Earlier this summer I did a piece originally published on MomsFightBack.org, entitled “Chaos in Colorado” http://momsfightback.org/chaos-in-colorado This story featured Julie Sykes, a primarily wheelchair bound single mom in Nebraska who has been trying to get her court ordered child support enforced for her son since 2014.
Julie’s ex husband is located in Colorado and this article focused on the state of Colorado admitting that “it made a mistake” by giving an obligor who owed more than 37,000 in arrears at that time his drivers license back without him making a single child support payment.
This is not an isolated case or even a one time mistake. Parents all over Colorado and multiple other states all attest that arrears amounts are skyrocketing as child support is not being paid and yet the obligor is not facing any enforcement actions.
Julie’s situation is dire as she is completely disabled with a rare genetic condition, Morquio Syndrome, and unable to work. Julie interviewed with her local news in May of 2017 and asked a very poignant question of Bill Schammert of 10/11 news: “Why are taxpayers paying for my son when his father should be?”
After I saw Julie’s interview I tracked her down through social media and Julie graciously agreed to interview with me as well. Julie is very soft spoken and undeniably sweet, her anguish for her son and the things he has done without for these past three years shines through every word.
Julie’s gratitude towards her mother and her church family also shines through. Julie is certain that she and her son would have ended up homeless without these wonderful people.
Since my interview, Julie went on to contact her Region of Health and Human Services, and filed a complaint with them on her child support case. https://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/regional-offices/index.html HHS oversees the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. She received a call from her Governor’s office and calls were placed to Colorado. Within weeks contempt charges were filed and Julie’s ex husband was served his due process and court was set for September.
Prior to court Julie did another interview with Blog Talk Radio. Then Julie and her service dog Onyx and Julie’s faithful mom loaded up and went to Colorado for court. After this initial appearance, Julie was granted permission by the judge for future appearances to be via phone.
On September 27th Julie’s ex stood before the judge himself and admitted that there was no reason he could not hold down a full time or pay his child support. He is now undergoing training classes, required to check in weekly with enforcement and has a weekly court date in front of the judge to monitor his compliance with the program.
At the last weekly hearing the Judge asked Julie (present via speaker phone) if she had any questions or comments? Julie asked the Judge why her ex could not start making small payments as a sign of “good faith” towards an arrears balance of nearly 40K at this time? Julie suggested simply $50 dollars to show his “good faith”. Julie reports that the public defender immediately protested this, stating that even with his income from service that any payments “would be a hardship for Mr. _”
The Judge considered this protest and said very simply, “This has been a hardship on your child.” and he set an initial payment of $100 due by 12/15.
I know about 51k single parents who want to kiss that Judge right about now!
We all hear so many excuses for unpaid child support, but do we ever hear about the children? The children who had to give up a beloved sport, the children who did not get to go on the school trip? The kids who are hoping no one notices they are not wearing new sneakers on the first day of school….
I asked Julie if thinks she would have made any progress without the TV and media interviews and a Federal Level complaint?
Julie emphatically stated, “NO!”
Even with an attorney from her church helping her pro bono, nothing moved on her case in almost three years.
Julie stated, “I have had to push, pull, shove, and push some more! But I feel good now, I think this Judge is listening to me and it seems we are finally making a little headway.”
Julie giggles and says, “Miley Cyrus’s ‘The Climb’ is my fight song!” And she’s going to keep on climbing– for her son!
Single parents: please let Julie’s story inspire and encourage you to not give up! Keep fighting for your kids and getting them what they deserve- support from BOTH parents! I know you are tired, I know you are working two jobs and doing the parenting chores of a couple but take 15 minutes to write the letters, make the phone calls, file FEDERAL LEVEL complaints and FOLLOW UP on your complaints!
Be willing to share your story as Julie did– this is how we change things! And the person you are changing things for is the little boy who wants to play soccer, the little girl who wants to join the drill team…
If your state agency is doing nothing to enforce your case start by filing a complaint with the Region of HHS.gov that oversees your state. Send a letter to the Chief Counsel via the email address provided and send in a paper copy by mail and fax. Include your arrears statements and any other documentation. If you hear nothing in two weeks do it again and start calling! Keep a log of all correspondence sent…
Send copies of all of this to your Governor and your Congressman. Congress oversees the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, and parents–2018 is an ELECTION YEAR for congressional seats. Make appointments to see your congressman or woman. Ask them if they have even read the Report to Congress– available here https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/resource/2016-preliminary-report Get familiar with this amazing document…. in the appendix the arrears and caseloads are listed state by state for the past five years. The amounts will blow your mind.
And don’t stop there– be willing to do what Julie did. If no one will answer or help you call your local news media, editors of the local paper, investigative reporters– Be willing to share your story simply and truthfully.
Most people have no idea what goes on in family and IV-D courts and that is why we have ended up in the mess we are in. This issue affects you weather or not you even have children….. the arrears owed in America today are over $116,360,701,209.00 Billion dollars… We can do better by our children. Bottom line.