Family Court: Promoting Hostility?

child support

To be honest, the family court system served me pretty well throughout my divorce.  Everything went smoothly and efficiently.  Tyler and I were able to do everything without lawyers, and we ended our marriage on relatively good terms.

We’re having a little bit of an issue with the system now, though.  And the issue is with child support.

I try to avoid talking about money and child support on my blog, especially because it appears to get people worked up if I talk about how cash-poor I am these days.  (I mean listen, I may technically be a dentist, but for now and the immediate future, I’m basically one missed child support payment away from switching to “the family cloth” (google it), okay people?)  But this topic doesn’t exactly have to do with money, so I’m going for it.

I’m not a fan of how the system forces everything to be so hostile.  Here’s the story: when we got divorced, I was still in school, so I had no income, and I filed for child support accordingly… with the mutual understanding between Tyler and I that we would modify the order to reduce his payments once I started residency and started making a little bit of money.  (It isn’t fair now that I have a job, of course, for him to continue paying as much as he did when I had no income at all.)  Now that time has come, so we went to see what we had to do to make that happen.

We figured we’d just re-do the calculations and have the order modified.  But oh, no.  Apparently not.  Apparently he has to sue me for the modification, pay a fee, pay to have me served with papers by a state marshal, and both of us have to go back to court.  It’s L, Tyler v. L, Julia all over again.  And then, next July when I get a “real” job, my income will change again, so he’d have to sue me again.

I mean really, Connecticut?  This is nobody versus anybody.  This is two parents, who have struggled enough in the past to civilly co-parent their child, working together to figure out who is financially responsible for what, and for how much.  Yes, I do understand that all of this is supposed to promote fairness, objectivity, and equality for both parties.  But when it comes to family cases, there is already enough discord between the parties, and it’s so important for the children involved that things stay civil and friendly… why is it set up this way?

We have worked so hard to develop a coparenting relationship, and now we have to take a step backwards with something that is a simple, straightforward calculation?  Can’t there be a way for us to fill out the requisite paperwork and file for the order to be granted without having a lawsuit involved?

So we are going to do our best to calculate it on our own, outside of court.  We’ll come to an agreement on a new amount.  There won’t be any documentation, but I think I can be counted on to be mature enough not to go running to Support Enforcement Services about how he’s legally required to be paying me x and is only paying me y.  He might not be my favorite person, but I’m not out to screw him– I just want him to financially support his child in an appropriate manner, in accordance with his income and mine.  And in that respect, we are 100% on the same page.

With all of that said, it is encouraging that we both feel the same way about it, and are willing to come together and figure it out all on our own, for our daughter’s benefit.  The system might have to be set up in a way that promotes hostility, but fortunately, that doesn’t mean we have to operate that way.

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  1. by Kayla

    On August 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I’d give a round of applause if I could.

  2. by Samantha

    On August 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Hi Julia!

    My parents had the same type of thing happen, and like you and Tyler came to an agreement themselves. Since the state had the money directly taken out of my dads paycheck to be sent to the state and then the state would forward my mom a check. My mom would then turn around and write a check back to my dad to pay him back. Kind of crazy that it had to work like that, but in the end it did work.

  3. by Nikia

    On August 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I completely agree! This is why I’ve completely avoided the court system when dealing with my ex. No need for them to get in the middle of my family. I’ve seen so many parents get poisoned by the court system when all they want to do is the right thing.

  4. by MJS

    On August 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    The only thing I would add is to commit your agreement to writing that you both sign and make copies of (you can get it notarized for about $10 if you want to be extra careful). If something does come up later on, you will both want proof of your agreement.

    Best of luck with all this. I wish the court system were less convouluted for everyones’ sake!

  5. by Veronica Messegee

    On August 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    The way that Nikia’s parents did it would be the safest way to go. If ever in the future one of the parties wants to be hostile, it can get ugly. If it was determined that for some reason all the time he was paying an agreed upon amount to you (not in writing) he was paying too much….he could sue and you might have to pay all back overpayments. That’s how it is in our state. It really is best to follow their procedure, no matter how senseless it appears. It truly protects BOTH parties. You might want to make a joke of it and let him know it’s time to sue you again. Just because the court takes it that seriously, doesn’t mean that the both of you have to play along and adopt the hostile attitude! You are so right….it’s not good for the kids!

  6. by Julia

    On August 9, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions! I’m not sure exactly how to handle it at this point, I guess. He and I are in agreement that we don’t feel that it’s necessary to go through the entire process that’s necessary to change the court order when it will just have to be changed again in less than a year… however, our co-parenting relationship is enough of a roller coaster that we should at least have something signed and probably notarized, just to make sure we’re both covered. This would all be a lot easier if he had cell phone service! But he’ll be back in the area within a month.

    Thanks again, everyone!

  7. by danielle

    On August 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Good for your Julia for being able to settle on an amount without assistance (pressure) from the court! I’ve known other couples to not be so lucky, which is exactly why the system is there to deal with child support. Hope it all works out for you!