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Supporting Them

 

When I became divorced, there was never an issue of supporting my children. While I am aware that a lot of men have issue with paying, or the pay amounts, I chose the opposite. My lawyer gave me a figure that stated the amount that she was going for and because I didn’t know any better, I agreed to the sum. Later, I began reading online and found a calculator provided by the state as to general guidelines. I filled out the form and found to my astonishment that I could be paying more!

I approached my lawyer at the next meeting, provided her with the material and said that I wanted to pay the maximum amount by law. She advised me against it, but after all, they are my angels, my light, the reason for trying to achieve a better future for them and my only family on earth. Why wouldn’t I want to give them as much as I can? The order was changed to the maximum amount and I’m proud to tell anyone that I pay faithfully, and on time, each and every week.

When I was out of a job last fall into winter, I let the ex know what was happening and that I was struggling and would pay her what I could – even as I edged closer to homelessness without a weekly  paycheck. I did payed what I could – an over payment, an underpayment, but I tried to keep it going even as I was unemployed. Even as I went out on endless and unproductive interviews. Even as Thanksgiving and Christmas were creeping closer and becoming unavoidable.

Then, she notified Child Support and told them she was not getting child support. A further move by her that caused me heartbreaking grief and wrenching disgust, was that she decided to not tell them of the amounts that I had given to her by hand. As far as the ‘system’ had been aware, I had simply stopped paying anything at all.

One morning early last month, I woke up, fixed a cup of tea, and sat to check bank balances. I was stunned to find that my account was frozen – a lien had been enforced by the state division of Child Support. I could not even withdraw money to pay for gas which would allow me to travel to work 22 miles away. I don’t have sick time accumulated yet. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Without pay I can not meet any financial obligations – rent, phone, electricity, basic cable. Child support.

I declined to put up a post at the time about the tale of having my assets frozen. It’s humuliating having that done. It’s a desperate situation that stops your heart and has you thinking lunatic thoughts. It’s embarrassing knowing that you are unable to gain the necessary money to support your children. And mostly, it was a deepening of the chasm that seperated me and the ex because she had verbally said to me that she would be fine with repaying the back amount on a weekly basis as I could afford it while I was searching for employment.

Plans for children do not stop. There are sports to be paid for, gas for two and three times a week pickups and drop offs, groceries to be bought and entertainment for them. All while unemployed.

Then she notified child support.

I was devestated.

Thankfully, I now have a job. I have a paycheck that again has my child support taken out automatically, I have weekly taxes to pay and I have a new health plan that decimates my weekly check. All this on less money – much less money, than I was earning at my last position.

It’s a given that as children grow and mature, cost go up exponentially. The girl outgrows dolls, the middle boy is an avid sports player, the oldest collects Xbox games like I used to collect baseball cards, and he is now old enough to drive. Are you aware that (at least here where I am) the cost for drivers ed is $800? I am at a breaking point.

Rent is going up, I only have the bare minimum of cable, the cheapest phone plan and don’t participate in a social life. I am unable to miss a day of work to see my daughter in the play she is in this coming weekend because if I take a day off, I do not get paid. I am unable to help my son pay for a class ring. I am unable to help with the cost of spring sports. I am unable to help my son with drivers ed class. Humbled, with my head bowed down, that list is much longer.

How can you look at your child square in the eye and tell them you don’t have any money to do anything week after wek because child support, taxes and health insurance force you into near poverty? In the meantime, the ex has extended family aiding her and my children with trips to Disneyland, long weekends away and cash when she needs it? I am being left out of my children’s lives because of money. In other words, I am being forced out of many areas in my children’s lives simply because I can not afford the cost of being there for them.

That, in my eyes, is not a fair and level playing field.

Today, armed again with calculations from the online state guidelines, I filed paperwork seeking to modify my weekly child support payments. According to the guidelines and what I now make in my new position, I should be paying one hundred dollars less per week. While it may no seem a large amount to you, for me, right where I am at this point in my life, one hundred dollars is a huge amount!

I could contribute to the items of lasting value that my children need. I could pay for my schooling and not have to sweat so much with each monthly payment. Schooling, in turn, will elevate me into a higher pay bracket and again in turn, provide them with more support.

Though I need to go back to court after all papers have been served (what could be more nerve wracking than court – without a lawyer!) I believe that I’m making the right decision, and the correct one for my future and the future of my children.

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  1. 03/18/2011 at 1:54 AM

    Wow. That is just awful about your assets being frozen! You sound like a great father, very devoted and caring about their wellbeing. What was hardest for me – and still is, to an extent – is that my father did everything in his power to hide from child support, to skirt the law, to hide where his money was coming from, so he wouldn’t have to support his three children. Meanwhile, my mom was on food stamps and we did without a lot, but we managed. She was a far better parent than both, combined. The fact that you care so much and want for them so much speaks highly of you as a father. Just wanted to mention that. Because so many do the opposite. I hope things turn in your favor.

    • 03/18/2011 at 3:17 PM

      I’m so sorry for the imprint that you have in your mind of your father, but that is exactly what I try so hard to avoid. In three years, I never missed a payment – not one. Actually, before I had representation, and she had a lawyer, at our very first meeting her lawyer had me sign a document forcing me to pay DOUBLE of the weekly guidelines. But I payed it not knowing any better.

      I’m happy to pay each week. They’re mine, I love them and want the best for them even if it keeps me … well, poor.

      But I want to be more to them then a paycheck. Anyone can mail in cash. I want to help with drivers ed, I want to help with a class ring, I want to go on a vacation with them, I want to buy them clothes. But I can’t do it with the amount I’m overpaying now.

      They’ll still get the money, only in a different form. With Dad.

      • 03/18/2011 at 3:32 PM

        Your response is exactly why you are such a good father. My father didn’t want to be any of those. His loss, as far as I’m concerned. Good for you. I really think that is so great.

  2. 03/19/2011 at 4:30 PM

    $100 a week is no small amount, especially when you tally it up to $5200 a year. That’s a lot of drivers ed, weekend trips, dinners out, movies, bowling, laser tagging, paint balling that you could do with your kids. Those are the things they’ll remember, moreso than what size of cash or cheque was handed over to their Mom. I don’t blame you one bit and agree that there is definitely an unfair balance.

    • 03/21/2011 at 4:03 PM

      I do feel that I’m making the right decision. The hardest part will be having to go to the courthouse. I can’t afford a lawyer and I know that we’ll be with a mediator first and if it can’t be agreed upon, we’ll have to go before a judge. Ugh.

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