Thursday, February 27, 2014


Dear Susan and Valerie,
I have been paying my ex-wife alimony for three years and still have 2 more years to go. I have paid like clockwork—on time, no missed payments. A friend told me that my ex is now living with her boyfriend in a nice house near the beach. I am frosted. While she lives like a beach bunny, I work 12 hours a day to make money to send her... and her surfer dude. I feel robbed! Can’t I just stop paying her? That’s what she deserves.
A Very Pissed Off Ex

Dear Very P. Oed Ex,
Take the temperature down a few degrees. Relief may be in sight. There are a few considerations here: some legal and some practical, so try to distinguish between trying to get even and protecting yourself.
First of all, as tempting as it may be to just stop...don’t do it. Big mistake. You can’t stop paying support until there is a court order allowing for it. The law in your state may provide that there is a presumption for a decreased need or no need for support if she’s cohabiting with a boyfriend. You may be in luck! Think about consulting an attorney to explore whether support is likely to be reduced or terminated. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check the facts before you start taking any action, because if your friend is wrong, that could be an expensive and embarrassing error.
Also, think about your wallet. Figure out which would cost more—paying your attorney or paying deductible dollars for two more years. Often decisions boil down to good old fashioned arithmetic. Consider contacting your ex to see if she would like to avoid hassles and if she is willing to simply agree to make a change in support. Point out that the law is in your favor. If you can agree, you’ll both save money and time by avoiding a legal fight. Be sure to memorialize any agreement legally. It doesn’t hurt to try, and maybe the sea air had made her more mellow!


Dear Susan and Valerie,
My husband and I are getting divorced. He and his girlfriend (who is his assistant) have planned a week long ski vacation during the children’s winter break. Our kids are 10 and 12 and he wants to take them along. I don’t want my children around a tramp who dates married men and breaks up families. If he wants to take them skiing, that’s fine—but not with her. He has told me he will not change his plans. What can I do to stop my children from going with them?
An Angry Mom

Dear Angry Mom,
Take a deep breath and now exhale. As difficult as it may be to accept, it’s a free country, there’s no reason he can’t plan a vacation with his new romantic interest. Step back and let your children form their own opinions. You may be surprised. It could be that after one week with Dad and his paramour, they’ll tell Dad that their interest in visiting with him has changed. Children have amazing antennae and instincts. They may not like the competition. Trust your kids. He has moved on but he still has the right to be a father. If he fails to recognize your children’s needs for “alone time” with him, he may find the children won’t have time for him either. On the other hand, it’s possible that the trip will be a fun vacation for your children. Recognize, that is not a threat to you. Just make sure of the arrangements (the kids need their own bedroom and supervision), that you have detailed hotel and flight information, and you and the kids have contact information so that you can call each other. You are their mom and always will be. Bundle up your babies, give them a kiss and tell them not to break a leg.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Dear Susan and Valerie,
My husband and I divorced five years ago, and he was ordered to pay modest child support which did not come close to putting a dent in our children’s expenses. In all this time I have asked for no increase even though it meant sacrifices for our kids. Recently, I discovered that my ex is driving a brand new Corvette. I suspect he received a substantial raise. While we have gone without, when he finally has extra money, he spends it on himself and not our children. I’m outraged. What can I do to get my ex, the cheapskate, to pay more child support?
Livid in Los Angeles

Dear Livid,
Whoa...calm down. Let’s not rush to judgment quite yet. Perhaps he did get a raise and if so, you may be entitled to more child support. In some states, and California is one of them, you are entitled by law to obtain financial information annually from a former spouse in order to determine if an increase in child support is justified. So, this is the time to send out your formal request for his information and obtain his current paystubs and tax returns. You may want to file court papers requesting a modification to start the ball rolling. Child support is always modifiable and you have every right to ask the court for increased child support if he is earning more. But, before you start anything, be sure to take a look at your own financial situation and whether your income has gone up or down and the same for your expenses. If you have the resources, it is better to do this with the assistance of an attorney.
There is also the most simple and straightforward method which occasionally works. Talk to him. Ask him what he is earning and for written proof of what he is claiming. If his situation has improved (keep in mind: it’s possible the Corvette was leased on some great, inexpensive deal or loaned to him) suggest that you and he work out a new support amount. It might be a good idea to obtain the assistance of a mediator to help calculate the appropriate amount and draft a new support order. There are some options. Get out there and explore which makes the most sense for you. Take your eyes off his Corvette and rev up your engines to help your children.