My question involves child support in the State of: South Carolina
This is long, messy and complicated. Please bear with me. I realize that in attempt to not make this a novel, I will probably have to just fast forward in some places.
In January 2009, I went to a pre-trial hearing for divorce. I couldn't afford a lawyer on such short notice as I'd recently left my abusive ex husband with only a few hundred dollars in my pocket. He initiated the divorce. The pre-trial hearing which I was told was 'no big deal' lasted for over 3 hours in which I was grilled. My passport was taken by the State of Georgia (we lived there during our marriage) and I was deemed a flight risk because I took my then 2 year old Autistic daughter across state lines to South Carolina where I had family and friends. The judge awarded temporary custody to my daughter's paternal grandparents who just happened to be in the court room that day. A bailiff followed me to my car where my daughter was being entertained by the friend who drove me. I had a few minutes with my daughter and the bailiff took her from me and walked away.
Those of you with children don't need for me to explain how traumatizing this was - both both me and my daughter. Long story short, we went through a series of court goings here in South Carolina where the case was sent to being that all parties live here now. I borrowed thousands of dollars so I could afford a lawyer, a guardian ad litem, psychological evaluation and the gas money to drive 2 hours away to pick up my daughter and bring her home every two weeks.
Child support is set at $300/month. I realize this isn't a lot, and a lot of people are paying so very much more. But this $300 isn't based on my financial declaration at all - and is instead based on what the court says I should be able to make working a full time job at minimum wage. I recognize why it's this way and completely understand. However, I am not able to work a full time job outside of my home. In addition to being legally blind in one eye, I have also been to the doctor in attempt to be officially diagnosed with narcolepsy. I don't yet have that official diagnosis because the sleep study even with medical insurance, cost me $300 and according to my doctor I need a second one.
I am not currently making even the amount stated on my 2 year old financial declaration and to top it off, my husband lost his job due to severe medical issues which prevented him from being able to work. He has back problems and suffers from gigantism. He is becoming painfully paralyzed over time and will eventually need his back broken so it can be drilled out and re-aligned. He's claimed disability and is no longer eligible since he's now fired from that job (long, stupid story). He doesn't qualify for unemployment (included in said long, stupid story) and is waiting in hopes of collecting SSI.
I have not been able to pay child support because I'm so busy keeping us afloat financially. I mean, I have to live too. I have a house and bills to afford like everyone else. We do not live lavishly - we can't afford that. Seriously, I get excited about Charmin toilet paper. The only reason we even still have internet is because I need it in order to work at all.
I am about $1,500 behind now on child support.
On February 28th, I received summons for court to explain myself. Court is tomorrow, March 16th. I realize I'm cutting it close asking questions NOW, but that's sort of my point... why did I only receive summons a little over 2 weeks prior? Isn't there some sort of standard!? I couldn't even find an attorney to speak to - much less one I could hire pro bono in this time and I've called and/or emailed quite a few attorneys in my area. Lord knows I can't afford another lawyer.
I've written up a statement... a very long one actually, to explain why I have been unable to pay in detail including dates and everything that's transpired. I really do have what I think is a good reason for not being able to pay child support.
Am I seriously going to go to jail for this tomorrow? I have so many BIG plans... things that I know will really boost my income and help. I just need more time to make that happen. I've spent so much of this time sulking in depression and I feel like I'm finally on track to getting myself out of the mess I'm in after all this time.