A support hearing scheduled for the afternoon of September 22 forced me to take a break from closing down my late grandmother’s home. The purpose of the hearing was to decide whether my monthly child support obligation should be lowered due to my unemployment.
I am fighting a battle for my life on multiple fronts and the experience has taught me a great deal. I’ve learned that it is counterproductive to deny the emotional impact the struggle has had on me. Facing my issues head on inspires creative ways to deal with them.
The mindset I have developed has resulted in:
- A marked decrease in anxiety;
- A commensurate increase in confidence;
- An improved understanding of family court rules;
- A rising determination to seek my day in court; and
- The strength to ride out tough times with minimal support from family and friends.
The hearing itself is not much to write about. From my perspective, they never are. My routine is to arrive just before the scheduled time, leave in my car any possessions other than my wallet and critical documents, breeze through check-in, speak when spoken to before the judge and ignore any provocative behavior from the other side.
I did not deviate from this pattern September 22 with one critical exception: Before I left home, I sat down to write what in substance is a legal brief…and prepared supporting exhibits.
This is the kind of inspiration I have referenced above. The idea of preparing my own brief had occurred to me several days before the hearing, but the morning of, “idea” had evolved into “determination”.
The language flowed freely from my brain to my fingers. Considering the indisputable facts I sought to convey, writing the brief should have been so easy. In minutes, I had a document suitable for submission to the hearing officer (the hearing was administrative; no judge was present).
I realized immediately that the facts set out in the brief were of little value without supporting evidence. The beauty of the digital age is that documentation of nearly anything is accessible via corporate or government web sites with a few key strokes. I had found online and printed everything I needed within an hour.
The hearing lasted all of 15 minutes. I submitted my brief and exhibits to the hearing officer, she asked questions for which I had ready answers, I signed the required documentation then got the heck out of there.
Within days, I received her determination in the mail. My monthly support obligation was lowered, albeit on the condition of my unemployment. The hearing officer had made it plain that I must find employment that pays on the scale of previous earnings; taking a minimum wage job will not satisfy the requirements of the court.
As if that were ever my plan. In addition to child support, I have a mortgage, two car notes, insurance and utilities to worry about. Is she kidding? I grew up broke in the Bronx. I would never turn my nose up at lower paying jobs. I’ve simply built a life for myself and my kids that requires a higher income to support.
I didn’t bother to point this out. I’m done contributing to drama that never had a place in my life or that of my kids to begin with. My job is to get these people out of my face and get back to the business of hands-on fatherhood.