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Never married mother against never-involved father going for child support reduction

Your Question:
How can visitation rights be settled if the noncustodial parent (father of my 21 month old son) lives in another state? I am the custodial parent who lives in Massachusetts, my sons father lives in California. We have never been married. He is married; I found that out when I was 4 months pregnant. Another question is: I filed for child support and he was ordered to submit payments but now has a past due balance of over $1000.00. Now he is actually filing a complaint for modification to reduce child support because of a decrease in wages. I counterclaimed his complaint. I'm waiting for a court hearing. He was in the military and is now terminated according to the info the child support enforcement gave me. I understand that according to the child support guidelines he is eligible for a reduction. I do not have a lawyer; I pay $1328 for daycare a month; I couldn't afford a lawyer so the day of the hearing I will seek a lawyer for the day? Do I even stand a chance to win this case for child support and not have it reduced? Please help me, I'm desperate.

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

In another email (not posted), you clarified that there are no court orders on visitation and that you're not quite certain of his employment status other than having left the military.

First, if he hasn't made effort to see the child for 21 months, then I would recommend you waiting for court orders (if ever). However, if he's been begging to spend time with the child (i.e., he's willing to fly out to see the child), and you repeatedly deny it because you're mad (or whatever), then your behavior is going to be used against you in court. You may get reamed for it... courts expect parents to help each other be involved in a child's life; unless there is a serious reason why a parent should not have contact with a kid.

You'll be approaching the court with the situation that you and he created. Yeah, he was having an affair. Yeah, you and he probably weren't extremely careful in preventing pregnancy. Doesn't matter to the court. The court will look at the present situation.

We have parents who are 3000 miles apart, and the child is currently 21 months old. Obviously, this child is too young to do much traveling.

I'd suspect that dad may get granted one or two times a month (depending on his ability to travel) to see the child. As the child gets older (in several years), the court would probably grant dad's request to spend a couple weeks in CA.

I think this is the path that you're facing, as a result of getting child support ordered against dad.

In terms of child support, the court won't easily accept that dad can't earn much less than he has in prior years. Dad will have to prove that he can no longer earn that much. The court may give temporary relief to dad.

In terms of daycare costs, some states require that parents split it in addition to any child support ordered. I don't know if your state does.

In terms of wanting to hire an attorney for the day, I don't think you want to do that. You want an attorney who is briefed on your case and can argue it well. For the sake of saving a thousand bucks right now, it can cost you tens of thousands over the next 14 years. Find a good attorney, ask the court to order dad to pay your attorney fees (which may happen, if dad loses on his motion).

You're in a very difficult position, and it's likely to remain difficult for many years. Sometimes, consequences of what we do last for many years. Many of us (i.e., separated/divorced parents) share the same struggles, if that's any consolation.

Just continue to do the best that you can do, be the best parent that you can be. That's all we can do.

Good luck.


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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