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Posts tagged ‘unemployment’

Some States Are Cutting Poor Dads A Deal On Unpaid Child Support

child support shacklesMany states have opted for oppression when it comes down to child support debt. A few wiser minds are prevailing in a few places. When the state of Maryland wanted to reach dads who were behind on their child support payments, it started in the boarded-up blocks of West Baltimore, in neighborhoods marked by drugs, violence and unemployment.

In just four zip code areas, the state identified 4,642 people who owed more than $30 million in back child support. Most of that was “state-owed,” meaning that rather than going to the child through the custodial parent, it’s supposed to reimburse taxpayers for welfare paid to the child’s mother.

This is a source of great resentment for many men, who say they want their money to go to their children. But most who owe it can’t pay anyway, as they earn less than $10,000 a year.

slavery to children“So even if we use taxpayer dollars to chase ’em down, and we catch ’em, right, and we go into their pockets, there’s nothing in there,” says Joe Jones of Baltimore’s Center for Urban Families.

Are they deadbeat?

Joseph DiPrimio, head of Maryland’s child support enforcement office, doesn’t like that expression. “I think that’s vulgar. I don’t use it,” he says. DiPrimio prefers “dead broke.”

“We’re talking about individuals that are economically challenged, they’re underemployed, but they want to do the right thing,” he says.

Unpaid child support in the U.S. has climbed to $113 billion, and enforcement agencies have given up on collecting much of it. They say too many men simply don’t have the money.

What’s more, research shows that high child-support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.

Breaking Through The Distrust

ecard father bradley amdLike a growing number of state government officials, Maryland’s DiPrimio wanted to make parents an offer. But he needed their trust, and that was a problem.

Research shows high child support debt can leave parents feeling so hopeless that they give up trying to pay it.

And sting operations to round up parents who owed child support have happened all over the country, including Baltimore. In a typical ruse, agencies have sent fake letters telling parents they won tickets to a football bowl game, for instance — but when they showed up to collect, they were arrested instead.

father-sonTo break through years of distrust, Maryland sent letters to parents with the logo of the Center for Urban Families, a nonprofit in West Baltimore that provides job training and other help to poor families.

They made this offer: If the parent takes the center’s month-long employment training course and lands a job, the state will forgive 10 percent of his or her child support debt. If they complete a Responsible Fatherhood program, the state will write off another 15 percent. One of the first persons to sign up was a mother, though the vast majority of noncustodial parents are men.

In a separate “debt compromise” program, Maryland will also write off 50 percent of a parent’s child support debt if they maintain monthly payments for a year.

fathersrightsResponse has been slow. In two years, slightly more than 100 parents have signed on. Many of them attend fatherhood meetings like one held on a recent Wednesday night. Two dozen men — 20-something to middle age, in sweats and in suits — sit in a large square.

Some complain their exes won’t let them see their child if they haven’t paid child support. Others don’t understand why it doesn’t count as support when they take their kids out to eat, or buy them clothes — or say they would do those sorts of things for their kids if their child support obligation wasn’t so heavy.

Mostly, like 30-year-old Lee Ford, they say it’s so hard to find work

“You telling me no matter what, I gotta pay. But I can’t get a job to work to save my soul,” he says.

Group leader Eddie White cuts no slack. “If you know you got a criminal record, sure it’s gonna be hard for you to get a job. But it don’t mean you can’t work,” White says.

A big part of this class is also educational. White asks the men what a person who is paying child support should do if he gets laid off or loses his job.

“There you go, that’s the word. Immediately,” White says. “Immediately ask the court for an adjustment.”

Other Approaches To Debt Relief

Maryland’s program is part of a larger effort to keep impoverished parents from racking up child support debt in the first place.

baby moneySome states are trying to speed up the cumbersome process of adjusting an order when a parent loses a job. Ohio has experimented with sending simple reminders — by phone, mail or text — to parents who need to send in monthly payments. Texas has reached out to newly incarcerated parents, to let them know they can apply to have their payments reduced while in prison — something not all states allow.

“We sent out a teaser postcard trying to combat the ostrich effect,” says Emily Schmidt, a research analyst with the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, who helped with the Texas effort.

Schmidt says there was concern that someone going through the emotional transition of incarceration wouldn’t likely be thinking about child support, and may not even open a letter from the state. So they printed the postcard on blue paper to stand out, and, taking a cue from marketers, it said, “Four easy steps to lowering your child support.”

After 100 days, the response rate among parents was up 11 percent, “a very low-cost intervention for a fairly dramatic effect,” Schmidt says.

barack obamaThe Obama administration wants to “right size” child support orders from the start, and has proposed regulations to make sure they are set according to what parents actually earn. Officials say some jurisdictions base orders on a full-time minimum wage, even if a parent earns far less. They say this can backfire, leaving so little money after a parent’s wages are garnished that he or she quits and works underground instead.

The White House’s proposals also would provide more job training for parents with child support debt — something Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution says is a good investment.

“More fathers will get a job, more fathers will have earnings, and more fathers will use those earnings to pay child support,” he says.

So far, that’s what’s happened in Baltimore. The numbers are small. But the amount of child support that’s been paid is more than double the amount of debt written off.

Maryland wants to expand its child support debt forgiveness program, hoping to help more parents to pay what they can.

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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

Child Support System Treats Dads Badly

by Katrina Kollins

violation of due process and civil rightsIt’s funny how the fathers are told not to move out of their homes or to desert their children, but yet low-life women can move out, take the children, get custody and child support, live off our tax dollars by getting welfare and never have to get a job!

Then the fathers have to pay thousands of dollars to get to see their children and never get custody. But yet the fathers have to pay the bills left by these women, the mortgage, etc., and these bills are never considered when it comes to child support and these women get off scot free. Most of these women use the children for the money!

Support should be on a card like unemployment, and the women should have to have receipts for the children’s purchases. Pennsylvania’s child support court system is unbelievable when most fathers are the better parent, but yet our courts allow this to go on.  Never once are these women asked how they are going to help support these children.

Maybe the children aren’t abused physically but by God mentally they are; these women spend the day on their cell phones or the children spend the day in a car, but yet more fathers actually spend time playing with their children, reading to them, or just outside going for walks, etc.

Judges, this court system, need to grow a pair and finally stick up for these fathers! This has gone on way too long!

Recession & the Family: Women Now a Majority in American Workplaces

Of important milestones that women, and arguably feminists, have achieved, now women have surpassed 50 percent of the nation’s employment due to the recession. Behind the scenes, some are giving women a big ol’ sanctimonious pat on the back, as if the nation can forever profit at the expense of others. Yet, the “success” of women hasn’t come without a great cost even as it saves Corporate America billions of dollars in payroll bottom-line…at least, that is the assumption I make based on statistics and the latest from the mainstream media.

This national employment benchmark comes at men’s expense to be certain, but there is clearly a larger loser, the American family. During this “man-cession,” if a family is whole and complete, women are more often the breadwinners in a classic role reversal when compared to the Beaver Cleaver days. If a family has already been “castrated” from male influence, the remaining family of kids is now firmly on the back burner to fend for themselves while mom works her heart out. You cannot assume a nine-to-five scenario either. The jobs that are left are not necessarily the “plum picks,” but all kinds of shift work including part-time employment in an attempt to get by, as well as classic underemployment that now plagues America. Women are not the winners, but the losers, and the family along with it.

Last month, women held 50.3 percent of the nation’s “nonfarm” payroll jobs in seasonally unadjusted data, up from less than 33 percent in 1964. The loss of jobs held by men during the recession has finally tipped the scales of employment at a great cost to all. This isn’t to say that many women haven’t become unemployed during this recession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women have lost 3.9 million jobs while men have lost 7.4 million. Due to the number of seasonal jobs, men are likely to reclaim their status once again in the labor market, even though the trend toward women will likely continue.

Fractured families are faring far worse. Not only are women forced to work harder, more often for less, but men are more and more unable to make a supportable living, even to pay their child support. After all, if you can’t keep a roof over your head, how can you hope to pay child support? For the first time ever, untold numbers of men in fractured families, are held victim to the oppressive Bradley Amendment and a dramatic or total loss of income.

The nation has fallen victim to a system that demands fiscal perfection for “noncustodial parents,” which more often than not, happens to be men. This means that men must work under the system if they can hope to make enough to keep themselves off the streets. Others live perilously, under great stress, hoping to sustain themselves for another day, often on unemployment while barely making rent. The other option is living with friends or in the car for those that have worn out their welcome. Clearly, the recession and the banker-types that created the recession from unbounded hubris, have put America in a state of decline, not unlike that of a third-world nation. The big loser isn’t just men, but all families that don’t belong to the Wall Street or government “elite.” The larger problem remains: an unsustainable economy and mounting debt. The hubris and greed are proving to be the nations’ undoing in more ways than one.

Is the Bradley Amendment Legal?

unconstitutionalbradleylawL. Taylor writes: “HOW in the world can this be legal? My husband was laid off and the AG’s office is taking HALF of his unemployment and when questioned, their answer is “we are the government, we can do whatever we want.” No wonder men are so bitter and don’t want to have anything to do with the ex or their child, the AG’s office is doing their level best to drive a MONEY wedge in between family. What a bunch of a**holes.”

Based on Constitutional Law and its succeeding Amendments, the Bradley Amendment is illegal on multiple grounds that this website discusses in detail. Based on what politicians have passed for law via legal precedence and legislative creativity, the Bradley Amendment in all its ramifications, legal or otherwise, is actively enforced law for better or worse. The fact is that the people have allowed government, whether it be the fault of feminists, socialists, fascists or renegade judges and lawmakers, to enact law that is not “in the best interest” of the American people. This is the reality that we live in today.

unconstitutional-law-bradley-amendmentWhat you choose to do  is up to you. Doing nothing will get exactly what you have today: more of the same. Americans have become apathetic and divided in purpose and cause. This is what special interests and opportunistic politics uses to the disadvantage and oppression of the people. Simply giving in without so much as a public wimper is a guarantee that nothing will change. You need to make a public statement and raise public awareness.

What will you do? Calling the miscreants a ‘bunch of  a**holes’ won’t get you where you need to go, but in a sense is a start. Look at this website and the information that is available and make your personal decision about what you will and won’t do based on what you face.  Undoubtedly, some of this depends on what you have to lose. Therein lies the main issue Americans have. Until it hurts enough, they will do nothing. You can make it easy for others, even government, to abuse and exploit you. You DO have a choice, even if those choices may be limited in the short term. Knowing or learning the truth is just the beginning. What will you stand for? Make your choice and live by it. Know that you are not alone. ~ E. Manning

Bradley Law and Real Justice

Repeal Bradley, Fight for Human RightsWoe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches? Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain. Yet for all this, His (God’s) anger is not turned away, His hand is still upraised. – Isaiah 10:1-4

Unemployment: The Plight of Non-Custodial Parents

plight of non-custodial parents

The concept of child support was originally designed to be dynamic and flexible, going up and down as parental income changed. Child Support has become a national battleground for civil rights that is being ignored. You can make a difference.

The Plight of Non-Custodial Parents During Unemployment

on Associated Content.

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