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January 25, 2016

{The Child Support Struggle}

I have been debating for days if I wanted to write about this or if I just wanted to leave it private and not involve whomever might be reading this blog (hello? Are you out there??). But when it comes down to it, I write about what's happening in my own little world. I write about my life, my kids, my marriage. This isn't one of the mom blogs that has stopped focusing on why it became a mom blog in the first place. No I keep it pretty real around here. If only for my own sanity.

But this is something that I don't really see anyone talking about. Sometimes a mom might mention something on a vlog. It's rare though. Which is fine. If you want to keep that private, that's your choice. But I've got to talk about it or I'm going to have an anxiety attack.

I was a single mother for a year of Gaiges life. It was rough. I leaned on my grandparents quite a bit and I'm so glad I could do that, I know not every teen mom has that kind of support system. But I was still his mother. I still had to figure out how I was going to get his formula (since WIC refused to buy lactose free even though his doctor insisted he needed it), diapers, and clothes. Of course my grandparents helped. But I worked too. I picked up all the shifts I could at Walmart. I sold off things that I thought I would have forever, things I would have eventually liked to pass down to my daughter should I have one (like that huge vintage Barbie dream house my grandparents got me when I was seven). Things that held such sentimental value to me that remembering selling them still makes me tear up (like my backstreet boys jean jacket that my mom got me for my 14th birthday). What kills me isn't that I sold that stuff, I did what needed to be done to get my kid what he needed. What kills me is that I shouldn't have had to.

In Illinois (where I live) you can get online and look up your child support activity. It tells how much they're supposed to pay, when they payed, and what the amount was that was sent to you. In 2003, I got eight child support checks. Now this was before they were direct deposit and I got an actual physical check. The place that he was working at the time didn't send in a payment every time he got payed though. Oh no. She sent in three or four at a time. So I would get multiple checks at one time instead of a check every week (or every other) like I was supposed to. Now in 2004 I got checks more regularly (not multiples) in January, February, October, and November. They stopped on November 22nd. In 2005 I got nothing. Not one single payment. Not. One. Then in March of 2006 they picked up again and I got them pretty regularly from the end of March to the beginning of December. Then they started jumping around again in 2007 and 2008. Then stopped all together in 2009 and didn't see another payment until 2010. Then they came regularly until October of that year and until August of 2015, I saw nothing.

Tell me what would have happened if I would have just decided to stop providing things for Gaige because I didn't want to anymore. Yeah, I wouldn't have had custody of him for very long. I had to make sure he had what he needed, and thank God for D because he stepped up to the plate in 2004 and helped me out. But once again, he shouldn't have had to. Gaige wasn't his responsibility. But he has supported him this whole time (minus that year we weren't together). All those times there was no Child Support I didn't just make Gaige go without new shoes and clothes and food. I couldn't. I still had to figure out how to provide for him.

Now none of that means he wasn't working. In fact, I know he was working (after our court date I'll let you know how I know this ;) ). But he sure wasn't paying for his kid.

Also in all these years I have never taken him to court for failure to pay. Never. I've certainly thought about it a bunch of times that's for damn sure, but I didn't. I didn't want to seem like one of those "baby mama" types that took her kids dad to court every single time they wanted more money. I didn't want to deal with him either. He was so good at dodging the courts and so good at working under the table that there was no proof for me to show them that he was working. No point in filing papers if he's just going to claim he doesn't have a job right?

Then in November of 2015 I didn't receive a payment when I should have. I gave it an extra day because of the Thanksgiving holiday but when it still wasn't there, I was pissed. This has been happening for 13 years. When is enough enough? When is it time to stand up and say "dude...wtf?!". So I filed failure to pay papers. Now, I'm going to go ahead and admit that I ended up getting the payment the next day after I filed. I jumped the gun. But when you think about it, I was going off the past. I was going back to all those times he would pay and then convince whoever he was working for to let him work for cash (or under the table as they call it) or stop working all together just so he didn't have to pay anymore.

I almost canceled the papers. Then my sister and D both said look, "he's 30k in the hole when it comes to child support. Just because he is paying now doesn't mean he won't stop and doesn't mean he shouldn't be held accountable for those years where he didn't pay at all." So I went ahead and let it go.

I got court papers in the mail and a court date for the first of February. It's called a Rule to Show Cause Hearing on the papers. After much googling I figured out that he will have to tell the court why he is so far behind in child support.

I'm anxious about it. I hate going to court for anything. I have no idea why because I've never been in trouble with the law my entire life (except for that seat belt ticket in 2008). It just makes me so damn nervous! And to know that I have to go in there and listen to him give his excuses all while trying to keep myself under control and keep my emotions in check (which is hard to do when I'm fighting for what my kid deserves), makes me want to back out.

I'm not going to obviously, but it certainly makes me want to.

So we shall see how this works out next month. I would love to hear your stories of child support troubles. Maybe you've had to go through the same with your kids dad? Give a little support to a fellow mom.

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