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February 21, 2018 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

The Texas Tribune is a publication with impeccable liberal credentials, but if this disgraceful article is any indication, liberalism has changed (Texas Tribune, 2/13/18). There was a time when liberals were the friends of the poor and downtrodden, the victims of pitiless judicial and criminal processes. If the linked-to article is any indication, and I hope it’s not, that’s no longer the case.

Steve Fischer is a Texas attorney. He took time out of his busy day to hang out in child support court and let us know his observations. They are neither informed nor in any way compassionate toward the parents hauled into those courts. Fischer, whether politically liberal or not, should be ashamed.

I watch people fill the Aransas County Courtroom, and know I will be entertained, albeit in a cynical sort of way.  

How nice that Fischer finds the plight of the poor so entertaining. I’m sure Victor Hugo would be impressed.

Today is Deadbeat Spouses Day, or to be more accurate and less politically correct, Deadbeat Dads Day.

Had Fischer opened his laptop or iPhone instead of smirking at those less fortunate than he, he could have checked with the Census Bureau to see who does and who doesn’t pay child support. Had he done so he’s have learned that the overwhelming number of non-custodial mothers aren’t even ordered to pay and those who are pay less on average than do non-custodial dads. But conveying, or even having, accurate information isn’t Fischer’s long suit. He’s not here to inform; he’s here to be entertained.

And it’s the poor who entertain him most. Does Fischer know that, according to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, some 63% of parents behind on their child support payments report earnings of under $10,000 per year? Does he know that, in the past, the OCSE has begged family court judges to start setting child support orders at levels the parents can actually pay? Does he know that, until fairly recently, child support indebtedness bore interest rates as high as 12% per annum? That was at a time when the U.S. government was paying about 1/10th that on Treasury bonds. But no problem; states figured poor parents could somehow pay what even junk bonds didn’t even approach.

No, Fischer has no such information. He’s too busy being entertained by long strings of poor, and poorly educated men in chains, without legal representation or a clue about their legal rights, file by on their way to jail. That’s quite a sense of humor Fischer’s got.

But one thing we might expect him to know is something about the law. Maybe he does, but if so, he doesn’t let on.

He’s there in “child support” court, observing the goings on. That means he was there during “hearings” on whether these men could pay. Now, attorneys who actually care about the problems poor parents face in child support cases, attorneys like Sarah Geraghty of the Southern Center for Human Rights, tell us that those “hearings” tend to last between a few seconds and five minutes. During that time, poor, uneducated defendants are supposed to convince hostile judges of their inability to pay, and do so unassisted by legal representation that the U.S. Supreme Court says they’re mostly not entitled to.

Did Fischer notice? I suppose not.

So he doesn’t know the basic facts about child support, who pays it, who owes it and who falls behind. Nor does he notice that the poor parents in court in front of his very eyes have essentially no time to make their case and no information about what they need to show a judge to do so. They’re helpless before the power of the state. What could be more entertaining?

Well then, has he read a newspaper recently? If he has, he’s probably read about the case of Gabriel Cornejo. Cornejo’s a Texas man and the furthest thing from a deadbeat, being gainfully employed and the reliable supporter of his kids. What he’s not is the father of a child for whom the State of Texas demands he pay some $65,000 in support.

I guess Fischer doesn’t know about that either. He’s happy to praise the attorneys for the Texas Attorney General’s Office who are in charge of dunning and jailing poor fathers. But he never questions why those super lawyers are trying to put Cornejo in jail for refusing to support a child everyone knows isn’t his. Yes, they could simply dismiss the case against Cornejo and seek support from the child’s actual dad, but no. They’ve got a fish on their line and they’re not about to let him go, regardless of facts, regardless of fairness and regardless of one of the purposes of paternity establishment and child support - to hold responsible for support the adults who bring a child into the world.

Needless to say, with someone like Fisher who’s long on opinions and short on facts, he’s also not heard of Sundhe Moses about whom I wrote just two days ago. Moses was incarcerated by the State of New York for a crime he didn’t commit and, during his 18 + years inside, ran up a hefty child support bill he of course couldn’t pay. But now that he’s out, the state wants to put him back behind bars due to the debt it wrongly forced on him.

Come to think of it, maybe I should contact Fischer and let him know about Moses and his plight. I’m sure he’d get a big kick out of it. After all, Moses is exactly the type of man Fischer loves to sneer at – poor and poorly educated.

Not exactly your parent’s liberalism.

 

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National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#childsupport, #liberalism, #TexasTribune

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