Even Bats Have Caves
Even Bats Have Caves
I can well imagine most of you are wondering what that title has to do with the issue of Father's Rights. Like most of you, I have experienced all the issues regarding visitation and child support. There were many months that passed by where I would show up to pick up my children only to find out they were taken out of town. I could always count on Father's Day as the day I could neither see nor talk to them. Contempt of court may seem like a good option, but in reality, that is a definite waste of time to pursue.
There is always a certain amount of frustration that occurs when the custodial parent denies visitation when child support is being paid according to State Guidelines. Where I see the biggest mistake made is the impression that visitation and child support are tied together. They are not. We as fathers have the moral duty and obligation to provide food, shelter, health care, and whatever is necessary to allow own children to be raised under the best possible circumstances. Even if that means us living in a one bedroom apartment and living on Ramen Noodles when she remarries and buys a new home. Also, note that I didn't add "visitation" as something that was included in my support payments.So when the bat flies to her new cave, remember the kids will be living there as well.
So what can be done? It really begins at the time of the original court order. You really have to be proactive. One way to look at it is that it's simply a contract-which it is. My initial mistake was to not read the statutes myself. Most attorneys can't remember all the statutes. I've now done all my own work pro se and, sorry if this offends anyone out there, have had significantly more successes than if I had hired someone to think for me. It's all in the details. For example, many states have visitation cross-credits. This allows you to shift the costs back to you during times of visitation. More on that one below. Ask for mandatory reviews-usually every 3 years. If your income has changed more than 10%, you may have the ability to have the support modified. Keep in mind it works both ways, too, and may not result in a reduction. With the economy as uncertain as it is, a built-in review is a good option. But if you're stuck with a poorly drafted order, here are some suggestions (definitely not legal advice).
1. The visitation costs credit.This works well if you live out of town. Many times it's based on a pro rata share. Charge her for it-especially if she withholds visitation. Full amount, no share. Document costs. Recalculate the obligation and send a copy to her and the agency. There really needs to be a national standard on this one. There's been some good work on it that has been ignored. It's all about the money anyway.See the following:
STATE COURT PROCEEDINGS FOR CUSTODY DETERMINATIONS; PRIORITY
TREATMENT; FEES, COSTS, AND OTHER EXPENSES
Section 8(c) of Pub. L. 96-611 provided that: "In furtherance of
the purposes of section 1738A of title 28, United States Code, as
added by subsection (a) of this section, State courts are
encouraged to -
"(1) afford priority to proceedings for custody determinations;
"(2) award to the person entitled to custody or visitation
pursuant to a custody determination which is consistent with the
provisions of such section 1738A, necessary travel expenses,
attorneys' fees, costs of private investigations, witness fees or expenses, and other expenses incurred in connection with such
custody determination in any case in which -
"(A) a contestant has, without the consent of the person
entitled to custody or visitation pursuant to a custody
determination which is consistent with the provisions of such
section 1738A, (i) wrongfully removed the child from the
physical custody of such person, or (ii) wrongfully retained
the child after a visit or other temporary relinquishment of
physical custody; or
"(B) the court determines it is appropriate."
2. Always pay with a check or money order if there is no income assignment. And look what's being recorded and reported to CSS. If the money she reported is incorrect, it's fraud-punishable by fine or imprisonment. That's an attention grabbing technique. If you have to pay with cash, get a hand written, signed receipt that specifically says "for child support", otherwise it's considered a gift.
3. Review the application she probably had to fill out for CSS. File to get a copy of it and see what was reported. It's a notarized document so if there are errors. it's fraud again. report it.
4. Before drafting a Motion to Modify, go through the process of discovery to get all the necessary information (and much more than you really need) from her (financial records, bank statements,tax returns, credit applications, etc) and demand the usual 30 days to comply. Get a Motion to Compel ready when you don't get the answers. if you still don't get what you want, she's being "uncooperative" and there are penalties for that. Read your statutes on that.
Good luck and don't forget-add a little bit of your own guano in the bat cave....