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My ex and I reached a settlement on 1/25 of this year.  As of 2/1 he was supposed to increase the amount of support he’s paying.  A substantial increase.  In return, I’m to pay the mortgage while selling the house.  All of which is what I wanted, and all of which is manageable.

Except……

His 1st payment in February was short.  Over $500 short.  I emailed him and asked him why.  His reply was “that’s between the state and my employer.  I have nothing to do with it”.  

So I called the state.  They directed me to my local support office.  I waited while the person went through my file.  After about 10 minutes they told me what I told them when I called:  he’s about $500 short on his payment.

(As a side note – every time I have to deal with something I go through this.  I explain the details of the issue, down to the penny, then listen while the customer service rep goes through the documentation, uttering everything I’ve just explained, then recaps what I just told them as if this was new information.  Are there a lot of people out there making these lengthy calls and lying??)

Anyway, the rep tells me that there is nothing they can do until the end of February.  He won’t be running afoul of the law until March 1st.  She tells me she will tag my file and it will be checked on March 1st, and steps taken at that point.  I say fine and hang up.

On March 2 I call again.  Two years ago I would have called anticipating some answers, but by now I know that “tagging my file” is code for “call back, we’ll take no action until you force us to”.  It was no surprise when the person on the other end put me through the same 10 minute ordeal they all do.  “Oh, so he’s paying every other week.  It looks like his employer is making the payments.  I see an order from November and he’s in compliance with that…………..oh, I see an order dated 1/25 and he is not in compliance with that”.   Maybe I should call and just say “here’s my case #.  There’s a problem with it” and just let them do their thing, because they don’t really seem to care what I’m telling them.

After about 15 minutes I’m assured that they will contact his employer and make sure the payment is increased.  I say thanks, when should I call back to check on this.  On March 11th I call again.  I wait the obligatory 10 minutes for the rep to read through the file and get up to speed.  This time I’m told that they have contacted the employer and the next payment will be correct.  I said “great, but he also owes me money for February, and I need that money to pay the mortgage”.   Here’s what I’m told:

“we will investigate this and if it’s true he’ll pay $167/month till the arrears are satisfied”

Wait….what???  First of all, you need to “investigate”?  I’ve established, 3 times now, that he underpaid in February.  You just told me, as did the other reps, how much he still owed for the month of February.  What are you “investigating”?   She agreed that the investigation phase was complete.  I asked what the next step was, and here is what I was told:

“Your file will be sent to the compliance department.  They will decide if he is in contempt and will issue a warrant”.

Hold on – all I want is to collect the money he owes me so I can pay the mortgage.  I don’t want him arrested, I don’t want this to become a legal thing, I just want my money.  She agrees and tells me they will have him pay an extra $167/month  towards the arrears until he’s paid me in full.

Again…..wait…….he owes me about $1,000.  My mortgage is $1940.  I need that money to pay the mortgage.  But he only has to pay an additional $167/month until he’s paid me the full $1,000n he owes me?  So he has 6 months to pay me what he owes, but I still have to pay the mortgage.  Every month.  For those same 6 months.  Great.

I’m a smart, persistent, educated person.  In my career in Human Resources I learned how to deal with customer service reps. I learned to be persistent, always get names, keep detailed notes and follow up, follow up, follow up.  When it was my job to do this I sort of enjoyed it.  I liked knowing that I understood and could explain the details, and that the rep would be repeating back to me the very details I’d just given them.  It made me feel accomplished.  In the end I always got what I wanted, so that also made me feel proud.

Now, though, I’m really, really angry.  In my state the primary concern, in relation to support, is that the payer not over-pay.  There is no consideration given to the payee.  They don’t care that I can’t pay my mortgage.  They don’t care if I can put food on my table, oil in my oil tank, gas in my car.  None of that matters.  All that matters is that he not overpay.  

I suppose it makes sense.  In the majority of support cases it is the man paying the woman.  In the majority of courts and laws offices it is men making decisions.  Most of the laws have been put in place by men, men who fear that “greedy” women will “steal” from them.   Men who, if their wives stop pleasing them, want to be able to walk away with minimal damage.

I think if my ex was a reasonable person he would write me a check for what he owes.  If he was not a full blown narcissist, when I 1st asked him about his payment he would have investigated.  He would not have said “not my problem”.   I won’t bother writing to him telling him I’m having trouble paying the mortgage because I know what I’d get back “not my problem”.

In all of this there is only one lesson I can think of:  

Do Not Give Up Your Career. 

My mother told me that all through my childhood.  Don’t ever be dependent on a man.  It was that advice that had me working full time while raising 3 children, with a spouse who was rarely home and left everything related to the home and children up to me.  If I hadn’t gotten sick I would have continued to work.  My marriage would have ended years before it did, because I would not have been trapped.

The ironic thing is I knew.  I was devastated when I had to stop working because I knew.  I knew that I’d have to beg for $ for groceries, household items, gas in my car.  And that is what happened.   I never wanted my existence boiled down to finances, but the narc loves it.  Money is a weapon.  There’s no need for fists – just deplete my bank account, make sure all of my credit cards are in my name and make me beg for my “allowance”.  Once again I’m 12 years old and dependant.

Moral of the story:  the narcissist is the gift that keeps on giving.   Settle on the fact that he will always win, you will lose.  And, if it appears you’ve had a win, he’ll find a way to get over on you.  Don’t even try to win, because you have a disadvantage you will never over-some:  you have a conscience.

You are doomed, but only in the short term.  In the end your conscience will lead you to victory.

I think.

 

 

 

 

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