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Topics - joni

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Michigan State Forum / Web Site for Dads in Michigan
« on: Apr 01, 2005, 01:37:00 PM »

Here's a great group if your jurisdiction is in Michigan


Michigan State Forum / Child Support Calc Software for Michigan
« on: Nov 01, 2004, 07:23:24 PM »

go to this link and you'll be able to compute what your child support is




A major national press/media reporter is seeking to interview child support payors and recipients in Michigan who have documented proof that their child support payments have been lost, misapplied, etc., by the Friend of the Court (FOC) or State Disbursement Unit (SDU) resulting in financial hardships.

If you qualify, please respond (via email reply only) with the following information not later than Wednesday, June 9:

Payor & Recipient Name/addresses/phone numbers
Michigan County of jurisdiction
FOC Case#
Amount of error

Important...please do not respond if you are unable to verify your claim of errors with the appropriate documentation (copies required).  In such event, your case will not be used and valuable time would be wasted.  Forward this email as appropriate.

Thank you,

Murray Davis
Vice President
The National Family Justice Association

Michigan State Forum / Michigan glitches snarl child support
« on: Mar 07, 2004, 10:22:12 AM »


Snags in state's $459 million system don't give dads credit, leave kids without money

By Gary Heinlein, and Kim Kozlowski / The Detroit News

John M. Galloway / Special to The Detroit News
Michigan's child support system

* Approximately $30 million in support is disbursed each week.

* Michigan collected $1.4 billion in child support last year, third highest among the 50 states. Michigan has the second largest support caseload in the nation.

* By changing to a centralized computer tracking system in October in compliance with a federal deadline, Michigan avoided $147.5 million in federal penalties.

Source: State of Michigan

WEBBERVILLE — A federally mandated $459 million record-keeping system, intended to correct Michigan’s creaky, mistake-filled process for tracking payments to parents and their children, has instead caused a new wave of problems for those paying and receiving child support.

Rather than streamline services to 2.5 million adults and kids affected by nearly 800,000 child support orders, the new computer system has created errors and added headaches for parents and hard-pressed Friend of the Court agencies around the state.

The system, hastily installed in October to meet a federal deadline, may take years to fix, officials said.

Two years ago, a Detroit News investigation found that most of the agencies had too little staff and too much work. As a result, more than 400,000 children were getting none of the child support due them, and more than 600,000 custodial parents who were owed child support had been forced onto state assistance.

Since then, things haven’t gotten better at Friend of the Court offices. State and local budget problems have resulted in hiring freezes, if not staff reductions.

The ongoing problems are making life more difficult for hundreds of parents, like Webberville resident Lara Vinluan, who depend on child support — not to mention those who are required to pay it and can face jail time if they don’t.


Until the new system cranked up in October, child support payments of $341 flowed smoothly every two weeks from Ruben Davila’s paychecks to Vinluan and their 3-year-old son Aidan. Afterward, the checks and amounts became sporadic.

Between October and February, the new system shorted them by $650 while continuing to deduct the proper amount from Davila’s pay.

To make matters worse, Livingston County’s Friend of the Court agency, where Vinluan’s child support order is filed, seemed powerless to correct the problem. Local agencies have to rely on state computer technicians in Lansing to fix even the most elementary glitches.

“I contacted Livingston County many times, and the state many times, but they told me there was nothing they could do about it,” said Vinluan, 34. Eventually, she received a check for $650, but that may not mean the problem has been fixed.

Vinluan and Davila say it appears the state’s computer came up with the $650 check by deducting extra money from his paychecks. Further, the system now claims Davila, a Grosse Pointe Park resident also paying support for a child in Macomb County, is subject to three child support orders, rather than two, and is in arrears.

Such mixups have nearly doubled calls to Friend of the Court offices, said Jeff Albaugh, president of the Michigan Friend of the Court Association. An automated state phone system for child support clients is logging 230,000 calls a week.

More than 2,000 mistakes have cropped up since the system was activated, said Albaugh, head of Calhoun County’s Friend of the Court office in Battle Creek. A task force has compiled a list of more than 60 corrections, some of them major, that programmers need to make.

“This system has the seeds of being a very good system, but a private business would have waited another year to implement it,” Albaugh said.

Officials estimate it will take three years to meld data from the state’s patchwork of 64 Friend of the Court offices and 83 county prosecutors into a smooth-running system.

Focus on certification

Michigan hurried to meet an Oct. 1 deadline and avoid $147.5 million in federal penalties. Failure would have resulted in an added penalty of $60 million. The federal government requires states to have automated child support systems linked to federal computers.

“The focus had been to get (federally) certified, so the blinders were put on and the (computer) vendor was told not to be distracted by anything, including user issues,” Albaugh said. “Now problems are cropping up, creating more work rather than saving time.”

Examples of problems abound.

Southgate parent Ken Machus Jr. had made about 10 trips in a year to Wayne County’s Friend of the Court office at the Penobscot Building in Detroit, trying to clear up confusion over the $222.86 deducted weekly from his paychecks and sent to his ex-wife.

He’s puzzled about the $38,000 he is listed as owing the state and his former wife, in addition to child support being deducted for a 17-year-old daughter of whom he’s had legal custody for two years. More puzzling: His ex-wife also is supposed to be sending him $20 a week in support for the same daughter.

“When they switched to the computer, they sent me a letter saying it would be four to six months before my payments would be posted to my account, so I’m paying $222 a week and wondering where it’s going,” Machus said. “And I’m keeping very good records.”

Staff is overburdened

Computer troubles only magnify tension in densely populated Wayne County, where nearly half the state’s child support orders are lodged and an overburdened staff is too busy to answer phone calls.

But Wayne County Chief Judge Mary Beth Kelly, who’s overseeing the agency, said the problems are being dealt with and the system promises to be a big help. In May, Wayne’s office will expand with a 30-member call-in center staff, handling some of its 8,748 daily calls. The Wayne County Commission allocated $500,000 annually to fund it.

“There’s no question the system works,” Kelly said. “And the system has had profound benefits for Wayne County families. There’s no question that with the system, more families have received more child support.”

Marilyn Stephen, director of the state office of child support, acknowledged the changeover “has been a fairly bumpy ride,” but said complaints have leveled off.

“A year from now, I think there will be significant improvement. Some of the larger issues will take more time.”

Metro Detroit free-lance writer C. Lerner Rugenstein contributed to this report. You can reach Gary Heinlein at (517) 371-3660 or gheinlein@detnews.com



Child Support Propaganda Haunts Michigan Papers

January 2, 2004

by Roger F. Gay

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has been in office for one year. He promised to make child support collection his top priority. Just as knowledgeable observers would expect, the promise was followed by a year of lying and corruption. Three recent articles in Michigan newspapers illustrate why he, and others like him, get away with it.

On December 18, 2003 the Detroit Free Press carried an article by staff writer Dawson Bell entitled ATTORNEY GENERAL MIKE COX: ONE YEAR IN OFFICE: Honing political skill, hunting deadbeats. "Deadbeats" is a familiar reference to people who have not paid all the child support that has been ordered.

Anyone looking for an unbiased analysis would be in the wrong place. You only need look at the last paragraph, which reads: "But one thing we do know. He's easily the best Republican attorney general Michigan's had since Frank Millard."

Mr. Bell gives readers false hope with a section entitled; "Varied reviews," which then begins by saying "Virtually all observers agree there's not much downside for Cox on child support." That may be true, unless of course you happen to pay attention to the swollen throngs who see nothing but a downside to Cox on child support.

Mike Cox runs a private organization called PayKids that takes corporate donations from companies interested in child support collections. He has simultaneously been using his influence as Attorney General to lobby the state legislature to set up a system that would provide private child support collection agencies with lucrative state contracts.

On December 29th, The Macomb Daily published an article by Gitte Laasby, Capital News Service entitled; Cox zeros in on $7 billion in unpaid child support. The title copies misleading promotional information from the Cox website.

"Deadbeat dad" propaganda has been the subject of scientific investigation and the source of plenty of work by fathers' rights advocates. Although never supported by an ounce of honest evidence, proved and reproved false again and again, such bizarre claims are still common political fodder for dishonest politicians and their supporters.

One paragraph typifies the old-fashioned approach applied to Macomb County. "Deadbeat parents in Macomb County," the article claims, leaning heavily on the name-calling ethic, "owe about $17.3 million in estimated arrears at any given time, and Michigan is third-worst of all states for uncollected child support. Statewide, parents owe about $7 billion in back child support to 650,000 Michigan children and to the state."

By population, Michigan is the 8th largest state in the country; but adjusting for that, and reasonably for its claimed status as especially bad, one might expect at least $200 billion in past due child support owed nationwide. That's more than five times the total annual child support owed in the United States, including the amount "owed" (so to speak) by the 80-90 percent of fathers who pay regularly. The GAO has reported Office of Child Support Enforcement estimates that the total accumulated unpaid child support since the federal government first became involved in 1975 is less than $100 billion, and several analysts who have focused on child support (including me) believe that number is too high.

Claiming 650,000 children are owed child support in Michigan would imply around 25 million in the United States. With currently around 7 million (male and famale) custodial parents due child support nationwide (including those who receive regular payments), that would be around 3.5 per custodial parent; but if considering only those not receiving child support, the number might be somewhere closer to 25-30 children per custodial parent.

Obviously something is wrong with the statistics and something wrong with writers who repeat such dribble and newspapers that print it.

The article goes on to build up Mike Cox's image with an attack on noncustodial parents. Cox's press officer Mike Doyle complains that the public's misperception of the problem is partially to blame. "People kind of see deadbeat parents not as criminals, but people who are doing something unethical in not paying for their kids' support," he said.

'Another problem is that collecting support "wasn't a terribly high priority" to county prosecutors and the former attorney general,' parrots the article before a quote from the press officer drops entirely off the reality truck.

"For too long, these deadbeats have been able to avoid paying child support without too much fear of any kind of pursuit by law enforcement. The attorney general is trying to establish a credible threat that they will be prosecuted for a felony if they don't pay," according to Mr. Doyle.

It's one thing to claim such programs are "for the children" but entirely another to shape the promotional campaign for an audience under 5 years old. You can't expect people much older than that to be unaware of the huge and extremely expensive government program aimed at the so-called "deadbeat dads" that started more than a quarter century ago; the continuous threats, and overzealous enforcement efforts.

It might seem possible that too few people understand, because so few "news" outlets let on, that the program has not had any effect on compliance. That's because fathers (85 percent of the statistically understood noncustodial parent population are fathers) were paying well before the program began. The primary cause of non-payment is that a significant portion of parents who owe child support cannot pay as much as they have been ordered to pay for various reasons. One of them is that some of the so-called "deadbeats" are actually dead.

People get behind in every sort of payment, house payments, car payments; whatever payments there are, people get behind even when they don't want to. It's only when it's child support that corrupt public officials get away with treating it as a crime. What's worse is that the enforcement program shut down the legal mechanisms for obtaining proper adjustments to the amount owed when appropriate. The amounts owed as child support are extremely random, typically unrelated to children's needs and the parents' ability to provide. But that's just the circumstance that results in the appearance of need for enforcement, as the past-due amounts continue to rise.

Some payers encounter problems and later make up for it, or at least start paying again. Cox attributes every payment of a past-due amount to his personal efforts, a claim that could never stand up to scrutiny. Writer Gitte Laasby regurgitates without question: "With $1.4 million in overdue support payments collected so far, the attorney general has surpassed the $1 million mark he was shooting for by the end of this year."

It's not particularly interesting to know that some people are behind, but paying. That's happened every year for as long as there have been child support agreements and orders. All people like Cox need to know in order to meet or beat their own projections is what the statistical average is. It's likely that more than $1 million in past-due support would have been paid without Mike Cox or any special child support enforcement program at all for that matter. That's just part of the way things work out in real life.

On the same day that the Capital News Service article ran, The Macomb Daily also published an article entitled Macomb officials skeptical of child support crackdown by Chad Selweski, one of its own staff writers. At first the article seems to finally present a challenge to Cox's propaganda machine; but it stops short of the serious truth.

The article isn't so much about criticisms of Mr. Cox's involvement in child support as it is about his defense, repeating the same bizarre statistical misinformation as the Capital News Service article.

'Sheriff Mark Hackel sees the situation differently,' Mr. Selweski tells readers. 'He calls Cox's program a "duplication of effort" with no clear strategy. The state would reap more benefits, he said, if it helped fund enforcement programs in Macomb and other major counties.'

That's right. It turns out that local officials want the state's Attorney General to turn over more of the funding to them. Not a word from any real skeptics, who according to Michigan's newspapers don't exist.

Roger F. Gay


You're going to love this one and I want everyone to never believe what anyone tells you, always ask to see the proof and follow up on every last detail, using every last breath that you have.

Case in point, in October, the Great State of Michigan grabbed our federal income tax refund for an arrearage.  Problem was, there was no arrearage, it had been paid in full 3 months earlier but of course, they never report the good news to the government.  They weren't current with their records for arrearage balances.

So I expected our child support coupons in November or December to show a decreased amount for the overpayment because of the income tax refund taken.  Nothing showed.  So I wrote them a letter saying WTF????

We got a form letter from the Great State Of Michigan:

December 10, 2003

Dear Sir or Madam,

Our office has received Federal Tax money from the IRS (YEAH...ALMOST THREE MONTHS AGO!).  Our records indicated your acount has support arrearages (REALLY ZERO NOW), service ($21) and processing fees ($43) that remain due.

With your permission (WHY DO YOU NEED MY PERMISSION????  YOU ALREADY SUCKED MY $1200 TAX REFUND!!!), we would like to pay off these debts and return the portion, if any, to you (REFUND ME $1146???).  Please respond by signing the bottom of the form and returning this letter to us by January 2, 2004.


Oakland County Friend of the Court

THE FOLLOWING HAD TO BE SIGNED Permission:  I authorize Oakland County Friend of the Court to apply my tax money to the above identified account for any and all arrearages, service and processing fees due.


WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED if I hadn't written that letter asking them why they hadn't paid out that money?  And what would have happened if I didn't respond by Jan 2nd?  Would the money just evaporate???

Never mind the huge problem this caused with our estimated tax payments for the year 2003.  This was fun money for the refund.  We're self employed and it was to be applied towards the payment of our 2003 taxes.  So now I'm incurring huge underpayment and late penalties for being $1200 underpaid.

I think most normal people would assume that this would have been paid and not followed up on anything.  Don't assume nothin' because all it does is make an ASS out of U and ME.

Illinois State Forum / Grandparent's Visitation Law in Illnois
« on: Aug 17, 2004, 08:20:41 AM »


Let's hope Illinois is able to do the same for JLC.


New law enables grandparents to file for visitation rights

August 13, 2004



Grandparents in Illinois have an explicit legal right to file for visitation rights to their grandchildren under a new law signed Thursday.

Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), a co-sponsor of the bill, said Illinois was the only state without a grandparent visitation law.

"This law puts the best interest of children first and helps clear a path for grandparents to see their grandchildren,'' said Gov. Blagojevich in signing the measure.

According to Blagojevich's office, grandparents can now ask judges for visitation if the parent has made "an unreasonable denial of visitation'' and one of the following conditions exist:

* A parent is incompetent, deceased or has been sentenced to jail for more than one year.

* The parents are divorced or separated for three months and one parent does not object to visitation.

* The child is illegitimate, the parents are not living together and the grandparent is related to the mother.

* The grandparent is related to the father and paternity has been established.

Cullerton, who sponsored the bill with Rep. Patricia Reid Linder (R-Aurora), said the grandparent often is "the most stable influence in the child's life.''

According to the American Association of Retired Persons, traditionally American courts ruled that a child's mother and father could prevent either or both sets of grandparents from visiting the grandchildren.

In the 1970s, state legislatures began to pass grandparent visitation statutes, partly due to lobbying efforts of senior citizen groups.

Those laws came under greater scrutiny after a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision on a Washington state case that overturned broad child visitation rights for grandparents. That decision was based on lack of standards in the Washington state law.

Under the new Illinois law, standards are spelled out that will survive court tests, Blagojevich's office said.

Illinois State Forum / Multi State Jurisdiction
« on: Dec 11, 2003, 09:39:53 AM »

Welcome Dean,

We reside in IL.  My husband's Ex wants to move to NY from MI.  The current jurisdiction is MI for child custody/support.  We're fighting move to NY but that's another story.

What happens down the road with regards to child support?  Would my husband's Ex have any success getting it moved to NY if she's allowed to permanently move there?

Naturally, we're concerned about which state is in our favor with regards to the child support calculation.  New York pays child support until 21 y.o. so that might be a huge motivator for his Ex to fight to move it to NY.

Also, is there a web site that you're aware of that compares the differences in the child support calculations between the various states so that we can do some research?

My DH just renewed his professional license several weeks ago.  I did it for him online.  One of the questions was regards to child support.  If he had an arrearage, he could not have renewed his license.  Without his license, he could not work....period.

We don't have an arrearage but for grins and giggles, I called the License Renewal and they stated he would have to pay his entire arrearage to get his license renewed.  I created a scenario for them, stating the court was aware of the arrearage and his was current with his repayment plan.  Didn't matter that it was all he could afford, still had to pay the arrearage in full to get his license.

Thank God it wasn't applicable to us.

But this lien on arrearage, as many of you know, falls way beyond just professional licensing.  You can't get driver's licenses, license plates or your income tax refund.  Even if you're current on your arrearage repayment plan through the court, when the opportunity arises, you get everything taken from you.

Now this is where it gets interesting.....

Although my DH pays CS, he had an overpayment of over $5000 because of a retroactive filing.  In March 2004, he filed for a reduction.  Mom fought it to trial, the final order, entered in our favor was received last week.  So between child support and child care over the past 16 months, mom owes us $5000.

So we have to wait for repayment at $200/mo for the next two years of so.  I called the state.  There is no lien against this mom's income tax for our overpayment because she's the custodial parent.  Mom can still have her license renewed and the plates renewed on her car.  Mom can still get her teacher's license renewed.

The hypocrasy of this double standard has got to end.  How many noncustodial parents never receive their refund when they wait for it when their child turns 18?  Many states won't even let a NCP get their abatement from when the children were in their care until child support obligation is done.  Do you think these CP pay them back?  Without the same diligence in laws available for NCP like going after licenses and income tax refunds...of course not.

This information can be found on this document


To recap, for 2004 the government says the costs for a single parent to raise one child is as follows.  This amount includes housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, education and a miscellaneous amount.

0-2 years old -                   $5,860

3-5 years old -                    $6,640

6-8 years old -                     $7,460

9-11 years old -                    $6,930

12-14 years old -                  $7,420

15-17 -                  $8,180

Now, before you compare your number, in theory, reduce the above amount by the % of the custodial parents salary compared to yours.  For example, if both you and your Ex make the exact same amount of money per year, you would reduce the above amount by 50%.  Compare that reduced amount by the amount you pay for child support (do not include work related, court ordered child care).  This above amount also includes medical!

In our instance, we are paying DOUBLE what the government says our portion is to raise my SD.

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