Divorce, Custody, and Deadbeat Parents
Dear Daddy...Love Your Son Alex
After the Divorce
Divorce is hard no matter what spin you put on it. Adding children to the mix doesn't make matters any easier, and you truly aren't cutting the tie to this person you can't live with. Instead, you are saying you won't live together as man and wife, you won't share the good times together as a family, yet you still have to share the responsibility and the major events of your child's life together. Odds are, this area is one you had many differences in after having a child while married. It only gets harder to deal with the other parent when now you don't have to go to bed with them at the end of the argument.
I was lucky in my first divorce, I have my best friend again even though he is remarried and we have been divorced for five years. It wasn't a pretty divorce and it took a huge turn for the worse during his second marriage but we came out of it and are great co-parents. Whats so awful for me is that he is the man my youngest calls "daddy". He is the man that sends money for my youngest's birthday party, buys gifts on all holidays and includes a gift in each package he sends. He even takes him for the summer on his visitation with the rest of the kids and he takes him to the amusement park. He put diapers on that child and bought me sanitary products when my second husband chose to walk away and leave us with nothing. Proudly not paying a dime.
Thing is, others aren't that lucky. My child is now in my will to be given to my ex-husband and his wife...the father of my first three children. He is instructed and will fight for all he is worth, with my family; to keep my son out of his father's clutches...and this is a good thing that I had to accept finally. I had to stop trying to convince that man to be responsible and be a father.
How many of you have had to practically beg the father of your child to just pick up the phone and call on their birthday? Let alone send their support payments?
I am going to mix in some personal experiences with the facts I present that I hope help others to battle the deadbeat parent with respect for them-self and their child and to do so in a logical and rational and legal manner that is in the best interests (and only the best interest) of the CHILD.
- Federal Child Custody Laws | LIVESTRONG.COM
Federal Child Custody Laws. According to Patricia M. Hoff, legal consultant to the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, it is estimated that more than 354,000 children were abducted from their rightful custodial parent by the othe
- The Uniform Child-Custody
Divorce Decree: The Child Support Addendum
The divorce decree is your bible for after your marriage. It is what determines who gets what, it is who has access to what assets, this document states what the custody is, who has what rights, who pays who support and when, and the parenting plan. You want to have a copy straight from the courthouse. Not an emailed copy as I have (the courts for some reason have rejected all my out of state pleas to obtaining the original or certified copy for my second divorce). In some states a parenting online class must be completed (mine was not and was forged by the other party and the courts were notified and yet its still valid...well that is Georgia).
That child custody, in most states, will award joint "conservatorship" (as in Texas) or joint custody/custodial rights. This means that both parents pretty much have the same rights and access to things like school and medical records as the other parent. When the child is in their care they have the rights during visitation as the main parent would have. This means they can take the child to a psychologist or they can enroll them in religious training classes for example. My ex and I have found it much easier to co-parent our children with this. However, it makes it difficult when you have an undesirable ex-partner as your child's father as in my second marriage. For they can take them on any and all scheduled days. You have to notify (not necessarily ask for their permission) of any moves. You have to send them certified copies of things like report cards etc.
However, the child support addendum specifies the financial responsibility of both parties. It takes into consideration both parents places of employment and income. It takes into consideration special need costs, child care costs, even travel expenses at times. You both must submit all proof requested by the attorney's and/or the courts of your income and other assets. Some states do not count a new spouse's income and some do. So it is important to check with your local law professionals if you are remarrying.
It takes the Father's and Mother's gross income (before taxes), the number of children that the couple have had together that are biologically or through adoption their children. Some courts give you a worksheet to fill out and return. It will determine what parent pays and who is paying. In my situation I have primary custody of child and the father was ordered to pay me 584.00 per month starting the month after the divorce was final. My first divorce in another state, ordered support for three children at 894.00 per month starting the month the court received the petition filed for divorce. He had to start paying six month before the divorce was actually finalized. Again, you will need to check with the state in which you reside.
It stipulates that they have to pay this said amount (as long as it isn't modified for some reason like loss of income etc) until the child is of the age of 18 or until they graduate high school. This is standard though there are other options...my special needs son it states until he graduates high school or the age of 21. It further states there is "no deviation" of the plan and then goes into further requirements of the non-custodial parent.
Other Responsibilities of Non-Custodial Parent
To my knowledge, it is common for the non-custodial parent to not only pay a financial obligation determined by the courts monthly. They are commonly also ordered to carry insurance benefits for the child. This may depend on the parents career's and place of employment. In my situation it was both military. My first husband was ordered to always carry equal or better health care insurance for all three children to TRICARE (which is amazing insurance and good luck with matching that where its affordable). He also had to carry Dental and Vision. Now, I was smart and my attorney and I were doing a non-contested and did what we could in this department for the better of the children and he was responsible for all costs that insurance wouldn't cover. Only time I ever had to pay a dime (even co-payments) was if I went to an unauthorized non-network provider. When and if they lost TRICARE he was responsible for maintaining that health coverage and if I had to do it because he couldn't or didn't or wouldn't; than he had to reimburse me one hundred percent. I had to put them on my new husband's TRICARE but he had to reimburse me any extra costs like co-pays.
My second divorce I didn't pay attention and signed the decree without challenging that my youngest's father is only ordered to hold medical on the child and the shared cost is 78 percent on him and the rest on me if insurance doesn't cover it. He does have to maintain insurance and since he hasn't, and they lose their TRICARE this month, he will be responsible for any and all accrued medical expense. Problem is ladies and gentleman...your name is normally on the document at a hospital or doctor's office as the responsible party. So the bill will come to your house and in your name. Here is what I found helpful and some good ADVICE:
Discuss with the clerks the situation. Ask that the responsible party who is legally obligated to pay the bill per the decree be your ex-spouse and that you are the guardian of the child and need a copy and are the responsible party for them. It has worked for me every time and the bill goes to them and in their name. Otherwise, you end up paying it so it doesn't go on your credit and having to fight tooth and nail to get it reimbursed by the ex-spouse if they aren't responsible about their obligations...leading soon to why we call them deadbeats.
Also, document all the expenses...co-pays, x-rays, exams, medications, etc. Sometimes, when you end up in court later, they will see that you weren't nickle and diming the ex to death and that what you are asking for is the fair amount. It makes you look responsible and taking part of the cost, especially if you don't have to. Only do this if you financially can of course, but do try to make it fair and not all about sticking it to "them".
There may be stipulations in that decree that you may have to get permission to medicate your child for ADHD, or that if its not deemed emergency and life saving surgery, you have to get the other parent's permission. This be careful to read and know what you are legally bound to do. I have an Autistic son that was violent and needed to be on some medication for the safety of my son and everyone else that is in his vicinity, especially now that he is ten. My ex-husband at first wouldn't allow it...luckily, my decree stated that I have full legal right to make any and all decisions regarding such a matter while in my care. He could take him off the meds in his care, but I could medicate him without asking for written permission. You don't want to find yourself in contempt of your order when you are trying to prove the other party is the negligible one.
Now this is what I think is MOST important to pay attention to that I didn't in either of my divorce's. I found it was a pain in the rear end to deal with after the fact with support enforcement proceedings from multiple states involved.
The courts set up a parenting plan and this includes the time the child will spend with either parent. Ideally, the parents can come to an understanding through compromise, their attorney's, or mediation. Sometimes the judge will have to decide. It will define who has physical (or primary) custody of the child. More and more state are favoring the mother AND the father more equally now and aren't "mother over father" states anymore. It will stipulate who is the non-custodial parent that will be granted "reasonable visitation privileges" that will be detailed in the plan. In my case with the last divorce...I am the custodial and physical custody parent. He is the non-custodial.
The part dealing with rights of the parent of the child differs. So your county, your state...may differ from what examples I provide but hopefully you get the idea. In Georgia, "the parent with physical custody shall make decisions regarding the day-to-day care of the child and when the child is residing with that parent, INCLUDING ALL EMERGENCY DECSIONS affecting the health and safety of the child, are up to them. EXCLUDING, OTHER PARENT'S PARENTING TIME."
IT SPECIFICALLY STATES THE FOLLOWING: "THE ISSUES OF VISITATION AND CHILD SUPPORT ARE NOT RELATED. THE CUSTODIAL PARENT CAN NOT DENY VISITATION TO THE NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT TO ENFORCE PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT. SUCH DENIAL IS IN VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER."
Other parents use this as a tool to control their ex and to manipulate the child and that is actually a trait of a "deadbeat parent". So avoid using such tactics to get what you feel you deserve or you are entitled or even ordered. Let the courts determine such actions.
It will stipulate how you agree it too; for what each has a right to do when making decisions for the child. In my case, in the state of Georgia, it states that I have all non-emergency health care decisions, all education ones, all religious and extracurricular decisions and he has none. It also states I have to INFORM him of a move locally, or out of state, within thirty days and it doesn't state how...so I can email...text message...send a letter...etc. My first husband we were smart and put certified mail only. Anyway, I am allowed to live with who I want, and I can go where I want. Now he can challenge it and if its not in the child's best interest they can give the physical custody to the other party but odds are no judge will state you are forbidden to move.
Make sure to stipulate who is responsible for any travel expenses. My agreement with the first husband was always shared cost...however, due to circumstances I ended up paying two international vacations and also two domestic half way across countries to his zero. In the end he will pay next year and has given me half of whatever tax money he got for whatever child he had that year. But we can work it out together. My recent ex...the one that I wish I could erase from my memory? Yeah, he hasn't paid anything. I paid his plane ticket. I paid his hotel rooms. I paid his food, cigarettes, everything so he could see his son for a couple days. But document whatever you do that you didn't have to as well as what you did that you were legally bound to.
Now that we established what needs to be determined, how to determine it, and all the basic logistical nonsense...we can discuss what constitutes a deadbeat...
MOMS AS WELL AS DADS CAN BE A DEADBEAT
Hoping They Won't Be The Deadbeat
First I want to say, BOTH mother's and father's can be a deadbeat parent. We hear more about deadbeat dads because odds are the majority of those children were awarded to the mothers. However, it isn't just about child support (which we will address first as it is a very common issue) but also about the tactics we use as parents when dealing with our children and the other parent.
When we decided to have a child; whether that child was planned or an accident, that child became a lifetime commitment of BOTH parents. It has been proven in many psychological studies that children thrive best with both mother and father as an active role in their life. This could be a father or mother "role model" but one that is consistent and is involved in aspects of their lives when they are needed. This can be successfully done when a parent lives out of state even, or deployed overseas, or any situation other than the ideal two parent home. Problem is, some parents when absent tend to fall into the category, "out of sight, out of mind" because it is easier for them to deal with it themselves emotionally. Others just don't want to be bothered because they don't want anything to do with their ex (as in my case or so he says) and some just don't care enough to give even a little of caring.
When a couple splits up, the responsibility doesn't land in the custodial parents lap. The other parent can't walk away and say "you asked for it when you asked for custody". You can't just be the "disneyland parent" or the "absent parent". It takes two to make a baby and two to raise that baby. Remember you may not have lived up to the till death do us part with the spouse but you have not "out" for the lifelong commitment to a child you brought into this world, that shares half your blood and genetics. Any parent (my ex included) who thinks that you can just disappear and act like that child is better off without you, or that they don't exist, that they don't deserve a father, is a selfish human being...mother's included.
It's important to try and have a working relationship with the ex-spouse so that they can better co-parent with you and you can raise your children as a team still. This IS POSSIBLE and I am living proof of it from my first husband and three kids. I even have a good relationship with his wife. We have had joint parties, holidays, gone to church together, crashed at the other's house, gone to conferences at schools together, communicated on party line with doctors or IEP meetings across the country from the other. We don't let the kids play us against each other and back the other parent up no matter what; in front of the kids. However, we do have our roles and I do have open and honest communication with my kids and my teenager doesn't have that with his father so yes, I have played the go-between but its because I communicate well with his dad that he doesn't. I can help solve problems and not create a war between them and I am thousands of miles away. When my son chose to live with me because of the remarriage to the third wife and that he had these college plans to go to USC, we live in a better school district and we also live in a town in another state he isn't bullied like he used to be in CA. We let him decide. He got to choose for how long as long as it was for "grownup and responsible reasons". He isn't allowed to just decide he hates one of us one day and leave to the other's house and each relocation has to be for one year min. He chose his dad at the age of seven and didn't choose to come home to me until the age of thirteen and for five years. We created that responsible kid. Together.
So, I just want to prove it is possible and its not easy and there were a couple years we couldn't speak at all...that we fought, that we threatened and yes we ended up back in court. But, we grew up and learned it wasn't helping our kids. Its the majority of those parents that want this relationship but the other party is so hell bent on not cooperating in the slightest and ends up doing nothing and we find ourselves alone in raising a child that we didn't ask to do by yourself.
Never make demands. Compromise if possible. Listen and Understand. If you do that on your part, than in the end the deadbeat is the deadbeat for their own selfish reasons and they can't hold you responsible because you were using tactics that are common of being the other deadbeat parent. Because you can be a deadbeat and still be raising the child yourself.
There is a reason that you married and had children. Sometimes in the worst situations, when you are the most angry or hurt for yourself or your child, the best thing to do is take a deep breath and a step back and remember that.
Don't ever blame the other parent for what the judge decides.
Don't ever blame the courts decision on the other parent.
Take responsibility and live up to what is ordered and hopefully beyond, because that is what you signed on for as a parent. If you CHOOSE WILLFULLY AND KNOWINGLY NOT TO CARE OR SUPPORT YOUR CHILD THEN YOU ARE A DEADBEAT.
I have a deadbeat for an ex (or know someone/dating someone who is one)
What is a deadbeat parent?
What constitutes a deadbeat? There is a legal reasoning behind this term and its should be used only when it fits this description because of the connotation it carries. It should only be said of the worst offenders.
The Census Bureau dictates that 10% of non-custodial father's are deadbeats.
They are a deadbeat if:
- They knowingly and willingly do not pay their financial obligations when they are able to do so.
- The refuse or make no effort to see their child/children for visitation, make phone calls, send gifts or cards on holidays and birthday's.
- They don't offer or they refuse emotional support to the child.
- The intentionally refuse payment for any other need of the child including support for over a year and able to do so.
- They owe over 5,000 dollars in arrears payments.
- If the parent denies the child to the other parent.
- If the non-custodial parent disappears for long periods of time to avoid any and all obligations.
- Deadbeat parent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Dead Beat Dad: Home-Deadbeat Dad
Complete resource on deadbeat dads, back child support, collection information and more.
- Deadbeat Dads & Moms | State Directories | Criminal Watch
deadbeat dads and child support enforcement help for by county and city
How Do I Deal With a Deadbeat Parent?
First and foremost before you establish in any capacity they are a deadbeat, make an effort to talk to the father. See if there is a compromise that will help the situation improve. Always keep the child's best interest at the focal point of the issues and have a neutral third party sit down with you and the other parent if it tends to get heated or hostile. Sometimes mediation works and some courthouses offer mediation services so you don't have to return to court and to keep families communicating and involved.
If this doesn't solve the problem of child support payments, evaluate the situation.
- Was their a significant change in circumstances that led to the lowered or stopped payments?
- Are they actively doing everything they can to get new source of income?
- Do they help in smaller ways to help out as much as they can at the time?
- Any health related or family related issues that are involved? If so, you may want to come to a temporary arrangement that satisfies both of you until the situation improves.
- If they aren't intentionally not paying you may not want to further make it worse by using legal means.
My example would be I was remarried and we had relocated to the east coast and my ex was in Texas with my oldest son. He was just in the midst of the Fort Hood Shootings and decided shortly after that he wasn't going to accept orders to Alaska and drag my son there or force him to come back to me and that he just couldn't do it anymore. He just recently divorced again and was using the Family Care Plan to get out of the Active Duty Military. He informed me of his plans months ahead of time and paid his support up until the month he got discharged and moved physically to the west coast. I let him find a place to rent, get enrolled in school, set my son up with his school and sports, and when his GI bill and unemployment came in he started paying....I went four months without and only began paying that soon because my spouse walked out on me when the first one stopped paying the support. I never reported him to support enforcement and he caught up slowly and paid in full. He even helped me out with extra money when my husband walked out leaving us with nothing for four months. Now I also voluntarily lowered the support over half so he could buy a house for the his new family and when he got divorced and recently lost the house, he agreed to go up in child support again and this time we aren't modifying it legally as long as he lives up to our agreement.
The second example I have is the second husband was court ordered almost six hundred and never paid more than five hundred. He threatened and complained every month that it was my fault he couldn't afford to find a place to live and pay his bills (he has four other children with four other mothers and pays only two of them support). He finally, without telling me, lowered my allotment by two hundred dollars. I was only getting half of what was ordered and he was already in arrears over a thousand dollars. I requested the proof and he never sent anything stating the courts lowered it so I went to support enforcement. When he was discharged however, I did give him the three months that he didn't have an income and was going to CDL school as that was fair. As long as he had regular contact with his son and he didn't have any. So I reported him to support enforcement, reopened the case, added seven hundred in arrears to his case and transferred it to his state for enforcement. Now he risks losing his license.
My point is there are fair ways to work with them and adequate ways to make sure that you aren't going to get used and abused from them if you work with the support enforcement. They are flexible with your wants and needs to a point and my worker has delayed things for me as long as legally allowed to give him the time he needed.
If all else fails, open a child support enforcement case in your county. If your order is from out of state like mine. I live in Wisconsin now and its from Georgia, your county office will have an INTERSTATE LIASON that will work with you and with the home state for enforcement. You will need as much information as you have on the parent. I gave a copy of his DL, a copy of his military ID card, I gave them his SSN, his work information, his home information, his home of record information, his make and model of his car...several photographs, email accounts, phone numbers etc. The more information you have the easier it is on your case worker and the more likely you will get your case going.
Once the case is opened they will notify the requesting state once they have located the party in that home state and will start income deduction procedures. My ex was in the military so I had a direct deposit for full amount of support within six weeks in my bank account. He called and threatened to kill me if I didn't "fix it" and I hung up and reported him to my local police department and they contacted him directly and his command and have told me not to release my son to him if he comes to get him and to contact them. He will be arrested on sight and escorted out of the town limits. Its not hard to do, you just have to start the process and stick with it and don't be intimidated by threats.
National Deadbeat Dad Law
The National Deadbeat Dad Law was created after the creation of two other laws that were passed:
- Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA) of 1992 - It gave the power to the courts to force support payments from parents who had a balance owed that met misdemeanor level penalties.
- Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1988 - It made parents that "ran" from the area/state to avoid support obligations susceptible to felony charges and than put on the Deadbeat Dad's List
A misdemeanor charge means that they owe more of a year in support payments or more than 5,000 in total arrears payments altogether.
If it is more than 10,000 in arrears or they have evaded payment for more than two years than they can be charged with a felony and placed on the Deadbeat Dad's list.
They must be living in a separate state and/or doing business in other states to avoid payment of support to start any federal agency investigations.
Other Tactics Used: Deadbeat Parents
Custodial parent's can be using tactics that on some level classify them as a "deadbeat" though not necessarily in legal terms. But these tactics, if proven and documented, may help in the courtroom over further custody arrangements and aid the other parent in making sure the best environment for the child is considered when these tactics emerge as they are damaging to a child's psyche and emotional well being.
- Denial of a relationship of the child with their non-custodial parent.
- If they don't receive support payments from the non-custodial parent than they withhold the child's visitation with the other party.
This is called relationship blockade when a child is prevented by their parent from seeing the other parent because of failure to pay child support obligations.
- Who cares what the court order says?? Act as if they are on a mission and end up violating court order. Most states now include a parenting plan that parents can't withhold the child. Some even have made it illegal and failure to comply is contempt of court.
- False allegations of the other parent and other perjury. This is the key weapon of deadbeats.
- Brainwashing. Mom's actually are the bigger culprit here than dads.
- Trying to break the bond between the child and the non-custodial parent. It can be done many ways. Non verbal actions when the other parent is the subject of the child's discussion or related matter. Outright verbally bashing the other parent or purposefully encouraging behaviors of the child or even beliefs that the other parent you know is against their wishes.
- Replacement. Trying to replace the real parent with a fake parent. Trying to "erase" the other parent. Pretending to perhaps school officials the stepmother (lets say) is the real biological mother and giving no information that the child has another parent. Forcing the child to say "mom" or "dad" to the new party and punishing them if they don't etc. (This happened to me)
The one thing I did have an issue with in my first marriage is replacement so I might be better able to explain it in my example. My ex-husband remarried a woman he barely knew and dated that had two children. My new husband and I were moving overseas and he wanted to keep at least one of the boys so he married her knowing I wouldn't leave my child unless he was married. I ended up leaving my oldest and his younger brother who was autistic and planned on getting them a year later when we were settled and had all his services and education steps and programs screened and in place for a better transition. His father didn't believe he was autistic so it was imperative that I got him back first off.
While I was gone, I didn't know until they divorced (and from my oldest who I finally asked questions in order to help the Autistic son) that they were forced to call her mom. That she said, "Look at all you get and all I let you do when you call me mom, do you want to see what happens when you don't?" They were bullied into calling her mom...at least the oldest. The Autistic son was barely starting to talk at age six and barely potty training. Mentally he was around three years old and was actually six years old. She told him that his real mommy only loved his sister and that I left the boys because I didn't want them anymore and that she was his new real mommy. She would even refer to me as Mama Abby when I called so he ended up believing that she was his real mom and didn't understand why I all of a sudden came to get him (after being dragged through a courtroom were they were denied a hearing even from overseas). I was denied my kids once when I flew out early to get him and they hid the kids from me and provoked a physical altercation and called the police and ran the next day until they knew I was out of town, never telling the boys I was there. They wouldn't answer all my calls, left the state for long periods of time and I didn't know where they were. The school thought my kids mom was the wife and the teacher got concerned when my son was excited his mom was visiting for Xmas from Germany because she thought his mother worked at the school. That was the first time my oldest said no she is my step-mother I have a real mom who is coming to visit.
So replacement is a big deal...whether the stepparent provoked it doesn't matter because the parent allowed it all to happen and didn't takes steps to stop it or inform the children the truth or even talk to the other parent.
Project Save Our Children
Project Save our Children is a multi-agency law enforcement initiative that investigates and prosecutes most extraordinary support cases.
Their members include:
- Investigative analysts from ACF
- Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE)
- Special agents of Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
- U.S. Marshal Service
- U.S. Attorney's Office
- Department of Justice
- Support agencies nationwide at state level
They identify, investigate, and prosecute non-custodial parents that knowingly don't pay their support obligations and meet the criteria for federal prosecution of the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act.
To report a deadbeat: olg.hhs.gov/fraud/fugitives/report