The #1 Form Of Child Abuse In America

by Diane Dimond on November 8, 2008

Child Abuse Takes Many Forms

Child Abuse Takes Many Forms

There are outstanding bench warrants for thousands of parents all across America.

A man named David, the president of a consulting company in California owes $198,954.70. Gene, a man who now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico dodged his obligation for some twenty years and is $242,147.00 in debt. And a dude from Illinois named Mark who sports a full brown beard, aviator glasses and a cheery smile owes an astounding $618, 679.00!

All of them owe the money to their children. And there are countless thousands more just like them who have reneged on agreed upon or court ordered child support. They are parents who have walked away from the most precious obligation one can have – their own children. And, its not just delinquent Dads, there are plenty of Moms who are shortchanging their children too.

To me, this is America’s number one form of child abuse.

The U.S. Census Bureau keeps track of the numbers and the latest statistics will knock your socks off. A grand total of 36.5 billion dollars worth of child support was not received in the year 2005. Wrap your head around that. 36 BILLION dollars that should have gone to help raise children wasn’t there. You know who picks up the tab for the worst-off cases. You and I do.

I’m financially exhausted cleaning up after others failures.

Their reasons for non-payment of support are varied. The delinquent parent may be unemployed or in prison. Some simply withhold money to punish their ex. Others stop paying while waiting for a judge to hear their petition to reduce their monthly nut. Too many are just selfish people who live their lives oblivious to the needs of others.

Lots of them whine that they just don’t make enough money to share with their children. Dare I say they should have thought about that before the produced kids!? They complain that the accruing interest adds to their burden. Welcome to reality, my friend! I don’t care much for excuses. They brought these children into the world they should shoulder their responsibility. Paying nothing is unacceptable and criminal.

If that 36 billion dollar a year figure seems astronomical consider how high it would be if states hadn’t gotten it together to try help. The feds and states now all work in tandem to shift the burden from the taxpayers back to where it belongs – the parent.

It’s a glorious thing when the law actually works to fix a problem. It’s now required that employers report all new hires to child support enforcement authorities. If the responsible mom or dad changes jobs the right people will find out. If they put money into banks, credit unions or money market funds other red flags go up. Income tax refund checks are withheld until its clear there’s no deadbeat parent on the receiving end. States help each other on warrants to reel in those who move from place to place to avoid their responsibility.

That’s how authorities in Kansas came to arrest a man named Timothy Lopatofsky. He had abandoned his wife and two tiny children in Arizona in the 80′s. He moved from state to state and never paid support even though he established a dot-com company that bills about 2 million dollars a year! Lopatofsky tops Arizona’s “Daddy Dearest” list with a staggering debt of $382,947.67. He maintains it’s all a big mistake.

Many states now have their own versions of the “Most Wanted Deadbeats” list and they make sure it gets published so the public can provide confidential tips. And there’s the Passport Denial program which puts a flag on the passport of any parent who owes more than five grand. The feeling being if they have the money to travel overseas it should be going to toward their kids, not a vacation.

That’s how Maryland officials recently came to arrest another six-figure delinquent as he returned from a Bahamian honeymoon with his new bride. When a judge ordered Karl Hoffman jailed for three years unless he came up with the $139,000.00 he owed – lo and behold – that’s when he was suddenly able to produce the cash he’d withheld for so long.

Some might say this all smacks of Big Brother government. But I bet the folks helped by the New Mexico Human Services Division wouldn’t agree. H.S.D. Communications Director Betina Gonzales McCracken tells me during the current fiscal year they helped deserving New Mexico parents collect a record breaking 103.2 million dollars in back child support. In Virginia, Child Support Enforcement agents collected more than 629 million dollars in 2007 for needy kids and their custodial parents. And even in sparsely populated North Dakota 114 million was wrangled out of recalcitrant parents.

In this shaky economic time that recovered money could mean the difference between a cold home or a warm one, a meal on the table or no food at all. This isn’t chump change. This is survival money.

Big Brother? I say Bravo!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Shane Coffey November 8, 2008 at 1:55 am

My ex-wife only has to pay $275.00/month. She now owes over $8000.00 and she has a warrant for her arrest. This loser has not contacted her kids on over two years either. They think she is L.A., California however it is more expensive to extradite then what she owes. I am 33 years old now and will graduate from college with my associates in May 2009 so I am trying to do my part in making sure my boys who are 12 and 9 have a good future. I just wish their mother would do the same. The reason the authorities have not been able to collect from her is that she is an exotic dancer now and she does not file tax returns. There is technically no employer to garnish her wages too. Basically I just have to play the waiting game until she is too old to dance anymore. Then she will get a “real” job and maybe then she will face some jail time. Personally I think that not paying child support is a form of neglect which should be punishable by at least a couple years in jail. I mean they are not paying attention to their kids anyway so being in jail won’t hurt a thing.

Shane

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Shane –
You’ve given me an idea for another poll! What do you think, readers? Should deadbeat parents be jailed? Check out the poll back on the home page.
And, Shane – God bless you for sticking by your children. Guess who they will have more respect for when they grow up? Shame on their mother. ~ DD

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Lyn November 8, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Yes, I agree they shoul be jailed..maybe knowing that would make some parents think twice.

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Dear Readers: My web community is forever expanding! The column is now published on several share-spaces like FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn to name a few. Below I’ll share comments from other Diane Dimond readers that were posted on other venues.

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 12:51 pm

FaceBook reader Caroline writes:
“That is only the monetary portion….there is a huge emotional void that exists between the children and non-custodial parents…it can be gut wrenching to see the heartache on my children’s faces…..”

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Diane –
I too suffered through an ex who simply walked away. I know what my child missed, although she never complained, bless her heart.
Again, it is the absent parent who looses all the way around in the long run. Bless you too, Diane, for doing the right thing. ~ DD

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 12:52 pm

FaceBook reader Patti writes:
“Diane – Your story is very good. The numbers you mention are staggering!”

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 12:52 pm

DD Website Reader Doug writes:
“I was involved with the issue — in the US Attorney’s Office, we began prosecuting interstate cases; under the federal statute, if the arrearage was more than a certain amount (I believe 5,000) and the parties were in different states, it is a federal crime.”

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Doug –
Good to know! So, folks, if your ex- owes you more than 5g its now a FEDERAL case.
You might want to let them know that – and that you’ll be pursuing it. ~ DD

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Yahoo reader Alexi writes:
“I read your article on Deadbeat Parents with great interest.
You mentioned “a dude from Illinois named Mark”. Do you have anymore information on him? He sounds like my sisters ex who left her with 5 children.
I hope to hear from you soon. I phoned my sister and she is also wondering if the person in your article could be him.
Thank you in advance for your time. “

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Alexi – I will contact you directly ~ DD

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 12:56 pm

FaceBook Reader Diane N. writes:
“I understand this problem first hand. My grand-daughter’s father quit his job, stopped paying support, has been found in contempt three times and still nothing is done. We fought to have his driver’s license suspended, but he will drive without it or insurance. My daughter cannot afford to make it without the support and believe me she lives with, literally, only bare essentials.
The part that is worse is that they still allow him to have parental rights and visitation which to me is sick!! Lucky for us, at least he has fled the country to avoid all this, so we are not having to deal with his nonsense on a regular basis. But he does call every other month and talks to them for literally 2 minutes, just to not be charged with abandonment.
I would love legislation that would make this a crime of child abuse and their sorry behinds be put in jail. I would love to help you anyway I can to bring this to the forefront. Thanks so much for bringing attention to this!”

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 12:59 pm

DD Web Site Reader Kimberly writes:
“Dear Diane,
Your article hit home as I too am waiting on over $100,000 owed to me from my ex (not to mention the thousands owed to taxes, liens, and debt he left me with that he accrued without my knowledge.)
It seems very ironic that he is still “out there,” has remarried with a new family, and yet has been allowed by our judicial system to give excuse after excuse as to why he has not yet paid each time being given an extension with only a shake of the finger towards him.
Finally at out last court hearing, he was told his wages would be garnished, and he objected asking how he would live! The hearing officer told him he might have to get a second job just as I ( the mother and sole provider for the chldren) has had to do. Unfortunately, due to errors in the order, we are having to approach counsel again to reword the order to get garnishment, so I’m still waiting.
I am fortunate I have a teaching job and family that has taken us under their wing, but many women do not. If that is not enough, think of how my children feel knowing their dad doesn’t care enough to “help” take care of them and protect their future! I also wonder about the new wife and how she can ignore the fact that he doesn’t pay or see his children–seems a bit odd to me. (he won’t disclose her name to protect her)
Anyway, just to let you know your article hit home, and I am one of the thousands waiting too. (please don’t disclose my last name as I wouldn’t want my children or those I teach to have this exposed to them.) Thanks.

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Kim –
You bring up such a good point! What about the new spouses. They must realize that their mate’s have other children and have abandoned their responsibilities to those children! What does that say about their character? And what type of person could sit idly by and let that happen. Shame on both of them! ~ DD

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Albuquerque Journal Reader Michael writes:
“I read your article in the Alb.journal I found it interesting that you praise CSED* for there fine work. I think they are quick to take money from you, whether it is justified or not. Ask them if you are falsely accused of not paying but you have how quick are they to resolve it. Answer not very. They do not punish women for lying about receiving extra money. It is a womens world, I found out the hard way.”

*Child Support Enforcement Division

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Diane November 10, 2008 at 12:59 am

Michael – if you think your ex is getting too much money for support of your children I will suggest to you what’s suggested to women who’s ex’s don’t pay at all: Get yourself a lawyer. ~DD

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Lyn November 8, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Sometimes I just do not understand why some people ever have kids. My father never paid one penny of child support for three of us back in the 70′s….I don;t think he gave a toss about his kids and unfortunately this happens everywhere. Not just guys but some women too. I think they look at it like a credit card bill..you get a huge bill and ignore it thinking it will miraculously go away. If only life was like that! Many of these irresponsible parents just do not care…financially or otherwise. If you bring a child into this world it is your responsibility to take care of the child. If parents cannot be responsible for the welfare of their kids, then they should not have them in the first place.

I wonder if Casey Anthony is thinking like that at all?

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Diane November 10, 2008 at 1:00 am

Lyn – I don’t think Casey Anthony is thinking anything except how to escape the death penalty at this point! ~DD

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Jeff Liddell November 8, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Failure to pay child support could be considered both physical and emotional abuse, I can just reinforce the fact that anytime stupid parents do anything to hurt a child, they should face criminal charges.
When it comes to child support, what is the correct procedure? For most deadbeat parents, jail time would mean no income to pay for their responsibility. I want to relate my personal story with child support payments, which me and my ex wife worked out before having it included in the divorce decree. It worked for us and perhaps a little creative negotiating on child support payments might help others. I never objected to paying for my son’s needs, but I certainly did not want to pay for any of hers, she made as much as I did. I offered to pay a flat rate for his portion of room and board and also would take him to buy any clothing items needed, and of course took care of his medical expenses. I also offered to raise her flat rate every time I received a raise at work and without constant trips back to court to raise support. By the time my son was 12 and came to live with me permanently, that flat rate had doubled. When he came to live with me, I did not need her money in the form of child support, so the divorce was modified and she began making a regular monthly deposit into a college fund that I had set up to satisfy her child support. This creative child support, by our own design, at least
eliminated that issue.

When deadbeat parents just simply refuse to take their responsibility, perhaps they should be forced to register as deadbeats, just as sex offenders do. Loud and public humiliation is something that most people want to avoid.

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Diane November 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Jeff-
It is clear you and your ex put your child’s needs first. Your son is a lucky kid. Wonderful!
And I love your idea of a Deadbeat Parent registry – wish I’d thought of that! (psssst. I may have to steal that idea :) ) ~ dd

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Jeff Liddell November 9, 2008 at 1:23 am

Please feel free to steal any idea of mine that you think will further a cause. When someone with your background and contacts takes an idea and runs with it, who knows, maybe it will grow some teeth.

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RJ November 8, 2008 at 10:19 pm

I think they should be arrested but then be put on on work program to pay the child support unless they make arrangements and wear an ankle braclet for tracking. An obligation to one’s childres should be paid.

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Jim November 9, 2008 at 1:23 pm

We operate a faith-based child support search and locate free but had no idea the numbers were this high. The difference in us and others is we use the opportunity to witness to those about parental responsibility and we’ve even seen marriages and homes pulled back together. We also assist them in searching and locating employment so they can pay up.
I think probably if an individual has shown that he/she isn’t going to pay child support, court ordered or not, then they should be hunted down and locked up.
There is a difference in missing a couple of payments and making them up due to lack of work byt in these cases where like Diane sites individuals are turning out 2 mil a year and owe over $600.000 in back support thus showing their disregard for their children, cold conscience, paternal responsibility, and defiance of the courts, their assets should be frozen, back support seized and handed over to the children, and placed in jail until there is a learned committment.
This should include professionals and law enforcement, too. We’d be surprised at the law enforcement personnell who are thousands of dollars in arears in child support.
Like one sheriff who owes back support and hides behind the badge of cowardice, and pulls strings within the state enforcement arm, Maximus.
Many have no job and are really struggling. There must be a program for job search and forced placement if all else fails.
Many companies pay favored employees under the table to hide income from support.
I am also aware of the enforcement agancies holding back the support from the parent. We have several situatoins where the parent pays support but the agency is 6 months or more in arrears from paying the parent the support.
I am happy to see states requirring reporting of new hires.
My wife processed over $300,000 weekly payroll and was deluged with the paper work of reporting new hires and the paper work is staggering.
There needs to be an audit of companies by some branch to insure no one is getting off by being paid under the table.
We place photos of individuals who have a dui in the papers. Let’s begin to place photos of dead beat parents in the papers and use this tool to locate them.
I agree with Diane that it could smack of Big Brother. So what if it does. Good for a change.
Outstanding research and story Diane.
Jim
http://silentministries.spruz.com

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Diane November 10, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Huffington Post Reader Lyle writes:
Since when does “survival” or “the difference between a cold home or a warm one, a meal on the table or no food at all” require hundreds of thousands of dollars? Your citation of parents in arrears by over $600,000 or $200,000 or $380,000 suggests that this isn’t about child support at all, but rather parent wealth. Where there are so many truly poor children, do we really need to worry about whether or not Little Lord Fauntleroy’s mom is getting her full six figures from Daddy?

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Diane November 10, 2008 at 11:39 pm

Lyle: think you missed the point.
There is a collective 36 billion dollars in unpaid child support in this country EVERY YEAR.
Yes, I cited some mega problem cases….but only one was a wealthy man. (the one with the dot com business worth 2 million) All the others were true deadbeats that hadn’t paid in years and years and so it all adds up.

36 BILLION DOLLARS represents the needs of millions of American children…not just a “Little Lord Fauntleroy’s mom.” ~ DD

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jeff liddell November 11, 2008 at 11:55 am

Whether the amount in arrears is a few hundred dollars or a few hundred thousand dollars is not the point, any deadbeat parent, man or woman, is being abusive to the kids and that should never be allowed. As parents, our responsibility is to properly raise the kids with our time and money and if you are not willing to fulfill all of the requirements you should surgically remove the reproductive organs. It would appear that Lyle has his own Little Lord Fauntleroy he does not like paying for.

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Lyn November 11, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Well…..I was always told that “no” is a good word!!! If one can;t be responsible for his or her actions then refrain in the first place!! There are ways and means in this day and age and no need for unwanted or uncared for children. You don;t have to have a child so if you can;t afford it…then say no!!! Mmm…I wonder how many people have read this article – who are indeed “dead beat” parents? Of course, no one in their right mind is going to admit that! The parents never are guilty are they?? They never admit that they are ever wrong….I know that, I lived in a family like that. Even now, looking back to when I was a kid, the feeling of pure “hate” rips through my veins cos they both treated me like I was a mistake!

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jeff liddell November 11, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Lyn, that is the most unfortunate side effect from parents that use children as pawns in their divorce feuds. No one wins and mental suffering by the children is compounded even further as they become just another asset to divide. I know of know children from divorces that do not take that “its my fault” mentality to heart, but children can survive divorces if and when the parents don’t behave like children.

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Lyn November 11, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I completely agree with you Jeff. It;s just a very sad thing – kids react differently. I never forgave my dad….even to this day and I am going back years and years to when I was a kid. My brother took it all differently to me. I have to say that I did grow up being very very sensible with money though.

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Jon Hughes November 11, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Diane,
Excellent article and a subject that your favorite cousin argues with his wife often. Here’s a perspective from the oft silent witnesses to the children who suffer at the malice of deadbeat dads: the stepdad.
The deadbeat of my wife’s kids lives in Texas, and as much as I love the country lifestyle of that state, it is a good ol’ boy state that doesn’t much care about the plight of women, especially single moms. Deadbeat was ordered by a judge in Nueces County to pay a whopping $300 a month. That’s for three kids, one of whom is severely handicapped. Deadbeat can’t even make that payment and is in arrears for over $20,000. My argument with her is to send the cops over and have him put in jail, she knows his address. Much like Karl Hoffman, a deadbeat will discover jail sucks and find a way to come up with the money. In reality, I’d like the judge to squeeze his %@!!$ a bit and raise his child support, but I’d probably be at least somewhat sympathetic to his “tough times” if he just coughed up what he owed the mother of his kids. Hey, it might be at least half a mini-van payment. You know who eats the other half.
Like most stepdads, and many fathers who don’t have conservatorship, I will make sure the kids are taken care of; but behind closed doors from their little ears, it really chaps my @$$ when I see the how much my wife does without so I can pay to raise his kids – and they still call him Daddy.

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Diane November 12, 2008 at 12:25 am

Dear Readers:
This is, indeed, one of my favorite cousins – Jon. Who just happens to be a top military officer (don’t worry I won’t give it away, Jon)
I’m surprised to see that he would want to share this burden, being that he is, like many of the men in my family, one of those stoic types.
But I can tell you I am proud of him beyond the command position he holds on behalf of our country. I am profoundly proud of him for the children that he is raising. They are fine young people who will do this country proud – thanks to their Mom and to Jon. ~ DD

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jeff liddell November 12, 2008 at 7:03 am

Jon has touched upon a subject very close to my journey through life so far, being a step parent. I know this is not particularly about deadbeat parents, but step parenting is a very noble responsibility and very often you have three strikes when you step into the situation. You have to deal with the foibles and insecurities of both parents and the children. I am in my third marriage and each time I have taken the responsibility of step parenting. That role caused my first two divorces and is taking my present one in the same direction. When my the mother of my son remarried,
twice so far, I had the same conversation with both of the men who were going to be step father to my son. I told them I had no problem with anyone who wanted to love my son, and as long as their actions reflected that, then I would have no problems with them being a “replacement
father” in my absence and I would extend all courtesy to them in that regard. That is the only way one can be successful as a step parent, with the cooperation of the real parents and given the opportunity to earn the trust and respect of the kids.

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Lyn November 12, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Jon….lovely to read your comments and even more so as you are Dian’es cousin. I hope you post again. I love to read the column every week – no matter what the subject – and it is very interest at the diverse comments that are shared. Sometimes we digress but it;s all in good taste and it helps to keep my gray matter ticking.

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Bea November 17, 2008 at 11:41 am

My dad’s friend sent me your article. My ex-husband worked for the federal government for over 23 years and decided to run for public office. When he won, he was “forced” to resign his $96,000-a-year federal career so that he could persue his $9000-a-year dream office “serving” his constituents. Prior to that, he had only paid regular child support for 21 months after a court order forced him to, otherwise, he just mailed a check directly whenever he wanted, insisting that we should not go through the courts to pay the money (and now I know why). He is married to a high ranking judge who makes close to $200k a year but was only paying a few hundred dollars somewhat monthly because of his “financial hardships!” Meanwhile, they travel and live a nice life. I, on the other hand, have had to go into debt to hire lawyers to help me get back child support. Oh, and because I was foolish enough to fall for his tears of hardship and sent him an email saying “Don’t worry, I won’t take you to court while you’re in this mess. Pay what you can and we’ll settle the rest later,” now the courts could rule against me saying I voluntarily gave up my son’s money! Oh the “justice!” I am in debt now trying to get back child support, and he and his wife search for ways to crush me in court and get the courts to rule against me. Oh, Santa Fe, NM “justice.” Child abuse is right. And he wonders why his son doesn’t really want to be with him!

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Judy Letson August 25, 2009 at 3:04 am

Now that time has gone by and my children are 31 and 25 I am now faced with a new deal their father died yesterday owing me $139,864. in court ordered support.It was strange that after 15 years of filing that form to have the IRS get his refund for me I received notice that it had finally worked this past year only I can’t find where the $ is being held. We were married 18 years so I guess when I get old enough for my SS I can claim under his also.JPL

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Howard DeLaCruz-Bancroft March 5, 2010 at 3:47 am

Don’t forget, attorney’s fees can be ordered as child support, combined with unreasonable compounded interest rates not attached to the current fed lending rate and you have a formula for avoidance not compliance.

I believe that keeping children from their parents is the #1 form of child abuse as reflected in the results. Children who grow up without both parents are more likely to commit crimes, endure life long depression and duplicate bad relationships.

We as a country should be committed to helping families be healthy (emotionally) not just financially. My dad worked 3 jobs at times growing up. If you asked me I would have rather spent more time with him then worry about the money. I know everyone needs finances and there will always be people that take advantage of the system and find loopholes but be very careful of depriving rights of the “good hard working folks” to get the bad apples.

We could solve most of the crime problems tomorrow if we took away everyone’s rights today. That’s not a viable solution. World War II Germany had very little societal crime but at what price?

Parents who are “involved” in the lives of their children “want” to pay for their support. We need incentives for parents to stay involved. Many non-custodial parents are prevented from being involved. Allowing non-custodial parents to volunteer their time should be just as valuable as money. You can always get arrearages but you can never get back lost time with your parents.

Unfortunately, the court system in the U.S. is adversarial and not conducive to cooperation. I don’t think most people appreciate attorney’s making more money from mistakes, causing strife and seeking division to the detriment of familial support.

I really believe our legal system needs to be reformed. The bad ones “run away” and I see the good ones “pushed away”. I believe an angry, vindictive, vengeful parent causes the most harm to children. Until we have a system that rewards & gives the children to the most cooperative, communicative and loving parent we are headed in the wrong direction.

It is much better to live in a small home with love than in a broad house with strife.

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