Wow! It certainly sounds like you have had more than your share of hardships. But, I am SO impressed that you have been able to put your life back together and obtain your Master's degree while caring for a special needs child. So many people in your type of situation would have just wallowed in their sorrows and chose NOT to move forward. But NOT YOU! You have the inner strength to make things better for you and your daughter. I am SO honored to attempt to assist you.
When negotiating the terms of a payment plan, it is usually recommended that you communicate with your ex's attorney through letters. A verbal promise is worthless, since there is no way for you to prove that any offer exists.
It is difficult for your ex or his attorney to argue with a letter. The attorney may be nasty on the phone, but s/he can be limited to simply sending you a reply letter to respond to your letter. Further, writing a letter gives you time to develop your thoughts, present your offer and make any revisions to any prior offers. Finally, when you receive the letter from your ex's attorney, you can get the terms of their offer in writing.
You have already done a full disclosure. Prove your financial hardship. No one will agree to a monthly amount towards the payment of the debt if they believe you are wealthy. Your ex and his attorney need to realize that your financial resources are extremely limited. To bolster your claims, state any financial hardships that you have been wrestling with. In addition, show how you are unlikely to see any noticeable financial improvement in the near future.Your ex must understand your financial position. Therefore, in your letter to attempt to negotiate a settlement without garnishment, you must show that if your wages were garnished in the amount of $600, it would create a GREAT financial hardship. You can disclose all of your income vs. your monthly expenses--including any expenses for your daughter. You can also indicate that you will have to pay student loans at a rate of $$$ per month.
Your ex must know that you have a financial hardship, and that any wage garnishment may reflect negatively with your employer. You can indicate that your ex has been patient and that you know that you must repay him. However, you cannot afford to have your wages garnished.
You can begin negotiations with a "low ball" offer. For example, you can indicate that you can pay $150.00 per month. Ask that your offer be accepted, and that acceptance of your offer is done in writing. If that offer is rejected, you can send another letter and you can up your offer. Again, if you can show that your income and expenses will only allow you to pay a certain amount, then that is all you can pay. In your second letter, (if it is necessary), you can indicate that the MOST you can pay is (for example) $300.00 per month. Any more would put you and your daughter at risk. Your daughter would not be able to receive quality services and you would not be able to afford to keep yourself and your daughter in your home.
Finally, you can also indicate that the agreement may be re-visited in one year. If your income increases and you are able to pay more, then the agreement can be amended.
I hope that you find this information useful.
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***Answers given are for informational purposes only and are not meant to replace the advice or assistance of an attorney licensed to practice law in your state. If you need any more information, please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you!