I am pursuing a CS mod (I am CP). My ex was an officer in the army and got out in January. He is going back to school for a (2nd) bachelors degree rather than pursuing full time employment. Court ordered CS is $294 (order was from 1998). Based on an agreement between us (not filed with the courts) he paid an additional $200/month directly to me from April 2003-January 2005.
I served him in early July and filed two weeks later. I received a settlement letter from a lawyer he retained. This (pasted below) is my response to him.
1. Does this come across as reasonable, intelligent and unemotional?
2. Am I hanging myself with this letter?
July 29, 2005
Re: Child Support
KCSC Case No.
Your File No.
FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY
Dear Mr. D:
Thank you for your letter of introduction and proposed settlement. As I noted in my July 20th email to your office ('firstname.lastname@example.org') I filed the petition for modification in King County on July 18th. I am hopeful that we can come to an amicable resolution.
I appreciate the law lessons implicit in your letter. I am aware that the court will impute income to (voluntarily) unemployed or underemployed parents in determining child support. The court bases imputations on demonstrated earning capacity; where no such history exists, the courts may use the median income (based on age) that you reference in your letter. Robert does have a demonstrated earning capacity that is far greater than the median of $2,154 a month; I find it unlikely that the courts will ignore this.
I am generally sympathetic to the desire to further one’s education. I was very specifically sympathetic to Robert’s desire to do so when child support was being determined in 1996. At his request, I acceded to his income being imputed at $0 a month at that time so that he could pursue his first bachelor’s degree; this imputation of $0 income stood for over two years until child support was modified following his enlistment in the army. Having already made such a concession to Robert’s desire to further his education, and taking into account that Robert has a bachelors degree, I feel no obligation to agree to an imputation of income for Robert that is less than his actual earning capacity simply because he wants to pursue a second bachelors degree.
Based on the pay stub of Robert’s you provided, he was earning (and has an earning capacity) of $6120.30 per month (net). Taking into account my monthly net income, that results in a transfer payment of approximately $730. I will, for the sake of settlement purposes, discount the allowances for housing, food, etc. that make up a significant portion of military pay, and only look at Robert’s base pay of $4367.70. My income was reported accurately on the child support worksheets I submitted to the court (I get paid 24 times a year). Using these figures results in a child support amount of $936, of which Robert’s obligation would be $617.
Robert has paid guideline child support for Son (per his income in any given month) for less than six months out of Son’s nine + years (this includes our voluntarily agreed upon increase in 2003, which set child support at least $200 under guideline) . I strive both to be fair and to do what I can to ensure an amicable parenting relationship with Robert. In that spirit, I am willing to agree to a child support transfer payment of $500 a month (significantly lower than guideline, and the same amount I agreed to in 2003). If your client is amenable to setting child support at this amount, please draw up the paperwork and send it to me for signature. If we can agree on this amount, I am amenable to waiving the difference for July and August and having the new amount due starting September 1st.
Regarding the ‘checkboxes’ you addressed in your letter:
Day care—Matthew (my husband and the stay at home parent at our house) will be returning to school Fall quarter to complete his degree (his first bachelors degree, if you were curious). This will almost certainly necessitate before school care for Son. Please advise Robert that I expect this amount to be between $120 and $200 a month (I have not yet priced it and am estimating the amount based on past experience). As before, I am willing to ignore the fact that Robert has a greater income (or earning capacity) and split this expense 50/50.
Educational expenses—This has been a provision of our child support order since 1996. Robert can attest to the fact that this has been (and remains) a ‘dormant’ provision. Nonetheless, I expect to keep this provision in our order in anticipation of post-secondary expenses (to use your language, it is “an effort to insure don’t lose a provision of the existing order”).
Uninsured health care expenses—Robert and I are in agreement with continuing the provision.
Automatic adjustment of support—I am willing to waive this if Robert agrees to the proposed $500 transfer payment.
Mr. D, I am confident that what I am proposing is fair to Robert and a reasonable-to-best-case scenario for what he could expect the court to order, should we go to court. I look forward to receiving your response.