Friday, June 12, 2009

Victim # 115: A Veteran's Catch-22

I recently sent the information below, to Senator Bob Corker in Florida. I have a hard time believing that he actually read it. He said that I need to contact someone in Tennessee because it is in their jurisdiction. Tennessee tells me I have to contact Florida.

My case may seem minor to some, but after winding up in jail, and leading an all but impoverished lifestyle, to me it is not minor. Attorneys only want money even knowing they can’t help. Been there, lost. I feel as though I am stuck in a barrel with no way out, as other people continue to live quite well as a result of my hard work.

The following will explain and please excuse my bitterness with the American judicial system and the fairness in question of this particular law. I have been informed by certain Father’s rights groups that my case is very severe.

The Good (?), the bad and the extremely ugly: Florida alimony and my personal struggle to survive.

Throughout all of my research, I have determined one major factor that is agreed upon by many: alimony laws were created in favor of women with no regard for the ex-husband. I have found no exception.

The following will indicate my personal struggle and, will further justify my statement concerning the unfairness of the law.

After 14 years of marriage, and two children who were at that time, less than one year and four, I was divorced. Between alimony and child support, I got stung with an overweight price tag of $30,000 per year. Because I am not in the legal profession, I trusted the advice that I was paying for from my attorney. At the time, I owned a new business that was less than a year old, located in Tennessee where I later moved and still reside.

My adoring attorney recommended that I make the alimony non-modifiable in case my business turned into the next version of Microsoft. The problem was that it was a corporation owned by myself, and one partner. Each of us had two board members. His were his Dad and Brother, while mine were my ex-Father and Brother in-law. Needless to say, soon after the divorce, my members resigned and I was voted off the board and lost my company. I did receive severance, which I reinvested into another company that, lo and behold, failed one year later leaving me broke and almost indigent.

In a moment, I will discuss jail. Lets follow the progression. I will also mention credit, later. In addition to the $30,000 per year, she got the house, car and furniture. I got to keep my guitar and an antique bottle collection, which I later sold to eat.

She allowed the house payment to fall behind and received a notice of foreclosure. That's when one of my ex-best friends, with whom she had been having a little fling with (and not her first, but that's another story for another time), came to the rescue and purchased the house. Since she had nowhere else to live, it only made sense for her to move in with him so he could turn around and sell the house that he just purchased for a unbelievable bargain, realizing a handsome profit that I never saw one penney of. After all, on his annual salary of $300,000 per year, he had a big enough place. Hey, bring the kids too! Did it affect my Florida alimony? No, remember, it's non-modifiable.

About a year later the happy couple tied the knot. My alimony stayed the same. I should also make note of how my ex-wife has never worked again since the divorce even though she is ten years younger than me and has some highly marketable skills. She claimed she couldn't work anymore because of the kids. No problem, I'll take them. Yeah, right!

Back to my second business failing. I remarried about two years after the divorce. It's just my wife and I. Fortunately I found gainful employment the day prior to our getting evicted, after my second business failed. But, of course the child support and alimony fell behind, even though I sent a few dollars now and then as I could.

My wife and I budgeted $20 per week for food. Long story short, I got summoned to court in Florida, where I was promptly handcuffed by order of the judge who has lunch frequently with my ex-wife's attorney. This takes place in that kind of town. She could afford a very expensive attorney, I couldn't. Even if I could afford a great one, nobody in this Florida town wants to go up against her attorney. Guess who got locked up. Yep, you got it.

I'm told that later that night, my ex and her spouse went to the country club where they are members, for a steak dinner and a glass of fine wine. Ever try jail food? My sister bailed me out the following day and I left Florida without saying goodbye to the kids, tail between my legs.

I work now and I work hard. Most days, I average 15 to 17 hours. I make $70,000 and continue to give her $30,000 of it to add to her household income leaving them the unfortunate task of learning to live on $333,000 a year. Oh yeah, until the divorce was final, I would send her most of my income to pay the bills that she didn't pay. Guess who has no credit.

Now it gets bleak. Knowing that there was no a way out for me, and the fact that my daughter was so young when the divorce took place, my ex asked me if her husband could adopt her. At first I was furious and said no but then thought about my daughter. Just starting school it would be easier for her if she shared a common last name. It would be easier for Doctors notes, passports and etc. She called the guy Dad anyway and listened to bad things being said about her real Dad around her house.

Then my ex offered me something. If I agreed to this, she would discontinue receiving alimony and I would only pay child support for one child. She told me that I could see my daughter anytime I wanted. So, it was done. No criticism please. I doubt you could understand the pain that I still face every day of my life. But it was a chance to finally provide the life for my wife that she deserves. This all had to be done in sequence because an adoption cannot be done because of money.

In actually, this adoption wasn't about money, but it was an offer that I couldn't refuse, I accepted the offer and she drafted it. After the adoption, she failed to follow through and I can't even get in touch with her now. The last thing I heard, her attorney asked the question of her, "Why would you want to do that"?

My wife and I continue to struggle in our 600 sq. ft. home in a major city where life is by no means cheap. The sad thing is, it shouldn't be this way. What she receives from me is play money for their many trips. Of course I can't modify my payment to her, even upon death! Figure that one out.

In addition to being broke, its humiliating to go through life being embarrassed and knowing you are getting laughed at by the people taking advantage of you. You know, the happy family that lives in the big house and drive new cars. I'm ashamed to invite friends to my house and I pay an enormous amount each month for my car because of my credit rating. I continue to "bust my tail" to fund their luxuries. I'm surprised I can even spell the word luxry (See there I have a hard time with it)

As a loyal American and 14-year military veteran, I have the right to say that alimony laws are ridiculously unjust. So here I am, no way out, and not enough money for a powerful attorney even if there were a way out. Guess it's back to the VA Clinic for some more paxel and Valium. I've been on them for quite some time now. My next step in join my fellow exiles that have had to leave the USA in order to have any kind of a respectable life.

Please do not suggest that I contact the Congressman for that district of Florida. My ex’s husband is a contributor to his campaign and I believe that his firm does that Congressman’s taxes.

I suppose my next question should be addressed to congress. Does anyone in the country that I defended for 14 years care about this injustice. As I see it now, the answer is no. Do you? Probably not if you haven’t filled the shoes of countless divorced men who have either left the country, changed their identity or continue to suffer without warrant.

Perhaps someday I will find someone in a government position who cares more about justice and humanity than their political career and attaining votes. This judgment can be overturned, but it will take Congress to do so. Till then I remain a prisoner of a court system that has no morals.