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Need advice, help, anything

Started by arcylix, May 24, 2016, 01:01:51 PM

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To start off, I want to say that this is my first time posting here. In fact, I had never visited until just today. Now with that out of the way... this is going to be a long post, but I sorely need advice on this and the best route to go. Please, take the time to read everything.

Sixteen years ago, I got my then-girlfriend (V) pregnant. We split up long before my daughter (J) was born, and I did not even know about her until 6 months past when I suddenly got hit with a child support order. I had the paternity test done, and it was confirmed she is definitely my daughter. At the time, I was only 20 years old, and I didn't have much of a future.

Though I knew I had an obligation to pay child support, I couldn't find a job and hold it down long enough to be consistent with child support. I have a severe hearing disability, but I have not been labeled as "disabled" because I can still (mostly) hear out of my right ear. I have a fractured tailbone and deteriorating discs that have prevented me from doing much labor work. I had been fired from one job due to my inability to hear and some misunderstandings, and I've been crippled with other jobs due to my deteriorating disc (in fact, I was bedridden nearly a year because of back issues, and I gained 150 lbs to complicate matters even more). Still, I sent what I could when I could, despite not having much luck in the job market. I tried moving around, but plans always fell through because I had to be dependent upon someone until I could get back on my feet again. As a result, my child support arrears began amassing.

In 2005, I finally found a location and a job that was stable enough for me to pay child support and be independent. By then, I was 25 years old. In 2006, I met a woman, A, and we moved in together a month before we got married (January 2007). Within 10 months, we had our first child, D. Our marriage was off to a great start, I was able to pay child support, and with A's income, we had a decent living. Four months later, A was pregnant again, and 9 months after that, we had Little A. Things started getting a little rocky for me and A, but we were working things out. She asked me to quit my job because she was afraid of the inclement weather (I had to travel 20 miles, and during the winter, the roads were iced over). I complied with her, and attempted to search for a job closer to home. I managed to find another job, and because I was gone with work a lot, A stayed mainly at her mom's house to have help with our two sons, and to have a babysitter when she had to work.

Several months later, A was pregnant with our third son. Her mom had purchased a house about 30 miles from where we were, and offered to let us stay there as it was a 7-bedroom house. We quickly agreed, and in October 2009, we had moved, and I had quit my job (again, at the request of A).

November, 2009, A started spotting, and we feared she was having a miscarriage. One morning, I told A that I was going to go to the library to search for some jobs on the internet there and to return some books. When I chose to go instead of staying as A asked me to do, it turned into a big fight, which eventually lead to our divorce. After our fight, and having nowhere to live at the time, I chose to enroll in school. Two months after our fight, A begged me to come back and said that divorce was not in her vocabulary. After plenty of talking, I decided to drop out and come back. The problem was, her mother was not going to allow me to live there any longer. So, she paid for me to live in a motel on a weekly basis.

Two months after we were repairing our relationship, A told me it was over, for good, and sent me back home to California (I was living in Arkansas). November 2010, the divorce papers were filed, and in February 2011, finalized. While I was living in California, our third son (C) was actually born.

Though I was paying child support for J every time I worked, I still had quite a balance for when I couldn't pay, or couldn't make full payments. A gave me a choice: I could either terminate my parental rights and never see my sons, or I would be asked to pay child support.  I opted for child support because I love my sons wholeheartedly, even though I have never seen C (he was born after I left).

The small town I lived at in California didn't offer much in the way of jobs. Every chance I had, I would still send money (though those were few and far between). As a result, I wound up going to school to get my Associate's Degree in Medical Assisting. During that time, I virtually had no work and was living in a house for free in lieu of me watching the property. So two child support cases were building up on me (J was $189 a month plus arrears, D, Little A, and C were $304 a month plus arrears). By the time I finished school, the arrears numbered in the tens of thousands (around $20k for J and $12k for D, A, C).

Armed with my degree, I set out to working at a doctor's office. It lasted a while, and I had garnishment coming out of my checks, but in March 2015, I quit due to personal conflict with the Administrator that left me in a hostile environment and nowhere to turn to. Since March 2015, while living in California, I put in over 400 applications, and had received only 5 interviews, none which hired me. In the meantime, I did small jobs, working with my father and having him pay my $200 room rent so I could keep a place over my head (I had moved out of that house previously mentioned and was not going back), as well as some of the bills. Again, I still paid when I was able to, and had my bank accounts frozen a few times, too.

In February 2016, I moved to New York. I found a job here within a month. The problem is, it's part-time and minimum wage, so I'm not making a lot up front. My paychecks range from $150 to $270 a week, and up to 65% of that is being garnished by Minnesota (where J's case is) and Arkansas (where D, A, and C's case is). This means I bring home every week $60 to $110. I have not been able to find any other work out here yet, not for lack of trying.

The problem I'm having is that I'm living WELL below poverty status. I can't pay rent for anything, I can't afford bills, and I can barely afford food. I've applied for government assistance for food stamps, but that hasn't come through yet, and I'm on Medicaid. I've contacted Arkansas's Child Support office to find out what I can do, and they informed me that if I did a modification that my payment would INCREASE because 1) they base their calculations on the ABILITY to work 38 hours a week (even though our store has only 3 full-time positions, taken by managers, and everyone else gets 20-25 hours a week at best) and 2) they do not take the custodial parent's income into account. A is paying $1800 a month for a 3-bedroom house with her fiance (which, she is in violation of the court order by co-habitating with a male whom she is not married to) and has moved to another state (Colorado). She's easily pulling in $3000 a month, and she's living flush while I'm sleeping on a futon in a friend's house.

Arkansas is the bulk of my worry. Minnesota, I'm fine with, mostly, except that for years and years, while I paid child support (and even had 10 months that went undocumented, even though it was sent directly to the CS Office), I had to fight with them just to have any communication with them.

I just don't know what I can do at this point. Unless I'm making $15-16 an hour, there isn't a feasible way for me to live independently without having to worry about if I'm going to make rent or have food. Again, I'm looking for permanent jobs, but I'm just not having any luck. How can I get myself out of this situation, short of winning the lottery and paying off child support for the years to come?

Please, feel free to ask any questions, too. I'll answer as I see them. Thank you.


You can ask for a downward modification in both states or a plan to pay off the arrears (less than they are taking out of check). This will take you going to court in both states which if you are in NY prob will be a financial issue.

Try to get any job for now. It is near summer so look at seasonal type jobs (tourist areas have seasonal jobs, beaches, kids places, camps, clothing outlets, stores that have back to school items). Most jobs are PT in NY and start around $10/hour.

NY is expensive depending on where you are too so maybe moving to different state that has the before mentioned places but less expensive to live.

Did you go to social services in NY? You should qualify for aid here. Many teens around here are able to work the above jobs when they are home from college so they are out there.

Maybe look into counseling if you have medical coverage to see how you can get some skills to overcome some of your past difficulties.

Also, find a medical dr and start a papertrail about your hearing loss and back issues and see if you can get disability. This will also help with the child support if you qualify but it takes some hoops to get through.


Thank you for your response.

I have filed for aid here, so it's in the process. I do have medicaid as well, so I do have that covered at the moment. As far as moving to another state, the only reason I moved to NY from CA is because I have a friend in NY that was willing to let me stay for a while to help me out. It's the dependency that is killing me, and no matter where I go, I seem to have a need to depend on someone, and I desperately want to get away from that.

The job I have right now, the hours vary so I never know what one week will hold from the next. It's part time, and I make $9.00 an hour. Silly minimum wage. Still, I am looking for more stable work, as limited as I am (need to be in walking distance, or accessible by bus during bus hours). The village I live in is relatively small. I have applied at the hospitals and doctor offices, though, but was told by EMS that it takes about 5 months for them to respond to applicants. So, here's on month 3 now.

I wonder if I can do the court appearances via phone. I'd love a downward modification, though every time I've asked for a modification due to current financial distress, they've all told me my payments would increase. Maybe that's a scare tactic to keep me paying at least what I'm supposed to be paying now ($138.17 weekly, or up to 65% of my paycheck, whichever is less)?

Regarding counseling, that is something I did for quite a while to help me with a lot of my issues. Even so, I'll probably start going again since I have anxiety attacks and social anxiety as a whole. My first doctor's appointment is tomorrow (5/25), so I'll definitely be starting up a paper trail there.

As a side note, I know I'll be better off with a lawyer, I imagine, but I don't even know where to begin to find one that would work my case pro bono, since I obviously cannot afford one. But if I do, should I look for one in Arkansas and Minnesota for the cases, or would a New York lawyer be just as beneficial?


None of us are attorney's here.

Yes, I believe that agencies use scare tactics.

No I don't think a NY attorney would be the right move.

YES, some courts let you appear by phone.

File in both states and make sure each state knows about the other children.

Many times you can find the paperwork on-line....send everything certified mail to each court so that they "can't lose it" on their end and play dumb.


I agree NY lawyer would not help as the cases are in the other two states. You prob will not find a free lawyer in either state but may be able to get one to talk to you over phone and see what your options are and maybe hire them to file the correct paperwork asking for a phone hearing, downward modification, and arrears payoff plan. Some states lower child support for second set of children so see if your states allow for that. You will have to prove that something changed since the last time you were in court.


Thank you for the replies. It's definitely frustrating, so it's nice to get some advice from people who may know more than I do. I wasn't expecting lawyers here at all, but wondered if anyone knew. Seems the general consensus is one for each state, which makes sense (since state laws vary by state).

Now that I have more to work with, I can move forward and hopefully get some much better resolutions.