In 2007, when I was at the ripe old age of 20, my 19 year-old girlfriend unexpectedly became pregnant. I forced myself to accept being a father, stay in a relationship I wanted no part of, ended up in F.E.A.R. (fuck everything and run) and became an absentee father. 27% of my income went to child support, my credit score went from 812 to 565, I nearly lost everything. I couldn’t even mention my daughter, Kassidie, without self-inducing the heaviest mental anguish imaginable.
By the time my daughter turned three, it was very clear I made a massive mistake and began to fight back to be part of my child’s life. Things continued to be disastrous. Not necessarily due to the lack of cooperation by my ex; as compared to many exes, she was (mostly) willing and open to me re-entering our daughter’s life. It took 4 attorneys, nearly $45,000 and 46 months of litigation and hearings to finally set things straight.
As of March 2014, I have custody of my daughter for ~70% of the year and reduced my child support obligation to a mere 3% of my income. This outcome is virtually unheard of in America’s family courts. I wasn’t awarded this outcome by my good looks alone.
About The Kassi Project
The Kassi Project is an evolving resource and community for young, non-custodial (non-primary) parents and advocacy group for American family law reform and proper sex education in schools. The Kassi Project is formerly known as “Oops, I Knocked Up My Girlfriend” which over the course of 2 years hosted over 120,000 readers and was geared towards being a resource around teen pregnancy issues. It was featured on several major news outlets, top blogs and even appeared on a segment on the Huffington Post Live and was used against me in court proceedings.
Why The Kassi Project Exists
Nearly 7 years of being a father, with 4 of those being spent with more time with attorneys than my child got me thinking. If I’m having such a challenging time finding answers, navigating the judicial mazes and overwhelmed with hearing everyone’s opinion of what the “right” decision is, I imagine there are many other people like me. With over 750,000 children being born to teenagers per year and many more to people in their 20′s and 30′s who aren’t ready to commit to a child – or their bed mate, it was simply amazing to find virtually zero reliable information for people in my situation.
I decided to become an attorney. Luckily, I didn’t follow through on that, so instead I decided to learn everything I could about child support and custody issues, family law and psychology. I’ve read nearly every book, taken every course, have spent hundreds of hours talking to paralegals, family law attorneys, judges and even a White House Deputy Director.
I learned there was only one real path to get out of this situation alive and the rest was lies, hype or malevolent actions. You can’t magically get out of child support, no attorney can bend the laws for you, custody isn’t recklessly decided on as the media portrays and you don’t need to drop a huge retainer on a lawyer to get through it all, although it can certainly help in the most dire situations.
Now, readers are here to cut through the BS and focus on getting their life back, ending F.E.A.R., happily raise their child while collaborating with their co-parent and live the good life.
About Chris Piper
I’ve dedicated more time to learning about family law than I did attaining my bachelors degree. It’s my intention to share everything I know as concisely as possible so other parents don’t make the same mistakes I did – which cost me a small fortune, my well-being and completely derailed my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. It’s forever altered my path in life, but it’s sent me here today and for that I am grateful.
I started a digital marketing agency in 2010 when I shifted my focus from “trying to pay off all this damn debt” to simply earning more and studying personal finance. This business was the only reason I was able to afford to pay my child support in full each month and afford the top-tier lawyers when I needed them. Without this business and without shifting my state of mind (thanks Sheila), there is no doubt I would have never been awarded the opportunity to be a (mostly) full-time, happy father.
In 2012 I co-founded zoomStand, inventing the first modular, mobile standing desk that is due for release in late 2014.
I co-authored Understanding Y, an internationally published book providing a comprehensive and candid account of the current disconnect between reality and perception surrounding the Millennial cohort.
I’m still stitching my life back together that was ripped apart from a single decision I made nearly a decade ago. But you know what they say about what doesn’t kill you, right?
Kassidie, Kassi for short, or “Sassy” depending on the day, is my adorkabley lovely daughter. When I asked her to tell me what she wants her bio on The Kassi Project to say, she gave it some serious six-year old thought and told me to post this:
I don’t like chips. I like unicorns.
She loves chips, especially of the tortilla variety, so that must mean she really loves unicorns. We’ll circle back to adding some more compelling information whenever she finishes watching Frozen.