Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
2nd-term Democrat from Florida.
Letters To Leaders
All messages are published with permission of the sender. The general topic of this message is Children/Families:
Sen. Bill Nelson
February 7, 2008
I am a woman, age 59. I reside in the state of FL, and have most of the time since 1986. Before I came here I allowed my then husband custody of my two youngest daughters. They were age 5 and 7 respectively, and I felt he would be better able to take care of them at the time, as I was quite ill, unemployed, and they needed a stable environment. He was surrounded by non-working female family members who I knew would take better care of them than I was then able. It gave him a support group that I did not have, and I loved my children enough to recognize all this and act in their best interests even though it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.. For health reasons I moved to FL. After a year, I was well enough to go back to work. Shortly thereafter my husband filed for divorce and child support was ordered at $350.00 a month (an amount that was based not on my current income, but on what the court felt I was capable of making). I was not financially able to return or represent myself in divorce court. Further, when I had moved out here, we had a verbal agreement that because, in the previous 7 years, I had raised these two and my other 3 children alone, he wouldn’t ask for child support.
After our divorce, the office of support enforcement in the state of WA where he lived with the children started garnishing my wages and did so until 1990. One day I received a letter saying the case was closed because my ex-husband failed to cooperate to collect. I never heard from support enforcement again until 2000 when they informed me I owed $52,000 in back child support. I hired an attorney, and while the amount was reduced to $32,000 for various reasons, I felt that I was denied all kinds of rights. As I said before, I am 59. These children are close to 30, and I am still paying. I worked all those years, never hid from my husband, my children or my obligation, a court order was obviously in place to collect (as for a time they collected), but no one ever acted on it. I therefore was never asked to support my children when they needed it, and now years later I am supporting my ex husband who divorced me over 20 years ago. Because of the Bradley Amendment, I have no recourse under the law to appeal my case, have the amount reduced – nor do I feel I will ever be able to pay it. This law is so unfair and so denies people’s rights to due process. Even murderers can appeal their conviction, get shorter time in prison, be paroled, have their sentences reduced, or even be pardoned altogether. An absent parent who has been determined to owe a custodial parent money can’t do any of these things.
I am an old woman in ill health. I don’t know how to get laws changed, but I beg you, if you have the authority, to please try to get this amendment looked at and either completely rewritten or repealed completely. It is causing so much harm to so many people. What really hurts me the worst about it is that I had these two children plus three more from two other marriages. In twenty years, with open cases, I never received a penny from the first two fathers, and this same father never paid me a penny either for the 7 years he was the absent parent. It seems like all but about 3 years of support here should have been a fair trade off. Now, when I’m old, I’m still the cash cow, the same as I was when I was raising my children. There is simply no justice available to absent parents.
Thank you for your time. I am sending this in the hopes that when you have read it you will search your heart and realize that not everybody caught in this trap was a deadbeat. Some of us are here because we loved our children and tried to do what we thought was right. I still think what I did was right, but by the same token, if I had adopted these girls out to a perfect stranger instead of letting their father raise them, I certainly wouldn’t be in this predicament. I think that fact alone makes clear how wrong this amendment is.
2465 US 1 So., PMB 99
St. Augustine, FL 32086
St. Augustine , FL