The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has proposed that states revise unrealistically high child support guidelines. Details are at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css
OCSE proposes to update Federal regulations in § 302.56 that address State guidelines for setting child support awards. Highlights of changes proposed by OCSE:
- Compliance with child support orders increases dramatically if the award is in the range of 15-20% of the noncustodial parent’s income.
- Compliance helps custodial families achieve economic stability, and this is especially important to millions of low-to-moderate income families.
- Consistent, predictable child support payments are important to families, and extensive research shows that realistic child support orders promote consistent payments.
- “A growing body of research finds that compliance with child support orders in some States, regardless of income level, declines when the support obligation is set above 15–20 percent of the obligor’s income, and that orders for excessive amounts result in lower, not higher, child support payments.” (Federal Register, v79, no 221, p. 68554)
Unrealistic orders produce incarceration and unmanageable arrearages. This can lead to a downward spiral in the involvement of the non-custodial parent with his or her child. Walter L Scott, the black man recently shot and killed by police got behind on child support, and as a result he lost “the best job I ever had.” Then his life spiraled out of control, causing him to tussle with police before being shot in the back as he ran away from his unmanageable arrearages. Source: The New York Times, http://nyti.ms/1yJelpe.
Connecticut is out of compliance. Connecticut’s Guidelines that require up to 55% of income for child support; typical amounts are 25% to 35% of income – with substantial medical expenses added on top. When is the legislature going to address unrealistic child support orders?
There is new evidence of the damage caused by unrealistic child support orders. A Washington Post article on Nov 15, 2015 says:
“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”
The Post reports that this may change under new rules proposed by President Obama. The new rules would reclassify incarceration as “involuntary impoverishment.” Some Congressional republicans oppose the new rules.
For the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-men-in-prison-child-support-becomes-a-crushing-debt/2015/10/18/e751a324-5bb7-11e5-b38e-06883aacba64_story.html
A Hartford Courant article (October 6, 2015, p A1) quotes a parent as saying that this “is the worst possible experience a father and mother could have. Your children are alive, you know where they are, but you can’t see them.” This describes very accurately “splitting” or alienating behavior. Too often the state of Connecticut assists in splitting children from one or both parents.
Too often, a parent with some easily treated disability such as ADD is prevented from seeing their child. Massachusetts is moving to change court ordered alienation according to the Courant article:
A war hero has been denied access to his child and charged high fees by a GAL who never met with the child. Here is the investigative report from WTNH, Channel 8 news.
Thank you to reporter David Iversen for exposing this problem.
Our family court system is in need of great overall because it’s not working for a population of families. The GAL reform law passed in 2014 is not being followed by all and something needs to be done. Please continue to support shared parenting for the well being of Connecticut children.
Audie Cornish used the term “deadbeat dads” three times in a recent article. She is right that excessive child support is at the root of a lot of crime and illegal street trafficking, but she hasn’t done good research on excessive child support orders for low income obligors. Her use of the term “dead beat dads” is offensive and inappropriate since it omits the fact that many non-custodial women are not paying child support.
She should talk to Vicki Turetsky, Commissioner of the Federal Office of Support Enforcement. “Jail is appropriate for someone who is actively hiding assets, not appropriate for someone who couldn’t pay the order in the first place.” She should research state child support enforcement offices. In Connecticut, DSS Commissioner Rodrick L. Bremby says this about family friendly child support: “emotional, social and educational support as well as financial support is imperative to the growth of a well-rounded child.” He states that the Guideline percentages of income for low income obligors are unrealistic and “counterproductive to fostering the parent-child relationship as it may lead to uncollectable child support orders and drive noncustodial parents to underground economies and alienation from their children.” (2014 letter to Connecticut’s Commission on Child Support Guidelines)
Source for NPR’s blunder: National Public Radio program entitled “Crime Interrupts A Baltimore Doctor’s Reform Efforts” August 7, 2015, 3:25PM ET.
Leana Wen, the dynamic health commissioner of Baltimore says about “Safe Streets”, a group working to end street violence in Baltimore: “Initially when I was meeting with Safe Streets, I said, ‘What is the one type of support we can help you with?’ And I thought they were going to say trauma debriefing, mental health support. And they said child support.”
Dante Barksdale a key supervisor at Safe Streets “explains that most of the guys coming to work for the program are over 30, which means they’re likely to have children. Many owe upwards of $50,000 in child support. The Safe Streets jobs pay about $28,000 a year. A couple months after they start working, the state starts deducting child support from their paychecks, leaving them with very little.” (Source: National Public Radio program entitled “Crime Interrupts A Baltimore Doctor’s Reform Efforts” August 7, 2015, 3:25PM ET.)
For the full NPR story:
The Economist, a highly respected weekly news magazine reports that “Chaildren whose fathers take even short spells of paternity leave do better (May 16th, 2015, p 54).” The Economist article covers parental leave policies – and the trend towards parental leave for both parents – in 185 countries. Nearly half these countries now offer new fathers short periods at home. Unfortunately, the US has one of the least accommodating policies, covering only a subset of women, and no men, with unpaid leave.
Why encourage both parents to spend time with their new baby? One reason is that women will then face less discrimination in hiring, since they will be able to return to work more quickly after giving birth. Their skills will not suffer from extended absence from the workforce, so their lifetime earnings improve. Secondly, dads who took time off are more likely to pitch in on basic child care like changing diapers, feeding, bathing and playing.
The patterns established early in the baby’s life persisted into childhood. The data suggest that school children with two involved parents benefit with better grades, lower truancy and fewer behavioral problems.
Over 2% of the US population is in jail, and many are low income parents who got behind on excessive child support orders, according to a New York Times article. For example, in Georgia, one in eight inmates is there because of unrealistic child support ordered from low income parents with fluctuating income and little ability to pay.
Unfortunately, the Connecticut judicial branch keeps such data locked away from the light of day.
The situation has gotten so bad that Vicky Turetsky, commissioner of the federal office of Child Support Enforcement is calling for reform. She says: “it’s nuts … she gets the [welfare] assistance, he gets charged the bill.”
“Parents who are truly destitute go to jail over and over again for child support debt simply because they’re poor,” said Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed a class action lawsuit in Georgia on behalf of parents incarcerated without legal representation for failure to pay. “We see many cases in which the person is released, they’re given three months to pay a large amount of money, and then if they can’t do that they’re tossed right back in the county jail.”
Walter L Scott, the black man recently shot and killed by police got behind on child support, and as a result he lost “the best job I ever had.” Then his life spiraled out of control, causing him to tussle with police before being shot in the back.
Read more at http://nyti.ms/1yJelpe