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Friday, July 18, 2008

Should incarcerated men have to Pay Child Support from Jail?

Here's another idiotic aspect of the child support system--demanding that incarcerated obligors continue to make child support payments even though we know they have no income and no ability to pay. Then, when they're released, they're several thousand dollars behind on child support (with interest on overdue payments added), and are subject to arrest or driven underground.This problem has now been recognized by the Justice Department and Hillary Clinton actually addressed it during her campaign but the issue is that regardless of the fact the man is incarcerated for one crime and literally being punished because he can not pay child support. Usually the above scenario applies to low-income minority men incarcerated as part of the asinine War on Drugs. In the case below, the charges are far more serious--murder. Nonetheless, it is still stupid and unfair to continue the man's child support obligation. If he's convicted, he'll be in jail the rest of his life, so the obligation is irrelevant--it'll never be paid. If he's acquitted, then he'll be behind on child support when he's released, with all the concomitant problems, even though he is legally blameless. So the minute that the man or woman is incarcerated the debt should either be picked up by the state or waived. To expect a man that has been incarcerated for 3 or more years to immediately start paying on a debt that has been accumulating over years is not fair to the man woman or child... Something has to be done with the inmate in mind, or he will always be caught in the system.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Woman Faces Charges for Failing to Pay Child Support

This week, a New Hampshire woman was sentenced to a charge for felony non-support. Samantha Bilodeau, of Manchester, admitted in court that she owed nearly $19,000 in unpaid child support and was sentenced to two to four years in prison. The sentence has been suspended for five years, excluding just over 200 days of time served. Bilodeau will serve five years of probation under the supervision of child support services.
Bilodeau’s arrest is one of many new cases of wives failing to pay child support to their former husbands.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Michigan Child Support Formula

This is a complex formula. Among other factors, it takes into account:
The incomes of both parents
The number of children living with each parent
The number of tax exemptions each parent claims
Day care expenses
Health insurance premiums
In a traditional arrangement, the children live with one parent and visit with the other according to a schedule. The non-custodial parent pays child support.
The payer's support obligation can be much lower under the shared economic resources formula. That applies if the children spend at least 128 overnights per year with the payer of support.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many rules and regulations that can affect the amount of child support. For example, if one parent is unemployed, then a level of income can be imputed to them based on their training, recent job experience, whether they quit or got fired, etc.

Health Insurance
Normally, both parents are required to provide health insurance for the children if it is available at a reasonable cost as a benefit of employment.
Both parents are often required to contribute to the cost of insuring the children, and uninsured health-care costs, according to their relative incomes.

Child Care (Day Care)
Both parents are often required to contribute to child care costs, again according to their relative incomes.

Life Insurance
Often, one or both parents agree to maintain a life insurance policy for the children until they turn 18. Michigan law does not require such a policy, but it can be a good idea to demand (or bargain for) it during a divorce, custody, support or paternity case. If the other parent dies before your children turn 18, this could help you support them.
This web site is only for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship. Talk to a qualified family law attorney for legal advice regarding your unique situation.

Laws may up child support

New child support laws passed this year by the Louisiana Legislature could mean an increase in the financial commitment paying parents make to their children.
State lawmakers debated more than a dozen bills relating to the management of children after their parents break up. Nine were approved by the legislators and ended up on the governor’s desk.
“Child support has a very significant impact on people today,” Robbie Endris, executive director of the Department of Social Services’ Support Enforcement Services Division.
It is typical during a nonfiscal regular session, which is every other year, for lawmakers to push a number of changes to the laws governing child support, she said.
One of the bills that made it into law allows judges to add special expenses for camps, music lessons and sports to child-support obligations.
Tamithia Shaw, co-chair of the child-support guidelines review committee, which recommended the legislation as part of its quadrennial report this year, said her committee found that after a divorce, the noncustodial parent is less willing to pay for activities.
Judges already had the discretion to add support for extra activities, but they felt reluctant to do so, she said.
“They didn’t feel they had the right to add that,” Shaw said.
“We’re really trying to address those situations where they refuse to pay anything,” said state Rep. Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie and sponsor of House Bill 339.
As it was being considered in the Legislature, some senators argued the bill could create an excessive financial burden on those paying child support.
Lopinto said judges still get discretion in determining what a reasonable request is to provide support.
HB339 also gives the court the option, in cases where the monthly income of the parent exceeds $30,000, to place a portion of the obligation in a trust for the child.
Lopinto said some people, like professional athletes, get large incomes for a short amount of time. When they no longer have that income, their child support obligation drops, he said.
During the time they are making income that exceeds the child support schedule, judges can put the money in a trust for the child, he said.
“It just provides a little safety net now for the child,” Endris said.
The child-support schedule, which is used to determine how much a parent will pay based on their income, was expanded by another measure signed into law to include monthly combined income between $20,000 of $30,000. It also updated the payment amounts for monthly incomes starting at $2,250.
Shaw said the current schedule was based on economic data from 1972.
Judges were allowed to use their discretion to set child support payments for incomes that exceeded the schedule, but the law now allows for greater consistency, Shaw said.
One Senate bill held up in committee would have allowed for adjustments to child support payments for parents with children in more than one family. The measure was not part of the Department of Social Service’s agenda but was recommended by the Louisiana State Law Institute.
State Sen. Derrick Shepherd, D-Marrero, sponsor of Senate Bill 605, said the measure is needed to eliminate the “race to the courthouse” that current law allows.
For example, a man has children with two women. Whichever mother files for child support first, the court uses the father’s income at that point to calculate the child support payment.
Then, if the other mother files for child support, the father’s now-diminished income will be used to calculate that child support payment.
So, whoever files for child support first gets the largest payment, Shepherd said.
One measure that attracted attention but failed to pass was House Bill 341 by state Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville. The measure would have clarified how to determine income for parents who are self-employed.
“Not every person who is self-employed is trying to conceal income,” Shaw said. “But when you do have someone conceal, it’s usually in those cases.”
HB341 as it was originally written was not controversial, having not received a single “no” vote. But a hot button amendment was tacked on HB341 late in the session and the measure died.

The controversial amendment started out as Senate Bill 110, which passed the Senate but was voted down by a House committee on May 28. The bill’s wording was then tacked onto HB341.
The amendment would have allowed the state Department of Social Services to seize casino winnings to pay past-due child support.
Endris said this is the third time the Legislature has considered some type of gambling interception bill. More states are passing similar bills, and it’s something the federal government is considering too, she said.
“It will certainly be coming back again,” Endris said. “If the parent’s a winner, the children should be winners, too.”

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