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]
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.
- 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]
- 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]
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.
“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.
Once the Deadbeat Dad machinery of the state is clanking along, actual innocence isn’t enough to excuse you, Carnell Alexander of Detroit says he has discovered to his sorrow. [WXYZ] Also, from last year, another Detroit case: “Father says he’s still paying child support for 3-year-old son who died 25 years ago”
Following up on the mention of the issue earlier this month, “Virginia is on the verge of substantially increasing child-support obligations for the first time since 1988. But the proposed increase, which recently passed a legislative committee as a bill called HB 933, would result in excessive obligations for many parents, more unpaid child support and more jailings for nonpayment at taxpayer expense. Some noncustodial parents already pay more than 50 percent of their income in child support.” [Hans Bader, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
In an email, Bader adds:
Often, laws contain provisions that seem to be for the benefit of lawyers rather than the people.
Such is the case for one provision in the child-support bill HB 933, which will result in divorced parents fighting each other over pennies.
Right now, the custodial parent pays the first $250 annually in unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, rather than each co-payment and out of-pocket expense being divided up based on the parents’ share of combined income. But this $250 ceiling will be reduced to zero under the bill HB 933, which may result in angry parents fighting each other over as little as $10 (in some cases, with the assistance of a lawyer, in many other cases, without any lawyer at all), in order to try to get their ex jailed for contempt for not paying their share of the $10.
Certified mediator Diane Poljacik writes in an email (excerpted):
One of the reasons the $250.00 ceiling on health, dental and vision costs was put in place is said to be due in part to a number of frivolous show cause failure to comply motions being filed by the custodial parent against the noncustodial parent for not immediately reimbursing the other parent a $10.00 (or some other ridiculously low figure) co-pay (so called “nickel and diming” the other parent). This happens more often in cases where parents are constantly at war with each other. Removal of this provision could end up playing right into this by enabling warring parents to use this as just another way of trying to get the other parent jailed for contempt. …
If this provision is removed and show cause motions increase, it could potentially create a further burden for court dockets that are already overburdened. … No data has been presented thus far that states the judges are asking for this to be removed.