Ex cannot choose not to pay child support

Q My ex-husband stopped paying child support earlier this year. Although our divorce predates the new alimony law, he said he has reached the “permanence limit” and is retiring now that he can stop paying alimony. He’s only 50. He wants to retire and travel the world.

Our only child was in a serious accident two years ago and I had to stop working to look after her full time. She is in a wheelchair and has a brain injury. Before the accident, she was considered emancipated by graduating from college, but now she is too old for child support and unable to support herself.

Am I entitled to have my ex pay more maintenance?

A First and foremost, your ex has no right to simply stop paying child support even if he thinks the permanent limit has been reached. You can and should file a contempt complaint about his unilateral decision to stop paying. Request his financial statements so you can put a figure on how much money he has. Finally, as part of this process, you must demonstrate his ability to pay the contempt arrears.

In order to stop paying child support, he must file an amendment to set the time limit based on the length of your marriage. You can apply to the court to deviate from the time limit in accordance with Section 53(e)(9) MGL Chapter 208 Chapter 208 MGL. It is the general provision stating that the court may deviate based on whatever circumstances the judge deems relevant. You must demonstrate a continuing need through an elevated standard of clear and persuasive evidence. I suggest making a day in the life video about what you do with and for your daughter all day that prevents you from working in any meaningful capacity. The video along with your financial statement including your daughter’s expenses will give the judge the needed picture.

The fact that he’s decided to retire at 50 to travel the world while you’re back home raising your child won’t portray him in the light he probably wants to see. I suspect he will come to the negotiating table before this goes to a judge for a decision.

Email questions to whickey@brickjones.com

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