Posts Tagged ‘child support’

The war on deadbeat dads, a quarter century later

Following the 1985 publication of Lenore Weitzman’s The Divorce Revolution, an alliance of conservatives and feminists in Canada, as in the US, helped pass punitive “deadbeat dad” laws aimed at bolstering the legal position of mothers and sparing costs of welfare to the public fisc. A generation later, writes Christie Blatchford in the National Post, it has become evident that these laws

…disproportionately punish poor men from the margins. What’s more, they’ve resulted in new “debtors’ prisons.”

As [Nipissing Prof. Paul] Millar wrote in The Prosecution of Child-Support debt in Alberta, “child and spousal support … are private debts for which incarceration is a consequence of non-payment.”

…[Besides pursuing incarceration, provincial child-support] agencies can also suspend driver’s licences, impose fines, seize passports, and the debtors have little procedural protections. As Millar concluded, “… the standard of proof is lower than for civil process, yet the penalties are more severe than those for some criminal offences.

“I call this regime inverted justice, since the protections are all for the advantage and convenience of the state, rather than of the individual.”

“Court finally stops trying to make Detroit man pay child support for child that isn’t his”

We covered the case of Carnell Alexander in 2014 and 2015, and it may finally be over: “Alexander got official notice days ago, that after a 26-year-long fight he doesn’t owe child support for a child that is not his.” “You declare him a deadbeat. You garnish his wages, take away his ability to make a living,” said his lawyer, who now hopes to sue the state. [WXYZ]

Behind on your child support? Texas won’t renew your vehicle registration

Some will lose their jobs for lack of transportation, while others will gain a first-time criminal record after taking chances on a no-longer-legal ride. Are you sure you’ve thought this through, Texas? [Houston Chronicle] Related earlier on tying driver’s licenses to issues of legal compliance unrelated to road safety here, here, here, etc.

May 4 roundup

  • New gun store in Arlington, Va., just outside D.C., sues neighbors as well as officials who tried to block its opening [Washington Post]
  • Good: “Amendment Could Save the Vaping Industry From Prohibitive FDA Regulations” [Jacob Sullum]
  • N.J.: “Bergen County Father Jailed For Non-Payment Of Support For Kids Who Live With Him” [Bergen Dispatch via Hans Bader]
  • Outrage over state override of local regulatory options seems to depend a lot on whose ox is gored [Aaron Renn, Urbanophile]
  • That way, they could challenge it in court? Claim that businesses would be better off if DOJ went ahead and issued regulations commanding their websites to have ADA “accessibility” [Legal NewsLine, earlier]
  • “Washington Redskins Appeal To SCOTUS On Trademark And Seek To Tie Their Case To That Of The Slants” [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt, earlier]

Children and schools roundup

  • L.A.: “school police estimated they would need 80 new officers to protect students walking home from school with iPads.” [Annie Gilbertson/KPCC]
  • “Md. officials: Letting ‘free range’ kids walk or play alone is not neglect” [Donna St. George/Washington Post, earlier]
  • Foes of education vouchers turn to argument that private schools not obliged to accommodate disabled kids, but it’s complicated [Rick Esenberg]
  • U.K.: “Children banned from doing handstands and cartwheels at Plymouth primary school” [Plymouth Herald]
  • Florida officials remove kids from home after 11 year old found playing alone in yard [Lenore Skenazy posts one, two, three, plus a Chicago case (“Family Defense Center”) and overview]
  • In left-meets-right campaign to beat up on “deadbeat dads,” right seems more gung-ho at the moment [Connor Wolf/Daily Caller, my earlier Cato]
  • North Carolina high schoolers’ alarm-clocks-go-off-in-lockers prank annoyed school administrators. Felony-level annoyance? [Uproxx]

Miss child support payment, go to jail

And good luck making those payments once you’ve lost your job or license. The Walter Scott shooting in South Carolina has focused belated attention on the “deadbeat-dad” rules crafted variously to please budget hawks, women’s rights advocates, and conservatives, which in practice can pile hopelessly large obligations on low-earning fathers, enforced in some states not only by jailing but also by deprivation of drivers’ and occupational licenses instrumental in earning a living. I’ve got more at Cato at Liberty, following up on New York Times coverage.

Our carceral child support system and the Walter Scott case

“In South Carolina, at least one in eight people in jail are there on contempt-of-court charges related to late or unpaid child-support orders.” [Marshall Project; Christopher Mathias/Huffington Post] For decades elected officials of right and left alike have backed punitive handling of “deadbeat dads,” with results that include repeated jail terms levied over arrears unlikely ever to be paid, as well as the denial of drivers’ licenses and other basics of participation in the aboveground economy. Earlier on child support issues.

Some writings from my Cato Institute colleagues on the Walter Scott case: Tim Lynch, Jonathan Blanks, Matthew Feeney. And a New York Times “Room for Debate” roundtable on police use of deadly force featuring Walter Katz, Prof. Seth Stoughton and others.