My Own Battle

Background

In January 1999 my ex-wife and I defined the end of our marriage and separated. Neither of us cheated, though we were both at fault. She may or may not agree with that though. We entered into a voluntary payment schedule based on the Ontario Child Support Guidelines and formalized the amount in our Separation Agreement in June 1999 in Ontario Superior Court. My ex-wife was attempting to expediate the sale of our family home and used the court to speed this along, this is the only reason the Superior Court is involved. My ex-wife moved nearly 100Kms away, to Oshawa. I remained in Mississauga, working in Toronto. I saw my daughters one evening every week and had them every second weekend.

Regular vistation and support continued through 1999 without issue. My pay increased gradually as I took on different roles after taking a position in January 2000 with a company in Antigua. While I had left my job in Toronto and moved to Antigua, maintaining an apartment in Mississauga for my monthly visits with my daughters, a real change from the weekly visits when I lived in the GTA. I took the job to avoid the impending bankruptcy that was the fallout of my marriage. I regretted the distance and found it hard to live on the Island.

I returned to Toronto in April to work with a local advertising agency as a website builder. I resumed me visitation schedule with my daughters and re-evaluated my financial situation. I gave up my car (leased) and began plans for bankrupcy.

Bothered immensely by the idea of bankrupcy and being pursued by my former employer in Antigua, I returned to Antigua in January 2001 in another attempt to avoid bankrupcy for an increased salary of $50,000 USD salary. The job was to keep the servers running and I did that very well. In April of that year a personal issue put me at odds with the man who ran the show and when the company picked up and moved to Costa Rica in May, I went home and stayed. I feared for my own personal well-being due to a threat on my life.

My Child Support payments were paid up, and though international banking and other small quirks had interfered on a couple of occasions I was paid up with my ex-wife until June. Upon returning to Toronto I set about buying a cheap vehicle and trying to find some work. Though my history is in technology that avenue was closed and and desperation is not a comfortable place I began looking for other work.

Though it seemed a drastic departure from technology I applied for a job with a local, respectable, towing company. I was started off in training, two weeks, no pay, learning the ropes. I learned quickly but speed and business was a longer road. My support payments would slide for July, August... I had no money and little understanding from my ex-wife.

The FRO is invited

By September things were picking up, not a lot of profit but it was something, then came the notice, the FRO will be garnishing my wages by 50%. This not good. Calling them left me out of the truck, not making money, for hours on end. The agents were not interested in the story, they simply wanted the $1200+ a month! I don't make that much... Garnishment took place in October.

Work harder, stay in the truck longer, get back on track... that was the goal. I was okay with that.

THEY WANT MY LICENSE!!! Court date in November. Okay, now to negotiate with my ex-wife for an adjustment.

November rolled around, we reached an agreement on November 4th, just needed to get her signature and file it. We followed guidelines and it was reasonable based on the $25000-30000 expected income at the time.

Off to Court

November 9th... No deal. I come home from 16 hours in a noisy truck to a voice-mail from my ex-wife telling me that she doesn't like the deal. The court date is November 15th! How can I get this sorted by then? I took a couple of days off. I found out what I could about competing with the FRO and adjusting the amount. I show up for court... there's one option. Agree to pay the whole support amount and you keep your license, don't agree, no license. Hmmm. I drive a tow truck... I think I need a license.

Last paycheck of November, I owe my employer $200! I quit! If I continued to work I would be more and more in debt to my employer, so there was no real choice.

Time to fight the system, get this problem solved. I would need to prepare for this myself, preparing affidavits and Application to Vary documents. I'm in over my head. I turn to my parents, they are able to help. If they did not, no good would come of it. I'm glad they could help. I have a lawyer.

I finally have a couple of technology gigs. Some money coming in, it's just survival, the support payments are covered ($1200+/month) for the time being, so are my legals by my parents, the tap is running dry and the court dates move out, again, and again... I loose my apartment... My girlfriend and I move closer to my daughters (within 5 km) and split the rent. Parents are still helping.

June 20th! Court Date: we have a temporary amount of $500/month, the license is safe and the amount of CS is again reasonable. Keep working on the case, go back to work at towing as there are no technology jobs available.

July 15th... Letter from the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO)- My license was revoked June 28th! I quit work again. My parents are covering rent, CS, and I'm doing anything technical to raise a buck...

Note: The courts are supposed to file any filed court order as per the law. They failed to do this and cost me my license from my perspective.

It's October before I get my license back. I've been working odd-jobs, dispatching for the tow company, cleaning up their yard all summer. I get a fairly decent project before the license is returned. I finish that and prepare for court in December... My lawyer has graciously accepted legal-aid.

December 4th... THE JUDGEMENT. There are few choices. The monthly amount is based on imputed income of $35000. The money my ex-wife has spent in defense is $25K, so the judge awards her some compensation for this by setting my arrears at $15K, payable at $3000/year for 5 years, they can't bug me for enforcement until 2004, another plus. I'm thankful it's over but wary of the judgement. The judge doesn't think I tried hard enough to find a job, feels I should be earning more, that I should be employed, This judge is sadly out-of-touch! Funny thing... I was employed!

Backgrounder on the Judge

Emile R. Kruzick of Toronto was appointed a judge of the Ontario Court (General Division) in Brampton on May 8, 1996.

Mr. Justice Kruzick graduated in law from Dalhousie University in 1970, and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1972. Mr. Justice Kruzick then joined the firm MacDonald and Ferrier, with whom he became a partner in 1974. In 1986, he became a partner of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt. Since 1993, Mr. Justice Kruzick has been a sole practitioner in Toronto. In 1995-96, he was appointed Dispute Resolution Officer of the Ontario Court (General Division). He has mainly practised in the area of family law.

Mr. Justice Kruzick has been involved with the Family Law Mentor Programme of the Law Society of Upper Canada since 1983. He has also been extensively involved with the Canadian Bar Association and the American Bar Association.


Ok... It's December. I don't owe anything until January. I've got my first payment for January set. I put the judgement out of my mind. Time to focus on getting work.

January 15th, 2003. I start a new job with a decent wage. Making payments is smooth, no problems.

May... FRO goes enforcement tried withholding tax refunds and such. Corrected with re-filing of court order though it took a few weeks.

January 2004... FRO mis-states arrears, long fax-discussion and phone-tag does not resolve. FRO has miscalculated arrears, cheating me out of $752.52! Pending...

It's time to review the support amount... Upon careful reading of the agreement, PANIC... (see judgement, above).


Delayed Side Effects of the Judgement

The judgement states that as of May 1st, 2004 (actually, any year we don't file with the courts) my CS payments will increase to an amount based on an imputed income of $75000 unless I can provide documentation that proves other wise (guilty until proven innocent?). The monthly amount would be in the neighborhood of $1500+. It put this process, the approval of the documentation, in the hands of my ex-wife.

I can provide documentation that details my earnings. No problem. It asks for a lot more, I'm a little protective of my personal information.

Here's the kicker... Next year, no matter what I established this year, the CS amount reverts to the amount based upon the imputed income of $75000!


UPDATE: March 25th, 2004 - Handed appropriate documentation to ex-wife.

UPDATE: April 26th, 2004 - Registered Mail sent to ex-wife included an updated and more beneficial contract (to date this has not been picked up at post office)

UPDATE: April 29th, 2004 - Ex-wife tables contract that offers $776 per month in CS. Included daycare receipts and income tax receipts. Contract is unacceptable as it would be sure failure in 2005.

NOTE: Daycare expenses claimed are ~$3800 where income from her job (February through December 2003) is ~$5700.

UPDATE: April 30th, 2004 - Offer new contract using her numbers, excluding threatening clause.

UPDATE: May 2nd, 2004 - Ex-wife refuses latest contract offer.

UPDATE: May 1st, 2004 - FRO uses judgement amounts, begins monthly accrual of $1362.12. My monthly payment will remain at $776. My arrears will grow by $586.12 per month until the problem is corrected.

UPDATE: May 4th, 2004 - FRO has waived enforcement actions due to negotiation process with ex-wife.

UPDATE: May 4th, 2004 - Delivering new offer with more teeth for her side, more safeguards for myself. What's next? ;-)

UPDATE: May 5th, 2004 - We talk, some progress. No signature.

UPDATE: May 12th, 2004 - Deadline has passed, She's left it to her lawyer to go over. I can't wait for her to play her games. We're moving forward.

UPDATE: May 14th, 2004 - My ex-wife was gracious enough to find a way to end this. She provided me a signed letter ensuring this will be a yearly process. This has been filed with the FRO and should resolve the matter.

Note: Next year may be different. If she can't give a valid reason why she needs full-time daycare for my kids, there won't be an agreement. The laws need to change in this area, what is a fair use of daycare?


2005: The annual information package was sent on February 11th by Registered Mail. The packaged included a letter and a CD-ROM with all required documentation included as per Schedule "A" of the court order. This includes:

  • My Filed Tax Return for this year (2004)
  • Copy of every notice of assessment and reassessment for the prior year's taxes (2003)
  • Recent Statement of Employment detailing earnings from employer (pay stub)
  • financial statements for my business (I don't have one and this is why I decline to become self-employed)
  • Written confirmation of my income and capital for the prior year (if I had a business)
  • Financial statements of any corporation and it's subsidiaries controlled by me for the prior years as well as a breakdown of all payments made to non-arms length persons for the prior year (if applicable)
  • List of all banking institutions, bank account statements, and credit card statements for the year.

2005: The response from my ex-wife came on April 13th, 2005 but the document has been signed since April 7th. This in itself is disturbing because the FRO needs two-weeks to acknowledge and act upon any changes. She has also pointed out that I'm supposed to file, while I was hoping she'd do this, she's right. I sign and return the document, hoping she can file it in the Brampton division of the Ontario Courts. She graciously acknowledges the challenges to my filing the documents.

2005: The agreement was easy, it's the courts that bite.
My ex-wife was gracious enough to file this year. She works in town, I commute to the other side of the universe so it's a logical choice, right? It seems that my ex-wife had a problem, the Family Court refused the filing (though they accepted it last year) because that case is closed and the paperwork is supposed to be heard in the Superior Court, though that court's clerks feel that the Form 26B is inappropriate. My ex-wife left the courts with no progress and a whopping headache.

Ex-wife does some research, She discovers the apparent need to fill out this host of forms. According to Rule 15(10) of the FAMILY LAW RULES we need a Form 15, 15A and a few documents for good measure. We agree that this doesn't make sense. The Judge (ignorant as he might be) said file the Schedule 'B' each year and all will be fine. It cannot be this complicated, or can it be (click here for the full document). My take on the Form 15/15A combo usage is that it completely re-writes what I pay and what I owe. It may supersede the arrears arrangement in the court order and it seems to ask for a huge waste of paper. Part 2 of Form 15 asks for the following:

  • Financial Statement (optional)
  • Your yearly income for this year (requires predictive powers)
  • Copies of all Notices of Re-Assessment from the CCRA (IRS for the US readers)
  • Proof of Earnings document from your employer (involving your employer is always fun)
    OR
  • A host of financial information if you're self-employed (which is why I'm not)
  • a copy of every personal income tax return that has been filed with the CCRA in the past 3 years.

Is this whole process a method or mechanism to keep lawyers rich? To unravel this mess I feel I need one, I would have appreciated a process that would make this a cost-free annual event.

I am taking a stand, exercising inaction as an act of civil disobedience. I have resovled that I am not going take the time off to go to court to file this form. If there is a means to file the documentation by fax or mail I'll use it. I will not pay a lawyer for this service, any money I make or have is better spent on my children. That said, I cannot afford time off at this point, a day's work is $180 (gross) and a lawyer is $1500 to engage their interest. While the courts and system are such that they do not care that my lost wages or the "investment" in a lawyer cause hardship, they become very concerned when I don't follow their rules.

As has been pointed out by others, there's a huge quantity of information on the Internet regarding the imposition of the rules of the system. Inversely there's next to no information available on how to untangle this sort of mess. Apparently there's no money in helping people file a Domestic Agreement. I have made a request to the Attourney General of Ontario through the government website. The request asks for a simple, clear, lawyer-free manner to resolve this.


I faxed what I have, the signed agreement between the ex and myself, to the FRO. I've told them the difficulties and while I know it won't help much, I have informed them and I am paying in accordance.

I have also voiced my concerns with the FRO/MCSS and in turn the Attorney General of Ontario. I don't expect progress, but I have asked for their assistance. I have e-mailed the Attorney General's office and my M.P.P. and I'll keep this up-to-date with any responses.

Responses:
MCSS 2005-05-13
MCSS 2005-05-25
AGoO 2005-05-20
AGoO 2005-05-31

My Concerns about Rule 15 stem from the required documents outlined in the rule. They call for Form 15 and 15A, which are complicated enough. They also call for inclusion of a draft order (5 copies) which I'm confused about the need for. We have a support order we are simply amending the amounts. They also ask for a draft support deduction order, this arrangement is covered by our Schedule "B" that the judge asked us to file. Where does all this other documentation come from? My first impression is that I need to involve lawyers, this is unacceptable. To talk to a lawyer would set me back $1500 I don't have. If I was eligible for Legal Aid the challenge becomes dealing with someone who feels put out for this charity case (~$80/hour vs. the $300 they're accustomed to). You cannot tell me they're actually focused on my best interests when working so far below their preferred rate.

There's more. Creation of all this mess is not an evenings work. It's daylight hours, weekdays, and time off work. The system seems to support lawyers and expect that everyone can afford the thousands required to walk through this process. If the parties are not in agreement there is an increased impact because the process requires an investment in lawyers or face the wrath of the FRO and the courts. For example I may have concerns I have about my ex-wife's daycare amounts but if I question those expenses I would need to go to court. While I do understand her situation if I did not I would be under the duress of my financial situation to agree rather than raise the issue in court. This is a real concern about the bias and effectiveness of the laws and services that work for child support enforcement, leaving those in the system feeling trapped, placed in a position of failure and at the mercy of others.

2005-05-20: The FRO leaves me a voice-mail explaining that they cannot accept the Schedule "B" as it has not been filed with the courts. They expressed some level of confusion that it would not be accepted but wished me all the best in attempting to resolve this matter. Oh, they mentioned the only way off this hook is that my ex-wife and I would need to withdraw from the FRO. She can make this choice. I can suggest this. I don't have any expectation of success in that quest. I am not pursuing this avenue at this time.

The expected result of the inability to file the update using the Form 26B option is the increase of arrears based upon imputed income. The court order imputes my income at $75,000, the guideline amount for this income is $979 per month. In addition there is monthly daycare costs of $383.12 (based on the 2001 daycare costs and my ex-wife's income at that time) if there is no update filed. As mentioned, the courts will not accept the update as presented.

  DateCourt Ordered AccrualActual Agreed Amount*Increasing Arrears
2005.05.01$1362.12$816.00546.12
2005.06.01$1362.12$816.001092.24
2005.07.01$1362.12$816.001638.38
2005.08.01$1362.12$816.002184.48
2005.09.01$1362.12$816.002730.60
2005.10.01$1362.12$816.003276.72
2005.11.01$1362.12$816.003822.84
2005.12.01$1362.12$816.004368.96
2006.01.01$1362.12$816.004915.08
2006.02.01$1362.12$816.005461.20
2006.03.01$1362.12$816.006007.32
2006.04.01$1362.12$816.006553.44

The table below outlines the accounting of my Child support responsibility (Actual Agreed Amount) vs. the Court Ordered Accrual as it has commenced on May 1st, 2005. If there were no outstanding arears, the Increasing Arrears, would be as calculated in the right column, but the judge had ordered an arrears based on imputed income in the 2002 judgement. The FRO would become upset when arrears gets out of line by about $5,000. In my case add $9300 of protected arrears to this calculation.

As the government and court system has yet to provide any reasonable means to file the updated Schedule "B" this is how the arrears will increase. I refuse to waste my time or money on a lawyer or to stand in line at the courts for them to tell me the appropriate vehicle for filing does not exist.

My ex-wife feels that the FRO should not cause me any problems because I am paying. I would like to think this as well, but I really don't have any faith in the system to think they wouldn't try to destroy what they perceive to be a "Deadbeat Dad".

Please Note: The FRO should not be trusted to perform accounting unchecked. They must know this because they only allow you 1 statement per year and if you want more frequent updates it'll cost you $25.

The Reality of Information Technology

In the IT sector there's a basic truth that puts you ahead or leaves you behind: Advancing your career. There are a few manners by which to advance your career. Training is the easiest way up, this is normally followed by Certifications. A week of training can cost you $1500 or more. The certification, if it's not included, can cost you another $500.

What I have just given you is the low-end. The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer Certification Suite can set you back $15000, the certifications are on top of that.

What happens if you don't advance yourself. You fall off the edge. Your career ends, and you leave IT. That's not so bad, after 2 or 3 decades of the race, it's a worthy vacation to go off and do something simple. BTW: If you're in teh system, they will keep you from having enough money to advance your skills, and insist that you can't step out of the career either. You're trapped.

You're trapped unless you can utilize creative accounting to make your income appear much less than it is. This is unethical, I don't recommend it. I feel it's wrong to do that sort of thing, but many do this. They seem to fall into the category of Deadbeat Dad, don't they?

2005.06.24 - My daughters are leaving for the UK for 3 weeks with my ex-wife and her boyfriend. I hope they have a wonderful trip. I'll be looking forward to their return and hearing about it. I am completely supportive of my daughters taking trip.

2005.06.25 - Sent a note to the Premier again...

2005.06.25 - Note to Premier

Mr. McGuinty, 

I am deeply troubled at the blatent disregard your government has for 
Non-Custodial Fathers. The objective of the government is clear, separate the 
father from the family by crippling him financially. 

On numerous occasions I have presented my concerns to you and you, or your 
staff, have forwarded the concerns off to the Attorney General's office or the 
Minister of Community and Social Services. They have responded but there's no 
sign of action. 

They tend to remind me that they cannot interfere in my case, that is 
understood. They tend to ignore what I express concerns for. In fact my most 
recent letter from your office is talking about how wonderful the new 
enforcement measures are. Dalton, THESE MEASURES SCARE ME! 

I'm not a Deadbeat by anyone's account. The FRO sees this differently but 
they're not the problem. The court order that is currently filed with the FRO 
suggests taht I must file an annual update to my support amounts. There's no 
indication of HOW to do this though. While this is not normally a cause for 
concern,  thsi seems to be a problem for my ex-wife and I. When she attempts 
to file this form, as per the court order, they refused it. The Superior Court 
refused it the year before too, but I was able to convince a clerk to file it 
in Family Court. This was inappropriate but the FRO didn't seem to care about 
court procedures.

I am now accruing arrears at a high rate, over $500 per month. I want to file 
this document in a timely and cost-effective manner, but there's no obvious or 
published to do this without a lawyer. 

This leaves me in a predicament... How do I satisfy the court ordered request 
to file this form if they won't accept it? More concerning, how do I avoid 
being prosecuted as a Deadbeat Dad without inccuring unreasonable costs? 

The cost of a lawyer to prepare the documents is unreasonable, It would take 
$1500 to even entertain the barrister to listen. I would need at least one day 
off work to accomodate going to court myself to attempt filing this document, 
but that's an expensive endeavour too.

What money I do get to keep is generally spent on my daughters. The costs to 
file this document directly impact their lives.

How does a government that's claiming fairness in these laws design a system 
that's so difficult to use.

I need to see changes... Please Help.

Our premier responded with his usual apptitude for political responses... Mr Bryant has already responded with the same level of helpfulness.

Do you think I'm evading? Have a look at my typical monthly expenses... Report. The only thing missing is my transfer to to pay the rent, $700 per month. You may see that puts me in the "hole" in May, but it averages out. While there are some things I buy to make life better, including dinner out, there's no reason I should be living like a pauper. I should be allowed to provide a decent home for my daughters and give them cool things as necessary while instilling good values.

One More Try... On August 10th, 2005 - During my only vacation with my kids - I will visit the Brampton Courthouse in an attempt to find a solution to this mess. I will go armed with the signed 2005 Schedule 'B', the December 2002 Judgement, a Form 26B, and the Form 15/15A suite in an effort to define a process. At the end of the day I hope to have a filed form OR a defined and reliable process based upon the judgment's demands.

The SOLUTION!
Apparently the solution is in the ramblings of an advice lawyer I found at Brampton Court today. She explained, quite accidentially, that filing this document must occur in the Ontario Court of Justice rather than the Superior Court because the FRO is a provincial agency. The correct form is the 26B and while I don't know how one gets a court file number if they haven't got one, I had one from my first run-in with this way back on 2001. I have been able to file the Form 26B with an original signed agreement (that Schedule "B"), finally, with only minimal impact on family and children. Since I was on vacation this week, the cost is nil and my kids are at their grandparents', but this means I'll need to plan a vacation day in April next year or simply let it ride until my summer vacation each year.

I'm sure glad this is over. See you all next year.

Did I say this was over...

August 19th, 2005, The FRO sends me a letter, well... Rosa does. She's my case worker, Client Services Associate #438. Rosa's letter explains that first (only the first) Director's Statement of Arrears (aka Statement of Account) is free. Each additional request costs $25... TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!!!

She included the form so I could pay be cheque, money order, or credit card. How nice of her.

Ok. I've been in this system for a while and I'm used to this stupidity. A pleasant if not useless individual from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, George, was kind enough to give me Rosa's direct line. This re-iteration of the ridiculous needed to be dealt with. I called Rosa, left a rather stern message demanding an DSoA. Well. That got me no futher than I really expected. August 24th, she called back.

Rosa's Call: Wednesday August 24th, 2005 at 8:52AM

Yes, Mr. Stevens, it's Rosa, returning your call from the Family Responsibility 
Office about a statement of Arrears or statement of your account. I just want 
you to understand , Mr. Stevens, that I don't make the rules here. Um, I've 
noticed here on the case the you've received two free Statements of Arrears last
year, um, and uh, like I said really only the first one is free, and after that 
we have to charge $25 to our clients. Again, I don't make the rules, I just have 
to follow them.

So, um, I really don't know what to tell you.

If you'd, um... The other thing too is the adjustment hasn't been done on the 
case yet. I sent a request to our finance department last week but they haven't 
gotten to it yet. So they, I'm sure, will be working on it very shortly.

Ah... But, if you'd like, I can, ah, go through the adjustment with you once its
done, to assure you, that it's been done correctly.

Um, if you have any other questions give me a call.

Thank you. 

Footnote on the call:
It's incredible that they refer to me as a client. The idea that anyone would treat a client, a customer, with such disrespect would be unheard of if you were a customer of a real company. The other concern I have in them referring to me as a client implies they provide me a service. I am a case, not a person. I am a number, not a client.

One additional thought: It seems those who pay are presumed to be able to pay, always, without end. The 'system' is so ready to take from the father (NCP) that unless he's dishonest, he's impacted in an entirely unfair and reprehensible manner. It is only the underhanded and dishonest who are left financially unhindered.

My biggest beef is that I should need to pay a service charge at all. Understanding that 'the system' is what it is, I know paying is the husband's role. Why would I expect anything different? Well. In light of the FRO's inability to perform basic math (2004), I needed to ask for a DSoA. In fact to ensure they figured it out I asked for two. Wouldn't you? Apparently the FRO is not culpable in the area of accounting, and I am supposed to trust these proven defects of the system.

What's new in 2006?

I provided my ex-wife the appropriate documentation in mid-April. As usual its on CD and includes a menu and electronic documents as ordered by the court. Then I waited...

It's July and my ex-wife has failed to provide paperwork for 2006. She has my documentation, it was delivered back in mid-April. Her reasons have been: "I'm waiting on receipts", "We're doing it this weekend", and "We're working on it right now."

Do I believe her? While that doesn't actually make ANY difference, yes. For the moment. The other thing is she won't get her $3000 bonus for 2006 until it's delivered and filed with the court.

patience...

August 17th: Received paperwork from my ex-wife as I was dropping the kids off. While she has been terribly co-operative this year, the biggest problem I have now is filing the documentation. My vacation for this year, I'm in overdraft as it is, is over and I don't want to rock the boat at work by taking time off. I'm checking into whether one can file by mail/e-mail. I doubt it, but one must try.

It must be noted that because my income went down last year, my monthly amount is lower until next May. I highly recommend having a clause in your support order that ensures this happens. It's likely to become law anyway.

Since 2006

Well, I'm gainfully employed, this year's exchange of paperwork was prompt and handled early.(I'm earning more...paying more, go figure). I have taken to providing all documentation on CD-ROM in electronic format to save trees, etc. My ex-wife has been a pleasure to deal with and my children are happy. That $3000 annual "bonus" to my ex-wife that the judgement saddled me with is nearly done with. I have two years left (2007 and 2008) and I'll be happy to be free of that.

I can surely thank my local Member of Provincial Parliament, Dr. Kuldip Kular for his staff's assistance in connecting with the FRO in a better way. I was given a new case-worker and she provided and actual name and her direct contact number. She/The FRO seems to understand the finacial situation I'm in and the issues of getting information from my ex-wife. They have handled the accounting better, if not exactly by-the-books, but effectively in the sense of having the desired outcome. They know that I will fax them each year if there are delays in the paperwork, they will also handle things appropriately when the paperwork arrives and the dust settles. The secret I've found is keeping them informed (by fax) and following up (by phone) to ensure the fax was received. Apparently they have improved their fax entry time (the time between receipt and it being attached to your case) and I'm very happy about that.

The FRO by all [other] accounts are difficult to deal with, careless, and frustrating. This is the case on both sides of the child support coin. I would gladly help them find their way to effective process and the efective use of technology, but I don't harbour any hope that they would ask me or anyone to straighten their processes out.

Be Responsible. Be a good Dad. Pay your support! If you don't agree with it, be sensible, keep paying, and fight it. If you evade support by working under the table or working below your means, may the courts have their way with you behind closed doors.

My life right now isn't that bad. I don't have any significant amounts of spare change but the collective top priorities are as follows: My children, a home for my children, a job to support my lifestyle (the house, the child support), and keeping that job by being the best employee I can be. I take transit to work, 3 hours a day without help, but fortunately I get help from friends and this is often only 2-2.5 hours. I live in a townhouse and pay rent, thankful to the person who took a chance and rented the house to me. This house offers my children thier own rooms, and while more space than I need, enough space that the children have a feeling of home. They have friends over, they like the neighbours, they belong. I'm not moving. While I have no car, my time and the impression on my daughters is such that they brag about my ability to find the best bus route. My own belief is that there is no best bus route, simply luck. My priorities do not forget me and my daughters and I discuss what we need and the budget we have. Christmas is coming up and we're balancing out the wants vs. needs under our budget. They understand that funds are finite. My children understand, because I involve them in the decisions and the realities (not how much I fund my ex-wife, though that happened once inadvertently and was not pleasant for my ex-wife and I do not recommend this course of action, it's not fair or justifiable).

I realize, and while I hate making a reference to a Tom Cruise movie, the situation that he's in in War of the Worlds (the first five minutes, not the running from aliens bit) is a real issue for some Dad's. We're not all neat, we work at neat because we love our children but space it not always plentiful. Divorce is expensive. I could move to an apartment that's a 2-bedroom, even a one bedroom. I've done this before and treated it like a bachelor apartment and my daughters had the master bedroom. I "slept" on the pull-out couch in the living room. It's acceptable but if you have mixed genders two rooms becomes a necessity after about age 7~10. Rent isn't cheap, but it's less than a townhouse. Were it not for the neighbours and the neighbourhood, we'd be down the road in an apartment paying about $1200/month. Home for us is much more expensive, this is my choice, our choice, but is simply a matter of priorities. My children are better off here than in the apartment based upon who and what are around us. I could save, potentially, $300/month by living elsewhere. The challenge is that most other places would not rent to me because of my poor credit rating, so... here is a very good place to be.

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