A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Posts tagged ‘non-custodial parent’

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

Taxpayers Pay for Road Signs to Shame ‘Deadbeats’

by Moody Jim Rathbone

empty road signIf you are a non-custodial parent, you’ve probably heard it before. When you find yourself behind in child support you are automatically labeled a deadbeat by certain authorities and those with an axe to grind. After all, they are ‘entitled’ to your cash any way they can get it.

Nationally, some ‘public officers’ have taken it on themselves to disgrace the public ‘deadbeats’ in their jurisdiction at your expense. In a new program, those in Northumberland County Pennsylvania are likely to find their faces on a billboards. The county may lease four billboards for $700 a year and post photos to shame those who owe the courts nearly $20 million in fines and child support. Commissioner Vinny Clausi loves the idea.

commissioner_clausi“I am 100 percent supporting this. These guys have been doing everything they can to collect this money. We have tried for years to get these people to pay, and I believe that the efforts between the cost collections team and the constant pressure the group is applying to the deadbeats who refuse to pay is something we need in this county.”

You remember who is paying for the signs, regardless of any perceived return on investment. The taxpayer is paying for the signs. Regardless of whether it comes from federal money or state money, they are pulling it from the tax base somewhere. This is because corporate government supposedly doesn’t make any money, even though this is a cultural lie. Corporate government is all about making money since virtually all government offices and courts are incorporated. They make money, even when they don’t. That is why they believe they can afford billboards with the intent of shaming local residents into submission.

all about the greenbacksJust remember, regardless of what Vinny and others in ‘public service’ say, taxpayer money is being used to fund the venture for a measure that is Constitutionally illegal. Due process has been vacated. No matter. Child support law is unconstitutional, but Federal family law statute has overcome that. Officials believe it is their God-given right to oppress those that owe them – publicly, and at your expense. This is also at the expense of your grandchildren as well, since the nation is running a budget deficit. That’s just good business. Right?

Technically, Vinny and his ilk are the deadbeats.

People with outstanding warrants can avoid arrest or jail for failure to pay child support if they surrender, court officials say in Pennsylvania. The amnesty program will not forgive outstanding child support, but will give parents a chance to make arrangements to pay what they owe.  Some amnesty. It’s illegal and lawful. How’s that for American jurisprudence?

overthrow

Justice: Man Pays Support Despite Negative DNA Test

by Moody Jim Rathbone

Carson - victim of exploit and abuseIt’s a cruel injustice. To the State of Texas, this just regular business. So it goes with Federal Law as well, an underlying culprit that denies the Constitution of the United States, like many other laws and statutes in the last fifty years. The Attorney General of Texas is also to blame, spearheading this and other cases like it as one of the most unfriendly states to ‘non-custodial parents.’

“I’ve never seen the child. I never spoke to the child. I don’t know what the child looks like,” says Willie Carson, a resident of Texas. The State of Texas and the woman that bore the child still took the money. The sociopath that is state authority is happy to have its’ needs met, as the real beneficiary behind the scenes. As long as a child is supported, justice means nothing. Mr. Carson’s paycheck has been garnished for almost 13-years and he’s now behind in payments by $21,000.

Mr. Carson has been forced to pay for a child, even when DNA proves the child is not his. The DNA test results indicate a 0.00% probability of paternity. Mr. Carson isn’t the father of the 13-year old girl in question. The whores of state and mother have prevailed for 13 years.

He has paid thousands in child support for the girl, simply because the mother initially named him as her baby’s father, as if a birth certificate and the word of a woman is king. That is because the State has made it so, plus the fraudulent action of someone that has the morality of a whore. What else could explain it? Or you could simply chalk this up to a mistake all around, started by the mother of the child in question.

Carson has battled this case in court for years, and struggles financially because of it. The attorneys and the court system continues to win while an ordinary man struggles and suffers.

“There were days that I didn’t eat. I went without electricity.”

The girl’s mom reportedly sent a letter to the court specifying that he isn’t her daughter’s dad and shouldn’t be required to pay. That hasn’t stopped her from accepting the money, nor the state from extracting it.

all about the greenbacksRecently Carson received a letter stating his 401k funds are no longer frozen, and that he no longer is required to pay child support. Carson is due back in court, where he’s hoping this 13 year fight will finally be over.

This struggle happens so often that the issue is among the Texas Attorney General’s office ‘frequently asked questions.’ According to the attorney general, even after dismissing a mistaken dad’s duty to pay child support, he is ‘still responsible for arrears,’ or any back money owed. That’s the insanity of the Bradley Amendment. Even when the whores finally get it right, the situation created by the Feds is all wrong.

The Bradley Amendment, sponsored by Bill Bradley to garner some votes, must be repealed. You can’t free a nation from whoredom, but you can free a nation from tyranny.

Bias Against Fathers in U.S. Custody & Child Support

by Dalrock

kangaroo courtWe all know the system is biased against fathers, but the actual data is important when discussing this with those who are skeptical. “It can’t be that bad, can it?”  Here is the data I pulled together from Table 1 in the latest US Census Bureau report on the topic, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2007

All of the steps of the process are biased against men except the percentage of support due which is collected (the two are roughly equal).

It starts with who is granted custody:

custody_breakdown_sex

For those few fathers granted custody, they are less likely than mothers who are granted custody to be awarded support:

perc_cust_parents_awarded_support

 

For those few fathers who are awarded support, they are awarded less on average than mothers who are awarded support:

avg_support_due_by_sex

 

The percent collected is the only area where there isn’t a clear bias against fathers.  This looks to be a wash:

perc_support_due_recvd

 

However due to the bias in the amount awarded, the average amount received by fathers (per year) is still lower:

avg_child_support_rcvd_by_sex

 

When I shared this data on my own blog, several of the commenters were surprised at how low the average yearly support amount was.  Commenter Clarence shed some light on this based on his work experience in the area*:

I used to work as a temp (for almost a year and a half) for a child support agency in a large city. I was data entry, so pretty much every case they did in the office went through me. Now things might have changed since then, but when I left they were just getting the ability to garnish licenses. What I experienced with the data I entered was this : most of the cases were from single mothers where the father was either unemployed, part-time employed or employed at minimum wage. Such men got very low orders, somewhere around 25 dollars per week. About 30 percent of the cases were middle class or above, usually earning at least 15 an hour. These men were getting socked with child support of at least 700 per month and, most commonly, support orders of around 1400 per month.

Yeah, that 70 percent skews the data a lot.

 

As a result of all of these biases against fathers, the percentage of all child support dollars paid is extremely biased. Roughly 90% of all child support dollars received are received by mothers:

perc_child_support_dollars_by_sex

 

Looking at the figures for 2007, it appears to me that there may be a sampling anomaly.  The percentage of custodial mothers awarded support dropped by 4% between 2005 and 2007.  This is 3% lower than any other year in the series.  I’m not aware of any sweeping changes which occurred in this time frame, and since parents receive child support for between 18 and 21 years it seems highly unlikely that the makeup of the population would change this much in just 2 years. I’m also not sure why they don’t have data beyond 2007.  Since they publish this every other year they should have data out for at least 2009. Once they publish the 2009 and 2011 data we will have a better understanding of if the 2007 data shows a trend towards slightly less bias against fathers or if it was in fact a sampling error.

perc_cust_parents_awarded_support

*Clarence’s experience makes sense, as Table 2 shows that 47.6% of all custodial parents with support agreements in 2007 were on public assistance. In these cases the state is generally the recipient of the child support payment, although some states do pass $50 a month or a similar token amount on to the parent. This also shows up in the numbers, as only 27% of custodial parents who stated they were due support payments in 2007 were on public assistance. Those parents who didn’t receive anything aren’t included in the average figures reported by the Census, but those who received $50 are.

Unemployment, Child Support & Bradley Law

illegal-court-enforcementThe evolving economic reality in the U.S. combined the increasing role of government has created a disaster for unemployed non-custodial parents.

Unemployment, Child Support & Bradley Law on Associated Content.

Barack Obama Attacks Non-Custodial Parents

Senators say men must take responsibility for raising their children.

Back on Father’s Day, Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama made what was supposed to be inflammatory comments against absentee fathers, notably African-American ones. Barack Obama, like many Democrats, seems to have plenty on his mind that he isn’t saying clearly.

Democrats are sponsoring an effort through Senators Barack Obama and Evan Bayh to intensify child support enforcement. On the surface, this appears to be a good idea. However, what is not said is that major areas of child support law are absolutely unconstitutional, sponsored by Democrats and others as far back as the Bradley Amendment in the 1980s. None of the federal law has been repealed.

The country has a national epidemic of absentee fathers. This much may be true as statistics reveal, but Senators are looking at a symptom rather than a cause. However, creative Democrats have designed “The Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2007 as their latest social engineering effort.

The legislation claims to offer support for fathers trying to do the right thing while cracking down on men that avoid “parental responsibility”. The bill is designed to provide fathers with “innovative job training” and other nameless economic opportunities while using a typical social engineering tool called the “Earned Income Tax Credit.” Hillary Clinton favored the same kind of tactics. The idea is to “help” non-custodial parents to support their families.

Combined with the unconstitutional Bradley Amendment and other similarly-styled state laws, the idea is designed to encourage the idea of outright slavery to government authority in the name of doing the right thing because, after all, the government is always there to help honest men. The track record of politicians since the Clinton presidential daze has proved otherwise as feminists took advantage of opportunities to oppress men in the name of child law, welfare reform and rightful propriety.

The “Bayh-Obama legislation” is designed to strengthen violence prevention services, once again looking at symptoms rather than causes. The proposed law is supposed to ensure that money paid for child support goes “directly to children and their mothers”, without loss of food assistance for eligible families. The same old stinking thinking that mothers are without cause in the whole process of divorce and child-rearing is offensive. The fact that politicians want to green-stamp domestic violence by supporting negative parental attitudes, including sexual immorality is even more reprehensible. Women and men are not saints and law needs to stop treating them like saints.

Senator Evan Bayh stated, “Fatherlessness is an issue many politicians would prefer to avoid, but elected officials have a moral obligation not to sit idly by while communities crumble because of the epidemic of absentee fathers. I am not naïve enough to believe that government alone can solve this problem, but together we can play a constructive role in crafting policies that attack the root causes of this epidemic.” Unfortunately, government tactics of the past have not and do not encourage family-building, but rather societal destruction.

It can be argued that the welfare system and even child support measures are a wonderful thing for many. However, the cost to the country cannot be unconstitutional state and federal laws that are supported by politicians. For example, the federal Bradley Amendment along with a flotilla of state laws that support the violation of a number of Constitutional Rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Currently these Constitutional Rights are actively violated as well as other civil rights:

1. violation of due process under the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments
2. deprives equal protection under the law
3. violation of state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment
4. violation of natural human rights under the 9th Amendment

In a typical multi-pronged attack, the U.S. House of Representatives has companion legislation that is being introduced by Democrats Julia Carson and Danny Davis. Earmark spending is certain to follow as the legislation is crafted and agreed upon between the two legislative bodies.

Last year, Congress passed legislation based on a proposal introduced by Senator Bayh that provided up to $50 million each year for the next five years in funding for responsible fatherhood programs nationwide as part of a spending reconciliation bill to prepare for future legislation that is on the board now.

Does this political scene sound like the new politics of hope to you?

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