Sunday, May 08, 2005

Email Question

(posted with permission)

Q:
My ex is behind on support and changes jobs frequently. I saw in the paper where their drivers license can be revoked. Does the state have to do this? I don't want a case with them, and I don't have enough money to rehire the lawyer that did our divorce.

A:
No! You can do this yourself, just be sure the revocation is warranted by the amount of support he owes or it may backfire. See T.C.A. (Tennessee Code Annotated - our statutes, or laws) on www.michie.com. Title 36, Chapter 2, scroll down to drivers license revocation.
T.C.A. 36-2-320 (o)(1) says you can motion the court, and upon proof of nonpayment, the Judge can revoke the license.

Step 1) Get your case number from the court clerk
Step 2) Draw up a Motion (e-mail for example)
Step 3) File motion with the clerk (they can help with fees if low income) just tell them what you need to do
Step 4.) They will set a date for the hearing that will give your ex notice
Step 5.) If your divorce has been finalized , you should only have to mail a copy of the motion to your ex to comply with notice requirements (hence the Certification of Notice on sample)
Step 6.) Draw up Order for the judge to sign if the motion is granted (again e-mail for sample)
Step 7.) Compile proof of nonpayment and proof that he can pay if you have it, the more you have the better
Step 8.) Go to the hearing with copies of your proof for the record, copy of your motion and copy of the Order, and print out of the law to reference if you need it
Step 9.) Tell the Judge what you are there for and show him/her the proof

At that point all you can do is hope it is granted. DO apologize to the court for appearing without an attorney and explain you couldn't afford one. Don't worry about the ex having an attorney. It looks bad on him if he can afford an attorney but won't pay support. If you have done everything right that's all you can do.

Most importantly, do not do this if you are unsure about any of the law or notice requirements. Keep reading, learning, and asking for help until your comfortable. There will come a time when you will know it like the back of your hand.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to read Title 36 backwards and forwards until you are familiar with it and the different options. You may discover some of your own solutions. Your best best as an advocate for your kids is to educate yourself.

A Word About CSE

There are alot of complaints about state caseworkers. There are always those who just could care less about anyone else... you find those everywhere. But most of the time your caseworker is overworked, the department underfunded, and you have someone who would love to help but really can't get there from here under the piles of cases. Same goes for prosecutors.
Keep that in mind when dealing with your caseworker, and remember everyday politeness can go far, say thank you and mean it. That doesn't mean you have to sit there and wait. Is there something you need done? Do what you can yourself. Don't know how? Ask, research, do a little legwork. Believe me I know it seems daunting but it's worth it. And when you present that to your worker, or ask about some do it yourself work.... be sure to tell them that you are doing it to help your case without adding to their load.
Who knows, you may learn anough to go it alone, it's amazing how you can progress when you are doing the work because you are invested, motivated, and only have one case to deal with, yours.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Ex's Employer Not Cooperating

This is a common problem. But the law states that employers who willfully fail to withhold support are LIABLE for that support. So what, huh? If you could afford an attorney you may not be here reading up on what you can do right? Well good news, finally.You can do something about it.
Start by calling the employer and record the time, date, and content of conversation. If there is a problem you need to fix, do so. If not, and they still won't, write them and do not provide a phone number so they must repspond in writing if they bother to do so at all. Still no good?
Email or post your story for steps specific to your situation.

Criminal Charges

TENNESSEE CRIMINAL LAWS FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-101. Nonsupport; flagrant nonsupport
(a) A person commits the crime of nonsupport who fails to provide support which that person is able to provide and knows HE has a duty to provide to a minor child or to a child or spouse who, because of physical or mental disability, is unable to be self-supporting.
(b) "Child" includes legitimate children and children whose parentage has been admitted by the person charged or established by judicial action.
(c) "Support" includes, but is not limited to, financial assistance, food, shelter, clothing, medical attention or, if determined elsewhere by law, other necessary care.
(d) A person commits the offense of flagrant nonsupport who:
(1) Leaves or remains without the state to avoid a legal duty of support; or
(2) Having been convicted one (1) or more times of nonsupport or flagrant nonsupport, is convicted of a subsequent offense under this section.
(e) Nonsupport under subsection (a) is a Class A misdemeanor. Flagrant nonsupport under subsection (d) is a Class E felony.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-102. Jurisdiction
(a) The juvenile court is vested with jurisdiction to:
(1) Try, determine, and render final judgment in all misdemeanor cases under 39-15-101 where the person enters a plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or not guilty and expressly waives indictment, presentment, grand jury investigation, and jury trial in writing. In such cases, the trial shall proceed before the court without the intervention of a jury;
(2) Conduct preliminary hearings in all felony cases under 39-15-101(d), and if the court finds probable cause and in all other cases where the person pleads not guilty to a felony charge or does not waive the right to a jury trial, bind the person over for the action of the grand jury under appropriate bond; and
(3) Regardless of whether the person is tried in juvenile court or bound over, enter an order of protection and assistance which may require the person to:
(A) Stay away from the home, dependent child or spouse;
(B) Permit the defendant visitation with the child or children at reasonable or stated periods;
(C) Abstain from offensive conduct against the dependent child or spouse or from otheracts which tend to make the home an unfit place for the dependent person to live; or
(D) Give proper attention to the care of the home.
(b)(1) In all cases where the person pleads or is found guilty of a misdemeanor under 39-15-101(a), the court shall sentence the person in accordance with title 40, chapter 35, and enter appropriate orders of support, protection and/or assistance.
(2) In the event the person's sentence is suspended, the court may require the person to give security by bond with sufficient sureties approved by the court for the payment of the order of support. Should the court subsequently find the person is able to comply with the order and fails to do so, the bond shall be forfeited and the proceeds therefrom paid into the court to be applied to the order of support, and the person shall be brought forthwith before the court of enforcement of the sentence.
(c) In all cases where the person is bound over to the grand jury, the criminal court shall enforce any order of protection and assistance entered by the juvenile court, and may, if the person is convicted, include any such order or modification thereof as part of the judgment and sentence.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-103. Appeal and review
(a) An appeal from any final order or decree of the juvenile court pursuant to the provisions of this part may be perfected to the court of appeals; provided, that any order of actual imprisonment except for contempt may be perfected as are appeals from any other criminal conviction pursuant to 40-4-112.
(b) No appeal shall operate as a stay of execution unless the person receives the court's permission, gives the security provided in 39-15-102(b)(2) and, when necessary, executes an appearance bond.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-104. Procedure
(a) When complaint on oath is made to the judge of any juvenile court against a person to be charged with a violation of this part, such judge must issue a warrant requiring the arrest of the person charged and that person is to be brought before the judge for examination; provided, that if the person, being duly summoned or voluntarily appearing, acknowledges the obligation of support, the court may in its discretion enter a consent order in lieu of the issuance of a warrant.
(b) No arrest warrant shall issue for the violation of any court order of support if the violation occurred during a period of time in which the person was incarcerated in any penal institution and was otherwise unable to comply with the order; provided, that this section shall not prevent the determining of arrearages under any previous order, and enforcement of such order as is consistent with the person's ability to comply.
(c) It is the duty of the governor to demand the return of any person charged under 39-15-101(d) from the governor of any other state where the person may be found, upon proper warrant being issued or indictment being returned.
(d) Any court vested with jurisdiction to implement the provisions of this part may enforce its orders and decrees by execution or in any way in which a court of equity may enforce its orders and decrees, including by imprisonment and fine for contempt. No property of the person, except all statutory homestead rights, shall be exempt from levy and sale under such execution or other process issued from the court. All provisions of title 36, chapter 5 that relate to child support or child support orders that include an order of spousal support, and 50-2-105 shall apply to support orders issued in these proceedings.


What this means?

Its a crime, period. Does no one want to prosecute? Need help getting something done about it? Don't know how to get started? Email tncs_blog@yahoo.com or post your questions.

Interstate Support

Ex live in another state? I feel your pain. It makes support much more difficult to enforce, but not impossible. UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act) offers a wonderful, free solution. If you have an Income Withholding Order (see above post if you don't) you can send the Order to the employer yourself, simply mail or fax, depending on the HR's preference, and there you go, straight from the paycheck to the kids. No hearing, no fees, just the cost of the stamp or the fax. And YOU can do it. Not an attorney or the state, but YOU, the parent trying to help your kids. It's empowering to have laws that allow you to get it done fast, and yourself, without having to rely on others with too many cases already on their plate.
Want to read it yourself? Check out the Tennessee Annotated Code (T.C.A.) at
www.michie.com, Tennessee, Title 36, Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, Direct Wage Withholding. Still confused? Email for help (tncs_blog@yahoo.com) or post your question.

Helpful Hint on Back Support

If you are owed back child support, Tennessee law allows you to file an affadavit to that effect with the Circuit Court Clerk who can then issue an Income Withholding Order. This Order can be sent to the other parents employer (by you in most cases), even out of state, and they will have to take the support directly from the paycheck and send it to you or the clerk where your payments are sent. There is no need for a hearing, and if your income level is low, you can fill out a paper with the Clerk that may allow you to file for free.
You will have to prepare the affadavit and the Order yourself. I can e-mail you a sample to follow, just ask (tncs_blog@yahoo.com), along with the actual statutes (laws) that allows you to do this. If you'd like to check them out yourself, see www.michie.com, click on Tennesse, and you will find all of our Tennessee statutes online. (Title 36 deals with Domestic Relations)Warning: If you have an attorney or a case manager with the state, do not do this without talking to them first. You don't want to jeopardize your case with them. And if you aren't clear on how to do things after receiving the samples, just e-mail questions and I'll get back to you asap. Just remember, I am not a lawyer and and cannot give legal advice. I can however, tell you exactly what I did under the law to get things done.

TN Child Support

The purpose of this blog is to allow those of us owed support in Tennessee a place to combine our knowledge, skills, and experiences in order to forward all of our efforts, individually and as a whole, to ensure that all our children get the support they deserve.
I am not in the legal profession, nor am I a private investigator. However, in the fight for my kids I have learned much about both. I'd like to share what I do know to spare others from having to learn the hard way.
One of the things I have learned, which I feel is most important, is that you often not only have to fight your ex for the support, but also those who are supposed to help you get it. No one will ever care more about the welfare of your children than you do. So if you really want something done, you will probably need to do it yourself. Advocate for your children, advocate for the children of others. There are so many of us in this position that by raising our voices, demanding attention to the problem, we can't help but be heard. Thousands complaining one at a time may not be enough, but together, as citizens and as voters, we have the power to change the sytem. The only question is if we want it badly enough to do the work.
So post your story, your experiences. There may be shortcuts you aren't aware of, law changes that will help you. We may even be able to locate that missing parent. And if you have any tips, share them. If you don't feel comfortable posting, you can e-mail me directly @tncs_blog@yahoo.com,and I'll do the best I can to point you in the right direction. There will soon be an online petition available for your "signature", telling leaders at the state and federal level that we will no longer tolerate the lack of concern, and that our childrens welfare should be the top priority. Knowing so many will refuse to vote for those who refuse to take a stand for our children will motivate them to action, now, which is exactly what our children need. Laws aren't any good unless they are enforced, and it's hard to make those in the position to enforce them care enough to get it done. So let's make them care.