Q. My Ex-girlfriend and I have one child who is now sixteen. We have managed to stay out of court since he was only a year old. At that time, we reached an agreement for support and parenting time. I have always wanted equal time but have settled for almost equal to keep the peace. Each week I have 3 days she has 4.
It seems like I never get my share of a full vacation week – she always finds a way to interrupt. And she always owes me money for uninsured medicals and private school which we are supposed to share equally. Plus, I pay all of his hockey expenses which are thousands each year. It just feels unfair at this point. I want more time and I’m tired of chasing her for stupid small amounts of money.
College is around the corner and I have saved enough to cover most if not all the costs. I don’t know if its worth spending my savings to get more time. What are my options?
You have a lot to consider. Given your son’s age, he will have some say in his schedule. I don’t recommend putting him in the middle, but have you asked him if he likes the schedule? The answer to that question is really key to whether you should take any action. If he doesn’t want more time at your house, it is not worth the fight. If he is open to a more equal share of time, you need to do a bit more homework.
Go on the Massachusetts Trial Court website and search for Child Support Guidelines worksheets. Run some calculators using your current income and zero income for her (unless you have some way of truly knowing what she earns). See what your maximum exposure is for child support if the whole thing backfires and she convinces a judge rather than giving you more time you should be giving her more money. If you have been paying the same support for 14 years, you could end up on the hook for paying more – possibly even if you “win” equal time merely because the guidelines have changed, and your income has likely increased.
Child support does not go away when your child goes to college. It can be reduced but if he still goes home to mom for at least part of the time, you still pay support. Depending on how much you have saved and where he wants to go, you could make an offer that you will pay 100% of his college costs in exchange for exactly equal parenting time now and child support ending when he goes to college.
Without knowing her income I cannot say for sure, but if she consults a lawyer on the offer and earns enough that she will at least be on the hook for half the cost of UMASS Amherst which is the current standard, this could be over before it begins.