Letter to the WCP Editor – 6.03.10
Posted: Friday, June 4, 2010 12:30 pm
I would like to offer follow-up in regards to my previous letter to the editor regarding child support issues.
In my last letter, I voiced my concern that there were some deficits that needed to be addressed and I wanted to know how the system worked for others. I expected a few responses; however, I received alot. I was saddened to see the overwhelming flood of emails from people and the desperation in each personal case. It was disheartening to see the struggles people were facing with what should be a cut and dry legal issue.
I followed up and collectively, the information was compiled and forwarded it to those who have the power to possibly make changes. It was an action long overdue and it gave a voice to a problem that is unfortunately becoming a norm in our society.
This is what I have learned from this cumulative experience:
• Our system is a good system. That being said, it is not expedient. It was not designed to fix a problem that has become an epidemic. Neither our State nor our communities can afford to pay for the staff needed to address every case as quickly as we feel it should be, and nobody wants to pay the extra taxes needed to change that. So be patient, your case will not be resolved overnight.
• Learn what the steps are when dealing with non-payment issues. Don’t expect a simple solution because there is not one. There are guidelines that have to be followed regardless of the emotional issues you have vested. Instead of getting upset, educate yourself on the law.
• Be pro-active. This may involve hiring a lawyer. Those costs (which can be expensive) may be recovered if/when you win your case.
Keep any written correspondence relating to expenses such as emails, texts, letters, etc. Keep receipts.
• Use technology. If the non-custodial parent is telling the courts he/she is unemployed or that they have no assets and you know this is untrue, see if they are documenting their activities on social networks such as facebook or myspace.
If those activities do not mirror claims of unemployment, print and save a copy of what they are putting on their pages. People are generally very open about what they want to share or brag about online and this information may be useful.
• Be prepared to be financially independent. Don’t just sit around waiting for a check to arrive. You may not see this situation resolved for a long time. Be prepared to say no to a new prom dress, or movies on Friday night, or eating out. This just may be something you cannot afford, so budget your expenditures accordingly.
• Limit the information you share with your children regardless of how upset you are. They already know more than they need to by overhearing snide comments (perhaps by you?), receiving information from “well meaning” family members or being played by one parent against the other. There is no reason to be vindictive with our words or to include children in this bitterness.
Do not threaten visitation rights because child support is not being paid. Do not add to your child’s pain out of some misguided sense of entitlement because you are not receiving money. Those are two totally separate issues. This is a legal battle between adults, not between the children.
• Be polite to those who are trying to help you. Chances are they are underpaid, understaffed and overworked. Being rude and demanding will not expedite your case. I realize the emotion behind this, the frustration, urgency, anger and sense of hopelessness a person can feel. I understand the threat of losing your home because you can’t pay your bills, of borrowing from family to keep the electricity on and making ends meet by stretching nickels, dimes and pennies when you’ve emptied every piggy bank you have in the house and on top of that being the responsible parent and caring for your children.
I am not trying to minimize the toll a struggle like this takes on a person. I am just offering tools that may make it a little more tolerable to get through.
• Lastly, for all the non-custodial parents (moms and dads) who make your payments even when it is difficult to do, who work through any situation to provide, who prioritize your children both emotionally and financially, who remain a parent even outside of the original family structure, I commend you. You “get it” and you do it out of love. You do not need to tie up tax dollars or court time to force you to do the right thing, and that is admirable. I would like to personally thank you.
Thank you to everyone who has worked with me on this.
I feel as if we have opened a never ending “can of worms,” but it is my sincere belief it will offer hope and help at some point. This is a difficult and long struggle to go through and I would not wish it on anyone, especially the children who are involved.
If you have any comments or would like to share your story with me, I will be glad to pass it on through appropriate channels. There is strength in numbers and together, I have no doubt we can continue to make a difference.