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]
Most creative of his dodges? Entering into a sham child support agreement. [Las Vegas Sun]
Not entirely unrelatedly, Richard Bales at Workplace Law Blog has more on that scheme by some Continental Airlines pilots to nab lump-sum distribution pension payouts by staging bogus divorces [earlier coverage].
Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, both a special assistant state attorney general and a judge knew when sentencing Frank Hatley that he was not the biological father of the child born to an unmarried woman with whom he’d had a relationship. With the assistance of DNA results and a legal services lawyer Hatley had managed to get out from under future payments, but his arrearage on existing support (premised on his obligation to reimburse the state for its public assistance payouts on behalf of his supposed son) still left him in “deadbeat dad” status. “He’s dealing with a valid court order”, said one lawyer. So, as the paper notes, he’s “languished in a South Georgia
debtor’s prison jail for more than a year”. More: Above the Law, Greenfield, CNN. Update Jul. 16: Hatley is freed.