Defending Dads

You're doing your jobs. You and your kids deserve better.

15 Years of Hard Work = Nothing

It’s all up to the bureaucrats now. The questions have been answered, the forms filled out and the paperwork signed.

The effort I put into providing a decent life for my family has mattered little to any government agency I deal with. I guess now, it’s all in the hands of God.

Currently, I am dealing with Northampton County, Pennsylvania’s Domestic Relations Section (“Domestic Relations”) and the New York State Department of Labor (“Labor”). Domestic Relations regulates my child support and Labor provides my income while I’m unemployed.

I have not worked regularly since February. When my last employer terminated me, I was granted a severance package which expired in May. I had some money saved up that I intended to live off while I spent as much of summer as possible with my kids.

As of July 13, Domestic Relations discovered the bank account holding my reserve and froze it without notice. As soon as I knew, I scrambled to find a source of emergency income.

My research led me to Labor’s web site. The morning of July 14, I successfully applied for benefits with the effective date of July 4. This was wonderful, but any joy I took was short-lived.

I asked Labor to change my effective date of benefits to the expiration date of my severance package which was May 11. This would entitle me to benefits covering the period from that date up to July 4, roughly seven weeks. Labor denied this request after several weeks of wrangling. I appealed the determination and participated in a hearing by phone October 12. The decision is pending.

This past September 27, I attended a hearing with Domestic Relations to decide the amount of child support I would pay during my unemployment. My support was lowered, but Domestic Relations, again without warning, attached my Labor benefits.

My Labor benefit is $371 a week net. Of this, Domestic Relations takes $183, leaving me with $187. This princely sum barely covers the gas I burn on the 12-mile round trip from my home to the Domestic Relations office in Easton.

The upshot is that two bureaucracies charged with “helping” what is left of my family is actually destroying it with awful decisions that completely disregard my welfare. I am in jeopardy of losing the home I bought for my kids, the car that would transport me to and from work and the car I bought for my ex-wife (which she abandoned, though I remain responsible for the note). I am struggling to pay my auto insurance, utilities, child support and sundry expenses.

I am in the unique position of having one bureaucracy trying to lock me up for not earning enough and another putting a strangle hold on what I earn. The agencies do not work together to help me survive this ordeal, but each works to keep my pockets empty.

The challenge for me is to figure out how to remain a good father with no money, no car and no home.

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