Mom of 4, Sentenced to Jail
In 1989, I was married with four children. I was a stay at home mom, ran a daycare in my home, home schooled my kids, and was a foster parent.
My marriage was on the rocks due to domestic violence against my children and me. My husband was using drugs. There weren't any places that could take me and all my kids. I separated from my husband, while he started to get some counseling.
Several months later, I needed to be hospitalized. My husband begged for forgiveness and one last chance to make things right. At the time, my children were 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7. I asked family members, but no one could help. Finally, I agreed to let my husband move back in, to help care for the children, while I was in the hospital.
2 days later, they all came to visit, and I signed over my welfare check to him, so he could pay the rent. Later that day, he cashed my check and took off, leaving the children home alone. We had no home phone and I was unaware of what had happened, until 2 more days had passed and my mom came to the hospital. She told me there was a CHIPS order and I had lost custody of my children. I could not believe it.
After coming home from the hospital, they returned my foster son to me, because he was too much of a handful. But they kept my other four children. They greatly restricted my communication and visits with them. Because the rent didn't get paid, I also got evicted from our home and had no place to continue my daycare work. I fell apart. I had never been away from my children, for more than 2 days prior to that.
I fought long and hard to regain custody of my children. Finally in 1996, I gained custody of my 2 oldest children and a year later my third oldest. I never regained custody of my youngest child, but I did get weekend, holiday and vacation visits.
During the time my children were gone, I was ordered to pay child support. Every time I fell behind, a warrant was issued for my arrest. Even once I regained custody, I was still ordered to pay and if I got behind a warrant was issued.
The money I paid to child support, actually took away from the amount I had to raise my children. When I paid, it never went "to" my children but to the state. My ex husband never paid, nor did he ever go to jail. I raised my children alone in poverty, becoming homeless on more than one occasion because I couldn't afford both rent and child support. I regularly skipped meals, so there would be enough food for my children. It became such a habit; I still often eat only one meal a day.
Now, my four oldest children are grown and on their own. I see them often and have 4 beautiful grandchildren. My youngest daughter, 11, from my second marriage, lives with her father and me. I still occasionally fall behind in my arrears payments and get a warrant issued for my arrest.
Something is definitely wrong with the Wisconsin Child Support system, which can allow this to continue. Currently there is a warrant for my arrest until I pay the amount of 4,000.00 or go to jail for 6 months, which will leave my youngest daughter without a mother, during that time. The only time I have been apart from my youngest daughter for more than a day was due to child support. I have no record for crimes or anything else, not even a speeding ticket.
Nothing has ever been done, about their father's abandonment or lack of support for his children. This situation is continuing to rip my family apart, almost 20 years later.
They say a non-custodial parent can be put in jail, but custodial parents can be expected to pay, without any support from the other parent AND be put in jail. The "Wisconsin Cares About Kids" slogan is a LIE. They DON'T give a damn about my children, they never have, and all they care about is money.
They don't go after the father, because he still lives with mommy and/or daddy and works under the table. They target me, because I'm easy to find.