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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102597
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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My ex-husband and I are divorced. Our daughter is a freshman

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My ex-husband and I are divorced. Our daughter is a freshman at USCUpstate, the state that my ex and his newfamily reside. He refuses to pay anything for her education which results in making me solely responsible. I am a single parent working as a teacher assistant for Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. I had agreed thru the child support office to relieve him of child support payments several years ago because our daughter wanted desparately to reconnect with him so she went to live with him in S.C. They have never gotten along and I'm sure he is happy that she is away in a dorm. According to divorce agreement that I still have, he should bear some responsibility for her until she is 20 years of age if she is in college. What can I do to make him understand that he needs to help with her education?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. Please remember that there might be a delay between your follow up questions and my answers because I may be helping other customers or taking a break.

Allow me to ask a question. You state that "[a]ccording to divorce agreement ... he should bear some responsibility for her until she is 20 years of age if she is in college." What exactly does the decree state that his responsibility is - how much? A percentage of college costs? A set amount per month?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

The sticky part of the situation is that even though I was the "prime custodial parent", I allowed her to go and live with him (I hated that, but you cannot deny a 16 year old the right to get to know her dad). At that point I signed at the Child Support Enforcement Agency that I would not hold him responsible for back child support, which he was delinquent in anyway. I told him I would not be giving him reverse child support because since the day she was born, I have paid $300 monthly for health insurance for her and since she turned about 14, I have paid for her cell phone bill. Those total more per month than he ever gave me for child support. A clause in the consent order dated May of 2001 states "the parties may from time to time choose to depart from the provisions of this section as future circumstances and the welfare of the child may require; but no such action shall be deemed to amend this agreement unless made in writing with the same formality as the execution of this agreement....Child support shall not end solely upon a child turning 18 if the child is still in school, but shall be continued until graduation but in any event no later than age 20."

I do not want the money for me, but for him to contribute towards her college tuition. Thank you. You cannot tell a child that she should not go and live with a father whom she is seeking to know. However, if she had stayed with me, my financial situation would have provided her a full grant I am sure. Because she chose to move to S.C., she is a dependant of a 2-career household and not eligible for as much of a grant. But they refuse to pay for her school, saying that she should get a job and pay for it herself. He does pay her car insurance on the car that my mother gave to her, but that is nothing compared to the expenses I have covered for her.

As to your question "How much or what percentage?"

"Defendant shall pay $279.00 per month"... I could fax a copy of agreement tomorrow when I return to work if that would help.

Expert:  Ely replied 5 years ago.
Okay, thank you. Now the problem here is that you are no longer the primary parent. You are the visiting parent. Which means that if child support is enforced, it would be enforced against you. While you never officially switched the custody, if you press an enforcement action against him, he would likely file back an affirmative defense stating that for some time now, he has been the custodian. The Court would recognize this informal switch and note you as the visiting parent, thus liable for the support!

I am sorry to say that this is a tough situation. By having her go live with him, you essentially reversed the roles. While it may be a different parent, the Court would likely honor the initial child support order for college support by rationalizing that due to the custody switch, by default, the visiting parent pays. While this is not included in the decree, this would be what the Court would do, keeping in line with interpretation of the decree and the doctrine that the non-custodial parent pays child support. I am sorry.

While the legal system tries to be inclusive of every possibility, sometimes people are morally wronged but have limited avenues to seek relief. Please understand that this is not the expert’s fault. I am sure that you prefer that I tell you the truth rather than tell you what you want to hear. Please do not “shoot the messenger.” This medium of communication may not always effectively express emotion but do know that I understand that this may not be easy to hear and I empathize.
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