Mom can't afford to help pay kids' tuition

            Posted on May 31, 2015  

            Mom can't afford to help pay kids' tuition

Q. Even though I was a stay-at-home mother, as a result of my 2011 divorce, my husband got the house and custody of our children, now ages 13, 15, 18, and 22.

Since 2011, despite my emotional problems, I was able to get trained as a masseuse. But, I’ve been unable to keep a job for longer than a month or so. That’s why my weekly income is about $200. I get food stamps and Mass Health and live rent-free in an apartment in a building owned by my parents.

My ex, who now earns about $140,000 a year, just filed a complaint for modification asking that I be ordered to pay for half of all the kids’ college education.

I don’t have money to pay my bills or a lawyer, never mind for the kids’ education.

What can I do?

S.A., Brockton

A. First, you need to type “financial statement short form – Mass.Gov” into your computer’s browser. Then print out the form and fill in all the requested information about your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Then make three copies.

Second, gather together all the papers you just got from your ex-husband, your new financial statement, copies of the divorce judgment, and the 2011 financial statements. Then you need to bring those documents to the lawyer-for-the-day at the Probate Court. That lawyer will help you prepare an answer to the complaint. After looking at your financial statement the judge should conclude you don’t have enough money to live on, so you can’t help pay for the kids’ college.

Is your ex now making a lot more money than when you got divorce? If yes, ask the lawyer to also file a counter-claim requesting the court to order him to pay you alimony. Then mail your ex copies of your financial statement, answer, and counter-claim.

I’ll guess, on seeing those documents, he’ll run, not walk, away from his modification, realizing two things. One is that the judge won’t order you to pay a penny. The second is he gave you a chance to ask for alimony. Even if he wants to stop you can still demand a copy of his new financial statement and ask the judge to order him to pay you alimony.

Do you think your ex ever heard of Pandora’s Box?