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.


  • At 2:31 AM , Anonymous bec said...

    I never did get CSS involved with Evy's child support. When my ex stopped paying for a little while I called them and asked what they would do about it if I asked for their help. They said they would take away his driver's license until he paid. Seeing as his one and only skill was truck driving, I didn't see how that would help at all, so I didn't get them involved. He started paying again eventually.

    It's all a moot point now, as he is living with family and very ill with cancer. All I cold say when he told me he was sick, could no longer work, and wouldn't be able to pay was, "Of course, I understand." What else could I say? The $800 a month income hit is really hard, but I don't feel I can complain, as things are far worse for my ex.

  • At 6:43 AM , Blogger Ranuel said...

    Sounds as if the judge wasn't happy with the DCSF either. I hope you get the same one come Fall.

  • At 9:09 AM , Blogger Gine said...

    Right you are, Anne. I wish you could've seen his face. I hope I get him in October, too.

  • At 9:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Someone is just trying to clear his/her caseload. They are supposed to do what is in the best interest of the child.

    How is letting him off the hook for $40,000 in the girls' best interests?

    This sucks.

  • At 7:41 PM , Anonymous Coquinegra said...

    $40,000 behind? Good Lawd! he wasn't even trying to pay, was he?


  • At 11:53 PM , Blogger Trin said...

    Here's another one hoping you get the same judge. Bad situation ((Gine)).

    This is the second child support related horror story I've read today concerning someone I care about.

    A friend of mine has a sixteen year old daughter. The father had been in and out of jail for most of the child's life, so hadn't paid any child support. Two months after he got out of jail (in 2006), he died in a car accident. At his funeral, a woman appeared who was pregnant with his child. TAC (traffic accident compensation over here) paid out money for the new child's welfare and upkeep. My friend's daughter got nothing, because TAC claimed his years of non payment of support qualified as neglect of the child's welfare, and negated her as being able to claim as a dependant. My friend is shattered.

  • At 9:57 AM , Blogger Gine said...

    This is a bad story --and, unfortunately, all too common.

  • At 10:08 PM , Anonymous fairlane said...

    In my opinion, the only people who do well in court are attorneys, and sociopaths (Is that redundant?).

    Good fathers pay, in numerous ways, because of the dead beats.

  • At 10:50 PM , Blogger Gine said...

    the only people who do well in court are attorneys, and sociopaths (Is that redundant?).

    Watch it, now, my little sis is an attorney. . . .

  • At 10:48 PM , Anonymous elayne said...

    This (and Trin's friend's story) makes me so angry I can barely breathe.

    And I am trying not to be angry at you for blaming yourself, because I understand you all too well on that. But it is NOT YOUR FAULT. Are there things that you could have done differently that might have changed the outcome? Yes. MIGHT have changed the outcome. No guarantees. You might have spoken up and the judge might have had to go with the "agreement" anyway. Gine, I know this is an extreme comparison, but this is no more a case of "mea culpa" than it would be if someone assaulted you and you "didn't fight hard enough." NO NO NO NO *NO*.

    Can the person you spoke with, who said it's not their policy to make arrangements, get you a copy of anything that establishes that, an official policy of no deal-making? Because if I were you I would want to be speaking to the director of the whole damn shebang - the *political* person, the one who gets elected or appointed, not just some random supervisor. Around here, it's the attorney general, I think, and that's a position that's elected.

    This is a rather poorly put together website and is Texas specific, but there might be some information you can use as well. With you sister being an attorney, I'm sure you're as covered as you can get on that score, but still.

    Please promise me you'll take an advocate with you next time, someone who's okay with speaking up and "making a scene" (not to the extent of getting slapped with contempt, but you know) and who will not worry about being polite when your rights and your children's welfare are being trampled. Someone who's got the gumption to break the ice and yell out, "Now wait a second, that ain't right!" and then, when they're shushed by the bailiff, you can quietly and politely say, "I think s/he was questioning why___" - whatever outrageous thing is it. (Looking at it from my perspective. I can speak ON all day, but I have trouble speaking UP.)

    NOT your fault. I know it gives a certain acceptance and zen-ness to say, "I should have done this, oh well, my bad," instead of having to face facts that, "these people who are supposed to be working FOR MY AND MY CHILDREN'S BEST INTERESTS have screwed me right the hell up and there's nothing I can do about it!" But Gine, until and unless you put the blame where it belongs, I don't think you're going to be able to build up the anger you *need* to fuel yourself for this fight.


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