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Divorce Debacle: Man charged for child support already paid
BLUE ASH, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- Divorce is tough enough under even the best circumstances but for a Blue Ash couple it turned into a nightmare.
What they thought was a simple child support issue became a threat to the ex-husbands financial future when he missed a major bit of the fine print in their divorce decree. They say the devil is in the details and this is a situation that really could happen to anyone.
Due to some legal language that he hadn't noticed, Nick Viltrakis found himself caught in a tight spot, literally between the courthouse on one side, and job and family services on the other. Nick Viltrakis and his wife Terri split up last June. They worked out a child support payment plan between themselves and Nick started having electronic withdrawals made from his bank account. He showed Local 12's Rich Jaffe the list of payments.
Terri explained, "We wanted to make the process of getting done with the divorce financially as simple as possible and we figured if we were to go through a child support on our own before the process and the paperwork started much later we would actually come out ahead and be even. It didn't turn out that way actually."
The divorce decree along with child support language was finalized in February. In April, Nick and his ex-wife were surprised to get a notice saying he was more than 2,000 dollars in arrears on child support for all the months he'd paid her directly.
He says, "I thought that's clearly wrong we had paid through each other and everything and so we thought it was easily resolved or at least resolved in a timely manner."
Nick and his ex had failed to notice a line in the decree that says payments made other than through job and family services are considered "gifts."
Rich Jaffe asked Terri if Nick was ever in arrears in his payments to her?
She replied, "Never, not once."
The couple started working through what's called a county "forgiveness" program to fix the financial mix up but forgiveness is sometimes tough to find.
"I was kind of shocked, I thought it would be much simpler to at least tell them I had already been paid, and this should be easy. But it took maybe three weeks of phone calls just to get a phone call back because I couldn't speak with a person," said Terri.
Nick added, "I've had the additional sum, 20 percent of what they believe I owe, tacked on to my child support payment an additional 18 dollar service fee and of course the 2 percent commission they get. So it's been tough making ends meet with the additional funds taken out."
When Rich Jaffe explained the issue to Hamilton County Job and Family Services, Brian Gregg of ODJFS came up with a simple solution.
He told Local 12, "I think this is a relatively easy fix, if all parties agree. They just need to fill out some paperwork, come down here for a quick hearing, and I think we can wipe that arrearage out."
It's important to point out here that Job and Family Services was simply enforcing the court's order in the divorce decree and what we should all take away from this is how important it is to read legal documents carefully. If at all possible, have an attorney do that for you as well.
ODJFS said they'll "expedite" the hearing for Nick and Terri. One of the other issues here is how difficult it is to communicate with agencies the size of Job and Family Services. Records indicate the paperwork the couple needs to clear their record was sent out six days ago, but no one's received it yet.
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