A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Posts tagged ‘judge’

Child Support & Terrorists

drinking the kool-aid?

drinking the kool-aid?

Your nation is under attack by terrorists!

When a nation is attacked, people will go to war, risking the loss of life and limb. They are willing to suffer in their standard of living because of what they judge to be a noble or righteous cause. Families are under attack from an enemy within our borders, yet most victims refuse to be part of the war effort.

Instead most injured persons concentrate on their own personal loss by falling into the money trap. They support the enemy, the fascist divorce industrial complex that has swallowed the nation, part of the international unity promoted by the United Nations. Most support terrorists by hiring an attorney, and imagining that they can receive justice in a weighted court system. They may even fool themselves by equating the expense of court with love for their kids. Supporting a fascist terrorist system to achieve justice is insanity of the highest order. Some have fallen into this trap in the past, and now see the light. Most are still lost in the darkness of state propaganda.

justice and moneyBoth the military industrial complex and the divorce industrial complex thrive off creation and perpetuation of real or perceived “enemies.” Collusion between private corporations and government corporations, or fascism, is on the increase at the expense of civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Today, the founding documents of the United States are sometimes given lip service, but are commonly violated by modern government officials. Just as foreign wars are profitable for war industries, war within families is profitable for the divorce industrial complex. This industrial complex consists of judges, courts, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, “child support” workers, and all who assist in separating parents who have committed no crime from their children.

Neither industrial complex have use for peaceful resolutions. They thrive from trickery and slander.

Scott-police-fatal-shootingVictims of the divorce industrial complex that are still alive need to unite, to fight terrorism against families and against a renegade court system that ignores the foundation of law in the Constitution for a modern take on legal precedence. This tyrannical sickness is being spread across the globe to benefit special interests behind the scenes. No one is safe. A new world order of tyranny is already upon us.

baby moneyIn the United States, the founding fathers provided the means for people to address tyrannical government. This begins with the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees free speech, free press and the right of the people peacefully to assemble to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

mob-rule-child-support-governmentExposing the Fascist Divorce Industrial Complex: family court judges, family lawyers, psychologists, social workers, child protective services, child support agencies, and all who assist family courts in the process of diminishing relationships between fit parents and their children.

VIOLATIONS OF CIVIL AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS:

1) Denial of First Amendment Freedoms of Religion and Speech – Parents cannot train up their children according to their beliefs when stripped of parental authority.

2) Denial of First Amendment Right to Petition for Redress of Grievances – Parents, mostly fathers, are denied justice in family courts – their petitions are denied or dismissed.

3) Kidnapping – State “family” court judges steal children from fit, law-abiding parents, perpetuating custody battles.

4) Denial of Fourth Amendment Right to Privacy – Unsubstantiated accusations result in invasion of homes and stealing of children by police or child protective services without probable cause; judges routinely order psych evaluations which invade and probe every detail of private family life of law-abiding parents. Parties who come to court to address legal issues are diverted into a wilderness of psychological evaluations because judges refuse to do their job: enforce the constitutional right to parent, further draining family assets.

5) Denial of Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights to Due Process of Law – These include: denial of the right to free counsel for poor defendants, denial of the right to take depositions, lack of evidenciary hearings, lack of notice, and improper standard of proof – with defendants being presumed guilty and being sentenced, like criminals, to loss of the fundamental constitutional right to be a parent.

6) Denial of the Sixth Amendment Right to a Speedy and Public Trial – “Temporary” pendente lite orders in secretive unrecorded hearings usually become permanent orders. Justice delayed is justice denied. Fathers are treated as guilty in either or both criminal and “civil” court upon mere accusation, and are in effect sentenced to loss of the fundamental right to parenthood in civil court even if criminal cases are dismissed.

7) Denial of the Seventh Amendment Right to Trial by Jury – Heartless, treasonous judges make decisions to sever loving parent/child relationships which no jury would allow, which perpetuates continual litigation and profits for the divorce industry.

8) Denial of Thirteenth Amendment Prohibition Against Slavery and Involuntary Servitude – Usually fathers are enslaved as non-custodial parents and forced to pay extortion (so-called “child support”) or risk being thrown into debtors’ prison.

9) False Imprisonment – Fathers are typically arrested first in domestic disputes upon mere accusation. Usually fathers are thrown into debtors’ prisons when they do not or are unable to comply with the illegal extortion/”child support” orders.

10) Denial of Fourteenth Amendment Right to Equal Protection of the Laws – Mothers initiate most divorces and are “awarded” sole custody in the vast majority of contested cases even though both parents are equally fit and loving parents, resulting in state sanctioned gender discrimination and child abuse – stealing one half of the child’s world.

11) Denial of Fourteenth Amendment Liberty Interest in the Family – Numerous U.S. Supreme Court rulings have well-established the fundamental liberty interest in the family and the constitutional right to be a parent. Yet, treasonous family court judges daily and routinely ignore and violate the U.S. Constitution and their own state constitutions, and violate their oath of office to uphold those constitutions.

12) Fraud upon family courts – Judges and lawyers of the multi-billion dollar divorce industry increase the amount of custody and family law litigation in contradiction of its alleged purpose – to strengthen and preserve families, by trampling on the rights of U.S. Citizens.

violation of due process and civil rightsMany professed professionals routinely commit or assist in fraud upon courts of family law as they violate the U.S. Constitution by pretending to act “in the best interest of the child”. Then, under the false pretense, a created need for “child support” caused an unequal custody order, the same renegade, tyrannical judges issue extortion (“child support”) orders against these parents. They even routinely jail parents who do not or are unable to obey their extortion demands in debtors’ prisons of involuntary servitude. This false imprisonment is nothing less than slavery.

burning the constitutionThis involves a perversion of language in which some acts are given names opposite of the true meanings, the foundation of lies in which families are being destroyed in kangaroo courts across the United States.

PRIMARY EXAMPLES:

A. STEALING A CHILD from a fit parent is called the “BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD”.

B. EXTORTION against a fit parent, necessary ONLY because of the illegal, unconstitutional, forced unequal custody order, is called “CHILD SUPPORT “.

C. INVASION OF PRIVACY when no crime has been alleged is called a “PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION”.

overthrow

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A Different Look on Law: Why Punish People for “Speeding”?

by Eric Peters

speed trapWhy should anyone be subject to punishment merely for driving “x” speed? Is it not of a piece with punishing someone for merely consuming alcohol?

The justification usually given is that “speeding” might cause harm.

Ok, sure. The same is true about drinking beer. Someone (generally) might drink beer and beat his wife. But we do not presume (for now) that everyone who drinks beer willbeat his wife – and thus, drinking beer must be forbidden. And violators of this policy punished.

What about punishing (hold onto that thought) people when – and only if – they actually do cause harm? Not before – and not because they might. Or because “someone” else has.

It’s a crazy idea, I realize.

Imagine: You’d only have to sweat cops or face a judge if you (and not some other person you never even met) could plausibly be charged with having caused harm to an actual victim or damaged the actual property of someone else. Mark that. A flesh and blood victim would have to be presented.

And it would be the obligation of the courts to prove that harm was done to establish guilt before requiring restitution (much preferable to punishing people, which smacks of house training a puppy).

There would be an end to this business of people being put through the system who’ve harmed no one. Who are punished for manufactured offenses against the state.

Can the state be a victim?

Is the Tooth Fairy real?

It’s absurd – and vicious.

Do you feel guilty of wrongdoing when pulled over by a cop for not wearing a seatbelt? Who have you harmed? What justification – other than “it’s the law” – is there for punishing you?

How about driving faster than an arbitrary number plastered on a sign? You get pulled out from a crowd of others doing the same thing; none of you harming anyone or even plausibly threatening it. It’s merely your unlucky day. Your time to pay.

As the cop slides in behind you, does your internal monologue run along the lines of, “well, yeah… I did a bad thing… I deserve this.”

Or do you feel disgust, anger – and resentment?

Of course.

legal speed limits by state

This has serious implications.

Laws without a moral basis are just arbitrary rules. They have no moral force – and that makes people subjected to them feel abused. Which they have been. Meanwhile, it also makes it more difficult to deal with the relatively small number of people in society who actually do cause harm to others. If you doubt this, take a drive into a “bad” neighborhood; where are all the cops?

They’re manning radar traps and safety checkpoints in the “nice” neighborhoods!

Remember the “Drive 55″ idiocy that lasted from about 1974 to 1995? Overnight – and for the next 20 years – it became illegal “speeding” to drive 70 when the day before it had been legal to do that and – presumably (being legal) “safe.” How does it become “unsafe” to drive 70 on the same road today that it was (apparently) “safe” to drive 70 on yesterday?

What was it Bob Dooole used to say? You know it, I know it, the American people know it.

Millions of people were simply ripped off – had their money stolen from them under color of law.

The contempt and corruption this bred is incalculable. It festers to this day. Because while “Drive 55″ is history, the same rigmarole exists on secondary roads. Every day, thousands of people are pulled over and literally robbed. Issued what amount to ransom notes – state-sanctioned extortion – for driving at reasonable and prudent velocities that happen to have been codified as illegal “speeding.” The fact that virtually every one “speeds” – this includes cops – is the clearest, most inarguable proof that the laws are absurd. And their enforcement a sort of low-rent sadism that also happens to be very profitable.

What’s the solution?

speed trap in TexasSpeed limits as such ought to be thrown in the woods. They are arbitrary, morally indefensible – and most of all, one-size-fits-all.

People are individuals and some people are better at certain things than others. This includes driving. Tony Stewart is a better driver than I am. But I am a much better driver than my mother-in-law. Why should Tony Stewart be dumbed-down to my level?

And why should I be dumbed-down to my mother-in-law’s?

Imposing arbitrary, one-size-fits-all limits on anyone for anything is by definition unfair.

Arbitrary man-made “speeding” laws based on a dumbed-down/least-common-denominator standard amount to ugly and stupid people punishing the good-looking and smart ones.

The people who support such laws support anticipatory and pre-emptive punishment. That is, laws that assume something bad will happen if “x” is not punished.

And which punish the “offender” as if something bad had actually happened.

Even if it never did.

Innocence of having caused harm is (currently) no defense. It’s not necessary for the government to produce a victim. All that’s necessary, legally speaking, is for the state to prove that “the law” was violated.

Comrade Stalin would approve.

Cue the keening wail that, absent speed limits, people will drive excessively fast and lose control.

Yet they do exactly that already – speed limits notwithstanding. Just as people still drive soused (and senile, too).

The difference between the harm-caused/actual victim approach – and the “it’s the law” approach – is that the former only holds those who actually do lose control – for whatever reason – accountable. Everyone else is free to go about their business. To live as adults – rather than be treated as presumptively unintelligent children.

What a concept!

speed trap victimSpeed advisories would be fine. For example a sign letting you know that there is a sharp curve ahead and maybe reducing speed would be good. Drivers unfamiliar with that road – and never having driven that curve before – may find this information helpful. But why should the local who is familiar with that road – and who drives that curve everyday – be subject to punishment for taking the curve at a higher speed?

Assuming, of course, that he does so competently, without causing harm to anyone in the process?

That was once the American Way. Not “do as you please” – the dishonest, demagogic bleat of Clovers. But rather, do as you please… so long as you don’t cause harm to others.

The false choice offered by Clovers is total control in exchange for total safety – the “risk free” world. But this is a quixotic quest that can never end, because risk cannot be removed from this life. We all get sick – and die eventually. Entropy happens.

What can be excised, however, is the risk to our liberties, our peace of mind, our enjoyment of life – presented by random and arbitrary interference and punishments based not on what we’ve done, but on what “someone” might do.

original article

It’s Never Enough: Pay Child Support, You’re Still a Deadbeat

by Moody Jim Rathbone

One of the worst examples of the discrimination that men face is with child support. Canada is no exception.

court in Halifax NSA Canadian judge has called a Nova Scotia businessman and developer one of the “worst deadbeat” dads in Canadian history. The judge sentenced him to four years in prison, adding a court fine of $384,000. Gotta make sure the corporate court has a little extra owed to it. Eh?

violation of due process and civil rightsThe National Post claimed that family court judge Theresa Forgeron (obviously an offended opportunistic feminist) said Vrege Armoyan’s “defiance spanned many years.” He owes a “shameful amount of arrears” racked up in a deliberate plan to hide money and to avoid paying support for his three children, ages 20, 18 and 15. (Shouldn’t two of those be emancipated?)

In typical fashion the judge aims at your heart strings – “His children struggle to survive while Mr. Armoyan has millions of dollars.” They are starving on a mere $9000 a month in child support that they have received like a slot machine. They don’t sound too hungry to me! What do you say?

kangaroo courtAs usual, the court debt is mostly imaginary. Armoyan was originally ordered to pay $29,000 a month in child support and alimony in 2012. He never paid the full amount. As a self-employed man of business, he is one of the few to claim that right. Instead, he opted to pay $9000 a month. The total arrears is $1,714,684.04, as well as owing over $1 million in court costs. I know who isn’t going to be in Canada – ever.

mob-rule-child-support-governmentNaturally, a blood-sucking lawyer was quoted as being in full agreement with the court. Lawyers depend on the good favor of the court. They kiss the ring of a judge, a legalized mobster. Surprised? So why are you paying your lawyer so much to represent you? He must be good in bed, for someone anyway.

Armoyan reportedly notified the court via email (they actually admit receiving it) that he was no longer a resident of Canada but he failed to say where he had moved. Surprise. The email source indicated that the post was sent from the Middle East.

Originally, Armoyan reportedly fled from Florida to Canada because a court had sentenced him to 60 days in jail for failing to obey a child support court order.

groceriesThe greed of the ex and the court is unrivaled, supported by the attorney of ex: “My client can’t afford groceries. She can’t afford to fly here for this hearing.” Perhaps she couldn’t afford the gas money to drive her limosine either. The bottom line? $9000 wasn’t enough for anyone. They pushed the issue and lost, putting themselves through some suffering.

To me, Mr. Armoyan is a hero. First, he’s self-employed and independent. He isn’t a slave to the court or a country. He isn’t afraid to make bold choices instead of simply caving to the state and an angry and ‘entitled’ ex-wife. Apparently, mom is a terrible money manager if she can’t manage on $108,000 a year, tax-free. The 18 and 20 year “children” should be emancipated. To the uninitiated, that means “on their own.”

court orderThe judge declared that Armoyan was guilty of “contempt of court.” Neither he, nor his attorney showed at a hearing last Friday. Doubtless, the attorney wasn’t paid to show, yet, his defiance is declared by his absence (not the attorney, he’s still kissing the ring). He “strategically and tactically” avoided payment and fled the country to avoid the unbounded greed of his ex-wife and the courts. Good for him. It’s a freakin’ gravy train against men in this part of the world.

Being in the Middle East in an unknown location in an Islamic state should be protection enough. I hope he finds a better life than being constantly stressed out by courts and a nasty ex-wife. Nobody deserves that lot.

original article

 

The Disconnect On How Child Support Laws Are Viewed & How They Work

reviewed by Moody Jim Rathbone

child support formulasThe public views court-ordered formulas calculating child support in the United States and England to be unfair, according to a study released Monday. Articles proclaim that researchers hope that this will be valuable information for policymakers dealing with family law issues. Existing child support law is not consistent with the basic application of fairness that most people have.

Here’s the kicker. The research ultimately found that the public believes child support should be adjusted higher or lower based on the mother’s income (assuming she is the custodial parent caring for the children). If you take this statement alone and at face value, the danger and disconnect here seems to be that the income of the father is ignored. Hm-m.

In some states, child support is based solely on the noncustodial parent’s income, while in others both incomes are used in the calculation with an emphasis on the noncustodial parent’s income. Each state has a set formula for judges to use in child support cases.

justice and moneyThis study used face-to-face questions and feelings about certain courtroom scenarios. Respondents were found to be three times as responsive than the law when it came to adjusting child support based on income changes of the noncustodial parent. In one hypothetical scenario, if the noncustodial parent made less than a custodial parent, the amount of child support would be lowered, by $100. In that case, the respondents reported they would actually lower the amount by $300. Judges have grown to be jaded and unfair.

The study also found that once a father was ordered to pay a certain amount, that percentage of his income should remain the same even if his income increased or decreased.

The law doesn’t pay any attention to remarriage of the custodial parent, but respondents wanted to take into account the stepparent’s income. This is also a dangerous precedent, allowing for more ravaging of real families by the state. This begins to tell me that a fair percentage of participants in this study were sympathetic, yet disconnected from the damage that child support is already doing to families.

Non-custodial parents have become targets for a state-operated racketeering and extortion operation. Increasingly, the state is proving to be the mafia, even though most of us have become conditioned to this. Is that an insane statement? Hardly. It becomes apparent when you are the target.

dad-slavery-2Child support is routinely established at levels higher than the noncustodial parent can pay. Child support is determined by judges who refer to an income table and set of guidelines. Judges do have the authority to depart from those guidelines and modify amounts depending on certain circumstances, but they must justify in writing why a case needs different treatment. This may, or may not be a problem. Yet, the difficulty of modifying court-ordered child support in situations where non-custodial parents have lost their job or had a pay cut is another shortcoming of the current system. Fear is designed to be the continued motivation for the non-custodial parent.

What the study found to be unique was that respondents agreed across many boundaries. “You get that same result no matter what — if it’s about women and men, there’s no difference. High-income people and low-income people are the same, same pattern. If they’re Democrats and Republicans, no difference,” said Ira Ellman, an author of the study and professor of psychology and law at Arizona State University. “You get this result over and over again, it’s true in the U.K. also, so that’s a powerful result, I think.”

Is this study valid in your mind? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

The Child and Family Blog

How the US Legal System Screws Poor Parents

father-child-in-prisonA system full of flawed logic that winds up hurting children more than it helps them.

by Wendy Paris

Walter Scott wasn’t just a black man in America shot by a police officer; he also was a divorced father. While debate rages about excessive use of police force, his death points to another troubling practice—the incarceration of poor parents for failing to pay child-support.

For the most part, these are not “deadbeat dads”; they’re dead broke dads. Seventy percent of unpaid child support debt is owed by parents with no or low reported earnings, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Their ex-wives often are poor, too. For these families, our punitive child support policies function like a de facto debtor’s prison for fathers. This, at a time when divorce, more broadly, has dramatically improved for many. While family scholars and journalists voice concern about a growing “marriage divide”—the way that marriage has become almost a luxury good attained by the “haves” and eschewed or effectively denied to the poor—a similar sorting is happening with divorce and co-parenting.

On the one hand, celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow seek conscious uncouplings. Upper- and middle-class couples seeking divorce in the US benefit from ever-increasing psychological, financial, and parenting resources. The law itself has improved divorce for many. New legal approaches such as mediation and collaborative counsel can make filing itself a mutually uplifting experience. These forms of “alternative dispute resolution” help adults make good decisions for everyone in the family, and steer clear of the divisive, anger-escalating spectacle of family court. Divorce can be seen as another awkward life passage, one that generates laughs, as on Bravo network’s new show The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.

kangaroo courtBut if a family finds itself in court, the system seems stacked against the poor. “Many states have two systems, one for married parents and one for poor people/welfare cases that are funneled through ‘paternity dockets’ where they barely get to say a word,” says Daniel Hatcher, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore and a prolific researcher of and advocate for child support reform. “It’s a tribunal that’s just about child-support and paternity. It’s crowded. Judges are jaded. They face huge case loads.” As the trend toward unmarried parenting continues, especially among the poor, these paternity dockets look to grow even more crowded, meting out rushed decisions to more families.

While in court, a non-custodial parent, usually the father, may have a chance to explain to a busy judge his financial situation—perhaps he’s unemployed and worried about falling behind on rent. In many states, the judge can decide that this father could be earning minimum wage, impute that income to him, and set a custody amount he must pay the mother of his child as a percentage of his potential (that is to say, fictitious) earnings.

great-child-support-incomeMaybe this obligation pushes him to scramble for a job. Perhaps it takes a few months. All the while, the child support debt has been accumulating. Now he has the monthly obligation plus back payment. (This is where the Bradley Amendment kicks in.) Some states terminate parental rights or throw a parent in jail or prison for back child support, or “non-compliance” with court orders. In South Carolina, the court can order the noncompliant father to appear to explain his delinquency, charge him $1,500 in the process, and jail him for up to a year. South Carolina is hardly an outlier. In Texas, a parent can be incarcerated even after he’s paid back his child support debt. (Texas is infamous for overcrowded courts, too. In one court in Harris County, Texas, a court master decided 500 paternity and child support cases in one day.)

Now the father is in jail; for some, like Scott, incarceration means the end of that great (or not so great) job. While in jail or prison, child support debt continues to mount in many states, some of which consider incarceration “voluntary unemployment.” In some states, you can apply for a child support modification while behind bars, but many parents do not know about this option, may find the process confusing, and may not realize their child support debt continues. Studies from a few states show that on average, a parent with a child support case enters jail or prison about $10,000 behind; he leaves owning more like $30,000. This debt is unlikely ever to be paid. The national child-support debt is more than $115 billion.

empty-pockets-robbed-court-orderIn South Carolina, if the non-custodial parent accumulates $500 in back child support while unemployed, the state can suspend or revoke his driver’s license as punishment. Say our unemployed father is a truck driver. Without his license, he’s lost his ability to work, and probably his sense of autonomy as an adult, and his willingness to cooperate with a system that’s working against him. As Scott’s brother Rodney told the New York Times, “Every job he has had, he has gotten fired from because he went to jail because he was locked up for child support. He got to the point where he felt like it defeated the purpose.”

Incarceration also prevents a parent from spending time with his children. Research from a variety of areas shows that when the non-custodial parent spends time with his children, he’s more likely to pay child support. Forty years of research on child development shows that children benefit from having a good relationship with both parents, or parent-type figures. Incarceration yanks a parent right out of a child’s life.

ebt-card-welfareIf a custodial parent—usually the mother—seeks Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, the program that replaced welfare) or food stamps, both parents are treated like bad children. The mother is required to name the father, establish paternity, and sue the father in court for support, even if they have an in-kind arrangement that’s working. The pursuit of child support can destroy relationships. The money, if he has it, often goes back to the state for supporting the brood, not to his children. Meanwhile, the dads who can’t pay may find themselves in jail or prison, unable to help mom in other ways, such as picking up the kids from school or throwing a ball around on weekends.

The logic flaw baffles the mind, and hurts the heart, especially since about half of the nation’s back child support is owed to the government. In many states, child support collected in the name of the custodial parent receiving government aid does not go to that parent. It goes to the government instead, to pay for the cost of the food stamps of TANF. “The idea is that if we’re supporting this mom, we should be able to go after the dad to recoup this cost,” says Hatcher. “The guidelines don’t really work for these welfare cases at all. Most policy is driven by discussion about cases where both parents are working, middle class families on up; you plug in both parents’ income and then transfer to the custodial parent. That doesn’t make any sense when the money goes to the government.”

How have we arrived at these anti-family policies?

captiveIn the 1980s and ‘90s, the notion of the “deadbeat dad” loomed large in the public conscious, in part because of one spectacularly flawed and widely-cited study—since retracted by its own author—that purported to show divorced mothers subsisting at a third of their former standard of living, while the fathers lived better than ever. For many custodial parents, child support is the road out of poverty. Much child support went uncollected, and enforcement policies were changed to improve the situation. Some policies worked; the Office of Child Support Enforcement today still publishes reports showing continued gains in money collected. Threat of jail was considered a good motivator for delinquent dads, and it may be in some cases.

When it comes to the poor, however, these policies can create more harm than good. Maybe some fathers refuse to pay out of spite, while some mothers actively want their children’s father behind bars, if he’s violent, for example. But as research from a variety of areas shows, most of these poor families are fragile relationships, perhaps begun while very young, both people harboring hope for a future of stability and cooperation, even reconciliation or romance.

scarlet-letter-adulteryOld ideology probably contributes to our current policies as well—a view of faltering families that’s about as enlightened as something out of The Scarlet Letter. In England, Elizabethan Poor Laws of 1601 authorized towns to sue fathers of unwed mothers to reimburse them for assistance provided to their children. Early “bastardy acts” allowed colonies to incarcerate pregnant unwed mothers to protect the state from the financial burden of the child. Today’s laws are not as different as you’d expect. Lurking underneath lies an entrenched view that fathers are the lazy enemies of their own families, and poor mothers, in some way brought this on themselves. (You see this kind of view in the comments section of a recent piece in Concurring Opinions by law professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone on the child support link in the Walter Scott affair.)

Some of the resources benefitting middle and upper-class divorcing couples help the poor, too. Technology, for example, allows those across the economic spectrum to read about their state’s laws online and access forms without shelling out for a lawyer. Courthouses around the country now have staffed self-help centers to guide pro se litigants (a.k.a. the do-it-yourself divorcees) through the paperwork. Increasingly, lawyers offer “unbundled” services, a consultation on an hourly basis. Most states have parenting classes and workshops for divorcing parents. Surveys show, and casual conversation confirms, wide satisfaction with these workshops.

Scott-police-fatal-shootingBut unmarried parents as a group get fewer resources, and if one parent sues the other in court, the kind of Orwellian child support laws that dogged Walter Scott kick in across the states. The overarching principle is the best interest of the child (a legal myth), but this aim gets subverted in policies that hurt the whole family.

There are solutions, the most promising of which take a problem-solving, rather than punitive approach. In Virginia, child support enforcement workers have begun reaching out to employers to find work for non-compliers, rather than more jail time. The state also has retooled its child support guidelines and begun launching programs aimed at helping poor fathers improve job-hunting and parenting skills. Some states have experimented with assessing child support only if a non-custodial parent has a minimum reserve of income. States, including California and Ohio, have passed statutes requiring the exercise of discretion rather than automatically referring certain child welfare cases to child support enforcement services.

In Maryland, Hatcher has worked on legislation to allow the state to automatically disable child support arrears during incarceration. This reform passed, but is not widely enforced. Hatcher notes that one stumbling block to reform is poor communication between child support enforcement and the criminal justice system.

This problem of poor communication—long the dominion of marriage counselors—is one I’ve seen repeatedly in my own research on divorce. I’d assumed that bad divorces result from a dearth of good ideas, but found instead that there are creative, humane solutions coming from a variety of states and various disciplines— and abysmal communication of them. In divorce, as in marriage, good communication may be the best way to suture a gap.

overthrow

Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat.

captiveBy his own telling, the first time Walter L. Scott went to jail for failure to pay child support, it sent his life into a tailspin. He lost what he called “the best job I ever had” when he spent two weeks in jail. Some years he paid. More recently, he had not. Two years ago, when his debt reached nearly $8,000 and he missed a court date, a warrant was issued for his arrest. By last month, the amount had more than doubled, to just over $18,000.

That warrant, his family now speculates, loomed large in Mr. Scott’s death. On April 4, he was pulled over for a broken taillight, fled on foot and, after a scuffle with a police officer, was fatally shot in the back.

The warrant, the threat of another stay behind bars and the potential loss of yet another job caused him to run, a brother, Rodney Scott, said.

Scott-police-fatal-shooting“Every job he has had, he has gotten fired from because he went to jail because he was locked up for child support,” said Mr. Scott, whose brother was working as a forklift operator when he died. “He got to the point where he felt like it defeated the purpose.”

Walter Scott’s death has focused attention not just on police violence, but also on the use of jail to pressure parents to pay child support, a policy employed by many states today. Though the threat of jail is considered an effective incentive for people who are able but unwilling to pay, many critics assert that punitive policies are trapping poor men in a cycle of debt, unemployment and imprisonment.

all about the greenbacksThe problem begins with child support orders that, at the outset, can exceed parents’ ability to pay. When parents fall short, the authorities escalate collection efforts, withholding up to 65 percent of a paycheck, seizing bank deposits and tax refunds, suspending driver’s licenses and professional licenses, and then imposing jail time.

“Parents who are truly destitute go to jail over and over again for child support debt simply because they’re poor,” said Sarah Geraghty, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed a class-action lawsuit in Georgia on behalf of parents incarcerated without legal representation for failure to pay. “We see many cases in which the person is released, they’re given three months to pay a large amount of money, and then if they can’t do that they’re tossed right back in the county jail.”

There is no national count of how many parents are incarcerated for failure to pay child support, and enforcement tactics vary from state to state, as do policies such as whether parents facing jail are given court-appointed lawyers. But in 2009, a survey in South Carolina found that one in eight inmates had been jailed for failure to pay child support. In Georgia, 3,500 parents were jailed in 2010. The Record of Hackensack, N.J., reported last year that 1,800 parents had been jailed or given ankle monitors in two New Jersey counties in 2013. (The majority of noncustodial parents nationwide are men.)

rich guyUnpaid child support became a big concern in the 1980s and ’90s as public hostility grew toward the archetypal “deadbeat dad” who lived comfortably while his children suffered. Child support collections were so spotty that in the late 1990s, new enforcement tools such as automatic paycheck deductions were used. As a result, child support collections increased significantly, and some parents rely heavily on aggressive enforcement by the authorities.

But experts said problems could arise when such tactics were used against people who had little money, and the vast majority of unpaid child support is owed by the very poor. A 2007 Urban Institute study of child support debt in nine large states found that 70 percent of the arrears were owed by people who reported less than $10,000 a year in income. They were expected to pay, on average, 83 percent of their income in child support — a percentage that declined precipitously in higher income brackets.

dollar bondageIn many jurisdictions, support orders are based not on the parent’s actual income but on “imputed income” — what they would be expected to earn if they had a full-time, minimum wage or median wage job. In South Carolina, the unemployment rate for black men is 12 percent.

The Obama administration is trying to change some of these policies, proposing to rewrite enforcement rules to require that child support orders be based on actual income and consider the “subsistence needs” of the noncustodial parent, to bar states from allowing child support debt to accrue while parents are incarcerated and to finance more job placement services for them.

“While every parent has a responsibility to support their kids to the best of their ability, the tools developed in the 1990s are designed for people who have money,” said Vicki Turetsky, the commissioner of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. “Jail is appropriate for someone who is actively hiding assets, not appropriate for someone who couldn’t pay the order in the first place.”

kangaroo courtUnder a 2011 Supreme Court ruling, courts are not supposed to jail a defendant without a specific finding that he or she has the ability to pay. But that process does not always work as intended, especially when the client does not have a lawyer, advocates for the poor say.

In the Georgia class-action case, the plaintiffs were jailed in civil contempt-of-court proceedings in which they did not have lawyers. They included three veterans — one who had paid $75,000 in child support but fell behind when he lost his civilian job because of combat-related stress and family deaths; a second who was mentally ill and had a letter from a Veterans Affairs doctor saying he was unable to work; and a third who was incarcerated despite having paid $3,796 toward his debt by working odd jobs.

But the Georgia Supreme Court ruled against them, saying they did not have a categorical right to a lawyer.

Walter Scott

Walter Scott

Walter Scott had four children, two in the early 1990s outside of marriage, and two in the late 1990s with a woman to whom he was married. The marriage crumbled when one of the children was still a toddler, and Lisa Scott, his estranged wife, began writing letters to family court asking for help.

“My husband bears no responsibility for his family,” she wrote in 2000.

In an article about a parenting program published in The Post and Courier of Charleston in 2003, Mr. Scott said that he had fallen behind when the checks he sent to a state agency for his ex-wife were mistakenly directed to the mother of his first children. (The South Carolina Department of Social Services, citing privacy laws, said it could not verify his account.)

Mr. Scott eventually spent two weeks in jail — a stint that cost him a $35,000-a-year job at a filmmaking company and sent him into isolation and alcohol abuse, he told The Post and Courier.

“I got mad at everybody in the whole world because I just lost the best job I ever had,” he said. “I just stopped doing everything.”

In 2002, Mr. Scott, further behind on his payments, agreed to participate in a parenting program called Father to Father and pay $350 a month. Mr. Scott reunited with his family, turned himself in for the unpaid child support and served another five months in jail.

burning the constitutionStill, Charleston County Family Court records show that he remained in a cycle of unpaid child support debt, stints in jail and more threats of time behind bars. The records also show that when Mr. Scott was working in 2011, $125.76 was deducted from his check each week. He paid $11,411 that year, which included a lump-sum payment. But he was behind again in July 2012, and he paid $3,500, his last recorded payment, to avoid jail. The money came from his parents, Mr. Scott’s brother Rodney said.

Rodney Scott said his brother resented that his ex-wife was not required to work and that the pressure was always on him to pay support. Critics of the child support system say this imbalance is reflected in rules that say that if a mother receives public assistance, the father must pay it back, even if he is also poor. In many cases, though not in Mr. Scott’s, child support actions are brought by state officials seeking welfare reimbursement.

Lisa Scott could not be reached at addresses or phone numbers listed in her name. Samantha Scott, a daughter from Mr. Scott’s first relationship, said she had never heard her own mother complain about a lack of support. “If he had money, he would give it to us,” she said.

Ms. Turetsky, the head of the federal child support office, said the system should be based on the expectation that both parents would contribute toward their children’s needs. “It’s nuts,” she said of the policy of making destitute fathers repay welfare. “She gets the assistance; he gets charged with the bill.”

image of dadJahmal Holmes, 28, is a current participant in the Father to Father program in North Charleston. He has two children, 4 and 8, and said he had agreed to court-ordered child support because he had been told that it was a requirement for their mother to receive Medicaid. The two have since broken up and share custody of the younger child, but he is still required to pay support for both.

Mr. Holmes said he did not realize that if he fell behind on payments, he would face jail. “I am behind now, and they are threatening to suspend my driver’s license — and I’m a truck driver,” he said. “When I saw that Walter Scott died, and he was in this program, that touched me emotionally. I see myself trying to get out of that situation.”

Scott-happier-timesRodney Scott said that he sometimes thought his brother did not do everything he could to catch up, but that Walter seemed to consider it a hopeless cause. He recalled seeing his brother plead to a judge that he just did not make enough money.

“He asked the judge, ‘How am I supposed to live?’ ” Mr. Scott said. “And the judge said something like, ‘That’s your problem. You figure it out.’ ”

overthrow

The Fairness of Paternity Fraud

by Diane Dimond

kangaroo courtThere is a lot of unfairness in the world. The American justice system stands ready to counter that, right?

Not so fast.

When it comes to men and allegations of paternity, women have a decidedly upper hand. Whatever the woman claims in court most often becomes fact. And once a court has ruled on paternity and established child support, it can be next to impossible to change — even if a DNA test excludes the man from any possibility of parenthood.

Across the country, men of all ages, colors and social statuses have been ordered by family courts to pay child support for children that aren’t theirs.

dna test

In one infamous case in New Mexico, a man shelled out years of support for a daughter who never actually existed. His deceitful ex-wife simply told the court there was such a child, and no proof was ever requested.

Some victims of paternity fraud find out the truth while they are still married. In Michigan, Murray Davis discovered that two of his three children were actually fathered by his best friend. But by that time, the kids were nearly teenagers, well past the legal deadline for Davis to contest paternity in that state.

Carnell Smith, of Atlanta, Georgia, discovered that the daughter he’d been raising with his girlfriend wasn’t his. But the courts didn’t want to hear it. Smith was stuck. Like Davis, this falsely identified “father” began to lobby for changes in his state’s law.

Smith started a group called U.S. Citizens Against Paternity Fraud and got Georgia to join Ohio in being one of only two states that allow an unlimited time for a man to challenge paternity as long as the child support case is open.

Many states require a man to file a challenge before the child’s third birthday. The federal law gives a man just 60 days.

chronic-stress“That’s pretzel logic, isn’t it?” Smith asked me. “Don’t tell a man the truth, and then penalize him for not correcting the record fast enough. Some men don’t realize what’s happened,” Smith said, “until they are under water with child support payments and then have no money to pay an attorney to fight for them.”

Also working against the wronged man is the Bradley Amendment, a federal law that prohibits state judges from retroactively modifying child support orders.

None of it sounds fair, does it? But it happens all the time. Judicial reasoning ranges from, “it’s in the best interest of the child,” to, “he didn’t challenge the paternity claim immediately.”

Carnell Alexander of Detroit has been under a court-ordered cloud for nearly 30 years.

graft and corruption doctorIn 1987, his ex-girlfriend applied for welfare to support her new baby. She put Alexander’s name down as the father even though he wasn’t. A process server swore he served Alexander with papers demanding he appear in court, so when Alexander didn’t show up, he was declared a “deadbeat dad.”

Truth is, Alexander was never notified. He was in prison at the time on an unrelated charge stemming from a youthful crime. He didn’t find out about his problem until a traffic stop in 1991.

The mother in question now admits, “Everything is my fault.” She told a Detroit TV station, “He shouldn’t have to pay it at all. I want everything to go away for him so he can get on with his life.”

Despite the mother’s lies to the state, despite a definitive DNA test excluding Alexander as the father, he still owes $30,000 in support for, as he puts it, “A child that I did not father … that I was not involved in raising.” He adds, “It is not fair.”

There’s that phrase again. It is not fair.

baby moneyMurray Davis, who established the National Family Justice Association after his painful experience, says Alexander, “Is only one among tens of thousands in this state and possibly hundreds of thousands or millions around the nation who are victims of this abhorrent crime of paternity fraud.”

Fair seems rare in these cases, but a creative-thinking judge in Virginia found a way around that pesky Bradley Amendment. He ruled that a defrauded man who still legally owed $23,000 in back child support could pay it off at a rate of one dollar a year — for 1, 917 years! You gotta love that.

This kind of fraud happens to young men going off to college, to soldiers going overseas, to men of all ages and occupations. And it ruins lives. Biological children of the falsely identified, new wives, grandparents and others are all profoundly affected by paternity fraud.

Having the best interest of a child in mind is knowing the child’s lineage and medical history. The best interest of society is to have a respected family court that is fair to all.

DNA tests cost about $30 these days. It’s time for automatic court-ordered DNA testing in all child-support cases.

overthrow

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