Opposing Child Support Enforcement's War
Against Low Income Dads
Iraqi war veteran Randy Miller was jailed for three months after he was unable to pay his child support because he lost his job--despite having faithfully paid his support for 10 years previously. Veteran Lance Hendrix was jailed after he fell behind on child support when he couldn't find work after serving in the army. MSNBC recently reported that both are plaintiffs in a new class-action lawsuit designed to force states to provide legal representation for low-income non-custodial parents facing jail for inability to pay child support.
Our organization sees many fathers like Miller and Hendrix who have lost their jobs or suffered significant drops in this terrible economy. Because it is difficult for fathers to get their child support orders modified downward, many decent, loving fathers are being jailed because they can’t keep up with their child support obligations.
Returning veterans are often hit the hardest, as they struggle to reintegrate into society and get jobs, while their child support obligations are often still based on what they earned while serving--an income they no longer have. Much of the money that is now collected comes from seizing obligors' unemployment benefits.
F & F's Successes in Reforming the Child Support System
There is still a long way to go, but Fathers and Families has been instrumental in passing legislation in several states to protect low-income child support obligors and reform the child support system. F & F's achievements include:
- Helping block a 2010 bill to dramatically increase Ohio child support guidelines
- Helped achieve a 50% reduction in the interest rate Massachusetts charges on overdue child support
- Helping pass California child support reform bills SB 580 and SB 1355 in 2010
- Pursuing our highly-publicized lawsuit against the Massachusetts new child support guidelines all the way up to the MA SJC, which ruled against us.
- Helping reduce excessive child support by over $1 billion in Massachusetts from 2001 through 2008
- Helping pass bills in California, Arizona, and Indiana to protect disabled parents from family court financial abuses
- Helping pass paternity fraud legislation (AB 252 and SB 1333) which allows California child support obligors to use DNA evidence to set aside false paternity judgments and the concomitant child support orders
Ohio Backing off Repressive Policies Against CS Obligors
Both nationally and in Ohio, Fathers and Families has long agitated against repressive CS encouragement polices such as driver's license suspensions. In Ohio so far this year over 100,000 parents have had their driver's licenses seized.
According to a new Gannett report, under new Ohio policies, child support enforcement agencies will not be able to seize the driver’s licenses or professional licenses of any obligors who are paying at least half of their child support obligations. Given the terrible economy, and the fact that many obligors’ obligations are not
being modified downward to accommodate for their lower wages and/or job losses, this is an important measure.
A Gannett article printed in several Ohio newspapers recently stated:
Holstein, Franklin Slam CS Enforcement Policies on Radio (Audio Available)
Don Hubin, executive committee chairman of Fathers and Families of Ohio, said taking away a driver’s license for failure to pay makes it harder for a deadbeat parent to work, further hampering ability to pay.
“Most of this money is not collectible at all,” Hubin said, noting that many of the parents in default don’t have the money to begin with. “This is a serious problem, but not a problem that is solved by not allowing them to drive.”
Hubin said the proper solution is to better track those who don’t pay, and help them find work. Once they are in a job, the wages can be garnished to cover child support.
The state needs to “set child support amounts to make it easier for people to pay them,” Hubin said.
Fathers and Families Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, MS slammed child support enforcement abuses on the nationally-syndicated Jesse Lee Peterson Show on September 14—to listen to the audio, click here.
Holstein told Peterson:
We have courts that are totally one-sided, they are completely gender biased. They’ll enforce child support but won’t…enforce fathers’ visitation rights
The way government handles [family court right now], conservatives ought to hate because it is a massive government intrusion into private life which also creates huge bureaucracies which are doing useless things.
Liberals ought to hate [current policies] because they are full of gender bias, and in the area of child support we are taking black men and other low-income men and putting them in jail. We are putting them in jail for the “crime” of being poor…this is not a system that anybody should be proud of.
F & F Board Member Robert Franklin, Esq. discussed the MSNBC piece and criticized child support enforcement abuses on Oregon radio--to listen, click here.
|F & F’s Holstein Discusses New Study on Fathers on New England Cable News Network
The New England Cable Network did a piece on a new Northwestern University study about how fathers’ biology allegedly changes after they become fathers.
According to NECN:
An extensive study from Northwestern University claims that parenthood seems to diminish testosterone levels in men.
It claims that it’s nature’s way of preparing them for the gentler role of being a dad.
A statement from the university says the research “provides compelling evidence that human males are biologically wired to care for their offspring, conclusively showing for the first time that fatherhood lowers a man’s testosterone levels.”
Dr. Ned Holstein of the Fathers and Families group thinks the study affirms what he’s always believed about active dads.
“Somehow in our society today, people have all kinds of weird notions about fathers, that they sort of have to be whipped into marriage and into fatherhood. It’s not true. Men love to be fathers.”
To watch the segment, click here.
Illinois Hounds Man for 20 Years for Support of Child State Knows Is Not His
For 20 years Illinois has been hounding Sean Harbin for child support for a child who’s not his. Worse, for ten of those years the state has known the child isn’t Harbin’s, but it’s keep up the harassment anyway. As but one example, two years ago the state suspended his driver’s license, and, just for good measure, didn’t tell him about it. Harbin happened to learn about the suspension two months ago...
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