Q I married and divorced young, with twin children who are now in college. I remarried several years later and am heading toward a second divorce. I have three young kids and a wife who only works part time at a pre-school where our youngest goes tuition-free.
I am worried about how I am going to make ends meet with my child support obligation. I wanted to wait until our youngest is in school and my wife can return to full-time work but she is not willing.
When my older children started college, I picked up a second job on weekends in order to meet my college obligation. I have three more years of college payments. I am now earning more than ever but only because of the second job. What is my child support exposure and will I be ordered to get a third job to pay? If I do, when will I get to see my kids?
A The Child Support Guidelines just underwent another review and revision. The new guidelines become effective September 15. These guidelines may help you on more than one front. First, the guidelines still give the judge discretion to exclude income from a second job if that job was solely to help make ends meet after the divorce. While this second job applies to your first divorce, you can make the argument that you only got that job to pay child support and put those children through college so the income therefrom ought not to be included in child support in this divorce.
Because you have been working that job for some time, it is not a guarantee the income will not be counted, but it is still a solid argument. While the judge will likely have sympathy for your situation, the judge may also be sympathetic to your younger children, so there may be some exposure in connection with that income. But you will not be ordered to get a third job.
While you do not say where your twins attend college or how much you are contributing, the new guidelines take a much closer look at how child support ought to be calculated when children are in college and cap parental contribution to half the cost of University of Massachusetts, unless the finances permit otherwise. If you are paying more than half the cost of UMass and also still paying child support to your first wife, you should seek a modification of that obligation on September 15.
This change to include a college contribution cap in the child support guidelines was not made by the legislature or the result of a reported decision from an appellate court, so it may eventually be deemed an improper change. But if you file in September and are able to reach an agreement with your first wife, you may benefit regardless of what happens when a higher authority has a final say.