Tragic story told by Bai Macfarlane:
Disabled Veteran, Jailed Once, Stops Prosecutor from Jailing Him Again
February 1, 2008 – Chardon OH – Disabled Gulf War Veteran, Tim Nolan is defending himself from the Geauga County OH divorce courts. Friday, January 30, in Judge Forest Burt’s courtroom, he argued against assistant county prosecutor, A.J. Miedema. She asked for a 27 day jail sentence because he’s behind in child support payments. Nolan already spent three days in jail for being behind in child support, but after defending himself in Friday’s hearing, the judge ruled in his favor.
His wife took Nolan’s 2-year-old son from him in 2002 when she filed for divorce. Before the divorce was finalized, Nolan was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and became unemployed. Nolan said, “I applied for Social Security disability benefits in 2003 because I couldn’t work.”
“I repeatedly notified the Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Court that it was impossible for me to comply with the original support order, but they continue to add up arrearages.”
Court records show that Nolan asked the court to modify child support in July 2003 and asked for relief from judgment in April of 2006. With private attorneys, he filed appeals of court decisions issued in January 2005 and January 2007.
Nolan is a gulf war veteran, and he said he began receiving Veterans Administration disability pension benefits in 2005. “According to Ohio law,” says Nolan, “the court is not allowed to consider my disability benefits as income for their child support calculation purposes (3119.01C7a).”
Nolan say’s “Many times, I told the child support enforcement agency that I was unable to work, unemployed, and disabled, but they ignored their own rules that require them to recalculate child support if someone in my condition requests it (OAC5101:12-60-05.1E2,4).”
Because Nolan was behind in child support payments, he served a three-day jail sentence in May of 2008. “The last time I went to jail, I was denied my medication, had convulsions, and had to be assisted with a drinking straw and lost control of my arms and legs.”
Nolan recently asked the court to vacate previous orders. In his January 6, 2009 motion, he concludes that Ohio Law and local rules have been violated with impunity and so have his rights to due process.
The court refused to correct the previous orders that Nolan argues are unlawful, but that is no surprise to those who are working to bring justice in the divorce courts. Michael Galluzzo, President of National Organization for Parental Equality, based in Ohio, is familiar with Tim’s case. In a telephone interview, Galluzzo says, “By overruling Nolan’s request to vacate previous orders, the judge is saying the facts don’t matter and the law doesn’t matter. The agents in the divorce system are more interested in extorting child support than they are in following the law, or providing equal justice in the courts.”
In Nolan’s case, in September of 2006, the Child Support Enforcement Agency ordered the VA to pay child support by withholding from Nolan’s disability benefits. Galluzzo says, “It is against the law for CSEA to take these benefits (OAC5101:12-50-10.1B2,3).”
Nolan’s case is not unique according to Jere Beery, Director of Public Relations for OFFE, Operation Firing For Effect. “We are monitoring cases across the country,” says Beery, “in which veterans’ disability benefits are being chased by the divorce courts.” Beery cites sections of US Code, Title 38 Veteran’s benefits. He observes, “Attorneys have a vested interest in going after disability benefits because it gives their client the ability to pay lawyer fees. The judges know they can tell the Veterans to do what ever they want, and Vets can’t fight it.”
In Geauga County Ohio, Veteran Timothy Nolan is not retreating in defeat. He says he’s going to ask the Appeals court to give him his day in court to argue previous orders are void and should be vacated. Beery says, “Veterans in this network are fighting for two reasons; first, to protect their own financial benefits, and secondly to protect men and women in our armed services against the ambush that is awaiting them in divorce courts.”
As a Vietnam era veteran, Galluzzo says, “The brave men and women who fought to defend our rights should not have theirs ignored and denied!”
See earlier story, Gulf War Veteran Fighting War at Home this 2008 Holiday. Defending Self Against Divorce Courts. Nov. 24 Hearing to Impose Jail. (with Chronology linked to court documents)