November 21, 2012
This is Lucky. She is the first pony we bought for our younger daughter, back when our daughter was 10 years old. Lucky has a trust fund. Lucky now lives on a farm with a herd of miniature horses. Lucky is a big shot. She never has to worry about where she’s going to live, or if she can afford to go to the vet, or if she has enough money for oats. Her bills get paid through her trust fund.
When the divorce decision came in over a year ago after a 6 day trial by an arbitrator, it stated that money from marital assets be set aside so that our girls could continue riding until they finished high school. This was done because my ex-husband had demonstrated during the nearly 3 year separation, that he would not willingly pay for the girls to keep their horses.
In 2008, when he left, my husband would turn back up at the house, drunk and ranting. He would stand in the kitchen while the kids sat in the adjacent family room watching tv, and say, “I’m going to sell the horses. I’m going to sell the house. I’m going to shut this whole thing down. You guys can go live with your mother.”
The temporary order for support required that he make monthly payments so that the kids’ lives changed as little as possible. He would go 8 months without sending a check, and I would live on credit cards and overdraft. In the last year before our trial, his lawyer would write me monthly checks out of an escrow fund the judge ordered to be put in place because everyone knew that my husband would not write those checks.
In court, Lucky’s name frequently came up, because my husband did not want to take care of her. She had injured herself while bucking around in a field, taking herself off the show circuit and guaranteeing herself an early retirement. She was our family’s responsibility and, besides, we loved her. She was a part of the family.
We went to binding arbitration. During the trial, I showed videos that my girls had made about their horses, love poems to their horses, psychologist’s letters confirming the therapeutic value of the horses. In the end, the judge handed down his decision, which included a trust fund (all right, he called it an escrow account), from which horse expenses would be paid. So each month, if I am careful, I can pay for the girls to continue to ride and show on a limited basis, until they each finish high school. So the horses have their support but the children do not. The trust fund cannot be used to pay for groceries, unless it’s oats for the horses.
During the trial, my lawyer asked that all support be paid up front, or placed in an escrow fund, because we knew that my ex would defy any order. While I appreciated that the judge found a way for the girls to keep riding for a few more years, I question how he did not see this coming. My husband had already had 8 contempt of court violations filed against him by the time we went to trial. His arrogance and defiance has stunned and shocked even the most seasoned of judges and lawyers. The arbitrator’s decision did not go far enough in protecting my children. Expecting that my husband would suddenly start complying with an order for monthly child support was very naive and careless on the arbitrator’s part. My ex-husband continues to defy the courts, forcing me to pay attorneys to try to enforce his compliance.
In the 18 months since the decision was effective, my children’s father has not written one monthly child support check. After the binding arbitration decision was announced, he fired his attorney and did not pay any support for over 6 months. Finally, a money judgment was ordered against him, and I received back support. Then he did not pay for another 8 months, and only recently paid because he was threatened with jail.
Next week, I am back in court, asking for 3 years of advance support to be placed in a trust fund for my children. My lawyer says this would be highly unusual. He says to prepare to be denied. I imagine myself speaking in court. I have, at times, spoken up in court, but never without almost breaking down. I’m tired. I’m tired of having to stand up in court and repeat the same story over and over, of my ex-husband’s physical, emotional, and financial abandonment of our children. I’m tired of having tell the court of my children’s loss and pain; I see and feel it every day.
Maybe I should have named one of the kids “Lucky.”