Court ruling hobbles prosecution for unpaid child support | Star Tribune

Larry Nelson owed $83,470 for 11 years of child support for his two children, now adults, when he was convicted of a felony three years ago under a state law that makes the failure to provide “care and support” a crime. Nelson maintained that while he did not pay child support, the state didn’t prove that he had failed to “care” for his children. Prosecutors countered that the phrase “care and support” refers solely to financial obligations.

A majority of the Supreme Court sided with Nelson, reasoning that the law was unclear.

“It is odd to imply … that the word ‘support’ alone refers to a monetary obligation and that the phrase ‘care and support’ means the same thing,” Justice David Stras wrote for the majority.

via Court ruling hobbles prosecution for unpaid child support | Star Tribune.

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Utah may take lead in protection of fathers’ rights in adoption cases | The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah may make it easier for unwed fathers to protect their rights no matter where they live by joining with other states to share confidential paternity filings.

The Senate Health and Human Services Standing Committee gave a nod to SB63, which creates an interstate compact to share putative father registry information. Adoption agencies and attorneys are supposed to search such registries to locate unwed fathers who want to be notified of adoption proceedings.

via Utah may take lead in protection of fathers’ rights in adoption cases | The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Broward Sheriff’s Office conducts child-support roundup

 

Operation Family Matters

The real criminals are the people involved in child support enforcement.  This system is ruining lives.  How does it help children to put their fathers, and sometimes their mothers in jail just because they are not making enough to pay draconian child support orders that are imposed by courts?  The man shown here had just started a new job, which he will most likely now lose.

From the back seat of a patrol car, Sanchez, 29, said taking him into custody was not going to help his 6-year-old son. He was now at risk of losing his new job as a cook, he said.

“Listen, the whole system is messed up. I won’t make the job, which in turn won’t allow me to make the payment for my child,” he said. “And once again, will get me to this endless circle.”

The father had fallen behind by $668 in payments for his son, officials said.

Sanchez said he has paid some of the child support owed, but he does not earn enough to make the monthly payments.

He also said he has been embroiled in a battle over visitation rights. Sanchez’s mother played a video clip on her phone that showed the boy: “Daddy, I miss you,” he said.

“When does it end? When does this cycle end?” Sanchez asked. “It never ends. My life has been ruined.”

Full story: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/pembroke-pines/fl-child-support-arrests-20140206,0,2061520.story

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Virginia is proposing increases in child support

Everyone seems to ignore an obvious way to solve all these debates:  simply award custody of a child to the parent who will be able to stay off welfare, and not come to the state for support of any kind.  We could then eliminate completely all child support offices and laws.  Most people, I imagine, would consider this an insane idea, but what could be more insane than to set up the system we have now?

Here is a quote from the guy who heads up child support enforcement in VA:

Virginia’s public policy and law dictate that both parents have a duty to support their children. Although the guidelines must be based on the current research and data, every day in Virginia child support obligations are calculated using outdated economics. The cost of raising children has increased dramatically since the guidelines’ enactment. We owe it to Virginia’s parents and children to ensure that child support obligations are economically accurate and current.

Craig M. Burshem is deputy commissioner and director of the Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement for the Virginia Department of Social Services. Contact him at Craig.burshem@dss.virginia.gov.

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Editorial: Veronica’s Law? Making fathers’ rights ‘crystal clear’ – Tulsa World: Editorials

In Oklahoma, the wounds are still fresh following the losing battle last year of Dusten Brown for custody of his biological daughter, known as Baby Veronica.

Veronica was adopted at birth by a South Carolina couple who’d arranged the adoption with Veronica’s mother, estranged from Brown. But a court there later awarded custody to Brown. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ultimately, Brown lost his daughter to Matt and Melanie Capobianco.

Now Oklahoma Rep. Wade Rousselot has written a bill dubbed Veronica’s Law and known officially as the Oklahoma Truth in Adoption Act, which would require biological fathers to appear in front of a judge to relinquish rights before an adoption could proceed. Continue Reading »

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Bill could let men sever child support with DNA test results | Legislature | The News Tribune

A female lawmaker from Port Orchard says men in Washington are being unfairly forced to pay child support for children who aren’t theirs, and the state should let them escape that burden.

A measure introduced by state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, would allow a man to challenge his status as a child’s legal parent in court if genetic tests prove he is not the father.

Current law in Washington generally only gives fathers four years to challenge a child’s parentage, and assumes a man is the father if he was married to the child’s mother close to the child’s birth date.

Angel’s bill would let a man try to sever his legal ties to a child at any time within two years of learning he is not the child’s biological father — whether the child’s age is 5 or 15.

If a man’s request to sever paternity were granted by a judge, he would no longer have to pay child support for the child, even if he previously acknowledged himself to be the parent or was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. Continue Reading »

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Documentary ‘Divorce Corp.’ opens in Atlanta | 11alive.com

(WXIA) – The divorce rate in Georgia is among the highest in the nation. In Georgia, along with a number of other states around the nation, more attention is being given to reforming family court law so that the increasing trend toward even greater levels of divorce and family unrest can be throttled back a bit.

A new documentary is opening this week in Atlanta and 15 other cities around the nation called ‘Divorce Corp.’ The film, narrated by television psychotherapist Dr. Drew Pinsky, presents information about how the industry of divorce has destroyed families and individuals across the nation.

Thursday night’s premiere screening of the film at the Lefont Theatre in Sandy Springs, sponsored by My Advocate Center of Atlanta, included a town hall meeting and press conference to discuss the issues raised in the film, including attorney fees, child support, health care and other issues that divided families face.

While all families cannot be saved, the film points to the industry behind America’s ‘divorce machine’ as a catalyzing factor that does not help matters in many cases.

Several women’s groups have organized a boycott of the film, because, in their estimation, the film portrays and promotes what they say is a pro-fathers’ rights agenda that is equally destabilizing for children and families.

via Documentary ‘Divorce Corp.’ opens in Atlanta | 11alive.com.

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Fathers’ rights activist Tim Haries found guilty of defacing Queen portrait, painting by Australian-born artist | News.com.au

A MAN has been found guilty of defacing an Australian artist’s portrait of the Queen with purple paint while it was hanging in Westminster Abbey.

Tim Haries, a Fathers4Justice campaigner, told jurors he vandalised the STG160,000 ($296,000) oil painting to highlight the “social justice issue of our time”.

He had denied a charge of causing criminal damage of more than STG5000 ($A9300) but was on Wednesday found guilty by jurors at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

The 42-year-old father-of-two smuggled a can of purple spray paint into the abbey on June 13 before scrawling the word “help” on the painting by Australian artist Ralph Heimans.

Haries looked straight ahead as the verdict was announced in front of a public gallery full of supporters, many of them dressed in purple, the colour adopted by the campaign group.

Jurors heard that, moments after committing the act, Haries told a steward at the abbey: “Sorry mate, I’ve got nothing against the Queen” before telling a police officer he was “guilty as charged”.

Prosecutor Allister Walker said Haries shouted “fathers for justice” as he put the graffiti on the large oil painting before being tackled to the ground by steward Peter Crook.

via Fathers’ rights activist Tim Haries found guilty of defacing Queen portrait, painting by Australian-born artist | News.com.au.

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Clerical Error In Child Support Payments Leads To Six-Month Jail Sentence For Clifford Hall (VIDEO)

Due to a clerical error, Texas father Clifford Hall received a bill charging him nearly $3,000 in overdue child support last year. Hall quickly repaid the amount, even paying an additional $1,000 to balance his debt. But despite his repayment, Hall was sentenced to six months in jail. He and his attorney Tyesha Elam joined host Nancy Redd to share his story on HuffPost Live.

Errors in the automated child support withdrawal amounts from Hall’s paycheck caused a payment shortage, but when Hall discovered this imbalance, he worked to pay it immediately.

Elam explained, “I assumed as soon as he brought me the receipt catching him up as well as the letter advising him of the overpayment, I thought, ‘oh this one will be easy.’ I’m thinking, ‘let me let the opposing counsel know and we’ll be done with this matter.’”

“But the opposing counsel informed me that she wasn’t willing to settle the case. She wanted $3,500 in attorney’s fees and she was confident from this judge that she could get it. So she refused to settle. So we had to move forward.”

The situation escalated due to a law in Texas, which stipulates that overdue child support could lead to jail time, Elam explained. “As of June 14, 2013, in the state of Texas, a person can get behind on their child support, show up to court, paid up, and still go to jail. The maximum sentence is 6 months in jail, and that is exactly what Mr. Hall was sentenced to.”

When he heard the verdict, Hall was shocked. “My mouth just dropped. I’m looking around–I looked at my attorney like, ‘she’s joking, she can’t be serious,’” he explained. “We’re just sitting there like, ‘wow, I’m going to jail for six months. I’m going to jail for six months. I’m going to jail. This is so unfair, this is not right, this isn’t justice. This is not right.’ How is this in my son’s best interest? That doesn’t even make sense.”

Elam was unable to appeal the judge’s decision, so Hall was left with no choice but to turn himself in. His sentence began on Jan. 21, 2014.

via Clerical Error In Child Support Payments Leads To Six-Month Jail Sentence For Clifford Hall (VIDEO).

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Child Support: Increasing obligations likely to backfire – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Guest-columnists

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.

Order people to pay more than they can afford, and they may simply give up and not pay at all. Even the drafter of the increased child-support schedule, Dr. Jane Venohr, admitted in 2012 that “Research shows that noncustodial parents whose child support obligations are more than 20 percent of their income are less likely to pay.”

But such high obligations are commonplace even under Virginia’s existing child-support guidelines. In Herring v. Herring (2000), Virginia’s existing child-support guidelines set the obligation of John Herring, a father of two, at $673 per month, more than half his monthly salary of $1,300. He was so poor that he lived in his sister’s basement. When a trial judge reduced his obligation to a more reasonable $484 per month — 37 percent of his income — the Virginia Court of Appeals reversed that reduction, because it was contrary to Virginia’s existing child-support guidelines. Under the increased child-support schedule drafted by Venohr, this poor man’s child-support obligation would go up even further.

Her increased child-support schedule inflates the obligations of many poor and working-class parents: It makes noncustodial parents pay for costs that custodial parents have already effectively been reimbursed for by the federal tax code. That includes payments like the $1,000 per-child refundable tax credit, the earned-income tax credit and the personal exemption of $3,900 in income from tax per child. For many lower-income households, these tax benefits amount to most of the cost of raising a child.

via Child Support: Increasing obligations likely to backfire – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Guest-columnists.

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