Three Ways Child Support Tears Families Apart

… instead of achieving its intended objective of ensuring adequate support for children.

  • “The system creates debtors prisons because the payments are excessive for low income obligors and payments do not stop during unemployment. Excessive support orders decrease the amounts actually collected.
  • The system doesn’t acknowledge the economic realities of divorce – expenses of maintaining two households are much higher than for an intact family.
  • The system overemphasizes financial contributions while devaluing other support. Most obligors are actively involved in their children’s lives, and they incur substantial expenses related to their children.”

These points summarize an article by Attorney Joseph Cordell:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-e-cordell/3-ways-the-child-support-system-rips-apart-families_b_8821130.html

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

Your Turn: Comment on Guardian ad Litem Reform

Connecticut’s Judicial Branch is seeking written public comment on its draft report to Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers. Written comments will be accepted on or before Tuesday, January 12, 2016. The comments may be e-mailed to external.affairs@jud.ct.gov or mailed to the External Affairs Division, Supreme Court Building, 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106. Anonymous submissions will be considered but afforded less weight than signed submissions.

This is a great opportunity to be heard on GAL reform.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

Connecticut’s unrealistic child support awards-out of compliance

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?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

Many jailed due to 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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) system needs reform

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.

http://wtnh.com/2015/10/01/300-an-hour-family-court-investigators-draw-renewed-scrutiny/

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.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

Dividends from Involved Dads – Benefits from Shared Parenting of Babies

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

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

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather