Mutual Agreements on Child Support

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SingleDad.com offers advice from DadsDivorce.com Family Law Attorneys on the topic of Mutual Agreements on Child Support

Among the Ask a Divorce Lawyer questions answered today by Cordell & Cordell attorneys:

  • If we’ve come to an agreement on our own of no child support, will a judge force her to take support from me because I earn more?
  • Do I have the legal right to drop my wife from my medical insurance as long as I give her 30 days notice?
  • During the divorce process my kids hate leaving me and going back to their mom. Can they stay with me and not her?
  • Divorce seems inevitable, so what is the first step I should take to increase my chances for the best outcome?
  • Can one state come after me for owed child support if the case is in another state?
  • How can I keep my kids safe if my ex is abusing them during visitations?

Question:

My wife and I are going through a divorce in a collaborative process and making all the decisions together, including setting up a custody schedule. We both have lawyers that are helping us with these agreements. She says she does not want money from me for child support even though I make more. Even though we’ve come to this agreement of no child support, will a judge force her to take support from me because I earn more?

Answer:

First, I must preface my answer that I am licensed to practice law in Nebraska. You should consult a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your state before taking any action.

A judge might require you to pay child support, despite your agreement, if he or she believes it is in the best interest of the child. In Nebraska, child support is calculated according to guidelines. In order for a judge to deviate from those guidelines, proof has to be shown as to why that deviation is occurring and should be allowed. Acceptable reasons to the court could be the noncustodial parent is picking up extra expenses, or spending additional time with the child.

You should speak with the attorney who is helping you with agreements regarding state specific questions you might have.

Question:

Do I have the legal right to drop my wife from my medical insurance as long as I give her 30 days notice?

Answer:

First, I must preface my answer that I am licensed to practice law in Nebraska. You should consult a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your state before taking any action.

The answer to this question likely lies in New York statutes, with which I am not familiar. I would guess that you would not be able to, as the state has an interest in making sure people are insured so as to keep public assistance costs down.


Question:

My wife told me she wanted a divorce and ended up leaving my house and taking the kids to a shelter. I’ve already filed for the divorce. I was finally able to see my kids for a day and they are begging to stay with me since they don’t want to leave my home. What should I do?

Answer:

First, I must preface my answer that I am licensed to practice law in Nebraska. You should consult a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your state before taking any action. Cordell & Cordell maintains offices in Florida and one of our qualified attorneys would be glad to consult with you.

Your first step is to file a Motion for Temporary Custody. Some states allow these motions to be heard on an ex parte basis (without the other party present) if there are extreme circumstances. If the shelter is a danger to the children, then you would have a good chance of getting your Motion heard immediately. Unless there is some kind of abuse or other questionable behavior taking place, taking children out of a stable home to stay in a shelter will not play well with the court.

Question:

My wife has moved out of our home and taken our two daughters. Divorce seems inevitable, but what is the first step I should take to increase my chances for the best outcome?

Answer:

First, I must preface my answer that I am licensed to practice law in Nebraska. You should consult a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your state before taking any action. Cordell & Cordell maintains offices in Georgia and one of our qualified attorneys would be glad to consult with you.

Consider filing for divorce first. If you have to go to trial, this puts you in the position of putting on your evidence first.

Be the best parent you can be. Exercise all of the parenting time you can with your children. Spend quality time with them, do not use baby-sitters. Document your efforts to see your kids and the dates, times, and circumstances your wife tells you no. Do not speak about the divorce in front of your girls, or disparage your spouse in front of them. Don’t ask about your wife’s personal life or probe for information from them. Lastly, always be polite to your wife, even though it can be very difficult. Don’t give her ammunition with which to show you are volatile or a bad influence on your daughters.

Nancy R. Shannon, a Nebraska native, is an Associate Attorney in the Omaha, Nebraska office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed in the state of Nebraska where her primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Ms. Shannon received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Doane College and her Juris Doctor from University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where she was a finalist in a Moot court competition and active in Client Counseling activities.

Question:

My ex wife is the custodial parent. She moved from Arizona to Texas with our children and has not allowed me any access to the children for two years. My divorce agreement provided that I would have weekly unsupervised visitation once I completed a series of counseling sessions and alcohol screens. I’ve completed all the requirements, filed it with the court, and still not been allowed contact. I filed a petition to enforce visitation along with a letter documenting when the mother wouldn’t allow me access, and the judge just threw it out. He now says the case is closed and that my documents were sealed and not read. What can I do?

Answer:

First let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed in Arizona and am unable to give you specific advice regarding Arizona laws and rules. Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does have attorneys located in Texas who would be happy to discuss your case with you.

It is hard for me to give you specific advice because I don’t know what is contained in the record or what the Court has specifically ordered. I do understand your frustration because you believe that you have done everything that you were required to do, but your wife and the Court are not holding up their end of the bargain.

Considering that your ex-wife has moved the children to the state of Texas and out of the state of Arizona, it may be possible for you to have a court in Texas review the case. The Texas court would need to assume jurisdiction in the case, but you would achieve a new judge and Court reviewing your case and determining if you should be granted visitation with your children and if your ex-wife may or may not be held in Contempt of Court. Please consult an attorney to see what your possible remedies are and the best way to proceed.

Question:

My ex called the cops on me during one of our arguments while I was at her place visiting our son. I’m afraid to be around her alone anymore in case she makes false accusations and calls the cops again. But I still want to be able to see my son. How can I make this work? Also, there’s a question of paternity over the child and I’m awaiting DNA results. If he isn’t my biological son, what rights do I have to see him?

Answer:

First let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed in Colorado, although Cordell & Cordell does have attorneys who are licensed in Colorado and would be happy to discuss your case with you.

If you are fearful that your ex-wife will continue to call the cops or to trap you in a situation where you could be arrested or have a order of protection against you, then you need to take steps to protect yourself from this type of situation. It would be wise for you to have a witness during all exchanges with your ex-wife. It would also be important no matter how hard it may be for you to not discuss issues with your ex during the exchange, save those conversations for a phone call later, but do not engage her in front of the child or in any situation where she may call the cops.

If paternity is an issue, then you may be faced with a situation where you are not the father of the child and your rights could be limited. In some states, if the paternity test shows that you are not the father, then you would have no rights to the child and there may be nothing that you could do. In other states, even if the paternity test came back negative, but you held yourself out to be the child’s father and the child knows you to be his father, then the Court may still hold you out to be the father. It would be important for you to contact an attorney and discuss what rights you may have in the state of Colorado.

Question:

My divorce took place in Washington state and I have since moved to Minnesota and have been paying child support. I lost my job and have been making partial support payments. Minnesota is threatening to suspend my license and throw me in jail for not making full payments even though the case is in Washington. Can Minnesota do that to me? What can I do to resolve this problem if I don’t have enough money to pay support?

Answer:

First let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed to practice in the state of the Minnesota and you would need to discuss your case with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for specific advice to your question.

Many states have passed laws wherein a parent who is not paying their child support obligation may have their drivers license, professional license, even their hunting or fishing license suspended for failing to live up to their obligation. These laws generally do not take into consideration if a parent lost a job or is in a situation that makes it hard for them to pay the current obligation. The laws are simply written that if a parent is in arrears the Court can suspend these licenses.

In order to prevent this, you need to move the court in Washington to modify your child support obligation based on the fact that you lost your job. Many states allow a parent to modify their child support obligation if there has been a substantial and continuing change in the parents life. Usually the loss of employment can count as a substantial and continuing change.

Jason Bowman is an attorney in the Louisville, Kentucky office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. He is licensed in the states of Kentucky and Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Louisville, and received his Juris Doctor from Texas Wesleyan University.Question:

I have full physical custody and share legal custody with my ex husband. He sees the kids every other weekend and my kids have told me that he smacks them and him and his new wife are mentally abusive toward them. Protective Services said they can’t do anything unless there are marks on the kids. It’s getting bad and I’m starting to fear for my children. What can I do?

Answer:

In Michigan, you are not limited to living with this problem or making reports to Child Protective Services. You have several options, either or all of which you can use if you have a legitimate fear and actual evidence that your ex is abusing your children. These include:

1. Continue CPS Reports. Michigan’s CPS agencies in each county maintain a database known as the “Central Registry.” The database contains reports of child abuse and neglect and the status of each report, i.e. whether CPS substantiated the report, closed the file, sent the case to the prosecutor, etc. It is important to keep this registry accurate so that CPS can chart a history of abuse and neglect. Therefore, anytime you suspect child abuse or neglect and you suspect it legitimately, you should make a report. If you have no legitimate basis for the report, however, you will commit a crime in Michigan. False reports are crimes. Therefore, be sure you have a basis to make the report. If you fail to make a report when you have a basis for it, however, CPS could accuse you of child abuse and neglect in the future. In Michigan, it is not uncommon for county CPS agencies to name the perpetrator for the abuse or neglect and the other parent for “failure to protect,” which, by statute, is also actionable as abuse and neglect.

2. Call the Police. This goes without saying, I suspect. If your ex is harming your children, make a police report. Child abuse and neglect is not only a basis to terminate parental rights, it is a crime.

3. Protective Orders. If you have documentary or witness evidence to support your allegations of child abuse and neglect (e.g.s, pictures of bruising, people who will testify that they saw your ex hit your children), consider a protective order to keep your ex from your children pending a modification of your parenting time and child custody order. Protective Order forms are available at your county courthouse.

4. Friend of the Court Services. Michigan participates in the federal Social Security Act, Title IV-D program. As part of the program, the local Friend of the Court agencies must provide parents with alternative dispute resolution, mediation, parenting referees, and the like. Each county uses a different label for these services, but, essentially, they are informal dispute resolution services that allow parents to work out their disagreements with a Friend of the Court work without going through a child custody trial. Contact your county Friend of the Court to learn what services are available to you.

5. Motion to Modify Custody. By statute in Michigan, MCL 722.27 and MCL 722.27a, you can request a modification of custody and parenting time for “proper cause” or a “substantial change in circumstance” since the last order. See also Vodvarka v Grasmeyer. “Proper cause” should be related to one of the best interest of the child factors in MCL 722.23, and “change in circumstances” should be relevant to the sum total of them. The factors that, from an initial review, seems most pertinent to you are the domestic violence, moral fitness and friendly parent factors. Consult an attorney to learn what motion procedures you will need to follow, as some counties require a hearing in the Friend of the Court and others before the judge.

By explaining these options, I do not recommend that you select any of them. Do not act until you have discussed your case and your options thoroughly with an attorney, as you could jeopardize your own rights (e.g., under the friendly parent factor) or commit a crime e.g. for a false report) if you act without an attorney’s advice.

Keep in mind, although I am licensed to practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without reviewing your case and meeting you. Do not rely on this answer as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and contact an attorney immediately for information and legal representation. Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does practice in Michigan. Thank you for submitting your question to Cordell & Cordell, P.C.


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Richard JaramilloRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”

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Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com, a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children. RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents “Make Life Happen…Again!”