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Posts tagged ‘attorney general’

The Homeless Dads: The Bad Deal Divorce

John McElhenney still tries to see the balance in his divorce decree. But after losing everything twice, he’s convinced we men need to fight for equal consideration after the marriage has ended.

empty-pockets-robbed-court-orderThe typical divorce is actually pretty painful. The standard DEAL is almost an assault to fatherhood, and we need to fight to change it. In the most common arrangement, Mom gets the kids and house, dad gets the child support payment. It’s how things used to work. But today, unfortunately, the courts still go by this structure unless there is significant fight to something difference.

There are a few problems with this pattern.

chronic-stressThe non-custodial parent is assumed to be a deadbeat when they are calling the AG’s office. You are segmented into custodial or non-custodial parent at the beginning. If you are the non-custodial parent the only reason you’d be calling is you are behind on your child support.

When we complain about unavailable dads, or dads that check-out after divorce, here are a few of the reasons why.

  1. The child support burden is a lot of money.
  2. Dads might be resentful of the “money only” role they are being put in.
  3. When dad is asked to leave the marital home they are often forced to move in with family members or friends, this is largely because of the cost of child support.
  4. In addition to $500+ per kid in child support (estimate) the dad is also asked to pay for health insurance. (Today, in my case this is an additional $1,200 per month with two kids.

burning the constitutionSo let’s see, I’ve got no home. I’m paying $1,200 a month for child support and $1,200 a month for health care. How can I afford an apartment? If I don’t have a killer job ($2,400 after tax expenses before I get a dollar for myself or my survival. Well, that’s a pretty steep hill to climb.

IF the playing field were equal, I would guess a lot more divorces would be negotiated in good faith. Today, even if you declare a collaborative divorce, the issue of money is liable to strike the dad in the pocketbook in a way the mom, to start out with, does not even have to consider. RARE is the case where the dad is given full custody and the mom pays child support.

Shouldn’t we start with 50/50 in both financial responsibility AND parenting time? This is the fight we are fighting in the courts today. I’m considering going back to court to reset the arrangement. I was attempting a collaborative divorce, but in the end I was handed this lopsided deal. I have to earn over $3,000 per month (taking taxes out BEFORE I pay the mom) before I have a chance at even putting food on the table.

baby moneyThis leaves a lot of dads as deadbeats, not because they are actually trying to shirk their responsibility, but because the mom and the court have saddled them up with so much financial liability that they cannot afford to make the payments each month. At that point the dad is subject to financial liens, foreclosure, and checking account freezes.

You know what happens when the AG’s office freezes your account?

  1. The bank charges you $57 – $150 for the freeze.
  2. The bank processes no further payments (rent, car payments, even your child support payments)
  3. You bounce checks.
  4. You’re credit get’s screwed.
  5. You end up with an additional $200 – $400 in fees.

And you know what the AG’s officer will tell you? (The Humans Of Divorce, Dear AG’s Office Special Cases Officer Mr. McK!)

indigent in AmericaFair treatment of fathers begins at the beginning of the relationship. BEFORE you have kids, you can agree to parent 50/50. If that’s the deal, you should have the discussion about if things don’t work out. (I’m not talking prenuptial, just an understanding) In my marriage we started out 50/50, but as soon as she decided she wanted a divorce (yes, it was her idea) the arrangement went to the cutting floor and I was handed the dad deal. A bad deal for everyone.

As the dad can’t afford a nice place for the kids to come visit, they want to come visit less. As mom’s house maintains some of its status and comfort (important for the kids) the dad is left in the cold to fend for himself AFTER he makes all the payments to help the mom stay in the house and live within the lifestyle the couple achieved TOGETHER. Except now it’s not together. And the cooperation you started with before you had kids, becomes a longterm ground war between “the money you owe me” and the money you can afford to pay without suing your ex.

Dad’s are just as important as moms. Even with young kids, the loss of either parent (my dad left when I was 5) is on of the most painful aspects of divorce. For the dad it is doubly devastating: the no longer have a house, and the courts and the AG’s office have now put their credit at risk, making employment and ability to pay even more difficult.

Consider the dads. If you’re a dad consider the courts and get an attorney who can show  you examples of winning in court for fair arrangements.

captiveThe money after divorce should be divided equally. Anything else puts man men at risk for debit issues, credit issues, and put them at risk of suicide and depression. Let’s put the balance back in divorce. Give both parents the benefit of the doubt. And both parents should be advocating for a 50/50 split in the same spirit they entered parenthood, with expectations of a 50/50 partnership. That partnership doesn’t end at divorce. But if we load up the man with all of the financial obligations and punish him for being late on a payment or two, we are hurting all the members of the family. The mom loses when the dad’s account is frozen. Even if the mom didn’t want it to happen. Once you’ve asked the AG’s office into your divorce, they never leave. (Inviting the Dinosaur Into Your Divorce)

We need fair divorce laws. We need courts that will listen to the needs of both parents and consider 50/50 parenting as the desired outcome. Until we stand up and fight for equality AFTER marriage we will continue to be on the losing side of the post-marriage equation.

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Texas Secretly Pushing Child Support on County Offices

Wichita County Tax Collector/Assessor Tommy Smyth said more unfunded mandates pushed onto his office may be a recipe for disaster.

Smyth spoke at the Wichita County Commissioners meeting to provide information about a request to fill a position for a deputy collector in his office.

In the past 12 months, he said, while already wrangling changes with the one sticker-two step program for vehicle registration and inspection, tax offices were informed by the state that beginning in March, the office must deny services to people who owe back child support. [“American Poverty: An American Criminal Subclass“, “Unemployment, Child Support & Bradley Law“, “Bradley Law and Real Justice“]

Smyth said there was also talk that two more mandates might be added in the next six months.

“We had a conference in June in Lubbock and there was no mention of what was going to be dropped on us in November in San Marcos,” Smyth told the court.

“You can only push bureaucracy so far to a certain point, and then something has to be compromised,” he said, likening the situation to an employee at a restaurant who was running a register, taking orders, cooking and cleaning.

In that situation the business’ service, food and reputation could be compromised, he said.

“It’s the same thing in county government, it’s the same thing. We’re trying to provide optimum services to the citizens of Wichita County. I think we do a Cracker Jack job of it. We’ve got Cracker Jack staff, but we’re not in control,” Smyth said.

Several problems arise from the tax offices serving as a filter for child support enforcement, he said.

Smyth noted that if the state attorney general’s office had been successful in finding these people delinquent on child support, the people would have been notified already instead of pushing it onto the tax offices.

“More than likely when that somebody walks up to our window and one of our deputies says, ‘Sir/madam, we cannot do your transaction.’ They bought a $58,000 pickup, but can’t do tax and license on it, it’s going to get very contentious,” Smyth said.

Another problem could be the merging of another database and software download.

In March the office merged with the Department of Public Safety’s system.

Smyth said they have run into situations at times with the one sticker-two step system where the other entity did not do a download of their software and the system was not up to date.

He gave a possible example of someone who paid child support on a Friday, then comes in Monday to register vehicle, but the system was not up to date in showing the individual’s payment.

“When that individual comes in our office, we have to decline them. Well, the minute you decline somebody, you inherit a very contentious situation,” he said.

“The call volume that we associate with this child support, I can’t even get my arms around it. I mean, I have no idea,” Smyth said of the calls and complaints the tax office could receive about the new mandate.

from the Wichita Falls Times Record

Texas Can’t Get It Together: Tech Contractors Dismissed

The Federal Government has cut off funding for a massive and long-troubled project aimed at upgrading the system by which Texans make child-support payments. Federal funding makes up two-thirds of the project’s budget. The lifting of the funding freeze is contingent on the state submitting a Corrective Action Plan and updated project schedule that is acceptable to federal officials. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has dismissed 11 technology contractors amid delays in upgrading the state’s child-support data system.

The shakeup of this white elephant comes as state House members are set to begin an investigation into how the costs for a project known as T2 climbed to $310 million. Initial estimates said the project would cost just over $202 million. The project was intended to streamline the data system used to process child-support payments and support investigations.

The dismissals come after reports of failures by state officials and vendor, Accenture, to deliver promised work on time. A spokes for the company said that Accenture is receiving only $79 million and has won multiple awards for its work.

The project started in 2009. The child support division at the attorney general’s office handles more than 1.5 million cases and collects more than $3.5 billion per year, but relies on paper case files, lacks real-time data, is difficult to research, and requires time-consuming workarounds without any centralized security infrastructure to manage access to information.

Hurting for money

The child-support project has drawn criticism because it employs 100 people based in India (getting around US employment law and wages). Paxton’s office said it was hopeful but somewhat uncertain about the future.

“We are currently seeking clarification with (federal officials) regarding the scope and duration of the temporary suspension,” Wise said, “and we anticipate (they’ll) review our responses and release the suspension as soon as they possibly can.”

Texas Plays Dumb

While the future of the eight-year, $310 million project is in the air, the Attorney General’s office insisted it was “nearly finished” with the Corrective Action Plan. It claims to be working with federal officials and the contractor chosen to lead the effort. Paxton was clueless as to why the project was costing more than expected.

The issues have ballooned the costs by more than 50 percent, from an initial estimate of $203 million to the current estimate of $310 million. The project is now expected to have completion delayed in 2017.

Although cost-overruns are not infrequent in state government, the project has drawn special scrutiny because of its size, the nature of the work and the contractor, Accenture, which has had a series of blunders on other major technology contracts. Bad choice Texas – all at taxpayer expense. There’s a saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

No Stimulus Checks for Parents Behind on Payments

Because of the 2008 Economic Stimulus, child support collections are way up. The Bradley Amendment has made it possible for the states and the federal government to collect on late payments. For a large number of non-custodial parents behind on their support, stimulus checks were intercepted and forwarded to custodial parents.

The recent economic stimulus checks have paid off for mothers and children across the nation who have not had consistent support. Most states can divert monies if a parent is more than $500 behind on Bradley debt as well diverting federal tax refunds and lottery winnings.

“Too many of our delinquent parents do not file tax returns or they go into hiding; but for the ones that do file, this is one method we can use to help children and families,” a Virginia representative was quoted as saying in the July 17 news release.

The economic stimulus has made attorneys general across the nation look very good indeed with a captive workforce in place. None of this really mattered to the terminally unemployed and severely underemployed American parents that have been plowed under by state and federal law sponsored by the Bradley Amendment. This is the lower income segment of an American subclass heavily impacted without choice or recourse in America, an element whose civil rights have been stripped away in the name of civil rights for moms and kids. They didn’t qualify for a stimulus payment even if they were fortunate enough to have a home address.

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