Sunday, September 13, 2015

Getting Stuck in the Middle of Government Minutiae ... and Finding that "Equal" is Bogus

In one of the great ironies of life, I've found myself a victim of government minutiae. Yes, me, a liberal Democrat, is screaming, "There is too much BUREAUCRACY in our government!"

I try to be a good person. I work hard at my job. I take parenting very seriously and I'm proud of how amazing my children are. I would do anything I can to help a person in need, whether I know him or not.

I'd like to think that karma would give me a break at some point, but I seem to exist under a dark cloud of bad luck. I used to say to my parents all the time, "I'm cursed", and they would roll their eyes at me. As I grew older, though, the presence of my bad luck became increasingly difficult to deny. To this day, my mother will occasionally say, "Okay, maybe you really are cursed."

I've spent a lot of time venting about my ex-husband. I'll just say that he is an abusive, lying, alcoholic monster and leave it at that.

Our divorce was finalized in April of 2010, and he was ordered to pay $79.22/week of child support for our daughter Ariel. He was also supposed to pay half of her medical expenses and any activities which she participated in, but I knew way back in April of 2010 not to hold my breath on that.

For awhile, he paid the weekly child support. Sometimes he was late by a couple of weeks, but he did pay it. Over time, he has let it add up to fairly staggering amounts when you consider the drop in the bucket that $79.22 a week is in the great scheme of things, but he usually did make an effort to pay it. He would pay off the balance when it got close to $1,000 (that seemed to be his guilt threshold), and then the circus would start all over again.

For the past year, though, it's been a nightmare. The biggest issue is that our daughter has become a competitive gymnast, and gymnastics is a very expensive sport. For awhile, he committed to paying half of her gymnastics classes, but that lasted for one month. Her classes are $200 a month, plus there are costs like team leotards and attire, competition fees, beam shoes, and required summer camps. Ariel is not my only child, but I spend more money on her gymnastics than on her siblings (happily, because gymnastics brings her great joy and she is also very talented). However, the times when my ex-husband would man up and pay a lump sum of back child support that always seemed to come in the nick of time (car registration, repairs, Christmas, dog to the vet, and so forth) are long gone.

I have a court order stating that he is ordered to pay $79.22/week. The problem is, getting someone to enforce that is virtually impossible.

When I complain about this, people say, "Go to court." I did go to court. There is a court order. He flagrantly ignores it.

One of my friends suggested I contact his employer directly about wage garnishment considering I had the court order. His employer said it had to be done through court.

Another friend suggested I go to the Department of Health and Human Services because child support enforcement is apparently under their umbrella. When I took a day off from work last year to go there and get it figured out, I was told that because he didn't live in New Hampshire, I would have to file for enforcement in the state he lived in.

And he didn't just live in one other state ... oh, no, that guy bounced all over the place.

So it seemed easier to just nag him until he paid a small piece of what he owed. He kept crying poverty while going on vacations all over the country. He promised that he would pay the full past-due amount the next time he got paid. The check was in the mail (the U.S. Post Office must have lost a hundred checks allegedly mailed by him). I documented all of this, doing my nagging via e-mail and making him communicate the same way.

I should mention that he is only allowed to see Ariel with supervision. He has shown decreased interest in seeing Ariel for years, and he has not seen her since early 2014 purely by his own choice. In his frequent travels, he is at times in the very city we live in and frequently within an hour of her, yet he does not make any effort to see her. I can in good conscience say that I did everything I could to allow him to have a relationship with Ariel, yet he has shown over and over that he cares nothing for her. In the court order, she was supposed to call him every night at 7:00. He would sometimes go a week without answering, and she would be a nervous wreck. He then asked that she call only on weekends. He still didn't answer most of the time. When he didn't answer the phone on Father's Day, Ariel had a meltdown. To hear my little girl sobbing about how her daddy didn't love her and all she wanted to do was wish him a happy Father's Day and she wasn't a good enough daughter for him and so on ... it broke my heart. Anyway, I e-mailed him that Ariel was not going to be calling anymore as it was just too painful for her when he almost never answered, especially on Father's Day. I did say that whenever he wanted to talk to her or see her, all he had to do was call or e-mail. I got no response. I'm not really surprised.  

We had a couple of huge financial hits, and it seemed ridiculous that he owed all of this money and nothing could be done about it when it was looking like we were going to have to pull Ariel out of gymnastics, at least temporarily. However, at least I could file paperwork to get the weekly amount taken out of his paycheck (assuming he has a job ... that has been quite an issue for him).

I printed out the application for child support enforcement for New York state and filled it out. I collected all the documents they required and sent my ex-husband one final e-mail (because I was trying to give him a chance to do the right thing). No response.

When I went to mail the package to New York State Child Support Enforcement, though, I hit a snag. There was no mailing address available. I called the number, and I was told that I needed to have a number. I said that's what the application was for, to begin the process. They told me that I had to begin the process in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire had told me that I had to begin the process in the state in which he lived.

I mailed the application anyway, generically posting it to New York Health and Human Services Child Support Enforcement in Albany. The same day, I requested an application from New Hampshire. I filled it out and sent it off (I still had copies of all the documents) the next day.

I have done everything I can possibly do .... the state I live in, the state he lives in, and the documentation.

I know it's going to be a slow process, though, and that makes me crazy.

One of my friends has a son who had a one night stand with a girl. The girl named him as the father and demanded child support as soon as the baby was born. She requested that the child support be paid in oxycontin and marijuana. The girl lives in Section 8 housing and receives Medicaid, food stamps, and welfare money. The kid didn't feel right about having drugs count for child support, particularly when he didn't think the baby was  necessarily his, so he said no. The State of New Hampshire set up a paternity test, and he apparently is the father. He had to fill out some forms about his income and living expenses, and now he has $150 taken out of each paycheck. This entire process, from the paternity test to the wage garnishment, took three weeks. Why? Because the money goes to the state to pay for her welfare.

If you're on welfare, apparently it makes sense for child support laws to be enforced quickly.

If you try to do it the right way, you sit there waiting for years for someone to help you. And once you realize that you apparently have to fill out applications and start the process in multiple states to hopefully get something to happen, there is no rush on the part of the government.

The paperwork has been sent out. To two states. Applications for child support enforcement. Birth certificates and divorce decrees and uniform support orders. No news yet ...

I'm giving them another two weeks (I figure I'll give them the same time that the girl on welfare that was essentially pimping her kid for drugs got), then I guess I'll have to find myself another job.

And a Republican candidate for President that I can live with ...