Not at ALL What You Thought

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Division of Child-Support "Enforcement"

After filing for a Show Cause hearing, I had to meet my ex in court Monday. See, he hasn't paid child support in more than two years. My sister, a former child-support attorney, mentioned that if my ex came up before a certain judge, he'd go to jail. No passing "Go," no $200.

"How will he pay child support in jail?" I asked.

"I've seen it happen a million times," she said. "Somehow, they all come up with it. Don't wanna stay in jail."

Imagine my surprise when, despite Certain Judge's very evident disgust, the DCSE, whom I had enlisted to represent our children, said that it had come to a(nother) agreement with my ex. He'd have till October to get up to date, and the DCSE wasn't expecting him to attempt repaying the arrears. Oh, and my ex's attorney? A gentleman who'd once been my attorney.

"Nothing toward the arrears?" Certain Judge asked, incredulous.

"No, your honor," my advocate replied. The case was continued.

"But," Certain Judge said, "if it's one dollar off, I will be very unhappy."

I gave DCSE two days to process what had happened at court. Then, this morning, I went to the offices myself. My caseworker (not the DCSE's court rep) first told me that the DCSE doesn't enter into agreements with deadbeat dads. When I told her that my assertion was a direct quote from DCSE's representative at court, she said she had to go find this woman and ask her about it. She left the room for about ten minutes. When she returned, she could not meet my eyes as she told me that she was "stunned" to learn that I had been telling the truth about the agreement. And she said that I had no rights in this "agreement" matter, no, not even to expect to be told about it. This despite the fact that my ex had flouted the last agreement (deadline March this year) and he owes over $40k in arrears.

My caseworker seemed to commiserate, but she pointed out that since I had put the matter in the hands of the DCSE, there was nothing I could do. There was nothing she could do.

I said I was looking for the "enforcement" in this relationship. Where was it? My caseworker expressed the traditional view: If my ex was in jail, how would he pay the support?

My sister, when she heard the story, said, "I would have yelled at her, 'What difference would that make, stupid? He's not paying now!!' Wait. I wouldn't've said 'stupid.' But I'm thinking it."

The fault is mine, you know. I shouldn't've married that man.

I shouldn't've had his children.

When we divorced, I shouldn't've enlisted the help of the DCSE.

In court with the DCSE, I should've pointed out that I hadn't been informed of this, the second "agreement," or the first, and that the first hadn't been honored.

In court with the DCSE, I should've pointed out that my ex's attorney had once been my attorney.

But I messed up. I'm short and fat and self-effacing. I don't know what I can or cannot do in court, and often, it doesn't occur to me to ask.

Mea culpa.

Dear Jesus, my brother, deliver us from evil.