As a six-figure software executive, he could afford $2,200 in child support each month, but he lost his job and couldn't find stable work for more than one year."I don't think the court system is prepared to handle, 'What do you mean you can't find a job?’" Nelson stated.He requested a temporary reduction in child support, but got caught in the backlog."Even filing took over a year for my case to get to court and you have to keep paying during that time," he said.Nelson took a teaching job and, when the judge finally heard his request, he couldn't believe what happened."Her basis was I can afford it, figure it out," he said.
Family law Judge Julian Piggotte raised his child support another $300 then later withdrew from the case because her husband worked with Nelson's ex-wife in the State Attorney's Office.A group called Fathers for Justice uses cavemen climbing Stonehenge and superheroes scaling the Lincoln Memorial as symbols to spread their message."I hear that all the time. There are thousands of those stories," said Fred Schuler, Fathers for Justice. "As a parent, you really don't have any rights when you walk into a courtroom."Family law professor Marsha Freeman understands why many divorced parents are angry."I would probably agree for the most part. The system is broken," Freeman said.But, she says, decisions in Nelson's case and others are not necessarily biased or wrong.
Guidelines place the greatest weight on needs of the children."The children are supposed to be made as whole as possible," she said.In Nelson's case, his ex-wife said their kids needed the money that Nelson stopped paying."Our lives go on. The kids still have lunches, they still go to school, and they still have field trips," Nelson’s ex-wife said.In a bad economy, both parents can end up in a bad situation."I can promise you, I'm not living the high-life," Nelson said.In Nelson's case, he sold his house and moved to Georgia to try to find a better-paying job away from his kids.