Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How I paid my own child support

I recently got a call from an old friend. He was thinking of moving out here to Arizona. I did my best to talk him out of it as it would mean he would not have a chance to see his children as much. He is divorced. My friend then told me that he hasn't seen his children in a year and it was no big deal.

As a child of divorced parents I can tell you that it is a very big deal. I can not comprehend the mind of someone who is willing to move away from their children or to take their children and move away from the other parent. Divorce sometimes happens, but unless we are dealing with abuse, a child needs access to both parents and to do that they should live in the same town.

This reminded me of one of the more tragic events in my teen years. As part of the divorce, I for a short time actually paid my own child support. Looking back on this time I am amazed at how the courts could allow such a deal to go down. I am amazed at how cheap my father could be, and I am amazed at how mother allowed it.

Trust me when I say, my mother is far from a saint and certainly far from blame in this divorce. Both of my parents used me as a pawn in their petty game of chess, however in the case of child support my mother clearly was the victim here.

My parents started their own business and it eventually began to be successful. At the peak of the business, they had 10 employees and millions of dollars in assets including several company cars. It was in 1990 that my parent's purchased a new company car for my mother to use. Two years later they divorced.

My father had somehow convinced the courts to allow him to continue making car payments in lieu of child support. For some reason, my mother went along with this. She gave up her right to child support in return for a car that she already owned because she was half owner of the corporation. Well technically each of my parents owned 40 percent of the corporation with 20 percent belonging to someone else.

My dad already had a woman lined up to marry as soon as the divorce was finalized. She burned through all the money my parents had spent my lifetime building up in less than 2 years. I was already working in the family business part time and as soon as I finished high school I switched to full time. Paychecks began to be late.

Eventually the payments on my mother's car began to be behind. Her car was going to be repossessed. So I contacted the finance company and arranged to take over payments. For 6 months I was actually paying my own child support.

My dad's new wife did not like the fact that I was working for the company. She demanded that I be fired and my father agreed. Even though I was willing to miss paychecks for the benefit of the business, I was let go. As a result I found it hard to keep up with the car payments. So again they were going to repossess my mother's car. We hid the car for about a year until I finally talked my dad into doing the right thing and pay his child support.

No child should ever have to pay their own child support. Furthermore, shame on any parent who decides that having access to their children is no big deal. Eventually my father called me to inform me that he could no longer see me because his new wife did not want me around. That was the last I spoke to him. I found out that he died about 3 years ago. From what I was told, his new wife was upset that I did not attend the funeral.

Both of my parents are now dead, the pain that they both caused me in their petty little feud is something that I can never forgive. We don't have a choice in the parents we get, however if anyone reads this who has kids, I ask you not to make the same mistakes. Just because your kids appear to be fine, does not always mean that they are fine.