Many jailed due to unrealistic child support orders

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

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Moving in the right direction…

The Wall Street Journal reports on efforts by fathers to seek parity in custody disputes: basically, shared parenting! 20 states are now considering shared parenting legislation. It is heartening this important matter is getting more and more attention in the mainstream media.

The WSJ article is also reviewed by the National Parents Organization here.

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When does child support interfere with good parenting? When is it excessive?

Kimberly Seals Allers writes in the New York Times about “redefining what child support really is, for our family .”  She recently petitioned the Family Court in Queens to forgive over $38,000 that her ex-husband owed in child support.

Ms. Allers writes: “My ex-husband has always given our children his time, whether he had money or not. He currently makes payments to me directly when he is able. But his arrears have accumulated during years when he was unemployed or underemployed and either paid less than the monthly payment ($600) granted when we divorced, or nothing at all. So when our children were young, after our separation and early in our divorce, I negotiated new currencies such as additional time when I needed child care, meal preparation, haircuts and even helping with home repairs, instead of acting as if a cash payment was all he had to offer our children. The look on their faces when he came to pick them up was more than worth it.”

The full article is at: http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/parenting/2015/04/19/forgiving-38750-in-child-support-for-my-kids-sake/?_r=0&referrer

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