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  1. #1
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    Default Child Support and Stress

    7 years ago I made this account to ask for advice. I return again, as I am confident you ladies can help.

    7 years ago my wife and I had a baby. We are a same sex couple and I did not carry our child. I am on the birth certificate. After 4 years, my wife left me and has since begun a new relationship and had another child.

    Until covid hit, we had 50/50 custody. I have a physical disability and our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD. Pre-covid we had an informal agreement for 50/50 and it was always this way. We also attended mediation where we stated that all decisions were shared equally, all responsibility was equal etc. During Covid things got bad. My ex was concerned for her new pregnant wife and suggested that we isolate from one another. I have a very compromised immune system and agreed for my own safety too. This meant my daughter was out 100% . This took its toll on myself and my daughter.

    When covid restrictions lifted, my ex convinced me that my daughter was doing really well not "bouncing from house to house" and the paediatrician and her teachers had also apparently reported that our daughter was thriving from a single house.

    I did not like it, but agreed to "try it out for a while and go back to 50/50 if it wasn't working". She asked me to sign an order for court giving her full time but continue shared responsibility. I refused. I did however agree with a form to centreline and child support that she has 100% time with our daughter.

    I pay child support. I contacted my ex 2 weeks ago and said I wanted to look at increasing visitation from every Saturday (full day) to at least one night a week in 4 weeks and work up to 50/50 custody. She said no. I reminded her that our daughter constantly asks to return to our 50/50 agreement. She said no, take me to court.

    There are no issues whatsoever of drug use, alcohol use, violence or anything else associated. My ex gets roughly 1000 a month child support from me and although she says she's happy to let me see our daughter when I can provide services such as lifts etc while my ex is at work (her new partner doesn't drive) she has refused to let me have our child over night. I have a house that I own and a bedroom for our daughter to sleep as we only just swapped from 50/50.

    I have a full time job. I am heavily supported by my parents and my own partner.

    I am distraught. What can I do? Financially, I cannot continue to pay this amount a month. My mother is ill and I am her carer. I also pay a mortgage etc. My daughter never cost me 1000 a month when she was living here... and I spoiled her!

    I am so distressed I am considering very dark and scary things. Please, what can I do? I dont want to do anything illegal. I dont want to spend millions in attorney fees. I cant keep doing this.


  2. #2
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    Default Child Support and Stress

    I know you don’t want to spend millions on legal fees, but I really do think you should see a lawyer.

    In the first instance, you would have say, a one hour meeting with them. They would discuss, in very general terms, what your options are. They would then give you an indication of how much it would cost to go forward with these options. Many lawyers won’t charge for this initial consultation, but if they did I think it would be less than $500 for an hour meeting (it would be more if you asked for any advice to be followed up in writing because that takes time, but they would walk through the costs with you, and usually they can’t incur more fees than you’ve agreed to without your permission).

    I know it seems scary, but your best bet is to speak to a lawyer. You can take things very slowly while you figure out what to do, but you need proper legal advice. You may think you have no rights. But that may not be the case. I feel a lawyer will be able to give you comfort of your options. I’m not a family lawyer (although I am a lawyer), but it’s hard to imagine that a parent on the birth certificate can be refused access to her child without any formal court order in place.

    Also I’m not sure if you were being flippant in your comment, but I don’t think it would cost anywhere close to millions if you did end up suing her. Obviously I’m not saying you should sue her or anything, but you might be spiralling in your mind about how much it could cost (I tend to spiral when I’m anxious), so I’m just trying to give a little bit of reassurance around that.
    Last edited by Beary; 04-02-2021 at 22:14.

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Beary For This Useful Post:

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  4. #3
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    Absolutely agree with everything @Beary has said. You need to see a family lawyer. An initial consultation will give you some basic info re your options for you to consider.

    So your mediation only ended with an 'informal agreement' re custody, not formal orders?

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    This must be really hard for you I'm not sure on the legality of things, but I agree that if there's no formal court order in place, I can't see why you'd not be allowed to see your child or have more involvement.

    Can you try contacting someone like relationships Australia for advice?? I'm not sure if they can help but they might be able to direct you somewhere that can if they're unable to.

    I don't mean to sound foward, but has your income changed since your last csa assessment was done? (No need to answer this, but if it has the following is relevant)

    Child support is worked out on a formula that takes into account your taxable income, the other parents taxable income, and care %....
    I know that if your income has reduced by more than (im 99% sure the figure is) 15% for whatever reason (it could be 10% too) since your assessment - you can contact them with an estimated figure and they can recalculate your payments If you're struggling.

    A word of warning though: if your income increases again you need to let them know again, as if at the end of the financial year your income is more than a certain %age varied than the figure you estimated you may generate a debt.

    E.g. if your taxable income last financial year was 110k, but you've since lost your job, or hours have reduced, no overtime etc and you expect to only earn say 80k - you can call them to readjust the figures. However if you start earning more, and don't tell them, then come tax time it showed you've earnt 97k, you may get a debt, because you've underestimated significantly, so you'd need to keep on top of any changes. There is a buffer though so if you estimated 80k and earnt slightly more, say 81k, they'd probably not worry about it. But if you estimated 80k and only earnt 65k, you do not receive backpay or credits.

    I'm sorry you're going through this.

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    I agree with the others, I would seek legal advice, I'm pretty certain the first hour with any lawyer is free (although double check that) Do you still have a copy of the mediation agreement that you both signed? Maybe see if you can make that into a court order? I'm not sure on the legalities of that I.e. time frame. So sorry how incredibly heartbreaking.

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    I have decided on a course of action. I will keep you updated. I am doing my best. I cant wait to get back to 50/50. At this point I'd settle for even 1 night.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Undercoverr View Post
    I have decided on a course of action. I will keep you updated. I am doing my best. I cant wait to get back to 50/50. At this point I'd settle for even 1 night.
    Good luck, hopefully this all goes smoothly for you which ever way you decide to go.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Undercoverr View Post
    I have decided on a course of action. I will keep you updated. I am doing my best. I cant wait to get back to 50/50. At this point I'd settle for even 1 night.
    Good luck. I hope you’re getting lots of emotional support because this sounds really stressful for you. Take care of yourself x


 

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