by Anonymous EPFMS
(El Paso, TX)
I am a father with 3 healthy and beautiful children. I am now a paramedic and firefighter.
In the beginning, I worked for a local EMS system responding to 911 calls as a paramedic. I worked long hours and earned lots of overtime that was mandatory prior to splitting up with my ex. I sacrificed my time serving the local community to provide for my family.
Then the mother of my children and I split up. I continued working as a paramedic and went to court and I was ordered to pay child support. I didn't mind paying because it was for my kids and I was able to afford it.
Our local EMS was taken over by the local Fire Department. I then cross-trained as a firefighter and now I do both jobs at work. When I cross-trained I went from a 12 hours shift 4 days per week with built in 8 hours of overtime at the 40hrs. rate. I then went to a 24hrs schedule working 56hours per week with no overtime. I was now working more hours for the same base pay of the 12hrs. shift schedule. My overtime disappeared over night and my stress level increased for having to do both jobs at work.
My child support payment came out automatically and I took a huge cut in pay per week instantly. It has taken me 5 years of cost of living and seniority increases for me to finally start taking home what I used to take home after the child support was initiated. I also pay family rate of medical insurance and it doesn't even count as support. Combined I pay almost $1100.00 per month.
I survived on loans and credit cards over the years and over time my pay has gone up, but so have my monthly bills. It now costs double to drive to work.
I married a wonderful woman and I am embarrassed because I can't even qualify for a home because of credit card payments, my car payment and rent for my apartment. Also we have a baby on the way.
I was told that only if I had my car paid and no credit card payments then I would qualify for a home. And that is because I am a Texas Veteran and could apply for VA financing.
My debt to income ratio is too high according to lenders. My credit score is low, even though I pay all my bills on time each month.
I feel I am paying for all those deadbeat fathers who never pay a cent or even spend time with their children.
The only people who seem to understand are other fathers that work for the same department in a similar situation. I'm broke, but I'm still happy. I take pride as a father, a devoted husband, as a firefighter, as a paramedic and as a Texas Veteran. Just wanted to share my story.