Thursday, October 28, 2010

How much Parenting Time will result in a reduction in child support?

I received a question from a parent who has the child for about one-third of the time. The parent was asking about reducing child support based on the amount of parenting time spent. Child support in Massachusetts is controlled by the child support guidelines. These guidelines specifically address parenting time. According to the guidelines, the standard split of parenting time is two-thirds with the primary parent and one-third with the other. If the other non-primary parent has significantly more than one-third parenting time, then there should be a reduction. Generally, this means that the parenting time should approach a 50/50 split. Of course, the opposite argument can be made as well–if the non-primary parent doesn’t spend much time or any time with the child, then an increase in child support is warranted.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Divorce Insurance

A company is now offering divorce insurance as protection against your marriage falling apart. While I don’t think this product can legally be sold in Massachusetts, it is a new concept that is worthy of discussion. Perhaps, someday, it will be legal to buy this in this state.
In Massachusetts, all insurance must be licensed. I looked at the Division of Insurance web site and didn’t find this listed. As a result, I think that they are not licensed in Massachusetts and can’t sell this insurance. I suggest that Massachusetts citizens check with the Division of Insurance before looking at this product.
Divorce insurance is being sold by SafeGuard Guaranty Corp., an insurance company based in North Carolina. The product is called Wedlock Divorce Insurance. The website does not indicate that they are limited to sales in certain states.
The insurance pays a lump sum in the event a policy holder gets divorced. The amount of the payment is based on the policy purchased.  The amount paid is not related to court orders for support or property division. The coverage is sold in units of $1,250.00 based on a monthly premium of $15.99. As an example, assume that a person purchased 10 units at a monthly cost of $159.90. If a divorce occurs, the company will pay the insured $12,500.00. There is a four year exclusion period so if the divorce occurs within four years, nothing is paid.
The biggest problem I see is that a Massachusetts court is likely to view the insurance policy as another asset subject to division. This would defeat the purpose of the insurance. Of course, insurance is based on the concept that the insurance company makes more money than it pays out. If you can save the money each month, you are better off.
I think this is an interesting idea but not a product than can benefit most people in this state if it can be lawfully purchased.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My ex-spouse brought me back to court. Do I have to show my new spouse’s income on my financial statement?

A complaint for modification of child support will require both parties to file financial statements.  The latest version of the financial statement has a line to show contribution from other household members. This would include a spouse or a roommate if they pay a portion of the household expenses. The financial statement is suppose to show your complete financial situation. If your rent, mortgage, food bills, or any expenses are paid by another person, they need to be shown on your financial statement to give a complete and honest financial presentation. However, your spouses' income that is not used for expenses does not have to be shown. On the other hand, you may have to reveal their income in discovery if documents are requested or other information is sought. An example is a joint federal tax return would have to be produced and would show your spouses income.

Your new spouse has an obligation to support you but not your children.  If the new spouse earns enough income to support themselves and you, then the court can consider their income to the extent that it allows you to pay more money to support your children.  If this argument is made, then your new spouses' income must be revealed.  The rest of their finances should not need to be disclosed.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What effect does remarriage have on child support?

In most cases, remarriage has no effect on a prior child support order. However, where the new spouse has high income or assets, this could be different. Child support is based on certain concepts. One of them is that each parent has to use their income for their own living expenses. While a new spouse has no obligation to support a step child, they do have an obligation to support their spouse. Where the new spouse has enough income to support themselves and the parent, this could mean that the parent has more income available to support the child. As such, a judge could change the child support by considering this factor.