The child support enforcement laws that have been enacted in the past few years are unfair to non custodial parents. A primary difficulty with these laws is their inflexibility. Due to any number of circumstances, non custodial parents may find their earnings decreased due to lay-off, injury, illness or many other reasons. But the mechanism for modification of support orders is very slow to respond. In fact as is often the case, NCP’s are faced with huge arrears due to their inability to make full payment of child support for months at a time. Once there’s an arrears, it can not by law, be modified. This is clearly unjust. Under current law, NCP’s who fall behind in their child support payments can be judged criminals, even felons and imprisoned. If NCP’s fall behind in the court ordered support payments, they can lose their drivers license, in addition to their professional license to conduct business and they can also be denied a passport. Measures
to extract the maximum possible amount of money from non-custodial parents have become increasingly extreme and often violate the basic principles of human dignity and privacy upon which this country was founded. States are now posting pictures and biographies of parents with outstanding balances on the internet in an attempt to humiliate them into compliance.
Millions are being spent developing linked computer systems and databases in order to locate and seize the “assets” of “deadbeat parents,” when in fact the
primary reason that most NCP’s fall behind in their child support is inability to pay. I believe
that these measures all violate the constitutionally guaranteed civil rights of tens of thousands of fathers and other non-custodial parents. The specific rights violated include the rightto equal protection, due process, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and arbitrary fines and penalties. These new measures simply will not work for the following reasons:
- Criminalizing parents cannot be good for the children. It drives a wedge between the parent and the child and is not only unfair to the parent but it may severely damage the self esteem of the child.
- The new laws will clog the system.
- They will result in ever increasing numbers of parent withdrawing from participation in their children’s lives.
- They will result in ever increasing numbers of parents opting out of mainstream society, to hide out from what they consider unfair prosecution.
- They will result in parents being sent to prison simply for experiencing financial hardships and falling behind in support payments.
- They will increase divisiveness in our society.
- They will further reduce our civil liberties.
The combined force of well-meaning but misguided laws, judicial traditions and government polices (Title-IV-D Funding) drive many loving fathers out of their children’s lives. Many judges are creating a river of wounded and destroyed children and families. Some fathers and organizations have responded with commiseration, fellowship and counseling. Policy and lawmakers must consider some of the rewards of mothers and other custodial parents such as: free food, free legal aid, free medical, free shelter and tax deductions. Alabama and other state Senators, Legislators and judges need to discuss ways in which child support laws & payments affect family structure, teenage delinquency and income disparities between parents. People especially elected officials will see the light if only they see the child support system from a law and economic perspective. Once they do they will be able to consider the incentives faced by both custodial and non-custodial parents and search for policy actions that are more incentive compatible for all participants. Non-custodial parents need to get more organized and politically active by creating support groups that will do letter campaigns to elected officials. Non-custodial parents must start making politicians pay the price at the poles. At the moment our elected officials are pandering to the sympathetic group which most consists of custodial parents while demonizing non-custodial parents who the state seeks to financially enslave for Title IV-D Funding.
The head of the federal child support office (Ms. Turetsky), 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.” One of the biggest problems I see in the system is that local judges and case workers REFUSE to see the non-custodial as not having the ability to pay no matter what. Judicial arrogance and blindness exits because of the judges and case workers direct benefit of Title IV-D Funding. This must change: