It's easy to write off a noncustodial parent who fails to pay child support as a deadbeat who ought to be hauled into court and perhaps off to jail. But the sad fact is, too many don't pay because they can't pay; and prosecution often serves only to make it tougher on kids and taxpayers alike.That's dead-on, and is similar to what Fathers and Families Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, MS told the Star in their recent piece Those who owe child support get a break (Indianapolis Star, 8/18/11). In the piece, Holstein explains that state laws on delinquent parents are counterproductive and unfairly punish poor parents:
It turns poor fathers into fugitives who have to work in the underground economy and keep moving, and Mom doesn't get anything because of it. They'll go after a guy who is making minimum wage, trying his best but only making 80 percent of the payment.The editorial notes:
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry has struck a blow for common sense with his new amnesty program for some parents who have fallen behind. Better yet, the initiative reflects a fundamental change in approach toward the huge task of filling the support gap.
"The old philosophy was, 'I'm the prosecutor, I'm just going to hammer everyone equally,' " says Deputy Prosecutor John Owens. "That's not effective today."
Especially with a depressed job market. Especially given the fact that a large proportion of the approximately 76,000 child support cases now before the prosecutor's office involve ex-offenders, who not only find employment hard to find but also face probation and community corrections fees in many instances. Their fragile freedom and finances can't withstand court trouble over nonsupport...