No One Cares Anymore
by LaDonna Younger
I once had the belief that the Courts were there to help with visitation and support and thought that once I sought their support I would receive the same in just. Over the years, however, I've found this not to be true and wish I had just run away with my children and hid instead. I have 3 support cases in 2 different states, and all of them have played more against than for me and my children.
I have 2 cases in the state of California - one where the father (my 2 oldest children) is supposed to be paying child support and one where the father filed for welfare for the children and I was ordered to pay back, or so I thought. On the case where I was ordered to pay back the state, I have not only had money taken out of my pay, but my tax refunds have been taken away for over 16 years now. I found out when I filed this year, though, that the welfare debt to the state had been settled 3 years ago and that the refunds they took from me this year are going straight to the father. I also found out that the money they've been taking out of my pay has been going directly to the father (he is now married with 2 other children, so this money supports his new family instead of mine). The children were with the father for approximately 1 year when they were younger (1994-95). With the exception of that time, I have been their sole provider...they are now 27 and 21. The 21-year-old was diagnosed with lupus in 2004 and has had many hospitalizations and suffered many near-death experiences since that time. She is now in the hospital with nonfunctioning kidneys and a poor prognosis. Her father has not seen her since she was 15.
On the other case where the father is "supposed" to be paying child support (note the word in quotes), he is more than $40,000 in arrears and the only time I received any type of tax refund intercept from him was when he filed a joint return with his wife, half of which was taken back. I cannot divulge on this site how much he pays monthly, but I will put it this way...at the rate he's paying, he will be dead and gone before the debt is satisfied. This is a case between 2 states - Georgia and California - and for the past 18 years, since I first began receiving the support, I've been told by both states that the other has jurisdiction, pointing the finger at each other. Unfortunately, for me, I have to deal with whatever either state decides, when they decide.
My last case is for my 5-year-old, and that one is a complete waste. Although there is a bonafide court order, the father refuses and has said he will not pay, and the only way for me to get anything from him is to go back to court. Yet, when it comes down to visitation, all he has to do is call the police on me (which he and his family have on several occasions...even when he was not scheduled), and I have no other choice but to relinquish my child, or go to jail. Even after getting him caught up the first time, by order of the Judge when we returned to court, he still refuses and is far behind once again.
Of course, these are just brief summaries of the case occurrences, but definitely the jest of my frustration. I no longer have faith in the Courts and do not believe they can fully make adequate decisions about any family situation as all they know is what they hear from the parents. Most people, like myself, cannot afford an attorney to speak on their behalf, and the Courts, no matter how much proof you have, and in my opinion, base their decisions more on your body language and speech. As I was told once by "my" legal aid representative, "You can't show too much emotion when you go into court." What parent is not going to be emotional over their child?
One thing I know for sure is I have no desire to waste anymore of my life trying to get the Courts to help me get someone to do something they're going to continue to refuse to do.