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Louisiana State Forum / Message from Louisiana Dads
« on: Jul 03, 2004, 06:21:57 AM »
Louisiana Dads
Saturday July 3, 2004
P. O. Box 216 Milton La. 70558
Member ACFC
Children need BOTH Parents
Happy Independence Day!!
Topic:  Louisiana Dads, LCF and others to hold a press Conference.
Dear Group;
         In a House and Senate Conference Committee on the LAST DAY of the session, 3 senators and 3 representatives REMOVED any safe guards that SB 633 had amended to it.  The bill was restored to its original form and rushed through both the house and senate.  This bill is being called for not by DSS, but by Ouachita Parish District Attorney Jerry Jones.
         Louisiana Dads, LCF, and other organizations are holding a press conference on Tuesday July 5, 2004 at 10:00 am in front of the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge.  This will be to announce to the media our displeasure with SB 633 and request Gov. Blanco to VETO it!!  We are requesting that ALL members show up Tuesday morning in front of the Governors Mansion and just stand behind us in support.  Signs to veto SB 633 would be great!!
        I know it is the first day of work back for a lot of you, but you MUST get there to help STOP this bill!!!  Gov. Blanco MUST VETO SB 633 or our unemployed, disabled, and returning National Guardsmen will be arrested by greedy District Attorneys.  Ouachita Parish YOU have to most to fear!  Jerry Jones is pushing this bill so you WILL be targeted.  If he can't run his office with the funds he has that is not our children's fault.  If some rich person is out there shirking their responsibility to their children then fine, lock them up, but it should not be a crime to be unemployed or in the National Guard!! This is simply a money grab by them to get YOUR money and matching federal funds.  THIS IS NOT ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT!!  How do we know this?  An effort to make the fines in the bill go towards payment of support was KILLED in the legislature.  This is about getting the DA offices money at the EXPENSE of your children.  There are better ways to do this.
       IF by chance you can not make it.  We want to FLOOD the capitol switchboard with as many phones calls and emails as we can.  Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts and Uncles must also call.  The more women who call the better.  Here are the numbers.
Office of the Governor.
The fax number to the gov's office is 225-342-7099.
To send and email.  http://www.gov.state.la.us/govemail.asp

      If Gov Blanco allows this to become law, the DA's will lock up hundreds of people who, through no fault of their own, can't pay their full amount of support.  Fines will be HUGE, and in the end, collections will not go up that much.  What is needed is a realistic assessment of support obligations, the money to be accounted for and spent ONLY on the children, and for BOTH parents to be a part of their children's lives on as equal a basis as possible.  ONLY THEN will we stop this epidemic of divorce and rescue our children.
Thanks and God Bless;

Child Support Issues / Unfair to dads? You Bet!
« on: Aug 25, 2004, 10:34:05 AM »
Only MEN pay child support, and this proves it. How can ANYONE look at this and not scream "UNFAIR!!"?

What about all the men who've had "informal agreements" to have a child with a woman? How come they have to pay support? Oh, that's right- it's because they're MEN.

BOSTON -- A woman who agreed to have a child with her lesbian partner, but split up with the mother before the baby's birth, cannot be forced to pay child support, the state's highest court ruled Wednesday.

The split ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court -- which legalized gay marriage in a landmark ruling last year -- comes in the case of a Hampshire County lesbian couple, identified in court documents as "T.F." and "B.L.," who lived together from 1996 to 2000.

B.L. at first resisted T.F.'s wishes to have a child, but later changed her mind.

The couple broke up after T.F. got pregnant by artificial insemination. After the baby was born, T.F. sued her former partner for child support. A Probate and Family Court judge turned to the state Appeals Court, which in turned passed the case the case up to the Supreme Judicial Court.

Associate Justice Judith A. Cowin wrote that the informal agreement between the two women to have a child together did not constitute an enforceable contract, and B.L. can't be forced to pay child support.

Three justices -- including Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, who wrote the ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts -- disagreed with the majority conclusion, saying that the implied contract between the woman is enforceable.

"The child may have been abandoned by the defendant, but he should not be abandoned by the court," Justice John M. Greaney wrote in the dissent.

Copyright © 2004, The Associated

Ten accused in theft of $91,000 in child support money


Associated Press

The Marion County prosecutor filed dozens of felony charges against a former state employee and nine others accused of taking part in the theft of more than $91,000 in child support money.

Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said Kathleen Crumpton, who worked for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration from 1998 until last year, used her authority to redirect and steal child support checks. Crumpton, 38, is charged with two felonies.

"She diverted money that was intended to help support children in single-parent homes," Brizzi said. "Who knows what these children had to go without?"

From September 2002 to March 2003, Crumpton had about 25 child support payments mailed to her mother's home and other addresses, and she then falsely endorsed and cashed them, according to the charges filed Friday in Marion Superior Court.

Crumpton could not be reached for comment. A phone number assigned to an Indianapolis resident with her name is unlisted.

Prosecutors also charged Crumpton's 19-year-old son and a bank teller who allegedly processed the checks. Seven others also were charged.

The 10 suspects were expected to surrender to authorities, prosecutors said. The charges include conspiracy, forgery and theft.

The Family and Social Services Administration, according to court records, was tipped to the scheme in February 2003 by a liquor store owner who became suspicious when he was asked to cash one of the stolen checks. The FSSA began its own investigation and closely monitored Crumpton's activities for about a month, spokeswoman Cindy Collier said.

Crumpton resigned during the FSSA investigation. Prosecutors were presented with the evidence in September, Collier said.

"We have been very anxious to see this come to fruition," she said. "That money belongs to children, and that's who should get it."

The FSSA processes about $430 million a year in child support.

The agency has tightened policies and procedures since Crumpton's resignation last year, Collier said. The theft "was an important learning experience," the spokeswoman said.

Information from: The Indianapolis Star


The Follies of Child Support: Dead-Beat or Dead-Broke?

March 11, 2004
by Carey Roberts

Persons who are looking for an example of how good intentions can turn into a nightmare should consider the case of Alexander Shire. When Alexander was 14, he was plied with liquor and raped by Laura Evelyn, then 21 years of age. Evelyn became pregnant and bore a child. That was back in 1984.

When the child support commissars in Michigan recently found out about the case, they demanded that Shire pay child support.

You may wonder how this can be, since the offspring is now full-grown and no longer in need of “child” support. But draconian child support laws make no provision for that. Shire would be required to pay for all back payments, plus interest.

How could this banana-republic justice happen here in America?

Back in 1974, the Congress established the [a href=http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/index.html" target="xx]Office of Child Support Enforcement[/a]. For years, few knew of this petty bureaucracy.

All that changed on May 4, 1992, when Newsweek magazine depicted on its cover an affluent white man. He was framed with a Wanted poster bearing the caption, “Deadbeat Dads: Wanted for Failure to Pay Child Support.” Almost overnight, Deadbeat Dads became Public Enemy No. 1.

But the Newsweek picture was wrong. Instead of a well-heeled businessman, it should have shown a guy wearing a faded T-shirt. Color him disheveled. Call him “dead-broke.”

In his acclaimed book, Divorced Dads, researcher Sanford Braver concludes that “unemployment is the single most important factor relating to nonpayment.” And according to a study of non-paying dads released by the Urban Institute last year, “only 1% have recent net incomes in excess of $50,000.”

So much for the two-timing executive driving off in his red convertible with trophy girlfriend in hand.

Teresa Kaiser, former director of the Maryland child support office, freely admitted to her audiences that support formulas are set way too high for low-income dads. So the child support “crisis” is actually an artifact of unrealistic payment guidelines.

But seduced by the stereotype of the dad willfully neglecting his kids and tantalized by the prospect of reducing ballooning welfare budgets, the child support zealots moved ahead.

First came wage garnishment in 1977. In 1980, child support agencies were granted access to IRS wage information. [a href=http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/2003appendix7.pdf" target="ll]Paternity identification programs[/a] geared up in 1988.

But the early returns were not encouraging. In 1989, moms were getting $2,252 – only $37 more than they had received in 1983.

So the Clinton administration shifted the campaign into high gear. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act established two vast databases that made almost every American a potential suspect for non-payment of child support: the National Directory of New Hires and the Federal Case Registry.

Clinton-era bureaucrats dreamed up other programs that, in retrospect, were simply irrational. Driving licenses were revoked – just try earning a living wage if you can’t operate a car or truck.

And debtor’s prison was re-instituted. As you read this article, 15,000 destitute dads are spending time behind bars. Is that where they’re supposed to get training for the jobs of the future?

Last October the Census Bureau issued its [a href=http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p60-225.pdf" target="mm]report[/a], Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2001. The report reveals that from 1994 to 2002, the percentage of mothers who received child support actually dropped, from 76.1% to 74.7%.

Thirty years and many billions of taxpayer dollars later, we must face the truth: We have unfairly marginalized millions of poor dads from their families, while betraying the hope and trust of struggling moms. In the process we have infringed on the rights and privacy of average law-abiding Americans.

In short, the American child support system has been a depressing failure.

The case of [a href=http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=11004783&BRD=988&PAG=461&dept_id=141265&rfi=6" target="nn]Alexander Shire[/a] was finalized last month in the Michigan Court of Appeals. State prosecutor Carl Marlinga successfully argued, “At stake here is not the mother profiting from criminal wrongdoing; what’s at stake here is the child, who is entitled to an appropriately supported upbringing regardless of how he was conceived.”

That statement, notably short on compassion and reason, is the totalitarian mindset at work. And that’s what the $4 billion-a-year child support dragnet is doing to us.

Carey Roberts


Senate: Divorced parents can’t be made to pay for college

The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Jan. 8, 2004

CONCORD - The state Senate voted Wednesday to bar judges from ordering divorced parents to pay their children’s college expenses.

The 20-2 vote sent the bill to Gov. Craig Benson for signature. The House had approved it last year.

Judges cannot ordered married couples to pay for college tuition, and it would be unfair to apply a different standard to those who are divorced, said Sen. Frank Sapareto, R-Derry.

“If a college education is to become public policy, it should be for all parents, not just divorced parents,” added Sen. Robert Clegg, R-Hudson.

Lawmakers wanted to reverse a state Supreme Court ruling extending a divorced father’s child support for his daughter while she attended college.

Clegg said parents can make divorce agreements that cover college expenses even though judges can’t. Judges can approve the agreements and enforce them.

Other states allow judges to order a divorced parent to pay college expenses for their children. Studies show the children are less likely to go to college.

The Senate also approved a bill that would seal financial records in divorce proceedings. The Senate said the information can be released if someone can convince a judge the public interest is served.

Supporters of restricting access argue affidavits provide information that could be exploited by stalkers or identity thieves.

But those who want divorce records to remain open say the public can’t evaluate the fairness of property divisions and child support orders if they can’t see the facts underlying those decisions.

Clegg said the added exception protects the public interest but establishes “a high standard to protect the privacy of divorcing parties.”

The bill goes back to the House.

The Senate also approved and sent back to the House a bill that would make it easier to change a child custody arrangement if the court is convinced the existing arrangement is detrimental to the child. The current rule allows for a change only if there is a “strong possibility the child will be harmed” without it.


Florida Judge Withholds Child Support Payments
He couldn’t take it

January 4, 2004
by Tom Kovach

I’ve tried to avoid whining in this column, but today it’s my turn.
In a recent news item, it was revealed that a judge in Florida had stopped making his court-ordered child-support payments for a year.  He didn’t go back to the original court and ask to stop paying.  He simply stopped.  Of course, he claimed to have a good reason for withholding the payments.  You see, his ex-wife had been arrested a second time for DUI.  He sees nothing wrong with his actions.  And, in a way, neither do I.

But, what if that was me, or any other (read closely) “Beat-Dead” father?

Ironically, Circuit Judge Bob Wattles justified his withholding the payments because, “By my calculations, I'm ahead. I paid more than I should have when I stopped.”  He based that statement on the fact — undisputed, by the way — that he had been voluntarily paying about $300 more per month than the court had required.  But, I will pose the questions that any judge in a Family Court would ask a regular father under the same circumstances.  Don’t you think your child will need to eat sometime before he turns 18?!  What did he expect his son to do, store up blubber like a whale?

The irony continues, though.  The judge’s required child support was only $358 per month.  On a judge’s salary?!  My support payment, for only one child, is $123.50 per week!  And, my “real” job only pays $8.50 per hour, and I usually don’t get 40 hours in a week.  (Thus, I have more time for my real love, writing, even though it doesn’t pay.)  From years of experience in the Fathers’ Rights movement, I know that there are plenty more fathers voluntarily over-paying their fair share than there are fathers (especially judges) getting away with under-paying.  Although I admire Judge Wattles for paying more than the minimum, I simultaneously deplore the fact that another judge let him get by with paying so little in the first place.

Perhaps the judge really meant well.  (And, deep down, my gut tells me that he did.)  Perhaps he recognized that he was enabling his ex-wife’s drinking habit by giving her all that money.  Perhaps it was his way of protesting and punishing her behavior, and also protecting their son.  Fine.  Bravo.  Good for you, judge.  You have the right idea.  But, what about all the other fathers across this country (and others) that have been forced to enable whatever bad habits their ex-wives might acquire?  And, what about all the other fathers that have technically violated a court order for trying to do the right thing?

For example, when our divorce became final, my ex-wife had gone through three attorneys.  She finally went pro se.  Then, she started messing around with my access to our daughter.  I applied for custody, and I sued her for alienation of affections.  Then, she got one of her attorneys back.  Then, he started billing her.  Up until that point, we had a great system of child support.  I paid her regularly with Postal Money Orders.  I kept records as best I could.  But, when the lawyer started billing my ex-wife, she suddenly went to the Family Court and demanded that I be put on “The System”.  And, by her attorney’s skillful calculations, I became a “deadbeat” from day one.  (And, of course, my custody and civil suits were dismissed.)  

Of course, common sense tells anyone — except Family Court judges — that she is spending my child support money on her attorney.  And, some of his legal fees were tacked onto my “support” obligation.  And, when my ex-wife refused to let our daughter see me one Fathers’ Day, I stopped paying.  Then, the attorney petitioned the court to have me jailed for contempt.  But, does anyone care?

During that same time, my ex-wife has systematically denied me access to our daughter, alienated her against me, married a guy who lived with his parents until he was 38 years old, and moved our daughter into a run-down rural house.  (My ex’s own word for it was “dumpy”.)  She has also — by her own admission, in court papers — racked up more than $24,000 in multiple credit-card debts.  We only had one credit card when we were married, and I cut it up when it got out of hand at only $2,000.  Can the court see which one is the responsible parent?  (Well, in the eyes of a Family Court judge, the responsible parent is the one that’s paying a lawyer!)

It galls me that I’m paying “lawyer support”, and helping prepare for an attorney’s children to go to college at the expense of my own.  It galls me that the State of New York refuses to recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome as a valid cause of action.  It galls me that the NY Family Court refuses to enforce Section 241 of the Domestic Relations Law.  (That section says that, if the custodial parent denies access to the child, then the non-custodial parent may stop paying support — after a successful court petition, of course.)  

It galls me that “any reasonable person” can see that the real reason that a total of six Family Court judges have kept my daughter away from me is because I helped to write legislation that reduces their terms from ten years to four.  It galls me that my situation — which seems painful to those with “normal” lives — is nothing compared to millions of other fathers that have it far worse, and that “The System” will not lift a finger to help them.  But, it galls me much more to think that Judge Wattles will probably get away with stopping his support payments (although he was apparently doing the right thing), while other judges would lock up any regular father for using that same method to try to protect their children.

I have to wonder how many fathers Judge Wattles may have locked up previously for not paying support.  Apparently, Judge Wattles thinks that the court system is unfair.  Perhaps the judge thinks it’s all just too confusing.  Or, perhaps the judge can’t afford a lawyer — after that whopping support deduction.  Or, perhaps the judge doesn’t think that one should have to ask a court’s permission to do the right thing and protect one’s child.  Or, perhaps the judge doesn’t think he can afford to take that much time off from work.  (Do any of these concerns sound familiar, gentlemen?)  No matter what the reason, a sitting judge bypassed the judicial system. Apparently, he just couldn’t take it.

Justice isn’t blind; it’s willfully stupid.

Tom Kovach

(From: http://www.mensnewsdaily.com/archive/k/kovach/2004/kovach010404.htm)

Child Support Issues / IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ!!
« on: Jan 06, 2004, 04:12:56 PM »
January, 2004

The Internal Revenue Service has (once again) changed its interpretation of the law regarding the "special support test for divorced and separated parents."

The "Tax Tip for Never Married Dads (http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/irs.htm)" that previously appeared at this website, explaining the circumstances in which a never-married non-custodial parent of a child born out-of-wedlock could claim the child dependency exemption, should be disregarded.

For the past several years, it was the official Internal Revenue Service (IRS) position that the entitlement to claim the tax exemption for a child of never-married parents was not controlled by the “special support test” (commonly known as the “custody rule”) but rather by the “regular support test” (taxpayer must have provided more than 50% of the dependent’s total support).  

That has now (once again) changed.  Effective with the 2003 tax year, IRS now says the “custody rule” DOES apply to never-married parents. The change of IRS position is apparently the result of the decision of the US Tax Court in the case of King and Lopez v. Commissioner, 121 TC #12 (9/26/2003) (http://www.ustaxcourt.gov/InOpHistoric/ki7ng2..TC.WPD.pdf), which gave a revised interpretation to Internal Revenue Code § 152(e)(http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/26/152.html), the law creating the "special support test" for divorced and separated parents.

So, for tax years 2003 and thereafter ............  

The "Tax Tip for Never Married Dads" that previously appeared at this website, explaining the circumstances in which a never-married non-custodial parent of a child born out-of-wedlock could claim the child dependency exemption, should be disregarded.

In view of the US Tax Court decision in the King/Lopez case and in view of the recent change of the IRS position, a non-custodial never-married parent should NOT claim the child as a dependent (regardless of how much support was paid) UNLESS the non-custodial parent's tax return is accompanied by a completed IRS Form 8332 signed by the custodial parent.

Law Offices of L.D. Gorin
521 S.W. Clay St., Suite 205
Portland, Oregon 97201
Phone: 503-224-8884 (afternoons, Pacific time)
Fax: 503-226-1321
E-mail: [email protected]

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

Child Support Issues / Father To Pay 15 Years In Back Child Support
« on: Dec 25, 2003, 08:16:35 AM »
Father To Pay 15 Years In Back Child Support

Dec 23, 2003 6:58 pm US/Eastern

HARRISBURG (AP) A narrowly divided state Supreme Court has ruled that a man who began paying child support after a paternity test in 2000 revealed he was the father of a teenage girl must pay support going back to 1988, an amount that his lawyer estimates could exceed $85,000.

"It's going to change my whole life, because the expense (was) not factored into my retirement," said 56-year-old Snyder County welder Robert W. Ely, who lost a 4-3 decision last week that left him owing 12 years of back support for Tenaya Beth Christianson.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Sandra Schultz Newman, blamed the delay on foot-dragging by Ely and a lack of follow-through on the part of Tenaya's mother, Donna K. Christianson.

"It appears that (she) did not pursue what she filed very vigorously, and when she did move forward, Ely resisted and dragged it out," Newman wrote.

Child support begins to accrue at the time legal action is initiated, which in this case was 1988. Retroactive support is common, in part because it can take a month or more to get the matter before a judge.

But Ely's lawyer, Brian L. Kerstetter, said the succession of three support complaints - in 1988, 1997 and 1999 - and the fact that Tenaya is now 18 years old, makes the case "extremely uncommon."

Newman's opinion called it "a good example of the time-consuming nature of the litigation process, and the reason why (court rules) and the courts prefer retroactivity in support matters."

In dissent, Justice J. Michael Eakin said the back support should begin in 1999, when the most recent complaint was filed.

"The majority's result is concurrently unfair to (Ely) and unavailing to the child. Had (he) been the cause of this delay, I would afford him no sympathy or relief," Eakin wrote. "However, he is not."

He described Donna Christianson as a "litigationally lethargic appellee" whose "dilatory conduct and indifference left this child without support through the formative years, but she is rewarded with support sums that will continue after the child has left her home."

Christianson, 57, who lives outside Beavertown and, along with Tenaya, works as a clerk in a natural-food and garden store near Lewisburg, said she struggled to raise three children alone and did not always have the resources to follow up on the support case.

Christianson's first job as a single mother was cleaning houses for $3 an hour. At the time of her brief affair with Ely, she was married to another man, with whom she had two other children.

"For me to be constantly going in to heckle somebody who has a lot of money and just wants to be relieved of the responsibility financially -- no, the children came first, their care, their needs," she said Tuesday.

She pursued the case for so long out of her belief that single parents are entitled to support, she said.

"After a point, it's not your case any more. It's other women and children, or other parents," Christianson said.

Michael McCormick, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group American Coalition for Fathers and Children, said the decision was "grossly unfair" and could be a major financial hardship for Ely, who has been laid off.

"It flies in the face of any kind of equity for this biological father," McCormick said.

Christianson's lawyer, Brian W. Ulmer, said the county domestic relations office will probably be responsible for calculating the precise amount Ely owes. He was paying $563 a month beginning in October 2000 until September, when Tenaya moved out on her own.

Ely said he is considering asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.

Tenaya, who has had no relationship with Ely, said her mother did the right thing.

"I really don't care about the money," she said. "It's more or less that it went through and he didn't quite get his way, I'll say. That makes me a little bit happy, that we at least won."

(She "doesn't care about the money"? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.......)

Teenager's support raised to $8,000

Father appeals $220,000 lump sum, files to stay retroactive support due on Jan. 15
Maurice Bridge  
Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
VANCOUVER - A 14-year-old Vancouver girl and her mother have been awarded monthly child support of $8,000 and a lump-sum payment of more than $220,000 following a drawn-out fight in B.C. Supreme Court.

The payment was ordered by Justice Donna Martinson, who determined that the father's monthly child-support payments, which total $5,212 a month, have been too low for several years, given his current million-dollar annual income and his ex-wife's lower standard of living.

The $8,000 is believed to be one of the highest monthly child-support payments in B.C. The judge, however, spared the father from paying the full amount allowed by the Canadian child-support guidelines, which would be more than $11,700 a month for a person of his income.

In the decision handed down Dec. 15, the judge ordered the increased support payments to cover, among other things, a country-club membership and holidays abroad for the child and her mother.

The girl is already attending "an expensive private school," according to the judgment, and living on a monthly household budget of more than $10,000, which covers herself, a stepsister, her mother and her mother's husband.

But it could be awhile before mother and daughter see any of the lump sum payment. The father has appealed that payment to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Because filing an appeal does not automatically put the lump-sum payment on hold, the father has also filed a stay application on the retroactive support payment due on Jan. 15.

The appeal does not address the amount of the monthly child support. Neither the father nor his Vancouver lawyer, Bob Brajovic, would comment on the case.

Following standard practice, the court does not reveal names or other identifying details of the parties. However, the judgment makes it clear the father lives in the United States, where the parents married, lived and were ultimately divorced.

The case, which took 12 days to hear between March and September, involves complicated interpretations of how a seven-year-old U.S. divorce settlement applies in this province.

The 1996 U.S. child-support order directed the father, who then earned about $200,000 Cdn a year, to pay $3,900 Cdn a month in support, which he has done since then. Additional expenses such as school fees and orthodontics bring the total to more than $5,000 a month.

Since then, the father's income has risen, and in 1999 it reached a high of more than $1.7 million US. At the time, he was a partner with a large international firm, whose nature is not specified in the court document.

He is now a salaried employee of the firm, with no opportunity for profit-sharing, and his annual income is $1,003,505 Cdn.

The court document reflects a bitter dispute, even though in a previous B.C. Supreme Court action concerning access, "the court specifically found that the mother and father are loving, caring and capable parents."

The latest judgment notes that during the access fight, the father successfully applied to have the mother found in contempt of access orders on two occasions.

The two remain substantially at odds in their views of the current situation. The father told the court:

"I believe the amount of child support should reflect what [the child's] needs are to live a comfortable life that is consistent with (a) how we lived before the divorce, (b) how I live now with my wife and my other two children.

"It has been six-and-a-half years since the divorce and [the child] has a well-established lifestyle, which is very similar to the way I live. My current child support payments, even by [the mother's] own budget, exceed [the child's] needs as established over the last more than six years.

"More importantly, this is a matter of the values with which I want [the child] to be raised.  This is the same for how I want my other two children to be raised. I do not want [the child] to grow up with an inappropriate sense of entitlement."

The mother maintains her child does not live as well as her former husband's other two children from his subsequent marriage.

"[The child's] lifestyle should be similar to that of his children. They have a full-time maid available to them, they live in a house that is worth over $1,000,000, and these children want for nothing.

"[The child] resides with me in a house in [British Columbia] that is substantially encumbered and is approximately a one-hour drive to and from her school.  His children go on vacations to such places as [countries named] and on the Disney cruise; they have that advantage of a full-time mother and a housekeeper.

"Their family stays at the best hotels. In contrast, our only form of vacation is camping as a family because it is the cheapest way to spend a vacation; I must work outside the home to help make ends meet and we have no housekeeper.

"The respondent and his family go to professional sports games [baseball and basketball] and to the concert. [The child] does not attend any of these activities here."

The court found the mother's new husband makes about $82,000 a year, while her annual income here has never exceeded $7,000. However, she holds a master's of business administration degree, and the court found she is under-employed, so it imputed an annual income of $30,000 to her for the purposes of calculating support.

The court rejected a request from the father that trust conditions be imposed on any payment, saying there is "no indication whatsoever that the mother has inappropriately spent money on this child."

In 2002, the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld a decision ordering a West Vancouver doctor who was earning more than $1 million a year to pay monthly child support of $12,360 to his ex-wife for his two teenage children.


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