Wednesday, September 22, 2010

And Justice for All?

I’m due in court in just under three hours to address child support issues. No, I am not a deadbeat dad. I’ve never missed a single child support payment since August 2002 and have paid for virtually everything my kids have wanted or needed since then from $117.00 Nike Shox sneakers to $39.95 Hollister jeans to dermatologist appointments on down …all while I shop at garage sales and thrift stores to afford clothes on my ever fattening body. But hey ya gotta do what ya gotta do and I don’t regret doing a single thing for either of my kids. I also made sure their colleges were paid via the Florida Pre-Paid College Plan that I started when they were just starting kindergarten. God forbid my babies be saddled down with ten years worth of college loan payments like I was.

So a deadbeat dad? Not hardly. My ex and I also share custody 50/50 so my kids are with me more than just a day or two a week when it’s convenient. One week with mom followed by one week with me, but they are always bouncing back and forth between us even on our weeks “off” and that’s fine with us both. After all, the only thing that is different from their living arrangement as compared with others is they have two homes they are welcome in, not one…

Why the court date then? Our divorce decree states that child support on the kids ends when they graduate high school which our oldest son did the end of May. We both expected my legal financial obligation on son #1 would end then. So did it? No. The courts want all sorts of documentation before they would play Roberto Duran and proclaim “No mas!”. I gave them what they asked. They promptly asked for more. I gave them more- and they still they asked for more. I filed, paid, filed some more, paid some more, then got a laundry list that was a mile long of yet more documentation they STILL wanted even though the decree was pretty much in black and white. This dragged on for two months past my date of “No mas!” until I finally got tired and said “No mas!”. Keep in mind my youngest graduates high school next May as an International Baccalaureate student no less (two in college at the same time- pray for me- or better yet, just send money) so by the time we get through all this both will probably have been graduated. I wrote e-mails, sent certified letters, and explained to whomever would listen the circumstances surrounding this situation (few would) until I was blue in the face only to be met with a “Notice of Delinquency” from the courts three weeks ago that this scumbag dad owed over $1000 in back support that I really didn’t owe. All I could do is shake my head. My ex did the same.

My ex and I jointly agreed what was reasonable back in 2002 but apparently the mediator we had write up our decree didn’t write it up exactly as it was supposed to be written so hi-ho hi-ho it’s off to court I go, documents in hand hoping this paperwork will keep me from having Bubba as my dinner partner tonight and me becoming his dessert. Thankfully my ex and I maintain a good relationship post-divorce, including her subsequent remarriage a few years back, and we jointly talk through things that involve our kids. Obviously the courts don’t necessarily agree with this though and want War and Peace in documentation from financial statements to child support guidelines filled out. All we wanted to do is take the 1980’s Honda approach- We Make it Simple- but with budget cuts affecting the courts they seem to feel the need to waste the judges time on something both parties agree to. Hey, whatever it takes…Just know we wanted to make it easy- the agreed upon support when we divorced divided by two equals child support for one.

So I doff my usually daily work attire of gym shorts and tee (be jealous- very jealous) for a shirt and tie in 10 minutes, practice being politically correct yet again (I’ve had to be twice today already and it’s killing me. I’m well past my daily quota- for that matter my weekly quota- and not sure how long I can hold out. “Yes, your honor, we did discuss this with the bozos who work in…..I mean those individuals who assist you in the domestic division.” “No, your honor, they did not help except to suggest I hire a paralegal at a cost of $500 to $750 or an attorney at $1000 to fill out the necessary paperwork- all to save a fraction of that per month.” “No, your honor, the county law library was no help and county budget cuts have put Pro Se litigants like myself who try to do it without any costly third party legal help basically on the outside looking in…” Bite your tongue, Mike…..bite your tongue…

So the bottom line is if you don’t see me posting here or on AuntMinnie in a while write to the PACSman in care of the Seminole County Jail. That’s where I’ll be…Also the more goodies you can send with your letter the happier Bubba will be too, cuz I make a lousy dessert.

Wish me luck.

It lasted all of three minutes. No, that not the last time I made whoopie- I'm good for at least four, maybe even five minutes there if I recall correctly- but today's court case. Even my fortune cookie at lunch was correct "Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment."

My ex showed up, we walked in the conference room and were sworn in. I had hopes for Judge Judy, Judge Alex, Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, or Judge Lynn Toler but got Judge Maybelline instead. Just as well- she was short, sweet, and very to the point.

A quick statement summarizing my objection to the notice of delinquency was made and then all the questions were directed to my ex. "Does he owe you money?" "No." Is the back amount the courts states what is due you correct?" "No." "Are you in agreement that he owes you no money?" "Yes" I bet the judge asked my ex six ways to Jesus if I owed any money and every answer came back "He doesn't owe me any money." Thankfully my ex was honest because I wasn't asked squat and it seemed that whatever she said was golden with the judge and whatever I had said, if I had said anything at all, would probably have been negated. It brought me back to Genesis all over again where it was all Adam's fault and none of Eve's but alas I digress. Florida is also a highly mom-centric state so ....Thankfully logic prevailed here. When we were finishing up there was this unstated look on the judge's face like "Well this was a fine waste of time." We even addressed the fact that child support on love child #2 ends in May of next year instead of 2013 like the mediator wrote it up anticipating it might take my IB smart student 6 years just to finish high school (as if- the kid is a freaking genius as is #1 son as well). Keep in mind this is all court mandated child support. Like most parents today I'll probably be supporting my kids until they are out of college and well on their own but I do it with pleasure just as most others do the same as well.

So no jail for me, no banjo music playing, and no Bubba joining me in my cell for dinner saying with his toothless grin "You sure do got a purty mouth. You’re gonna do some praying for me boy!" It's time instead to properly celebrate with a good friend of mine of the proper gender ..but not this week. This is my week with the boys...

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