Dad: Unjust rules made me run
The Toronto Sun, By Michele Mandel, May 2, 2004
DAVID FISHER is an American fugitive, one of the 10 most wanted deadbeat dads in the state of Massachusetts. But he lives here -- and wants to be declared a refugee.
At home, he is a villain with his face on a poster in the subways of Boston, a demon dad who owes more than $150,000 in child support to his three children and faces up to 10 years in prison for failing to ante up.
Yet Fisher comes across as a desperate father who was doing the best he could to provide his kids with $2,000 a month in support -- the American guideline amount to his $75,000-a-year salary as a computer programmer. It wasn't enough. A judge had ordered him to pay $4,000 a month and refused to believe that he could not find a job that paid Read More ../p>
When he left his marriage in 1998, he was making over $100,000 as a programming consultant. He willingly gave his family $6,500 a month for the first six months and then $5,000 a month for the next year -- far above the state guideline. At the end of 1999, with his contracts drying up, he went to court and won a temporary order to pay $3,800 a month.
At the same time, he fell in love with Kate McWilliam, an Ontario woman he had met over the Internet. His new romance enraged his ex-wife, he says, and his clients were harassed and his children were poisoned against him.
In late 2000, he lost his main client, there was no money coming in and he couldn't pay his tax instalments. He finally found a full-time job that paid $75,000 a year -- but he could now afford to pay only the guideline amount of $2,365 a month in support. Fisher filed a motion to modify his child support order from $3,800. Instead, the judge found him in contempt. By the time they finished garnisheeing his wages, he was left with $89 a week.
When he couldn't pay his mounting arrears, he was tossed in jail just before Christmas, 2000. He got a $5,000 cash advance he knew he could never repay, paid her and was released.
He took a $75,000-a-year job in Kansas and saw half of each paycheque garnisheed to pay his support. But every month, he was yet another $2,000 behind -- and facing prison.
"In the three years I spent trying to get divorced, I paid Ann nearly $170,000 tax-free dollars, had legal fees totalling close to $50,000, had offered to give my house and the $175,000 in equity that was in it along with 55% of my wages," he says. "The result was that I was labelled a 'deadbeat dad,' threatened with jail and threatened with further harassment."
Facing arrest yet again, Fisher was in a "blind panic" when he and McWilliam decided to flee in April 2001, eventually ending up in Toronto where he worked underground.
After his boss reported him to U.S. bounty hunters, Fisher claimed refugee status, insisting he faces cruel and unusual punishment if returned to the States.
"I tried to do everything I could not to break the law," he says, "yet I face 10 years in jail."