Four States Leaving Children Behind In Child Support
by Sandra Marie
I am the maternal grandmother who lives in Wisconsin. The father lives in Mississippi. The mother now lives in Texas but the divorce took place in Alabama. All of these states are located in the United States of America but not in the sense of child support laws and practice. Even the child support collection groups report trouble with Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin.
I took legal custody of my grandchildren to keep them from losing time in their education and development. I got custody before the divorce took place but have collected nothing from the father for 8 years.
I had been asked to take the children when things got bad between the parents so they could work through their problems...which never got resolved. I had them for over a year during which I had to get them in school and provide medical attention for them without any legal authorization so the agencies had to get the permission of the mother to release them to me or accept my decision even though I was the one paying.
Finally I decided to get legal custody of the children since they seemed not to be going anywhere for a long time. The mother was served but no one could find the father. He did not even make it to his divorce but was ordered to pay child support to the mother.
I went to the state of Wisconsin to get help collecting child support but could not get anything going until I bought the certified copy of the final divorce decree, paid to locate the father and anything that had any cost to it. I finally got a child support order on the mother and started collecting until she quit her job and moved to Texas. We finally got a hearing set in Mississippi but
I could not appear over the phone from the child support enforcement office in Wisconsin. The hearing went on with the father present but we got no follow up from Mississippi on the case.
I hired my own attorney in Mississippi to try to move things along since I need the money from the parents to offset expenses of the children like braces, vocal cord surgery, broken bones, sports, choir, driving, clothes, more food, and college coming up next year. I got nowhere even with the local attorney since we are all over the map and the divorce did not mention me even though I provided the legal guardianship papers dated 2 months before the divorce. I took custody of the children August 2001 and the divorce was granted October 2001.
I was only able to find the father since he caught a case in Mississippi and had to report his whereabouts now for probation. There are thousands in arrearages owed and monthly payments needed for years from both parents.
I have been told that I am not entitled to the arrearages; that I must get a new order; that there is nothing I can do at this point but take both parents to court in Alabama to revise the divorce decree.
Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Alabama should be able to get money from the father for the future of these children. Texas, Wisconsin, and Alabama should be able to work together to get money for these children from the mother. It is hard out here for young people so imagine how hard it is for an old person trying to raise young people. They have not had to be a burden on the state because I take care of them but I deserve some help from the parents who are living the single life.