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Archive for July, 2008

They are the dark executioners of New York State ‘s family justice court orders about child support. Official name: the New York City Office of Child Support Enforcement. If you fall behind in your child support payments, or in your due unreimbursed health expenses because sicko ex-wife does not let you use your insurance, support magistrates might issue an income order. Then you will have to deal with them. Fathers who have this misfortune know them better as the Support Collection Unit.

Apparently, they are human. These self-called “Partners to Children” seek to educate non-custodial parents with a one-hour cheesy movie for retarded on their website. The slow-learner non-custodial parent can even check his progress in assimilating his obligations with yes-no questions which season the movie. At the end of the year, non-custodial parents like me, whose child support payments are directly withdrawn from their paycheck, receive a thank-you letter from Frances Pardus-Abbadessa, Deputy Commissioner, for their “commitment and dedication;” After the educative dimension, this is the participative dimension of the Support Collection Unit’s relation with its victims: the hangman tries to make them feel good and involved in their execution.

Now try to understand why you are left with $900 a month to live with or why an insane 31 percent of your gross income has been sucked up from your paycheck, and go to the Office of Child Support Enforcement Customer Service Office located on 151 West Broadway. You get the kick-in-the-ass version of “customer service”. When the nasty fellow that answers you understands that you will trash him on the evaluation form, you get to talk to the director. She might apologize and hint that they are only the sorry executioners of insensitive support magistrate decisions.

Are they that sorry tough? Sometimes in February 2008, I heard on PBS some New York State official bragging about dramatic improvements in child support collection compared to last year in New York. Thanks to these improvements, what fathers need in this state is a serious economic stimulus payment!

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Remember this fella? 1996 Republican Presidential Primaries. Mr 17% flat tax across the board, the only idea of Forbes’s platform. With Forbes’s flat tax, we would have gotten rid of the IRS, loopholes in the tax code and… all these socialist oddities originated in the New Deal, such as Social Security. Simple and perfectly unfair. The rich pay the same percentage as the poor in taxes. In other terms, the poor bear the burden of the tax effort.

If Forbes’s campaign did not go very far, his ideas seemed to have percolated New York State Child Support Standards, which every divorced non-custodial parent is bitterly acquainted with. From $10,000 to $80,000 of annual income, the law prescribes the same senseless, flat, child support payments: 17% of your gross annual income for one child, 25% for two children, for more than two children, your better become a waiter or a cook in some fiscal paradises such as Barbados or Liechtenstein… It would not come to the mind of the legislator that 25% of your gross income in child support for instance, is not equally bearable whether you earn $20,000 or $80,000 a year. And let’s not mention that child support payments could vary with custodial parent’s income, that would be splitting hair.

I was told that New York has traditionally been a liberal state. When?

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Carlos Alvorado and Son (Photo L.A. Times)Carlos Alvarado is a Mexican illegal immigrant. He arrived in the US in 1991, met a women, Marla Campo, whith whom he had a son, Michael. Things turned bad. Marla Campo ran away with the boy. With the help of the police, Carlos tracked down his boy. He got joint custody in Los Angeles Family Court – yes you heard me, joint custody – and two weekends a month with his son. In fact, Carlos spends all the weekends with his son Michael and pays child support.

Unfortunately Carlos had to land in immigration Court after driving under influence. The judge granted him the right to stay in the US, for deporting Carlos would impede him from seeing his son. So far, Los Angeles seems like wonderland, with two smart courts in the same city. Yet the dream might end here. According to Glenn Sacks from the American Chronicle, the government attorney has appealed the case and wants Carlos to be deported, arguing that visitations would be no different as if Carlos were to relocate in another state. He will just need a cross-border visitation order. Did this brilliant government attorney ask the INS to pay for the traveling expenses related to visitations?

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Brearley\'s middle school commencement ceremony

Elitist Brearley School, in the Upper East side in New York, brags about academic excellence it offers its only-girl population of students. Lately though, academic excellence is taking a toll on the neighborhood. The Brearley School is expanding its science facilities on 83rd street, and evicted tenants are invited to accept – Uptown, where I used to live, or in the Bronx- that their fate is for good, for the blossoming of all these scientific minds in formation.

My girls are Brearley’s students. However, I had no say in the decision to send my girls there. Chloé, my little one, told me that she was a Brearley’s student during a supervised visit, sometimes in 2003. Later I learned from a parent of a Cathedral School student which Camille used to go to, that Camille had been accepted to Brearley too. Yet I confess I sympathize with the evicted tenants: I too had a taste of Brearley’s arrogance. I only met personally with the “bouncer” of this noble institution, and this 2007 encounter was not nice. I told him that I had come to request an interview with the teachers of my girls. The bouncer acknowledged he had no doubt I was Camille and Chloé’s father – the common curly hair- but I had to leave the premise anyway.

I then phoned Stephany Hull’s, Brearley’s headmistress. I again requested an interview with the teachers alleging the verbal authorization given to me Judge Sturm, who handles my endless child abuse case in family court. Request denied. Why? Hull gave me the chiropractor’s answer to George Constanza, in Seinfeld: “It’s policy. It’s policy not to invite the non-custodial parent to teacher’s conferences.” I asked her to put the glorious reasons supporting such policy in writing, so that I could show them in Court. She never did.

Recently I solicited in writing the same request to Tara Elsbach, director of the Middle School, with a May 2008 Court order stating my right to attend parent-teacher conference, with or without the consent of the custodial parent. I am still waiting for the answer.

According to Brearley’s “definition of a “well-rounded education”, “balance is an important educational principal”. Who are they trying to fool? Unwelcome non-custodial parents and evicted tenants in the surrounding community ?

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