child is entitled to have her standard of living rise in tandem with either or both parent. That makes sense to me. If the child-support paying parent is fabulously wealthy and that makes for lots of leftover cash, well, put it in a college fund, or some sort of trust for the child. Presumably, if you were still together, your children would enjoy the benefits of increased incomes, why should that change b/c you're separated?

CS here is separate from childcare, schooling, medical, etc. Those costs are divided proportionate to income, which again, I think is pretty reasonable. While one can choose to live in a less expensive home, go out to eat less, take more modest of fewer vacations, etc., it's a lot harder to save on daycare or medical co-pays, so I guess those costs are seen as more fixed, and responsibility is divvied up appropriately.

GL, don't feel guilty. I don't see this as out to get him, I see it as working together to provide the best for your child. If he is in a position to contribute more, I don't see why he shouldn't. I don't think the money from the house should be figured into long-term CS arrangements. It was one-time.
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#8 of 44 Old 04-29-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
Be honest with yourself, if you just got a financial break, would you tell him you'd like to lower CS?

I this logic assumes that there is a sort of a fixed amount that the child should have, and if one parent contributes more, the other contributes less and the child's theoretical financial resources and standard of living remain static regardless of the parents' income. It wouldn't happen like that if the parents were together.
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#9 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 12:59 AM
 
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I, too, am not a single mom, but here is my take.

Go by the law. That is the easiest way to do it. In my state, parenting agreements spell out everything. The one my DF and DSD's mom are working on now covers CS, medical expenses, extracurriculars, everything. It is all spelled out. That way, everyone knows exactly what is expected of them.

I would talk to your ex before going through a governmental entity, and explain that you want to get things nailed down. Reach an agreement with him, then get it legalled up. That way, both you and him are protected.

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#10 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 04:27 AM
 
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I'd also say go by the law. Unless he's making mighty big bucks, the mandated support will not cover half the actual expense of raising her and maintaining a household for her. You also have higher ed to think about for her.

That said, kkj is right, and there may not have been much salary increase. You can't know without asking. Also keep in mind that unless he gave up his teaching job long, long ago, or for some reason can't teach, a court will regard him as having voluntarily reduced his income. This varies by state, but they may well decide that he should be paying support based on his potential income as a teacher.

Bottom line: Don't try to decide for him how much c/s he should be paying. The states' view, by the way, is that all parents have a certain degree of obligation to their children, whether or not the custodial parent can support the child on his or her own, and whether or not the child's immediate needs are met.
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#11 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Great advice, thank you all so much.

Now I have to figure out how to broach it with him without sounding like I'm trying to gouge him for more money.

We're trying to be respectful and work together but it's still new, so it's hard.

We're currently dealing with the awkwardness of him bringing his girlfriend to Delaney's ballet recital on Saturday night...which I'm fine with. But I had already invited him to join us for dinner afterwards and now that his girlfriend's coming that just seems to be a bit too much. My parents are uncomfortable at the thought of hosting my ex and his new girlfriend at dinner. (They always pay after the recital)

Ugh.

This is so hard.



I really appreciate everything you guys are saying. Thank you.
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#12 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 10:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Chantelle691 View Post

We're currently dealing with the awkwardness of him bringing his girlfriend to Delaney's ballet recital on Saturday night...which I'm fine with. But I had already invited him to join us for dinner afterwards and now that his girlfriend's coming that just seems to be a bit too much. My parents are uncomfortable at the thought of hosting my ex and his new girlfriend at dinner. (They always pay after the recital)
Wow, that would be tough. In this situation, even though it may be a hard coversation to have, I think it would be perfectly appropriate, and likely lessen the overall load of awkwardness and stress if you talked to him about your parents being uncomfortable with him bringing his new GF to a family dinner that they are hosting. It's hard to imagine that he wouldn't understand that, and any reasonably mature girlfriend should understand that as well.
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#13 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You're right, it should be ok. I'm hoping it will be, at any rate.
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#14 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 12:38 PM
 
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We're currently dealing with the awkwardness of him bringing his girlfriend to Delaney's ballet recital on Saturday night...which I'm fine with. But I had already invited him to join us for dinner afterwards and now that his girlfriend's coming that just seems to be a bit too much. My parents are uncomfortable at the thought of hosting my ex and his new girlfriend at dinner. (They always pay after the recital)
Hm...speaking as the girlfriend, I've pretty much always been able to attend a meal/party/whatever with SD's mom and it's not a big deal.

But SD's mom's parents? That might get *awkward.*

Heck, I'm already dreading when SD's mom and my parents might end up meeting. And that's not likely to occur until...what...SD's wedding or something.

Good luck...if anything, I think the GF might be more understanding than you ex about why a big family gathering may not be the best idea just yet.

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#15 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 02:06 PM
 
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It is a little awkward at first.. speaking as the "new wife"... but it all seems to work out in the end.

I've met DSD's Mom's Mom lots of times as that is where they currently live. I first met her at dance class.

I know my Mom is really nervous about meeting my DP's ex and her family... this will happen in June at DSD's recital.

I am nervous about meeting all of DP's ex's family at DSD's birthday party in July... should be interesting.

But comes with the territory I guess... Good Luck!

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#16 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hope you're right about the girlfriend realizing that maybe the dinner after the recital might not be comfortable with her there.

I think my ex is pushing the issue so he can do a 'nanny-nanny-boo-boo' thing.
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#17 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 02:23 PM
 
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I honestly don't know how I would feel about it if I was "the mom", but here is what I think (I apologize in advance, it's not what you want to hear ).

1. You are no longer a family. He is his own person, you are your own. You are to maintain your finances, and he is to keep his own. Be honest with yourself, if you just got a financial break, would you tell him you'd like to lower CS?

2. Of course he is a father and must provide for his child. You are saying he is paying $100 while he is supposed to be paying $75, correct? AND, by your own words he chips in for childcare and classes (which technically CS is supposed to cover). Both of those things show responsibility and commitment.

3. I don't agree that raising a child is one parent's job. You should not carry the weight of every single appointment, every single school conference, etc. etc. etc. But I also don't believe that every single penny for your child should come from your ex's pocket.

4. If you truly need the money for school supplies, and such, I'd ask your ex to help on case by case basis. Tell him you are going through rough times, and see if he can get the jacket for the kid that she needs, or art supplies for her next class, etc. Raising CS because you want to live on the same financial level as he does is not the right reason though.

That's just what I think. From your post sounds like you guys have good relationship and concentrate on what's best for your child. Building up resentment between the two of you might not be the best way to go.

That's just what I think. And don't feel defensive *hugs* I haven't walked in your shoes, I have only walked in mine... I hope whatever you choose will work out for you guys.
I agree with Oriole.


Legally, I believe, CS can only be changed once per year, whether increased or decreased and a change can only be made if the income of the support payer has changed 15% or more.

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#18 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 02:24 PM
 
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We're currently dealing with the awkwardness of him bringing his girlfriend to Delaney's ballet recital on Saturday night...which I'm fine with. But I had already invited him to join us for dinner afterwards and now that his girlfriend's coming that just seems to be a bit too much. My parents are uncomfortable at the thought of hosting my ex and his new girlfriend at dinner. (They always pay after the recital)
I agree that it could be awkward, but then, divorce is awkward. It gets better with time and soon enough it will be ok for all parties in your DD's life to mix a bit. If you don't think it's time yet (I think this would be a reasonable view), then it may be best to just have your family go out for dinner, and not have your ex and his GF there at all. It might be seen as very rude to the girlfriend if you invite him to a gathering and say she is unwelcome. Paradigm shift: remember that he's not your family anymore. Your DD has 2 families. It's great if both families can be friends, but I wouldn't expect his girlfriend to not be insulted if he's still being treated/feeling obligated as a part of yours.

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#19 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So here's a question. If cs can only be changed once a year, does that hold true for now, if we divorced in December with an agreement that was written in August that included child support $$ but no visit or calculation through Domestic Relations?

I apologize, by the way, if I've given the impression that ONLY xh pays for stuff for our daughter. That's not the case at all. What he pays contributes to the cost to provide her with school lunches, new ballet shoes, clothes, lessons, etc.

I bear the greater portion of financial support for our daughter, and always have, including her medical insurance, copays, purchase of medication, etc.
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#20 of 44 Old 04-30-2008, 06:11 PM
 
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This is in response to the original question:

How about this for a way to think about it and approach it... does your daughter have more expenses or a higher cost of living than she did before her dad got the promotion and $$ for the house? Are you bearing more extra costs than you imagined you would when you decided on the amount?

If so, I would try talking to him about it from that perspective... "with the cost of groceries and housing going up, things are getting tight when it comes to providing what our daughter needs." or "I didn't realize how many incidental expenses there are and how fast they add up... I don't want to have to ask you for $5 for a co-pay here and $7 for a yearbook there and I think it would be easier for both of us if we could add it into the budget every week."

As for going by the law, it might be good information to have in your back pocket... here's what the state would probably order you to pay, and here are the expenses that a domestic relations says we are actually supposed to share equally... I wouldn't open with that, because I think it would put him immediately on the defensive (it certainly would for me). But if you can't agree to something, it might be beneficial to show him what the alternative might be and that it is in HIS best interest to deal with it outside the system. I don't mean that to sound as calculating and manipulative as it does when I read it back to myself... but I can't find a better way to explain what I mean...

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#21 of 44 Old 05-01-2008, 12:43 PM
 
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So here's a question. If cs can only be changed once a year, does that hold true for now, if we divorced in December with an agreement that was written in August that included child support $$ but no visit or calculation through Domestic Relations?

I apologize, by the way, if I've given the impression that ONLY xh pays for stuff for our daughter. That's not the case at all. What he pays contributes to the cost to provide her with school lunches, new ballet shoes, clothes, lessons, etc.

I bear the greater portion of financial support for our daughter, and always have, including her medical insurance, copays, purchase of medication, etc.
I agree with the "go with the law" advice. Check with your lawyer. I'm assuming you have one. Even though my STBX & I are not going through the courts, we're more or less using our state's laws to calculate CS. You *may* need to wait until 2009, when he has his 2008 W2s, to get the increase legally changed. In my state, the calculation is based off the previous year's W2s.

But, that doesn't mean you can't ask him for more now, if you two are communicating well. Good luck!
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#22 of 44 Old 05-01-2008, 11:13 PM
 
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So here's a question. If cs can only be changed once a year, does that hold true for now, if we divorced in December with an agreement that was written in August that included child support $$ but no visit or calculation through Domestic Relations?
I don't know what state you're in, but I'm in PA and I've never heard of any restrictions on visits to DRS. Once upon a time, they used to charge the parent who was making the request for a change $25 to file that request, but that was eliminated about 8 years ago. Now it's free and, as far as I know, either party can file a petition to modify at any point in time.

As far as having shown potential income, in my experience, that is only good within a year or so of them leaving a higher paying job (voluntarily reducing their income when they've shown X as an earning capacity). I agree that a mangagerial job in retail may not have come with a big financial bonus, but the $55k sure changes his financial ability to provide for your daughter.

Personally, I don't think it's gouging for money if he's able to pay more. As someone else said, if you were still together, your daughter would benefit from his increased pay.

Perhaps you could file with DRS and explain to your ex (before he gets paperwork from them) that your attorney has recommended you file with them. That makes your 'attorney' out to be the 'bad guy' in the situation. You might also consider saying something like you were applying for WIC and they require you to file for support through DRS in order to qualify (but I have no idea if he'd believe this or not b/c I don't know what your income looks like or if that's feasible).

Good luck Saturday!! I'd hope he and his GF would be mature enough that a dinner wouldn't be awkward at all, but if that's not the case, I'd hope he'd have the good sense to excuse himself from the dinner!

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#23 of 44 Old 05-03-2008, 11:26 AM
 
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I'm not arguing with people here, and I am certainly not trying to pick a fight, I just think that it is impossible for a formula like child support to be fair for all people, just by its very nature. If you can decide on and agree to something outside the system, I think it is going to be what is most fair in your own personal situation... if you can't, there is something to fall back on to protect you and your daughter as well as your ex... but I have always believed that if you can agree to something outside of the system, you are most able to look at the big picture and take your own circumstances into consideration.

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As someone else said, if you were still together, your daughter would benefit from his increased pay.
I've never really agreed with the "if you were still together" arguments that go with child support... if they were still together, maybe he wouldn't have taken the management job because of the hours it required away from his family. If they were still together maybe he would have a teaching job... maybe he would be staying home with his daughter... maybe he would be in school getting his PhD... maybe they would both work part time to reduce their child care expenses... People make different choices after they break up than they make when they are together, and those choices are often based on the new circumstances... in my opinion, it's not fair to try to apply the new choices to the old situation... you have to look at the new situation as reality and make decisions according to what is really happening, not what might have happened if things were different.

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#24 of 44 Old 05-03-2008, 03:09 PM
 
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I'm not arguing with people here, and I am certainly not trying to pick a fight, I just think that it is impossible for a formula like child support to be fair for all people, just by its very nature. If you can decide on and agree to something outside the system, I think it is going to be what is most fair in your own personal situation... if you can't, there is something to fall back on to protect you and your daughter as well as your ex... but I have always believed that if you can agree to something outside of the system, you are most able to look at the big picture and take your own circumstances into consideration.



I've never really agreed with the "if you were still together" arguments that go with child support... if they were still together, maybe he wouldn't have taken the management job because of the hours it required away from his family. If they were still together maybe he would have a teaching job... maybe he would be staying home with his daughter... maybe he would be in school getting his PhD... maybe they would both work part time to reduce their child care expenses... People make different choices after they break up than they make when they are together, and those choices are often based on the new circumstances... in my opinion, it's not fair to try to apply the new choices to the old situation... you have to look at the new situation as reality and make decisions according to what is really happening, not what might have happened if things were different.

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#25 of 44 Old 05-03-2008, 03:26 PM
 
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I agree with last aricha's post.

Those who can work together to figure things out peacefully are at a much greater advantage and are much more likely to be fair in their arrangements, than if left to the system that has only one cookie-cutter formula that is supposed to fit all families.

And "if parents were together" makes no sense in most cases, because truth be told, nobody knows what would be happening if the parents were still together. *shrug*

What makes sense is maintaining meaningful co-parenting relationship with your ex-partner, and figuring out financial matters as co-parents that come from two households, supporting two distinct families, with added responsibilities and difficulties. If parents are sensitive to each other's difficulties, and put their child's interest first, then what court order can compete with that?

Because courts say "I can" doesn't mean "I should".

DP is out of the job. DSD lives with us. Her mom doesn't pay CS. We are surviving on a teacher's salary at the moment, and trust me when I tell you that it's not easy. At the same time, dragging things through court is not something we are interested in doing. It would put stress in DSD's relationship with her mom, it's not worth the money for us. If we were in dire need, and DSD's health and well-being depended on the check, I'm sure we'd make getting that CS from her mom a priority, as it is - we do what we think is in the best interest of the child - leaving her mom to her own conscience.

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#26 of 44 Old 05-05-2008, 10:36 AM
 
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I've never really agreed with the "if you were still together" arguments that go with child support... if they were still together, maybe he wouldn't have taken the management job because of the hours it required away from his family. If they were still together maybe he would have a teaching job... maybe he would be staying home with his daughter... maybe he would be in school getting his PhD... maybe they would both work part time to reduce their child care expenses... People make different choices after they break up than they make when they are together, and those choices are often based on the new circumstances... in my opinion, it's not fair to try to apply the new choices to the old situation... you have to look at the new situation as reality and make decisions according to what is really happening, not what might have happened if things were different.
Really well said.
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#27 of 44 Old 05-05-2008, 12:39 PM
 
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I'm not arguing with people here, and I am certainly not trying to pick a fight, I just think that it is impossible for a formula like child support to be fair for all people, just by its very nature. If you can decide on and agree to something outside the system, I think it is going to be what is most fair in your own personal situation... if you can't, there is something to fall back on to protect you and your daughter as well as your ex... but I have always believed that if you can agree to something outside of the system, you are most able to look at the big picture and take your own circumstances into consideration.



I've never really agreed with the "if you were still together" arguments that go with child support... if they were still together, maybe he wouldn't have taken the management job because of the hours it required away from his family. If they were still together maybe he would have a teaching job... maybe he would be staying home with his daughter... maybe he would be in school getting his PhD... maybe they would both work part time to reduce their child care expenses... People make different choices after they break up than they make when they are together, and those choices are often based on the new circumstances... in my opinion, it's not fair to try to apply the new choices to the old situation... you have to look at the new situation as reality and make decisions according to what is really happening, not what might have happened if things were different.
that


Excellent post. And what other PP's said as well. Working outside Domestic Relations makes everyone feel a lot more comfortable I think. Currently DP and his ex have an agreement outside of DR... I pray it stays that way, as DR won't look at the whole picture.

And totally agreed with, no one has a crystal ball... who knows what would have happened had the parents stayed together. Reality is they are no longer together, and now there is two families... there could be children involved on all sides, and the bickering over money only hurts them.

If an amount can be reached without enlisting DR, that would be wonderful. As long as the kids are being provided for... that's the bottom line.

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#28 of 44 Old 05-05-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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(shrug) I have to say I've never understood why c/s had to be so complicated. It seems pretty plain to me: you make a kid; unless you have some alternate pre-divorce agreement in writing, you're responsible for half the costs, period. You figure out how to manage it, you're a grownup. And by costs I mean real costs given the child's expected standard of living, including likely cost to career and future earnings given the childrearing drag, and yes, there's plenty of studies to give you reasonable ballparks to work from.

Which means, of course, that if you can continue to afford having more children and paying half the costs of raising each of them, then go and God bless. If not, stop having children. If the parents want to work out some alternate deal, fine, but if not, then half and half it should be, barring medically recognized income-limiting disability.

The arguments about "but you can't tell how things would have gone financially" always seemed to me like a dodge. Actuarially, you can tell how things likely would have gone. In general, two middle-class parents will continue to be middle class parents and their incomes will rise over time; the children will do the expected middle-class things like sports and summer camp and college. We don't really have much class mobility in this country. There may be temporary ups and downs, but in general, the trend is slooowly upward.
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#29 of 44 Old 05-05-2008, 06:47 PM
 
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I think child support should go up when income goes up. When he has money to buy himself nicer things/higher standard of living, the same should be afforded to his daughter.
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#30 of 44 Old 05-06-2008, 01:15 AM
 
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I get the concept of "if they were still together", but I think it should apply both ways.

If the parents were still together, when things like extra cirricular activites, parties, trips, etc. came up, there would no doubt be some conversation between mom and dad whether or not such things could/should be budgeted in based on household income and expenses. What I often see happening in split parenting situations is the custodial parent just expecting the non custodial parent to put up half of these expenses without taking the larger financial picture of both parents into consideration.
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