I never saw a cent of child support — did you?

by singlemomseeking on January 9, 2008

child-support.jpgBut then again, I didn’t think I would.

After my daughter’s father split town in the year 2000, I moved back to California to be closer to my family. This is where I began the legal work to get sole custody, which was fairly cut-and-dry. I filled out the paperwork by myself — with the help of one of those free legal workshops at my local courthouse — during which the workshop leader recommended I check off the “child support” box.

The state of California doesn’t play games with child support, and I soon began receiving letters from the Department of Child Support Services, asking for my financial statements — as well as his address. I submitted everything, and explained that I only had his email address. Through various letters, I demonstrated that I’d made an effort to ask for his mailing address in Europe. But he never gave it up.

In 2004, I got a “Temporary Order of Support” ($50/month!!) in the mail, with a notice in CAPS, stating that his “willful failure to obey this order may…result in your commitment to jail–”

At least I get points for trying, right?

Do you receive child support?

If your child is not getting any financial support from your ex, have you reached out for support to follow up? If you’re seeking more information about child support laws in your state, check out the resources at Divorce360.com.

Image from Divorce360.com

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly January 9, 2008 at 11:10 am

I was not receiving child support until about 3 years ago (my daughter is 11). It took a lot of effort on my part. I got a court order pretty quickly, but the state did nothing to enforce it. It was a cycle of him not paying, them sending us both notices to appear in court, me showing up and him not showing, them issuing a warrant for his arrest, and that warrant not being used.

He moved a lot, possibly because of the child support issue, and when we didn’t know where he was living, they would tell ME to find him and let them know his new address. When I DID let them know where he was, they still never bothered to arrest him.

I signed up with a child support collection agency and was later told that they give up, he couldn’t be pinned down and was “a weasel”.

Finally I signed on with Supportkids, and they’ve been great. I’ve been getting checks on a fairly regular basis for a few years now thanks to them. Yes, they took 35% of the backpay they collected (and now take 10% of the payments), but it’s better than the nothing I was getting before, and getting a percentage of the money gives them the incentive to get the job done.

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Crazy Computer Dad January 9, 2008 at 2:14 pm

I do not receive any child support from my son’s mom. It was my decision at the time. The lawyer was very clear that his right to support could not be waived (in VA) but I did not have to ask for it either. My rationale was that my son’s mom does not have any real skills nor any means to make a lot of money. We were living in the same area at the time. My intent and focus was to ensure that he had a good relationship with his mom. Part of that meant that she needed the money for when he was with her. She also needed every break she could get with finances.

My divorce was simple and inexpensive ($250). She didn’t want custody and only wanted a few things from the house. She didn’t want any other responsibilities. She got to see her son every other weekend and overall the divorce was fairly civil. The hard part has been slowly training her to mature from selfish adolescence (at 31 no less) to being a fairly responsive and caring mother. Six years later she is still selfish, but is getting better at being a mother. She understands a little more about the problems our son has, and actually read a book about it. Her family comes from a very strong baptist background that distrusts psychologists, psychiatrists, and others among those associations, but they have seen the improvement in my son and they follow my directions very well.

I was able to convince her to pay $45/month for piano lessons since I a pay over a $1000/month on day care, medicine, and doctors. That doesn’t include things like food, clothes, etc.

Since she does not live nearby any more, she does not see him very much during the school year, but she does have him all summer. She pays for daycare and doctors while he is with her, sot that is a little bit of a break. By the end of the school year my son and I need the break from each other as well.

It isn’t perfect, but improves a little at a time.

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Crazy Computer Dad January 9, 2008 at 7:09 pm

Legal Editor Mom,
You are doomed! Money AND Custody issues. Best of luck there! Just kidding though. I know a few people that handle it all ok. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to just bite my tongue or wait for my son’s mom to get her yelling tirade over with. Normally she explodes, then I let her settle down and think about it for a few days, and she comes back and agrees, begrudgingly, to whatever it was that I proposed. I do remind her that we could both go get lawyers and then a judge would have do decide what is best for Brandon instead of his parents.

It is kind of funny, but she is the one that cheated and left and she is mad at me. It takes a huge effort, but I don’t engage. I let the jabs and comments roll off and keep in the forefront of my mind that she is mad at somebody or something else and that I have to keep my son’s best interests first.

A friend of mine said on her blog one day (brain-soup.blogspot.com) “Sometimes you have to eat shit and just keep on smiling like it was creme brulee.” That sums it up.

You could say we argued enough over money when we were married. The money but no communication deal would be the bomb, but I settle for her contributions in other ways and rejoice when she calls that she only wants to talk to her son. :-)

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Leslie January 9, 2008 at 9:35 pm

In a word – No. It’s been almost a year now but I just found out he hasn’t been working for months. Upside: he’s mooching off some other dumb girl instead of me. Eventually he’ll wear out his welcome and have to working again.

I will say when he was trying to weasel his way back in after the breakup, asking him to contribute half for an extra curricular seemed to do the trick…the $40 I never saw was the best keep away ;)

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VJ January 10, 2008 at 12:03 am

This is infuriating stuff, and has been for a very long time. We’re talking 100′s of Millions of dollars in back child support that is either never paid, or so delayed as to make little difference in the raising of Your children. It drives me bonkers. These are Your kids & Your responsibility! And yet there’s a whole movement out there seeking to constantly ‘get adjustments’ and allowances for new families, certain income waivers etc. It’s just amazing to me. Much of our welfare rolls would be alleviated if such support were forthcoming or regularly supplied. And yet it takes private enforcement actions to actually effect any sort of change.But yes, it’s not an uncommon situation! Cheers & Good Luck, ‘VJ’

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Legal Editor Mom January 10, 2008 at 6:45 am

Computer Dad,
We have very similar situations. My ex walked out on us when our daughter was born and did everything leading up to the divorce. He was the love of my life and I truly thought when we married that we would be together forever. How wrong I was. I went through hell with him, yet tried to keep my sanity and remain calm for our daughter’s sake. I will definitely remind myself of your situation and not engage when difficulties arise in the future over visitation, which I’m almost positive they will.

Leslie,
I took my ex back 5 times before we finally divorced and I can also say that when he was at home or trying to come home, we could get anything from him! (But I agree; sometimes less is more!)

And VJ, you are so right. It should not take court action or any outside force for parents to step up and be parents. It’s a huge problem and I think a ridiculous one. But I’d also like to think that those of us who are managing the single parenting and giving it our all will be blessed. ;-)

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Rhiannon January 10, 2008 at 10:25 am

My daughter’s five and since October CS has been steady, before that it was erratic. Most of the time I don’t care if I get any or not, except when cash is tight (like it is now) and it looks like my acct might go under. I guess I have the “ideal” situation. CS and no contact.

It’s better this way for me. My mom and dad divorced when I was 5 and my mom just up and disappeared (not paying CS until I was 17 and we really could’ve used it too), my dad had a kid OWL and paid CS from day one, though even though we’ve never even met him, my sister’s mom has been in and out of her life and off and on with CS… out of the 3, my sister is the most screwed up. I and my younger brother (according to his grandma whom we have some contact with) are doing much better by comparison, so I’m pretty certain my daughter’s situation is what’s best for her. As long as I (nor anyone else) goes around bad mouthing or complaining about her other biological half, I don’t think there will be any psych-trauma from this situation for her. It doesn’t seem to have affected her so far, she’s very happy and enthusiastic about life now.

If he suddenly decided he wanted to be part of her life… it would be a major upheaval. I don’t know if she or I could handle it.

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Amy January 10, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Legal Editor Mom,

I think we might have been married to and then divorced the same man. The last years of our marriage were during my pregnancy and our daughter’s first year. He left when she was 6 months old. Since then employment is sketchy and so is visitation. And I truly – like you beliieved this was my one true love and that I would do anything to make it work – and as you saiid “went through hell”. Having my daughter changed that. What I could not do for myself – I was able to do for her – which was to say “no more”. The man I married 10 years ago is nothing like the man I had to divorce. And while our divorce was only final this fall he had moved out over two years ago and paid no support.

I know that the support is for Sadie and I have no right to say to him “hey keep the money just leave us alone.” I would never say that anyway – as I truly hope that one day he will be able to be the man that I know he can be and be good father to her. At this moment, I thankfully accept the support when he pays it- but I doubt I will ever actively go after him for it when he doesn’t pay it. I could change my mind later – but for now the best I can do is make a stable life for her and I can’t count on his support financially or otherwise. I absolutely understand why others do follow up with getting the support. In my case, being called names and the myriad of other ways he attempts to destroy my self esteem are just not worth it. He couldn’t be marred like an adult – and he can’t divorce like one either!

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Legal Editor Mom January 11, 2008 at 6:53 am

Amy,
Thanks for sharing your details. Your life is amazingly like mine, but I applaud you for moving on and for your healthy attitude towards the support and for focusing on your child instead of all the negative stuff. I feel the same way! While my daughter deserves everything he can provide and more, he can keep his pennies if it means my sanity.

If our support stops (and for those who never receive any), don’t despair. I truly believe in karma!

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Michelle January 17, 2008 at 10:17 pm

I had a very short relationship with the father of my child. He had already moved out of state when I found out I was pregnant. I tried for a whole year to involve him in my dtrs life. I wasn’t pushing for a relationship with him though I was open to it if it developed. In the end he just wasn’t mature enough to be the responsible one. I wanted a fully involved father for my girl, not a fly by night, when it was convenient, kind of father. I wanted all or nothing for my dtr. I couldn’t bear to see the future dissapointments since he displayed a lack of follow through throughout that first year. So he’s still out of state, and there’s no CS and no contact. He only agreed to no contact if he didn’t have to pay child support. Legally, either of us can change our minds and have it officially changed to ensure his rights and responsibilities. He has a great job and is very successful . Sometimes I dream of how much easier it would be to have the extra cash flow….but then I think about how stressful the interactions were. I’m only sad that my dtr misses out on a dad in her life. Luckily I have great male role models surrounding her! And who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and find a real man to be in our lives permanently!

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Kim January 18, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I have never received not even a cent of child support, my daughter’s father has never given her anything and he lives five minutes away. I will not pursue the issue because he should not be forced to take care of his daughter and since (Thank God) we are able to take care of her just fine. I let him be.

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ann marie January 27, 2008 at 7:06 am

I never asked my ex for one cent when i left him and took my daugher to be close to my family. I just did it on my own and he didnt offer either. i let her go to him from texas to arizona, at 6 yrs old on a plane, without thinking twice, thats her father even if he doesnt pay for her she still wants to see him so why not? well now that the years have passed things have changed. i recently had the opportunity to go to school out of state and i asked him if the time i was going to go if he would take full gaurdanship of her until i returned. he agreed and now that i am in school we had a plan to have her come see my family for the first time for christmas and he broke the agreement and now is trying to tell me that he is going to take me to court for child support. after six years of not paying he had the nerve to go through with this. i am in the middle of it right now and i was looking for hope and read this story. i do belive that everyone gets in return what they dish out so …….on that note good luck to my ex!

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pisceshanna July 22, 2008 at 6:41 am

Ive been on my own for over a year, and I just barely filed for child support 3 months ago. I wanted to “give him a chance” to pay on his own terms. No payments yet. I kind of figured this was gonna happen, but at least I have some legal weight to throw around now. Sad. Would be even more sad if I actually depended on those payments.

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ML August 28, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Wow. I sit here, and listen to Obama speak of the struggles of his single mother…and I am heartened and inspired. And, i read these posts and I am shocked to see that so many of us are similar–afraid to go after support, tired of the bullying, disappointed by a legal system that does precious little, taking scraps and swallowing our pride. There has to be a better way. I AM pursuing support right now…and although I wavered for a couple of years, I am now determined to see justice served. Justice means that a father should provide (in as much as he can) for his son just as I do. It means making sure that those who decide to have children understand that they are financially and morally responsible for that child. This is not a game, people.

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nancy December 20, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Can You legally Go after you dad as an adult for back child support payments. My dad whom I never met recently moved to the west coast to Nevada in a Gated Country Club Development. I have never received a dime. He is 65 and just retired from the Military and a federal government job. Could I put a lein on his new million dollar home.

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