Category Archives: Divorce

Child Support

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I decided to write today on a subject that I have heard a lot of debate and controversy over lately.  Especially in my job.  I have been doing pro bono work for an attorney who is trying to finish up her divorce/family law cases and focus on other things.  And in my past legal career this same issue came up time and time again…Support of the children of a divorce.  

All international and national child support regulations recognize that every parent has an obligation to support his or her child. Therefore, both parents are required to share the responsibility for their child(ren)’s expenses.

Support monies collected are expected to be used for the child’s basic expenses, including food, shelter, clothing and educational needs. They are not meant to function as “spending money” for the child.

Over the last 25 years I have heard parents who receive support (mostly women) say that the other parent never pays for anything.  When I point out that they are receiving support, their response is usually the same….”but that doesn’t count.” Well, yes, it does.  When questioned further, I usually find the complaining parent is upset because he or she believes that the parent paying support should continue to dig further into their pockets (to the point of financial hardship or even bankruptcy) to continue to pay for the things that they want to buy for the children.  Sorry, it just does not work that way.  

As stated earlier, support is ordered to pay for food, shelter, clothing and EDUCATIONAL NEEDS.   So when a mom says to a father who pays child support faithfully…”you have paid $0.00 towards your children’s educational needs this year.” Her statement is a lie. In fact, the very money he gives her for the support of their children should go towards paying for educational expenses. In addition, many fathers spend additional money out of their own pocket buying things such as mandatory school supplies, specialized supplies for a specific class, and other expenses necessary for school.

Many divorced mothers want to continue control their family financially, so it becomes difficult when father takes control of his financial life and doesn’t necessarily agree with mom’s terms. The bottom line is, if you are receiving child support, your children’s father IS paying for his children’s expenses. And saying otherwise is a lie. And if your children’s father is paying for additional things such as clothing, school supplies, extra classes or specialized classes, etc., be thankful he is willing to do so. Many fathers call it a day once that child support check is written.

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CREDIT CARDS AND RECEIPTS – a divorce nightmare

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You probably have one or two credits cards you use on a regular basis. But chances are you are an authorized user or have countless old cards that are still active. One way to find out is RUN YOUR CREDIT REPORT (I use Freecreditreport.com). There are tons of free sites out there that will give you your credit report in a matter of minutes. Answer a few simple questions and viola, your financial history is there. Begin to look at each card carefully. It will list the primary and any authorized users. Why is this so important? Let me tell you a short story.

A man, in the midst of a divorce, discovered that his wife had a great deal of credit cards in her name and some with him as an authorized user. He also discovered several old joint cards that had never been closed. He didn’t think much about them until 7 months into the divorce, his wife transferred over $3000 from one of her individual cards to an old joint card. Although he was primary on the card, she was an authorized user and allowed to make the transfer without his knowledge. Now there is over $3000 in debt in his name and not much he can do about it. He began to take a closer look and found she had been “kiting’ some of their credit card debt. Kiting involves transferring debt from one card to another (one that usually offers 0% interest for a period of time). The debt doesn’t go away; it’s just transferred in a roundabout fashion.

So he went back and reviewed the bills from one particular card he used. What he found was over $3100 in debt from a job he performed and received payment for had not been paid. The money he earned had not been used to pay the expenses of the job. So that amount, along with over $2300 from an individual card of hers was transferred to another card in his name without his knowledge (she signed his name to those credit card checks), creating a $5600 credit card debt after transfer fees, which was transferred a few months later to another card in her name (which he knew nothing about) and then 7 months into the divorce, she transferred the balance of debt to an old joint card. This money has been moving around for over 2 years.

So if you think things are taking a turn for the worse (or even if you are blissfully happy, this is a good idea):

1. Get your FREE credit report.
2. Review ALL the credit cards you are primary on and authorized to use.
3. CANCEL all old cards that you are listed as primary. The phone number is probably on the credit report. If not, you can find it on the internet.
4. If you are an authorized user on his/her cards, TAKE YOURSELF OFF. Yes, you can do that. Call the cards and remove yourself immediately.
5. If possible, REMOVE ALL AUTHORIZED USERS FROM YOUR CARDS.
6. KEEP ALL RECEIPTS. It is a pain in the arse, but during the duration of the divorce, keep your receipts and write a notation of what the purchase was for at the top. Throw them in a box. You may never need them, but it is easier than trying to reconstruct evidence later.
7. Get yourself down to 1 or 2 credits cards. It is not only safe, but smart.

You may never know what credit card mysteries lay with your spouse, but cleaning up your credit history is the first step to protecting your financial future.

The bottom line is that you need to REMOVE YOURSELF FROM BEING OPEN TO JOINT DEBT. Just because there is an Order prohibiting someone from creating debt in your name, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But you can make it as difficult as possible for someone to create debt in your name.

Remember, I am not a lawyer, and this is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Just one person’s observations.

Start looking at the mail

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If you are even thinking about getting a divorce there are things you should be doing. I am not talking about anything illegal or dishonest, but things to protect your assets, credit and future. Having a plan is not a bad idea. I can say for with great certainty, that if you and your spouse have even talked the slightest bit about divorce, he or she has already began thinking about a plan. And if you are a man, I can guarantee you that your wife has already formulated a plan and put it in motion. That is just the way women work. They will not leave one nest without having another ready…financially or otherwise. Trust me on this one.

So, you think you might get a divorce and you have no idea what you should do. Well let’s talk this through. Each week (I will do my best), I will post a step/idea/action of sorts to help you think about things. I am NOT an attorney. This is NOT legal advice. It is simply one divorced person talking to others. A “this is what I would do if it were me” thing…

Let’s start with the mail. Generally speaking, one spouse takes care of the finances. If you are NOT that spouse, start looking at your mail. If your spouse tells you not to worry about it when you ask for it…WORRY. They are probably hiding things they don’t want you to see. Things like bank statements, credit card statements, investments, retirement accounts, etc. Insist on seeing the mail every day. And don’t just glance at it. LOOK at it. Especially credit card statements. They will tell a story.

And then take pictures, copy or write down all of the return addresses, account numbers, and customer service phone numbers of any statements/investments/retirement accounts you have. Trust me, doing this one small thing will mean a lot if the day comes that you have to move out of your home. It is easier to to get what you need now, when you have access, than try to get it later, when someone else is keeping it from you.


So, today’s lesson…LOOK AT YOUR MAIL.