What are my options for child support?


#1

Hi,

My ex and I incorporated a separation agreement into a judgment of absolute divorce that was finalized on 11/04/13, where it is written that, “The parties agree that the Husband shall pay to the wife a monthly child support payment of $500 beginning Dec. 1st, 2012 until the minor child graduates high school or if the Husband’s income changes to a degree that will require adjustments in the monthly amount of child support.” This amount was calculated based on income and joint custody.

He kept the business we built together, so I started my own business and also work very part-time. We usually split expenses such as clothes and school supplies, etc., and our child gets insurance through Health Choice. We each either pick her up or drive her 5 times per week.

Recently, he’s been more difficult with shared expenses and when I asked him to feed her when he picks her up from school he threatened to reduce child support saying that he wasn’t making as much money as when he calculated the $500/month. Our child spends a few hours with him per school week, but eats and sleeps at our home every single night. He doesn’t feed her at all during summer break or holidays.

My question is, what are my options here? I feel like I’m bullied, which he tends to do. The thing is that I have no idea how much money he makes right now, although I suspect that he supports his girlfriend’s family, even though they no longer live together. If I were to request the court to state/change how much child support am I entitled to, what would they look at: what he makes now or how much he’s made in the past, or our child’s needs? And would the court include in child support his share of expenses we now split? What are my chances of making sure that he’s not going to change the amount according to how his business fluctuates?

Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


#2

If you brought a new action for child support in court, the court would look at current incomes and expenses for the child to determine what the child support obligation should be. You should refer to our child support calculator for some guidance on what the obligation may be depending on his income. If his income is variable, the court usually averages income for the past few years unless there is a compelling argument why an average would not be a good indicator of future income.


#3

Hi,

Thanks for your reply. I have a few other questions. Does the court look at the fact that we have joint custody but the child is with me all year long (doesn’t this mean that he’s not abiding by the divorce decree)? And when you say that they would look at current incomes and expenses, how is that done? Do they require bank statements and business records, look at previous taxes filed (which were joint up until last year), or just go by what each of us present to the court?

Also, if it is business reports, would they analyze the records to make sure he’s not using personal expenses as “business expenses” such as meals (which I know he does), or would my lawyer have to do that?

Is child support supposed to include school supplies, clothing, school trips, etc. or are those considered extra expenses? If we currently split those (for the most part), does it mean that they wouldn’t be included in child support?

I have no idea how much money he makes now, since I have no access to his records, so I’d like to know what the process would entail beforehand, to make sure it’s worth fighting for.

Thank you so much for your help!


#4

If he’s not following a custody order that details the custody schedule, you can have him held in contempt. If the order is not specific about visitation, you should bring in evidence of the correct overnights that the court should use to determine the child support award.

Income can be determined using a lot of different documents. It really depends on the type of income what the court will refer to and this can range from tax returns to bank statements to pay stubs. If you believe a party is hiding personal expenses in his/her business expenses, you should do discovery so that you get the proper documentation to show this to the court.