|In 2008, I had been laid off and got 2 months behind in child support. I got a new job, was paying extra to catch up, and figured part of tax returns would finish it, with most returning to me. When all of my tax returns were taken instead of only part, I called to get an explanation, only to find that I was now well over $6000.00 in arrears, despite the money already taken from me. My total arrears had been $1408.00 at the worst, andbefore my tax returns were taken it was about $1100.00. Astounded, I called support (who will not give you your case worker's number) and asked for an explanation. They didn't know, but "forwarded my concerns to my caseworker", who was supposed to return my call within 2 business days. She didn't call. |
I called again. The support rep forwarded my concerns again. And yes, she failed to call again.
12 faxed requests and dozens of calls to support later didn't help. No explanation was given, and my caseworker wouldn't return calls or letters. I finally called the Attorney General's office and was assigned a deputy who would contact my caseworker. She did not seem thrilled to be helping me, but she did contact my caseworker. AndI got a call back the next day. I also got the direct number to their office.
My caseworker tried to act as though she didn't know what was going on with the huge charge,and asked to call me back by the end of the week. Two weeks later I had to leave 2 messages on her boss's voice mail to get a callback. When I finally got an answer of the nearly $7000.00 that was placed on my account, I started to understand why they'd been ducking my calls.
In 1995, a court order increased my child support quite a bit, but the judge said that it wasn't to be retro-active 6 months back to a previouscourt date. The mom had handed me papers while in court on another matter, so of course I couldn't have been expected to have my financialdocuments. The judge scheduled another date.Child Support made it retro-active anyway, and it took over 2 years to get them to take the nearly$2500.00 they placed on my 'arrears' off. They even sent me a letter, stating that they were wrong and I owed nothing. Well...
Nearly 15 years later, they decided to "reinterpret" the court order. I swear, that's even the verbiagemy caseworker used to explain it to me.The $2500.00 had been placed back on my account, back-dated to 1995, and I was charged about 14 years of interest on it.
I'm not making a random claim - they flat-out admitted this is what they had done. They had also messed up when I was buying a house, listing me as $900.00 in arrears. I also contested that. I have letters from both times, where Child Support Enforcement admitted they were wrong and that I owed nothing. The letters from their office clearly stated that I owed nothing and that there were no arrears.I have monthly statements from their officethat, up until the point at which this charge was placed on my account, agreed with my records. I should mention that they stopped sending out monthly statements at the exactsame time allthis happened, but they said it was a new policy.
It was in January thatthis started, so theymight have been telling the truth.Despite this, both they and the deputy from the Attorney General told me that this is probably legal for them to do. The original court order specified the active date, but didn't spell out "do not make this order retro-active", so they figured they could just do it. Since they'd waited so long to reinterpret the court order, I could no longer get the minutes from thecourt recorder to prove the judge had made this explicitly clear.
I was astounded that it would be possible to "reinterpret" a nearly 15-year old court order and re-charge me money we'd already disputed and they'd admitted fault, but I was more astounded that they're legally able to charge me the 14 years of interest on a charge they only put on my account a few months before. My only recourse seems to be contacting an attorney, but at the moment I can't afford the $5000.00 retainer they all seem to want.
For anyone else that's trying to contact their caseworker on a child support case and isn't having any luck, I have some advice. First, Internet searches aren't going to be a huge help. Nearly 100% of advice is for moms trying to get support from deadbeat dads. There's next to nothing in the way of support for non-custodial parents that have been wronged by Child Support Enforcement. Also, if your calls and written requests haven't yielded a return call, and you can't just drive out to Flagstaff from Phoenix on a business day, contact the Attorney General's office. They'll at least get the ball rolling. Last piece of advice - keep every single bit of documentation Child Support gives you, be it monthly statements or a recalculation or whatever. Also keep any documentation that relates to the issue, and keep it well. You might need it in court, as I'm going to.