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Sun 31st July 2011

NJ Child Support ‘Sweep’ Grosses $196 per Debtor–1.1% of What’s Owed

Filed under: General — Darryl X @ 2:46 am

July 28th, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

From Fathers and Families

New Jersey’s semi-annual sweep of child support debtors grossed 1.1% of what’s owed. Here’s a short article about it (NJ.com, 7/23/11).

The Garden State does this twice a year. Sheriff’s deputies fan out across the state arresting the major child support debtors. Slapped in irons and hauled off to jail, the non-custodial parents then come up with money to buy their way out of an extended stay behind bars.

So it’s always interesting to see just what the results are of these semi-annual raids. In the past they’ve been impressively unimpressive, and this year is no exception.

Here are the un-awe-inspiring totals: Number arrested – 1,074; total amount owed by those arrested – $18.7 million; total collected – $211,000.

The average amount owed per person is about $17,400; the average collected per person was $196. That’s a collection rate of 1.1%.

But this isn’t a story about the incompetence of law enforcement officials or the judiciary. It’s not a story about ‘deadbeat’ parents. No, it’s a story about the child support system whose draconian penalties fall on those least able to either fight the system or pay what they owe.

Seven years ago, the Office of Child Support Enforcement published this report. It states that 63% of non-custodial parents behind on their payments report earning $10,000 per year or less. Seventy-nine percent earn $20,000 or less. Now it’s true that not all of those parents are reporting everything they earn. It’s part of the child support system’s perfidious nature that it drives a lot of people underground into a cash-only economy.
But if you report $10k, the chances that you’re actually earning a lot more are slim. And keep in mind, the OCSE report was seven years ago; a lot has changed in the American economy since then, and not for the better. Back then the unemployment rate was in the mid-5% range. Now it’s 9.2% with men’s unemployment well higher even than that.

So when we read an article that tells us that 1,074 non-custodial parents were arrested for not paying their child support, that’s the portrait of those parents. Overwhelmingly, they’re poor.

That often means they simply don’t have the money to pay the support ordered by the court. It also means they can’t hire a lawyer to get a modification. And since the poor are more likely than those better off to be poorly educated, representing themselves in a modification hearing is essentially a sure bet to fail.

And even if they are ultimately successful at getting the order modified, it’s likely many months after they lost their job or hit whatever wall that made paying impossible. Those were months during which their arrearages went up and up, with penalties and interest attached. Those parents can’t pay the original amounts, much less several months at a time stacked on top of interest.

Those are the folks New Jersey is spending who knows how much to arrest every six months and collect one cent on the dollar of what’s owed.

Needless to say, there’s a better way. First, as the OCSE has urged for a long time, family courts should set child support levels at what parents can pay. I know it’s astonishing that they don’t, but the OCSE has been exhorting them to for years to little effect. But setting support levels too high is a sure recipe for arrearages and pointless ‘sweeps’ by law enforcement.

Second, states should reform their procedures for modifying support orders. As it is, those are simply too expensive and time-consuming for just about any parent who’s newly out of work. States should appoint special masters who do nothing but child support modifications, up or down. Those special masters should be tasked with hearing modification requests within two weeks of the time the motion is filed. Clerks in the master’s office should be trained to assist people filing for modifications by explaining what sort of evidence they need to bring to court to get the modification granted. The rules of evidence should be relaxed to allow documents and testimony that otherwise would be excluded as hearsay. Parent’s requesting modification should be able to represent themselves. There should be no new filing fees for modification requests.

Those expedited summary procedures would ultimately save parents time and the state money. Child support orders would more accurately reflect the parent’s ability to pay and arrearages wouldn’t build up while he/she waited to get a hearing. That would mean fewer police resources would be used to conduct twice-yearly sweeps.

The OCSE agrees; it’s recommendations are blunt.

The best way to reduce the total national child support debt is to avoid accumulating arrears in the first place. The best ways to avoid the accumulation of arrears are to set appropriate orders initially, modify orders via simple procedures promptly when family circumstances change, and immediately intervene when current support is not paid. Parents should share in the cost of supporting their children according to their ability. Designing a system that establishes appropriate orders will encourage payment of child support.

The child support system in this country is a disaster on many different fronts. For the most part, there are simple, commonsense ways to fix it. But it’ll take political will to do it. Sadly the poor don’t have much political clout.

16 Responses to “NJ Child Support ‘Sweep’ Grosses $196 per Debtor–1.1% of What’s Owed”

  1. Darryl X says:

    It’s worth noting that the actual unemployment rate in the US is NOT 9.2% – that is just the number actually collecting unemployment benefits and will likely go down as unemployment benefits expire for more and more people. So, when unemployment reported by the government for political expedience declines, it will be because those who were on unemployment and still need it won’t be anymore. The actual unemployment rate in the US is approximately 30% of the adult population. And many many more are underemployed without any medical care or insurance and do not earn enough to feed themselves or buy shelter. They are a newer class of people in the US unofficially referred to as the working homeless (or better known throughout history as slaves). These are the people (almost all men) who the government is targeting for prison.

  2. Darryl X says:

    Also worth noting is this article indicates that most men can’t afford an attorney to modify their support order, but even if they could, the Bradley Amendment to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act prohibits downward modification of any order for child support. So, no matter what the reason for a man’s unemployment and inability to pay excessive child support, the court will send him to jail or prison. The US is a post feminist dystopian police state.

  3. Darryl X says:

    @kiran – That’s unbelievable. Well, gotta pay the nannies.

  4. tren (chch) says:

    These tragic ‘affairs’ defy even any gang society logic.
    Would a father living with his wife and seven children, without a penny to pay for them, be jailed and asked to puke money to pay for them. Obviously no.

    A state that jails a father because he cannot or do not want to pay child support, should be jailed and for not providing a job for that father.

    Every father should require the children at his doorsteps and table in order to consent to feed them.

    Family courts, hasten, encourage the breakage of families, as women have absolutely nothing to loose and everything to gain from a divorce, and then enslave fathers with all sorts of defying logic orders.

  5. Mits says:

    I agree Tren

    but logic and, whats laughably called, child “support” have never been close friends have they.

    Dunne nothing has done nothing and continues to do so. Headlines of “sweeping reforms” actually amount to an exercise similar to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
    Banshee’s and she devils in receipt of said child tax continue to wail and gnash their teeth that they arent receiving “their entitlement” from the poor sap they duped.
    The only comments I have seen bemoaning the fact that child support isnt focused on supporting children is from fathers forced to pay the child tax to support the ex’s lifestyle choice and then pay child support on top to actually support their children.
    The second wives club are caught between a rock and a hard place without a moral leg to stand on if they are happy that their ex is paying them but indignant and outraged that the new partner is paying his ex.
    Successive goverments allow the obsence loading of penalties into the equation to stigmatise an already marginalised section of the community, The non custodial parent, with offensive titles like “deadbeat” with inpunity.
    The biggest victims in this whole sorry state are the children.
    Not the Bloated family caught lawyers, judges, registrars, phycologists, and trick cyclists, counsel for child,relationship counsellers, suicide ridden IRD minions, womens refuse harpies or the government sycophants that wheel out Child tax as saviour of children ignoring reality.
    And especially not the recipients of the tax that spend so much as a single cent of it on anything other than the welfare of their children.
    No Tren, logic and child tax are never going to co-exist when there are so many snouts in the trough using the childrens plight as the way to engorge their already bloated egos and wallets.

    Mits

  6. tren (chch) says:

    Right words Mits.
    Just a correction to my earlier comment:
    A state that jails a father because he cannot or do not want to pay child support, should, the state that is, be jailed for not providing a job the said father can do father.

  7. Darryl X says:

    I agree, Tren. Even gang members have the sense not to shoot themselves in the head.

  8. Darryl X says:

    Thanks, Tren and Mits. Yeah, if the State is the one that broke the man, then why are they sending HIM to jail. The State (politicians, judges, legislators, law enforcement, etc…) should resign their posts and allow someone competent to occupy them.

  9. Fair treatment says:

    kiran jiharr – so because that link is on the internet (and probably papers and mags etc) it must be true? Do you know Linda Evangelista? Hang out with the same group of friends? Talk to the neighbours, probably not. It may be true it may not, but this is so typical of so many people to believe anything they read, and make your own assumptions and start your own stories about it too? This site is supposed believe – There Are Always Two Side To A Story, but this only seems to be when it suits, and generally if you feel the man is getting the bum end of the stick. You don’t know what happens in peoples live let alone a celebrity that gets crap made up about them all the time.

  10. Bruce S says:

    Hi Fair Treatment; Linda Evangelista presented her case at the Manhatten family court on Monday 1 August 2011. Court records show that Support Magistrate Matthew Troy called the child support request “probably the largest support order in the history of the family court.”

    Just to clarify that court records exist for this case and that this is not just an “internet link” without substance.

  11. Bob says:

    “The average amount owed per person is about $17,400; the average collected per person was $196. That’s a collection rate of 1.1%.”
    They don’t care about money, you missed the whole point here. They are out to destroy men, as many men they can. -period- Feminist is a hate-group, they are dedicated make males suffer. They became more hard step by step, they use demonisation, dehumnisation, reification (males are all rapist, males are obsolete,etc.) on their target group as any other hate movement so they can hurt them without moral dilema. By a constant dehuminisation they are going step by step to ever growiong oppression, abuse, and violance. This is the same road, if pursued to is end that bring us to Shoah like insanaties.

  12. Mr. Anonymous says:

    Here are the un-awe-inspiring totals: Number arrested – 1,074; total amount owed by those arrested – $18.7 million; total collected – $211,000.

    The average amount owed per person is about $17,400; the average collected per person was $196. That’s a collection rate of 1.1%.

    Question: How much would it cost per person form them to be arrested and processed? Is there a good chance it was more than $196?

  13. Darryl X says:

    @Mr A – Absolutely!! The cost of dealing with fathers in arrears (who were forced into arrears by the State I might add and are not in arrears by any conscious decision or choice of their own and who are unable to pay) is considerable and greatly exceeds arrears for any father with an average income. Especially when the cost of imprisonment, which is approximately $30,000 per year, is considered. Furthermore, during imprisonment, the father doesn’t have an income and his arrears and interest are accumulating. After his imprisonment and because of it, the father is less likely to be able to get a job (even in a good economy, which we are not in). His chances are worse if his driver and business licenses and passport have been suspended. Jailing men for child support arrears makes absolutely no sense no matter how you look at it. Jailing men like this is nothing but an expression of malignant narcissism, an addiction to power and control, and evidence the US is a post feminist dystopian police state devolving rapidly into fascism.

  14. Darryl X says:

    @Bob – I agree that this is not about the money. At least in so far as the money has value in allowing those in power to satisfy their addiction to power and control. For sure, this process is about destroying men. That’s the abridged and very accurate version.

  15. Darryl X says:

    @Fair – Contents of the link are not believable because they are on the internet. You’r right – that would be stupid. But as Bruce documents, there are records. But even without those records, the insatiable greed demonstrated by this woman is consistent with that of more than one-third of all adult women (mothers) in the US pursuing child support from the fathers of their children. Completely irrational. As extreme as this woman’s behavior may appear, it is consistent and normal when in the context of behavior of so many others.

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