AVON PARK – It’s a parental legal quandary that has left an Avon Park woman out of thousands of dollars, without access to her grand-daughter and looking for answers.
The problem for Vickie Holsey began July 2013, when she received a court order from Highland’s County Tenth Judicial Circuit Court requiring her to pay child support for her 2-year-old granddaughter, Skyler Schoneck.
The problem for Holsey, 41, is that her son and Skyler’s father, Richard Schoneck, turned 18 in January and became legally responsible for child support.
At a $254 monthly deduction since January, Holsey has had to pay $1,964 this year and $1,690 in 2013, money she provided for what she said is “a child that’s not mine.”
In addition, the order demanded she pay an additional retroactive back child support of an additional $50, from December 2012, when Skyler was born, through July 2013.
From her home near Lake Olivia Monday, Holsey sat with Patricia Austin, a Highlands County-based civil rights activist and community advocate.
Austin decided to assist Holsey to help relieve her of the responsibility of paying and getting reimbursed for the child support money she has already paid.
“Ms. Holsey came to me and asked me to help her because she did not know how to rectify the problem. I thought it very strange the Department of Revenue would be holding her responsible for paying for her son’s child support,” she said.
At Holsey’s dining room table Monday, the two women met and went over paperwork requiring the payment.
Austin said July 15, she and Holsey went to the Department of Revenue’s Sebring office and met with a supervisor to ask if there are any Florida statutes requiring a grandparent pay a grandchild’s child support. Austin said they were told “no” and asked why she was being held responsible for paying.
“I’m trying to find out why they’re still deducting from January until now, after my son has already turned 18,” she said,
According to Austin, Holsey said the supervisor told her the DOR would “take care of the problem” and put an immediate stop to the withholding of pay from her job as Certified Nursing Assistant in Avon Park.
She said there was no legal paperwork stating Holsey should have had money deducted from her paychecks from January through July and was told the DOR supervisor could not discuss the situation without written consent, even though Austin and Holsey had been “asking questions all along and getting answers.”
In Tallahassee, Renee Watters, public information officer for the Department of Revenue, said she couldn’t comment on a specific case but in an email said Florida statutes provides authority for the court to enter an order for support. In cases where parents are minors, the parent or guardian of the person owing support may be a party to the court action and/or served with the petition for support.
“Though the grandparents/guardian may be named as a party to the action, this does not make them an oblige or obligor for the purposes of support,” she stated. “While the Department cannot provide case specific information without a waiver, in general, the case events are very uncommon. We have confirmed that the Department is not and has never enforced the court order for support against the grandparent and we did not send an income deduction order to the grandparent’s employer. When notified by the grandparent that their income is being withheld, we contact the employer on the grandparent’s behalf and ask that they stop the withholding.”
July 15, Holsey was faxed a “notice to withhold income for child support” by the DOR. She said since Richard was a minor at the time of Skyler’s birth, she was told to pay 65 percent to the mother’s 35 percent.
The notice states Holsey’s employer, The Oaks at Avon park Nursing Centers, is not required to withhold any money for child support
“We want answers as to why all this happened to begin with. I want people to understand I’ve had money wrongly taken from me and he (Forney) said you’re trying to get me in the middle of a lawsuit,” Holsey said.
While Holsey sat at the table, her son, Richard, was reached by phone and said he’s in the process of finding a job. He said the circumstances regarding his mother and child support for his daughter has kept him from seeing her and saw Skyler and her mother. He said he last saw them in a park in Avon Park about two months ago and doesn’t know where they have since moved. “I’m 18; this is my daughter. I should be able to see my daughter,” he said. “I want to be able to support my daughter,”
According to a Final Court Order on Child Support from the Tenth Judicial Court dated July 9, 2013, Holsey was required to pay $254 per month retroactive to Dec. 12, 2012.
Austin and Holsey said their next step of action is to contact another DOR supervisor and keep pursuing getting reimbursed, said Austin.
“The goal is to find out why this took place in the first place and to get her money back,” she said.