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Mind Your Business

Mind Your Business Week of July 30, 2014

Child support

In the past few months, I have received a few phone calls about fathers paying child support and how it seems unfair in most cases. Failure to pay child support is a big problem nationwide. A report released last year by the Census Bureau showed that, in 2011, more than $14 billion in child support payments to custodial parents were not received. Astoundingly, only 43 percent of the parents got all the money they were due. One thing everyone involved in child support cases should keep in mind, parents and especially the courts, the more contact a child has with the noncustodial parent, the more likely full child support payments are made, the Census report found. The problem most fathers have with paying support, those who pay it willing, is some mothers never spend it on the child. Providing for the child is what the support order is suppose to do and to help pay rent and buy food and bills. Children may not understand the need for court intervention to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. However, you can expect them to have a better understanding of why you needed to pursue child support. For one, an individual is subject to federal prosecution if he or she willfully fails to pay child support that has been ordered by a court for a child who lives in another state if the payment is past due for longer than 1 year or exceeds the amount of $5,000. A violation of this law is a criminal misdemeanor and a convicted offender face fines and up to 6 months in prison. If, under the same circumstances, the child support payment is overdue for longer than 2 years, or the amount exceeds $10,000, the violation is a criminal felony and convicted offenders face fines and up to 2 years in prison. I know a lot people have not really did research on this financial obligation. But if you are past due, this statute prohibits individuals obligated to pay child support from crossing state lines or fleeing the country with the intent to avoid paying child support that has either been past due for more than 1 year or exceeds $5,000. But the complaint that most men have is the way the mothers treat the fathers. There are no rules for the father in most cases. If the mother feels she doesn’t want the father to see his child even while paying support, there is nothing to safeguard the father. It should be some type of reimbursement from child support if this happens or no money sent to the parent. But rules are in place. If you don’t pay, you can lose your income tax and driver’s license. They will also put a freeze on back account. The Child Support Enforcement Program has been set up in the USA to ensure that all parents provide adequate medical and financial support for their children. It is a program that is recognized throughout each state in the US, locating absent parents, establishing paternity and enforcing support obligations relevant to each child. The vision behind Enforcing Child Support was to ensure that parents recognized their responsibilities toward the welfare of their children and became accountable for the social and economic welfare of their children and subsequently their health, ultimately developing a sustained and positive relationship with each parent. When dealing with this financial issue many questions come to mind. Do you think America needs to revamp the child support formulas? Do you think the court system is biased toward women? Do you think that equal work hours by both parents should be weighed into child support formula? Are the laws and rules in place if a parent pays child support and they later find out the child was not theirs? Can that parent go to jail or will they have to pay back all the money that parent received? That’s why paternity should be established up front. Paternity establishment refers to the legal determination of being named as a child’s father. The paternity establishment process is available at any time before the child attains 23 years of age. Paternity can be determined even if the other parent lives in another state or even in a foreign country. As a result of federal welfare reform legislation and state law, in January 1998, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Office of Child Support, created the Central Paternity Registry (CPR). The purpose of the registry is to collect and process all paternity documents initiated by the CSEA’s, hospitals, vital statistics registrars and courts. The registry extracts specific data elements from each document. Within a few days, the information is made available to the CSEA’s to allow them to move quickly to establish support. Child support is calculated according to a formula written into state law. That formula combines the father’s and mothers gross income. There are certain allowable deductions from each parent's gross income. These deductions include the sum of local income tax actually paid, any child or spousal support order for other children or former spouses, and the value of a federal dependency exemption for each dependent of his or her household (not including the dependents for which child support has been ordered.

Enjoy your summer and remember to mind your business.

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Write Wade at the Call & Post, 11800 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120, or e-mail him at jwade@call-post.com. Comments and questions are welcome but, because of the volume of mail, personal responses are not always possible. Please note that comments or questions may be used in a future column.