Child Support Surrealism

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement. This is after speaking to the rep and waiting for the supervisor. Can you read my mind?

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement, on hold for a supervisor. Can you read my mind?

To call or not to call, that is the question.

Oh Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Child Support Enforcement Office, I just can’t decide if you improve or deteriorate my quality of living.

I called them today. I’m still unsure whether or not that was a good idea. I’m still unsure whether or not my calls actually matter to anyone other than myself. I’m still unsure whether my calls affect anything else other than my sanity.

I was on hold for 27 minutes which I guess isn’t bad compared to the record of one hour and one minute hold time in December. This time, it was Warren on the line which brought this to mind

Empire Records

Empire Records

Warren let me know that the gorbellied common-kissing jointhead (thanks Will) went into the Enforcement Office on January 23. He went in to negotiate a lower payment to have his license reinstated and was denied because when they pulled him up in the system, he had multiple child support obligations.

Pause. What!?

Apparently there is a note in the file that they denied him renegotiation because he has other cases that are delinquent. As in other children.

Now listen ladies and gents, this clouted fat-kidneyed boar-pig maybe a compulsive liar with a penchant for pulling cons, but if there is one thing I am 99.9% certain about him is that there are no other children. Previous pregnancies prior to mine? My understanding is yes and that it was terminated. Warren was all skeptical of me and my insistence on this and I knew with this horrible cold feeling in my gut this must happen all of the time, so I dropped it.

Warren said they were still waiting on that Income Deduction Order to go into effect. He also reassured me that they made sure to tell him he had to continue making child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. Ohmygodthankyousmuch for telling him that!! I bet you anything you guys changed his ways and made him realize what a horrible misunderstanding it was!! And clearly it worked well because I have gotten zero payments except for the $100 payment he made that day to get his license reinstated.

So you know, I had to wait until March but then not really because at that point they would send a follow-up letter giving the company another 20 days to comply and do you guys know what they do after that? They… send another letter… giving them another 20 days to comply. And then they would go and try and find a different employer he might be at. Oh and by the way, little known fact here– when an Income Deduction Order is pending, like this one, all other enforcement efforts stop. In other words, even if he doesn’t make the payments he was instructed to, they cannot proceed with enforcement until the total 100 days have passed.

So I’m all dismayed and stuff and about to hang up and then I’m like, “I need a supervisor please.” And then Warren was like, “Not a problem but I need to explain to the supervisor what the call is about” which I think is their way of asking “Sh!t am I in trouble? You’re not gonna tattle on me are you?” And then I was all like, “I just want to go over this enforcement stuff and the thing with the multiple obligations stuff or something.” “Oh ok sure” which means “Oh my god I’m not in trouble thank you lord jesus”.

So then, I got put on hold again but was so dismayed I didn’t even care about how long it was for and took that picture up there instead because I felt like this was crazy and worth documenting and it wasn’t even that long really before Ray was on the phone.

Do you remember Ray? I remembered Ray. Ray was the supervisor I spoke to the day I had a horrible experience with one of the customer representatives who was just telling me complete and utter nonsense and acting like she knew exactly what she was talking about when it was obvious she totally didn’t. Ray was all like “What the hell is going on with this case and why are people telling you crazy stuff!?!?! I will fix your case!!!” Which you know, A for effort on that one Ray but…

“Wow this case has only gotten $100?” he asks me. Yup. Ray turns out to be my senior case analyst and I really like him because he digs and finds things out and makes me feel like someone is actually caring about my case and is going to help things get done but it also makes me completely curious just how the hell these people do their job because no one knows what anyone else is doing and yet it seems like fifty million people can affect one particular case.

So Ray gets caught up with the case, because let’s be real– the guy hasn’t looked at it since the day I called him in November for sure. And then Ray lets me know what really happened. Are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready? Do you have a tasty snack? Do you want to get a cool beverage, or a hot one if you’re freezing your bum off somewhere?

And get ourselves a snack!

And get ourselves a snack!

Ok

On January 23, the beslubbering beef-witted barnacle did indeed come to the Child Support Enforcement Office. They updated his information because he informed them the Employer information they had on-file (yes the one with the pending Income Deduction Order) was out of date and he gave them new Employer Information. He said he needed his license back. They told him that was fine, he just had to pay $1028.00. He said he didn’t have that kind of money. They said too bad. That’s where the story should end. Right there. But it doesn’t.

He explained that he has a new job but that without a valid license, he could not have this job. He probably explained what the consequences of not having a job would be as far as possible future child support payments go. Maybe he lamented the economy and told them about how much horrible stress he’s been on lately and how absolutely dreadful he feels about not being able to support his dear children the way he wishes he could, nay the way they deserve.  I don’t freaking know. But whatever he did, he convinced the person to take it up with a supervisor, who is not Ray because these negotiations happen “downstairs” and they are not involved with them, and then he convinced the supervisor to help him out.

So they said if he paid the $100 he claimed was all he had, they would reinstate the license. This is the bit where they also explained they would be sending the new employer the Income Deduction Order but that he must make child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. They probably thanked him for coming in. They probably wished him good luck with this new job and hoped times would be better for him. I don’t freaking know.

All I know is he walked out of there with a reinstated license and put a freeze on all enforcement efforts again for up to another 100 days. For $100. With an arrears amount over $19k and a past due amount that is now over $11k. After going six months without making any type of payment whatsoever.

Did they verify his claim of employment before agreeing to his offer of $100 to reinstate the license? Did they verify the other employer is indeed invalid? No. They don’t do that. They take their word for it.

They. Take. Their. Word. For. It.

They take their word for it!!!!

There are a couple more minor surreal notes to add to this already surreal story.

First of all, I explained to Ray that I know crazy things happen all the time but I was pretty confident that my children were his only children and that I was concerned that note was on the case file because what if it were to start complicating other things? Ray was hesitant and he clarified he could only discuss MY case information with me. But he looked up his social. And guess what????????

My kids are his only kids. So what is that note doing there? Was it an error? Did someone just look up his name, which also happens to be kind of common? Or did he maybe lead them to believe he had other children he was having trouble supporting? I have no idea but someone put a total bullshit note on my case file.

Second of all, he went to the Child Support office on January 23rd. He gave them the information for the new employer which most likely triggered the close of the other employer’s case. They sent the Income Deduction Order today, February 15. Twenty three days later.

He has had a valid license and a new job for twenty three days, has made no payments at all, and they just sent the Income Deduction Order that gets the 100 day process started, today. So he got himself, potentially, 123 days.

It amazes me, time and again, how inefficient something critical can be. I called the company I had information for, aka the apparent now Former Employer (seriously I lost track of how many jobs he’s had since we split). The receptionist informed me that although she was new, she was pretty certain he didn’t work there because she couldn’t find him on her listing. It took less than two minutes. If I was actually calling for someone else as part of my job, I would have left a message with the HR woman she transferred me to just to be absolutely sure and to get some real closure on something.

I love technology. I love automation. I really do. But we must always remember that computers, as brilliant as they are, are actually stupid. And as efficient as automation can be, humans are not automatic. In other words, when applying technology and automation to a human problem, one cannot simply remove a human from the process. My frustration lies with the fact that I am working with a group that does not (for whatever reason) do the work needed to actually address the problem of non-paying non-custodial parents. Every time I call, I am forcing a human into the process. And there is resistance. That is why the first layer is the representatives who answer the phone. My experience tells me they are often poorly trained, have no power, and don’t really comprehend the majority of their job. It is almost as if they are trained to be the buffer against reinserting humanity into an automated process.

This issue burns me up. It’s not even on a selfish, personal level either. Every time I call and deal with the incompetence at the Enforcement Office I am reminded me of the (now cruel) words of the intake coordinator who processed my case in the beginning– “Oh your case is an easy one!” And the fact remains, despite the insanity that I have been going through with this case, there are by far worse situations that end up there. There are non-custodial parents who flee the county, state, even country. There are non-custodial parents with children with three, four, five different custodial parents. There are non-custodial parents who intentionally leave the workforce and go on benefits to not pay child support. And so I burn inside for those cases too. Because if they can’t get mine straight and mine is really not that complicated, then surely there is no way a meatier case ever  gets close to resolution.

And so I hate calling because there is just never a positive experience with Child Support Enforcement. But I also must call because no one at that office cares about my children and their needs and no one at that office is doing the actual complex work that needs to get done to care for the children of this state. So I’ll keep nagging and pushing and escalating. I’ll keep getting worked up and I’ll keep fighting those frustration tears and I’ll keep trying to make a connection with someone, anyone, there.

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25 thoughts on “Child Support Surrealism

  1. We are the only ones who will advocate for our kids, and for ourselves. I think you are right that the first line employees really have no clue what their job is, and beyond what a computer tells them…..they have no real knowledge of anything.

    You are doing a FABULOUS job holding it together, taking care of the kiddos and and all the other plates you spin. Rock on, sista!!!

    Reply
  2. This right here is why I laugh bitterly anytime someone says we live in a post-feminist society/ no longer need feminism OR when some MRA nozzle whines about women trying to “trap him” into having kids just to suck money out of him. It’s astonishingly difficult to get money out of parents to support their children when they don’t feel like paying.

    Reply
  3. It drives me crazy how inefficient these government organizations are.

    So the magic loophole is: get a new job every 3 months so you never have to pay child support? Just Grand.

    Hang in there. Good luck formulating a plan b if the payments don’t come. Unfortunately it sounds like he’s getting pretty good at working the system in his favor.

    Reply
  4. Oof. This system sounds unsolvable if your ex is committed to avoiding payments, moreover, I suspect it’s easier to persuade case workers to take your side (here, let you, i.e,, him, get away with just a $100 payment) if you can go in and speak with them in person. Whereas the person responsible for and actually providing for the, you know, children, can’t (as readily, understatement) do that.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with all this. Glad you had such a “short” hold time, though 😉 .

    Reply
  5. OMG, this hurts my head and my heart. I’m so sorry this is your experience. Men like him boil my blood. And a system that allows for this type of foolishness to continue is just archaic and asinine, Sadly it is the children who the system was designed to protect that suffer.

    Reply
    • Right? Very much a head-hurt this one. The system is a mess. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The system largely helps women and children at the expense of men– not always, but in a much larger ratio for sure. It is a government system which is largely run by men. It was poorly designed from the start and there is zero interest in really actually fixing it.

      Reply
  6. I don’t know why I hadn’t realized you were also in Florida. I have not received a single dime from my ex. Not one penny. I called and called and called. Every time they’d tell me, “Your case is under review, they have 30 days to review it.” So at 31 days I’d call again and be told that again.

    I was like, “That’s what you said last time! When does the 30 days end?”

    So I took off a morning and went to the office. Me, the parent who is solely paying for my child takes half a day off of work to sit in the office and look at them face to face.

    They treated me like I was the delinquent parent.

    Now, his order is for the absolute minimum the state allows. So for about 3 years (at the time) he was just over $15,000 behind. I looked this woman in the face and asked her to review my file. I’d spent more than 2 hours of active time in the past several months on the phone (I mean time speaking with actual Child Enforcement people – not wait time).

    She snidely tells me she has a pile and she’ll get to it when she gets to it. I told her they’d spent more time telling me they didn’t have time to review it than it would actually take to REVIEW THE DAMN CASE.

    Then I broke down sobbing. I told her he hadn’t even seen my son in 2 years, had never paid a dime. I said, “How would $15,000 change your lifestyle right now? Can you imagine being solely responsible for this child? Food? Clothing? School? No help at all? I take half a day off of work to be treated like I’m the offending parent?”

    She took a long look at me and told me she’d see what she could do. The next week we had a court date.

    The kicker is, he was on probation. Non-payment of child support is a violation of probation. They KNOW he’s on probation. Do they tell his probation officer? Nope. Their systems don’t talk to each other. What the actual f*ck?!

    So, he manages to get himself re-arrested before the court date. But they don’t cancel it. I take ANOTHER half a day off work to be at court when the attorney tells me that it’s been canceled. It seems they’re keeping my ex for a while and there’s no point in pursuing it. I agree, but am frustrated I took off yet MORE time from the job that is our only support. (Thank goodness my employers are generous and understanding.)

    Then she tells me I can appear by phone for any future court dates. Although, I’ve found face to face – when they can look in your eyes and SEE the person they’re affecting helps these jaded enforcement officers understand that this matters to people.

    It’s been two more years. He’s still accruing child support. I’ve still never seen a dime. He’s back in jail. I hope they keep him for a good long while. I no longer want anything from him, not even his money.

    The final thing that pisses me off, is that my lawyer tells me it’s hard to terminate his parental rights WITHOUT ANOTHER MAN TO STEP IN.

    So the Courts think I need a man to raise my kid, that I can’t do it by myself. Never mind I’ve been on my own for 5 years and he hasn’t seen his kid in 4 years.I’m just a little old woman who couldn’t possibly raise a son without his father. So the dead beat, incarcerated ass hole gets to stay his “dad” until I find a replacement.

    Luckily for us, we have. But it still really steams me up that the courts wouldn’t have allowed it without someone else to step in.

    Because a bad dad is better than no dad. Then again, he was NO dad.

    Reply
    • Your scenario is crazy fucked up too. And yes, Florida. Woo hoo. I pretty much no longer speak with the first line of people who answer the phones. Or I do and then ask for the supervisor, it’s been more effective. The only consolation I have, and that you can have too, is that although child support stops accruing at age 18, they will owe the back pay forever. It just doesn’t go to you at that point, it goes to the child directly. My co-worker is 33 years old and about once a year or something like that, gets a random check from the state for back owed child support from her father.

      Reply
      • I know it keeps accruing, but that doesn’t really help when you’ve had three surgeries in one year. Or feed them. Or pay for child care. Or with much of anything.

        THANKFULLY I actually have a job that’s capable of supporting us. I don’t know how most single parents manage out there.

        But this year, I’m getting remarried. And next year he’s adopting my Little Bit. And then I can wash my hands of all this nonsense.

        I doubt he’ll ever have an above board job where they can deduct the payments. To be honest, I’m fully convinced he won’t live very long. His drug addiction and criminal problems will probably send him to an early grave. It’s such a shame and a waste.

        And, in the end, it’s Little Bit who really pays for it all.

      • Oh definitely, it doesn’t help at all in the now.

        I fully understand how you feel. I don’t know how many people do it either. It’s scary!

        I am really happy you’re getting remarried and things have gone so well for you and Little Bit who you are right, has suffered from this but will also have lots of good to reap from his life with you.

  7. Which of your child’s immediate or long-term needs can wait 123 days?

    Your husband may just have another child that he did not bother to tell the truth about. After all the lies why would you believe the story of a termination? He may have told you enough of the truth but could not bear to tell you the whole truth?

    I am still finding out things my ex lied about, and we have been divorced since 1981. EX: He graduated two years after he should have. He still denies that is the truth. I can find his graduation date on the internet!

    I have never dealt with FL child support system, but it sounds like calls to ATT that I make.

    Sorry and good luck.

    Reply
  8. OK Let’s be realistic…

    What does the ex actually do? Does he have a college degree? What are these jobs he keeps getting and how much do they pay? Does he actually have skills any employer would want / need? If he’s making 40,000 a year after taxes and insurance that’s a lot of money left over to making a living and support 3 kids- and he also has a new wife or gf? which means more $$…

    If I was you I would no longer expect a dime, he probably just can’t pay it, he probably wants to pay it and be active in their lives but he’s probably having trouble making ends meet if he can’t keep a job for longer that 3 months. Let the law take over, sadly he will end up in jail, here in TX you don’t pay, after a while you will get locked up.

    Did you get alimony in FL? Who pays for their health insurance?

    Reply
    • He is in sales. Before we split his income was between 75K and 100K and he had no problem holding down a job. I don’t know why he suddenly can’t.
      From what I understand even when he has had money, he has spent it frivolously– like buying a puppy, going on vacations, going to expensive restaurants, and many stops at his local liquor store. And yes in Florida it’s same thing but it takes a very long time and the way he is managing things, he will probably keep avoiding that forever.
      I qualified for alimony and I waived it. I didn’t want his money. I want the kids’ money, that’s totally different.
      I pay for their health insurance.

      Reply
  9. Holy geez girl, I give you a seriously huge high five for keeping at this battle for so long, and being willing to continue the battle until something gets done. There is a serious lack of structure and organization in these programs designed to “help”. Its definitely not pretty here in Utah either but your system is by far more jacked up than ours. I can’t believe they gave his license back! Even with a “new job”, if he owed he should’ve paid. Ugh. Anyway, I feel for you and will pray that good times hit you soon! Much love!

    Reply
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  11. Aagh!! Yeah, BTDT, cried the tears – and hated that I did. Still hate that I felt so helpless.

    My solution was to make it so I didn’t need that money to support my kids. I do know that not everyone can do that and I was lucky (multiple times). It was hard for me at the time to see that it was possible for me but I wanted it so badly I was willing to do anything. Well, almost anything. You know that when you start thinking about selling your body as a reasonable solution that maybe you’ve gone over the edge a bit. 🙂 I sacrificed so much time with the boys to be able to get to that place that sometimes I wondered if it was worth it. Yet I do think that it was – just for breathing room and to scare off that wolf at the door of my psyche. But I think or hope I taught the kids something too by example – to take the hits and keep on getting up, over and over.

    Plus there’s a certain truth to the saying that the best revenge is living well. 😛

    Reply
    • That’s a good point — living well and revenge. You hit upon a fear of mine– i could take on a part time job and work weekends but I see so little of my kids now I am having a hard time justifying it. I am in school though and the main reason I am in that is to get to where you’re talking about going. It’s just slower 😦

      Reply
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