By: Carolina Pichardo
Filing for child support consists of a few steps: find the father, establish paternity (if necessary), establish a legal order that determines the amount, and finally to collect that payment.
It may sound simple enough, but for young moms, it could be one of the most challenging and excruciating parenting tasks.
Some might fear the single, young mom stigma, while others struggle with their Superwoman pride. There are even some that are confused by the legal paperwork, the process and system, which depending on where all parties live could be a very strenuous process.
Whatever the reasons are, there are ways for young mothers to get the support they deserve.
For Jazmin Williams, of Bay Area, Calif., it was exactly about that.
She filed for child support after obtaining a restraining order against her ex-husband. While they were married, the couple struggled financially and Mrs. Williams went on to apply for public assistance to sustain her family. “He refused to find a steady job,” Mrs. Williams said. “I went on public assistance to take care of my daughter.”
Gloria Malone of Bronx, New York, filed for child support through the state of New York against her daughter’s father, who lives in Florida. “I began seeking child support after swallowing my pride and saying, ‘Screw the stigma!’” It was Ms. Malone’s sister who finally encouraged her to take the child’s father to court. “It was the only way to make him responsible for his child.”
Not Easy, But Possible
Although many would think it’s a seamless process from there, both moms soon found out that their troubles were only beginning.
Mrs. Williams, who applied late in 2011, hasn’t received a payment from her ex-husband since settling in court. Ms. Malone, on the other hand, has been waiting over a year for her case to process. Her daughter’s father lives in Florida, and as an interstate case, it’ll be a little longer before Ms. Malone receives a dime.
Waiting on this process to move along can be difficult. Both moms stated what’s most difficult is making these men accountable, which unfortunately is something the courts can’t do. “He won’t accept the letters from the Department of Child Support Services,” Mrs. Williams said. “It’s a never ending cycle of cat and mouse.” Ms. Malone agrees. She once called her caseworker over 20 times back-to-back, after he hung up on her. Her persistence is what keeps the case going. “It would be nice to get a piece of what is owed to my daughter.”
Young moms, especially, must continue to push forward and take action. Even if the child’s father is missing in action, and other methods of communication have failed, young moms can bring justice by bringing contact information of friends or family, social/online network profiles and even address of places he visits to their state’s child support office.
What About the Kids?
As for the kids, it’s hard for them not to be involved in this process. For some young moms, like Mrs. Williams, the child will ask and demand to see their father. “She used to ask: ‘Where’s daddy?’ But she stopped asking those questions.” Mrs. Malone states her daughter hasn’t been affected by the lack of financial support from her father, although she has been struggling. “It’s an emotionally, tolling experience,” she said.
Despite all this, both moms wouldn’t hesitate to go through the process again. “It can be a difficult and long journey,” Mrs. Malone said. “You just have to think about what’ll benefit your child in the long-run.” Ms. Malone completely agrees. “It is essential,” she said. “You have to keep focus.”
Young Urban Moms’ co-founder, Carolina Pichardo, is a digital marketer by day, writer and community activist by night, and mom to Lulu always. You can reach her email@example.com or on Twitter @c_pichardo.