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Pro Se Child Support adjustment

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charless

Member
State MA

I just learned that shortly after my divorce was final last year, my ex found a new job. Seeing a tougher commute and bigger employer, I assumed it was a higher paying job. So I filed a complaint for modification and had her served. I was hoping to lower my support payment. Now she files a response that she has been laid off. It is suspicious timing, but may very well be true.

I am wondering if I should bring a lawyer to the court or go pro se? I was expecting to get her financial statements and then decide based on the CS worksheet if it was worth going in front of the judge. But to my surprise, she has not shared her financials.

I am assuming that we will get a court date next. We will both show up with our financial statements filled. We can then do the CS worksheet and find what the final payment is. I am fine with paying the state required CS. But I don't want to overlook something. And my ex is deceitful.
 


not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
State MA

I just learned that shortly after my divorce was final last year, my ex found a new job. Seeing a tougher commute and bigger employer, I assumed it was a higher paying job. So I filed a complaint for modification and had her served. I was hoping to lower my support payment. Now she files a response that she has been laid off. It is suspicious timing, but may very well be true.

I am wondering if I should bring a lawyer to the court or go pro se? I was expecting to get her financial statements and then decide based on the CS worksheet if it was worth going in front of the judge. But to my surprise, she has not shared her financials.

I am assuming that we will get a court date next. We will both show up with our financial statements filled. We can then do the CS worksheet and find what the final payment is. I am fine with paying the state required CS. But I don't want to overlook something. And my ex is deceitful.
If someone is less than candid, then hiring a lawyer might help with that - do you really have time to learn how to file a subpoena, etc.?

But, because lawyers cost money, you have to determine whether the cost is worth it. (I have no idea whether it is or isn't in your situation.)

You cannot make a determination as to whether she has had a significant enough change of income for this to be worth it. And if she's really laid off, she might counterclaim that she really needs *more* cs.

Your divorce was finalized less than a year ago. Some courts might think that frequent changes in cs orders are not reasonable.
 
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charless

Member
Thanks for the advice. I forgot about the option to subpoena her employment records.

Let me look into the process. Because hiring a lawyer may not be worth the saving in CS. But if the process is too difficult, I may not have a choice.

If I factor in her unemployment checks, the increase is not significant. But if I factor in zero income on her side, then the increase becomes painful.

Add to that the fact that the ex will (A) drag out her unemployment and (B) will never tell me when she finds a job. I would like to have her income imputed at the current level. That way she will be encouraged to find employment and will let me know as soon as she finds a job.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
Thanks for the advice. I forgot about the option to subpoena her employment records.

Let me look into the process. Because hiring a lawyer may not be worth the saving in CS. But if the process is too difficult, I may not have a choice.

If I factor in her unemployment checks, the increase is not significant. But if I factor in zero income on her side, then the increase becomes painful.

Add to that the fact that the ex will (A) drag out her unemployment and (B) will never tell me when she finds a job. I would like to have her income imputed at the current level. That way she will be encouraged to find employment and will let me know as soon as she finds a job.
Don't throw good money after bad. You know what she is capable of earning and I doubt that her income (at least in the relatively short term) is ever going to increase enough to make it worthwhile to hire an attorney. The exception to that would be if you knew that she was going to school and graduating or something like that, that would make a significant difference.
 

doucar

Junior Member
And the Court will entertain motions to modify every three or so years, unless the change was unforseeable and dramatic. One year after the divorce was final is probably too soon for the court to even consider it..
 

charless

Member
Is her job loss not unforeseeable and dramatic? What about her job switch before that. What if she went from 60K salary to 100K 3 months after the divorce was final?

About hiring a lawyer - it makes sense. I will try to do what I can myself. But I am concerned that I won't be able to argue for imputing her income. Or get any information out of her. Especially if she hires a lawyer. Don't want to save some money on the lawyer only to pay double that to the ex every year.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
Is her job loss not unforeseeable and dramatic? What about her job switch before that. What if she went from 60K salary to 100K 3 months after the divorce was final?

About hiring a lawyer - it makes sense. I will try to do what I can myself. But I am concerned that I won't be able to argue for imputing her income. Or get any information out of her. Especially if she hires a lawyer. Don't want to save some money on the lawyer only to pay double that to the ex every year.
Personally, I would drop the case if she is really laid off. Let her bring one forward if she thinks that her layoff is going to last long enough that a child support modification is required. Going from 60k to 100k would also be significant. However you do not know that she went from 60k to 100k. You are guessing at best, and now that she is laid off its a moot point.
 

charless

Member
How do I know that she is laid off? She says that. But she has lied so many times before.

How was it foolish to rush in blind? I did not know the future. If anything, I will be dropping my case blind.

Wouldn't it make more sense to show up at the court, gather the facts, and then do the right thing?
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
How do I know that she is laid off? She says that. But she has lied so many times before.

How was it foolish to rush in blind? I did not know the future. If anything, I will be dropping my case blind.

Wouldn't it make more sense to show up at the court, gather the facts, and then do the right thing?
So soon after the divorce/most recent court order? No.

But sure, show up to court. Either she'll skip bringing in her financial documents, be scolded, and eventually will bring them in, OR she'll bring them to court, but since each party is entitled to see the other party's info, it will still take a few more times going in.

So, the question is, is your work schedule flexible enough that you won't jeopardize your job with all these court appearances?
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
How do I know that she is laid off?
How did you know her new job paid substantially more? People DO change jobs for equal/less compensation for many reasons, even when other things become more difficult (i.e. the commute). You jumped the gun from the get-go.
 

charless

Member
Stealth, let us not forget that I was married to this woman for 15 years. She is not the one to change jobs for equal or less compensation. I did not jump any gun. The only question is how much did it go up. At 20K or more it is worth my time. Less than that, maybe not.

not2clever, I have a pretty flexible schedule. I can spare a couple of visits to the courthouse. What I cannot afford is to spend too much on multiple days of hiring a lawyer. That is why I am going pro se. If the ex agrees, we can exchange the info without going to the courthouse. But there is a good chance that she will not agree to giving me any info without a fight.

From reading it sounded like a simple process. I file the complaint, she responds, we get a court date, and we both show up. If we can't agree to agree, we ask the judge and we are done. Not sure if that is how it happens in practice - specifically in MA. That is why I started this thread.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Stealth, let us not forget that I was married to this woman for 15 years. She is not the one to change jobs for equal or less compensation. I did not jump any gun. The only question is how much did it go up. At 20K or more it is worth my time. Less than that, maybe not.

not2clever, I have a pretty flexible schedule. I can spare a couple of visits to the courthouse. What I cannot afford is to spend too much on multiple days of hiring a lawyer. That is why I am going pro se. If the ex agrees, we can exchange the info without going to the courthouse. But there is a good chance that she will not agree to giving me any info without a fight.

From reading it sounded like a simple process. I file the complaint, she responds, we get a court date, and we both show up. If we can't agree to agree, we ask the judge and we are done. Not sure if that is how it happens in practice - specifically in MA. That is why I started this thread.
The bolded is why it is not a "simple process".

It *can* be a "simple process", but that usually requires that both sides are reasonable people who abide by the rules. Or that one party simply lets the other side get their way by default.

You have represented your ex as neither reasonable nor a pushover.
 

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