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Ask California Bar Certified Specialist Y...
California Bar Certified Specialist
California Bar Certified Specialist, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 4
Experience:  State Bar Certified Specialist Family Law 35 years experience
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Background - I was ordered by a California Family Law judge

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Background - I was ordered by a California Family Law judge to make Adult Disabled Child Support (ADCS) checks payable to my ex-wife rather than our son (age 33). [She/her attorney filed a motion in court to order me to change the payee claiming that the checks could not be cashed, even though our son has an account in his name that his SSI checks are deposited in to.] She moved out of state, filed for, and was granted Guardianship for our son. She is also paid as his care provider by the state (in California it was IHSS and is a similar program there). She has told me that if the checks are made out to him, or if the memo shows "Adult Disabled Child Support" (or similar) that his SSI would be reduced [a true statement]. I had originally made the checks out to him for tax purposes--the amount is such that I will be providing much more than half of his income and I would be claiming him as a dependent. The judge, in making the order to change the payee, stated that I could annotate the memo block to show the purpose rather than make the checks out to our son.
Issue - My ex-wife has altered the two checks written thus far to change "Adult Disabled Child Support" to "Spousal Support". My question is, What are the laws governing alteration of the checks? I suspect there aren't any to back up the judge's position, nor mine, but there is a 'reconsideration' hearing in a few weeks, during which the issue will arise. I have copies of the checks (duplicating checkbook for both and I photocopied the second one) and I have printout of the cancelled check images from the bank website showing the alterations.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  California Bar Certified Specialist replied 6 years ago.
I do not understand your ex wife's motivation. By claiming the money as spousal support she would have to claim it as income on her tax return (and you could probably take a deduction if it were truly spousal support. Is she thinking she will gain some advantage by calling it spousal support.

Edited by California Bar Certified Specialist on 9/1/2010 at 5:38 AM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
She can claim that the "Spousal Support" is just what is ordered by the court (currently $600 per month) if I show something other than that on my 1040... She talked with her local Social Security office (in Idaho) and explained it as 'she pays "child support" and I pay "child support" and "spousal support" and the child support amounts just about offset each other' she then asked them 'if she gets more spousal support will that affect our son's SSI?' They told her 'no' What she did not explain is that there are three different 'colors' of money--spousal support from me to her ($600), child support from her to me ($870--I have sole legal and physical of all the minor children and she has no physical visitation), and Adult Disabled child support from me for our son and now ordered to be made out to her ($667). If the SSA determines that our son has money coming in, including support payments, they will reduce his SSI dollar for dollar (after the first $20) down to zero...he currently receives $606 in SSI.
Expert:  California Bar Certified Specialist replied 6 years ago.
Who is the one who submits statements to SSA to get your son's payments?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
She interacts with them entirely. She, as his guardian, is also supposed to reaport (annually) the the court there on his financial status. My understanding is that she shows no income for him, whatsoever. In 2009 I 'paid' over $13,000 towards him as ADCS and none of it was reported. It's sort of a 'bonus' for her, as long as it doesn't affect his SSI income (most of which goes to her for 'room and board' as well).
Expert:  California Bar Certified Specialist replied 6 years ago.
I am not aware of any law that would subject anyone to criminal or civil penalties for changing the memo line in a check they have received. I think you should make a copy of your check with the correct memo before you send the check, which, along with the court's order, should protect you if you get audited on your tax return. If you wife is guardian for your son and she is not claiming your checks as income for him to avoid a reduced SSA benefit, she could be in trouble with not only SSA, but the guardianship court as well, as she is perpetrating a fraud on SSA. Once the family law court hears about what she is doing I doubt it will leave the current order in place. I agree with you that checks made payable to your son should be able to be deposited into a bank account set up for his benefit.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Your answer confirms my position. In MayXXXXX(different judge) ruled that there be no payment of ADCS, but she did not annotate the reason for her decision. Some ten months later (new judge) the attorney for my ex-wife brings up (ad hoc) the issue of ADCS during his motion for a review of child support and spousal support. [Prior ruling was on a separate motion for ADCS--"denied"] and the judge made a ruling out of hand and over my objection that the matter had already been ruled on. At that time the order was for $1,319 per month in ADCS, which lasted ten months until the judge finally acted on my motion for reconsideration. The ADCS was reduced to $270...the other side asked for reconsideration (granted) and it was pushed up to $667. The matter is now in the process of being appealed (by me...) on several points. Sorry for the long close... Thank you,

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