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Tennessee Struggles With Child Support Debt

justice and moneyMothers who make no effort to identify father of their children could have a cap on the number of years in which they can go back and seek child support.

“We’re asking the legislature to consider allowing a law that says you can’t go back any more than five years,” 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson said.

Johnson said his office collected $8.173 million in child support during the 2014-15 fiscal year and led the state in establishing orders in cases.

An inability to pay is a problem many defendants run into, according to Johnson.

“What’s happening is these dads, usually dads, sometimes mothers, owe tens of thousands of dollars in child support going back 18 years at some point,” Johnson said. “They’ll never get it paid.”

To convey his point, Johnson’s office looked at the number of inmates in the Roane County Jail with child support issues as of Dec. 1.

Two were in custody on a child support hold only, and another 10 were in jail with criminal and child support holds.

The total child support arrearages for those 12 inmates was $343,210.54.

“Right now, you place a child support amount from birth until 18,” Johnson said. “In a lot of cases, most of these are not typically just people coming out of divorce with kids. They are people who have had kids out of wedlock, which is a common thing.”

Johnson’s office handles cases free of charge in Magistrate Charles Crass’ court for custodial parents who have either a divorce decree or court order requiring someone to pay child support.

“The court and the state can’t relieve you of paying the child support,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be there forever. Judge Crass just can’t say well that’s OK, don’t worry about that $20,000.”

A law that puts a cap on the number of years a person can go back to seek child support could force parents to take advantage of their rights sooner.

“You’ve got to immediately file something for paternity and get that going and get that person identified,” Johnson said. “You can’t wait until right before the child is about to turn 18 and go back and say, ‘hey, John Doe, you’re the father of my child, let’s have a DNA test and prove it, and now you’re owing 18 years of child support you didn’t know about’.”

The next session of the Tennessee General Assembly starts in January.

“That’s something the legislature is going to look at,” Johnson said.

If that happens, Johnson said it could also cause the legislature to look at some of the problems the court system is having with defendants who can’t pay their fines and court costs in criminal cases.

original article at Roane County News

While states struggle with their child support issues, the federal government takes support from any available source, including social security and tax offices. Men continue to be cut down by unconstitutional and cruel law like the Bradley Amendment, which prohibits any retroactive change in child support.

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Child Support Needs to Catch Up to Reality

By Ruth Graham

dad-with-kidsONE KIND OF FAMILY is the one in an old greeting-card picture: two parents, one or more kids, all under one roof.

But another kind of family has become more and more common over the last several decades. We tend to call it “single parenting,” but it is really better described as an unmarried mother and father living apart, their children, and the government whose laws regulate their relationship.

That set of laws is the child-support system, and it covers 17 million American children—about a quarter of them. But that system is nearly 40 years old, established during a different economy, and built on an old model where the mother was the caretaker and the father simply brought home the bacon. Today, a group of critics is saying the system needs an update, not only to be fair to adults but to avoid hurting the children whose interests it is supposed to serve.

These critics are particularly focused on the role of fathers, who make up the vast majority of noncustodial parents. Fathers are overwhelmingly the target of the current system’s narrow focus on collection and enforcement. And for middle-class and high-income men, it may make sense to require simply that they pay up or else.

But 29 percent of families in the system have income below the federal poverty line, and many more have great trouble making ends meet. Since the system was first put in place, out-of-wedlock births have become less stigmatized and more common, while devastating wage stagnation has hit male workers. As a result, there are legions of low-income fathers far less able to hold up their end of the deal. They may find themselves unable to pay child support, and yet caught in a system that expects nothing else from them.

“Child support is a remnant of the days when we used to think that dads didn’t matter,” said Kathryn Edin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University who has spent years researching the ways poor American men cope with unmarried parenting. “With our right hand we’ve pushed these men away; we’ve said, ‘You’re worthless.’ With our left hand we’re picking his pocket….That’s how it feels to him.”

Today, Edin is one of a growing number of academics and policy makers looking at struggling families in the 21st century and concluding that the child-support system needs to do better. They envision a system that would more closely link providing and parenting, and would take a more pragmatic view toward the ability of disenfranchised men to come up with money they simply don’t have, while still benefiting the children the system is designed to serve. What exactly would that look like—and what would it take to make it a reality?

If forced to choose between child-support payments and buying diapers and winter coats, many fathers will go for the option that looks more like parenting than taxation.

THE CHILD-SUPPORT SYSTEM as we know it dates to the 1970s. It was originally a bipartisan policy reform, designed primarily to serve a population of parents who were divorced and steadily employed. Divorce meant there had been a marriage in the first place, and that custody agreements had likely been worked out. Steady employment meant the system could garnish wages directly from a parent’s paycheck if necessary.

Today, however, the lives of many low-income parents look dramatically different. Marriage rates among the poor have plummeted, so there often is no divorce to provide a formal structure for parents’ responsibilities. And employment prospects for men with low education are dismal. “We have a 1970s narrative about a 2010s reality,” Edin said.

hillary-clintonA central character in that narrative is the “deadbeat dad,” a figure who emerged in American culture in the 1980s. One moment served as a catalyst: In 1986, Bill Moyers interviewed a New Jersey father of six named Timothy McSeed for a CBS report titled “The Vanishing Family: Crisis in Black America.” McSeed bragged on camera about his “strong sperm,” and cheerfully admitted he didn’t support any of his children financially because “I’m not doing what the government does.” Editorial columnists seized on the shocking interview, and the segment went viral in a time when that meant more than a few easy clicks: Requests for the tape poured into CBS, including an order for all 7,500 schools in the California public school system. CBS News said it was the largest-ever demand for one of its products.

With this cartoonish bogeyman looming over the cultural and political landscape, the child-support system focused on collection and enforcement. Shortly afterward, Congress passed a law forcing states to be stricter about collecting past child-support debts. The approach was bolstered intellectually by a 1979 book by a University of Michigan law professor, “Making Fathers Pay,” which argued that aggressive enforcement measures, including incarceration, could corral deadbeats into complying with child-support orders. In 1996, President Clinton’s welfare reform act again strengthened the government’s enforcement powers against noncustodial parents.

There have always been, and will always be, some fathers who are not interested in fathering, and who would never help out if the law didn’t force them to. But recent research by sociologists and others who work with low-income fathers suggests that is far from typical. For their poignant 2013 book “Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City,” Edin and coauthor Timothy Nelson conducted wide-ranging interviews with 110 low-income fathers in and around Philadelphia over the course of seven years. They found the majority of men were thrilled to become fathers, even though the pregnancies were rarely planned and their romantic relationships and employment situations were often unstable.

Overwhelmingly, Edin and other sociologists have reported, 21st-century fathers do intend to provide for their children. Many of them fail, in the financial sense. But what Edin found, encouragingly, is that with few opportunities to succeed financially, many have crafted new definitions of what exactly it means to be a good father: emotional availability, consistent commitment, and direct fulfillment of their children’s concrete needs and desires. As one father told Edin, “That’s what kept me going in prison, knowing that I had to come out and be there for them.” Although low-income fathers remain much less studied than mothers, other researchers have found similar enthusiasm for parenting. In her 2002 book, “My Baby’s Father: Unmarried Parents and Paternal Responsibility,” Maureen Waller, an associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell University, interviewed both men and women who agreed that a father’s economic support was necessary but insufficient to qualify him as a good parent.

If forced to choose between child-support payments and buying diapers and winter coats, many fathers will go for the option that looks more like parenting than taxation. That may be particularly true in cases where a mother is on welfare, because then the father’s child-support payment typically goes directly to the state, sometimes with a token amount “passed through” to the mother and child. “Dads talk about that conundrum,” said Ronald Mincy, a professor of social work at Columbia University and coauthor of the forthcoming book “Failing Our Fathers: Confronting the Crisis of Economically Vulnerable Nonresident Fathers.” “They have to choose between meeting the formal order on the one hand and meeting the child’s informal needs.” If they choose the latter, they become “deadbeats” in the eyes of the law.

Yet researchers say that both mothers and fathers tend to prefer informal agreements, all things considered. If their relationship crumbles—trust is often low to begin with—or if the father gets distracted by a new family, informal agreements can disintegrate, so the formal child-support system is a crucial safety net for mothers and children. But it’s also a system that can alienate fathers from their children, sometimes by literally putting them in jail. Even the burden of debt can be enough to drive a wedge: Waller’s ongoing research suggests that men with outstanding child-support debts have less contact and involvement with their children.

Though mothers undoubtedly have benefited from the child-support system, there’s also a case to be made that they are its victims in a way, too. Unlike parents themselves, the formal system assumes that the custodial parent is the only one with real authority. “If we give in to the notion that the mom ‘owns’ the child, if that’s the default position, then the mom is also responsible for the child,” Edin said. “Moms just end up holding the bag for everything, and men are cast out of society. That is a very bad deal for women.”

OVER THE YEARS, the child support system has improved in one measurable way: enforcement. “The reach of the child-support program, it’s stronger than the IRS in some ways,” said Jessica Pearson, who directs the Center for Policy Research and has been studying child-support policy since the 1980s. The Federal Parent Locator Service draws on national databases to track down noncustodial parents and enforce payments; in fiscal year 2013, state (and tribal) programs collected $32 billion in child support, and the amount distributed has been steadily rising for years.

That’s good news for the families who have received this money. But more than $100 billion in child-support payments are still in arrears, and research suggests that most of that is essentially uncollectible because the fathers simply do not have the money. (About a quarter of that money is owed to the government.)

Would a more enlightened system—one focused less on enforcement, and more on involvement—do a better job of keeping eager fathers involved with their children? If so, it would mean broadening the state’s approach from one that is primarily punitive to one that works with fathers, presuming that most of them want to be good parents.

Some small signs of progress seem to be on the horizon. Last month, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement began circulating a 41-page list of proposed new regulations to modernize the child-support program. (Child support programs are administered by states, but the federal government influences state policy and how it is implemented.) The new rules would make changes like allowing states to spend federal child-support dollars on employment and training programs for fathers. Crucially, they also encourage states to take into account a man’s basic cost of living before making child-support calculations.

Scholars who work with low-income families all have their own favorite ways they would like to see the system change. Waller mentions limiting retroactive debts and revising policies on how states handle interest payments. Mincy would like to see the Earned Income Tax Credit extended more generously to noncustodial parents. Job training for fathers is another big focus: Small studies in New York and Texas have shown that if the state provides training for men who haven’t been able to pay child support, they are likelier to begin to comply. And almost everyone laments the fact that some states treat incarceration as “voluntary unemployment,” so child-support debts often balloon while men are in prison.

Experts also have ambitious ideas about how the system could help incorporate fathers into the lives of their children. Some would like to connect child-support and visitation agreements for never-married parents, the way that divorce court does. Some jurisdictions have experimented with versions of “coparenting court” to help unmarried parents negotiate a more complex agreement that covers more than just check-writing.

And language matters, too. Edin bemoans the widespread use of the term “single mother,” and the way that many government poverty programs are oriented solely around mothers and children. In fact, mothers who are truly single are vanishingly rare: In one way or another, fathers and boyfriends are almost always integral parts of the picture, and those relationships are assets we would do better to strengthen than ignore. She’d like to see researchers and policy makers adopt another phrase, one she hopes would remind us how many lives are at stake in all these arrangements. The term she prefers: “Complex fragile family.”

Changes Needed In The Child Support System

obamas new dealWhy is the child support system set up the way it is? It seems that child support enforcement is more of a punishment for the fathers/mothers that do what they can and the biggest victims are the children.

Fathers are subjected to their income counted and not what expenses they may have. I have read and seen where fathers have to live with relatives or even sleep in their cars to ensure that the support is paid; even the “judges” tell the fathers they need to go live with someone and give up many things that they need or want to do.

parental alienationNoncustodial parents are subjected to jail time, licenses are being suspended and they are being treated like trash by the court system.  Why has there not been any change to this system and why are the custodial parents subjected to needing to report a job source or income changes like the other parent. Nor do they have to provide proof of what the money was sent on.

Yes, I am a mother that receives child support and I feel that these changes are needed to benefit the relationships of the parents and the children.

Fathers do not have a voice when it comes to anything.  If he falls short to pay the full amount he is subject to jail time; if the father loses his job he may not be able to get a reduction.  If a father can not see his children due to having to work full time all the time, no one care.

Something needs to be done to change this.

Lynesha Lake
Chattanooga

overthrow

Single Mothers Often the Chief Child Abuser

by Jim Hays

stress single motherNY District Attorney Kate Hogan states, “Often, the most serious cases occur at the hands of men who have no biological and emotional connection to a child, many times the child’s mother’s boyfriend.”

Unfortunately, this quote is taken out of context, for it fails to identify who abuses and neglects children most, the family makeup and relationship to the child, and how these children end up under the hand of the single mother and mother’s boyfriend. So let’s look at the whole story.

The 2010 Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4) once again shows the greatest incidence of child abuse and neglect is perpetrated by “single” mothers (not living with the biological father), followed by abuse and neglect caused by live-in boyfriends.

The NIS-4 executive summary states “Children living with their married biological parents universally had the lowest rate, whereas those living with a single parent who had a cohabiting partner in the household had the highest rate in all maltreatment categories.”

While the study speaks of single parents, we have a default mother custody rate of more than 85 percent in our family courts in this nation, including here in New York state. So it is single-mother homes with a live-in boyfriend where we have the highest threat of abuse and neglect for children.

Before we can blame the sex of the parent in these single-parent homes, we need to look at how we got so many single mothers with boyfriend homes in the first place. And here, the fact of the matter is that it is the biases of Family Court judges to award sole custody to the mother in more than 85 percent of cases, which removes the parental rights of the father without cause, limits the fathers access to minimal times, and provides no enforcement for interference with the father’s access to his children by the mother or others.

The No. 1 reason a father doesn’t spend more time with his children is the limitations of a court order. No. 2 two is prevention of access by the mother, 50 percent of whom admit to interfering with the father’s access with impunity. This is combined with a system that ignores and dismisses the complaints of a father about abuse or neglect of his child as vindictive before a proper investigation of the facts.

If we look at the best situation for children, we see that not only do children having married biological parents in the home have the lowest abuse and neglect rates, this is followed by unmarried biological parents and then children with biological parents living apart but involved (caparisoning or shared parenting).

Inversely, single mother with mother’s boyfriends and then single-parent homes have the most abuse and neglect of children.

So it is easy to see that in speaking about healthy outcomes of children, DA Hogan is off the mark.

If she wants to do something to protect children, she and her fellow DAs could enforce violations of custody orders just like protection orders and child support orders, with criminal charges for blatant violators.

Then, I suggest she get the book written by the late David Levy of the Children’s Rights Council which summed up the solution to negative child outcomes in the title: “The Best Parent is BOTH Parents.”

A Message to Women: Women, Entitlement & Unhappiness

sick womanUnhappiness is growing like a festering sore in one segment of American society and the media is taking notice. (Surprise) Who is it? It’s women. According to study after study, women across the globe are becoming more and more unhappy. Considering all the gains and power that women have made over the last five decades, a vexing question comes to mind: What in the world is going on with women? One thing is certain, many of them are coming after their men, breaking up families and destroying lives. They are encouraged to do so.

The happiness of women is trending downward as studied in a report by the Wharton School in Pennsylvania. Women have secured greater opportunity, greater achievement, greater influence and control and more money. The decline in their collective state of mind seems to defy logic on all levels.

Since 1972, the U.S. General Social Survey has asked men and women what would seem to be a very simple question: “How happy are you, on a scale of 1 to 3?” The survey includes a representative sample of men and women of all ages, education levels, income levels, and marital status. 1,500 yearly were surveyed for a total of almost 50,000 individuals today. What is revealed?

The drop in happiness is expansive.  The unhappiness remains whether they have kids, how many kids they have, how much money they make, how healthy they are, what job they hold, whether they are married, single or divorced, how old they are, or what race they are. The truth is that women are so unhappy because they continue to focus exclusively on themselves. Women have been trained to think that they can and should have it all without apology. Women are being manipulated by those with an agenda under false pretense in a massive power grab.

Why are women important to media, advocacy and government? “It’s not about you stupid!” It’s all about power and influence and it isn’t yours. The problem is that you believe what you are being told and have decided that it is time that “you get yours”. You are being led down the garden path!

free lunchYou need to think beyond yourself. Chances are, you are just as abused by the world system as your man. So why are you taking everything out on him if he is an otherwise decent fellow? Instead of kicking your partner (partner in crime) in the teeth, rebel against the insanity of the system. Get a new life and get out of your trap, but take care of the ones you love or need to love instead of destroying everyone around you.  If you are in a relationship that works, you need to realize that government agenda and entitlement is not really on your side. There is no free lunch. You are being manipulated. You are being convinced that thinking only about yourself, your private parts or your money is the best thing for you on all levels.

Whatever the case, you need to stop feeling entitled and look closer at that “free lunch”. Anyone that offers you anything that destroys your family or beleaguers your kids will cost you dearly sooner or later. Remember… this is all about money and power. In the end, you will not have the power you think you do…and neither does government. When the people get tired of abuse, things happen. Look at history. Don’t assume that any institution will last forever because in the world of history, no agenda is truly forever.

The family will survive. Be a part of that. Wake up and change your life without destroying your family.

Man Receives Judgment for Child Support

Judge David Roper said he felt bad for Kenneth Samuels when he learned the child he had fathered for 11 years wasn’t his. Last month, Judge Roper ruled that Jamie Hope, the child’s mother, and Oba Wallace, the child’s biological father, would have to repay Mr. Samuels $14,460 in child support he had paid since 1997.

article

Apparently, Mr. Samuels managed to keep his child support current and was able to afford an attorney to reverse the 11-year judgment. Unfortunately, his legal fees will probably eat up most of the judgment. Now he will receive a judgment against the other parents that he may or may not be able to collect. At least one man is free from the system wrongly accused by what was his past conduct and circumstances. Is all of this poetic justice against the “hoes” of the world? Hardly.

Now the child’s mother and real father are subject to same Bradley debt if they don’t pay this judgment off or fall behind in payment for any reason. The Bradley Amendment provisions that every bank record in the United States will be combed for violators, a violation of public privacy of every American. The debt can never be forgiven or altered per federal law and is subject to be used against the “violator of the law”.

Will Mr. Samuels actually be afforded the same “protections” of the federal Bradley Amendment? That is largely unknown. This is child support debt and therefore qualifies as Bradley debt should the payees fall behind. Do the parents of this child deserve to be threatened by the Bradley Amendment like the presumed father? Should any American be subject to a threatening and menacing federal child support collection law? Did I forget to mention that the Bradley Amendment is unconstitutional as well? Are these parents and presumed parents guaranteed equal protection under the law? Obviously not. That makes the law unconstitutional as well.

The Power to Tax

Ronald Henry wrote an article that needs to be heartily considered. I urge all people interested in this topic to read it. The link is below.

Ronald Henry Article

I have seen some parents who refuse to pay child support even though they have plenty of money to do so . . . However, I have seen far more parents who are ordered to pay child support who pay some support but not all they are ordered to pay. Many of these parents are engaged in a financial struggle that they cannot win. These are the working poor.” (Hon. Anne Kass, Presiding Family Judge, Albuquerque, New Mexico, District Court)

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