My husband and I have agreed to try mediation instead of going straight to the lawyers, so far it all seems to be very calm with no fighting between us. We have three children and live in the State of Washington. I have been married for 14 years. My question is this: I will have custody of the kids, he will be paying child support, he wants to have the children one month each summer, which is fine and every other spring break week off school; how does the child support work in that situation? I’m not greedy, but after almost six years as an at-home mom and just going back into the workforce, I’m not making a whole lot of money, so that child support is essential for paying the rent. Even though he will have the kids for oneentire month each summer, I still have to maintain an apartment and pay the rent for when the kids come home after their month with him. In this instance, is child support prorated for how long they are with him, or does he not pay it that month at all. And what about the one week he will have them in the spring, is child support prorated then too? He also wants to claim the children on his tax return because he is paying child support; it seems to me that we are both supporting the kids since I still will be providing for them too, can he claim them or do we alternate years we claim them? I’m so confused, I can’t afford a lawyer, but I have a feeling I will have to get one to keep up with him. Can I ask the courts to have him pay the Lawyers’ fees since my income is next to nothing compared to him, he makes three times more than I will? I would be forever grateful for any help you can send this way!!! He has already seen a lawyer twice, I cannot afford to see one, so I feel that he has the upper hand in all of this. He keeps throwing things at me, and I don’t know what to do when he suggests something.
If your husband has engaged an attorney to represent him, you should get legal representation as well. If you cannot afford legal counsel by yourself, the court would require him to pay for your legal counsel. You should arrange to speak to an attorney experienced in divorce mediation who could assist you in acquiring this help and getting the court to approve such legal expenses if your husband refuses to provide them to you. Many attorneys-mediator will not charge for the first consultation and can provide you with valuable information regarding your rights and how to proceed.
If you are in mediation, your mediator should assist you in determining how to divide the child support responsibilities in a fair and just manner. It is not unreasonable for your husband to be relieved of his regular child support obligations during the month or more in which he has the children. It is, however, unreasonable for you to be expected to give up your residence and the marital residence during the regular school year of the children during this month or so in which he has them. Therefore accommodation should be made to provide you with enough money to maintain the upkeep and rent of the living quarters for the entire year.
You do not address the issue of spousal support, in which your husband should provide you with support for yourself and your upkeep and needs, in addition to the child support requirements, which he must give. If your income is so much less than his, and during the marriage, you were living on a higher living standard than you presently can afford on your salary alone, you are entitled to receive spousal support for a limited amount of time for you to develop your professional skills and begin earning enough to support your needs.
Regarding the tax deduction, it is a matter which you should negotiate with your husband. There is no right or wrong answer, but it is another negotiating element that must be considered in the overall settlement between both of you.
I get the impression that although you may have seen a mediator, you are not receiving professional mediation assistance from an experienced attorney-mediator who would take control of the process and lead both of you through all of the issues which must be resolved to arrive at a Separation Agreement. All of these issues which you raise should have been dealt with in mediation, and the mediator should be assisting both of you at arriving at a reasonable solution that meets the needs of both parties.
Mediation with an experienced, attorney-mediator is the way to go. Good luck!
Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions