April 29, 2013
Infographic on Child Support
The amount of child support that goes unpaid each year is astonishing even though statistics show it is decreasing each year since 1993. The number one reason payments are not made is that no explanation for the amount of funds necessary for the child and parent are established in court.
Some child support lawyers focus their attention on establishing the guidelines necessary for a reasonable child support plan. Those guidelines are usually based on health and education needs as well as the income of the custodial parent.You can see a great infographic on child support here.
April 04, 2013
Child Support Collection Privatization
Two top Republicans are pushing for child support collection privatization in the state of Mississippi. Austin Barbour, nephew of former Governor Haley Barbour, and Arnie Hederman are gearing “to put private firms on track to make big money by performing government services,” according to Democratic lawmakers. According to statistics provided by these two Republicans, the number of child support cases in Mississippi hovers around 435,000, and the amount of overdue money hovers around $1.1 billion. Barbour and Hederman are lobbying for YoungWilliams Child Support Services.
Read more here.
February 19, 2013
OH Child Support Case
An Elyria, Ohio, judge has ordered 35-year-old Asim Taylor to stop fathering children because he cannot pay child support for his four current children. Taylor, originally indicted in August 2011 for owing almost $79,000 in child support to the mothers of his children, now owes more than $96,000 in payments. Taylor has pleaded guilty. Judge James Walther explained he put the condition on his sentencing because, "It's your personal responsibility to pay for these kids."
Read more here.
February 11, 2013
Child Support Enforcement Methods
Article author Mosi Secret reveals in his article even though Robert Sand, a man well-known for dodging his child support payments for almost 20 years, was arrested for owing his ex-wife Lisa Sand and his two children $1 million in payments, Ms. Sand is being faced with a tough choice: does she want her husband to go to jail, or does she want to see him work and "pay his debt to me and my children?" Mr. Sand had been hiding out in Thailand before he was arrested upon arriving back in the United States on December 18, 2012.
Read more here.
February 08, 2013
Child Support Figures
According to the U. S. Census Bureau, almost 60% of parents do not receive as much child support as they should receive, and in Florida, this is true for over half a million parents. The majority of cases in the state see men owing women money, with only 5.8% of cases seeing women owing men child support (according to the Florida Department of Revenue).
Read more here.
April 26, 2012
Guest Post by Eileen McGovern: Think Debt Collection is Always Bad? Ask a Single Parent Who Isn’t Getting Child Support
Economic times are very difficult for just about everyone. But imagine if you were supporting a child, or multiple children, all on your own, without any financial help? It’s not an uncommon scenario to have a single parent supporting their kids by themselves because they are not being provided with child support payments from the disassociated parent. As times get harder these payments, which ordinarily may have been unreliable, tend to disappear. But some people are trying to help do the right thing.
A story was recently posted on CNN in their iReport section about the situation facing custodial parents, the parents who have custody of their child or children but receive no aid. These parents have been struggling on a single income to support their children, and in many cases, haven’t had any financial assistance. They don’t know who to turn to, and frequently cannot afford a lawyer to help them get that owed money.
The Custodial Support Foundation was founded to help get those custodial parents that assistance. They offer a vast range of resources and services designed to help custodial parents get the assistance that they need, including help with filing for child support, legal assistance, and a collection program. A number of these services, like collections and legal assistance, are provided at a greatly reduced cost, making it more affordable for someone who is already struggling financially.
Far from acting as a villain in this scenario, the collection agency helps to take legal steps towards getting money for the custodial parent. Too often, warrants for child support aren’t enforced and trying to get money from across state lines is nearly impossible. With a collection agency on the custodial parent’s side, these problems would no longer be an issue.
Some of the persistently negative associations that people have about debt collectors can be eased a bit. This is a perfect example of how a collection agency can help those who are really in need. When a custodial parent needs help on recovering money that they are due, they can have no greater ally than an experienced collections agency who will use their knowledge to help people who are doing the right thing by taking care of their kids.
April 16, 2011
£100 for Child Support Enforcement
A new proposal in the UK would require parents to pay £100 for the state to initiate child support collection. Read about it here.
November 17, 2010
U.S. Supreme Court Grants Cert in Child Support Contempt Case
Rick Brundrett of The Nerve just published an excellent story about the U.S. Supreme Court's grant of cert in a child support contempt case. He writes:
The nation’s top court will hear the appeal of an indigent Upstate father who contends his rights were violated because he wasn’t provided an attorney before being jailed for failing to pay child support.
The U.S. Supreme Court this month announced it accepted the case of Michael D. Turner v. Rebecca Price and the S.C. Department of Social Services. Oral arguments could be heard as early as March, with a ruling by the nine-member court likely by the end of June, based on the court's past practice, Greenville lawyer Derek Enderlin, one of Turner’s appellate attorneys, told The Nerve on Monday.
Having an appeal accepted by the top court is a rare legal feat: Out of about 10,000 petitions the justices receive annually, only about 100 are heard during a term, which started last month.
The Nerve previously profiled Turner’s case in April and August.
The S.C. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on March 29 that indigent parents didn't have the right to an attorney in civil contempt hearings. Turner appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
South Carolina is one of only five states in the nation – along with Georgia, Florida, Maine and Ohio – that don’t guarantee indigent parents who owe child support the right to an attorney in civil contempt hearings that can result in jail time, according to Turner’s U.S. Supreme Court petition.
That situation creates modern-day debtors’ prisons, as judges are more likely to jail indigent parents without attorneys for contempt, Turner and his supporters say in court papers.
At any given time in South Carolina, there are about 1,500 people in jail for non-payment of child support, the vast majority of who were sentenced for civil contempt, according to research in 2005 and 2009 by Elizabeth “Libba” Patterson, a University of South Carolina law professor and former director of the S.C. Department of Social Services.
“The system just isn’t working that well,” Enderlin, who represented Turner for free before the S.C. Supreme Court, told The Nerve. “We’re putting people in jail, and by the time they get out, they’re twice as much in debt.”
Enderlin said he plans to attend the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. The lead appellate attorney, who also is representing Turner at no cost, is Seth Waxman of Washington, D.C., a former U.S. solicitor general appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Read more here.
October 03, 2010
Father Sentenced for Child Support Arrears in Excess of $500,000
The story of one Michigan man's serious child support issues:
The Muskegon man has fathered 23 children with 14 women, and is more than $533,000 in arrears in his child-support payments, according to the attorney general's office, which has been pushing a case against Veal -- tied to two of those children -- in Kent County Circuit Court.
On Thursday, Judge Dennis Leiber sentenced Veal, 44, to two to four years in prison for failure to pay child support, a felony. With this sentence, the judge far exceeded the state guidelines, which called for Veal to get no more than six months in the county jail.
"You are the poster child for irresponsibility," Leiber told Veal, who appeared surprised by the sentence. "You're an insult to every responsible father who sacrifices to provide for their children."
Read more here.
March 25, 2010
IL Child Support Enforcement Case
An Illinois appellate court recently held that it is error for a court to restrain the Department of Healthcare and Family Services from enforcing child support arrearage against a parent when the Department did not unequivocally agree to modification of the time for payment of support or waiver of the vested right to collect the arrearage by means beyond withholding employment income. The case is In re Marriage of Heady, No. 2-09-0022 (Ill. App. Ct. March 1, 2010) and the opinion is available here.
January 18, 2010
Class Action Against State Agency for Lax Child Support Collection
A West Virginia attorney recently filed a class action suit against the State Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, claiming that the Bureau has taken no action in scores of child support enforcement cases, allowing limitations to run and otherwise mishandling enforcement cases.
“I think we have class action here,” Webb said to a woman sitting in his office several months ago as she told him how the Child Advocacy Office handled her case. Her husband owed more than $16,000 in support payments, but the statute of limitations had kicked in and the order lapsed with no action from the office that is supposed to collect from delinquent obligors.
Webb has been a family law lawyer for 23 and served two terms in the state legislature. He knew that his client, Kimberley Hoover, wasn’t the only mother in West Virginia with a child support problem.
“The Child Advocate Office has a duty to collect child support payments for children. It should have been on high alert not to allow statutes of limitations to run out on these judgments,” says Webb with a slightly perceptible growl. “But they weren’t. No one seems to notice or care that children were losing thousands of dollars because of a failure to draft and implement a very simple writ of execution.”
Webb anticipates that the Child Advocacy Board will claim to be “overworked and underpaid” and will say that “the child support payments were uncollectable” in many cases. He doesn’t think that will pass as a defense. It is a particularly weak argument in the case of Kimberley Hoover. “The parent who owed the money advised the court that he was receiving a lump sum payment for a disability claim,” says Webb. “This was a collectable judgment.”
Read the full story here.
January 08, 2010
Hatcher: Collateral Children: Consequences and Illegality at the Intersection of Foster Care and Child Support
Daniel L. Hatcher (University of Baltimore School of Law) has published "Collateral Children: Consequence and Illegality at the Intersection of Foster Care and Child Support," 74 Brook. L. Rev. 1333(2009). Here is the abstract from SSRN:
This Article is the third in a series addressing the conflict between state revenue maximization strategies and the missions of state agencies serving low-income children. The Article examines the policy of foster care cost recovery through child support enforcement. When children are removed from poor families and placed in foster care, federal law requires child welfare agencies to initiate child support obligations against the parents. Resulting payments do not benefit the children but are converted into a government funding stream to reimburse the costs of foster care. This cost recovery effort often subordinates the child welfare system’s primary goals of protecting the interests of children and simultaneously strengthening and preserving families to the bureaucratic focus on replenishing government revenue. No such federal cost recovery requirement exists when children are removed from well off families. The policy targets parents whose children were often removed due to the circumstances of poverty, and the neglect that results. Already impoverished parents are further burdened by government owed child support obligations, hampering their struggle to reunify with their children. Federally required case plans intended to aid reunification are illegally converted into debt collection tools. And as the reunification efforts falter, an unconstitutional practice emerges: terminating parental rights for a government-owed debt. This Article reveals the framework and policy implications, and uncovers the illegality, when the core missions of child welfare agencies are diverted towards a self-interested fiscal pursuit.
November 09, 2009
The Recession's Impact on Child Support
States across the country are reporting substantially increased child support litigation. Cash-strapped obligors are seeking reductions in child support awards for employment difficulities and child support arrearages are increasing rapidly. The negative impact on children supported by those awards is obvious. But even courts are feeling the pain of the flood of this litigation. Many of the obligors seeking relief cannot afford legal representation and courts are struggling to find creative solutions to managing the burden of the volume of child support modification suits. Read more about the problem here and here.
May 11, 2009
CFP: Children and the Law Junior Faculty Workshop Call for Papers
Children and the Law Junior Faculty Workshop
July 16 -17, 2009
The Frances Lewis Law Center
at Washington & Lee University is sponsoring a workshop for junior
scholars working on legal issues related to children. The workshop will
be held this summer on the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington,
More info on Feminist Law Professors blog here.
August 16, 2008
Political Platforms on Family Law Issues
The political parties are in the process of drafting their national party platforms for the 2008 election and, as expected, there is some attention to family law issues.
The draft 2008 Democratic National Platform is interesting both for what it says and what it does not say. A section on "fatherhood" states that "too many fathers are missing." The party supports "removing tax penalties on married families and expanding maternity and paternity benefits," as well as rewarding those "who are responsibly supporting their children by giving them a tax credit" and will "crack down on men who avoid child support payments" and "ensure that payments go directly to families instead of bureaucracies." (page 44 lines 34-44). There is a section on "empowering families" with an extensive discussion of policies on health care, employment, "work and family," and women. Of particular interest is a pledge to "expand the Family and Medical Leave Act" to "enable workers to take leave to care for an elderly parent, address domestic violence, or attend a parent-teacher conference," and to work with states to make leave paid rather than unpaid. (page 10 lines 31-35). In a subsection entitled "Choice" the platform provides: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." There is also strong support for "access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education," and a mention of "caring adoption programs." (page 45 line 19-31). There is also this single line: "We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us." (page 47 lines 8-9).
The draft of the 2008 Democratic National Platform, in pdf format from CNN/TIME, is available here.
The Republican National Platform Committee is apparently still in progress - - - the committee is soliciting input for its 2008 platform here.
The draft of the 2008 Green Party Platform includes a section on youth, a call for equality regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity in civil marriage and child custody, a section on protecting abortion and contraception (specifically including the "morning after pill") and is available here.
The 2008 Constitution Party Platform calls for to the government to "secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born." The platform opposes "government funding of 'partner' benefits for unmarried individuals," "any legal recognition of homosexual unions," and "efforts to legalize adoption of children by homosexual singles or couples," and is available here.
(RR August 16, 2008)
February 11, 2008
Case Law Development: Termination of Parental Rights Does not End Child Support Obligation
In an unpublished opinion, the Illinois Supreme Court has held that the termination of parental rights does not extinguish a child support obligation unless the child is being adopted. The court relied on the language of the Illinois statute, which refers to termination of parental obligations as to “a child sought to be adopted.” The court stated: "We conclude that, after the entry of an order terminating parental rights, where the child is not adopted, [the Act] applies as its plain language indicates, only where the child is 'sought to be adopted'…. To hold that this language is of no effect, as respondent urges, would render the language superfluous or meaningless." The court rejected the appeals court’s interpretation of the “sought to be adopted” language as including any child 'available for adoption', noting that the legislature could have specifically used this language.
Three judges dissented, arguing that the court’s interpretation created significant inconsistencies in the law, both between the termination statute and the juvenile code and between this holding and prior precedent.
Illinois DHFS v. Warner, Ill., Illinois Supreme Court, January 25, 2008
Opinion on the web (last visited February 9, 2008 bgf)
January 10, 2008
Case Law Development: Default Administrative Child Support Order Does not Establish Paternity Sufficient to Support Criminal Non-Support Action
The Supreme Court of Missouri has issued a number of decisions this past year relating to paternity -- requiring greater process to prove or disprove paternity. In its latest decision, the court concluded that the state's child support administrative system was not sufficient process to establish paternity when the order was by default. The court held that, the state failed in its burden to prove the duty to support one's child where there was no final judgment of paternity by a circuit court and, thus, no "legal process" that judicially determined defendant's parentage. In the absence of a circuit court judgment, defendant was not prevented from collaterally attacking the administrative order used to establish his obligation of support that, in turn, served as the basis for this criminal prosecution. Because the State failed to prove that the child had been legitimated by "legal process," the judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded.
State v. Salazar, 236 S.W.3d 644 (October 30, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited November 9, 2008 bgf)
January 08, 2008
Case Law Development: What is Proper Documentation of College Enrollment for Purposes of Post-Majority Child Support
Missouri is one of the few states that requires post-majority child support for children attending college. The statutory scheme has been amended a number of times in recent years to provide more detailed requirements regarding notice of enrollment to the obligor parent, minimum credit hour enrollments, and the like.
In a case of first impression, the Missouri Court of Appeals has interpreted one of those statutory requirements: that the child provide each parent with a "transcript or similar official document." The court held that a print out of courses, credits and grades from a college's web-based system, while not an "official transcript" sufficiently met the meaning of "transcript" in the statute to require Mother to pay child support.
Waddington v. Cox, Mo. App. January 2, 2008
Opinion online (last visited January 8, 2008 bgf)
For a chart comparing state approaches to post-majority support for college students, see the National Conference of State Legislatures' 2005 Summary
August 15, 2007
Passport Denials as Effective Tool in Collecting Delinquent Child Support
The Associated Press reports that new passport requirements that have complicated travel this summer also have uncovered untold numbers of child support scofflaws and forced them to pay millions. The State Department denies passports to noncustodial parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support. Once the parents make good on their debts, they can reapply for passports.
Read the New York Times article (last visited August 15, 2007 bgf)
February 15, 2007
Legislative Update: Bills to Allow Disestablishment of Paternity
Legislation is working its way through the Colorado legislature that would make it harder for Colorado to force people to pay child support to children DNA tests have proven aren't theirs. The text of the bill. See the CBS4Denver website for a news video on the bill.
According to the Kansas City Star, this week a bill was introduced into the MIssouri legislature allowing DNA evidence to disestablish paternity after the current one-year limitations period.
See this Time magazine article on the national movement to pass similar legislation.
(all links last visited February 15, 2007 bgf)