Dealing with the government

Now, mostly here at Chezwhat? we stick to the superficial, non personal and otherwise skimming the surface topics. Every now and then, however, I dig a little deeper. Not too deep, mind you. I have read some blogs that air information that I never wanted to know, but sally right forth regardless.

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Hardly personal but true, I just went to DMV here in Oregon and there are new rules about getting the old drivers license renewed. Now required is a pile of documentation in triplicate in order to prove without a doubt that you are a citizen. Thinking I would be cautiously over-prepared, to my surprise I was without hesitation rebuffed, despite providing the following:

  • My passport (though expired)
  • My original SSN
  • 2 pieces of mail
  • A wallet full of things with my name on it
  • My current drivers license that is about to expire on the 20th

I was sent away, told that I needed a marriage certificate. She gave me a 5 page document that detailed all the acceptable forms of identification. It was dated less than a month ago. Driving to DMV roundtrip takes about an hour, so I can’t wait (teehee!) to be able to do that again.

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This picture cracks me up because one of our neighbors suggested it as a solution to the following circumstances. Only he said we needed pop up kids on the street to slow people down. He also said that when he left his kids toys on the sidewalk, that worked too…

Less than a year ago moved into a new home. We are pretty happy with the home, the home rectifies the most troublesome qualities of our old home, in that the old home turned out to be a really crummy neighborhood and the house itself felt like it was made out of popsicle sticks. We were just happy to have a house, and it appreciated so we could buy this one, which is very solid and in an established, nice neighborhood.

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But. There is always a big but in there somewhere. Turns out that the street that is on the side of our house doubles for the Willamette Valley speedway.

Despite the presence of a school and a park and clearly posted 25 mph signs, most people seem to view this 25 mph as a suggested minimum. The cars are whizzing past.

When we got here, I thought “oh well”, but then it became clear that everyone in our neighborhood was irritated by how fast cars were going since the road got connected as a sort of bypass to a highway. So, when I am walking with my daughter to the park, and these cars are flying past, and she is wobbling along on her trike, or steps off the sidewalk for a minute it is a bit of a nerve wracking experience.

So I call the city. They actually put me on an agenda for a traffic safety commission. And since then, I have met and spoken to 90% of my neighborhood, and they have signed a statement expressing concern about the speeds. It hasn’t been very hard, before I even talked to the “commission” they all agreed that this area is a particular problem for pedestrian safety because of the speeds of cars.

Last night I went to the second meeting, but the weird part was that as I walk out to go, about 5 of my neighbors are out there in their cars too. They are on their way to the meeting to express their support as well.

So we are all bugging the city. All told I have probably about 60 signatures now and there are still more houses to hit, which would be easier if I weren’t now 36 weeks pregnant and taking care of a 3 year old. Walking around to theses peoples houses is my exercise.

Moving on to more personal issues, I just read tonight that alot of the government stimulus checks are going to pay the child support for “deadbeat dads”.

I guess I have a unique take on the government and child support and all this, as I write our check every month, and have since about 2003. We do not miss a beat with this. We are not “deadbeats”.  Nevertheless, about 4000 in tax refund money has been withheld from us this year.

While at times we lament how our financial picture might be different without the child support, because of the ex-wife’s abysmal track record with how she spends money and her ability to make good judgments in life, we both sort of feel sorry for the kids and we know that their family indeed needs the money (the kids deal with low level neglect–not eating properly, not bathing and very worn out clothes) that we can do precisely nothing about without having a pile of cash . The kids are starting to wise up to their mom. They come here, have fun, things are pretty regular, no fights, family dinners and basically time stops so we can just maximize the time with them. All J’s vacation goes to these kids. They are nice kids too.

At one point, exwife  renounced all child support enforcement. Since then, we have paid her directly.

Warning bells, perhaps. I heard them, but had no experience in these matters.

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Later, she moved far away. It takes over 36 hours to drive to her now. At this point she opted to not have the kids see their dad anymore. This was a problem for J, and with family help, legal action ensued. Twelve to fifteen thousand dollars and many grey hairs later, there is an agreement in place about when she will provide the kids. It is almost never because the laws are incredibly slanted for the mom, and we just don’t have a money tree in our back yard to fight this. Plus, the ones who would ultimately pay would be the kids, spending insane amounts of time on the road. She will not allow them to fly. She is very “protective”. We relented, there seemed to be no other path. The laws of the UCCJEA (UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT 1997) are on her side: she can do whatever she wants, we have to just deal.

Because of the litigation, Wyoming caught wind that we were paying support. Because there was no documentation in their hands of our paying, they told us were were nearly $40,000 in arrears of child support.

Can you digest this information for a moment? Imagine being told that you owe 40 grand… that you have paid?  Then imagine the list of nasty things they are going to do you if you don’t pay this money.  So we start gathering all bank statements and cancelled checks showing that we have paid her, no small task: over 7 years worth of documents showing payment.

Then we were told that our endorsed check copies might not be valid proof of payment because they might have been gifts. We were told that the exwife had to verify that they were support payments.

Hello? What if she, being poor and perhaps dishonest, decided that she wanted to collect on the alleged arrears?

Then we were told that we needed a lawyer.

Then Why?oming says their hands are tied, even ex wife’s word that they were child support payments might not be enough. The state of Oregon has to verify them as payments because the child support order came out of Oregon.

Me: So the only way that we can get rid of this arrears is to find someone in Oregon to say that these canceled checks are child support?

Wyoming: Well, yes, but exwife also has to agree that they are child support payments.

Me: And then we can be credited for all these payments we have made?

W: Like I said, it should be fine then, but you should get a lawyer.

Me: Can you see how paying to prove that I paid might be an undesirable course of action for us?

W: What I need is a court order in order to make this go away.

Me: Huh.

This is what I imagine her world to be:

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Gentle readers, we are a family. I am expecting a child. This is how the government is protecting families. One day they call us and say that we owe 7 years worth of child support (which we have paid). And then they say they will not give us any credit for payments that we have made. How do these bureaucratic policies not jeopardize families?

So it is around this time that 4000 dollars in tax refunds/stimulus (which was budgeted to help us with our new child so that I could stay home) goes directly to the state of Why?oming to pay for our alleged arrears in child support.

I shake my head when I hear my parents say “Well this is all your fault for marrying into this situation,” Is the job of parents to pour salt into the wounds of their children?

Low point reached, we are pretty used to dealing with the utterly irrational in this situation, we are keeping a grip on our sanity. After all, we repeat, they can’t take away our kids (although they have sent a threatening letter promising to show the arrears on our credit report and deny us passports–like we are criminals who are going to flee the country. The credit report thing concerns me the most because it will reek havoc with our credit rating.)

So, being level headed as we want to be, we call Oregon to see if they will in fact give us credit for these payments.  Our thought is:  Why should they care about what is happening to us?

We talk to a guy named Jeremiah. He is quite shocked by what he hears Why?oming is doing to our family. According to Jeremiah, when exwife ended Oregon’s enforcement, that was it. Kaput. There was to be no more record keeping. No arrears. No proof of payment. She was on her own.

Of course we are hopeful to hear this, and glad that Jeremiah is calling Why?oming to tell them that we owe Nothing.

And now we are in limbo. They will keep all the money that we have paid to clear up the alleged arrears (about 6K now) until all is said and done, meaning they reserved the right to ream us should they choose that it is in their statutes. The good news is that Why?oming told me they wouldn’t do anything punitive to us as long as we kept paying. God forbid something bad should happen to us and we wouldn’t be able to pay.

The strange thing is that exwife hasn’t received a dime of the extra money that we have paid. So I guess Why?oming’s logic is clear…it does pay for them to be as draconian as they wish, they can accrue interest on these draconian measure.

Before I close this, I know and I know there are bad people out there who father children and take flight.  I know that there are two sides to every story.  I would say it is a strong case for not marrying young or letting hormones get the best of you, but then I would sound crummy, judgmental and unkind.   Suffice it to say, the real devil in these situation are the laws and the lawyers, often worse than what people would or could do to each other.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. mrs t says:

    Man, you don’t need that stress right now. Or ever, but esp. right now. I hate bureaucracy. I hope things work out and work out soon.

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