The Social Services

The terror continues. This time from the Social Services who have decided I am not doing enough to meet my maintenance obligations. They have now written that if I cannot find work that meets my qualifications, then I should work as a cleaning lady to provide maintenance.

Just a few weeks after my children were taken from me on the basis that I was too ‘mentally ill’ to care for them and they were ‘in danger’ with me, the Social Services, acting on the orders of the father, applied for child maintenance from me.

My children were taken on 25th July 2011. Words cannot express the agonising suffering and distress I was going through at that time. Like some sort of bereavement except my children were still alive. I was barely functioning and it took all my effort just to get up in the morning.

To my shock and horror, on 18th August 2011, I was sent a letter demanding 1.116.00 Euros per month in maintenance for the children!

‘Ms. Beth Schlesinger is capable of earning 4,000 Euros per month after tax,’ they wrote.

Considering the average wage in Vienna after tax is about 1.200 Euros per month and I had never earned above that since living in Vienna, it was an insane, outrageous demand.

Especially for part-time work! I had 2 afternoons per week with my children at the time.

Furthermore, I had been a full time mum for the previous 2 years. I had just had my children snatched from me in the most barbaric manner and yet I was expected to immediately find a job and go to work the next day as if nothing had happened!

To add insult to injury, they stated:

‘The mother does not have any medical defect which would hinder her in any way from full time employment.’

Suddenly, when it came to paying maintenance, they deemed me so clever and competent! To illustrate the absurdity of this whole situation, I quote from their report:

‘Ms. Schlesinger studied in Cambridge and achieved a Masters degree in Oriental Studies. This comprises languages, history, and culture….this degree opens many doors and leads to many high salary positions in the fields of archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion, translation, journalism, etc. According to the father, Ms. Schlesinger has already worked in Austria as a journalist at The Economist, as a translator at HIAS and taught philosophy in the Lauder Business School. She has also worked as an English teacher.’

The Social Services have now totally contradicted themselves. In the latest report, December 2012 they state:
Since Ms Schlesinger has until now in Austria only had very limited work experience, it can be assumed that she could only earn a basic salary…

In response to their first claim, in 2011, as much as I would love to say this was a very worthwhile degree, I don’t think anybody could realistically make the claim that a degree in Oriental Studies on its own ‘opens doors to many high paying jobs!’Especially not in a foreign country in another language! My lawyer replied to the original claim saying how unrealistic and outrageous it was.

I then received a second letter from the Social Services on 1.12.2011 with a reduced demand for maintenance – this time ‘only’ 330 Euros per month (165 euros per child) based on an earning potential of 1.100 Euros. I appealed against this and was summoned to court (a different court to the divorce/ custody proceedings) in April to describe my employment status. I was on unemployment benefits at the time and presented a whole portfolio of rejection letters to illustrate just how difficult it had been for me to find work since the birth of my twins. The judge commissioned an expert to assess my earning potential which would be used to calculate the amount of maintenance I would have to pay.
On Friday I received this expert report – a 17 page document.

Mag. Kummer concluded that:

‘It was unrealistic to have expected Ms Beth Schlesinger to find full time work from 1.8.2011 that would pay a salary above the existence minimum required to live…she could not be expected to pay maintenance at this time.’

Thankfully this expert proved sane and objective. However, in his report, he included the opinion of the Social Services who thought otherwise:

‘The number of applications/ rejection letters (presented by Ms. Schlesinger) do not, in our opinion demonstrate the necessary level of engagement (to find employment) …..As a mother with financial obligations to her children, she must invest as much time in finding work as someone in full time employment. During a period of extended unemployment, she is required to work in menial jobs below her qualifications. She has not shown any evidence of applications for this line of work – e.g. cleaning, stacking shelves, etc.’

The expert responded to this claim that an employer would probably not accept me as a cleaning lady because I am over qualified and nobody would take my application seriously.

The Social Services seem to be doing everything in their power to further humiliate and degrade me -recommending limited access to my children (‘routine is more important than time with their mother’), recommending against me picking my children up from kindergarten for visits, ignoring my repeated concerns about the terrible state of the children, etc.

Meanwhile, I do not know of any other doctors who require their wives to work as cleaning ladies or shelf stackers in supermarkets to support them.


The Social Services — 6 Comments

  1. My response would be that the maintenance he is requesting is clearly needed for his extensive child care costs. Allowing you to care or your own children instead of paying for nannies would be a significant saving compared to what you would be able to earn under the current circumstances.
    Calculate the cost of child care and offer your services free of charge.

  2. How outrageous!
    I agree with Esther – present your offer in legalese and with a concise summary of your story date-by-date, especially showing the other side’s faulty logic.
    BTW their desciption of you shows you as a highly competent, creative person who has had experience educating children.

  3. Two additional points come to mind regarding their request for maintenance:
    1) it endorses you as the second parent
    2) it entrenches the father as the custodial parent

  4. Beth It is so great to see what an amazing day you gave your boys yesterday!

    You deserve help and support from the Jewish Community as well as the Austrian Authorities to make sure that you and your boys get a

    No one would like to be going through the suffering that you and your boys are having to endure, which has been going on for far too long and everyone needs to do everything in their power to help!

  5. You deserve the help of every community and the whole world this is a gross injustice. I feel your pain. These people who claim to look out for the children’s interest are the very people who are punishing them. The saddest thing I find is when some one makes a statement about your child having only seen them for all of 45 mins. What a load of rubbish. You can quite clearly see in the pictures how amazing your boys were looking

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