Christopher Isit has been paying child support for his twin daughters for more than a decade.
For most of that time, the payments were automatically deducted from his paycheck and sent to whatever state in which his former girlfriend and daughters were residing, then forwarded to the ex-girlfriend.
But when his ex-girlfriend moved to Mississippi several years ago, things went awry.
In June 2009, Mississippi reported that Isit was about $900 short of what he owed. A new child support order was issued in Illinois, and he began paying extra each week – sometimes as much as an additional $95.
The Riverside resident and his wife don't know how or when the shortfall occurred, but they willingly paid it.
The deficit was erased by early 2011, but the payoff did not reduce the amount that was deducted from his paycheck. No new child support order was issued, so Isit continued to pay the additional money each week, creating an overpayment.
That was only part of his problem. Instead of sending the money to Mississippi and allowing that state to distribute the payments to Isit's ex-girlfriend, in early 2011 Illinois began sending the money directly to the ex-girlfriend.
Because the money was bypassing the state of Mississippi, it had no record of Isit making his child support payments. By July of this year, Mississippi incorrectly showed Isit owed more than $5,100 in child support. It began pursuing the alleged shortfall by intercepting his federal tax return.
Through no fault of his own, his child support payments had become a big, hot mess.
His wife, Angela Isit, said the couple tried repeatedly to straighten out the situation through Mississippi and Illinois. Mississippi was helpful providing documents but could not intervene because the child support order was issued in Illinois.
Illinois was unresponsive, Angela Isit said.
So she emailed What's Your Problem?
"Long story short, we are unable to get through to anyone in Illinois," she said. "They have told my husband that our case with Illinois has been closed because the kids have lived in Mississippi for so long."
She said her husband has been repeatedly referred to the same person at the state of Illinois and he does not return calls or emails.
"The state now owes us over $1,000 because we have overpaid the arrears and are still paying them because Illinois has not fixed the child support order to show we've paid it," Angela Isit said.
To correct the problem, Isit needs a new child support order. He also needs Illinois to pay Mississippi instead of Isit's ex-girlfriend, and for Mississippi to quit pursuing him for money he has already paid, Angela Isit said.
"It is an extremely simple fix if someone would just do so," she said. "They really need to assign us a case manager in Illinois."
The Problem Solver called Mike Claffey, a spokesman for the state of Illinois, and explained Isit's complicated situation.
On Tuesday, Claffey said the state will send Isit a $1,505.69 refund check to compensate for his overpayment in child support.
Claffey said the case got mixed up in part because Isit's ex-girlfriend moved to several states over the years, meaning new child support cases were opened in those jurisdictions, apparently causing confusion.
"The overpayment resulted from an error due to four separate states being involved in the case at various times," Claffey said. "Illinois was only involved at the request of other states, and currently no other state has an open case."
Claffey said Mississippi has chosen to close its case and will not pursue Isit for the more than $5,000 that went directly to his ex-girlfriend.
"Obviously, this was a complicated case, since four states were involved," Claffey said. "We hope this resolves it in a manner that satisfies Mr. Isit."
Almost. Angela Isit said one hurdle remains. The child support order still has to be revised so her husband does not continue to overpay. And the couple still would like Illinois to assign a caseworker to help them wade through the various issues.
Still, they see progress.
"We will feel better once we actually see the check," Angela Isit said. "It feels like there's hope and it's going to get better. Now, it seems like it's going to get resolved."