Children are our future, and it is our responsibility as parents to secure that future. We need to start by making sure that both parents provide for their children; absence of a parent does not give them the right to forgo their obligations. When the non-custodial parents ,whether it is the dad or mom, are unwilling to live up to their court ordered responsibilities jail should not be the final step to collect. The final step needs to be work release where they are able to support the beautiful lives they helped bring into the world.
Naturally, there are different ways to enforce child support, but a variety of situations need a variety of solutions. The number one way to obtain child support is through the automatic deduction of the non-custodial parent’s wages. (American Bar Association)Unfortunately, this is not a guarantee of support; if the parent switches jobs often, is paid under the table, or does not work at all it is impossible to use. This method of enforcement did not work for me, because my daughter’s father rarely worked.
In addition to wage reduction, there is the seizing of tax returns. I know from personal experience that in the state of Florida they only seize returns in the event that the non-custodial parent is at least 500.00 behind in payments. I could not benefit from this, because even though my ex exceeded the 500.00 limit 10 years ago, he never worked enough to file. In many states, they are also able to seize real estate and/or vehicles, now again, it sounds great, but if they do not have it, you cannot seize it. I have found that many states will revoke the license of a person that is unwilling to pay support; I ask what good does that do? Yes, there might be a few out there that will say no way I need my license and pay, but more than likely they will lose their license and then have yet another excuse not to work and pay support. (American Bar Association)
Now, we come to the last resort when dealing with a parent who is unwilling to pay support, contempt of court. (American Bar Association) When a judge rules a parent to be in contempt of court it is most likely that said parent would be sent to jail. The only time I have ever received any payment from my ex is the first of three times he was sent to jail, his girlfriend purged him out. To purge someone from jail the least amount allowed must be paid and then that person will be released. I received one 500.00 payment due to that purge. The next two times he went to jail he chose to spend the entire six months in jail; I did not receive a dime. I found it ironic, he did not pay support, he was sent to jail, the state paid to feed and house him, and at the same time, the state was helping me support my daughter. It looked to me as if the state received the bad end of the deal. If my ex would have been on work release the majority would have fell on him where it belonged. Now, I must mention a county that has implemented a program that collects money from inmates and turns it over to the custodial parent. These inmates are not arrested for lack of payment, but upon arrest, it was found that they owed back support. Suffolk County Jail will seize money that these inmates come in with or that is put in their account and instead of putting it in the commissary where they can buy shampoo and such they turn it over to be paid to the custodial parent. They admit that it is usual done only once per inmate, but for many of the parents it is the only support they had received. The program has collected $19,595 so far. (Greenberg)
Work release is the place where people are sent to help inmates with their transition from prison to home; violent offenders do not qualify. The inmate must stay in the facility and adhere to strict rules, but they are able to go out to work. I am amazed by the fact that I have never seen a person sentenced to work release for non-payment of support. However, even more amazing is that I have not read anywhere, not Colorado, New York, or even Florida that work release is even a consequence of not paying child support. How does one pay child support? Most of us are not lucky enough to be rich so work must be done to earn the money to pay that support!
As long as we are on the subject of money let me, introduce you to some figures. In the state of Florida, it costs the state $52.70 a day to house and care for an inmate in a major corrections facility. (OPPAGA) Ok, does that make any sense at all? Hardworking people’s tax money is being spent to house and care for a person who will not support their child. Jail is not an answer, in many ways it just adds to the problem. Yes, contempt of court is a criminal charge, but in the case of support, the person who is in contempt should not be treated as a thief or drug dealer. The person needs to be treated like what they are, a person who was ordered by the court to pay. A person is unable to support their children if they are behind bars, but the state has to be able to support that person and many times their children also. On the other hand, it costs the state of Florida $26.16 a day to house an inmate in a work release center and 45% of the money they make goes to the state to cover much of the expense of their care. (OPPAGA)
The most important thing about child support enforcement is just that, forcing someone to pay the required support. If the non-custodial parent is punished with loss of freedom while the child and custodial parent is blessed with the support they need there are no losers. In reality, there is not going to be a perfect answer for each individual case, not all children are going to receive the support due them. However, if we take what does not work and replace it with something that will, we can get more children that extra boost to succeed. We all know that many parents do not care about succeeding themselves let alone their children so they need to be forced. We should not force them to get three meals a day on our dime, while doing nothing. Make the dead beat parents get up, go to work, and put a roof over their children’s heads, food on their children’s tables, and an early chance at being something other than a statistic. Make the parents pay not the children!
American Bar Association. “Child Custody and Support.” American Bar Association. 18 November 2007 <http://www.abanet.org/publiced/practical/childsupport_forced.html>.
Greenberg, Susan J. “Jail Initiative Targets Deadbeat Parents.” 01 August 2007. Suffolk Life. 13 December 2007 <http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18650884&BRD=1776&PAG=461&dept_id=6363&rfi=6>.