“I learned not to have kids…It will make you go broke”

by Walter Olson on January 19, 2013

The Miami Herald profiles a child support lawyer who says her clients regularly fall victim to computer mistakes:

A lot of [Chantal] Suttle’s time representing dads is spent cleaning up errors on behalf of the state, which can take away a dad’s driver’s license or passport, or seize his bank account, for supposed non-payment. And it can be done without ever even going to court — the state lets fathers know with just a letter in the mail.

“I have about six clients right now who have paid on time and perfectly for over a decade, and still their driver’s license has been suspended and/or their bank account has been seized,” she said.

{ 6 comments }

1 great unknown 01.20.13 at 2:58 pm

“Abandon All Constitutional Rights, Ye Males Who Enter Here.”
Motto over the entrance to Family Court.

2 NL7 01.20.13 at 7:36 pm

Why is there no right for noncustodial parents to relinquish their parental rights and obligations? Adoption lets custodial parents relinquish their children, and abortion does the same for pregnant women. There ought to be an equivalent for absentee parents to trade away their parental rights in exchange for avoiding parental obligations.

Except that the state pays the costs of low-income kids, particularly support payments. So the state spends its energy trying to find others to pay, rather than caring about how families are arranged or how familial contracts should be interpreted and enforced.

3 wfjag 01.20.13 at 8:04 pm

@NL7:
There is. It’s called getting a vasectomy.

4 aaaa 01.21.13 at 8:20 am

@NL7 You can trade away your parental rights if there is somebody willing to adopt the child. If your ex has a new partner and that partner wants to adopt your child, then it is possible.

The original partner then has no rights and responsibilities. It is called stepparent adoption.

5 Don 01.21.13 at 11:07 am

My State Department of Health and Welfare regularly screwed up my child support calculations. I got the formula that our State Supreme Court had implemented State wide and I always came out less than half of what the State said I needed to pay.

I walked my Lawyer through the math and showed him where the error was in the spreadsheet the State was using. It was always in the same place. If no parent had more than 75% custody, they were supposed to be calculating percentage of custody as part of the calculation. Their spreadsheet always ignored that.

After the third time of the State trying to explain to a Judge why I had to show them where their spreadsheet was coming up with wrong answers, my attorney said to me, “I bet that there are quite a few people over paying because of this, you think I should start a class action lawsuit?” I suggested to him that most people he knows currently like him, and if he did that, there were going to be a lot of people very angry with him. And even if he won, he still might lose because “it was in the best interest of the child for the payments to stay where they were set”.

Now I have full custody and don’t get hassled by the State anymore.

6 Ron Miller 01.21.13 at 1:55 pm

“Why is there no right for noncustodial parents to relinquish their parental rights and obligations?”

So you can just abandon your child because you don’t have custody? Seriously, NL7? So you can bring into the world people who can’t care for themselves yet you can later decide you have no obligation to them?

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