Yup, today’s post is about Child Support. I have become somewhat of an expert on the subject in the past 14 years. It was 1997 when I had my son… I was 16 years old, the father was 15. It was a very very hard road I chose, and I have no regrets when it comes to the birth of my son (I do wish I had waited a few more years). I do not believe in abortion and I couldn’t bring myself to give him up for adoption and I was very very blessed with supportive parents. They didn’t want that life for me at that age, they were very disappointed in me, but they were there to help me raise this little boy. And I needed all the help I could get.
About 7 months after Christian was born, his father and I broke up and went our separate ways. But something unexpected occurred about a year later….the father dropped out of Christian’s life all together. I guess things got too hard for him. A file was opened in juvenile court for Child Support, originally set at $17.31 a week (the father was still a minor and making minimum wage). A few payments here and there were made, but an amount of several thousand dollars accrued in arrears over the next 12 years (over 11K as we speak). The amount went from being $17.31 a week to $300 a month in 2004. A relationship was re-established in 2008 between father and son (via an almost year long process of getting to know each other in stages). Still, only sporadic child support payments were made, whenever he held a job long enough for the state to garnish (giving credit where it’s due, he did once go almost a year with payments every month).
And let me say right now that I have an awesome husband. He has stepped up from day one and raised my son as his own, both financially, emotionally and physically since we married in 2000. But even he gets frustrated and angry that my ex doesn’t care enough to support our son. To a man like my husband, it’s completely unfathomable that anyone could go 11 years without a relationship with their child and that they could continuously put themselves and his other family members ahead of his oldest son. And what’s really sad about the whole thing, Christian knows exactly where he ranks in his biological father’s life. I really hate that for him, that he had that knowledge at such a young age,.
So anyway, my ex has had a steady, well paying job since May (he has had sporadic employment all his adult life and has went as much as 2 years without one single payment) and he has only sent one…ONE payment of child support for his son since then…in July. And that was only after I got so fed up that I threatened him with court. I shouldn’t have to do that. And of course he is being paid under the table, so CSE can’t garnish his wages. And now, here it is almost November and we are struggling. My son eats more now than ever, he needs clothes, medical treatment, braces, etc etc etc, and I can’t afford everything on my own. It would help alot if his father would man up and pay his responsibilities (yeah, he’s supposed to pay for half of medical and dental too, but that’s not been happening either…but I see HIM getting medical treatment). If it where not for this major issue, I’d say my ex and I get along fabulously. I just HATE seeing our son suffer and I wish my ex would care more for our son than he does. And what makes it 100000 times worse is that my son and I see him buying things for his family (sometimes expensive things), his other child can play year round sports, going out to eat all the time, etc….and I am having a hard time putting our son in ONE sport, let alone year round sports. My mother had to help me buy his school supplies this year, and new shoes for school. It sucks.
I guess he thinks that I won’t go thru with my threats of court. Well…it may have to wait until after Christmas, but I plan on retaining an attorney and file contempt on him as soon as I can. I will be borrowing the money somewhere (love you mom!) or…well there is income tax….I know we are due for a chunk of change then, so I can use part of that. And that’s another thing that sucks! That I have to retain my own attorney because the powers that be in Knox County Juvenile court / child support attorney is ALWAYS letting my ex get away without out paying. My ex has a system and he works it well. Once the state files contempt on him (sometimes it takes a year or two of non-payment before they do that), then right before court, he will make some kind of payment. During court, he will be admonished, but since he made that one payment, they will let him go scott free….and they can see his history. Seriously? All this stuff they can do to the people that don’t pay child support and they just let him go and trusts that he will do the right thing (he won’t). The only way they will actually punish him, is if I have my own attorney that I have retained to fight for my son’s rights for me. CSE in Knox County Juvenile court is a JOKE. Someone needs to Don Dare their arse!
My experience with 4th Circuit Child Support and my husband….is somewhat different. Ok, alot different. In that court…they would put you UNDER the jail for doing what my ex has been doing for 13 years. After several court and custody battles, and us being awarded sole custody of my step-kids (where his ex was paying us child support), there was a custody reversal (I should totally blog about all the crap we’ve had to put up on this side some day). My husband still had (has) joint custody, but they live(d) primarily with his ex for the past several years and he had to pay her child support. He willingly gave her custody for several reasons, but the top was because we got tired of having one custody battle after another, we couldn’t afford the battles and because her husband came into 2.3 million dollars (meaning, the kids wanted to go live with mommy…I guess they mistakenly thought the grass was greener on the other side, and honestly there was no way we had the kind of money for the stuff she was throwing at his since she had money to burn) So, I also know what it’s like seeing your hard earned money go to someone you don’t even like…but my husband never had a problem with it because he loves his kids and wants them to be taken care of. There were times when he didn’t think he got a fair amount set on him, but rest assured, if he didn’t pay it willingly, she would have put him in jail. You do what you have to do to survive, but you must always make sure all of your kids are taken care of before even thinking of yourself. And you don’t chose one child over the other. There were times when we had to go to food pantry after food pantry just to have food to eat, but child support was always paid before any other bill (my husband has actually over-paid child support by around $1500.00, give or take). And we were not lucky or poor enough to qualify for welfare. Those were hard years. I’m glad things are not that hard anymore, and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. As the 2 oldest kids aged out, child support was lowered and my husband makes more now. But we still struggle, living paycheck to paycheck. I swear, my ex should get down on his knees daily and thank God that I’m not like my husband’s ex wife.
I really hope my ex reads this, because it’s not too late to turn things around. I really don’t want to see him placed in jail, but if he continues to just go the way he is….yeah, that may be the best place for him, to show him that he has to abide by the laws and to support your children…ALL of them, not just one or 2. They have a work release thing, where you spend your nights and days off in jail, and are only released to go to work. That would be best since he has a job now. I wouldn’t want him to lose it. Actually, what would be best is for him to man up, step up and take care of his responsibilities and avoid any jail time at all (his kids DO need him), but I just don’t see that happening. And I have to say, I don’t have much respect for his wife either. For years, she has been the main bread winner in their home (she kept a steady job), and she wouldn’t even help him out by paying SOMETHING to go towards his child support and possibly keep him out of trouble…I mean…even the smallest effort…$20 a month…would have been something. I realize it’s not her responsibility and I totally thank God that it’s not a step-parent’s responsibility, legally. But at least it would have shown that they cared, even if they couldn’t pay the full amount. Maybe she just doesn’t love him enough? I don’t know. All I know is I could never have done that if I was the main bread winner in my home. If my husband, for whatever reason, couldn’t meet his obligation, I would step in and try to help. I wouldn’t want to see my hubby in jail. I love him too much. And what’s funny is if…this stuff wasn’t an issue? I would have no problems with them. I mean…they are mostly likeable people. Just very selfish and seemingly uncaring. Even still, I don’t hate them. If I was in a position where we were not struggling, I wouldn’t make much issue about it. But it makes me so angry that Christian is missing out on certain things and that he is getting the short end of the stick all the time. He NEEDS medical treatment, he NEEDS braces, he NEEDS clothes and shoes, etc. And I can’t afford it all on my own.