My story is not unique; I’ve spent the past few weeks talking to moms who are fighting for child support for their children. As a parent, I really try to understand why this is such a battle for some people. As a mother of three, I am constantly thinking about the weekly budget for groceries, how much needs to be put away for summer camp, how much I need to factor in because both kids need new cleats for soccer season, and so on.
When a marriage dissolves, parenthood does not dissolve along with it.
I want to share my journey so that other moms going through this will not feel alone, and hopefully will feel empowered to fight for what is right. Six years ago I was working part-time and going to school while raising two kids and trying to navigate through a divorce. I wanted desperately to keep out of the court system, but after months of no child support, it was clear to me the court system was the only way to ensure my kids would be supported, which they were legally entitled to.
Hiring a lawyer was not an option. I didn’t have the money.
So I jumped online and started doing some research. There is an ocean of information to be found and it can be overwhelming. I found the child support website for my county the most helpful. Every courthouse offers free legal clinics at least once a week where you can get help filling out paperwork, and can obtain information about the garnishment process. Here is a fair warning: this process is extremely time consuming and exhausting; lines are long and you can feel like you’re in over your head. My advice is to stick with it; so many times I wanted to give up because it wasn’t worth the added stress. Wrong! It is worth the stress because the kids are entitled to both parents financially providing for them.
The process is long.
It took months before a judgment was finalized and a garnishment was in place. I wish I could say that was the end of it, and the kids have been supported ever since. Unfortunately the system is not perfect. I have been served at least five times in the effort to reduce the financial obligation, and I fought for medical insurance for more than two years. There is still a battle over the needs that fall outside of what child support covers. But, even with an imperfect system, my ultimate goal is to make sure my kids are provided for.
My advice is to stick with the process, don’t get discouraged and don’t give up.
5 tips for pursuing child support
- Become a learn-it-all type
- Attend a free legal help clinic in your area
- Write down every question that comes to mind
- Don’t give up
- Phone a friend, and have someone you can talk to so you don’t feel isolated
Have you been through this process? What are some of your tips for other moms going through this journey?