Will I Ever Catch a Break?

Yesterday I told you Jerry Lee had hired a lawyer for the hearing and that the sheriff’s department reported his address was a vacant residence.

I also got word from my lawyer that thanks to the lovely coronavirus all court cases have been continued. Fortunately, as soon as I sign and notarize the affidavit she sent me the judge will sign off on re-opening the case. So while the Motions Day is not going to happen I will get my case re-instated. That’s the good news. Probably the only good news.

She also told me that she talked with Jerry Lee’s new attorney. She’s not familiar with him and all she could tell me about him was that he was young. Yeah, I think we all saw Matt Damon in The Rainmaker. I’m not taking anything for granted.

They (the lawyer and Jerry Lee) are planning on sending a proposal for settlement, i.e. a payment plan (or so she believes). I personally think he’s going to toss out some ridiculously low number and expect me to take that.

Yes, I know that I owe you over $50,000. What I’m proposing is that I pay you $10,000 over the course of 5 years.

His apparent eagerness to settle this out of court had me curious. Why so eager? What are you hiding, Jerry Lee?

Turns out Jerry Lee and Harley have moved to yet another state! And they are down yet another child. Again, I would like to point out I started this divorce out with 2 children; I still have 2. Harley started out with 4; she’s down to 1.

You know what this means, don’t you? My whole garnishment case is down the fucking drain. I contacted the caseworker over the weekend. Well, I emailed her. I told her what the sheriff’s department had said and asked if she had heard anything from the state of Mississippi. I have yet to hear back from her.

Regardless, it’s all now a moot point. Mississippi can’t do anything. I have no idea what Georgia child support laws are like or how tough they are on parents who don’t pay. It doesn’t really matter though. I’m in the middle of getting it modified through Virginia. I won’t have a court date until July. Oh yeah, that’s part of the bad news. No court until July at the very earliest. Hooray!

I couldn’t get anything done for months and now I finally have a chance to appear before the judge and get arrears. Do I try to reach a new agreement with him and get things like insurance coverage and medical coverage for my daughter, only to turn around and garnish him in Georgia? If my dipshit caseworker is correct and we have to have the judge in Georgia modify the court order, even if we’ve reached a new agreement, will I end up getting screwed? What happens if the case goes to Georgia and the judge there uses his actual income instead of imputed income, assuming he’s not out earning his imputed income, of course? I would have done okay in Mississippi because they’re a single income state. They’re one of only four, so my chances of Georgia doing it that way as well is pretty slim.

In addition to those worries, if we reach a new agreement, and the judge only enforces it instead of modifying it, we still can’t move ahead with it until July. Then I need to give Georgia 60-90 days and the county another 45 days. That’s 4 1/2 months. After July. That brings us to the beginning of December at the earliest. My son will be halfway through his senior year by the time Jerry Lee is finally garnished at the rate this is going. Will they continue to garnish him for spousal support once the child support ends? I don’t know.  If they don’t it seems kind of silly to go through all this hell for six months of garnished child support.

I turned my garnishment papers in on January 25th, 2019. More than a year ago. I had my interstate meeting on September 10th. Over six months ago. He’s still not garnished. He’s not even close. He’s moved twice, each time to a different state, since I’ve started this. We’re back to square one. Now I get to wait. Once again. And be at his mercy. He gets to continue to pay what he wants, when he wants. It’s lovely. I’m going to go cry now.

The Wheels of Justice

The wheels of justice don’t seem to move one damn bit. Okay, I’ll start with the “good” news.

I got notice that my lawyer will be appearing in court to get my case re-instated on the 18th. It sounds like Jerry Lee was served right around Valentine’s Day, if not ON Valentine’s Day. I suppose that explains the new amount of spousal support he paid on the 29th.

He’s still off. As you may know he modified support on his own back in May last year. Upon finding out that he had had a job pretty much the entire time I let him know he was $700 a month short and asked him if he was going to continue to pretend like he didn’t have a job and was paying all he could, or if he would be paying the correct amount. From that moment he upped the amount he was giving me but he was still short by more than $370. Now, he’s taking the amount he has been paying me (the one that is $370 short) and then adding the $370 onto it. Of course, I don’t know if this will be a long term thing or not because he’s only done it once. If he is planning on keeping this up until we go to court then the end result will be I’m getting a little over $200 more than what he’s court ordered to pay. We’ll see. I don’t have high hopes for him.

Nevertheless, it’s a small victory of justice. It only took four months to finally get before the judge to put it on the docket, and it will probably be another two-three months before we actually have a court date, but those old, rusty wheels are moving finally.

Now for the bad news. I still have not heard anything from my caseworker or the state of Mississippi. Hell, it’s possible the judge there took jurisdiction and my attorney will go before the judge and he’ll have to throw out most of her case.

I’m going to do a little PSA right now. Start garnishment proceedings immediately after your divorce is finalized. Some people are lucky and their state requires payment to go through them. If you’re not one of those lucky ones run directly from the courtroom to the clerk’s office or wherever you need to go in order to get the payments garnished. Especially if you have a very special ex who moved out of state. Doubly so if not only did your ex move out of state but also if your ex forced you into leaving the state in which you got said divorce. That’s an even more special kind of clusterfuck.

I turned my papers in on January 25th. Back in 2019. It’s been more than a year and he’s still not garnished.

I realize I stopped the process in the summer based upon the information I was given. The caseworker scheduled the interstate meeting. I told her I was withdrawing my case. She told me all I could do was NOT show up. There is a month between my last email to her (June 12th) when I told her I was withdrawing and when I found out he had a job, and had in fact had a job the entire time (July 15th). My original interstate meeting was scheduled sometime in that month. In August I gave my caseworker the go ahead to set up a new interstate appointment so that I could move forward. And keep in mind, me hitting pause didn’t matter anyway. By the time I had my original interstate appointment and she sent everything off to Kentucky he was already living in Mississippi. We’d still be on the same time frame. Hell, we might even be a little further behind because Kentucky wouldn’t have been obligated to let her know he was no longer a resident for 60-90 days. That would have brought us to September- which is when I ended up meeting with her anyway- or possibly, October.

Now it’s been six months since my interstate appointment. When I walked out of her office she told me to give it 60-90 days. Maybe I’m a little fuzzy on the day to month ratio but I thought 60-90 days was basically two to three months. Not six.

Of course, once we get close to the supposed 60-90 day timeframe I’m told that now the county has another 45 days to make a decision. Again, a little fuzzy on the ratio but I could have sworn that amounted to approximately 6 weeks. Are these business days or calendar days? The caseworker has never said. Apparently they like everything to be a big surprise.

She’s never said if I’m notified, how I’m notified, what else I have to look forward to, what kind of timeline I should expect. I flat out asked her for a time frame on when I could expect garnishment to begin and her response was a decisive, “I don’t know. I don’t have a timeline for you.”

I, too, have a job. It might surprise her to know that I’m frequently called with questions. My answer has never been, “I don’t know.” If I don’t know the answer to a question I either ask around or I point them in the direction of the person or department who would know.

I’m not asking for a minute by minute play. I’d simply like to know what’s going to happen next and what is the general time frame for this to occur. For example: First, we need to do A. Then we will do B. Then C. Then D. Then E. Obviously I can’t give you an exact time that this will be over but A usually takes x amount of time, B usually takes Y amount of time, C usually takes about z amount of time, and so on and so on. That’s business days, not calendar days by the way, so you need to mark out all weekends and federal holidays. This is what you need to do at each step. You will be notified in this manner.

Is that so difficult? I don’t need hard and fast dates. Just a damn timeline. The 60-90 days has come and gone. The last time I heard from my caseworker was February 5th, over a month ago. She had called the Child Support office on January 29th and reached a person working at the help desk. The caseworker was supposed to call her back. Over a month later and I’ve never heard any follow up. Maybe the county decided not to take the case. Maybe all of this has been for nothing. Who knows? Not me! It’s one big surprise!

In the meantime I get to keep guessing when, how much, and if Jerry Lee will pay me what he’s supposed to. Actually I already know he’s not going to pay me what he’s supposed to. He hasn’t in almost two years.

My son graduates in 15 months. At that point this whole issue will be a moot point. I’m laying 50/50 odds on whether or not this is completed by then.

P.S. Also just found out the address I had for him is a vacant residence, which means he’s moved again. It also somewhat explains why he didn’t pay as he was supposed to in November. Sounds like he’s got a new job- yet again. If it’s in another state and I have to start this all over again I’m going to cry.

And… he’s hired an attorney for this show cause hearing.

It’s a Good News/Bad News Kind Of Day

Guess what? I got a phone call AND an email from my lawyer’s legal assistant. They are FINALLY moving ahead on my case.

I also got the skinny on what’s been going on. They’ve had four lawyers who have left family law practice (or maybe the area) so my attorney, and I’m sure other attorneys as well, got swamped with their active cases.

The good news remains that my case is finally going forward. They are going before a judge on the 18th to get a hearing. The last time we had a separate show cause hearing my lawyer went before the judge in November and our hearing wasn’t set until February. I figure we won’t be back in court until March.

I talked to my attorney’s legal assistant. In a roundabout way I know her personally. Her daughter and my daughter were on the same cheerleading and gymnastics teams. She’s already got it in the pleadings that he moved out of state without informing me or the courts. I’m still waiting to hear about whether or not we’ll be asking for the back support or if we’re going to leave that up to Mississippi. Which brings up the bad news part of the day.

My caseworker emailed me back. The last time we had communicated she had said she was waiting on an email or some sort of notice from Mississippi seeing as how the state computer website is still down. I replied that if there was a number I would be more than happy to call and see what was going on with my case.

Good Lord, you would have thought I volunteered to piss in their Cheerios. I was told in no uncertain terms that I should not do that because this was an interstate case and if I called they could dismiss my case. It’s part of the UIFDA guidelines! Oh my! If only I knew what that was.  Apparently it’s a guideline that states you’re not allowed to ask any questions about your own damn case because why on earth would you be concerned about any of that? God forbid you have an interest in your future or your life. Then again, this is the same agency that “can’t tell you” how much your ex-spouse is making because they wouldn’t want you to go into any situation with all the facts.

For those of you not up to date on this saga I was told back in September that I should hear something in 60-90 days. A week or two before what I thought was the 90 day period I asked what exactly I would be hearing and what would happen after that. At that point I was told the state had 60-90 days to review the case, put it into the computer system, and get it to the appropriate county. THEN the county had another 45 days to decide what the fuck they were going to do. What happens after that is anyone’s guess because no one seems to know. And since no one else is being held hostage by Jerry Lee, they really don’t give a fuck. Oh yeah, also the statewide website is down so no one can check up on any progress. Please don’t ask any questions about that, though.

She did let me know that Mississippi received the case on the 26th of September. That’s a little more than 2 weeks after my meeting. She admonished me to remember that they have only had my case for two months. Wow- only two months! How long does it take to get it into the computer and get it to the correct county? Frankly, in this age of electronics I am amazed it takes as long as it does to get this crap done. Only two months? Why not phrase it as, “They’ve had two months!”?

She goes on to inform me that they are not allowed to contact them until Mississippi has had the case for 90 days. She also lets me know she has no timeframe on anything although she presumes a court date will be set within the next 30 days. And she finishes it up with saying she understands that I’m in a rush to get this done but to please give the case additional time.

So, we’re now pushed back to December 26th. At that point the county gets the case. They have an additional 45 days to make a decision. Let’s face it. They always take the full amount of time. Now we’re looking at mid-February. No one knows what happens after the county sets a trial date so maybe we have a trial date set for the end of February. Maybe it won’t be held until April. We don’t know what happens after that either. Is he garnished right away? Does the judge rule right then and there or does he take a month to make his decision? We don’t know. Isn’t it more fun this way?

Maybe I’m an extraordinary employee but when I don’t know the answer to someone’s question I find out. I don’t simply reply, “I don’t know.” If I don’t know I do my best to try to find out. 99% of the time I’m successful. I’m also not dealing with people’s lives. Yet, my caseworker, who cannot give me legal advice, or even tell me what she’s seen in her job apparently, has no problem at all saying, “I don’t know how any of this works,” and not feel one ounce of obligation to actually find out the answer to any of these questions.

I realize I can be a pain in the ass. I fully acknowledge I can be like a dog with a bone. This stuff is scary, though. I’m going into this blind. I’ve been floundering for damn near a year. If you really think about it I’ve been jerked around by Jerry Lee for 2 years now. I never know when I’m going to receive a payment. I don’t know how much it will be. I don’t know if he will suddenly modify it. It’s terrifying. I have no idea what’s going to happen and I have no idea when it’s going to happen. A little bit of understanding would go a long way.