A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Income lapses or loss of job are costly for any father because of a federal law known as the Bradley Amendment. The amendment, named for former Sen. Bill Bradley, New Jersey Democrat, establishes that once a child-support obligation has been established, it can’t be retroactively reduced or forgiven by a judge. The amendment was enacted in 1986 to stop parents from running up huge child-support debts and getting a sympathetic judge to erase them..

Even now, the unintended consequences of the Bradley Amendment have become clear and a growing number of people are calling for the law to be repealed or at least modified.

According to the reformers, the Bradley Amendment:

* All but ensures that any parent who has a dip in cash flow will be buried under a debt that cannot be legally escaped.

* Helps chase poor men into illegal activities or the underground economy, away from “mainstream” jobs and their children.

Reformers are having some success arguing their case on Capitol Hill, but admit that their battle is uphill: Members of Congress are loath to do anything that might be seen as going soft on child-support enforcement.

Reformers say, they have a powerful incentive for change in the way the Bradley Amendment keeps impoverished fathers trapped in child-support debt. Never mind the fact that the Bradley Amendment is unconstitutional. The Congress isn’t concerned with that reality, nor is any presidential administration. In this case, the ends justify the means. This years’ electorial candidates have simply ignored the problem. They are more concerned with “hot issues”.

The Bradley Amendment has often worked as intended by Congress, by locking in arrears while the system doggedly pursues wily, wealthy parents ducking their obligations, like Hillary Clinton’s brother. However, even he hasn’t paid his tab.

Some big catches have included a New York plastic surgeon who owed $172,000, a professional athlete who owed $76,000 and a yacht company owner who owed $50,000, according to a recent article in Government Executive magazine.

The child-support system is celebrated when it bags deadbeats like these.

But there’s less applause when the system applies the same tough rules and penalties on people like the shaggy-haired man who recently stood in handcuffs before a Maryland Circuit Court judge.

The shaggy-haired man told the judge he lived with his mother and was too disabled to work. He had just spent two weeks in jail for not paying his $10-a-week child support. His total debt was $42,788.

The judge ordered the man to pay $75 a week toward his debt.

But even at that rate, observed a lawyer, “it will take that guy 80 years to pay it off.”

Several child-support advocacy groups say that, despite these pitiful cases, the Bradley Amendment should be maintained because it serves a need.

“We supported the Bradley Amendment when it passed, because it stopped a judge in State B from wiping out [the debt from] an order passed by a judge in State A,” says Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.

“We still need it because 40 percent of cases are interstate, and we still only have 20 percent of people paying” their full support, says Ms. Jensen. Ms. Jensen seems to forget that bad legislation doesn’t work. Keeping that legislation with a 20% success rate is simply bad management with the pretense of doing something good. There is no logic behind the insistence of the process.

Despite the Bradley Amendment’s hold on accrued debts, and a new array of enforcement tactics, the child-support system still collects less than half of what is owed. A lot of this debt is owed by “dead-broke dads,” “turnip dads” or “beat-dead dads,” say scholars and advocacy groups. Naturally, nobody seems to object to calling men by derogatory names. Try calling a woman an equivalent and you are likely to hear about it. In fact, let’s just make up names as we go along.

The concept of “turnip” dads are those who earn less than $130 a week and would be impoverished themselves if they paid support, says Ford Foundation Project Officer Ronald B. Mincy. Mr. Mincy and Elaine J. Sorensen estimate that between 16 percent and 33 percent of fathers are “turnips.”

The concept of “beat-dead dads” are the ones who have child-support orders set so high that “any hiccup in cash flow” quickly results in thousands of dollars of arrears, says Ron Henry, a lawyer active in the Children’ s Rights Council and Men’s Health Network.

“The Bradley amendment [says] once an arrearage is accrued, it exists forever. You cannot waive it. You cannot modify it. Too bad, sucker,” says Mr. Henry, who says the law should be repealed. The child-support system, in theory allows parents to change the amount of their child-support payments. However, the system has all kinds of obstacles built in to prevent such an action. The system hates change and works against such change until a child reaches emancipation.

A major reason many child-support orders are set at high amounts and grow so fast is because they are set without the paying parent in the courtroom, say experts. The Los Angeles Times reported last fall that “roughly 70 percent” of fathers “are not in court when paternity is established and their monthly obligations set.” The same Los Angeles Times story said that local law enforcement records showed that “on average, more than 350 men a month are incorrectly named as fathers.”

The Bradley Amendment ensures that even if the court makes a mistake, “you can never get out of it,” says Mike Ewing, a leader of the Virginia Fatherhood Initiative in Norfolk, who knows several men who are paying support even though DNA tests proved they weren’t the children’s father.

The fun never ends and nobody questions the legality of any of it. You should. The Bradley Amendment and support enforcement are unconstitutional. Politics doesn’t enter into the equation. Check this out and discover the truth for yourself.

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Comments on: "The Bradley Amendment Debacle" (12)

  1. alain smithee said:

    Since it takes two people to create a child, providing for that child’s needs should be a shared responsibility and not a requirement for the non-custodial parent to provide a government mandated lifestyle for the children, and by inference, the custodial parent.

    If it were up to me, parents would be encouraged to use a child support trust account in the form of a shared checking account like this one (http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to provide for their children.

    Child support compliance should also be measured by using a self-support reserve to determine the percentage of parents (with the means to do so) who are sharing the responsibility for providing for their children’s needs instead of treating non-custodial parents as indentured servants who are damned lucky to be allowed to visit with their children at the custodial parents whim while trumpeting the gross amount of child support collected.

    This would then allow ‘deadbroke’ parents to be offered job training and social service referrals to give them the opportunity to become self-supporting and better able to provide for both themselves and their children.

    And yes, I’ve had several bad experiences with a gender prejudiced family court judge who told me (among other things) that “children belong with the mother” when I requested shared custody, and “your [ex-]wife'”(NOT our children) “deserves that money” when I protested that I was being ordered to pay over half my net income to my voluntarily unemployed ex-wife as ‘child support’.

  2. Harry said:

    Where is everyone at? This is a election year? With the health care crap all should now be stepping up and saying something about this corrupt law too which the health care one takes after. Get on facebook and start posting on those who are running for office. Check out the governor of AZ facebook page.

    BTW.. If that corrupt health care law gets struck down in the courts then there is a great chance this will follow suit as both are the same.

  3. Ok I am on the other side of this, I recieve child support, well,,, im suposed to anyway, At first my childs father and I verbally agreed he would help financially to raise OUR daughter, he didnt make tons of money and I didnt want him to be court ordered to pay support to help financially to raise OUR child, because i knew there might be times where money was tight ,, like around rent time, so even though we agreed that her would help in the amount of 75.00 a week I was lucky to get 20.00 or 30.00 and I would have to almost beg for it and pick it up. until finally it stopped altogether flat out refused to pay. Its not cheap to raise a child I still had to pay my bills and pay for her needs. So i had to get a court order and even after i warned him that it wouldnt be as understanding at rent time like i was he said he didnt care ” go ahead and do what you gotta do” is what i remember him saying,,, so after about a year it was all in place arrears and all and i wish i would have done that from the start …would have saved me a ton of headaches, i still dont get help from my childs father regularly because he doesnt always have a job or works for cash sometimes, he has never ever went to jail or suffered any other consequences for non payment for child support, except that when he files his income tax i usually get that, and by the way when non custodial parents are not paying their child support for whatever reason the other parent still has the responsibility of raising their child and meeting all their needs financially . So stop whining and pay up hlp with your children and if you can come up with an out of court agreement STICK to IT!!! that child still has needs even when you are not helping and who do you think has that responsibility?
    I understand the passion, but you cannot make a right with a wrong and that is exactly what Bradley Law is about, abject slavery to a non-feeling governmental oppression of what has become a dictator to a subclass of Americans with no way out…especially bad during a time of great economic recession. The violation of civil rights has nothing to do with child support except that Bradley Law has made it so. ~ E.M.

    • Sheryl said:

      My husband now owe’s 52,000. on a paid 8,000. back child support and the state of california never told him about there compound intrested that went for 25 years. He never ran from the child support, he just didnt have work all the time until he got into what he does now. And was told after 25 yrs his child support is paid in full, just not the 52,000.00 intrested, he will die before this is paid.

      There is active interest by many thousands that are willing to sign petitions. Untold thousands more are needed to overturn this legislation and illegal enforcement. Don’t give up! Get informed! Know how it affects you and others around you. It may not be popular, but don’t let that stop the movement for America’s Constitutional Rights.

      No new reform legislation has been introduced since 2006 and child support news in general is passe. Ignorance and hurt feelings loom large. Disregard for others and the right to entitlement reign supreme in American community. The press is silent and yet the evil of this unconstitutional amendment and enforcement affects untold millions. Don’t buy into the notion that the Bradley Amendment is business as usual in government and that there is no hope. This website maintains current links and is looking to make a difference. Tell your friends. Millions of American men and women are being oppressed and ruined without an option because of enforcement of this illegal and immoral federal law cleverly devised by special political interests and enhanced to a razor’s edge by the Clinton Administration. No law should prescribe and reinforce misfortune and disaster in life. There is much more here than meets the eye!

      Bradley is out of office, but “his law” is still in place and being enforced with law developed by hateful activist administrators. It’s time to tell the Congress and Senate that you want this immoral and illegal law repealed from U.S. Federal Law. No Federal Law is needed to usurp state law on child support or take power away from judges that can mediate a child support and custody case. Child support has become a police state of federal oppression and the law isn’t working. Child support collections are down. Welfare reform hasn’t worked on any level. Money is being mishandled. The number of court orders is up. The expense of collection is spiraling upward like the welfare that this law was designed to fix. The state laws mandated are already in place to handle all child support issues in a lawful manner. You don’t have to be a prisoner in your own country! Join the fight for right for all Americans!

      Is Bradley Amendment Debt really “child support”?

      The result of this incredibly rigid law is to impose a punishment that makes it impossible for any but the very rich to get out from under a Bradley debt:
      * Thousands of parents have been sentenced to debtor’s prison (a medieval practice America thought was abolished centuries ago) and thousands more have had their driver’s license confiscated (making it extraordinarily difficult to get a job). Credit is being ruined and jobs are being lost. This does not assist in child support measures. 66% of men are wholly unable to pay child support, in large part due to unconstitutional federal law.
      * There is no requirement that, if and when the Bradley debt is paid, the money be spent on the children, or that the debt be based on an estimate of the child’s needs, or even that the so-called children actually be children (some states require the non-custodial parent to pay for college tuition).
      * The Bradley debt is misnamed “child support”; it is a court-imposed judgment to punish non-custodial parents and extract money from them to support a few custodial parents and a $6 billion federal-state bureaucracy.
      * Cases prove that men cannot escape the Bradley debt even if DNA proves that they are not the father; the law even forbids bankruptcy to alleviate the Bradley debt.

      In 2004, the Bradley Amendment was being challenged and was the subject of a repeal effort. In February of 2006, the court case was dismissed and there has not been any visible effort to reform or repeal this amendment. The resistance is great because the government has built a six-billion dollar government industry around the Amendment.
      the digital guru is in.
      join the doctor today. BILL ANALYSIS

      SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
      Senator Ellen M. Corbett, Chair
      2009-2010 Regular Session

      SB 578
      Senator Wright
      As Amended April 21, 2009
      Hearing Date: April 28, 2009
      Family Code
      KB:jd

      SUBJECT

      Child support interest

      DESCRIPTION

      This bill would provide that interest accrual for child support
      arrears that have been assigned to the state by recipients of
      welfare cash assistance shall be suspended during those months
      in which the obligor has paid the current month’s court-ordered
      payments of current support and arrears.

      BACKGROUND

      In 1986, Congress enacted legislation known as the Bradley
      Amendment which mandated that child support arrears be
      considered a judgment by operation of law. (42 U.S.C. Sec.
      666(a)(9).) After the Bradley amendment was enacted, states
      that require interest to be charged on money judgments,
      including California, began to charge interest on child support
      arrears.

      In 1992, the California Department of Social Services issued
      Family Support Division (FSD) Letter 92-15 which required child
      support programs to calculate interest on all child support
      cases at 10 percent back to 1983. This mandate was based on
      Code of Civil Procedure Section 685.010 which sets the rate of
      interest on all money judgments at 10 percent per year.
      Counties were further instructed to apply collections on arrears
      first to accrued interest and then to principal. Between 1992
      and 2000, California’s child support arrears balance increased
      from $2.5. billion to $14.4 billion.

      (more)

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 2 of ?

      In 2003, California contracted with the Urban Institute to
      conduct a study on the arrears owed in California. At that
      time, California’s cumulative arrears balance was over $14
      billion. Currently, it is excess of $20 billion. The Urban
      Institute’s study found that one of the two biggest contributors
      to the state’s high arrears balance was the state’s policy of
      charging substantial interest on arrears and then paying the
      interest before principal when a collection is made. In
      addition, the study found that: 75 percent of the debt was over
      2.5 years old; 70 percent of arrears were held by individuals
      with incomes below $10,000 per year; 70 percent of the arrears
      were owed to the government under public assistance assignment;
      27 percent of the debt was interest; and California could
      realistically expect to collect 26 percent of the debt over a
      10-year period.

      Effective January 1, 2009, pursuant to AB 2669 (Garcia, Chapter
      305, Statutes of 2004), collections will be applied to the
      principal amount before interest. However, California continues
      to charge substantial interest on arrears. This bill, sponsored
      by the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), seeks to
      address this issue by suspending interest accrual on
      state-assigned child support arrears during months in which an
      obligor is current on support and arrears payments.

      CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW

      Existing law provides that in any action to enforce child
      support obligations, interest does not accrue on an obligation
      for current child, spousal, family, or medical support due in a
      given month until the first day of the following month. (Fam.
      Code Sec. 17433.5.)

      Existing law provides that interest accrues at the rate of 10
      percent per annum on the principal amount of a money judgment
      remaining unsatisfied. (Code of Civ. Pro. Sec. 685.010.)

      Existing law provides that the Legislature reserves the right to
      change the rate of interest for the principle amount of a money
      judgment at any time to a rate of less than 10 percent per
      annum, regardless of the date of entry of the judgment or the
      date any obligation upon which the judgment is based was
      incurred. A change in the rate of interest may be made
      applicable only to the interest that accrues after the operative
      date of the statute that changes the rate. (Code of Civ. Pro.
      Sec. 685.010.)

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 3 of ?

      Existing law generally governs the California Work Opportunity
      and Responsibility to Kids (Cal-WORKS) program, which provides
      temporary financial assistance and employment focused services
      to families with minor children who have income and property
      below State maximum limits for their family size. (Wel. & Inst.
      Code Sec. 11200 et seq.)

      Existing law provides that, for applications received before
      October 1, 2009, as a condition of eligibility for Cal-WORKS
      aid, each applicant shall assign to the county any rights to
      child and spousal support. The assignment shall not exceed the
      total amount of cash assistance provided to the family. An
      assignment of support rights to the county shall also constitute
      an assignment to the state. (Wel. & Inst. Code Sec. 11477.)

      Existing law provides that, for applications received on or
      after October 1, 2009, as a condition of eligibility for
      Cal-WORKS aid, each applicant or recipient shall assign to the
      county any rights to child and spousal support. The assignment
      applies only to support that accrues during the period of time
      that the applicant is receiving Cal-WORKS assistance, and shall
      not exceed the total amount of cash assistance provided to the
      family. An assignment of support rights to the county also
      constitutes an assignment to the state. (Wel. & Inst. Code Sec.
      11477.)

      This bill would provide that interest accrual for child support
      arrears that have been assigned to the State pursuant to Welfare
      & Institutions Code Section 11477 shall be suspended during
      those months in which the obligor has paid the current month’s
      court-ordered payments of current support and arrears.

      This bill would provide that interest accrual will be suspended
      on the first day of the month following the current payment.

      This bill would provide that interest accrual will resume on the
      first day of the month following the month in which a
      court-ordered payment of support and arrears is not received.

      This bill would require the Department of Child Support Services
      to implement that provision by letters or similar instructions.

      This bill would become operative on January 1, 2011.

      COMMENT

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 4 of ?

      1.Stated need for the bill

      The author states:

      To encourage consistent and timely support payments as well as
      improve arrears management and reduction, this legislative
      proposal will suspend the accrual and assessment of interest
      on both government-owed and non-government owed arrears for
      noncustodial parents who meet their full monthly obligation
      towards current child, medical, and spousal support. The
      suspension of interest would apply until a payment is missed
      and/or the full monthly obligation is not met. Interest would
      accrue and be assessed prospectively from the point a payment
      is missed but would not be charged retroactively as a result
      of non-compliance.

      2. Interest accrual on arrears would only be suspended for
      arrears that have been assigned to the State

      In response to federal welfare reform legislation, the
      Legislature created the California Work Opportunity and
      Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, enacted by Chapter
      270, Statutes of 1997 (AB 1542, Ducheny, Ashburn, Thompson, and
      Maddy). Like its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent
      Children (AFDC), the new program provides cash grants and
      welfare-to-work services to families whose incomes are not
      adequate to meet their basic needs.

      A CalWORKs child support case is opened when a custodial parent
      applies for and receives CalWORKs benefits. The California
      Department of Social Services informs the DCSS when CalWORKs
      benefits are granted, and a child support case is opened by the
      DCSS. As a condition of receiving CalWORKs benefits, the
      custodial party automatically assigns all rights to child,
      spousal, and medical support to the county up to the amount of
      aid paid. This includes all current and past-due support and
      continues as long as a family is receiving aid. Any current
      child support payments which exceed the amount of aid paid will
      be sent to the custodial party.

      Currently, interest on non-welfare arrears is not suspended or
      waived unless the custodial parent to whom the arrears are owed
      has provided written consent to do so. As introduced, this bill
      would have applied to all arrears, including those cases where
      families are not recipients of CalWORKS. However, concerns were

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 5 of ?

      expressed that interest accrued on support arrears are
      essentially the custodial parent’s private property, and that
      automatic suspension of interest accrual via statute in
      non-welfare cases would interfere with this property right.
      Accordingly, this bill was amended to only suspend interest
      accrual on arrears that have been assigned to the state in cases
      where the family is receiving CalWORKS benefits. Once a family
      discontinues public assistance, the only arrearage type eligible
      for interest suspension would be the arrears that accrued during
      the period of time the family received cash aid.

      3. California’s Child Support Automation System would
      automatically track and calculate accrual and suspension of
      interest

      In 2008, DCSS completed the statewide transition of California’s
      52 county and regional child support agencies to the new single
      statewide child support automation system.
      The California Child Support Automation System (CCSAS) combines
      statewide case management capabilities with centralized child
      support collection and payment processing through the State
      Disbursement Unit (SDU). According to DCSS, a minor system
      modification to CCSAS will provide the functionality to
      automatically suspend and resume interest per case when
      appropriate. The enhanced system functionality will recognize
      when interest should or should not be assessed based on the
      obligor’s payment record for the prior month. The system will
      also recognize when a family is no longer receiving cash
      assistance from the state, and stop the suspension of interest
      on arrears that have not been permanently assigned to the state.

      4.DCSS would be required to implement bill’s provisions via
      child support services letters

      This bill would provide that DCSS shall implement the bill’s
      provisions by means of child support services (CSS) letters or
      similar instructions, without taking any further regulatory
      action. Thereafter, DCSS would be authorized to adopt
      regulations, as necessary to implement this section in
      accordance with state law governing administrative regulations
      and rulemaking. DCSS currently utilizes CSS letters to, among
      other things, inform local child support agencies, IV-Directors,
      County Administrative Officers, and Boards of Supervisors of new
      policies imposed by new statutes, or changes in existing
      policies. CSS letters are posted on DCSS’ Web site and are

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 6 of ?

      available for public view.

      Support : None Known

      Opposition :None Known

      HISTORY

      Source : Department of Child Support Services

      Related Pending Legislation :None Known

      Prior Legislation :

      AB 2669 (Garcia, Chapter 305, Statutes of 2004) requires that
      effective January 1, 2009, after the date of full implementation
      of the California Child Support Automation System, money
      collected to satisfy a child support judgment shall be credited
      first to the amount due for the current month, then to the
      principal amount of the judgment that remains unsatisfied, and
      third to outstanding accrued interest.

      **************

    • Harry said:

      Great post E.M. I highly suspect Tracy is one of those who lives in a nice upscale area/house with a new husband/boyfriend while the ex is living in dirt. Sorry but her story is full of holes too. I don’t believe her.

      I knew someone exactly like that except one thing.. The ex girl was taking the money he was sending for the kids and spending it on her new bf and his issues. I remember one time he sent her a 100 bucks and she gave it to the bf who pissed it away on dope. But let me guess that is ok? Soo many similar stories like it too. Then ofcourse when she gets in a bad mood about anything she likes to threatens him with all this stuff. The system should NOT work that way. Look at that Joe the Plumber guy? Remember when he came out and what the state of Ohio did to him? And the directer of the child support division at that? Again that is a huge problem with this system and a obvious case of how it was abused. Yet nobody from our lousy media said a word.

      Have someone else i know who’s marriage is about to end because the wife was running around and cheating and doing drugs. And what does she do? She threatens him with this horrible system. How she wants this and that and will get it. How many stories have we all heard like that? And yeah i have seen it the other way around too with woman who got trapped in this corrupt system.

      Only way to make this constitutionally sound is by removing the following,
      1. Jail… Debtors jail is what it is. Reasons why it was abolished back in the 1800s. This not only causes the person to owe more but as well greatly reduces their odd’s at a job. very few employers i know that will hire people out of jail for a decent job. Then there is the tax payer issue. see further down for more on this.. And what happens when you mix ordinary people with a real criminal element? Yeah they learn the trade too and thus see our crime rates the continue to go up.

      2. Stop suspended drivers licenses. Taking away that persons means of getting to work and helping to support his kids in other ways ( trip to store-soccer practice-visitation etc etc etc ) is not the answer.

      3. States should NEVER be allowed to pursue childsupport cases UNLESS one of the parents asks for it. YES they now do that as me and my wife found out the hard way when we came down on hard times a few years back and had to live with relatives separately till we got back on our feet. The moment the state found out they came after support. This is what really clued me in to this system being a total mess and a joke. This btw is in Michigan.. It needs to stop. Wanna talk communism.

      4. The cost of this stuff which our kids and taxpayers pay for. Yes the state gets a nice chunk of child support payments for the program itself. I wont even start about how wrong that is. Think of what the going tally is now compared to when the country was in better economic times? I can’t even begin to imagine all those who have lost job’s because of the bad economy that are being thrown into and basically trapped by this system. Ever been to a courthouse? The one here is huge and the childsupport crap takes up over 50% of it. Then we have those in jail all is paying for that should not be there YET real criminals are constantly let loose because there is no more room at the hilton and the state is more interested in the money vs the crime. It should NOT be that way.

      5. Drop the fines crap that states/courts constantly impose on those owing. Why soo many have become trapped by the system. I saw in the paper here a week or two ago where a guy went before a judge for owed child support and the Judge gave him 10 months AND fines of over 1,000 bucks. Yet another guy went before the same judge for assault with a deadly weapon and other charges and given probation and a fine of like 175 bucks? How in the heck is that justice? This was in Battle Creek MI. Oh so lets make the guy who owes money owe so more and basically destroy his chances of ever finding a decent job with the jail thing now hanging over him.

      6. The felony crap needs to go as well. Like with jail i know of very few employers who will hire such people.

      7. Then there is state rights issues with this law.

      Remember all this is a election season. Time to put some pressure for change on those running for office. The majority of people i know are fed up with this corrupt system. I am very active and run large websites and deal with alot of the public daily and believe me most say the same. Less of those like that Tracy above who don’t understand how it works or just uses the system to get back at the ex.

  4. Pathetic Deadbeat said:

    Well, child support serves a distinct purpose — to provide for the care and well-being of children who may not have sufficient resources to maintain a secure and safe state of being.

    That presupposes that the custodial parent does not have the means nor wherewithal to provide this.

    Well, the custodial parent — usually, “mom,” in many cases is a single parent, struggling.

    However, what about those “moms” who go out and “game” the system? They’re often the upper middle-class doyens who feel entitled to maintaining a certain life style, no matter what.

    In my own case, I’ve been in the New York State child support system since 2000, and paying through the nose (in fact, well above NYC child support standards) despite the fact that the ex-wife is an attorney; married to a law professor who has both a private practice and is Executive Director of a well-known charitable institution. Both are, allegedly, “civil rights” practitioners.

    Stranger than fiction? You bet…

    I’ve been slapped down everytime I’ve tried to get a downward modification — this despite going through Chapter 7, car repo and fighting a pending foreclosure.

    “Justice” does work in strange ways, doesn’t it?

    On top of this, the ex if fond of referring to me as the “pathetic” deadbeat…

  5. Nov, 2008 I went into Family Court for child support order I was currently paying 700 monthly which I was just barley keeping afloat making ends meet paying all my bills. Before that date all my support and some of my personal bills including my children’s health care was paid and was never late paying them. After that date I was ordered to pay 1500 monthly which sank me deep and to top it all off the judge ordered RETRO for the month of Oct, 2008 which meant I was already completely behind 1500 dollars plus the month of Nov, 2008 which was already halfway over and was not paid, meant I was late half month 750. Which put me to about 2500 late and in debt, just for ordering RETRO (now called AREARS).
    Paying my child support 1500 month plus retro “arrears” added by the judge for being in arrears 200 more was added, that brought my total to 1700 dollars monthly child support when I only make 2200 monthly. Well several days went by at work and I was call in the office said they had received the child support order for 1500 dollars monthly, they looked at me and asked if this was a joke. They calculated my pay to the child support order, which meant I couldn’t afford to pay my children’s healthcare and for that matter I didn’t even come close to paying aquarter of my rent, they came up with neg 300 every month. I was told by my work that eventually my license was go to get suspended and I was going to become a LIABILITY for them cause I was not going to have a license to drive to work or drive for work! So I was given the two choices voluntary quit or they make it easy so I be fired.
    So given the opportunity I quit. To make matter worse I couldn’t afford my rent and so I am now going to lose my apartment including taking the role of having bad credit and having no license. Having the task getting an apartment and driving around looking with no driver’s license and bad credit will become a far distant dream of ever becoming a stable parent again. My two children I currently lived with are gone left with relatives. There’s a good chance ill end up at a shelter then eventually ill end up in jail for not paying my 1700 dollars in child support. In this economy work is had to come by. I just don’t understand it I went from being stable parent to now forced to become a criminal. I have spoken to many other parents said welcome to the under world get a 2nd identity and work under the table. Its not that I didn’t want to pay my child support because in the past it was always paid; its what was ordered that’s too harsh, so unfair, such a violation of my rights, torn from my children, and ordered to jail if not paid that oppresses fathers and non-custodial parents.
    If you have not been involved in this type of situation you just don’t know the feeling of frustration and the madness you get and all the judges, family courts, do is laugh in your face and accuse you of being a deadbeat looser dad. In meanwhile after they forced you into becoming a criminal and forced you to loose everything they threaten you with jail once you’re in this situation there’s no easy way out.
    Here’s a couple links I found: see for yourself

    http://www.ACFC.org

    http://www.F4J.US

  6. Richard said:

    I’m all for repealing the Brady bill. I pay child support, and don’t mind, but the methods and tactics I’ve seen used with others over the years is at best ignorance working overtime.
    Here, we are not talking about those who continue quitting jobs to avoid paying. A child who lives with me, he mom is approximately 7K behind. She can’t afford it. She sends a gift when she can, a few dollars here and there and I’m okay with that. I know, if she could she’d do more. My daughter loves her mom, and weather or not she can do more won’t change that or make her love her more.
    Those who don’t see the system as being damaged need reach behind them and remove their heads from their rear. We need change, we need it now and should accept “we’ll look into it answers.”

  7. Indentured Servant #7781346 said:

    I have been in the child support system since 1994 and aparently owed a debt since that time. I never knew nor was ever notified by anyone. I held professional licenses, was a police officer and had other licenses issued by the state. Nobody ever told me I owed any money until 2003. At that time, I was told that I owed child support in the amount of 70,000. I went to court and the judge would not even hear nor cared about the injustice.

    Please get involved! The Bradley Amendment needs to be repealed.

    • Sheryl said:

      BILL ANALYSIS

      SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
      Senator Ellen M. Corbett, Chair
      2009-2010 Regular Session

      SB 578
      Senator Wright
      As Amended April 21, 2009
      Hearing Date: April 28, 2009
      Family Code
      KB:jd

      SUBJECT

      Child support interest

      DESCRIPTION

      This bill would provide that interest accrual for child support
      arrears that have been assigned to the state by recipients of
      welfare cash assistance shall be suspended during those months
      in which the obligor has paid the current month’s court-ordered
      payments of current support and arrears.

      BACKGROUND

      In 1986, Congress enacted legislation known as the Bradley
      Amendment which mandated that child support arrears be
      considered a judgment by operation of law. (42 U.S.C. Sec.
      666(a)(9).) After the Bradley amendment was enacted, states
      that require interest to be charged on money judgments,
      including California, began to charge interest on child support
      arrears.

      In 1992, the California Department of Social Services issued
      Family Support Division (FSD) Letter 92-15 which required child
      support programs to calculate interest on all child support
      cases at 10 percent back to 1983. This mandate was based on
      Code of Civil Procedure Section 685.010 which sets the rate of
      interest on all money judgments at 10 percent per year.
      Counties were further instructed to apply collections on arrears
      first to accrued interest and then to principal. Between 1992
      and 2000, California’s child support arrears balance increased
      from $2.5. billion to $14.4 billion.

      (more)

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 2 of ?

      In 2003, California contracted with the Urban Institute to
      conduct a study on the arrears owed in California. At that
      time, California’s cumulative arrears balance was over $14
      billion. Currently, it is excess of $20 billion. The Urban
      Institute’s study found that one of the two biggest contributors
      to the state’s high arrears balance was the state’s policy of
      charging substantial interest on arrears and then paying the
      interest before principal when a collection is made. In
      addition, the study found that: 75 percent of the debt was over
      2.5 years old; 70 percent of arrears were held by individuals
      with incomes below $10,000 per year; 70 percent of the arrears
      were owed to the government under public assistance assignment;
      27 percent of the debt was interest; and California could
      realistically expect to collect 26 percent of the debt over a
      10-year period.

      Effective January 1, 2009, pursuant to AB 2669 (Garcia, Chapter
      305, Statutes of 2004), collections will be applied to the
      principal amount before interest. However, California continues
      to charge substantial interest on arrears. This bill, sponsored
      by the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), seeks to
      address this issue by suspending interest accrual on
      state-assigned child support arrears during months in which an
      obligor is current on support and arrears payments.

      CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW

      Existing law provides that in any action to enforce child
      support obligations, interest does not accrue on an obligation
      for current child, spousal, family, or medical support due in a
      given month until the first day of the following month. (Fam.
      Code Sec. 17433.5.)

      Existing law provides that interest accrues at the rate of 10
      percent per annum on the principal amount of a money judgment
      remaining unsatisfied. (Code of Civ. Pro. Sec. 685.010.)

      Existing law provides that the Legislature reserves the right to
      change the rate of interest for the principle amount of a money
      judgment at any time to a rate of less than 10 percent per
      annum, regardless of the date of entry of the judgment or the
      date any obligation upon which the judgment is based was
      incurred. A change in the rate of interest may be made
      applicable only to the interest that accrues after the operative
      date of the statute that changes the rate. (Code of Civ. Pro.
      Sec. 685.010.)

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 3 of ?

      Existing law generally governs the California Work Opportunity
      and Responsibility to Kids (Cal-WORKS) program, which provides
      temporary financial assistance and employment focused services
      to families with minor children who have income and property
      below State maximum limits for their family size. (Wel. & Inst.
      Code Sec. 11200 et seq.)

      Existing law provides that, for applications received before
      October 1, 2009, as a condition of eligibility for Cal-WORKS
      aid, each applicant shall assign to the county any rights to
      child and spousal support. The assignment shall not exceed the
      total amount of cash assistance provided to the family. An
      assignment of support rights to the county shall also constitute
      an assignment to the state. (Wel. & Inst. Code Sec. 11477.)

      Existing law provides that, for applications received on or
      after October 1, 2009, as a condition of eligibility for
      Cal-WORKS aid, each applicant or recipient shall assign to the
      county any rights to child and spousal support. The assignment
      applies only to support that accrues during the period of time
      that the applicant is receiving Cal-WORKS assistance, and shall
      not exceed the total amount of cash assistance provided to the
      family. An assignment of support rights to the county also
      constitutes an assignment to the state. (Wel. & Inst. Code Sec.
      11477.)

      This bill would provide that interest accrual for child support
      arrears that have been assigned to the State pursuant to Welfare
      & Institutions Code Section 11477 shall be suspended during
      those months in which the obligor has paid the current month’s
      court-ordered payments of current support and arrears.

      This bill would provide that interest accrual will be suspended
      on the first day of the month following the current payment.

      This bill would provide that interest accrual will resume on the
      first day of the month following the month in which a
      court-ordered payment of support and arrears is not received.

      This bill would require the Department of Child Support Services
      to implement that provision by letters or similar instructions.

      This bill would become operative on January 1, 2011.

      COMMENT

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 4 of ?

      1.Stated need for the bill

      The author states:

      To encourage consistent and timely support payments as well as
      improve arrears management and reduction, this legislative
      proposal will suspend the accrual and assessment of interest
      on both government-owed and non-government owed arrears for
      noncustodial parents who meet their full monthly obligation
      towards current child, medical, and spousal support. The
      suspension of interest would apply until a payment is missed
      and/or the full monthly obligation is not met. Interest would
      accrue and be assessed prospectively from the point a payment
      is missed but would not be charged retroactively as a result
      of non-compliance.

      2. Interest accrual on arrears would only be suspended for
      arrears that have been assigned to the State

      In response to federal welfare reform legislation, the
      Legislature created the California Work Opportunity and
      Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, enacted by Chapter
      270, Statutes of 1997 (AB 1542, Ducheny, Ashburn, Thompson, and
      Maddy). Like its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent
      Children (AFDC), the new program provides cash grants and
      welfare-to-work services to families whose incomes are not
      adequate to meet their basic needs.

      A CalWORKs child support case is opened when a custodial parent
      applies for and receives CalWORKs benefits. The California
      Department of Social Services informs the DCSS when CalWORKs
      benefits are granted, and a child support case is opened by the
      DCSS. As a condition of receiving CalWORKs benefits, the
      custodial party automatically assigns all rights to child,
      spousal, and medical support to the county up to the amount of
      aid paid. This includes all current and past-due support and
      continues as long as a family is receiving aid. Any current
      child support payments which exceed the amount of aid paid will
      be sent to the custodial party.

      Currently, interest on non-welfare arrears is not suspended or
      waived unless the custodial parent to whom the arrears are owed
      has provided written consent to do so. As introduced, this bill
      would have applied to all arrears, including those cases where
      families are not recipients of CalWORKS. However, concerns were

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 5 of ?

      expressed that interest accrued on support arrears are
      essentially the custodial parent’s private property, and that
      automatic suspension of interest accrual via statute in
      non-welfare cases would interfere with this property right.
      Accordingly, this bill was amended to only suspend interest
      accrual on arrears that have been assigned to the state in cases
      where the family is receiving CalWORKS benefits. Once a family
      discontinues public assistance, the only arrearage type eligible
      for interest suspension would be the arrears that accrued during
      the period of time the family received cash aid.

      3. California’s Child Support Automation System would
      automatically track and calculate accrual and suspension of
      interest

      In 2008, DCSS completed the statewide transition of California’s
      52 county and regional child support agencies to the new single
      statewide child support automation system.
      The California Child Support Automation System (CCSAS) combines
      statewide case management capabilities with centralized child
      support collection and payment processing through the State
      Disbursement Unit (SDU). According to DCSS, a minor system
      modification to CCSAS will provide the functionality to
      automatically suspend and resume interest per case when
      appropriate. The enhanced system functionality will recognize
      when interest should or should not be assessed based on the
      obligor’s payment record for the prior month. The system will
      also recognize when a family is no longer receiving cash
      assistance from the state, and stop the suspension of interest
      on arrears that have not been permanently assigned to the state.

      4.DCSS would be required to implement bill’s provisions via
      child support services letters

      This bill would provide that DCSS shall implement the bill’s
      provisions by means of child support services (CSS) letters or
      similar instructions, without taking any further regulatory
      action. Thereafter, DCSS would be authorized to adopt
      regulations, as necessary to implement this section in
      accordance with state law governing administrative regulations
      and rulemaking. DCSS currently utilizes CSS letters to, among
      other things, inform local child support agencies, IV-Directors,
      County Administrative Officers, and Boards of Supervisors of new
      policies imposed by new statutes, or changes in existing
      policies. CSS letters are posted on DCSS’ Web site and are

      SB 578 (Wright)
      Page 6 of ?

      available for public view.

      Support : None Known

      Opposition :None Known

      HISTORY

      Source : Department of Child Support Services

      Related Pending Legislation :None Known

      Prior Legislation :

      AB 2669 (Garcia, Chapter 305, Statutes of 2004) requires that
      effective January 1, 2009, after the date of full implementation
      of the California Child Support Automation System, money
      collected to satisfy a child support judgment shall be credited
      first to the amount due for the current month, then to the
      principal amount of the judgment that remains unsatisfied, and
      third to outstanding accrued interest.

      **************

    • Sheryl said:

      Child-support-law amendment comes to attention of Hill; Provision revision could end to horror stories ( The Washington Times ) Cheryl Wetzstein; 04-27-1999

      In 1990, Lockheed employee and divorced father Bobby Sherrill was captured in Kuwait and spent nearly five harrowing months as an Iraqi hostage.

      When Mr. Sherrill was released, he returned to his joyful, weeping family in North Carolina.

      The next night, the sheriff came to arrest Mr. Sherrill. The charge: not paying $1,425 in child support while he was a hostage.

      A similar shock awaited Clarence Brandley.

      In 1980, the Texas high school janitor was wrongly accused of murder. He spent nearly 10 years in prison, most of it on death row, until his exoneration in January 1990.

      In 1991, Mr. Brandley sued the state for wrongful imprisonment. The state responded with a bill for nearly $50,000 in child support that Mr. Brandley didn’t pay while in prison.

      The child-support meters never stopped running on Mr. Sherrill or Mr. Brandley because they didn’t ask a court to reduce their payments.

      Such lapses are costly because of a federal law known as the Bradley amendment. Reforming the Bradley amendment could come up today in a House hearing on fatherhood and child support.

      The amendment, named for former Sen. Bill Bradley, New Jersey Democrat, says that once a child-support obligation has been established, it can’t be retroactively reduced or forgiven by a judge.

      The amendment was enacted in 1986 to stop parents from running up huge child-support debts and getting a sympathetic judge to erase them..

      Twelve years later, however, the unintended consequences of the Bradley amendment have become clearer, and a growing number of people are calling for the law to be repealed or at least modified.

      According to the reformers, the Bradley amendment:

      * All but ensures that any parent who has a dip in cash flow will be buried under a debt that cannot be legally escaped.

      * Helps chase poor men into illegal activities or the underground economy, away from “mainstream” jobs and their children.

      Reformers are having some success arguing their case on Capitol Hill, but admit that their battle is uphill: Members of Congress are loath to do anything that might be seen as going soft on child-support enforcement.

      However, reformers say, they have a powerful incentive for change in the way the Bradley amendment keeps low-income fathers trapped in child-support debt.

      Congress and the White House are both pushing to get low-income fathers to support their families and even marry the mothers of their children, said one reformer who asked not to be identified.

      But these fathers “are not marriage material with a huge debt over their head,” he says. When reform of the Bradley amendment is presented in this context, “more people understand that something has to be done to fix it,” he says.

      The nation’s child-support enforcement system was created in 1975 to collect monthly payments from parents whose families were on welfare, were in danger of going on welfare or needed help with collections.

      Currently, the $3 billion federal-state system is working on behalf of 30 million children owed support.

      Last year, according to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), a record $14.4 billion in child support was collected.

      The Bradley amendment has often worked as intended, by locking in arrears while the system doggedly pursues wily, wealthy parents who ducked their obligations.

      Some big catches have included a New York plastic surgeon who owed $172,000, a professional athlete who owed $76,000 and a yacht company owner who owed $50,000, according to a recent article in Government Executive magazine.

      The child-support system is hailed when it bags deadbeats like these.

      But there’s less applause when the system applies the same tough rules and penalties on people like the shaggy-haired man who recently stood in handcuffs before a Maryland Circuit Court judge.

      The shaggy-haired man told the judge he lived with his mother and was too disabled to work. He had just spent two weeks in jail for not paying his $10-a-week child support. His total debt was $42,788.

      The judge ordered the man to pay $75 a week toward his debt.

      But even at that rate, observed a lawyer, “it will take that guy 80 years to pay it off.”

      Several child-support advocacy groups say that, despite these pitiful cases, the Bradley amendment should be maintained because it serves a need.

      “We supported the Bradley amendment when it passed, because it stopped a judge in State B from wiping out [the debt from] an order passed by a judge in State A,” says Geraldine Jensen, president of the Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.

      “We still need it because 40 percent of cases are interstate, and we still only have 20 percent of people paying” their full support, says Ms. Jensen.

      Moreover, she adds, 80 percent of those who owe child support are middle- to upper-income parents who can pay.

      “If you change the Bradley amendment itself, you provide an incentive for guys who can pay but are determined not to,” says Vicki Turetsky, senior staff lawyer at the Center for Law and Social Policy.

      However, despite the Bradley amendment’s hold on accrued debts, and a new array of enforcement tactics, the child-support system still collects less than half of what is owed. Vermont collects the most – 41 percent of owed support, according to OCSE data, while 25 states collect 20 percent or less of owed support.

      A lot of this debt is owed by “dead-broke dads,” “turnip dads” or “beat-dead dads,” say scholars and advocacy groups.

      “Turnip” dads are those who earn less than $130 a week and would be impoverished themselves if they paid support, says Ford Foundation Project Officer Ronald B. Mincy.

      Mr. Mincy and Elaine J. Sorensen estimate that between 16 percent and 33 percent of fathers are “turnips.”

      The “beat-dead dads” are the ones who have child-support orders set so high that “any hiccup in cash flow” quickly results in thousands of dollars of arrears, says Ron Henry, a lawyer active in the Children’ s Rights Council and Men’s Health Network.

      “Then the Bradley amendment [says] once an arrearage is accrued, it exists forever. You cannot waive it. You cannot modify it. Too bad, sucker,” says Mr. Henry, who says the law should be repealed.

      The child-support system, Mr. Henry adds, ostensibly allows parents to change the amount of their child-support payments.

      But in practice, the system is unwieldy and prefers inertia in people’ s lives until the child reaches age 18 – no one remarries, no one loses a job, no one becomes disabled, no one goes to jail, he says.

      A major reason many child-support orders are set at high amounts and grow so fast is because they are set without the paying parent in the courtroom, say experts.

      The Los Angeles Times reported last fall that “roughly 70 percent” of fathers “are not in court when paternity is established and their monthly obligations set.”

      Men might not even know they owe child-support, retroactive to the day their family went on welfare, say experts.

      The same Los Angeles Times story said that local law enforcement records showed that “on average, more than 350 men a month are incorrectly named as fathers.”

      The Bradley amendment ensures that even if the court makes a mistake, “you can never get out of it,” says Mike Ewing, a leader of the Virginia Fatherhood Initiative in Norfolk, who knows several men who are paying support even though DNA tests proved they weren’t the children’s father.

      “I think the Bradley amendment was well intended . . . but we need to come up with an amendment to the Bradley amendment,” says Joe Jones, who works with low-income fathers with the Partnership for Fragile Families and Baltimore City’s Healthy Start program.

      The way child support works now, says Mr. Jones, “is like giving a young, low-income minority father a credit card with $10,000 worth of debt on it. How in the heck will he ever be able to pay it off?”

      Wendell Primus, a senior analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says the child-support system “has to undergo a cultural change similar to the way the [welfare] office did.”

      Its mission should move from one of “collection and disbursement” to working with fatherhood groups and others to get these fathers “employed and connected to their children,” says Mr. Primus.

      Such an effort is under way in Anne Arundel County, where a Child Support Initiative program helps parents who face jail for not paying child support.

      The government-funded CSI program steers men to training and jobs, and gives them a stipend, which they can apply toward child support.

      Between 1993 and 1998, the 462 parents in the program paid $2.2 million in child support, including $464,880 from stipends, says program administrator Brent Johnson, a lawyer with the Public Defenders Office. He adds 271 parents are working.

      Other innovations have emerged to deal with the child-support system’ s idiosyncrasies.

      Tennessee, for instance, enacted a law last year that will “forgive” the state portion of a child-support debt if the parents of the child marry and live together. The deal is off if the parents break up.

      In some courts, support orders are rewritten to assign most of the money to the arrears. A $200-a-month order, for example, might be rewritten to request $10 for current support and $190 for the arrears, which upholds the Bradley amendment but slows the descent into debt.

      But both advocates and opponents of change agree that any efforts to reform entrenched child-support rules such as the Bradley amendment are nascent and easily aborted.

      “There’s an unspoken acknowledgment that [the Bradley amendment] is a bad law, but no one will try to change it because they will be seen as being against child support,” says Traci Snitker of the Men’s Health Network.

      Child-support is a fact of life and people should wise up about it, says Jacqueline D. Stanley, a lawyer who recently published a guidebook called “Unmarried People’s Rights.”

      The laws, including the Bradley amendment, need to be strict to ensure that “people are treated the same way,” she says, adding, “Discretion, whenever possible, should be removed from judges.”

      But Mrs. Stanley freely admits that she doesn’t do child-support cases anymore because there are “too many horror stories.”

      “There’s really no help for them,” she says. “That’s why I tell people all the time `Be careful who you choose’ ” to have a baby with.

      “Harry, in my book, women are encouraged by the system to be sociopaths with a false sense of entitlement. Who you have a baby with can be anyone that you love, but when the going gets tough an underlying sense of detachment seems to pervade America. We have a diseased society that encourages social rape as it justifies itself.” – E.M.

  8. Cornel said:

    In US history we had the ‘Underground Railroad’ for black slaves. We need a similar mechanism for Bradley Child Support Slaves.

    We need to find countries that will offer political asylum for Child Support Slaves where fathers can live free, not have their children taken away from them and where their assets can’t be confiscated on the whim of a feminist family court.

    We can also work hard and focus on changing the laws of only one State here in the United States that could also act as a sanctuary for Child Support Slaves.

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