My three sons are all happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults who climb mountains, travel the world, scale tall buildings and construct homes. I am truly blessed and have been since day 1, more than twenty two years ago.
I am not the ‘TV’ ideal of a dad, but then again, who is? I guess I was not the ‘TV’ ideal of a husband either, because that role ended over a decade ago, with enough of the clichéd acrimony, dishonesty and legal woes that you would expect from a ‘TV’ soap opera. Yet through it all, my sons remained close, our bonds being mutual love of the great outdoors, each other, and all that comes with those.
That was then. It has been almost two years since the youngest son turned 18 and left home, a tall, handsome red-head with aspirations of helping humanity through government service; military, police, foreign service, etc. Attributes he shares with his older brothers and hopefully instilled by spending time with both parents. Yet that feat of sharing time was not, and is oddly still not made any easier by the government instituted, Maintenance Enforcement Program.
For those of you who do not know, there exists a powerful, primarily government run agency which is put in place as an intermediary between father and mother in the event that the divorce involves children. This agency collects the money awarded by the courts from one parent and gives it to the other for the duration of the order, which is usually until the youngest child turns 18. Should the parent who is paying (debtor), miss a payment or change their address or employment without notifying the agency, the Maintenance Enforcement Program will garnishee the wage, freeze the accounts, suspend the drivers licence and lien the property of the debtor. All with some relish and a seeming lack of concern for the well being of the relationships that must still exist between both parents and the children.
Early on, during the great tribulation of separation, divorce, lawyers and tears, I thought that I was the only dad who had to endure not only the heart-ache of it all, but the hard edge of a government sword that now swung through my life, my work, my finances and the future relationship with my children. It’s taken me this long to learn that I was not.
There are hundreds of men and women who are devoting time, energy money and political pull to changing the way families are treated by these agencies and you can learn about them and even join them at ‘Maintenance Enforcement Project’, (http://www.mep-project.com/cms/) a well established blog with a myriad of news, links, support and constant updates on maintenance enforcement programs and the companies and people who create and operate them. In many places the Maintenance Enforcment Program is a profitable business, funded by the provincial, state or federal government and making obscene money from debtors through interest payments and penalties.
What we want is a system catering to the best interests of the children and their relationship with both parents, if that is possible. If you are a parent reading this and you have not supported your children, then you have missed out on the best thing that life has to offer, and we believe that there should be a system to prevent that from happening. We do not believe that a parent who makes every effort to support their children should have their lives runined by a government agency which profits from punitive punishments of a debtors mis-step.
Children remember the most unbelievable things about you, make sure it’s all good.