Can he do this?

Hi - I just got a letter from a lawyer saying my ex is trying to terminate my monthly family support. He is supposed to stop paying child support next month since our daughter is 18 and has graduated high school. In addition to child support I have been getting “family support” since our divorce and he is supposed to do so until he or I die or I get remarried. The basis they are using for the termnination is as follows:

Since the entry of the orders there have been material and substansial changes in the circumstances of both parties sufficient to justify a modification of the court’s prior orders, including, but not limited to the following:

  1. that the parties’ minor child has reached the age of 18 and has graduated from high school
  2. that the “support for family” provision of the parties’ separation agreement specifies that said payments are not to be considered alimony. That with the emancipation of the parties’ child no intact family exists for which any financial obligation should continue, as all financial contributions would be soley for the benefit of the plaintiff.
  3. that since the support for family was specifically not to be considered alimony the payments should not continue for the benefit of the plaintiff alone, as would be the case if the payments were alimony.
  4. that the continuation of support for family paymens for the sole benefit of plaintiff is, under the circumstances of the parties inequitable and unconscionable.

Wherefore the defendant prays the court:

  1. that this verified motion be accepted as an affidavit in support thereof.
  2. that the court terminate defendant’s child support obligation to plaintiff
  3. that the court terminate defendant’s suport for family payments to plaintiff
  4. that defendant have such other and further relief as the court may deem just, fit, and proper.

Can he do this to me?? Our daughter is beginning college in the fall. He has to pay half of her college expenses. She will be living at home and not on campus. Since our divorce he has remarried and his salary for his job has more that tripled. He also has substancial savings and investments. I on the otherhand, have not gotten but a slight salary increase and I am in no way able to exist without the money I get from him each month. Over the years of our divorce I have amended our agreement several times to his advantage.

Please let me know if you think he can do this to me?

Thank you!

not an attorney

I would imagine that if the order says that it is to continue until he dies, you die, or you remarry, that it cannot be changed simply by the fact that your child aged out of child support. Was this part of a separation agreement that you all agreed on, or was it an order made by the court/judge?

It’s my understanding that a separation agreement cannot be modified, but that with substantial change of circumstance, a court order (made by a judge) can be. However, I don’t see the substantial change of circumstancen (one of you dying, or you getting remarried - I see Those items as the substantial change of circumstance). Logic says that at some point, the child will age out and the support would be for you. If he wanted it to stop with the child aging out, then it should have been worded that way. I would imagine that he cannot have this changed.

But, again, I’m not an attorney…I hope Ryan has some more concrete input…

** not an attorney either **

One clarification – While most items in a separation agreement can’t be modified, items pertaining to the children can be modified (support and/or visitation).

This is why my lawyer suggested I ask for alimony, rather than just all child support – the alimony is set in stone and can’t be modified if ex is out of work or changes jobs, etc. However, my ex can ask for child support in our separation agreement to be modified if his circumstances change.

The child support is likely eligible for termination. As to the family support, he can try to modify it, but I’d have to see the agreement to give you an educated opinion as to the likelihood of success.

Thanks for your replys everyone. The term “family support” is the issue they are using as the basis for termination of his payments. My lawyer used this term so I wouldn’t have to claim this money on my taxes each year. They are basically saying that since my daughter is 18 she is an adult and since the money is for “family” support and there is no longer any “family” member under 18 he shouldn’t have to pay the money. It specifically states in our separation agreement that these funds are to be paid until either of us die or I remarry - nothing about it being terminated when my daughter ages out. I feel that her aging out has nothing to do with these funds. He has taken me to court twice to try to change this agreement and hasn’t been successful. I am hoping this time will be unsuccessful too. The sad thing is, he is getting a large cut in the amount he sends me each month because child support has terminated now and since we filed the agreement his salary has more than doubled and mine hasn’t. My daughter is going to college and my expenses are increasing and he wants to do away with all the money he sends. This just does’t seem right. Ryan - what is your take on this? In your experience do you think he will be successful since the funds are termed “family support” and not alimony?

Thanks y’all!! You all ROCK!!