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child custody increase - Please HELP Maryland

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  • child custody increase - Please HELP Maryland

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I have a few questions regarding some recent changes in my child support arrangement. I am in a state of financial crisis, and am being called upon to increase child support payments. While I want nothing more than to be a good provider for my three children, whom I love deeply, I am genuinely struggling to make ends meet. I will explain some of the details here about my situation, and follow with questions that I have. Any advice would be most appreciated.

    I have been divorced from my ex for a year and a half, and we have a joint custody agreement wherein she cares for the three children sixty percent, and I care for them forty percent of the time.

    I am running a small business out of our jointly owned home. I had to buy my ex out of the business, and I agreed to pay her $100,000 over eight years with a lump sum initial payment of $10,000 and an additional $1250/month. Additionally, due to a flood of new competitors in my industry, I had to hire extra help to stay afloat, which has significantly reduced the profit margins of the business from where they were when we were married.

    My ex does not wish to sell the house “until property values rise”, and meanwhile, I am solely responsible for the $3000 monthly mortgage and additional costs in maintenance and repairs.

    I continue to pay for the children’s health care, at approximately $980 per month, and am also still struggling to deal with the attorney’s fees from the divorce, which accumulated to approximately $23,000.

    My ex recently relocated to a nearby state, which will bear an effect on our arrangement. I will now be required to travel an hour and a half to visit my children (before they were ten minutes away), and I will be unable to have them with me for the regular Tuesday night stay that was previously our routine.

    My ex notified me of her intentions to move approximately one month ago. When the idea was first proposed to me, I clearly expressed my disapproval at the idea, but I was unable to deal with the subject at length as I was out of the country due to a death in my immediate family. When I returned home, I received a statement from my ex they had already made the arrangements for the move and that the entire relocation would be completed in approximately one week’s time. They moved into their new home yesterday.

    I currently pay $1300/mo in child support fees. My ex has recently filed a Motion for an Increase in Child Support, citing an additional $1600 a month in Work Related child care expenses.

    The proof for the increase in child care expenses that my ex has provided are the summer camps (totaling $6,500 for two children) and pre-school day care (totaling $3,417) for the third child.

    The first question is this. I do not feel that it is necessary to pay such exorbitant rates for summer camp and day care when there are far more affordable options available in the area. However, I was not consulted in the decision-making process about these issues, and have simply been ordered to pay for them. Am I permitted to contest my financial responsibility for these on the grounds that this is a voluntary expense that my ex has decided to incur and not a necessary one (given that my ex could have enrolled the children in more affordable activities)? Our court decree states the following:

    ORDERED, that each party shall have day-to-day decision making authority related to the children when the children are in his or her care. The parties consult on all major issues affecting the children, and with the children’s health care or other relevant provider where appropriate, and, should they be unable to reach consensus after such good faith attempts at doing so, Plaintiff shall have final tie-breaking authority.

    My ex is the plaintiff in this situation. Because she holds the final tie-breaking authority, am I legally obliged to pay for whatever activities my ex decides to enroll them in, no matter how costly?

    The second question pertains to the aforementioned move. Because the income and child care costs that my ex is reporting, and upon which are based her claims for an increase in financial support, are based on the costs and income of her previous location, do the same figures apply now that they have moved?

    It is my understanding that my ex has relocated in order to accept a better job, which would mean an increased salary, which in turn would affect the calculation for child support obligation, would it not? Does the child support obligation and motion for increase apply to the present arrangement, or can my ex use it retroactively?

    Because the move has now been completed (as of yesterday), is it too late to file an objection to the move? The reason that I did not do so previously is because of the circumstances regarding the death in my family. I am deeply troubled by the distance that the move has put between myself and my children. What would the effect of objecting to the relocation be at this point? Is it possible to reconfigure the custody agreement as a result?

    On the same subject, how can I indicate that the increased cost in transportation to visit my children should be deducted from the child support fees that I am required to pay, or is that possible at all?

    Finally, does the judge or the child support agency take into account my debts, financial desperation and obligations at all into account when looking at the whole picture? Without being overly dramatic, I will certainly go bankrupt incurring any additional debts, which will result in me losing my home, subsequently my at-home job, and my income. That would result in my inability to make any significant payments until I rebuilt my financial security entirely.

    Again, thank you so much for your time, patience, and for sharing your expertise. I appreciate it so much.

  • #2
    Get a lawyer and prove your monthly expenditures and change in income.

    She just might find herself with a decrease in support.

    That is all up to the judge.


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