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Joint custody father agreed to pay high amount of child support; now wants to reduce it

Your Question:
Parents of 4 children, right now age range is 9 to 15, divorced after 9 years of marriage. Mom has 53% custody and dad has 47%. Because it seems that mothers have more rights in the eyes of the law, the only way for the dad to get the custody he got was if he paid full child he does. Neither parent is considered custodial or non custodial. In the eyes of the law they are equal. In the divored, it was agreed that the mother was the one responsible for purchasing all the childrens clothing and continue paying for the extra activities the kids did before the parents divorce. The truth is, the father is paying 50% of clothing and 50% of the extra activities. Father doesn't mind paying support, but he does mind the support money going to the mothers new car, home addition, vacations and not to the children. We live in massachusetts, divorce was 4 years ago. What can be done?

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My Answer:

Regardless of your motivation for agreeing to pay a certain amount of child support, there's likely language in your orders stating that parties agree it's in the child's best interest that you pay $XXX/month in child support.

It's not clear if the orders also include the agreement that the mother is to pay for all clothes and extra curricular activities. If so, that's beneficial to you (explained further down).

Your challenge in returning to court is to convince a judge that the current situation today is different from four years ago, when you volunatarily agreed it was best to support the kids at $XXX/month. It's hard for you to now claim it's not in their best interest to support them for less.

However, if you have orders that the mother is to pay for all clothes and extra curricular activities, and if you have evidence (i.e., receipts, cashed checks, credit card statements) that you routinely pay significant cash, I think you have a reasonable argument to downward modify your child support.

Your argument is-- you agree to pay $XXX/month on the anticipation you wouldn't be paying $200/month on clothes and activities. However, the mother has shirked her financial responsibilities under the agreement, and it's putting a strain on your finances. Therefore, you now ask the court to modify the child support order to comply with state guideline (whatever that will be), and each parent is responsible for the costs of caring for the children in his/her respective home-- and parents split costs on extracurricular activities.

I'll warn that if mother sees her cashcow threatened, she may try to modify child custody in covert retaliation. Seeking to modify child support isn't grounds to change custody, but the mother will likely find all sorts of reasons why the kids should be in her care.

In short, it wouldn't be uncommon if the father's attempt to modify child support is met with the mother's attempt to modify custody. She may not win anything, but it'll still introduce much stress into the father's life.

Do the cost analysis of it all. Talk with an attorney to understand what a judge would likely order in child support. If it's only $50/month less than the current amount, it may not be worth it.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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