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A Small Victory in the 4th District Court of Appeals for Child Support Enforcement.

Updated on May 3, 2012

4th District Court of Appeals

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A Small Victory in the 4th District Court of Appeals for Child Support Enforcement.

Child support court under any circumstance can be exceptionally stressful but for a single Mom with a child with medical complexities and autism it is exceptionally hard. There is the emotionality of it which the court dismisses altogether. It seems so unfair a Father would not want to pay his fair share to support his biological child. But it is a grand game which is played in Florida habitually. The horror stories are all over the country though. Dead beat Dads and dead beat Moms refusing to pay for their children. It sends an awful message to the child and in my opinion is criminal.

Sadly it is not viewed that way in child support court at all. Non-payment is considered civil contempt of court which the parent ignoring the order could be jailed until a lump sum payment is made. However this is highly unlikely in the case of a parent who refuses to pay his court ordered child support when he claims to be indigent but still pays his attorney to dodge his responsibilities to his child.

As the custodial parent all you can do is read the laws and learn the process and keep after the non-paying parent. Well that is not really all you can do but I am reluctant to give out legal advice since I am not a lawyer and every case is different.

Justice for All

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The Small Victories

Instead I wish to share a small victory with you today which I achieved in the 4th District Court of Appeals on behalf of my son. You may wonder what a child support case is doing in the 4th District Court of Appeals. You would think that court would be reserved for big corporation lawsuits or death penalty cases. I was surprised a biological Father could appeal his child support payments but apparently my son’s biological Father has paid an attorney to do just that. The real trick is that they have been running the clock out as long as they can avoiding payment and hoping I will give up. For my son, I never surrender. I love my son with all my heart and since he has only one parent who does and is responsible it is important I take my job as his Mother very seriously. And let me remind you that this is a medically fragile child with autism who is disabled. Had my son not had complexities such as these I would be working making money but I am required to stay at home full time and care for him. And again I love my son with all my heart.

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The Game

With the understanding that the game was to drag out the Father actually having to pay child support as long as possible, I filed in the lower court several motions for contempt, a petition for modification of child support payments thus arguing I had a significant unexpected need for a large increase in the child support payments and in the fourth district court of appeals I filed a motion to expedite the case.

Now as a Mom and a novice you would think I wouldn’t be able to file a motion or a petition to modify child support. But justice is for everyone and while I can’t afford an attorney I can look up laws and write what amounts to a three point argument paper and cite the laws. I can also submit all of it to the courts. The Department of Revenue in Florida is handling the majority of the case but does not represent me and therefore do not know my son or my circumstances. Therefore I have been representing myself “pro se” which means I have an idiot for a client admittedly. But I am learning as I go. Every time I am denied I find out why and re-craft my argument and re-file. It has been very stressful and hard especially when considering that my son’s biological Father would rather pay a lawyer then pay for his child. But I have to put my emotion’s aside which is difficult especially when I am writing briefs.

Initially my motion to expedite was stricken from the record as it was believed the department of revenue was representing me but the 4th District Court of Appeals recognized I was representing myself and offered the biological Father’s attorney 10 days to draft arguments as to why an order to expedite should be denied. This is more than generous given they have given her 60 days to write a brief and she is a lawyer. But it is a small victory for us. And where I wasn’t granted the order immediately the burden of proving why the motion to expedite shouldn’t be granted is now on the attorney. I have never had any contact with the department of revenue attorney who is handling this case and I doubt I ever will as it is forbidden but he must be smiling somewhere in the state of Florida. It is a little victory but it is the little victories that build into the big ones.

I also have other filings prepared just in case the motion to expedite is denied. It is always good to be prepared in situations like this.

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Better Days Ahead

It has been over a year and it has been a long hard ugly battle in court and now with the appeal it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. But we will take our little victories and be content for the moment with them. We will try and not consider the injustice of the last 12 ½ years of my son’s life but have hope, even if for only a moment, that there will be better days ahead.

And to celebrate I bought my son four pints of strawberries and he is enjoying them as I share this will all of you.

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