My lawyer and I walked out of the courtroom, the divorce final. Both my lawyer and I were feeling elated, it was a long acrimonious divorce and the judge had awarded the kids more child support than we had anticipated. I was happy, the judge stated in the courtroom that she knew my ex was committing disability fraud and that there were no doubts that he was working while collecting disability and due to the additional work, she was awarding the kids an amount of child support that compensated for the additional money she was confident he collected each month.
I couldn’t believe it when she said all that from the bench then she put it in writing. It was official, life was going to be easier than I expected financially. I hugged my lawyer and told him how much I loved him.
A few weeks later, I still hadn’t received a check from the kids’ dad for child support so I called my lawyer. He said he would check on it. A couple of weeks after that, the kids’ dad was picking them up for visitation and he handed me a cashier’s check. I waited until he left and then I looked at the check – it was for less than half of the court-ordered child support. I sent him a text and told him I understood that child support was something new and I would work with him but could he let me know when to expect the remaining amount. He responded by saying I needed to talk to my lawyer.
So I called my lawyer, then emailed him a copy of the text message from my ex. My lawyer was confused, he sent an email to my ex’s lawyer and asked about the remaining child support. He received a response saying that lawyer no longer represented my ex. It took a few days, but we finally found out who my ex’s new lawyer was, then a few more days and we received a response from his new lawyer. They had gone behind our backs, gone to a different judge (not supposed to happen in our county, you are supposed to always have the same judge), and gotten the child support reduced to the dependent portion of the disability he collects (fraudulently).
My lawyer was livid, he wasn’t notified of the hearing, they went to a different judge and the second judge completely ignored the fact that my ex works in addition to collecting disability. This judge simply enforced an old (like 1960’s) law that states when a non-custodial parent is on disability their child support payments cannot be in excess of the dependent support awarded by Social Security.
The support payments are a slap in the face. Four dependent children, two of them with significant medical expenses. The amount of support we receive doesn’t even cover the payment on my very high mileage vehicle. I was having to work hard to bring in extra income to cover our expenses.
In addition to the reduction of child support we learned no court will enforce the medical bills (supposed to be split 50/50) because he collects disability. The rules are completely different because he hides under the protection of being “disabled” even though he repairs cell phone and radio towers on the side, rebuilds tractors, four wheelers, semi’s, and installs hardwood floors, etc. You name it, he is doing it.
Debt collectors wear my phone out because he doesn’t make payments on any of the marital debt that was split 50/50. Nope they cannot garnish his disability check. So as long as he refuses to get a job with a regular paycheck, as long as he works the system and gets paid cash under the table, the debt collectors require I pay his half and my half. Divorce decrees do not make one bit of difference to debt collectors.
Instead of the financial aspect of life being easier than we anticipated, things have been much more difficult. The lesson learned: Child Support isn’t a sure thing. Don’t count on it to pay your living expenses.