Following up on the mention of the issue earlier this month, “Virginia is on the verge of substantially increasing child-support obligations for the first time since 1988. But the proposed increase, which recently passed a legislative committee as a bill called HB 933, would result in excessive obligations for many parents, more unpaid child support and more jailings for nonpayment at taxpayer expense. Some noncustodial parents already pay more than 50 percent of their income in child support.” [Hans Bader, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
In an email, Bader adds:
Often, laws contain provisions that seem to be for the benefit of lawyers rather than the people.
Such is the case for one provision in the child-support bill HB 933, which will result in divorced parents fighting each other over pennies.
Right now, the custodial parent pays the first $250 annually in unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, rather than each co-payment and out of-pocket expense being divided up based on the parents’ share of combined income. But this $250 ceiling will be reduced to zero under the bill HB 933, which may result in angry parents fighting each other over as little as $10 (in some cases, with the assistance of a lawyer, in many other cases, without any lawyer at all), in order to try to get their ex jailed for contempt for not paying their share of the $10.
Certified mediator Diane Poljacik writes in an email (excerpted):
One of the reasons the $250.00 ceiling on health, dental and vision costs was put in place is said to be due in part to a number of frivolous show cause failure to comply motions being filed by the custodial parent against the noncustodial parent for not immediately reimbursing the other parent a $10.00 (or some other ridiculously low figure) co-pay (so called “nickel and diming” the other parent). This happens more often in cases where parents are constantly at war with each other. Removal of this provision could end up playing right into this by enabling warring parents to use this as just another way of trying to get the other parent jailed for contempt. …
If this provision is removed and show cause motions increase, it could potentially create a further burden for court dockets that are already overburdened. … No data has been presented thus far that states the judges are asking for this to be removed.
And now he must pay child support, a judge has ruled, reasoning that William Marotta had not succeeded in waiving his parental responsibilities because a physician had not overseen the artificial insemination as required by Kansas law. [ABA Journal, earlier]
Yanking drivers’ and professional licenses from dads who fall behind on their payments? David Henderson on a widespread government policy that makes little sense as a way of maximizing the payment rate for court-ordered obligations, somewhat more sense if seen as a vehicle for sentimental vengefulness. [EconLog]
“A Kansas district court heard arguments [last] Friday in the case of a man who is being sued for thousands of dollars in child support by the state after donating his sperm to a same-sex couple he found through a Craigslist ad.” By law artificial insemination in Kansas requires a doctor’s supervision, but mechanic William Marotta instead relied on a private contract with the women who wanted his services, which the state argues cannot excuse him from parental responsibility. [NBC News]
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.
William Marotta and the recipient of his donation signed an agreement that he would have neither rights nor obligations with respect to any offspring that resulted. But the state of Kansas says that shouldn’t insulate him from paying child support for the three-year-old daughter on whose behalf the state picked up $6,000 in medical bills unpaid by the mother, who had fallen on hard times. [Topeka Capital-Journal, Huffington Post]
Two years ago a public outcry helped defeat a Virginia proposal that would have required that divorced noncustodial parents continue to support children in college through age 23. (Our post at the time.) Now, as Hans Bader of CEI points out, Maryland’s legislature is considering a bill (up for hearing Feb. 23) to impose this obligation on parents. It doesn’t look as radical as the Virginia bill — the support obligation would only extend through age 21, not 23, for example — and it’s easy to see why it might appeal to the state university and its budgeters, as well as to pro-custodial-parent constituencies in family law. But it still raises some of the same questions of fairness and practicality, given that children past 18 are legally independent and need not be even on speaking terms with the estranged parents, who may be in no financial position to consider, say, finishing their own delayed college plans, yet are expected to foot college bills for their estranged offspring.
There’s no statute of limitations on child support, and Rosemary Douglas says she’s still owed the money for the birth of a son during the Truman Administration. [Houston Chronicle]
Correction/update: Commenter Patrick points out that this is an enforcement-of-judgment matter rather than a suit, and offers a reading of Texas law likely to be of interest to the alleged dad in the case.
Don’t assume it’s a complete fluke, says Matt Welch, these “deadbeat dads” programs really are set up to resolve every doubt in favor of collection [Reason "Hit and Run", Amy Alkon]
At the request of lawyers for actor Keanu Reeves, an Ontario court dismissed a C$3 million suit filed by an unemployed homemaker claiming that Reeves was the father of her children. The defense pointed to negative DNA test results, Reeves’ strong denials that he ever met or had dealings with the woman, and divorce documents attributing the children’s paternity to the woman’s ex-husband. “Sala disputed the DNA results in court … suggesting they had been tampered with or that Reeves used hypnosis to affect the results.” [Herald Sun via Faces of Lawsuit Abuse monthly worst-lawsuit poll, PopCrunch]
Teresa Fuller says her 15-year-old son was arrested 20 times for physically abusing her, and that she suffered concussions and other injuries. “Because she’s the boy’s only legal guardian, she is now responsible for his legal bills and court costs. She said because her total wages fall just above the poverty level, her son didn’t qualify for a public defender or an appointed attorney.” More bad news from her from the county attorney’s office: “Fuller does not qualify for a protective order against her son because the only person who can be held responsible for abiding by the order is the son’s parent or legal guardian.” [El Paso Times via ABA Journal]
Slightly related update: Hans Bader writes to say that the Virginia proposal putting parents on the financial hook for support of children up to age 23 attending college has been stricken from the House docket, probably dooming its chances in this session. See Dave Briggman, Richmond Sunlight.
A bill introduced into the Virginia legislature would put payers of child support on the hook for older kids and indeed young adults so long as they are attending college. [Hans Bader, Examiner]
P.S. A reader writes: “We have this in Connecticut. It is a disaster. On paper, the CT court is to consider all factors as to whether it is reasonable to order a parent to pay child support. In reality, it is ordered whether or not the parent can afford to pay, whether or not the adult ‘child’ even speaks to the parent. So you have children who are basically giving their parent no respect or any sort of relationship who are given a free college ride. It is also used as a tool by vindictive parents against the other parent.” More: Alkon.
Should his child support payment remain unchanged? [WFTV Orlando, Robert Franklin/GlennSacks.com via Amy Alkon]