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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

April 27, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

It’s sometimes amusing to watch the mainstream press grapple with family court issues.  Often enough, the MSM simply gets facts wrong.  This article doesn’t do that and it definitely tries to inform about the gravity of the situation in child custody matters (KFOXTV, 4/24/19).  Unfortunately though it reads like it was written by a reporter with too many facts and too little time to sort out what they all mean.

Still, the piece contains some valuable gems.

It’s raison d’etre is that Thursday was Parental Alienation Day.  That in itself is good news since dedicating a day to PA goes at least some way toward undercutting the notion, advanced by some, that PA either doesn’t exist at all or is merely a clever ruse on the part of fathers to deny “protective” mothers sole custody of children.

Meanwhile, Fox in El Paso has discovered a few items that, had the writer just read the NPO blog, wouldn’t have been quite so revelatory.

From Parental Alienation, the piece leaps to child support and the fact that states get a big paycheck from the federal government for the amount each collects.  That makes child support enforcement very important for state officials who always seem to find themselves short of cash.

Now we're finding, while parents fight for time with their kids the state is cashing in big on their child support payments…
“There is a financial incentive for the State of Texas to collect the funds,” said [PA advocate Wendy] Perry…
States receive money as incentives from the federal government based on what they collect. At least 6% percent of what is collected goes back to the state…
“The states figured out, this is a paycheck for us,” said father Andrew McRae who is part of an advocacy and support group in El Paso.
Indeed.  They also figured out what isn’t a paycheck for them – enforcement of visitation – a fact the article doesn’t hesitate to point out.
The system is frustrating for parents who say, they're paying child support but can't get their visitation enforced.
“You're going to pay us money, but we aren't going to enforce visitations,” said [advocate Andrew] McRae.
That’s something both Fox and the El Paso Times have covered in great and embarrassing detail.  The simple fact is that the Texas Penal Code makes it a crime to interfere with child custody, but neither the police nor prosecutors enforce that law.  They claim to believe it’s a civil matter for family courts to deal with, but the Penal Code is entirely clear on the subject, a fact they must know by now.
“Lack of enforcement of court-ordered custody schedules is a huge problem across the country, and definitely here in Texas,” said Perry.
KFOX14 Investigates has documented the lack of enforcement.
Records show there were more than 4,000 reports taken by the El Paso Police Department for child custody interference from 2016 to 2018. Of those, 229 cases were presented to the district attorney's office. Only 4% of cases were prosecuted by Jaime Esparza’s office.
I fully understand that at least some of those reports were of the “Dad returned the child to Mom three hours late” variety.  No one is going to waste the time of police, prosecutors and courts over something like that.  But my guess is that the great majority of complaints were about more serious infractions.  Whatever the case, a 4% prosecution rate is a disgrace.

And we can make an educated guess as to why visitation orders aren’t enforced.  Washington doesn’t pay states to do so.  Let Uncle Sam start paying states for enforcing those orders and overnight their attitudes would change.  I guarantee it.

Washington pays states $5 billion per year to enforce child support orders, but just $10 million for visitation, a 500:1 ratio.  It’s a pretty accurate picture of how much the feds value dads, who of course make up the overwhelming number of parents with orders of visitation.

Thanks to Fox in El Paso for an informative, if somewhat haphazard article.

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