Friday, April 2, 2010

What Divorce Law is Doing to Marriage Part 3

Here is part 2 of the Introduction

Once in the clutches of the child support system, you’ll be systematically shorn of your economic autonomy.

If you lose your job, you must continue to pay the court ordered amount. To get relief, you must file a petition with the court. You may also have to hire a lawyer to argue the petition – which precisely now you would be hard-pressed to do.

In court, you won’t get complete relief. Initially, the court will expect you to pay a large part of the ordered amount out of savings. It will expect you to reduce your own standard of living before it reduces your child support obligation. You’ll also have to pay any amounts you failed to pay from the day you lost your job until the day you filed your petition. In full.

If you find a job which pays less than your old one, the court needn’t reduce your child support obligation correspondingly. The court may suspect that you took the lower-paying job to reduce your child support payments. The burden will be on you to prove you didn’t.

If you leave your job to start your own business, and you pay yourself a minimal salary until the business prospers, the court needn’t grant you child support relief. It may lecture you about “putting your children first.”

If you remarry, and have children with your new wife, the court needn’t grant you child support relief. It may lecture you again, this time about not brining more children into the world when you already have children enough to support.

In the meantime, your ex may claim that your children’s needs have increased significantly, and she’ll seek to increase your payments.

You will have to prove that you can’t afford the increase. It won’t be enough to show to show that your income hasn’t increased significantly. If it has, your ex needn’t show that the children’s needs have increased correspondingly.

If your wages are not withheld and you fail to pay your child support, the State will garnish your pay, slap liens on your property, intercept your tax refunds, report you to all credit agencies, discontinue your driver’s license, suspend your professional and business permits, hold you in contempt of court, put your face on a wanted poster, throw you in jail, and deny you food stamps. But if your ex doesn’t spend that very same support on the children, the State will do…nothing.

Your child support obligation doesn’t necessarily end when your children grow up, leave home, and become legally responsible adults. In many states, you may be ordered to contribute to their college tuition, their room and board, and their travel expenses, even though married parents can’t be ordered to pay for these things.

You may also owe your ex one further payment: part or all of her “reasonable” attorney fees.

The court will try to eliminate any financial advantage you have in selecting a lawyer. It will not make her fritter away her equitable share of your property on something so inequitable as her attorney fees.

It will make you fritter away your share.