My ex-husband stopped paying me the court ordered alimony back in August of 2013. My ex had to quit his job in one of his "I have to make a moral stand" or "I can't work like this" rants. I didn't make a fuss or take legal action because I assumed that once he had a job again he would resume paying me and that we would work out a payment plan so that he could catch up in arrears. Ok, so really I had hoped he would just start paying me again and I knew I would never see a dime of the back owed.
Back when I was pregnant with our daughter 12 years ago, I learned he owed his last ex-wife for around 4 years worth of back child support. He had decided to just stop paying her and he didn't tell me. I found out when his son came to live with us and my ex filled out the paper work to have his ex start paying us child support. She was very kind and had never filed legal paperwork on him. So instead of her having to pay us child support, she allowed him to pay off his debt in lieu of her paying us. Which was fabulous as he didn't have to go to jail and we didn't have to come up with the money.
Fast forward December 2013 when my ex-husband did get a new job, he presented me with a check for half of one month's alimony. He explained that he hadn't calculated his vacation days correctly so he had used too many days on his Vacation with the kids so he didn't get paid enough to cover his bills.
I was so grateful for that check that I snatched it up and cashed it immediately. I thought, ok, we are back on track now.
Turns out we aren't. A whole year has passed by since I received that half month's alimony.
I see him every Monday at Boy Scouts and am as polite as anyone. When our BSA accountant tells me we owe $80 from last year and will owe $80 for 2015, I ask about payments options.
I see him at every school event and there is never a mention of what is owed.
He sends our son to my house knowing he needs shoes, size 14 to be exact, and I find the $65 to buy him shoes. I pay for hair cuts and clothes. Every month brings a new financial challenge.
Meanwhile I hear about all of the dinners out and crab legs and sushi and I let it roll. It made me happy that if I wasn't getting the $2k a month, that at least my kids were getting to eat like kings.
At my house I get the eye roll and shoulder drop that we are again having chicken or spaghetti. Now don't get me wrong, they eat it and eat a ton of it, but yes my grocery list is quite boring. I am putting more effort into variety. Honestly, I was getting pretty bored with it too.
My kids have had fabulous vacations and seen tons of movies, with their dad. I take a deep breath and release the anger each phone call and am happy they are getting to do things.
This year my son came home and told me that his dad and his grandma had given him a paleontology dig camp for his birthday. Well really his birthday and Christmas. I was immediately sad that I couldn't give him something as cool as that, but shook it off and realized that my son so deserved this unbelievably cool gift. I also told myself that one day he might realize that we (him, his sister and I) contributed to his being able to go via not getting the money we were supposed to receive.
I made peace with that. He told me he was sad that he wasn't going to get anything at his dads. I assured him he would. I also assured him that I had already bought him tons of great gifts and that Christmas would be fantastic as normal.
We did have a really great Christmas.
Rewind back to June of 2014. I notice that almost a year's worth of my child support checks to him have not been cashed by him while finally sitting down to reconcile my bank account. I email him to see why? He tells me he never received them. I verify that he still receives mail at the house he was supposed to sale, aka our former home. Yes, he still receives mail there. Odd that none of my checks have made it up there. I ask him to not cash them if they do or if he finds them laying around and agree to give him two cashiers checks and hand deliver them to him.
Later while talking to a girlfriend, she mentions that I should pay my money to the state and have the state pay him, that way this never happens again. To do this you have to fill out paperwork. I wait at the human services office and fill out the paperwork. I mention that he hasn't paid me and they tell me I can ask for a review of our wages and child support assignment. I pay a very small amount as pure mean, small town punishment $25.59 each month because I ran out of money at year two of our divorce for a lawyer and had to represent myself. However, I would love to stop having to pay him and would love to have him owe me the child support each month.
I didn't sign the paper immediately. You see I know that someone will pay for my action. In my life, there is always payment.
There are always strings attached to every decision I am faced with. I stepped back and weighed my options. This is money I was granted to get back on my feet after taking a decade off work to raise and home school my kids while my ex climbed the corporate ladder and provided a great living for our family.
I have listened to my son spew his dad's hate at me that I wasn't using the money correctly in that I wasn't going to school to make myself better. I have done the best I can to explain the reality to my children that I do want to go to school to earn a degree that will open up more options for me to take care of myself in the future, but that it will have to wait a bit longer until I am making ends meet and don't have my hands tied by their school schedule. It has been hard enough for me to find a job that will work with our "Parenting Plan" let alone trying to pick school classes that allow me to spend time with my kids when it is my night.
I have listened to my children tell me that I am wrong, that we don't qualify for reduced or free lunch after I told them I received the paperwork stating we did qualify. I have tried to help them understand that while we are not on the streets, we are the working poor. We don't make it from pay check to pay check. They assume because they see me bust my ass every day, all day that we are financially ok. We are not. We do without a lot, but it mostly goes unnoticed. We are far better off than most of the people who stand in front of my desk daily. Most of my tenants would not believe that I make about what they do.
My kids would never believe this because I figure it out. Each month, I figure it out. I take the assistance I can get and our bills are as minimal as I can make them.
I have allowed my ex-husband to not pay me for 19 months. Not once in that 19 months did he go to the courts to ask for the alimony to be stopped due to hardship or his inability to pay. He just decided that he wasn't going to pay and didn't need to get the courts approval. I have watched the ex's of friends waltz into court and tell their unemployment story and have the alimony court order be stopped and modified immediately. That is all he had to do and he chose not to.
I want to be clear, my ex does not owe me a single dollar for child support. I receive no child support. The judge awarded me 4 years alimony, zero child support. I am not sure I will ever see a dime of what he owes me, but I am tired of having to write that check each month.
Fast forward to last week. I finally dropped off the paperwork. I stewed long enough. I realized that there is not magical government agency that is going to notice this huge oversight and rectify it for me. No one is going to do this so I don't have to be the bad guy.
I have been waiting to see when he would be notified. We had Scouts on Monday and he didn't say anything. We had to meet Tues. to register our son for High School and he didn't' say anything.
I sent a follow up email to him this morning asking if he had the dates he mentioned back in November when he told me he was sending our son to this great camp. He keeps forgetting to send me the dates.
I received a very quick reply today,
"I am going to have to wait and see if I can afford it since you want to change the child support. It seems highly unlikely it will happen, now." Paul
Sucks. I now know what the payment for me asking the courts to review our current finances will be. He promised our son a fabulous trip for his birthday back in November, but hasn't paid for the trip.
My son will not understand that he dad chose not to pay me and didn't cover his butt legally by asking for a change/modification due to his hardship. He will not understand that any consequences given by the courts will be in direct respect to his dad's actions. He will not understand anything except that his dad is going to punish him by taking away his birthday/Christmas present. And it will all be my fault.
I knew this was possible, but hoped that out of the $8000 he should have paid me since our son's birthday, when he was told he would get to go to this camp that surely some portion of the money would have been put down as a deposit or set aside in a special account.
I want to email back to my ex and tell him that it will probably be another month or two before the courts can get us in front of them, so that should give him time to pay off the trip so they can still go. I want to be mean and ask him surely he has set some of the $38,000 aside in an interest bearing account? Maybe he can take a second mortgage out on the house? Maybe he can borrow more money from his parents?
I yelled at Jason because he advised me not to send a nasty reply. I hate being told to be a grown up. Why do I have to be a freakin grown up and he doesn't? I will tell Jason "I am sorry" later.
I am just twitchin' to send a reply. I will probably stew the rest of the night creating several really mean replies. I am hoping that I will remain calm enough to not send them.
I promise I will update you if I do hit send.
If you have a great zinger of a reply for me to use, please head on over to my Facebook page and post them in the comments of this post. www.facebook.com/strongstartingnow