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

 

 

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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.

 

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NPR: Child support is root of violent crime in Baltimore

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:

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/08/07/430339547/violence-interrupts-a-baltimore-doctors-reform-efforts

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Why is only one parent presumed to be competent to make spending decisions on behalf of children?

Connecticut’s Commission for Child Support Guidelines has been meeting for over four years without seriously considering this issue or even proposing any revision to the Guidelines. They have ignored substantial evidence showing that Guidelines should be revised to reflect shared parenting. They have ignored shared parenting Guidelines adopted in Massachusetts in 2013.

Should the legislature intervene now that the process is clearly broken?

Comment on this issue by clicking “leave a response” below.

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Testify for Shared Parenting, GAL Reform and Alimony Reform on Monday, March 31

When: Monday March 31, preferably near 8am, but any time after that is OK.
Between 8am and 10am you sign up for a lottery number. After that you sign at the bottom of the list of speakers. Expect to compete with many people testifying.
Where: Legislative Office Building, Second floor. Driving directions:
http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/DrivingDirections.asp. If the Parking Garage is full (which is likely), there’s a pay garage in a commercial building on Oak Street opposite the entrance to the Appellate Clerk’s office.
What: Bill 6685 – shared parenting; RB 494 -GAL reform; Bill 5524, alimony reform

If you can’t attend, submit written testimony by email: JUD.Testimony@cga.ct.gov . You can even submit written testimony through Tuesday, April 1.

Please testify to any of the following points that agree with your thinking and experience:
• Most of the problems – alienation, excessive cost, and experts trying to substitute their opinions for the parents’ – could be solved if judges, family relations officers and others simply asked repeatedly: which parent is more likely to provide “frequent, meaningful, and continuing contact” between the child and the other parent?
o The courts need to clearly send the message that each parent must promote frequent and meaningful contact with the other parent.
o Of course there are exceptions in cases with proven violence, neglect or abuse.
• Guardian Ad Litems (GALs) need to be carefully supervised as specified in RB494. Here is a link to the full text: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/TOB/S/2014SB-00494-R00-SB.htm
o RB 494 will be hotly contested by professionals who are making lots of money on the existing family court system.
o The Shared Parenting Council supports RB 494 as a step in the direction of much needed reform.
• Modify RB 494 to require GALs to promoting active involvement by both parents.
• Alimony requires guidelines for judges to follow. This will ensure consistency across courts in Connecticut.
• Absent abuse, neglect and domestic violence, children have the constitutional right to have both parents equally involved in their lives.
• There’s no oversight or accountability of the court appointed professionals such as GALs, AMCs, Psychological Evaluators. This opens the door to a few who want to exploit the system. Only in very rare circumstances should a judge appoint a GAL or any other individual to a family absent proven abuse and neglect.
• Absent findings of abuse or neglect the judge should be required to tell counsel and parties that we have a presumption of shared equal parenting time. If the parents disagree about the amount of time, then the burden of proof is on the parent who is not agreeing to up to 50% time for the other parent.
• The judge will enforce the laws and then sanction parents who lie to the court or mislead the court in an attempt to seek more parenting time. Sanctions need to be monetary and/or in the form of community service.
• Parental alienation: a Judge needs to be alerted in an emergency hearing that a child about potential alienation. DCF will be called in. Hopefully this will be a detergent for any alienator in their early stages of abuse.

We had a tremendous turnout in January, and as a result the Judicial Branch is beginning the process of reform.
Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in these major changes in Connecticut law.

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False Allegations of Child Abuse Punished in Oregon — by $750 Fine!

Oregon recently passed a law making false allegations a class A crime — but the punishment is $750, and that requires proving “the intent to influence a custody, parenting time, visitation or child support decision (419B.016 Offense of false report of child abuse).”

It is not much, but then again, most states make no effort to punish false allegations.

As a lawyer, Jeanne M. Hannah points out: “These false allegations can not only make the family law case much more difficult and lead to terrible injustice, they can ruin parent-child relationships and change lives forever. I find myself hoping more states will enact such laws and wondering whether the law will make a difference.” Good thinking Jeanne.

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‘Ask Amy’ (Amy Dickinson) supports shared parenting

Amy writes: “The assumption that the child belongs with the mother with paternal ‘visitation’ is an outmoded model, and I think the courts are moving slowly to recognize this. It is in the best interest of the child to spend as much time as possible with both parents, when both parents are committed, loving and involved — as you obvioiusly are.”

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Pew study shows that absent fathers much less involved with kids

The respected Pew Research Center found that 69 percent of those questioned said they believe a child needs a father in the home to grow up happily. But 27% of dads surveyed live separately from their children, up from 11% in 1960.
Here is a link to an article about the Pew study: http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/06/15/fathers.pew.study/index.html?iref=obinsite

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Connecticut Child Custody Decisions Flawed? (Click Here to leave a comment)

Men and women who want to be actively involved with their children report several major issues with Connecticut family court:
1. visitation interference;
2. the use of fraudulent restraining orders as a tool to separate one parent from their children;
3. unrealistic child support orders;
4. parental alienation or actions “splitting” the other parent from their children.
What are your experiences with Connecticut Child Custody decisions?

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