Beware: This post has nothing to do with gently parenting in any way. It's simply the rantings of an extremely annoyed & exhausted woman.
Yesterday was a complete bust! A waist of a beautiful, sunny day as well as a day off for my darling husband. We traveled 3 hours, to his hometown (L) to take care of some legal business that we were *required* to attend. It wasn't discovered until we made that miserable drive, arrived at the courthouse, and waited for his name to be called (our last name starts with S) that he was told he didn't need to be there. Did I mention that I took my boys out of school & my daughter HATES car rides? Yeah it was a horrible day. End of story. No wait, I want to take this time to complain about a certain
Government run institute: Child Support Division.
We've all heard of the dead beat dad's and the poor mother's who are always fighting to get child support, but how often do we hear about the dead beat mom's? That's right, my husband was there to COLLECT Child Support for C (age 15). His ex-wife gladly gave up custody after their divorce (in 1997) and has never had a real interest in being a mother unless it is beneficial to her. She never paid a dime, and the Child Support division never went after her (even though they made sure my DH was paying monthly for his oldest son). In 2002, she took him for a scheduled visit and didn't return him. He was only brought home after my DH & MIL showed up at the school she had enrolled him in (in another city) with the police. She was not arrested & she didn't even call to check on him, or find out where he was, for 6 months. Let me rephrase, he did not show up after school and she did not check on his where abouts FOR 6 MONTHS! This was the last time she was allowed to see him outside of my MIL's house (she does not/will not have our address.) She even served us with child support papers once, even though he lives with us and DH has FULL custody. We were perfectly content to not deal with her at all, and weren't even concerned about child support. But when I lost my job in 2006 (and insurance for our children) we had to put them all on the state insurance. This brought about all sorts of headaches for us. We were now required to work with DHS in whatever way necessary to get child support owed. (Though I'm still confused as to why they've never gone after my ex for anything, but I'm NOT bringing that up to them because that's something I do NOT want to deal with!) I don't know what lit the fire under them, since the previous court order had not, but the Child Support division was suddenly on the case. I know most people will think that we're crazy not to be going after child support for our children, but here's the thing; our children have two very loving parents. Just because we're not blood related doesn't mean that I love my son any less, 'and the same goes for my husband and "my" son. Also, anyone who has sought child support from a person not willing to pay understands the frustration that it is not the obligator who is constantly harassed, because they make themselves difficult, if not impossible, to find. But the custodial parent is constantly getting paperwork to fill out, steps that have to be taken in order to keep the case up to date, and mandatory court date's (that the obligator never attends.)
The last issue is what brought us our frustration yesterday. Every few months, DH gets a letter stating that they are going to once again, serve her with papers and if she doesn't comply they will be suspending her license and possible imprisonment and a bunch of other stuff that never happens because she doesn't show up and they give her "just one more chance" :eyeroll. Usually these mandatory meetings are simply in the DHS office with whatever case worker happens to draw the case that week, and DH can simply "attend" by providing his phone # and waiting for them to call. Generally there is never a phone call and DH ends up calling them and is told she didn't show up *shocked gasp*. However, the last letter was completely different and scheduled to be at the courthouse. He called to see if they could do the phone meeting and was told no because of the location and he made plans to be there. After looking at the letter again, we realized it was only addressed to her (they send us copies of what they send to her) and that she was the only one required to attend. DH called the office again to see if he did indeed need to be there since the letter was no"t addressed to him and was told "if you get something in the mail, you have to show up", contradicting to past experiences, but whatever. He asked her to double check his particular case just to make sure as he would have to travel from out of town. He was pretty sure by her answers that she never looked up the case, but without being there could not prove it, so we made plans to go. Which leads back to yesterday's particularly frustrating event. We show up (DH, MIL, & myself) and go to the appropriate courtroom. They write down DH'S name on their list, then kick everyone out of the courthouse who is not named in the case, so out in the hall MIL & I go. We keep looking, but she never shows up *surprise*. Finally, DH comes out looking rather, er, frustrated. Apparently, she was never served the paperwork because they could not find her, again (even though they've been given her phone#, address, & work info on more than one occasion.) So we made a trip down there for nothing. Had the lady on phone actually looked up the case she would have seen this and told DH. At the very least, they should have sent a 2nd letter stating a delay. This is not the first "mix up" like this we've experienced, but certainly the most frustrating. Once, a few years ago, we showed up and waited & waited & waited and finally had to hunt down a case worker, when nearly everyone else had left. They had no idea why we had shown up or who DH was!? They had MIL listed on paperwork since C had lived with her for a short time, and me listed as caregiver & custodial parent since I was the one who filled out the original request for insurance through DHS. We just all kinda looked at the lady like she was crazy. This was the last time we showed up in person, after that we found out about the phone thing.
If this was our only interaction with DHS, we would be irritated, but figure that's just how it is. However, since DH also pays child support, we understand just how frustrating DHS really is. If DH is just a week late paying, they come looking for him. He was without a job for 7 weeks and there was a week's delay waiting for Unemployment to kick in and they threatened to throw him in jail! E even lived with us for a while and they still took child support from DH. They sent her paperwork to pay us for E, she never paid, continued to receive child support (with him in our custody), and when he left our house we receive a letter saying they were dropping the case against her. E did not live with his mother most of the time she was receiving child support for him, but DH decided not to fight it. They're now even trying to say that DH owes an additional $500 (which he doesn't). It is a complete double standard! If you're a woman, they'll fight for you; if you're a man, good luck! (It's the child who is supposed to benefit, so gender of the parent SHOULD NOT MATTER!) My DH gets screwed both ways by DHS and it affects our children as it usually means less money to be able to afford things like vacations. Ugh! It just makes me so mad!!
**These have been the rantings of a thoroughly frustrated woman. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog. *beep, beep, beeeeeeep*