When I got divorced and was given the title of primary custodial parent to my children, I was also given a court order that specified that the noncustodual parent was to pay me a certain amount a month for the care and support of the children and should I not be paid the specified amount all sorts of bad things could befall the non custodial parent, even incarceration.
Which by the way is a complete joke. If I told you the amount of arrears and nothing bad has happened to him, which is fine by me actually because I would rather he be working and paying me. I mean what kind of satisfaction would I get out of giving a perfectly good excuse to not pay?
I have been the non custodial parent with my older two kids and I had all kinds of crap happen at the mere thought of getting behind.. garnished wages, garnished IRS tax return, unable to register a car… for pennies. True story.
I ,make no excuse about why I got behind nor do I think its ok just because it was only a few hundred dollars. I was behind and there was no excuse for it, save that for part of the time paying it I was also the parent whose income took a nose dive while the other was quite comfortable with a new spouse and double income and …, it’s a different story all together.
Suffice it to say I have been on both sides of the child support issue and understand the things that both parents (the one paying and the one receiving ) have to bitch about when it comes to child support and fairness of the whole damn mess. It;s hardly fair, even when I am the one that benefits, it isn’t fair.
Before the divorce, we had a comfortable life, we sat pretty nicely in the mid middle class. My husband worked his butt off to provide for us and we didn’t want for much. I drove a new car that he replaced every two years, had nice clothes, a beautiful home, and a stellar credit score after much hard work bringing it back after my first divorce. And that was a lot of work I tell you what. We also managed to clean his up after his ex ..ex wife managed to tank it by not paying bills she was responsible for but his name was still on for credit purposes. I thought nothing much of going to Target and dropping $200 bucks like that, 2 -4 times a week. That was when I thought money might buy happiness you see. That too is for another day.
Its true what they say you know, about your economic status after divorce. I am not sure exactly what it is they say but it is true. I do know they say it is typically the woman whose life gets turned completely upside down economically and I can tell you in my experience this has been true 100 % of the time.
The year after he left, our divorce proceedings were held up in all kinds of ways but a ruling that had been passed down before we decided to try again, before we went to counseling to try to salvage us, was reinstated which ordered him to pay child support, and would not let me leave the state without his permission unless I wanted to also give up custody of my kids.
Now there is a lot of good to that law right there saying that the custodial parent can not move without the noncustodial parent’s express consent and I am all for it.
If both parents live in the same state.
See the thing is, he already went away to a different state and started a new life. I was only asking to move to where my parents live to have help and to be able to get a job.
The small town we lived in was basically one that people commuted back and forth the 60 + miles to the city for work. So for the most part, the households consisted of one parent that worked and one that stayed home. The small town where we lived didn’t even have a stop light.
There were of course the normal necessary facilities, a gas station and a grocery store, which I had worked at as a baker the previous year, but even with employment, finding and affording daycare - well there was no daycare, or a babysitter, was then another monumental task that would have eaten anything I made to watch three young kids all day anyways. At the time they were 3mos, 3 and 5 and an 11 yo that was in school everyday, except most.
I ended up watching a friends kids who were 2, 4, 5, and 8. It was supposed to be a few hours a day, and she brought cereal and stuff so that was cool. I got paid $100 a week, but it ended up being more like 10 -12 hours a day. So needless to say, it sucked.
So for a year, I was virtually a prisoner, knowing only that I would not have the house to stay in anymore as the mortgage was way behind and any day they could decide to foreclose and dependent on the kindness of my friends and family to stay afloat. My dad wrote me a check every month to cover the bills and expenses and I felt helpless and like a burden and a bit mad. As in crazy mad.
When we finally got through all the crap that comes with divorce, motions, counter motions, continuance after deadlines, court ordered and failed mediation. blah blah blah and so on. it was a year later. A year of pointless crap because I got everything my lawyer said I wanted anyways. Including permission from the court to move.
For those of you lucky enough to never have the pleasure of moving to a different state than the one your divorce was finalized in and filing a support case with the new state, forget even moving, filing a support order with any state I am quite certain is a pain in the ass, I will give you a real quick run through of the red tape and government bureaucracy (read idiocy) that it entails.
First you have your court order. The one that is signed and sealed with the details of exactly how much child support is to be every month, who is to pay it and in my case there was a number already on it of the arrears amount. Also with it was all the pertinent info about the children, names ages and ssn. as well as the parental units, custodial and non. It was a wealth of information if anyone cared to actually look at it. Very helpful.
When you go to the office you fill out a bunch of forms and they ask you for as much info as you can possibly give on the non custodial parent, You see , they take their duty to hunt them down and get your money very seriously. So much so that they go all out searching and researching and looking for every clue as to the noncustodial’s whereabouts, assets and job information, tirelessly searching day in and day out and reporting back to you that they are trying their darndest.
Even when every single line of the contact and location information, as well as SSN, and job phone has been filled out. Legibly.
Then you wait. They need to verify the validity of your claim through the state it was issued, because the certified copy or the original even with the county clerk seal right on it, isn’t good enough. Then they have to count kids and check birth certificates even though they have already been accounted for and properly listed on said form with the county clerks seal. That takes .. while.
Then they have to use their super sleuthing skills to find the other parties work place and while I admire their skills, especially for those that fill out the paper work with as little as name and hair color, when they are starting with every known way to get ahold of someone, including work phone, company name, name of supervisor and work email address, blood type, mug shot and urine sample included, it seems a bit of overkill,
Thank goodness they didn’t take any cut from the money they finally got me almost another year later.
In the meantime, my children;s other parent had started paying me directly which was nice but still iffy. And to give him credit, even after the State finally found him ( I will never cease to be amazed at their abilities) he has done extra, like pay some bills here and there when I needed help. That could partly be because the state quit collection efforts on arrears. It cost too much money. I can totally understand that. Especially when a check comes in that they believe is a overpayment and they send it back. Even though th arrears are…. oh nevermind.
Since they honed in on him, there have only been a few hitches, one of course being just this week. I’ll get to it in a minute but really why else do you think I would devote all my time to praising the abilities of the Department of Economic Insecurity for you all?
One such hitch came when as I mentioned earlier (yes it REALLY did happen) there came to be a month that my ex got paid three times. You see he gets paid bi-weekly, not twice a month, but every other week.
Same difference you say? Oh no, not at all. You see biweekly means that there are 26 checks a year. DO the math. Ok I will for you there are 12 months x 2 checks per month that is 24. Which leaves two checks to make up the 26. This usually falls in May, and another month, I think.
This particular instance was May. It was the check that I paid my rent with. And it didn’t come. But the handy dandy website showed it had been made, and that they, the state had it in their possession, but I needed it in mine.
So down to the office of Economic Insecurity I went, happy to spend the better part of the day as the only one in the waiting room, waiting my turn. There was one other lady who was flat-out nuts. I thought it weird at the time but not so much anymore.
Finally when they finished their coffee break and called me back 5 minutes before closing and I told them my tale, I was informed that I was only to get 2 checks a month that the third was over-payment (never mind the arrears remember?) and they had returned the money to ex’s employer to return to him.
I had to pinch myself for I felt like I was in the middle of some nightmare. And it got worse. I asked them how they figured it was an over payment. The whole its 3 checks blah blah I’m an idiot talk…. I showed them, on paper how I never got the amount I was supposed to a month – typically 200 – 300 short because that check and the other extra check sometime later in the year made it even out.
They didn;t gt it. I wanted to cry. I probably did cry and yell a little. I told them I had rent due and babies to feed and the one lady took pity on me and said
Oh honey you aren’t supposed to count on child support anyways, you should have a back up plan for paying your bills
Did I mention I had a full-time job? No? well I did.
I am not going to bore you with the details but the compromise was that I would get the third check, that they would have accounting fix the computer problem… oh please I didn’t ask, and that to make the program as happy as possible, if the last check put the monthly amount over what the court ordered (again, nevermind the arrears) then I would have to wait until the following week for the remainder. which is fine because then sometimes I get a payment three weeks in a row, although not to be confused with an EXTRA PAYMENT.
Right here please take note that last week was one such payment on an off week that was the remainder of the previous week. NOT AN EXTRA PAYMENT. I ask you to note this because here is where it all comes together folks, I received regular check on the 25th of July, then the REMAINDER of said check on the 2nd of August and was due another payment.. regular and in full, the one I count on to pay my bills etc etc, on the 8th.
Today, the 11th I have no check in hand, no money in my account, in fact my bank, knowing my payment schedule takes its fee out on the days I get payments, took its $15 leaving me more than broke. Less than nothing. Yes it’s possible.
And there is no payment noted on my account, meaning nothing because they are full of doo doo about it being real-time, and when I called to inquire on Thursday, I really got no answers because I couldn’t get the lady to look past the fact I got a payment last week.
Quite possibly it is because then she would have to look into why I didn’t get my money.
She tried to tell me I can;t count on child support.
See the thing is, I have been through the fire, I have earned the right to count on my child support check being there. I have fought the system I have changed things (it sounds good let me have it ok?) and I can count on my ex-husband working … he always works. I can also count on nothing much changing that would cause the order to change suddenly whereas I might have to pay the check back - never-mind about the arrears. And really bottom kine, isn;t that their JOB? I hung up on her and crossed my fingers it would come Friday.
No, it didn;t so I went online to check my status and when the opening page of the Child Support Enforcement Section of The Department of Economic Insecurity loaded guess what I discovered?
It, my friends, is Child Support Awareness Month. You know, where we recognize all that our enforcement officers do to make sure our kids remain fed clothed and sheltered and that the non- custodial parents are hunted down but made sure that they don’t overpay a penny. and…
The irony of it could kill me but I am always happy to do my part.
- Co-parenting can be contentious (upi.com)
- Divorce and Taxes, Part 2 (plymouthincometax.wordpress.com)
- $35 Billion in Child Support Owed in US – but only 41% is Paid (blogs.lawyers.com)
- Demystifying the Law: Calculating Child Support (blogs.lawyers.com)