Father Of Five Pays Child Support
by Clark McKay
But Little Left To Live On
In 2008, I was the married father of five children, born from 1999 to 2005. After the birth of our fifth child, I had a vasectomy against my wife's wishes. She had become a Catholic, and a very conservative Catholic, during our marriage.
In 2008, she went on Match.com and found a "soul mate," a man living 450 miles away. She took the children with her, moving to live with her fiance, and filed for divorce. She had also removed our life savings ($55,00) from the bank, and was able to hire a lawyer.
I was earning $3,500 per month (gross) at the time. I could not hire a lawyer. The divorce was granted. I was ordered to pay $1,200 per month child support, and $200 per month for the childrens' health insurance needs. My take-home pay at the time was $2,600. Thus, my take-home pay after child support obligations was $1,200. It was difficult to live on this amount, and to afford the need to drive 900 miles roundtrip to pick up my kids every other Friday night, and 900 miles roundtrip to bring them back to their new home on Sunday nights.
I soon lost my job. I was only able to find temporary work at $8.25 per hour. My paychecks were, of course, garnished by the Oregon Department of Justice for child support. When my temporary work ended, I received unemployment benefits -- also garnished. In the summer of 2011, after a three year search, I finally found full-time employment.
I commute 80 miles daily for this job. It pays $3,000 per month (and offers no benefits). But Oregon recently decided that my original obligations still stand -- despite that I now earn $500 less monthly than I earned in 2008. Because I also fell behind during the months of unemployment, an additional amount is also garnished. My take home pay is now $2,200 before child support obligations.
But my checks are garnished, and on the 1st of the month, my take home pay is now between $600 and $800 per month. I have been unable to find rental housing for an amount I can afford ($300 or $400 per month). I do not qualify for food stamps because my gross ($3,000) is considered. I'm 58 years old, and have no health insurance. I pay $100 monthly for car insurance on a 22-year old vehicle worth $100.
I have almost nothing to eat. Whatever food I'm able to purchase, I purchase to get through every other weekend with my kids (who have now moved with their mother, stepfather, and three new infant siblings -- born since 2008 -- closer, but still 65 miles away). I'm not sure how I can continue living on one Top Ramen per day, but I've been doing it now for a couple of years. With the economy bad, my new employer offers no prospects of raises, and my job is prospective at best. I've attempted to land a second job at night, but without success thusfar. This is my reality. There are some of us who are, indeed, deadbeat Dads. There are some of us who are simply Dads.