Posts Tagged ‘Child support’

Until you’ve actually gone through the process, you don’t can’t possibly imagine the challenges that can come from being in the family court system.  It’s an eye opener to say the least.  Especially when it comes to custody and child support.

Child support.  The dictionary describes it as:  court-ordered payments, typically made by a noncustodial divorced parent, to support one’s minor child or children.  The key statement being to support one’s minor child or children.  Sadly, too often this is not the case.

I have been on both sides of the fence on this issue.  I have received child support from my ex-husband, and I have watched my current husband pay child support to his ex-wife.  The difference in the two scenario’s is staggering.

When my first husband and I divorced, an amount was set for him to pay towards the care of our two children based on his income at the time.  Our daughter was ten and our son, who has special needs, was five.  For most of our marriage my ex-husband and I earned similar amounts of money.  In the two years before our divorce, he didn’t work most of the time.  When he did get a job, child support was set based on the income from his latest position, not based on his previous ability to earn, which was over double what he earned on the new job.  For two children, I received the modest amount of slightly under $400 a month.  (It later became slightly more when the years of arrears were added.)  This amount was not enough to pay for a month’s groceries, not enough to pay for one child’s day care expenses, but that was his contribution, based on the amount he earned at the time of our divorce in 1997.  There were many times through the years that I did not receive any child support.  I did not receive payment for medical bills.  I did not receive help with keeping the children under medical coverage.  Did this frustrate me?  Yes. Was my ex-husband doing the best he could do for our children, maybe, maybe not.  But I did the best I could to work with him.  I wanted my children to at least have the possibility of having a relationship with their biological father.  I was not going to let child support interfere.

When I met my current husband, much of what attracted me to him was the way he cared for his children.  He did more than pay his child support.  He paid the medical insurance, he paid the medical bills, he worked two jobs so he could buy them clothes, school supplies, pay for their school lunches – things that child support theoretically goes towards.  Whenever the kids needed something, he paid.  If the kids were sick, he was the one to stay home from work to care for them.  Sadly, in his case, the child support has never gone much to the care of the children.  If you’ve read any of my past posts you know of the ex-wife’s need for show.  Since my last post on child support, she has gotten two different cars, trading her Pontiac Solstice for a Lexus convertible and the white Honda Pilot for some type of Cadillac.  Twelve cars in thirteen years.  She has three cars at her disposal while my soon to be 18-year-old stepson doesn’t have a car to drive.  I don’t understand it.  But I digress, the point is there needs to be drastic child support reform.

When my husband divorced in 1998, child support was set for the four children based on his income at the time.  As it should have been, I believe.  But here is where my agreement with the system stops.  Why does the custodial parent get an increase in child support every time the other parent gets a raise?  In the case of my husband I can assure you the ex-wife did nothing to support his career advancement.  If anything, she was a detriment to his career.  He was a top high school football coach in our state with a promising coaching career ahead of him, until he got hooked up with her.  No one wants to hire the coach whose wife is having sex with the football team.  He eventually left his teaching and coaching career of over 20 years because he tired of her reputation following him even after they were divorced.  In my opinion, child support needs to be capped based on the level of income at the time of divorce.  Period.

When my husband left coaching and went into business, he developed a strategic plan of where he wanted his new career to go.  He has been extremely successful in achieving those goals.  Of course, the ex-wife has taken him back to court continually to squeeze every possible penny she can get out of him.  How is that she is even awarded an increase?  She has absolutely nothing to do with his success.  Nor does she spend the money on the children.  She never has.  My example would again be my stepson not having a car.  At over $900 a month in child support for one child, there is certainly money to put towards it.

And what about the daughter who turned out to not be my husband’s biological child?  Even though the ex-wife was a teacher having illicit relationships with male students that resulted in this pregnancy, in many states she has the right to go back and collect child support for the child.  While my husband, like many other men duped by paternity fraud, has no recourse for recovering the child support and expenses he paid for this child.  Not mention the pain he endures.

I’m not saying that all parents (male or female) who receive child support are not using it for their children.  But there are bottom feeders – people who use their children as a paycheck, who feed their ego literally at the expense of their children.  At the very least, we ought to be able to require some type of accounting be presented to show where the money is being spent to benefit the children.  I was happy to provide my ex-husband with receipts whenever he asked for them.  If there is nothing to hide, why not?  When my husband met with his attorney over the last child support increase he asked if we could put the increase in a court ordered trust for the child to be given to him when he became of age.  It was the only way we knew he would be getting the benefit of his father’s hard work.  It wasn’t allowed.  The custodial parent is allowed to spend the money however they see fit.

There needs to be more shared parenting to decrease the need for there even being a child support order.  What’s in the best interest of the child is spending time with each parent and seeing the reality of having to work to make ends meet.  A child being used as a weapon and a source of income doesn’t benefit anyone.  Ultimately, it is the child is the one being damaged by the system in place for their protection and edification.  Change is desperately needed.

 

 

Today is the day celebrated as Father’s Day.  It’s usually a day of cookouts, family time, gift giving, and laughter.  Handmade cards and pictures from little kids; stories about their childhood from those that are grown. Memories are made, and memories are revisited.

Sadly, not all kids get to experience having a Father in their life.  They watch from the sidelines as friends, cousins, neighbors, celebrate this day.  Equally as sad is that not all Father’s get to experience Father’s Day with their children.  Some by choice, it is true.  But many, because they are denied that right in one form or fashion.

I have been on both sides of the coin not only in my own childhood, but in the childhoods of my children and stepchildren.  My biological father was an alcoholic who had an affair, which caused he and my mother to divorce.  Once divorced and ordered to pay child support, medical expenses and save for my education, he made one support payment ($8O) and promptly left for California where he would not have to pay.  (Remember, this was about 45 years ago so CS enforcement was not what it is today.)  My mother never received another dime from him and I saw this man exactly three times between the ages of 3 and 18.  In sharp contrast is my step-dad, Charlie, who was always there for me.  Charlie loved me and my siblings.  We were his children.  Charlie has been gone from us for over 26 years, but when I think of my “Dad” I think of him.  His wisdom still guides me and I love him as much today as ever.

In the case of my own children, their biological father isn’t any better than mine.  While we were married, my ex-husband was somewhat active in the life of our daughter, but not our son.  Because of his disability, I suppose.  Once we separated, he took the kids on visitation only three times.  Only after my daughter contacted him when she was 17 did he begin somewhat of a relationship with her, but again, never our son.  To this day, as my daughter sits in prison, her biological father does nothing to support her.  He had seen our son three times in 10 years and that was only because I invited him to my son’s birthday parties and dog sat for him once.

Then there is my husband.  He is not only a truly wonderful man, he is a magnificent Father.  A huge part of what attracted me to him was his love for and his devotion to his children.  And eventually, his love for, and support of, my children.  He continues to offer support and guidance to my daughter through her challenges.   He recently adopted my son, autism and all.  He is their Dad in every sense of the word.

My husband wants every minute he can possibly get with all of our children.  Unfortunately, sometimes he is denied that right.  If you’ve read any of my other posts you are well aware of the antics we experience at the whimsy of the ex.  If you’re not familiar with our story let’s just sum it up with these three key phrases:  parental alienation, abusive/personality disordered woman, using  the children as pawns for control and manipulation.  By my way of thinking, if a child is blessed enough to have a father who cares, who wants to be active in their life and provide a solid, positive influence, why would you want to interfere in that?

Today I have thought a lot about my stepdaughter that isn’t my husband’s biological child.  How do you think she feels about Father’s Day?  To our knowledge, she doesn’t know the identity of her biological father.  At 10 years old her mother very effectively stole her father from her.  She was told by her mother the day we had the children’s cheeks swabbed that her daddy wasn’t really her daddy.  She was made to be the outcast by her mother.  Biology didn’t change the way my husband felt about his daughter.  He had loved her and cared for her from the time she was a baby.  Now suddenly he was the bad guy.  And all so the mother could hide her crimes.  This young girl is now graduated from high school and about to be an adult.  She suffers emotional issues and has trouble making and keeping friends.  Her own siblings have long been fearful of her.  She has been in trouble with the law.  Why?  In my opinion because the loving relationship she had with the man she knew as her father was destroyed.  You see, whether as an ex you like it or not, Daddy‘s are very important.

This type of thing is happening to men all the time.  We are making progress in the courts and in the views of society but we still have a long way to go.  Just because a woman is a mother does not automatically make her the better parent.  Just because a parent has physical custody does not give them the right to interfere with the relationship between a child and the other parent.  As a stepparent I feel it is important to support both parents to the children regardless of your feelings.  And believe me, I know that at times the feelings can be very negative.  But children need both parents.  Little girls and boys need a Daddy.  No matter what their age.  And kids need to be allowed to be kids.  They don’t need to have your emotional baggage and insecurities dumped on them.  It’s hard enough just being a kid.

So a big, enthusiastic Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful men who love and adore your children as my husband does.  Much love to you.  Keep your head up and work towards doing the best you can to make things right.  If we can’t make the changes fast enough to help ourselves, at least we can work towards keeping these things from happening to other families in the future.

Parent Alienation and the Wizard of Oz

Written by Carolan Ross

http://www.squidoo.com/parent-alienation-syndrome-pas

After almost twelve years of watching this woman in action, it shouldn’t still surprise me.  The selfishness.  The greed.  The diminished concern for her own children.  The lies and manipulations.  The way she has mastered the art of playing the victim.  I tell myself it can’t possibly continue, yet it does.  Year after year.

With my husbands most recent increase, he now pays about $900 per month in child support for one child.  This is more than he paid when he and the ex divorced and he was paying support on four children.  To say that the child support system needs an overhaul is a gross understatement.  Many men are unjustly charged with outrageous child support amounts.  Others never experience any type of increase, while still others are never ordered to pay support at all.  Yes, we are in need of a major “re-do” on a national level.  But what’s on my mind is what’s happening right here under my roof.

One of the things that most attracted me to my husband when I first met him was how he loved and cared for his children.  They were all quite young then, the oldest being nine and the youngest having just turned three.  The summer before we married, I watched as this wonderful man worked several odd jobs, including digging ditches for sprinkler systems, to have extra money to buy the kids the things they needed.  At the time, it was primarily clothes and food.  In spite of the fact that he was paying around $850 a month in child support, he was still buying clothes, personal care supplies, school supplies, etc. and helping with daycare costs.

Having been a single mom, responsible for providing for my own children, I realize the importance of both parents contributing to the health, welfare and financial security of their children.  The responsibilities, as well as the joys, of raising your children should be shared.  In my opinion, this is what is most beneficial to the children. (Provided of course, that there aren’t extenuating circumstances.)  The problem that I have with my husband paying $900 a month in child support for his son is that it isn’t going to provide for this young mans needs.

My stepson has shown up wearing shoes with the entire side blown out.  He has come to our home with underwear packed in his bag that were at least two sizes too small, telling us that was all he had.  No socks.  He didn’t have any.  Or worse, wearing women’s socks (those of his mother or sisters) because he didn’t have any.  He has repeatedly worn ill-fitting clothing.  Pants so tight they cannot zip that he explained had to be worn with a long shirt so that teachers and the other kids in school did not notice.  Most recently, he has been wearing jeans that are size 34 waist, bunched up with a belt.  Who’s pants are these anyway?  My stepson wears a size 18 boys.  For Christmas, several things he was given by his mother were from Salvation Army and still had the tags on them.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Salvation Army.  Especially if that’s what your budget dictates.  I take issue with this however because my husband is paying MORE than enough child support to make sure his son is nicely clothed, properly fed and appropriately groomed.

I can hear some of the arguments now…”It’s going toward providing housing, paying utilities, buying food, etc.” Maybe partly, yes, I can agree somewhat.  But what about clothes, shoes, haircuts?  Lunch money, school supplies?  Shouldn’t these items be paid for out of my husbands child support?  Instead of spending money on the kids, let’s take just one small peek at where the money goes…

Since 2000, the ex-wife has had the following vehicles:  Mitsubishi Montero (which was my husbands but the court ordered them to trade vehicles as she had traded her four door Toyota sedan for a Mitsubishi Eclipse not capable of safely hauling all four children), New Honda Accord (which she lost due to bankruptcy), Old Honda Accord, Jeep Grand Cherokee (I had bought one so she had to have one also), Black Honda Pilot (the guy she was seeing at the time had bought a White Honda Pilot), Old White BMW Sedan (the kids told us the passenger door was falling off and couldn’t be used but hey, it was a BMW, right?), Silver BMW SUV, Black BMW Sedan, White Honda Pilot (purchased after my stepdaughter bought a new car), and a Gray Pontiac Solstice (she “needed” a convertible). Seriously?  TEN (10) cars in eleven years???

What about vacations?  This woman takes several trips every year (most WITHOUT the children).  I could list many of them, but I will spare you the sordid details.  She is gainfully employed and has finally remarried.  What she chooses to spend HER money on is frankly not my business.  I just feel the needs of the kids should come first.  Hopefully by now, you are getting my point.  It is not my husbands fault that she is so completely financially inept.  Child support MUST be for the benefit of the child/children.

When my husband visited with his attorney about the increase he asked if there was any way to ask for an accounting of the child support.  Couldn’t he ask that at least 50% of it been spent on items specifically for his son?  Couldn’t she be required to give receipts?  Unfortunately, in our state, the answer is a big, fat NO.  We asked if we couldn’t take the increase and deposit it in a trust for the child’s benefit with the balance going to him once he reached a certain age.  Once again, the answer is NO.

It’s not right.  With the child support increase, we can no longer afford to buy extra clothes, supplies, haircuts, etc. for my stepson.  So we sit by and watch the hard-earned money go up in smoke.  We don’t have much longer to pay.  A little over three years.  For all the other men (and women) who pay child support, I hope we can see change.  I hope they are someday soon given the right to know for certain that their hard-earned dollars are being spent to help their babies.

How is it decided who gets punished for which crimes?  This is a question often on my mind, based on several different instances I am aware of, but none more often than when considering the crime of fraud.  Why does it seem that so many cases of fraud go unpunished?

Fraud is defined to be “an intentional perversion of truth” or a “false misrepresentation of a matter of fact” which induces another person to “part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right.”  The synonyms are almost as descriptive as the definition: cheat, deceit, deception, swindle, fake, trickery, sham.

Fraud is a serious crime.  A felony in criminal courts, actionable in civil courts, in many cases a Federal offense.  It is rampant in our society, yet much of the time appears to go completely unpunished.  Why?  Shouldn’t someone be punished for “an intentional perversion of truth” especially when it costs another?

Paternity fraud is, in my opinion, one of the most despicable crimes there is today.  I have watched first-hand the damage it imparts.  Financially, mentally and emotionally.  Men are held hostage paying for children that are not biologically theirs; women are rewarded for their cheating, lying and continued deception.  And this is just on the surface.  The ramifications of this behavior runs deep.  Not only for the men and their families, but also for the children being raised in an environment with a woman who would do this.

In our case, we have been in court many times related to the children.  My husbands ex named all the children as biologically of the marriage in their divorce.  She collected child support for that child KNOWING it wasn’t my husbands.  When we had the DNA testing done, unbeknownst to us she told all four children on the day we had their cheeks swabbed that my husband wasn’t the biological father of one of them.  She defrauded the court by keeping all of this knowledge hidden when WE asked for a sealed order to protect this child.  The ex has used this sealed order as a weapon against my husband and myself since it entered into the file.  She KNEW she had already discussed this with all four children when this was written.  Is that not fraudulent?  Obviously, she does not want the biological father of this child identified because it confirms she committed a crime and although she cannot be criminally charged due to statute of limitations in this state, she would most likely lose her teaching license.  One would hope anyway.

When my husband and the ex were separated but not yet divorced she wanted a new car.  She had been driving a sedan, something appropriate for a woman with four small children.  Apparently sedans are not very attractive to teenage boys.  She went behind my husbands back and bought a Mitsubishi Eclipse.  We have a copy of the signed contract where it is obvious she forged his name.  This didn’t come to light until my husband and I were married and unfortunately by then too much time had passed to have her prosecuted.  When he confronted her about it she laughed.  At that point there wasn’t a thing he could do.  What really stinks is that in their divorce, my husband got stuck with the Eclipse because all four children couldn’t be safely transported in that car and she, being the “custodial” parent needed to be able to haul all four kids.  He had to give her the SUV.  How is this fair?  Why wasn’t she ordered to trade the vehicle and then forced to suffer the consequences of her own stupidity?  What really upsets me is that I know my husband isn’t the only man this type of thing has happened to or will happen to.  That is just plain wrong.

You know, here is the way I see it.  If any of us lied on our tax return and defrauded the IRS out of thousands of dollars the way my husband and many men like him have been defrauded, there would almost certainly be jail time.  At the very least there would be thousands of dollars in interest and penalties on the money and you can bet your bottom dollar they would see to it that every penny was repaid.  How is this any different?  Working men and their families need that money more than the IRS yet we knowingly allow them to be defrauded.

The thing to remember is that it doesn’t stop.  These people feel a sense of entitlement that is unbelievable.  What has to happen for us to stop allowing this behavior?  When are we going to treat paternity fraud as the crime that it is?

This week, while I waited on my husband to have a root canal, I browsed several of the groups I belong to related to paternity fraud, child support, Father’s rights, etc.  My heart broke when I read an especially touching post by a father who is not allowed any time other than standard visitation with his children.  He heart-wrenchingly wrote of being without them and not even being allowed to talk to them every day.

This got me thinking about pain.  Actually, in my mind I was comparing physical pain to emotional pain.  Weighing the two against each other.

Physical pain:  I have given birth naturally – no pain killers what so ever – twice.  I had my legs seriously damaged in a head-on auto accident – one leg was crushed.  The worst part of that story is that the ER doc was a quack who sent me home telling me there was nothing wrong with my legs, I was just sore he insisted.  Three weeks later I am having emergency surgery after seeing an Orthopaedic Surgeon who clearly sees on the ER x-rays that my tibia was shattered into hundreds of small pieces.  The pain was horrifying.

Emotional pain:  I cried when my son was diagnosed with autism.  He was born a healthy baby, developing normally up to a point.  Then, I watched in horror – taking him to every specialist and getting him every therapy I could arrange – while he slipped away from me into his world.  Years later, I sobbed inconsolably as I sat in the courtroom and watched my baby girl be sentenced to prison, cuffed with her hands behind her back and taken to a bench to await transport to jail.

For me, hands down I will say the emotional pain was worse than the physical.  Is it the same for others?  Surely it is.  Unlike physical wounds, we seem to remember the emotional wounds at a deeper level.  Rarely do I think back to the pain I felt after my accident.  And even when I do, all I can remember is “it hurt.”  A lot.  Yet the smallest thing can jog my memory when it comes to my daughter and my heart breaks all over again.  I remember with sorrow how my son would use his words while he played with his favorite toys.  Seventeen years after the words disappeared, my heart still aches to remember those times.

That whole “sticks and stones” thing is a bunch of crap.  Words and deeds can and do hurt us.  They can hurt us deeply.  Shattering our self-esteem, tearing away at our confidence.  Relationships are built up or torn down by our words and our actions.  Obviously, relationships are ruined when there is physical hurt but isn’t there as much damage done by what we say or do?  I believe those wounds to be just as permanent.

Why is it that children always get stuck in the middle?  Children are innocent of the breaking down of the relationship.  They are innocent of your inability to act as a mature adult and allow them to have a healthy, whole relationship with BOTH parents.  They are innocent of the animosity and deceit that usually enters their home when parents separate.  It doesn’t matter what happened, or who’s “fault” you think it is.  As a parent, it is your responsibility to protect them, to teach them, to keep them safe.

Once again, I understand both positions.  I have two biological children.  They mean the world to me.  When they were under age, I never took their biological Father back to court for increases in child support.  He visited our children three times prior to our first divorce.  After that, they never saw him.  He never sent birthday cards, presents, etc.  He had absolutely no positive contribution to make to the physical, mental or spiritual well-being of my children, so I wasn’t about to kick the hornet’s nest.  Any contact in the past few years was due to my daughter being an adult, and/or my husband and I inviting him to my son’s birthday parties.

My daughter had many questions growing up about why her Daddy never came to see them.  I told her he had things he was working on, that he loved them very much and that his being away had nothing to do with them.  Never once, and I mean NEVER once, did I utter a bad word about him to my children.  I am very proud of this because it was incredibly difficult.  It was my own personal, on-going exercise in self-discipline.

On the flip side, I have four step-children.  I met the children after dating my husband for a while, when it became obvious we were serious about a long-term relationship with each other.  We all got along great, and although they were all young, that didn’t worry me as I am from a family of six children.  Now, once again being incredibly naïve, I was expecting that I would have an adult relationship with the mother of these children.  I came into the picture two years after the divorce, and from what I had been told by people knowing both my husband and the ex, there was no love lost on either side.  It seemed they cooperated nicely with the responsibilities that come with four young children.  How could I go wrong, right?  LOL  Wrong!

Once it was obvious we were serious, the games began.  Withholding visitation, denying contact via phone, telling the children that they would get back together if it weren’t for me.  We actually got married on a Tuesday, during mid-week visitation, to be able to have the children attend.  Over the years, it has only gotten worse.  There is a thick file folder down at the courthouse  in public records that tells the story.

But it’s the children who have suffered.  The ex has said many things over the years that are simply not true.  She has told the kids that my husband hasn’t paid child support, that he is trying to get them taken away (in fact he did get custody but that’s for another post), that I am the reason she doesn’t have any money.   I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.  How is it edifying to the children to hear any of this even if it WERE true?  It’s not.  The kids have no place being stuck in the middle.  I don’t care what your ex did to you.  That person is still half of that child.  And YOU are the adult.

Emotional warfare.  That’s what it is.  Just like in King Solomon’s day…the person who loves the child will give in, simply to protect.  That is love.

This week, more than usual, the topic of paternity fraud has been on my mind.  Two reasons I suppose.  One, my husbands ex is after his tax returns to take him back to court for more child support; two, I have joined two groups – one focused on the topic of paternity fraud, the other on child support reform.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a father SHOULD pay child support.  I myself am a mother who collects child support.  My son is 20 years old.  He is severely affected by autism.  Most likely, he will not ever have the ability to live on his own.  My ex didn’t pay support for years, nor did he see his son.  He is NOT the kind of father any woman wants for her child, but that is a topic for another post.

On my husband’s 47th birthday he sat on the side of our bed and wept like a child.  We had just received word that one of his children was not biologically his.  We didn’t expect it to be the child in the middle.  We really just wanted to make sure the oldest was his.  This came into question after discovering that the ex-wife was probably having sex with at least three other men at the time of conception.  Talk about a dog in heat.

At the time, we had custody of all four children due to the mother being beaten up by a former student.  Yep.  That’s right.  This woman is a teacher.  Someone who stands in front of our impressionable teenagers every day.  Scary if you ask me.  The student was her “boyfriend” even when he was in school, although she denied that in court there is plenty of evidence supporting the fact that they had a relationship.

Bottom line, one-third of all children born within wedlock do not belong biologically to the husband.  Many of these men pay support for years, even after proving the child is not theirs.  I don’t know about you but I see this as a problem.  No man should have to pay support on a child that isn’t his.  I really don’t care how long he has been in the picture.  If he wants to consider that child his, fantastic.  But to COURT ORDER him to pay, nonsense.

In the case of my husband, not only did this woman deceive him by declaring him father of this child, but she also named this child as his in divorce proceedings.  Did she know the child wasn’t his?  According to former friends, yes.  According to my stepchildren, yes.  They were actually told the day we had their cheeks swabbed.  That is fraud.  Plain and simple.