You might not be able to see past next week’s paycheck right now, but one day the kids, who are eating more groceries than you feel like you can provide, are going to walk across a stage with a cap, gown, and huge grin, and then walk out of your life.
For most young adults it’s on to college, employment, possibly the military or a combination of above.
So, for you as a parent, the question is: What now?
It’s All About the Money
You’d better start thinking about your retirement savings. Your 40’s are supposed to be your peak earning years and according to financial planners, you should be on your way to achieving long term savings goals. However, those same financial planners will also admit that the typical 40-year-old is aware of the need to save, but not many have taken the actual steps to prepare for retirement and this stage of life can come with huge expenses such as helping that child through college.
What if you are a single parent?
What if you have not received child support?
What if you have shouldered the burden alone, living paycheck to paycheck, working two jobs, Christmas on credit cards, blowing every tax return to pay off those cards or the orthodontist bill? What if you have a good job with an excellent salary and 401K or a decent settlement from your divorce but you have been slowly robbing from it to pay for the extras that you want your kids to have?
What if you are owed tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid support and to close the gap between what your ex should have paid and what he did not pay, you borrowed from your savings or retirements accounts? First it was “just” $2,500 for summer camp expenses, then it was “just” $300 a month for tutoring and now you look back and you have taken $60,000 from your future and haven’t added much, if any at all.
It Takes Two
The truth is, this burden was never meant for you to bear alone. No one with unpaid child support ever said, “Boy I would love to have a baby!” Then went to bed and in the morning found a bundle of joy on their porch in the morning. The stork didn’t drop an orphan in your lap and you didn’t pull a basket out of the Nile river.
Married or not, a child comes from a union of TWO and BOTH are responsible for that child.
You have the absolute RIGHT to insist that the other half of the union pay their fair share!
Let me repeat this: You have the RIGHT to collect support for your children.
And let me add: Your children have the RIGHT to be supported by BOTH parents. Children suffer from nonpayment of child support in many ways, but I’ll discuss that in a separate post. Keep an eye out.
A Familiar Story
Let’s look at an example: Ann and Bill were married for 14 years, for seven of those years Ann was a stay at home mom. When the youngest of their two children was in first grade, she went back to work full time. Because Ann had been out of the workforce for 7 years, she got a “starter job” with a local company doing data processing and secretarial work. She is making more than minimum wage but not by much.
She is eligible for health insurance through the company but with two kids it would take 40% of her paycheck. She also has access to a 401K through the company and is contributing the minimum towards it because that was the default option on her employment contract.
Ann and Bill divorce.
Ann knows she cannot afford the house payment on her salary alone, so she agrees to let Bill keep the house.
Ann moves to a rental unit and now will not have a mortgage deduction for her taxes. After about 8 months Bill decides to sell the house, gets remarried and starts another family. Bill stops paying Ann child support.
Ann is struggling. She cuts even the minimum contribution to her 401 K and takes a second job. She puts up with an abusive boss because she got a desperately needed raise. She goes to work sick because she is afraid to call out. Ten years later Ann still lives in a rental unit, still lives paycheck to paycheck, has no savings and is 52 years old.
How to Avoid That Fate
What Ann should have done is utilize every legal tool available in America today to force Bill to pay his fair share. She should have continued to contribute to her 401K even if all she could put in was the minimum. She should not have allowed Bill to ditch his LEGAL responsibility to his children, defrauding them of extra’s and her of a future.
Now, what for Ann? Does she work another ten years and frantically save all she can while helping her son in college? What is Ann’s future?
When Ann is too old to work are the tables going to flip and Ann will end up having to be supported by the children she struggled to support? Is that what you want for your kids? To be a burden to them and continue the cycle of financial struggle for a lifetime?
Again, I urge you, take a good look at the future. Look ten years past now, past the struggle, past the kids who eat more than a herd of elephants, outgrow clothes in two weeks and wants laptops, cell-phones and Beats headphones.
Look at every legal option you have to collect your support and plan for yourself as well.
GET PAID. It’s your RIGHT.
Simone Spence is not a lawyer and she does not provide legal advice. She is a mom who figured out that she had to navigate the child support system on her own. She did. She then began helping other moms to do the same. This started a business where she exclusively consulted with women for over 20 years providing them with information that they can use to collect their arrears. She has helped to collect over $15,000,000 and has an 87% success rate. Simone has written three child support collection books sharing her collection knowledge. Recently she developed the child support collections platform “Athena.”
In general, only a licensed attorney can give legal advice, but there is a distinction between “legal advice” and “legal information.” Any non-lawyer can simply recite laws, but it is illegal for a non-lawyer or unlicensed attorney to offer legal advice.
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