Things are going swimmingly with my DSS. He's through his first semester of high school. His out-of-state mom appears to have given up trying to regain custody. He's happy with that...and it shows, in the cessation of his hostile, passive-aggressive, risk-taking behaviors, which were driving us crazy a year ago, when DSS feared he was on the cusp of being forced to go to court and officially pick one parent over the other. He recently spent his first Christmas Day in 6 years with his Jewish mom, who's been fighting hard to have him each Christmas. He came home glad to have seen her, but firmly resolute that:
#1- He will not spend another Christmas Day with her, as she herself (not DH and me) made it clear that her chief interest in having him that day was to ensure he didn't spend it with us; not because Christmas seems important to her or her family, as she has so strenuously insisted the last many years.
#2- Her lifestyle is not how he wants to spend his high school years. He wants to live here. He still cares that this breaks her heart. But he's starting to grasp (on his own, not through indoctrination by DH and me) that when he was little and had NO choices, she did - and her string of decisions created her circumstances. Over the years - to my great fear - his mom excitedly promoted this "magic age" of 14, when he'd finally have the legal voice to help her beat his dad in court. Now that he IS 14, he seems to see this as HIS time to go after what HE wants, and to finally quit adjusting his life, feelings, opinions, even his name, to accommodate the parent he's with, or the one who seems most needy. Why should he have to give up his school, friends, sports, brothers, etc., to erase for his mom the consequences of her own choices? If having him live with her matters so much, she could have built a life for herself that didn't demand so many sacrifices from him. She could have not done whatever made her lose custody.
In short, the last several months I haven't been accustomed to feeling shell-shocked by something DSS says.
This morning, over breakfast, I expressed outrage about this case: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/21/child-support-error_n_4637465.html?1390319219&ncid=webmail1
- A TX non-custodial father was signed up for automatic bank account withdrawals, to pay his child support. Here, C/S collection services are mandatory (if you divorce through the courts) and NCPs must pay a fee.
- The service repeatedly withdrew too little - through a clerical error, not any fault of his.
- Evidently, the mother did not realize this (or didn't complain), but the service issued him an automatic bill, only after he was $3,000 in arrears - an amount many parents wouldn't be capable of correcting, all at once.
- He DID correct it, AND paid a $1,000 fine, to stay out of trouble. Evidently, there was no consequence for the C/S collection service's incompetence.
- Nevertheless, the prosecutor threw the book at him. He didn't have the good sense (or good representation) to request a jury trial. The judge gave him the maximum sentence: 6 months in jail.
- So now this father - who WANTS to be involved and who's CURRENT on his child support - missed Christmas with his kid; won't see him for half a year; can't work (or pay support) for half a year; and will get out of jail with no job and a conviction that will make it all the harder for him to get a new one.
Cases like that infuriate me. I was shocked when DSS's response was to narrow his eyes and - equally furiously - demand to know how I could defend that guy? How did I know he didn't DESERVE to be in jail? Maybe he was a real jerk, when he was married to the mom!
It was hard, at first, to focus on what he said, without likening it to his own parents. His mom thought his dad was a jerk during their marriage (or, at least, for breaking up with her) and thought he deserved to be punished for upsetting her, by getting thrown in jail and never seeing their child. It didn't matter that the ways he actually upset her weren't criminal; or that to have any hope of getting him jailed or revoking his parental rights, she had to lie, distort things and manufacture false evidence. Who cared if it took a miscarriage of justice, to get him in jail? That's where she felt he deserved to be, regardless of any facts.
I explained to DSS that maybe this dad *was* a jerk to the mom. But if so, whatever he did wasn't bad enough for that to land him in jail. He didn't deserve to go to jail for something else, that he didn't do (i.e., refusing to pay C/S), regardless who hated him, in his personal life.
DSS didn't say a word and appears to still be grievously offended by my opinion. I'd love to know what's in his head!
Edited by VocalMinority - 1/22/14 at 9:03am