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Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  25 years experience as practicing attorney
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When my wife and I separated the court order stated that I was to pay for her half of the

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When my wife and I separated the court order stated that I was to pay for her half of the payment on the house we shared, which I received an offset against my child support obligation. We were renting the house and the lease my name is XXXXX XXXXX at the end of January.

My question is since she has exclusive control of the house and she will have to negotiate a new lease when the current one expires will I have to pay my half of the rent on said house? I have not problem paying her the amount I was receiving as an offset as that is part of child support and I want to take care of my children. But I do not feel I should be required to pay the entire rent. Nor do I believe that I should have to pay her half of the rent as a rent payment but rather it should roll back into the chld support.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?
Did the decree have any language as to how long the payments would last or does it just say you pay indefinitely?

Are you paying no separate child support payments?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Here is the exact language

F. That the Defendant shall receive a credit of $412.50 to his monthly child support obligation to offset the Plaintiff's one half (1/2) portion of the house payment.He will additionally receive a credit of $60.00 to his monthly child support obligation to offset his payment of the parties' family cellular phone plan.

G. The resulting monthly obligation shall be $1,022.50. The Defendant will make payment directly to the Plaintiff in bi-weekly installements ($471.92) to begin Friday, October 22, 2010 and every-other Friday thereafter, pendente lite.

Now as I said in my original question. The house is a rental which the lease expires on 1/31/2011. The rent was $825.00 per month. I made the last of the rent payments on Friday.

In looking up the pendente lite term it means the date of a divorce trial or until the parties to a lawsuit work out a settlement.

But it does not say I would be responsible for more than $412.50 if the rent goes up when she signs a new lease nor does it state that I would be responsible for "my half" once the current lease expires.

Like I said, I am not trying to get out of the responsibility of paying the $412.50 offset I am receiving, I just want to make sure that if the rent increases to say $900 a month I am not going to have to give her any more money than $412.50 a month nor am I going to have to actually write the rent check for $900 a month since I will no longer be on the lease.

Dear JACUSTOMER - This is a very poorly written decree considering the circumstances and if you lose on this I think your attorney should be subject to a malpractice suit. First of all it refers to a "house payment" when there is none. I would assume everyone knew the lease was going to expire soon after this took effect and there is no language concerning a possible rent increase.


So you are going to have to argue that the fact that the $412.50 is stated as the offset that it means that is all that your portion of the rent will be. The flip side is that the decree says "her half of the house payment" meaning it could be anything. I just can't believe any attorney would approve such ambiguous language unless they just want to create more legal business when no one in the future knows what this all means.


Payments such as rent or house payments should be used as "in lieu of alimony or spousal support" and not as a replacement for child support which is an entirely different issue. Child support changes from time to time based on the respective incomes of the parties so I assume the overall figure of $1,022.50 was the child support figure calculated according to the formula set by the state.


If that is the case then your argument is "I will pay the $1,022.50 based on the guidelines and it can be applied to rent or phone bills or food or whatever. Child support calculations are not based on rental increases so the fact that her rent is going up should not affect your overall obligation.


Dave Kennett

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Unfortunately I do not recall if it was explained to my lawyer and I cannot say what was explained to her lawyer regarding the lease.

However, my obligation as calculated by the SC schedule for child support stated that I was to pay $1,495 per month, adjusted by the fact that I am paid every other week.

Her lawyer proposed that I receive an offset for 1/2 of the "house payment" and I proposed that I receive an offset for the cell phones she and the kids use since I am on the hook with AT&T until October of 2011.

So if I am understanding what you said correctly and adjusted by what I am willing to pay on the cell phones, offset by the agreement on child support she agreed to. I would therefore be responsible for $1,435 per month. That would be, $690 per paycheck and she can use that support for rent, utilities etc.

Yes if that is the amount that you would pay under the guidelines. The problem becomes the language that you are supposed to pay "half" of the "house payment". That's where you have to argue the $412.50 is all you are paying toward the house since it is included in the child support and if child support is not being raised then the rent amount is not being raised.



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