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Gaming the child support system

CallingSpades posted 11/6/2020 01:17 AM

If you think your STBX is trying to manipulate custody in order to pay less in child support, is there any legal consequence for them?

My lovely ex firstly was offended by the amount of required (temporary) CS/alimony, I think because he thought what he was paying voluntarily was above and beyond, but turned out to be about the same as the notoriously inadequate state requirement. He then drafted a proposed settlement agreement that had him taking the kids three weekends a month with preference for long weekends (he works in the next state, so no weekdays). And that he would pay child support for one year, then...nothing. Yes, he actually tried to write that into the divorce agreement. He makes 3x what I do, and I'm supposed to support myself while having the kids all week. I'm pretty sure actual smoke came out of my ears when I read that.

So I practically have evidence that he's trying to weasel out of CS, with part of that strategy presumably being taking more custody days. I don't expect to go before a judge, in which case I would hope said judge would not be pleased with these shenanigans. But clearly none of what STBX is trying to do is in the best interest of the children. Have one parent pushing them all week to get ready for school and do their homework, and the other having 75+% of the fun time? That's not good for anyone. Clearly he's only thinking of the custody days/month and his "rights as a father," in his words.

My question is, is there anything I can do with this information? I'm aware being a self-centered narc egomaniac is not illegal. I don't think anything he proposed will actually happen. Can I get a court order for public shaming?? But seriously, without a going before a judge, is there any point in thinking about this? What would a custody evaluator say, just regarding the fact that he thought this was a good idea?

I would ask my attorney but I still have 10 months before the divorce is final (shoot me), and she's really busy. So in the meantime, what are your experiences?

The1stWife posted 11/6/2020 04:11 AM

He can propose or try anything he wants. Doesnít mean you have to agree.

As your children age they may not want to go to see him every weekend. They have friends and social activities where they live and may not want to miss out.

Speak to your lawyer. Do not let him manipulate you. Thatís what you have an attorney for.

Tigersrule77 posted 11/6/2020 07:32 AM

As I'm sure you are aware, he pays CS until the kids turn 18 or graduate. Even if you agreed to that somehow, in most states, you can request to change CS at any time, so it isn't binding.

I wouldn't spend much time worrying about it, if I were you. As you stated, being an A-hole is not illegal, it just sucks that you have to deal with it.

Catwoman posted 11/6/2020 07:35 AM

Seconding the fact that this is merely a proposal, and it's one you're free to decline.

Couple of things that may be important: which party moved away? If it was him, then you have the advantage. If it was you, that's a tossup. If you moved to be closer to family who could help out after you separated, that's probably not going to hurt you. If there are other issues, again, they may hurt your case or help it.

I would stand fast on every other weekend. There is NO reason for you not go have equal access to your children during leisure hours. At all.

Child support continues in EVERY state until age 18 (or some states specify age 23 if not yet emancipated). So he cannot just pay child support for a year and call it quits.

If he's serious about his "rights as a father," he would be located much closer to his children and be more involved with them on a regular basis.

I wouldn't worry about this. Judges are pretty savvy, and I don't see any judge awarding him the majority of leisure time while you do all the work.


Ratpicker posted 11/6/2020 12:58 PM

CallingSpades- are you still doing a collaborative divorce? Are the two of you encouraged to be negotiating details outside of process without involving the attorneys?

Is your STBX attempting to drive the process? It wouldn't be the first time a NARC tried this during divorce proceedings but with a collaborative there are fewer reins. Can you tell him he don't wish to discuss the details outside of the presence of your attorney? Or that he put it proposals in writing for your attorney to consider?

OrdinaryDude posted 11/8/2020 04:54 AM

I would also propose that he gets the kids for a few weeks every summer...for about the same amount of time he gets for vacation + comp time + sick leave for the year.

CallingSpades posted 11/8/2020 20:56 PM

Thank you all! Great reassurance

There is NO reason for you not go have equal access to your children during leisure hours. At all.

Thank you, Catwoman. That's a great way to phrase it. He's shooting for closer to 50/50 by asking for more weekend time, but all time is not equal and shouldn't be all in one pot to be divided.

He moved away for work. He has worked away during the week for years, claiming he can't make as much money closer to home. Truth is, he just doesn't want the jobs closer to home and hasn't invested much in getting/advancing in that work. I've always loved your tagline, btw!

As your children age they may not want to go to see him every weekend. They have friends and social activities where they live and may not want to miss out.

The1stWife, you're 100% correct. DS's are only 5 & 8, but when STBX was home for a month and had them four weekends in a row, they were dying without their neighborhood friends. They said they didn't want to go with him - what they really wanted was for him to come stay at the house, but they didn't push it. But thank you, I'm going to document this now so I don't forget to include it in the justification if he puts up a fight.

Ratpicker, technically we're doing collaborative, but haven't negotiated anything since two incidents - I had trouble getting him to pay his portion of home repairs (jointly owned) and had to go through lawyers. And then he fought me on moving to a smaller place, which would save both of us money (control issues). So his lawyer actually signed that garbage proposal he wrote, and sent it to mine. What a joke.

OrdinaryDude, yes! He wrote in two weeks vacation for each of us, but I'd be willing to do even three because I think he could accumulate that much time off, and I'd be working all week anyways and could deal with that once a year - just not 39 weeks a year. I'm definitely not trying to "keep the kids from him" as he occasionally tries to accuse me of. It's just that he's chosen a job/lifestyle that regularly keeps him away from the kids, he took a trip away from them and spent the whole time cheating and skipping Skype calls, so I don't see why I should be made to suffer hardship for the next 13 years. Tbh I'm grateful for the long hard weeks doing everything for the kids by myself. But not as grateful as I am for the beautiful weekends together like this past one!

Thanks everyone! Great insights and very helpful.

Anna123 posted 11/9/2020 05:16 AM

There are standard child time splits. They are evenly dispersed on purpose between weekends and weekdays, holidays etc. Go for MORE than you expect. He won't get what he is asking, not even close.

I also kept track of cheaters time taking our son BEFORE the agreement, to prove he didn't care for our son as often as I, just in case it got before a judge. Make sure your lawyer lets him know what a judge will probably rule if it gets to that if you think his lawyer isn't keeping him informed.

My ex started asking for way more hours when I was the main caregiver. My lawyer and I shut that right down with a counter offer demanding I have far more time, which in turn also equals more support.

Also, my lawyer added a clause that the child support would be re-evaluated at at any point in the future that ex was not taking son for his time. It wasn't intended by me to have ex take him more, it was for him to see the reality ahead of time that he won't be able to mess with me on a lower support and then not showing up for son.

Good luck. I did a lot of ear-smoke fanning also BTW and ended up okay. Just be tough and let your lawyer do all the talking from now on. I am not sure this collaborative thing can work if he is starting so off-base. They usually don't with these types unfortunately.

Butforthegrace posted 11/9/2020 05:55 AM

Ask your attorney.

Gottagetthrough posted 11/9/2020 10:09 AM

I was divorcing my WH in 2010. We went before a hudge who actually gave him custody every weekend save the furst weekend of the month.

So i did just what you said- got my oldest ready for school, did the homework, took her to doctors appointments, etc, and he got the fun time weekends.

So dont expect a judge to say thats bad.

The no c/s after a year?? Lol. Yeah right. I dont think a judge will say much about that, but it wont happen

WornDown posted 11/9/2020 19:44 PM

First, as others have said, just because he proposes or wants something, doesn't mean he can get it. In fact, it means exactly Jack and Squat. At this stage, he only gets what you AGREE to. Remember that - if you don't want to agree, he doesn't get it. IGNORE any and all threats he throws out.

However, if he does want 50% custody, he is very likely to get that. You aren't going to be successful arguing that he only wants 50% custody to pay less child support. Is it true? Maybe. But that is not what the court is concerned about - it is concerned that the kids have a relationship with BOTH parents.

That said...If he has moved a significant distance away (as defined by the court), then 50% becomes unmanagable. He can't get the kids to their current school from that far away. So, it really becomes moot. (It actually becomes a decision where the kids live primarily (>80% of the time) with one parent or the other. And trying to pry kids away from their current location (with you) is just about impossible).

Finally, YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY. With the current situation as you describe it, you are in over your head and trying to "negotiate" with him will not end in your favor. This isn't a collaborative divorce; this is a divorce where he is trying to steamroll you into doing what he wants. (See the first paragraph above)

Get an attorney. Stop negotiating with him and let the attorney do the talking; the attorney knows what he can/can not demand and what is more likely to happen. And the attorney isn't going to be intimidated by him and his threats.

Good luck!

Ratpicker posted 11/9/2020 21:16 PM

Worndown- she has an attorney. She is doing a collaborative divorce.

CallingSpades - your attorney is legally bound to present the offers sent by his attorney (at his request- his attorney has to send it). Just because you were given his demands for consideration doesn't mean it's worth the paper it is printed on! You've considered it, tell your attorney the offer is not acceptable. Period. Done & dusted.

Just because it is a collaborative divorce doesn't mean he gets to dictate the terms. Ask your attorney if they are familiar with judge's rulings in your area (some collaborative attorneys have not been in a court room contested divorce). If yours can tell you what they think would be a judges decision, you have something to base your negotiations and your line in the sand.

With a collaborative, did you both agree to use a different attorneys if an agreement can not be reached and it has to go to court?

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