incarceration Archives | Cordell & Cordell

Parents struggling to pay child support cant get ahead

Parents struggling financially and falling behind on child support payments are often mislabeled as “deadbeat,” MSNBC reports, as they are sometimes jailed or punished with fines when what they really need is support themselves. These parents have lost their jobs, lost hours at work or faced other financial hardships and have still been punished for the missed payments.

For Randy Miller, 39, paying child support was a challenge after returning from the Iraq war and losing his job in July 2009.

“I felt that with my payment history and that I had just started working, maybe I could be able to convince the judge to give me another month and a half to start making the payments again. But that didn’t sit too well with him because he went ahead and decided to lock me up,” Miller told the news source.

According to Fathers and Families, an advocacy group in favor of fair and equal parenting rights, sending parents to jail in a situation when financial strain results in missed child support payments simply makes the problem worse.

“There they can’t work, can’t earn, can’t see their kids and all the while their indebtedness increases,” explained the organization.

1,074 warrants issued in NJ child support sweep

More than 1,000 New Jersey parents were apprehended over the past week as part of a twice-yearly sweep on the state conducted by the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey, according to The Associated Press.

The media outlet reports that a total of 1,074 arrest warrants were served across New Jersey during the three-day sweep period. The sweep targeted noncustodial parents who either failed to pay child support or did not appear at a mandatory court hearing to determine either child or medical support.

The 39 individuals arrested in Gloucester County owed a combined $703,331 in child support to former partners. Approximately $211,453 was collected by the state, according to Somerset County Sheriff Frank J. Provenzana, while an additional $18.7 million in penalties were charged.

Hundreds of people across the state were jailed over the weekend in connection with the child support sweep. In Camden County, 105 people owing about $1.849 million were apprehended; in Salem County, 61 individuals owing $879,616 and in Cumberland County, 33 people owing $1.03 million, according to the Gloucester County Times.

Last week, New Mexico announced it will soon be conducting a similar child support sweep across the state. However, Gov. Susana Martinez announced the state would be offering a week-long amnesty period for people with outstanding child support warrants if those individuals meet with a Child Support Division office to come to some sort of payment plan.

Changes to help inmates pay child support

A number of states have begun to implement changes designed to help fathers in prison obtain child support modification so that they will not fall behind on their payments.

The Associated Press reports some states, including Texas and Massachusetts, allow inmates who are fathers to modify their child support so they are only paying between $20 and $80 per month. In addition, Connecticut and a number of other states have rules that allow judges to stop child support payments completely when the payer has no source of income.

Charisse Hutton, Connecticut’s director of support enforcement services, said that such rules typically lead to more fathers actually making child support payments.

“I want that order to be fair, so there is a better chance that person can and will pay,” she told the news source.

However, some states, such as Tennessee, consider jail “voluntary unemployment” and allow fathers to accumulate tens of thousands of dollars in back child support, something that advocates say hurts the chances of it ever being paid.

In 2007, there was nearly $25 billion collected in child support payments around the country, according to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Man chooses jail over alimony

A West Virginia man is sitting in jail rather than paying alimony to his ex-wife, in a move that he hopes will lead to the state enacting child paternity laws.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reports that Sean Keefe is spending six months in jail rather than pay his former wife $1,800 a month in alimony.

Keefe said that he discovered during the divorce process that he is not the father of his wife’s youngest child, and while his current wife says he has continued to pay $1,300 a month in child support, he has drawn the line at paying the spousal support, reports the news source.

Keefe and his current wife are hoping that Senate Bills 502 and 503, which were introduced in the state legislature during the most recent session, will be passed and help men going through divorce.

The purpose of SB 502 is to “provide a procedure for vacating a judgment of paternity when there is genetic evidence that excludes the previously established father as the biological father of the child in question,” according to the website of the West Virginia legislature.

Bill 503 would bar alimony payments if there is proof of an affair.