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  1. #1
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    Default How to Answer a Motion to Abate Child Support

    My question involves child support in the State of: FL

    My ex-husband owes approximately $3,300 in arrears and was ordered to pay an extra $50 per month at a mediation session several months ago. He never has made any payments towards the arrears, and now is being laid off in approx 30 days.

    I am a pro-se party, but my ex has an attorney. A couple of weeks ago his atty filed a request to modify the support payments due to his impending lay off. Then today he filed a "Motion to Abate Child Support". My ex earns approx 4x what I earn.

    My question is- do I file an "answer" in response to the Motion to Abate, a "motion to dismiss", or some other type of response? Obviously I wish for the support to continue especially while he is still employed.

    Thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    Oh boy. If he asks for that abatement, he may well get it.

    You can't really file a motion to dismiss - because you haven't shown a legal reason why the matter should be dismissed. So, you'll need to file an answer. You can state your arguments against the abatement, but truly in the case of a lay-off you might be out of luck.

    Is there ANY way you can get an attorney involved?
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
    View Post
    Is there ANY way you can get an attorney involved?
    Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately I am completely broke, 2 months behind in my mortgage payments and owe property taxes that I have no money to pay. My electricity and water have been cut off several times this year. I have already spent $15,000 on attorney's fees for the divorce and now haven't a dime to my name. When he lost his job last year, I had to get a cash advance from my credit card to pay my mortgage, and now I have an enormous amount of debt. He accumulated over $3,000 in arrears and was ordered to make monthly payments on those and has not complied.

    I guess I am a little confused with the abatement- I'm not sure if he's asking for the payments to stop now (even though he is still working) or once he loses his job. And are they completely forgiven or does he still accumulate arrears for those months if the abatement is granted?

    Would any of these items be effective if I include them in the answer or are they irrelevant?

    - His salary is 4x greater than mine.
    - I live alone, with my daughter, and am the sole person responsible for all household expenses. He and his girlfriend of 3 years share a home, and she is gainfully employed, so he won't be in any danger of losing his home - my point being, he has someone to share the household expenses whereas I do not.
    - He owes $3,000+ in arrears and has not complied with the order to make the extra payments.
    - He claims he has no money to pay child support YET he has retained an attorney!!! (I know this is of no relevance, just a comment

    Thank you again for your assistance.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    Yes, the OP needs an attny. The OP says she cannot afford one? Can the OP afford to lose support payments? That's what will happen if the OP goes pro se.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    His attorney has likely filed now, in anticipation of the law-off. So let's take the points in turn.

    His salary will be non-existent. So he'll no longer be earning 4x what you make.

    The living arrangements won't matter either. He can, quite literally, shack up with Ivana Trump and STILL may be able to get an abatement.

    I understand your frustration with the arrears - I really do!

    Now the next point is where you might actually have something! He can afford an attorney? But won't pay his arrears?

    That shows a willful refusal to pay - and that's contempt of court. The courts do NOT like that at all. I would file a motion for contempt. Immediately. I can't promise whether or not this site actually has a downloadable form for contempt, but you can call your local courthouse (or the court where the order originated) and they can direct you a little bit.

    Now the other questions:

    It really depends on what EXACTLY he's requesting. Generally child support stops - but the arrears aren't wiped. However it's possible that they're asking to do both. Please understand though that his obligation doesn't go away completely - it's just he won't be building up arrears during the period of the abatement.

    Make sense?
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    It does, and I'm screwed

    I'm confused as to why a judge would permit a complete abatement if he will still have some income coming in (unemployment income). Even on unemployment compensation, he will be earning more than I. At least he can make SOME effort towards support- my daughter doesn't stop eating just because he loses his job.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    It depends what, and how well, the attorney will argue. I completely agree that he IS STILL RESPONSIBLE. Completely. However, there is still the chance that he'll be able to get it abated.

    You need to turn up in court - absolutely, though you know that

    And you need to argue exactly what you've just told me - that his UI will STILL be higher than your earnings. Be prepared to be ordered to mediation. In fact, the more I think about it that might be what the attorney is going for. Asking for the moon - abatement and wiping the arrears completely - but willing to settle for you capitulating to a lower amount.

    Read this thread.

    THAT thread indicates that your ex doesn't stand a good chance - which further makes me wonder if the attorney isn't trying to get you to agree to a lower/abated amount outside of a judge's order....
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    You have a good point and one that hadn't occured to me. In the past we have gone to mediation over reducing the arrears & he tried to get me to agree to a lower amount on the phone, and then in person tried to get me to "just erase it completely". I, of course, was at the mediation as a pro se party, and he knows I cannot afford representation.

    As far as filing a motion for contempt, I have done this twice in the past, and after doing so, he responded by sending me emails that would make Mel Gibson look like Mother Theresa. In short, I am scared. He uses intimidation tactics to instill fear and it works.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    Quote Quoting boozapian
    View Post
    You have a good point. In the past we have gone to mediation over reducing the arrears & he tried to get me to agree to a lower amount on the phone, and then in person tried to get me to "just erase it completely". I, of course, was at the mediation as a pro se party, and he knows I cannot afford representation.

    As far as filing a motion for contempt, I have done this twice in the past, and after doing so, he responded by sending me emails that would make Mel Gibson look like Mother Theresa. In short, I am scared. He uses intimidation tactics to instill fear and it works.

    Don't let him intimidate you! Your CHILD deserves to be supported. Be calm, collected and stand your ground. Remember - the law is actually on YOUR side here. The worst that can happen is you go in front of a judge and he gets what he wants.

    But make him convince the court.

    Don't agree to anything in mediation if you're not comfortable. And though I rarely say that, I do feel that in a child support situation it is valid advice.
    An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise - Victor Hugo

    Do not microwave grapes

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Pro Se Party Needs Help with Answering Motion to Abate (Filed by Ex's Atty)

    Thank you for all of your help. I read the link to the other post and see the phrase mentioned, "legal grounds for abatement in Florida". Where can I find information on what the grounds for abatement might be? I tried googling it but didn't come up with anything. Does each state have statutes that cover this topic?

    Thanks again for your advice. I don't have much faith in the court system at this point. He makes well more than I do, owes thousands in arrears and has been found in contempt twice. Nothing is ever done about it, and he hasn't made any attempt to pay it back, meanwhile my bills mount. Now he's coming up with reasons why he can't afford to pay child support, yet obviously has no problem finding the money to pay attorney fees.

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