Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, April 4, 2016

New Jersey Judge Says Child Support May Be Paid Directly to Child

From New Jersey Law Journal:

A New Jersey judge has ruled that a noncustodial parent may satisfy some of his or her child support obligation by making payments directly to an unemancipated child who is over the age of 18.

Ocean County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Jones issued his unpublished ruling in Kayahan v. Kayahan on Dec. 28, and it was released by the judiciary on March 22.

Jones said that in cases where the unemancipated child has demonstrated a certain level of maturity and financial acumen, it may be more appropriate for the child to receive some of the money rather than have it go through the custodial parent.

"When an unemancipated child is over 18 years old, a court in its discretion may permit the noncustodial parent to pay part of his or her child support obligation directly to the child, under certain circumstances," Jones said.

"Such conditions include the child's utilization of the funds only for specifically earmarked and pre-approved expenses, along with an ongoing requirement that the child provide documented accountings of the use of the funds to both parents," he said.

While the plaintiff's attorney in the case said he thought direct-pay arrangements between noncustodial parents and children could be mutually beneficial, at least one family law attorney not involved in the case disapproved of Jones' decision.

"The ruling inappropriately interferes with the statutory right of the custodial parent to collect child support payments," said Amanda Trigg, adding that she was relieved that the decision has not been published and cannot be cited as precedent.

Read more here.

April 4, 2016 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Indiana Supreme Court Changes Burden of Proof on Child Support Tax Exemptions

From Indianapolis Bar Association:

Prior to January 1, 2016, the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, case law and the Indiana Statute on granting of tax exemptions placed the burden of proof on different parties.

The case law was originally set in the case of Eppler v. Eppler, 837 N.E.2d 167 (Ind. App., 2005, trans. denied 2006), which interpreted the then existing child support guidelines to automatically grant the child tax exemption to the custodial parent unless the court makes a finding based upon evidence presented. This case made it clear that at that time, the burden was on the noncustodial parent to prove that he or she was entitled to the exemption based upon factors set out in the guidelines.

In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly added a provision to the Indiana code addressing tax exemptions. As you can see, the statute was neutral as to who received the exemption and the law required the court to make a finding as to who should receive the exemption. The statute used the same factors but did not presume who would receive the exemption.

IC 31-16-6-1.5 Claiming child for tax purposes; considerations; conditions
Sec. 1.5. (a) A court shall specify in a child support order which parent of a child may claim the child as a dependent for purposes of federal and state taxes.

When the Supreme Court was revisiting the child support guidelines, a committee of the IndyBar of which I was the subcommittee chair pointed out the conflict between the statute, the case law, and the guidelines. The new guidelines now bring the statute and the guidelines into agreement effectively overruling the presumption in the case law and prior guidelines.

The best practice now is to present evidence to show your client should receive the exemption under the guidelines. If the decree or order is silent, then you revert to the federal law.

Read more here.

March 15, 2016 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Law Enacted to Help Ensure Child Support Payments

From Hometown Life:

A four-bill package that will help ensure collection of child support payments when parents live in different states or countries was signed into law as 2015 ended.

“In divorce and child custody situations, we must make sure the child's best interests are being preserved,” said State Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, a bill sponsor. “Just because a parent moves out of the state or even out of the country doesn't mean the responsibility to provide for his or her child should end. This legislation brings Michigan in line with federal child support guidelines.”

The bipartisan package legislation amends the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act by not only ensuring the collection of child support payments, but also streamlining the process for collecting both international and interstate payments.

It also takes the burden of determining the legality of international child support orders off of employers. The UIFSA provides universal and uniform rules for the enforcement of family support orders. This legislation repeals the current UIFSA and reenacts the 2008 version, which brings Michigan in line with federal guidelines.

Read more here.

February 9, 2016 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Arizona Uses Facebook and Twitter to Shame 'Deadbeat Dads'

From NBC News:

Deadbeat dads in Arizona, beware. Your mug could be plastered all over social media for the world to see.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey this week launched a campaign to crack down on "the worst of the worst" parents who are ignoring child support payments, posting their names and photos to Twitter and Facebook. The hope is that the public shaming will make some of them pay up and give other dads (and moms) second thoughts about evading child support.

Ducey, a father of three, called out "deadbeat dads" in his State of the Union address on Monday, saying he was troubled by the high number of vulnerable children in Arizona.

"For too long, you've been able to remain anonymous — able to skirt your financial and legal responsibilities with no shame. Not anymore," the governor proclaimed. Effective immediately, he said, the state would begin posting the photos, names and money owed by "these losers" to social media, with the hashtag #deadbeat.

Read more here.

January 19, 2016 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Arizona Child Support Lien Screwup Infuriates Thousands

From Phoenix New Times:

Thousands of Arizonans who paid off their child support debt continued to be marked as subject to property liens because of a state Department of Economic Security screwup that officials say is almost fixed.

Ticked-off customers — including some with lawyers — finally drove the agency to do something about the problem, according to insiders. Dozens of people had to be hired to help figure it out.

When asked about the snafu, DES officials acknowledged that a lengthy review of closed, past-due child support cases completed last year showed that 8,241 people should have had their liens removed. The agency also determined that 14,016 open child support cases need to be audited for liens that should be released; that review will occur sometime this year.

The state has about 321,000 active child support cases, with the state and county splitting them roughly in half. Besides typical cases, the state automatically receives cases that involve federally assisted foster care and recipients of Medicaid or welfare. Under previous rules, if someone ordered to pay child support falls more than two months behind, an administrative lien is placed on all current and future property they own. (The state recently changed that to four months.) The lien prevents the person from selling the property, typically a home, until the past-due payments are satisfied.

The problem was that "liens were not properly tracked and documented," according to information provided by Tasya Peterson, DES spokeswoman. Computer hardware from the 1980s at the agency, including a mainframe ATLAS system, "allows for user entry errors."

Read more here.

January 11, 2016 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Your Kids Care About Their Dad More Than Child Support

From The Good Men Project:

Children don’t care about child support. In fact, unless their parents sit them down and explain it to them, most children don’t even know what child support is.  Many children, in their independent mind frame (especially younger children), believe that the money is used to provide their wants and needs: grows on trees, can be picked up at leisure from the bank, is unlimited on “those cards you swipe at the store," flows freely out of money making machines (i.e. ATMs), or is unlimited as long as you go to work. 

So although child support is often our top concern as parents, children could care less.

Over the years, I’ve interviewed numerous children in connection with my child custody law and mediation practice. When asked about their feelings and wishes, NOT ONE child responded that they wanted more child support from daddy. Similarly, not one wished daddy made more money or anything else related to money, except, I have had a few children request that their dad didn’t have to work so much so they could spend more time with them. Out of all of my interviews, the only time the words “child support” were mentioned, was when one child said, “I wish mommy wasn’t so mad at my dad about child support so that I can see him.”

What children consistently seem to care about the most when dad, child custody and or/support is at issue, is being able to spend time with their dad, and without worry.

Being a parent requires much more than “having/paying money.” In my line of work, I’ve realized that society has so many people so wrapped up in riches and material things that the things that are most important are often disregarded for things that don’t compare. Children indeed need both money and quality time with both parents–one is not at the mercy of the other. I would suggest that moms who are using child support to interfere with the child’s relationship with their father look at how that behavior can be harmful to their children. 

Read more here.

January 6, 2016 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Some States Are Cutting Poor Dads A Deal on Unpaid Child Support

From NPR:

When the state of Maryland wanted to reach dads who were behind on their child support payments, it started in the boarded-up blocks of West Baltimore, in neighborhoods marked by drugs, violence and unemployment.

In just four zip code areas, the state identified 4,642 people who owed more than $30 million in back child support. Most of that was "state-owed," meaning that rather than going to the child through the custodial parent, it's supposed to reimburse taxpayers for welfare paid to the child's mother.

This is a source of great resentment for many men, who say they want their money to go to their children. But most who owe it can't pay anyway, as they earn less than $10,000 a year.

 

"So even if we use taxpayer dollars to chase 'em down, and we catch 'em, right, and we go into their pockets, there's nothing in there," says Joe Jones of Baltimore's Center for Urban Families.

Are they deadbeat? Joseph DiPrimio, head of Maryland's child support enforcement office, doesn't like that expression. "I think that's vulgar. I don't use it," he says. DiPrimio prefers "dead broke." 

"We're talking about individuals that are economically challenged, they're underemployed, but they want to do the right thing," he says.

Read more here.

 

November 29, 2015 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Emancipation of Children for the Purposes of Child Support Obligations

From The National Law Review:

Emancipation is the process by which a minor is legally freed from control by their parents or guardians, and the parents or guardians are legally freed from any and all responsibility toward the child. In family law, emancipation most often occurs in the context of child support obligations. A child who is emancipated does not receive child support. Therefore, a supporting spouse (the one making the child support payments) is likely to seek emancipation of a child, while a dependent spouse (the one receiving the child support payments) will likely oppose emancipation. Typically, emancipation is sought when the child reaches the age of majority, but it can also occur before or after this date.

As established by numerous court opinions in New Jersey, emancipation can occur upon the child’s marriage, the child’s introduction into military service, by a court order based on the child’s best interests or by the attainment of an appropriate age. Regarding what is the “appropriate age,” emancipation does not automatically occur upon a minor reaching the age of majority. In Alford v. Somerset County Welfare Board, a New Jersey Appellate Court stated that, “while the age of majority has been established in New Jersey by law, there is no age fixed in law when a child becomes emancipated.” Subsequent cases affirmed this idea. Furthermore, in Newburgh v. Arrigo and Filippone v. Lee, it was determined that reaching the age of majority establishes only a prima facie case but not conclusive proof of emancipation, and can be rebuttable based upon the circumstances of each case.

Newburgh and Filippone are the leading cases in New Jersey regarding emancipation. They not only state that reaching the age of majority simply establishes a prima facie case for emancipation that can be rebutted, but also elaborate on what factors can be used to rebut this presumption. Together, they affirm the fact that the issue of whether a child is emancipated at age eighteen, with correlative termination of the right to parental support, if fact-intensive, and can easily vary based upon the specific circumstances of each case. Together, they also establish the fundamental question asked when determining if a child should be emancipated or not – has the child moved beyond the “sphere of influence” exercised by the parent and obtained an independent status of his or her own?

Read more here.

October 23, 2015 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

For Men in Prison, Child Support Becomes a Crushing Debt

From The Washington Post:

Earl L. Harris did not owe child support when he was sent to prison in 1997 for selling marijuana. He now concedes that dealing drugs may have been a stupid move for a new father.

But Harris, then 19, had grown up poor and dropped out of school, and the only legitimate work available to young, black men like him, he says, was a temp job without benefits.

“Nobody was hiring,” he said. “I got into hustling because I wanted to support my baby.”

The state of Missouri sent Harris to the penitentiary in Boonville, 250 miles from his home and baby daughter. His girlfriend moved on, later marrying someone else. After just two months in prison, Harris started getting the letters.

Child support. You owe: $168.

They came once a month, piling up debt.

Child support. You owe: $168. Arrears: $336. Arrears: $504. Arrears: $672. Plus interest and other fees.

Of the 2.2 million people incarcerated in the United States, about half are parents, and at least 1 in 5 has a child support obligation. For most, the debt will keep piling up throughout their imprisonment: By law or by practice, child support agencies in much of the country consider incarceration a form of “voluntary impoverishment.” Parents like Harris, the logic goes, have only themselves to blame for not earning a living.

Read more here. 

October 22, 2015 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oklahoma Program Offers Amnesty for Overdue Child Support

From Times Record:

Oklahoma has active arrest warrants for more than 11,000 parents for failure to pay child support and interest totaling more than $397 million.

Those parents will be given an opportunity to work out payment schedules and have the warrants withdrawn under an Amnesty in August program announced Tuesday by the Child Support Services division of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

“Amnesty in August is an opportunity for Oklahoma parents who have fallen behind on child support to come in and work with us to get back on track,” said Meg Cannon, spokeswoman for Child Support Services. “Parents who seek our assistance in August have an opportunity to develop a payment plan that will help them move forward with their obligations and hopefully create stronger connections with their children.”

The 11,684 delinquent parents owe a combined $397,680,850.55 in past due child support and interest, Cannon said.

Read more here.

August 2, 2015 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Child Support Laws and How They Actually Work

From Deseret News:

The public views court-ordered formulas calculating child support in the United States and England to be unfair, according to a study released Monday that researchers hope will be valuable information for policymakers dealing with family law issues.

Although child support laws in the two nations differ, the study, published by the Child and Family Blog, found that respondents from the U.S. and England have similar personal views on what is fair in calculating child support paid by noncustodial parents.

The research ultimately found that the public believes child support should be adjusted higher or lower based on the mother's income (assuming she is the custodial parent caring for the children). In some states, child support is based solely on the noncustodial parent's income, while in others both incomes are used in the calculation with an emphasis on the noncustodial parent's income. Each state has a set formula for judges to use in child support cases.

Read more here.

June 17, 2015 in Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Insurance Payments Used to Pay Overdue Child Support

From Monterey County Herald:

California lawmakers are advancing a bill that would intercept more insurance payments and use them to pay beneficiaries' overdue child support.

About a quarter of insurance companies now voluntarily participate in the program. It collects about $17 million annually from insurance claims, settlements and awards that would otherwise go to individuals who owe child support.

The measure approved by the state Senate on Thursday would make insurance companies' participation mandatory. Sen. Connie Leyva, a Democrat from Chino, says that will greatly increase payments.

SB585 was sought by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. The bill lets the departments of Insurance and Child Support Services cooperate to match those who owe child support with those set to receive insurance payouts.

Read more here.

June 13, 2015 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, 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.

MR

April 29, 2013 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 4, 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.

MR

April 4, 2013 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 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.

MR

February 19, 2013 in Child Support Enforcement, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 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.

MR

February 11, 2013 in Child Support Enforcement, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 8, 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.

MR

February 8, 2013 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 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 26, 2012 in Child Support Enforcement, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 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.

MR

April 16, 2011 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 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.

MR

November 17, 2010 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)