The Grinch or Mrs. Claus

It’s that most wonderful time of the year in my line of work. One of my responsibilities is serving as the attorney for our area’s child support enforcement unit.  In a nutshell, we establish child support orders for parent and then go after those deadbeats that refuse to pay. If you refuse to pay, you get this nice piece of paper handed to you by the local Sheriff that says “Order to Appear and Show Cause” which requires you to make an appearance in our lovely district court.  You, along with 350 of your soon-to-be-closest friends, gather in our small, crowded and damp district courtroom.  I, your lovely attorney, will call your name loudly and then you’ll shuffle out in the hallway to wait — and wait — and wait. 

When your name is called you are asked to provide a valid and justifiable reason why you have not paid your support.  If not, you appear before the Judge and are assigned a purge amount. Until you pay that purge amount, you go to jail – directly to jail.

Last week was the last court date before Thanksgiving. We had close to 400 on the docket.  We sent a bunch off to jail.  Some had purged out before the deputy even had the shackles tight. So we started setting purges higher. And lo and behold, I am getting all sorts of emails that Mr. X and Mrs. Y were released this week.  It’s amazing what sort of money people come up with when it means avoiding spending the holidays in jail.  We’ll start loading the dockets in December. We have court the week before Christmas and the day before New Years.  We scheduled a bunch of reviews for the week before Christmas.  I know that we’ll be packing the jail that week.  The phones will start ringing as the defendants make calls to moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, begging for help to get out of jail for Christmas.  The custodial parents will sit in the courtroom waiting to see if they’ll receive enough money to pay off those credit cards on which they probably charged Christmas dinner and a few presents.

Along the way they’ll be a few humorous stories and funny laughs. We’ll take bets as to how many people claim they “didn’t receive notice of their court date” and how many claim they “have a job if they can just get out of jail” or “promise to pay next week if I can get out.”  Maybe I have a twisted sense of humor, but I’m giddy with delight that we finally caught Mr. Jones who has been hiding for 2 years and who has over $20,000 in child support arrearages. His attorney called yesterday, wanting to pay $150.00 to be released so he could spend Thanksgiving with his (new) children.  “Nope,” I said. I’m holding out for $2,500 and I know I’ll get it too.

The deadbeats call me Scrooge or Mrs. Grinch. But I like to think to the children and custodial parents that I’m a bit more like Mrs. Santa.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dre
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 10:35:42

    You are definitely Mrs. Santa!!! You hold out for that money. My uncle raised his three children after his deadbeat wife ran out on them (she would make brief appearances to mess with the kids’ minds and to take whatever money the kids had in their piggy banks or could “get” from dad’s wallet). Seriously, she was at one point, my state’s #1 deadbeat on the “most wanted” child support delinquents. Every time she would get picked up, her affluent parents would pay ridiculous amounts of money to a lawyer to get her out of going to jail, but did they ever give a cent of that money to their grandchildren? Nope. It still makes my blood boil!! Make them rot in jail until some family member can scrounge up enough to truly make it a Happy New Year for the poor family left behind. You are a hero!


  2. lawyerchik1
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 14:48:37

    Good for you!! 🙂 I vote “Mrs. Clause!”


  3. Kim
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 19:25:27

    An issue close to my heart so I, also, vote Mrs. Claus!


  4. misssrobin
    Nov 26, 2010 @ 20:15:57

    This made me smile. Keep up the good work.


  5. DM
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 18:19:56

    “Like” 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: