After two and half years of being separated(divorce pending!), I have realized the topic of “child support” is like the elephant in the room. I learned two new terms custodial parent and non-custodial parent. Custodial parent is who the child/and or children reside with full-time and the non-custodial is the “other” parent. My thoughts on the topic are pretty simple, handle your business! It is the non-custodial parent’s responsibility to financially support their minor biological child or children. Wow, was it a blow to me to know this is only if you are fortunate enough to engage in a process with a sensible and responsible individual. Now for
those who are lucky enough to verbally agree and adhere to a financial agreement for your child and/or children- KUDOS to you.
The filing process for child support is pretty simple as every county has a te courthouse with family court and the paperwork is readily available. After filing paperwork, a hearing is scheduled where the plaintiff and defendant meet with a coordinator to reach a settlement amount based on your income information. Income submission is sketchy at best. Realistically, either the plaintiff or defendant can present whatever he or she wants. There is no verification for the income submitted. If an agreement is not reached, then you go before a support master so that he or she can determine an amount based on income information submitted and guidelines set by the state. I felt like it was a simple process and officially the end of another chapter. One thing I realized again is if you are not dealing with sensible and responsible what should be a simple process can quickly turn into an arduous ordeal. After multiple court dates with no resolution, the weight of the aggravation forced me to close the case. I was very naive to think that an individual sitting oyn a bench with a robe aka the judge would somehow enforce orders given by the court. One thing I ask now is why mandate orders to individuals? When there are no consequences for utter disrespect of the court. I learned that you can submit whatever information you want to the courts as there is no verification process. As the defendant, you can be ordered to submit supplemental income information and defendant can appear in court without this information. What does being held in contempt really mean? How is it that some individuals slip completely under the radar? I also learned that as a defendant in a case you can petition the court to decrease payments, even when no payments are being paid! There are enforcement agents assigned to cases by the courts and to this day I am still trying to figure out what they are assigned to do?
Oh, as the plaintiff there is a website where you can submit employer tips for the defendant. I assume this part of the site is because some individuals attempt to hide income or deny working at all. To this day I have no clue who follows up with this submitted information, maybe the enforcement agent? If the plaintiff moves you can always open the case in another county within the same state, I found it to be the same circus. The defendant showing up with shoddy paperwork. There are intake coordinators assigned to each case and they sit behind a desk reviewing income paperwork without verification and determine the eligibility of the plaintiff’s and defendant’s ability to pay child support. If there is no verification for this income information, how can a coordinator determine eligibility? How is this possible? thanks to the structure of the system it is reality. Now if the coordinator rules either party is ineligible to pay child support the case is closed. In my case, the defendant presented income information that was less than my unemployment compensation. If the plaintiff or defendant disagrees with the ruling it is their responsibility to go back to court and file an appeal. Next round, meeting with a support master and he or she will again attempt to determine eligibility for paying child support. By now my patience are shot as I have no faith in the courts delivering a ruling that is in favor of the children! When all is said and done child support is exactly what it indicates support for the child and/or children. It is my understanding that it is put in place to establish a financial responsibility for the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent has already established financial responsibility, so its only fair right? A percentage of contribution is determined based on combined income of the plaintiff and defendant, number of children and the guidelines set by the state. Anyone who is raising child(ren) understands the expenses involved for the bare necessities food, shelter, clothing and child-care for non school age children. Granted this does not include the extra expenses incurred by the custodial parent such as extracurricular activities, class trips, school expenses, etc. My frustration level convinced me that the process is not worth the return. However, after giving this some more thought I feel like child support is not a “by choice” but an “obligation” to your child and/or children. The defendant should not have the freedom to spend his or her money on whatever he or she pleases. If the defendant can afford to take vacations and indulge in buying unnecessary tangible items you can factor in a child support payment especially if you are employed full-time for most of the year. I totally respect those who actually take the system seriously and assist with supporting their child and/or children. You obviously understand the importance of your financial responsibility. I can definitely understand why some plaintiffs get so frustrated with the lack of enforcement that they close their cases and never look back.
Personally, I think this makes it way too easy for some defendants to get away with being a “deadbeat”. This battle is not personal, it is about doing what is right for your child and/or children. I believe the plaintiff has an obligation to the child and/or children to be an advocate on their behalf. Child support is what is owed to the child and/or children as a means of contributing to their basic needs. What person would knowingly want to see their child and/or children go without? or expect the other parent to carry the full weight of supporting a child and/or children? It may be years before I reach a settlement but it is well worth the fight on my children’s behalf! The return may take years but until then I will continue to provide what is needed for my children!
While this topic may ruffle some feathers, I make no apologies for fighting for what is right and an obligation!