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Feb 12, 2011

"Deadbeat" - A parent who willfully ignores and evades a court order to provide financial support for their children.

In this case, a manipulative, abusive father who would rather ignore a court order and let his children become homeless than admit that he was embarrassed because they didn't want to spend Christmas with him and his new family.



It's a kind of embarassing for me to do this, but we're rapidly getting to the end of our resources, and this week is it. And at this point I'm willing to do anything it takes.

The worst of our financial troubles started in 2008, not just with the economy but with my father. My parents divorced in 2003, but he continues to do everything he can to destroy our lives. This past Christmas, he got upset that my siblings didn't want to spend the day with him and his new wife (whom none of us even really know. He had cheated on our mother with this woman, and several others. They had a secret wedding on a cruise to Hawaii at some point, and we didn't find out until he brought her to my sister's 8th grade graduation.) They had already told him that they had plans and didn't want to go, but he decided to show up anyway. He lives 2 hours away, in Pennsylvania (after he refused to let my mother move out of NJ). So he decided to ignore us for the past 2 months, and we heard that he even went so far as to return my siblings' Christmas gifts. The reason we heard this is because he complained to his mother that we weren't talking to him, that we hadn't called him since Christmas. She called my sister at school to harass her about this. This whole fiasco made my mother very upset, so I called back to clear things up and see if we could get my dad to stop. Nothing changed.

My father's income is in the high 6 figure range. He is the Director of Global Learning & Development at Bristol Myers Squibb. He lives in a million dollar neighborhood, owns several cars (some of them new), and spends thousands a month on useless items he ends up throwing away (or used to give to us when they were old and he didn't want them anymore). Everyone who meets him believes him to be a great person, but what they don't know... my parents care very much about image. What people see is hardly ever how things really are. He is very much abusive and manipulative... but no one ever wants to believe it, because he seems like "such a nice guy."

And as uncomfortable as I am with sharing the darker details of my childhood like this, my family doesn't deserve to be hurt anymore by this man. This is a man who found it amusing to repeatedly smother his young daughter with a pillow, or with his body, as she struggled to get free. He would laugh so loudly... but no one could hear me screaming. This is a man who would get angry at his children for bickering over a watch, and thought the situation was best remedied by pinning me to the ground and punching me until I blacked out, stealing the phone when I later tried to call the police, and lying about everything to my mother. I still have scars. I left his house on New Year's Eve surrouded by police officers, because my sisters and I felt unsafe there. He, with his future wife, left us alone there while they went out. She wasn't supposed to be around us, but he had decided to invite her over. My mother told me a few years later that the cops had said that my father had likely been doing drugs that night. He had wanted to have us over, and she was going to Atlantic City with her mother. The police officers were the ones who told her to take us home, and to get a new restraining order because my father's girlfriend was mentally unstable. And there were moments when things would be normal again, and he would take us out to dinner every few months like he was doing this huge favor. I was always afraid to be around him, but my mother wanted us to get along, so I tried. (She didn't know about everything he had done anyway...) Because when we didn't go with him, he would play games... like threaten to take the monthly checks away, or he would take my youngest sister out after school without telling anyone, or he would screw something up so badly that we would never be able to recover. Like when he stopped paying my sisters' private school tuition in the middle of the year because he didn't feel like it, despite the court orders. All while lying to my sisters that they would be able to stay in their school and graduate. My mom had to put them both in public school, even though one of them only had a year left. He told that same sister that he would pay for her college tuition to go to an Ivy League school for 4 years. He had already messed up any chance of her getting financial aid, and by that time it was too late to try to get into another school. He paid the first semester's tuition, but then decided he didn't want to do it anymore because of Christmas. He actually enjoys watching us suffer.

My parents were married for almost 16 years before the divorce, and they somehow got along for at least another 2 years afterwards. The child support checks are only about $270 because he was supposed to take us for 2 weeks every year, pay for our school tuition and clothes and books and things. But he doesn't. He hasn't since I was in high school (I graduated 5 years ago.) And we were supposed to get an increase every year, but apparently one year he lied on his taxes and we didn't see a dime of what he owed. But he won't answer my calls, he hasn't paid the child support bills for January or February which we unfortunately depend on right now, and we're at our wits end trying to pull together enough money to survive. But because he owes us less than $5,000, there is little we can legally do, and we don't have the time.

My mother works full time as an early education teacher at a small private school near our house. She doesn't make much though, and I was only able to find part time employment in retail. For the past few years, we've manged, but we've completely drained all of our savings at this point, and several small emergencies have set us back so much that we desperately need every penny we can get. I have 2 siblings, one in public high school (and under 18), and the other a freshman in college. Our mother has been to court twice to enforce child support payments, and she can't afford to go again. But right now, she also can't afford not to - we're about to lose the house. She managed to make a deal with the mortgage people last month, but because my father is refusing to give her the child support checks, we can't pay. On top of that, we're still trying to catch up with the utilities, and tuition payments (since he has also ignored that as well), and my student loan bills, and the car insurance (so that I can at least get back and forth to work. I live in NJ, where public transportation is extremely limited. But the car was purchased used, so it is completely paid off.) He is currently still paying for my cell phone and my siblings' phones... I'm worried that he's going to cut those off soon as well. The $400 a line early termination fees are pocket change to him.

We aren't eligible for any government help whether state or federal-- mostly because the child support checks count as income, regardless of whether or not we're actually getting them. We've been turned away by churches and other aid organizations, and it's been a nightmare trying to find legal help to have his wages garnished at least until we can get out of this rut and get our lives back on track. I know I've already destroyed my own financial future before it began, but my options are pay my private loan bills or try to help my mom pay the mortgage so we don't lose the house. We can't afford an apartment, and we can't get any more loans, so without the house we have nowhere to go... and my mother would lose her job, since it's within walking distance from the house and she doesn't drive.

Right now I'm trying to find him online, or find his boss or his friends-- anyone who can get through to him in a way that he can't ignore. (His parents always have and always will ultimately side with him, and he has no problems lying to them, so that was a wasted effort.) Like I said, he will do anything to cover up any flaws in his reputation. I found his Twitter account... but that's as far as I've gotten. Other than this, I don't know what to do anymore... We've tried everything at this point.
Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Saturday February 12, 2011, 4:00 pm
Tags: help homeless urgent [add/edit tags]

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Jess J.
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