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Archive for the ‘children’s rights’ Category

The Child Support Catastrophe

 

mob-rule-child-support-government

by Dalrock

Child support is typically framed as state intervention on behalf of children. However, it is more accurately an alternative to marriage for women. Traditionally, women would find a man willing to formally commit to them before having children. By marrying (and staying married to) the man who would be the father of her children, women would ensure investment from the man and the provision of resources both to her and her children. Note that child support isn’t needed in the traditional model, and that it isn’t relevant in the case of the death of the father. Even in the case of divorce, child support isn’t needed if parents share equal custody. Where child support is needed if women want to expel the father from the household (or never bring him in). When the facade of “its for the children” is stripped away, child support is all about removing fathers from the lives of their children.

If anyone has any doubt as to the true purpose of child support, they need only look at how it is enforced in practice. In theory whichever parent can better raise the children should be given custody, and the remaining parent would then be compelled to pay child support. In practice it is almost exclusively a way for women who expelled their children’s father from the home to extract money from the man. While the law is written under the guise of being gender neutral, this is a sham; the system is strongly biased towards women at nearly every step of the process. I’ve created a separate post to share all of the data, but here is a quick summary:

Mothers are far more likely to receive custody (over 80% of custodial parents are mothers). Those few fathers who receive custody are less likely than custodial mothers to have support awarded to them. Those fathers who have support awarded to them have less awarded on average than mothers. Due to all of the biases in the system, roughly 90% of all child support dollars are paid from fathers to mothers.

But still there are those who will claim this isn’t about money, it is about the best interest of the child. They say this even though the money goes to the mother, not the child, and the mother is under no legal obligation to spend the money on the children. If it were about the best interest of the child, the system would concern itself with maintaining the child’s relationship with the non custodial parent. But while the system is draconian in its enforcement of money (which almost always goes to the mother), it is generally uninterested in enforcing visitation (which almost always would be for the father). If the system were about protecting the child, it would enforce support and visitation equally. A parent who denies visitation is denying their child access to their parent. A system acting on behalf of the child would work vigorously to ensure that the child isn’t denied something which money can’t buy; access to and guidance from their father.

Not only does the system not take vigorous action to ensure that visitation orders are enforced, the system is designed to estrange fathers from their children. It uses draconian measures on the father while acting in the name of their children. Support is said to be based on the income of the father, but often it isn’t the father’s actual income which is considered. The court will often make up a figure which it assumes the father should be able to earn, and assign (impute) that income to him when setting the amount of support to be paid. W.F. Price described his own experience with this in the comments section of a recent Spearhead post:

There is really no cap on % of income a man can be ordered to pay. Being unemployed when my ex divorced me (she demanded I indulge her and help her get the job she wanted by watching the kids, and I stupidly went along with it thinking this would be temporary and would save my marriage), I was imputed, and therefore the child support was infinity percent of my income. I was imputed at the standard earning for a man my age in Washington state, despite the fact that we were in a recession and nobody was hiring.

There is no limit, therefore. Inability to pay is no excuse. You might as well be asking for mercy from the mob. I watched “”The Departed” recently, and when one of the bookies said he didn’t have the money the enforcer said “this is America – make it” after beating the crap out of him. This is exactly how fathers are treated.

captiveKeep in mind that men can be thrown in jail for failing to make these payments. Fathers all around the country are put in jeopardy of going to prison for money they don’t have, based on actions which are taken in the name of their own children. Undoubtedly the vast majority of fathers make every effort to not allow this injustice to poison their relationship with their children, since they know that their children are merely pawns being used by the child’s mother and the system. However, this kind of heavy handed tactic combined frequently with denial of time with and influence over their children has to impact the relationship negatively. Not surprisingly fathers who are less cut off from their children are more likely to pay support. In 2007 the Census found that 78% of non custodial parents who had joint custody and/or visitation privileges with their children made their payments, compared to 67% for those who didn’t have either (source, P9).

But the ultimate proof of what child support is all about is the end result for children. While there is a grain of truth to the old canard that divorce is caused by philandering or abusive men who either abandon or mistreat their children, the vast majority of divorces are actually requested by women. Professors Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen set out to understand why this was in their paper These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women:

Because of the financial and social hardship faced after divorce, most people assume that generally husbands have instigated divorce since the introduction of no-fault divorce. Yet women file for divorce and are often the instigators of separation, despite a deep attachment to their children and the evidence that many divorces harm children.

Here is what they found (emphasis mine):

Our results are consistent with our hypothesis that filing behavior is driven by self-interest at the time of divorce. Individuals file for divorce when there are marital assets that may be appropriated through divorce, as in the case of leaving when they have received the benefit of educational investments such as advanced degrees. However, individuals may also file when they are being exploited within the marriage, as when the other party commits a major violation of the marriage contract, such as cruelty. Interestingly, though, cruelty amounts to only 6% of all divorce filings in Virginia. We have found that who gets the children is by far the most important component in deciding who files for divorce, particularly when there is little quarrel about property, as when the separation is long.

Keep in mind that getting custody not only determines which parent has their children ripped away from them, but that because of the child support system the children also often come with a hefty payment stream the ‘winning’ parent can spend however they want. The ‘loser’ on the other hand is compelled at risk of imprisonment to pay amounts which can exceed their actual ability to earn. While this money is extracted from them in theory on behalf of their children, it robs them of their ability to be seen as wanting to take care of their children. Fathers can’t spend money on their children which the mother has already taken by force. Making this winner take all game even more lopsided, in the US the receipt of the payments is considered tax free, since the support payer must pay the income tax on it.

This system which is supposedly about the children encourages mothers to expel their children’s fathers from their lives. One divorce explains how many women think about this:

The problem with my life, as I saw it then, was my husband, and I imagined divorce as a process that would remove him but change little else  a sort of neutron bomb that eliminated men but left the rest of the world intact.

But divorce is only one way that child support encourages women to become single parents. The direct route to unwed motherhood is to simply get knocked up without getting married. This wouldn’t have guaranteed unwed mothers child support in the past. However, the rules were changed in the latter part of the 21st century, as Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers explain in their paper Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces:

Supreme Court rulings in the 1960s and 1970s also changed the nature of family relationships by eliminating many of the legal distinctions stemming from the marital status of a child’s parents. In 1968, the Supreme Court ruling in Levy v. Louisiana (391 U.S. 68) granted equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to “illegitimate” children. Five years later, the 1973 ruling in Gomez v. Perez (409 U.S. 535) overturned state laws exempting men from financial responsibility for “illegitimate” children. These rulings reduced both the social and economic cost to women of bearing a child out-of-wedlock…

Not surprisingly, this along with welfare payments has lead to an explosion of children being born out of wedlock. You can see the impact in the chart below from NCHS Data Brief No. 18 May 2009, Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States:

children-unmarried-women

The 2011 Statistical Abstract of the United States provides the breakdown of out of wedlock births by race (Table 86 pdf or image) for 2007, the latest year data is available. 40% of all babies born in the US in 2007 were out of wedlock. This figure was 51% for Hispanics, 28% for whites, and 72% for blacks. The US isn’t exceptional for its out of wedlock birth rates either:

out-of-wedlock-children-by-nation

But the direct approach to unwed motherhood isn’t preferred by all would be baby mommas. Some have a strong sense of tradition, and prefer the classic approach of marrying the father and then divorcing him after the children are born. Fortunately for them child support along with biased family courts makes this nearly as easy as the direct approach. As an added bonus, they get to attend a big party held in their honor, where they (get this!) promise in front of everyone they know to stay married to the father for life. This more classic approach to baby mamma-hood is also on the rise, as you can see in Figure 1 in Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces.

Divorce has gone from almost unheard of to extremely common. According to the US Census 2009 SIPP data, 39% of all white women aged 50-59 had divorced at least once. This works out to 42% of all white women that age who ever married. For Hispanic women the figures are 27%&30%, and for Black women the figures are 38%&48%.

All of this action supposedly in the interest of children has resulted in millions of kids growing up with little or no access to their fathers. A small percentage of these kids are better off because of the system. They had fathers who either abandoned them or were abusive. Far more have lost something irreplaceable; the chance to grow up with both their mother and father (chart source):

historic-living-arangements-of-children

There is a huge body of research showing how detrimental this is to children. In the interest of space I’ll only share one small quote from Dan Quayle Was Right (emphasis mine):

Even for fathers who maintain regular contact, the pattern of father-child relationships changes. The sociologists Andrew Cherlin and Frank Furstenberg, who have studied broken families, write that the fathers behave more like other relatives than like parents. Rather than helping with homework or carrying out a project with their children, nonresidential fathers are likely to take the kids shopping, to the movies, or out to dinner. Instead of providing steady advice and guidance, divorced fathers become “treat” dads.

Apparently–and paradoxically–it is the visiting relationship itself, rather than the frequency of visits, that is the real source of the problem. According to Wallerstein, the few children in the California study who reported visiting with their fathers once or twice a week over a ten-year period still felt rejected. The need to schedule a special time to be with the child, the repeated leave-takings, and the lack of connection to the child’s regular, daily schedule leaves many fathers adrift, frustrated, and confused. Wallerstein calls the visiting father a parent without portfolio.

This is built into any child support scenario, and simply cannot be changed or wished away. The profoundly negative result of fatherless children is widely acknowledged, even by those who enthusiastically support the new family structure child support encourages. However, instead of blaming the process which created the problem, most now blame the very fathers who had their children ripped away from them. This is the final insult by a system which sees fathers as no more than a walking wallet. Instead of blaming the concerted social push to allow women to raise children outside of marriage, the fathers themselves are blamed for being absent! Following the London riots many have pointed out that a major cause of the out of control youths is a lack of fathers. The headline of The Telegraph reads:

London Riots: Absent Fathers Have a Lot to Answer For

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Child Support Lacks Accountability

burning the constitutionDiscrimination [against non-custodial parents] is rationalized for the same reason that slaves, ethnic minorities and women were oppressed in an earlier era: free labor and arbitrary empowerment. Unlike dictatorial regimes, however, our government has perfected this oppression through legislative propaganda, which exploits the child into a multi-billion dollar industry, fleecing parents of finite resources and discouraging income productivity.

Quotes and sound bites to a vast audience unfamiliar with a complex case could not hope to overcome decades of stereotypes and draconian laws designed to perpetuate this child control industry. My best hope, therefore, existed in a news conference at my home where genuine child support could be observed first hand. A father’s mortgage, taxes, play areas and holiday enjoyment are a father’s child support, made impossible when a third of income goes to taxes, and another third to a support collection unit.

My point continues to be this: a self-sufficient father has the same right to enjoy a family unit as a self-sufficient mother. An American form of government encourages each to grow those units. Under the current socialist form, I nevertheless satisfied years of one-sided obligations until they were abused without any child payments in return. This showed not only that I was a responsible parent, but prepared to commit my career to enforce God given rights to raise my children.

Unlike the 1950s, a vast majority of today’s parents are raising their children in separate households. If we can bus 5-year-olds to school, we can certainly allow fathers in the same communities to enjoy equal time with their offspring. Such logic, however, would negate the need for lawyers and child support transfers as the engine behind federal grants and collection unit interest revenues to a dysfunctional state government.

In short, the privacy right which I have been compelled to secure through the courts is a meaningful father-child relationship free from joint power abuses by the state and a superior creature of law known as the “custodial parent.” It may be analogized to the woman’s privacy right established in Roe v Wade.

For those still clinging to the current antiquated system, however, child support is a welfare payment because it lacks accountability. Abuses such as drug or gambling addictions, lawyer-generated controversies, partner support, income destruction and father replacement agendas are highly disguised in our overburdened courts. Still unanswered by my government is how I am supposed to raise my children without a 23-year law license.

Leon Koziol is a Utica attorney. On Feb. 11, the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division suspended his law license because he has not made child support payments for his two children.

Child Support Laws Are United Nations Treaty

the rise of children to godhood

The “new” child support laws that have grabbed hold of the United States since the 1990’s are part of the growing international power of the United Nations. Many other “first world” nations, as well as ‘lesser’ nations, have adopted similar rules ascribing huge protections for children, while looting the pocketbooks of parents and their rights. Previously, under common law, children were the property of parents. As the United Nations has gained in power and influence, this has changed from nation to nation. This treaty completes the transition that began in 1933 by Franklin Roosevelt, which sets out that citizens are property of the state and that the state holds right to all property.

Nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law. Compliance is monitored by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which is composed of members from countries around the world. Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which also hears a statement from the CRC Chair, and the Assembly adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC, CROC, or UNCRC) is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. It was ratified on November 20, 1989 and is adopted by 193 nations (the United States is currently exempt). The Convention defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless any states other domestic legislation majority is an earlier age.

The Declaration of the Rights of the Child is the name given to a series of related children’s rights proclamations drafted by Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb in 1923. Jebb believed that the rights of a child should be especially protected and enforced and the first stipulations for child’s rights were drafted.

Jebb’s initial 1923 document consisted of the following criteria:

  1. The child must be given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually.
  2. The child that is hungry must be fed, the child that is sick must be nursed, the child that is backward must be helped, the delinquent child must be reclaimed, and the orphan and the waif must be sheltered and succored.
  3. The child must be the first to receive relief in times of distress.
  4. The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood, and must be protected against every form of exploitation.
  5. The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men.

These ideas were adopted by the International Save the Children Union in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 23, 1923 and endorsed by the League of Nations General Assembly on November 26, 1924 as the World Child Welfare Charter. However, these proclamations were not enforceable by international law, but rather only guidelines for countries to follow. (UNICEF Corporate History) The original document is in the archives of the city of Geneva, which carries the signatures of various international delegates, including Jebb, Janusz Korczak, and Gustave Ador, a former President of the Swiss Confederation.

The SCIU (International Save the Children Union) merged into the International Union of Child Welfare by 1946, and this group pressed the newly formed United Nations to continue to work for war-scarred children and for adoption of the World Child Welfare Charter.

On November 20,  1959 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a much expanded version as its own Declaration of the Rights of the Child during the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adding ten principles in place of the original five. November 20 has been adopted as the Universal Children’s Day. These statutes of law could be said to give the child a legal position of ‘godhood.’ Children have become the ultimate excuse to do anything that might seem beneficial.

On September 2, 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child became international law. The Convention consists of 54 articles that address the basic human rights children everywhere are entitled to: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are supposedly attributed the status as non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Today, you hear these same kind of things in U.S. government, spread as righteous propaganda. In 2009, Senator Barbara Boxer sought to ratify the treaty, even though the United States is currently functioning under the regime of the United Nations. The rights of parents have already been eroded in line with United Nations treaty except for the reporting function, resisting the public display of bowing to United Nation authority. The ‘law of the land’ had already been set by current statute.

Governments of countries that have ratified the Convention are required to report to, and appear before, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress with regards to the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country. Their reports and the committee’s written views and concerns are available on the committee’s website.

While the Bradley Amendment was brought into law by the U.S. Congress in 1986, it took the Convention on the Rights of the Child to make it real in your life today. Increasingly, the world has become a group of vassal states under United Nations rule.

The Practice of Indentured Servitude & Why It Matters

indentured servitude contractThe practice of indentured servitude is based on common law, the original basis of this empire.

Reba McIntire found out that one of her ancestors in 1600’s was as 10-year old shipped to America as indentured servant. His mother died and his father had a hard time taking care of him by himself, so he “sold him off” This contract would pay the kid’s ticket from England to America, and would only last at most until the kid became an adult at 21 years. This well demonstrates that under common law, children were considered PROPERTY of their parents until they became adults, and the State had NO AUTHORITY to interfere with the rights of a father.

This wasn’t slavery in a formal sense, since the boy wasn’t sold, just the right to his work was. This shows that under common law, people are considered sovereign and the State has no authority to tell them what to do, unless there is an actual INJURED party, which includes a violation of one’s unalienable rights. Only in a “corporate democracy” that the United States has operated under since 1933, the government doesn’t recognize your natural rights, and can dictate what we can and can’t do, as if we were THEIR property. This is in clear evidence, throughout all property rights.

Here’s Wikipedia about indentured servitude.

“Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed the paperwork. They included men and women; most were under the age of 21, and most became helpers on farms or house servants. They were not paid cash. It was a system that provided jobs and—most important—transportation for poor young people from the overcrowded labor markets of Europe who wanted to come to labor-short America but had no money to pay for it. The great majority became farmers and farm wives.

In colonial North America, farmers, planters, and shopkeepers found it very difficult to hire free workers, primarily because cash was short and it was so easy for those workers to set up their own farm. Consequently, the more common solution was to pay the passage of a young worker from England or Germany, who would work for several years to pay off the travel costs debt. During that indenture period the servants were not paid wages, but they were provided food, room, clothing, and training. Most white immigrants arrived in Colonial America as indentured servants, usually as young men and women from Britain or Germany, under the age of 21.

Typically, the father of a teenager would sign the legal papers, and work out an arrangement with a ship captain, who would not charge the father any money. The captain would transport the indentured servants to the American colonies, and sell their legal papers to someone who needed workers. At the end of the indenture, the young person was given a new suit of clothes and was free to leave. Many immediately set out to begin their own farms, while others used their newly acquired skills to pursue a trade.

Child Support: New Wrinkle to Garnishing Your Social Security

decisions about wealth and lifestyleHere’s an off-the-wall retirement planning wrinkle.

New rules take affect May 1 that make it much harder for creditors to garnish Social Security, veterans pensions, Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability from recipients who owe them money.

The new U.S. Treasury rule requires all banks to determine whether an account contains these protected funds. If an account contains protected funds, the bank is required to protect two months’ of benefit payments from garnishment. Protection of more than two months’ of benefit payments requires additional court filings and in practice, makes these funds immune from seizure by creditors, says Margot Saunders, an attorney for the National Consumer Law Center.

It works like this. You fail to pay your car payment and the car dealer comes and takes the car, then he sues and gets a judgment against you for the remainder of what you owe him. He goes to the bank and attempts to garnish your money. Under the new rule, the creditor can pick any day he wants for the garnishment and the bank must respond by looking at your account for the previous 60 days. Let’s say you received a $1,100 Social Security payment one month and another $1,100 Social Security payment the next month. That $2,200 is protected. If there is any other money above and beyond that amount that has been deposited in the account during that period and is still sitting there, the creditor gets it. If there is no other money, the creditor is out of luck. He gets bupkis.

There are two exceptions, Saunders says: money you owe Uncle Sam and money you owe in child support. If you have these kind of debts, an attorney or the IRS can petition Social Security directly and collect.

If a debt collector begs to differ, Saunders points them to this statement on the Social Security website. She says garnishment of Social Security has always been against the law, but creditors have found ways around it. This change in the rule should eliminate those loopholes. On the other hand, if you fear you might find yourself in this kind of debt-collection dilemma during your retirement, the best way to protect yourself is to have your Social Security check deposited into an account that you don’t use for anything else.

Government Invasion of your Parental Rights

“For the first time in American history, the majority of the Supreme Court no longer treats a parent’s right to control and direct the upbringing of their child as a fundamental liberty,”  former U.S. magistrate judge William Wagner. “We now have a new situation where government itself becomes the standard and whoever’s in power gets to say what your liberty is.” That is, after all, what legal precedence says.

This warrants concern for former Michigan congressman Peter Hoesktra: “There are people each and every day who are scheming to take away parental rights to start to destroy the family structure,” he said. “What we’ve seen over the last 40 to 50 years is continual legislative and judicial overreach going into areas that we never thought they would reach into.”

This overstepping of the states’ role can be traced to oppressive European regimes of the not-so-distant past.

Bill Clinton“Karl Marx said that in order to establish a perfect socialist state, you have to destroy the family,” said family psychologist and author John Rosemond. “You have to substitute the government and its authority for parental authority in the rearing of children.”

One of the vehicles to usher in socialist policies over children is an international treaty known as the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, or the UNCRC. Adopted by the UN in 1989, this essentially says that anytime there is a conflict or dispute between a child and a parent, a government bureaucrat gets to decide what is in the best interest of the child instead of the parent deciding what is in the best interest of the child. Do you see how the Bradley Amendment plays into the UNCRC?

The Supremacy Clause says that a treaty becomes a part of the supreme law of the land, which overrides state laws and overrides state constitutions. Almost all of American law of parenting kids is state law, so this treaty becomes supreme over virtually all American law of parents and children. Bill Clinton approved the treaty during his administration, so all it takes is two-thirds of the U.S. Senate to approve it in order for it to become a part of the supreme law of the land. Your child, as evidenced by law on all sides is that your child, as property, is important political capital.

American parents are losing their rights and don’t even know it. Featuring 3 reenactments based on real cases, “Overruled” (see below) is a 35-minute docudrama that exposes how the rights of parents in America are being eroded.  The fact is that legal precedence has continually eroded the rights of all Americans based on judicial decisions. This has been ongoing since the 1930’s. Surprise. Now, if the state wants this responsibility, then certainly, they are responsible for dissolving the human family as we know it, whether it is understood or not. Also, if this is the case, parents are no longer responsible for the children that they ‘sire.’ They have become tools for state endorsed ‘breeding.’ Your responsibility in the matter, in the eyes of the state, is increasingly dubious at best, and they would rather you have little to say on the matter.

Notice: This article is not legal counsel.
You will need an attorney and your own wits
to supply you with the details of your case.

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Government Invasion of your Parental Rights by E.J. Manning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://bradleyamendment.wordpress.com.

Anniversary of Bradley Amendment Continues Child Support Discussion

by Killeen Gonzalez

May 5, 2011, marks the 25th anniversary of the controversial Bradley Amendment. In 1986, the Bradley Amendment was enacted into federal law as an amendment to Title IV of the Social Security Act thanks to the likes of then-Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley.

What is the Bradley Amendment?

The Bradley Amendment is a series of laws that were designed to prohibit non-custodial parents from having their child support arrears reduced or eliminated regardless of the circumstances. In addition, the amendment allowed child support enforcement workers to disregard changes in a non-custodial parent’s circumstances like job loss, incarceration, military service or physical disability in certain instances.

Furthermore, it gave the same workers the ability to pursue legal remedies against the non-custodial parent the moment a payment was missed without having to first go through a quasi-judicial or judicial proceeding. These legal remedies included asset seizure, un-expiring property liens, driver’s license suspension, professional license suspension, suspension of voting privileges and incarceration.

Why is the Bradley Amendment Controversial?

Opponents believe that, in part, by granting such capabilities to child support workers, the Bradley Amendment effectively disregarded the non-custodial parent’s constitutional rights of due process and equal protection as well as disregarded the unconstitutionality of what equates to nothing more than a “debtors’ prison.”

The rights of due process and equal protection were given to Americans after the Civil War as part of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although 14th Amendment violations are most often cited by social advocacy groups, arguments have also been made that the Bradley Amendment violates the fifth, eight, ninth and 10th amendments as well.

Due process essentially ensures that all Americans are entitled to be heard in their own defense, have a right to legal representation even if they cannot afford a lawyer on their own, have a right to a fair and public trial with a jury of one’s peers and property taken by the government may only be done for public purposes and the government must reimburse that person the fair market value for that property.

The right of equal protection goes hand in hand with the right to due process and is designed to keep states from unfairly applying its laws to individuals under their jurisdiction. In this case, opponents of the Bradley Amendment believe that the laws are unfairly applied against the poor.

According to the Southern Center for Human Rights, in the state of Georgia alone there are over 500 non-custodial parents who are incarcerated over failure to pay child support. Of those non-custodial parents currently incarcerated, the majority were not given legal representation and are considered indigent.

The group’s website also cites that 70 percent of outstanding child support debt in this nation is owed by non-custodial parents who make less than $10,000 a year. According to the federal government’s poverty guidelines for 2011, an individual making $10,890 or less a year in most states is considered poor. This gives credence to the argument that the Bradley Amendment unjustly targets people living at or below poverty level.

Furthermore, another item that has been called into question related to the Bradley Amendment and the child support system as a whole is the money trail associated with child support enforcement. What many people may not realize is that not all money collected by child support enforcement workers goes to the custodial parent; some of it goes to the state and federal government to pay welfare debts.

Moreover, the state receives matching federal funds. Those matching funds then go, in part, to pay the salaries of the child support workers, as well as the law enforcement and legal representatives who assist them in collection efforts.

In addition, once a person is incarcerated, some prisons charge fines and fees to the inmates for such things as room, board and medical costs. Such was the case in Clinch County, Georgia, where detainees at the Clinch County Jail were unlawfully charged $18 a day for room and board regardless of whether they were later found innocent and released. A civil class action lawsuit was eventually filed on behalf of those detainees; the judge ruled that the sheriff had to return all illegal fees.

Challenges to the Bradley Amendment, Past and Present

Since its inception, the constitutionality of the Bradley Amendment, and child support in general, have been repeatedly called into question throughout the nation. Early cases in point include one from the Massachusetts District Court, one from Florida’s Sixth Judicial Court as well as the case of Michelle Sweat, which was heard in Georgia by Superior Court Judge C. Diane Perkins in February 2002. The judges in each of those cases found aspects of child support laws to be unconstitutional.

From 2004 through 2006, there were moves made on behalf of the American people to get both the courts and the U.S. Congress to repeal the Bradley Amendment entirely on the basis that it is unconstitutional. The case was ultimately dismissed in February 2006. That, however, was not the end of the discussion by any means.

In July 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama and Sen. Evan Bayh came under fire for their introduction of the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2007, which was also seen as unconstitutional by some groups. The introduction of the act revived the earlier arguments against the Bradley Amendment, which brings us to the most recent challenge made to the constitutionality of the law.

On March 22, the Southern Center for Human Rights filed a civil rights class action lawsuit on behalf of six non-custodial parents from several Georgia counties. At this time, the case is still pending.

Sources:

Congressional Research, “The Bradley Amendment: Prohibition against Retroactive Modification of Child Support Arrearages” Congressional Research

Associated Press “Parents Sue Ga. Over child support jail time” The Augusta Chronicle

The Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights, “Debtor’s Prison” Southern Center for Human Rights

The Law Office of Southern Center for Human Rights, “Georgia Deprives Children as Indigent Parents Languish in Debtor’s Jail for Inability to Pay Child support” Southern Center for Human Rights

William Akins, “Why Georgia’s Child Support Laws are Unconstitutional” Georgia Bar Journal

Cornell University Law School, “Equal Protection” Cornell University Law School

E Manning, “Obama Attacks Constitutional Rights of Non-Custodial Parents” Newsvine.com

Center for Law and Social Policy, “Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Family Act of 2007” Center for Law and Social Policy

Christine Vestal, “Child Support Enforcement Takes a Hit” Stateline.org

U.S. Department Health and Human Services, “The 2011 HHS Poverty Guidelines” ASPE.hhs.gov

Phyllis Schlafly, “Repeal the Bradley Amendment” Restoring America

Alliance for Non-Custodial Parent’s Rights, “U.S. District Court of MA Civil Docket” ANCPR.com

Divorcenet “The Bradley Amendment: How Does it Affect Men’s Child Support” Divorcenet.com

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