Real Life

The following is personal. It is provided for those that care about such things, which may or may not include you. Either way I would like to ask you to respect the real people involved in this story, not just myself but my children, my family, and my friends. These are all real people with real lives. Thank you.

Ok so strap in. Here it is as briefly as I can tell it. 2005 is when this all started. They took the maximum amount of time allowed by law to reach a settlement and finally in 2008 we signed the final divorce agreement. I was paying full freight Alimony during those three years, as well as enduring 7 discoveries, a business evaluation and legal fees. No child-support however (except for a few short months) because our Son lived with me full-time. That portion of the divorce ran its course for five years and ended in Summer of 2013. Done. (I want to bold type face this. I paid full freight on EIGHT YEARS of Alimony as ordered by the Court. All of it. That was Phase One.)

In January of 2012 I had to close my business. We had nearly $1.5 million in debts and despite nine-months of profitability, the pressures that started from the Mortgage Crisis and economic down-turn eventually became too much. I was forced into bankruptcy. And my wife and I began a four-year struggle to down-size our lives, stay in our home until our credit could be repaired, look for additional work and take care of our family. And deal with Phase Two.

The very day that Phase One officially ended I got a nice package in the mail. The settlement contained two paragraphs that dealt with Equitable Distribution on future earnings from the business. Remember the business had closed in January 2012. So there was no business. I had always thought this issue had died with it. I had asked about it in numerous meetings. I was wrong according to the Court. The Court decided and ruled that my ex was still entitled to ED for a business that no longer existed. Hence the 40k + Interest and fines + dividing by 36 + a monthly amount that I couldn't afford.

Since January 2012 I've been threatened with jail 12 times. Each time I have to come up with the purge amount to avoid it. Each time I have managed to do so. In addition to the money that goes to my ex, this also includes her legal fees. And those legal fees do not count against the total. So over the years I've also paid her legal fees, but those amounts don't count.

Why don't you just get a job dude?
I'm a fifty year old man with an Associates Degree. I grew my own Agency from scratch and ran it for 11 years. Sadly when it closed it left almost everyone in my network holding a bag of debts. Pittsburgh is not a big city. These are the same media companies, clients, and business associates that I would be looking for work from. I had two consulting positions, one for six months and one for a year, but since then nothing. For the past three years and two months I've been technically unemployed.

Former business owner. Bankruptcy. Associates Degree. Bad Credit. You do the math.

Of course, that isn't the full story. I also started a business with a good friend of mine. A business which we had to close back in April because my friend has terminal cancer. I also consult with several other companies. I also work with another small video production company. I also spent a HUGE amount of time drawing spaceships and working my ass off for a contract with this gaming company in Iceland to sell posters. And I've applied for over 1,000 positions, gone on dozens and dozens of interviews and come very close to landing many positions in that time. But so far nothing.

Remember the 1,750 a month? Do the math on that, plus taxes (which we haven't paid in two years, the IRS loves us!) and expenses and you'll realize that I can't just go get a job at Home Depot. I need a job that pays about 40k a year minimum and even that means that ALL my income would be going to pay my ex-wife for the next three years. And trust me, I have actually tried that. Home Depot laughed at me. Lowes never called back. And the Security Guard job? They couldn't hire me because of the Support Rider on my credit report!

We've requested three times that the amount be modified and have been denied each and every time. For two years the court and my ex's attorney have been playing a game with terminology. If the amount I owe is Alimony then it can be modified. If it is Equitable Distribution then it cannot, but there is no basis for ED. My ex's lawyer even made up a fake name for this, Equitable Alimony. Not once during the past two years have I been able to afford it, but the Court "determined" that I could, so therein lies the rub. And the source of our nightmare for the past two years.

For the entire first year I sent money each month that I could afford. Not the full amount. The Court did not like that and I was threatened with Jail. So I stopped doing that and decided to continue fighting the ruling. So you can begin to tell that "just go get a job" isn't going to work.

All of which came to a head last week. I refused to pay and was sent to jail. But the Judge also ruled that the amount is modifiable now. It is Alimony after all. And we have filed for a modification. NOW I can just "go get a job" finally.

I know this is complicated. It is for us as well.

So what was that GoFundMe for back in the Spring?
The Eve community and my friends and family saved our asses. January 2013 thru January 2016 my wife and I were in bankruptcy from the close of the business. During that time we struggled every single month to keep the house I had bought us when I had the business. Back in the spring if I had gone to jail not only would we have lost the house, but my wife and our three children would be homeless. The GoFundMe was not for legal fees. It was so we could save the house long enough to sell it, which we did this Summer. (We were hoping the house sale would bring in enough to pay this off, but sadly that didn't happen. We made 3,600 from the sale and the court took 3,500 of it in August) We have now finished our down-sizing and live a life that we can afford on just one salary. Whew. It was a close call but we did it. And I've spent the last year trying to pay that kindness back every single day.

So what now?
To be honest I have no idea. I'm still applying for jobs, all of which I am more than qualified for, but there is nothing on the horizon. I spent the past two months working on a branding position for a large client I was hoping would launch in the last quarter, but that's been pushed off to next year now. I had a contract with a client this Summer, which I spent two months getting, but they cancelled on me after I missed a single deadline due to the last court appearance back in August. I have many other irons in the fire as well. But they are all speculative, potential, and inconsistent. Which the court does not like. They don't realize that consulting/freelance is a legitimate career because it isn't a wage-attachable income that pays 1,750 a month.

So come December 28th the court is going to want its blood money. Five months of 1,750 a month, plus legal fees, plus a plan for paying that every single month until it is resolved. Given the way things have gone I don't expect to have a solution. I wish I could just walk into a bank and take a loan out and pay this sucker off once and for all, but I can't. I have no assets now, everything of value that I owned has been sold. And not only does my credit rating suck ass it also makes me look like a deadbeat Father. Not exactly attractive for people to loan money to.

I believe this small victory presents a window of opportunity. The review will be with the same Judge, who is a new Judge on my case. I've never had anyone actually listen to me and my side of this horrible tale before. But he also made it clear that a solution needed to be presented or I would be going to jail. He made that extremely clear.

All of which came to a head last week. I refused to pay and was sent to jail. But the Judge also ruled that the amount is modifiable now. It is Alimony after all. And we have filed for a modification. NOW I can just "go get a job" finally.

I've tried to be as honest and open as possible here. A lot of my Alliance mates and friends in the Eve Community who care about me and my family have asked for the details. I know that for many people my problems are just that, my problems. And they are. But this blog has also been a journal of more than just Eve these past eight years. And it will continue to be so as long as I continue writing in it. This is my life and I'm just sharing my challenges, thoughts and other parts of my life as we go along this journey.

I've always been a very private person and it has taken a lot for me to open up over the past few years. I'd much rather just talk about 1v1s and Yarring in Low Sec, believe me. And the plans I have for my art and building a new career for myself. I'm excited about where my life is going and what Eve has in store for all of us. And, as always, how I can help the community.

Keep the courage my friends. And thanks for listening.


• If you do go to Jail does that wipe out the ED/Alimony Debt?
Sadly no. The 1,750 tallies every month no matter what and the total doesn't change. They can technically hold me in Jail for up to six months for lack of payment, during which time fines and penalties can also be applied to the total. I'd come out of Jail in worse shape than when I went in. They do know this, which is why it is a last resort. Its complicated however, if I do not have the present ability to pay (which I don't) putting me in jail eventually starts to violate my own civil rights and becomes a punishment for debts. Which is still against the law. That's why you usually get out within the first two weeks, but usually only if you pay. Because I don't have any money, this makes it complicated.

• Is this normal?!?
No. On Friday I sat thru two other cases before mine came up. Those, like most cases, involve men not paying their obligations on Child Support payments. It was sad how easy those cases sounded compared to mine. But it also illuminated just how weird mine is. Which is what this new Judge also discovered. When my Lawyer and I start talking about 12yrs and millions of dollars you could hear a pin drop in the courtroom.

In over three years of looking at Case Law, I've not been able to find another case even close to this one. Everyone involved with this case believes it is unique.

• Can't you counter-sue? This is ridiculous!
Right now my wife and our children are not a part of this case. If I try to sue for damages, cruelty, or any other civil litigation that would bring my family into this case and open us all up for counter-suit against us. Remember, as far as the court is concerned I'm the bad guy here. It isn't fair, it isn't even accurate, but it is what the court ruling has said. I owe money and I'm not paying it. In their mind the issue was already settled.

• Are you open to moving?
I get asked this one a lot. It would be hard to do, my wife's career is really going well and we just recently down-sized into a smaller home. We also have three children whose Father recently bought a home nearby (finally!) so he could be closer to them. Two of our children are special and need extensive therapy and special schools. So yes, I have considered employment in other parts of the country, but it would have to be the opportunity of a lifetime to make it worthwhile.

• Do they believe you are hiding money?
In most cases that are somewhat similar to mine that we've found in the Case Law the husband (typically) is hiding assets such as a Yacht, or a Condo ownership, or an on-going business that they don't want the ex to get ahold of. In those cases we are usually talking millions of dollars. Hence the long, drawn out legal battles.

In my case my ex is well aware that I don't have the money. In fact she has told our Son that she doesn't care and wants me to go to Jail. She is counting on this money for her own retirement. And the court has over the years empowered her to believe she is right. This past Friday was the first time I have ever walked out of court without having to pay anything.

And no, if all I had in the world was enough to pay this off - I wouldn't hesitate. No one wants this over as much as I do.