Andre BagwellEnglish 1020April 12, 2012Project #4 “Child Support? No Support For Non-Custodial Parent” A topic that has taken a back seat to other issues like the bad economy, high gas prices, publiceducation, transportation reform and emergency financial managers, child support reform deserves justas much if not more attention. When child support laws were first introduced to society, the reform wasdefinitely needed. The majority of households consisted of the traditional mom, dad and childrenformat. After radical movements gave women more rights, we noticed an increase in single familyhomes. It would be unfair to say it was because of the woman’s movement this happened, so I will saya combination of men wanting it all and women able to now say , they cant have it all, lead to theincrease in single parent homes. During this era most women were home makers and did not posses thenecessary skills to compete for good jobs. That, coupled with the pay scales leaning towards the men,women were left in poverty raising children by themselves. According to James Gross the author of“Fathers Rights” this caused the child support laws to become especially radical. Those days are longgone and those concerns are no longer issues. The tables have turned, women compete with men in thework force and are educated at the same rate, as a matter of fact, according to Andrew Cohen, theauthor of “Advocating the non-resident parent”, women are educated more than men in some cases.Since, the tables have turned and the non-custodial parents have been forced to suffer unfairly becauseof the current child support laws. The fact of the matter is, child supports laws are unfair for the non-custodial parent and must be changed.
Child support conversations either for or against the law were unheard of years ago. Now, withthe alarming number of single parent homes, it has become the talk of the town. Women and Men alikeare suffering the same because of the law. The good side of the law is, much needed revenue andresources have been generated for custodial parents. The bad side is, the non-custodial parent on manyoccasions have been left without enough money to support themselves and their family. A personalinterview conducted at the Veterans Hospital in Detroit Michigan with a person who would like toremain nameless, reveals what one would hope, but is not, an isolated case. This person is workingsolely for medical benefits, he actually receives a check for 2 cents every two weeks because ofmonthly support and arrears’s requirements. Another case study who is an AT&T employee willinglyvolunteered his testimonial with name, Kenneth Nichols, says he worked overtime for a year and thechild support courts awarded the custodial parent child support based on an eighty hour work week vicethe traditional forty hour work week. When protested, the courts findings were, since he has the abilityto make that amount of money , therefore the support remains. This has left him unable to have a goodquality of life for himself and subsequently depressed. From a grandparents perspective; Yvonne Feltonis raising her grandson but the biological mother gets child support for the same child. The courtsrefuse to relieve the father of support obligations because of state benefit she receives. These examplesare not isolated cases but the new normal according to James Gross the author of Father Rights( A legalguide protecting the best interest of your children). My experience with child support comes with mixed feelings. I have five children and havebeen in the child support system for 15 years. The first eleven years were very fair and the systemreally worked and allowed for visitation and fair distributions of resources which productivelybenefited the children. Since the system was fair this enabled me to start another family without
financial repercussion from child support obligations. There is a situation that has not been address bythe courts legally and leaves to much discretion for the judge. Without going to far into the weeds, thismarriage was dissolved and one child was born. This one child actually trumped the existence of theother children. This child was awarded the majority of my resources leaving the responsibility forsupport for the other children almost non-existent for me. Child support reform should visit issues likethis and make standard by laws that prevent judges from having to much latitude. Child support payments are assessed to high, forcing men and women alike into poverty. Withthe current system, one of the most over-looked consequence is the right to see the child. The non-custodial parents do not have time to spend with the child because they are constantly working trying tomeet child support obligations and maintain some type of quality of life. According to the Office ofchild support enforcement administration for children and families Department of Health and HumanServices(July 2009), many child access visitation programs were launched and tracked with the intentto improve both parent relationships with the child. This program was designed to get more money tothe custodial parent and give the child access to both biological parents. In the beginning of thisprogram the results appeared promising, the non-custodial parents were back to work generating childsupport payments, but the research revealed the non-custodial parent did not increase time spent withthe children. Child support was designed to prevent financial despair of the custodial parent, now it puts thefinancial burden on the non-custodial parent. According to the Non-Custodial Parent(Summaries ofResearch, Grant and Practices Child Support Enforcement Fiscal Year 2010 Preliminary Report), non-Custodial parents are paying more child support but are not involved in the childrens lives. All statesreport improvement in support generated but according to the OCSE-157, line 4, child support casesonly increased by .5 percent. This means the revenue was generated by existing cases. Money from
arrears and increases in current cases were responsible for the revenue generated making life hard forthe non-custodial parent that paid. The .5 percent increase in cases was not responsible for newrevenue. In accordance with OCSE-396A line 9 column A through D beginning in 2008 and OCSE-396AA line 7, A through D ending 2009, the increase in child support enforcement techniques did notlead to more revenue but more consequences for the non paying parent like loss of drivers license andjail time. The Non-custodial parents really did not have relationships with their children once thisbegan. Although the child support enforcement agency is bringing in billions of dollars in revenuenation-wide helping custodial parents, it does not resolve the access to the child concern. The custodialparents remain the gatekeepers for the non-custodial parents access to the children. The agency is incharge of money only and have no legal rights to assist the non-custodial parents access to the child. Inan interview with the 21 year child support enforcement agent Mrs. A. Southall, of the PortsmouthVirginia child support enforcement agency, she says “I have seen it all”. “It is sad, we see things thatare not fair but it is not our job to intervene.” Some of the custodial parents have in excess of sixdifferent non-custodial parents getting money from everyone of them. “I believe in the system and weretrieve money from many dead beats, but we see just as many cases that are not fair to the non-custodial parent also.” Mrs Southalls experience help me get some resolution in my case. It is apparent that the child support enforcement system is broken. My research concludes thatchild support is necessary but the current system is broken. Many advocates agree that a better systemcould benefit both the custodial and non-custodial parents. The current systems according to the childsupport enforcement 2010 preliminary report generated 26.6 billion dollars. The “Non-custodialparents and Summaries for Research, Grants and Practices(July 2009) reveals the reason for this is
increase in unemployment, federal tax and back to work programs for the non-custodial parents. Thenon-custodial parent earn on average 12 dollars an hour of which they seen an average of 3 of thosedollars. This is not fair and other programs should be developed to improve the system. Non-custodial parents have it hard in todays child support enforcement world. A new systemshould be implemented to help the parents resolve issues that make no sense. With arrears set at fiftyand sixty thousand dollars, child support relief and forgiveness programs should be considered.Consideration for the well being of the non custodial parent should be a part of the awards process, notjust numbers. Also, improving the judicial review is a must because judges are far removed from theblue-collar worker and appear to not understand the consequences of their decisions. The child support collected by agencies access a 6 percent tax on all cases(OCSE-396A report pg. 1),the money should be used better. With that said, legal representation should be free for non-custodialparents because it is impossible to wiggle through the legal system without one and with the systemthe way it is it is impossible to pay for representations. Another solution should be counselingprograms should be free because the stress associated with this program is a documented problem.Finally, my research has concluded that the child support enforcement program is flawed and seriousreform is needed.
Work CitedNo Author. Department of Health and Human Services Fiscal year(2010) child support preliminary datareport Form (OACE-157) line 2.No Author. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children andFamilies(Giving hope and support to Americas children) 2010. Table P-1 Finacial overview for fiveconsecutive years. Administration for children and families. 370 LEnfant Promenade, S. W.Washington DC 20447(Historical document).Gross, James(2010) Father Rights(A Legal guide protecting the best interest of your children)Book.Gross, James J.(2009) Custody Factors Virginia code sec 20-24.3 Appendix D, pg 233. Book.Cohen, Andrew L(2008) Advocating the non-resident parent in the welfare court cases. Edited byClaire S Chiamula. BookKastner, Carolyn, R(November 1984). Selected exemplary State child support laws: Incomewithholding, State Income tax intercept, expedited judicial and administrative procedures.Southall, A, personal interview, 03 Apr 2012.Anonomous, personal interview, 31 March 2012.Nichols, Kenneth, personal interview, 07 April 2012.Felton, Yvonne, personal interview, 07 April 2012.