The flowers he carried looked out of place against the backdrop of the brown wooden benches sparsely filled with men in expensive suits sitting with their flustered looking clients. They were inexpensive grocery store flowers. I must have gasped because my lawyer looked at me, then followed my gaze. He leaned down. "I'd rather he brought the child support," he said, sotto voce. Trance lifted, I blew out a laugh.
By the time we were called to the front, the flowers had wilted, but he handed them over to me anyway, a few petals fallling to the floor. The bushy raised eyebrows on the judge embarrassed me. "I've read the complaint," he said nodding at me, his voice deep and echoing. "Do you dispute the charges?" he asked, looking at my exhusband. He didn't even have the humility to look ashamed. "I do not." The judge picked up his gavel. "Then I rule in favor of the plaintiff. $13,463 plus legal fees."
I blinked, stunned. Was it that simple? Could it be over?
"We'll garnish wages," the Judge told his clerk. "$600 biweekly, in addition to regular child support." The clerk nodded. "For two years. Arrest warrant if there are any future missed payments." The gavel hit the desk and the clerk nodded at us.
"Thank you, Judge," my lawyer said, steering me by the elbow toward the door. I caught my exhusband's eye and furrowed my brow, trying to send him telepathic messages. "Do what's right," I begged him in my mind. "Stay out of jail. Be a father."
He didn't do any of those things.