Q: Been paying ch. supp. for a year, no order. Can I be credited for voluntarily paying when complaint for divorce filed?
Have been paying for my 2 daughters since Sept. of last year without any type of legal documentation. Wife moved against my wishes to Idaho while I went back to San Diego (we were in Italy) as am in Navy, but she committed to working on our marriage. I trusted her but it seems as she just said all that so she could set up the residency in Boise where part of her family is. Additionally, I have given her money over and above monthly child support this past year. It seems I have very few options. I still have a year and a half in the Navy so moving is out of the question currently. She is now filing for divorce this month.
It sounds as though she did trick you, in order to establish residency in Idaho. I don't know what was going on at the time she wanted to move back to the states between you two. But it doesn't matter now. She has filed for divorce, in Idaho. Here are some suggestions, with the most urgent answered first:
1. Divorce Petition: you now have 20 days to file a response to her Petition for Divorce. If you fail to answer in 20 days, you will receive in the mail, a DECREE OF DIVORCE. If the Petition isn't bad for you, such as, denying you any access to your daughters, or, setting your child support at an outrageous amount incorrectly, and you are generally "okay" with what she says, then you have 2 options: 1), do nothing, let the DECREE be entered. When you're enlistment is up, move back to Idaho, move to have it "sweetened" for you, now that you're back in Idaho. This might be your best move, right now, since you're still 18 mo. away from being able to do much about it anyway. 2), you could hire a lawyer to answer the Petition (gotta hurry) and, since most of the hearings (due to Covid) are being held remotely anyway, you should be able to attend most or all of the required hearings, and feel like you protected your interests. This is a good option for you, if you've read the Petition and your wife offered you less than a) child support, based on your income; b) divorce grounds - "irreconcilable differences" rather than "extreme cruelty" etc., as you don't want to get out of the service carrying a DECREE that labels you as "violent" or "cruel," just isn't a good way to try and improve your custody etc.
2. Child Support paid already: any money you paid for child support, without a court order, is a "gift" from you. However, it is not my experience that a father would feel compelled to pay money for children, without SOME KIND OF ORDER. Before I stopped paying, if I were you, I would call the Italian Child Support Agency, or the Idaho Department of Child Support Enforcement: Phone: +1 800 356 9868 and ask them if they can find an kind of "order," whether judicial or administrative, ordering you to pay child support? Chances are good that you have been paying child support pursuant to SOME KIND of order. Keep paying! If you are paying, pursuant to ANY kind of order, you won't get any kind of "credit," but you might be "current" on people's books, when you get out. That's a lot better than being behind when you get out.
3. Idaho Residency: by moving to Idaho and keeping your daughters there for not less than 180 days, your wife has established Idaho as thE place you'll have to come, if you EVER want to improve whatever custody she gave you in the Petition. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) holds that wherever the minor child has lived during the immediate 180 days prior to the filing of the Petition, is the child's "home state." So, when your enlistment is up and you're wondering where to live, IDAHO would be high up on your list, if you every need to take your kids' mother back to court, to lower your CS or to improve the time you got in the Decree. Good Luck to you!
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