This morning was a rude awakening. I was in the process of depositing my paycheck from my new job… And…
Yes, I am a dad in debt, but I’m not a DEAD BEAT DAD.
So… No paying bills today.
Now the odd thing, the thing that really chapped my chaps is:
- Last week I updated the AG’s office with my new employer.
- Last week I gave them all the information they needed to garnish my wages.
- Last week I negotiated a slightly lower “back owed” payment.
- Last week I updated them with my new address.
And today, a week later, I get a freeze on my account. This is all the money I have. This is my lifeline. I cannot fill up my car with gas. (I’m at 1/4 of a tank.) I cannot buy groceries. (Though the kids are arriving tonight.) I can only pay for lunch at work if I have cash in my pocket. THIS IS NOT RIGHT.
Here’s what the AG’s “enforcement officer” for Special Cases said to me.
You have three options.
- You can do nothing and we’ll take all the money in the account.
- You can agree to let us take $2,000 (half the money) and unfreeze the account.
- You can contact an attorney and file a petition with the court about the amount we are taking.
I told him.
- I have to pay $1050 per month in COBRA payments to cover my kids for August and September. That’s $2,100!
- I was loaned this money to make those payments.
- I also have rent to pay. And a car payment.
- You can’t take so much money that I cannot pay for my kids insurance. And that’s what you’re doing.
He reiterated his position stated above. “You have three options, sir.”
“So,” I asked. “You’re not willing to negotiate with me?”
“I’m negotiating by not taking all the money.”
“Oh, thank you.” I said, angrily.
“I’m going to ignore that remark, because it sounds like you’re being sarcastic.”
“No, I’m not. You’re hearing me wrong. I’m upset. And I apologize.”
“Okay.” Silence. “Is there anything else you need from me?”
“No, I’m just waiting for you.”
“Fine,” I said. “I want to make sure you got the information about my new employer, and that you sent the withholding order to them.”
“Yes sir, that went out August 3rd.”
“Then there’s nothing more I can do. Thank you SOOOO much.”
“You are welcome sir.”
It turns out, that the AGs office are not bullies. They are more like a collection agency. I’m sure they do have to deal with some pretty shady and angry people. I can only imagine. And while I tried my best to be civil, his position was inflexible. I could agree to his terms or not have any money to live on. No gas. No food. No insurance for my kids.
In all future engagements with the exy, when she wants some changes or flexibility, my new response is, “Where are you with the AG’s office situation?”
Until she’s willing to release me from the “enforcement” arm of the State of Texas, I’m not willing to negotiate anything. And that’s what the AG’s office does for us. It keeps me from being able to pay extra, or pay for additional things, because I won’t be credited on my “Official Account.”
Yes, I owe my ex-wife some money. (Approximately 1/3 of the amount shown above.) But when I have no job, I have no means of paying it. And the amount is due every single month, job or not, and continues to grow her “enforceable debt.” Yes, I am a dad in debt, but I’m not a DEAD BEAT DAD.
HERE IS THE LETTER I WROTE MR. McK at the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
I include my COBRA statement to illustrate two things. 1. I am paying my kid’s insurance; 2. It’s really expensive when you don’t have employer-provided insurance. So my child support is 1,150 and my COBRA is 1,108. Giving me a whopping monthly debt of 2,258. Now that’s a lot of money. Before I get to pay for food, shelter, and anything fun…
Divorce is expensive. But the DAD should not be the BANK for everything. What would be equitable, is a fair payment that reflects BOTH of our incomes and some percentage of each. Each paycheck I contribute 25% of my income to my ex-wife and kids. It’s a big bite. And six more years of it, for my daughter, who’s 12, is a long time to be under the thumb of Mr. McK.
The old system that set up this draconian system believed two things: 1. Dad is the provider (money); 2. Mom is the nurturer (house and love). In our case this is what my ex-wife went for, because she knew she would prevail in court, if I protested. Today she’s willing to talk about a 50/50 schedule, because she’d like some relief from having most of the “school mornings.” However, as of last week, was unwilling to release me from the grips of the AG’s office. She seemed to think they offered her some assurance that I was going to pay. Um, dear ex-wife, I’ve never said anything about not paying you every cent you are owed. Ever.
I see we’re at an impasse.
UPDATE: Do you think Mr. McK was concerned about me suffering another day with ZERO DOLLARS? No, he was not. As of this morning (day 3) all of my money is frozen. Yeah, and how is this the BEST OPTION?
And guess who pays the $75 fee to initial the HOLD?
And want to talk to some people who start out believing your an asshole? Call the bank to see how long the “hold” will last.
“It’s a two day process sir. The minute that cashier’s check is mailed out the hold will be released.”
And being the person with no money, I ask, “And what’s the likelihood that this will not happen today, and I’ll be left without money over the weekend?”
“Once the check is mailed out, sir, the money will be released.”
“Oh, thank you, sooooo much.”
What are the odds that I will have access to my money this weekend? Who cares? My ex? And the kids are with me… Oh fun times in big “D” land.
UPDATE: Monday morning, still frozen. The AG’s Office has their money, (that’s why it shows I have $2,000 less in my wildly overdrawn account) but my account is still locked. Tomorrow it will be a full week with no money. How is this humane or reasonable? I’m sure somewhere up there, this is my fault, but I don’t see it. It’s debilitating and humiliating.
The Off Parent
And so I wrote Mr. McK a letter: The Humans Of Divorce, Dear AG’s Office Special Cases Officer Mr. McK!
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