How Child Support Enforcement Works

by W.F. Price on January 6, 2014

It seems some readers thought I got thrown in jail for being behind on child support. While this didn’t happen, it was a real risk, but not because of a contempt charge (I’ll explain further down). Until very recently, it was common practice for men with child support arrears to be thrown in jail on the basis of “contempt of court.” The idea behind contempt is that people who are ordered by the court to do something must do it, or risk being jailed or fined. For example, if you get a subpoena, you have to turn over information, or you could be held in contempt. Sometimes, journalists are jailed for refusing to disclose their sources. Another example of contempt is refusal to pay a fine.

Civil contempt of court happens to be the only way, short of martial law, that people can be jailed without the right to representation.

However, judges are not supposed to jail people for contempt when they don’t have the means to carry out the order. Say you ask a person to turn over some information, and he honestly doesn’t have it. He can’t (properly) be jailed in that case. Or say that someone is ordered to pay restitution, but he doesn’t have any money. In this case, he shouldn’t be jailed, because he cannot follow the order even if he wants to.

Jailing men on contempt came to be standard in the 1980s, particularly after the Bradley Amendment of 1986, which imposed extremely heavy burdens on noncustodial parents. As with most “get tough on social problems” type of legislation, the targets were clearly men, particularly the stereotypical ones you see on shows like Jerry Springer. I can recall a great deal of anger about “welfare queens” and such back then. The story was that some people – ghetto residents in particular – were irresponsibly having lots of children and leaving the rest of us to foot the bill. As usual, the politicians came up with a clever plan that would both protect their welfare recipient constituents and assuage the anger of the middle class. The idea was to not solve the problem, but to find someone to beat down so as to demonstrate their toughness, and grab some cash in the meanwhile.

The result was the Bradley amendment, which effectively resurrected slavery and debtors’ prison in the United States. A number of states immediately interpreted this as a way to seize as much income as possible from noncustodial parents – disproportionately working class and black men to begin with – and turn it over to states and counties for welfare expenditure. Now, one thing you have to keep in mind when considering the idea that noncustodial parents are paying back welfare spent on the mothers is that, despite the window dressing, these state funds are fungible. There isn’t necessarily a certain channel that goes directly to welfare, another for lawyers and judges, prisons, etc. There’s a pool you draw from, which means that all sources of income are essentially the same. Say you have a shortfall in funds due to some unforeseen problem, such as a sudden need to build another wastewater treatment plant. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether the funds come from state income tax, licensing fees, or noncustodial fathers. If all else fails, one thing you can do is start shaking down the dudes to come up with enough to pay for everything.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1992 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Pennsylvanians who have fallen behind in their child-support payments will have any lottery winnings greater than $2,500 seized by the state under a new law that went into effect Monday.

The lottery-intercept program, which has the Departments of Public Welfare and Revenue working in tandem, represents the Casey administration’s latest effort to ensure that parents provide financial support for their children.

It also represents an extra push to pare down state welfare costs, which now hover around $3 billion.

“Other states have done similar programs and have collected quite a lot of money,” said Welfare Department spokesman Mark McGaffin yesterday. “We hope to collect quite a few dollars on this.”

Last fiscal year, Pennsylvania collected $766 million through child-support enforcement programs, the largest net of any state, according to state welfare officials. Of that, nearly $123 million constituted a repayment of tax dollars used to support families needing public assistance.

Under the law, parents owing support are required to relinquish their lottery prize money to make delinquent payments. The state has long garnished the wages and unemployment benefits of delinquent parents.

The Revenue Department, which runs the state lottery, will cross-check winners of more than $2,500 with a list of parents who owe child support. The list is compiled by the Welfare Department. Revenue will then forward the amount owed to Welfare to fulfill the payments.

About 400,000 parents are on the delinquency list, McGaffin said. The children of about half those parents are living on welfare.

McGaffin said it would be too difficult to track winners of less than $2,500 because lottery-ticket vendors are responsible for paying prizes below that amount. He said the list of delinquent parents would be updated daily.

Attorneys with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, in contrast to its recent battles with the administration over welfare reform, had good words for the enforcement initiative.

This article makes the intentions of the 1980s child support laws perfectly clear. The idea was to increase state revenue by allowing state seizure of funds without traditional safeguards. This is why politicians loved it so much. Not only could they arbitrarily grab cash from men; they could sell it as a good deed! Hell, even the welfare attorneys loved it. They’re getting paid from state funds too, after all. Note that in ’92, Pennsylvania kept over 15% of what it collected, and likely spent most of its enforcement effort on obtaining that 123 million dollars (even if you pay without a hitch month after month, year after year, the state counts that as “collection”).

However, not all funds are so easily taken as state lottery winnings. Sometimes, men keep cash, assets, private accounts and so on, and sometimes their loved ones have money. In this case, you’ve got to really twist their arms, and nothing does that better than threatening to throw them in county lockup. Even if they don’t have the funds, they’ll do whatever they can to get them when threatened with jail, including borrowing from family, not paying rent or bills, pawning goods, and sometimes stealing or even conning people.

It isn’t commonly mentioned in public, but state enforcement typically has an open bias toward collecting the funds that states can access. If a woman works or has remarried, and is not receiving any state aid, her kids’ father tends to be a lower priority for enforcement. Usually, the father whose kids are on welfare gets the third degree. This is, more often than not, the guy who is jailed. This is because his child support, as opposed to your non-welfare case, goes directly into state funds, which provides the state with extra motivation. If the mother is not collecting welfare, the state simply hands the money over to her and collects some amount of matching federal dollars that probably barely offsets the cost of enforcement in average cases (but pays off decently with high-dollar awards).

And this leads to the lowest priority collection of all: the non-custodial mother on welfare. An attorney friend of mine was trying to get a judge to sanction a woman who refused to pay her ex a single dime, was tens of thousands in arrears, and apparently getting high on a regular basis. The judge would not do anything. He wouldn’t lift a finger in the case. The reason for this is simple: enforcement would be unlikely to collect any more than a pittance, and this wouldn’t even offset state costs because the father was employed. On the contrary, it might simply cost more, so why bother? As far as the judge was concerned, he wasn’t going to do anything that wouldn’t help pay his salary.

By now, it’s pretty clear there are incentives on the table for child support enforcement officers, judges, attorneys, and others in the state system. The first is collection of state funds from men whose children are receiving state aid, and the second is collection of federal matching funds for every dollar collected. The former leads to courthouse shakedowns of poor men, and the latter to setting unreasonably high awards.

If you’re curious about the process in real life, the following exchange, which I came across on the Straight Dope message board some time ago, struck me as illuminating:


I used to lock up deadbeats at pretty much every court date back when I did child support enforcement for the state. I worked a circuit of multiple counties, often before the same judge. All child support cases in a particular county would be set on the same day, usually a motion day. I’d fill the courtroom with defendants. Judge would let me pick any of my cases to go first, and I’d always pick the worst deadbeat of the lot. We’d have a short trial, he’d be found to be in willful, deliberate, and contumacious contempt, and the bailiff would shackle the guy on the spot and lead him away. The judge would then announce that he’d be leaving the bench to deal with other matters, and encourage the remaining defendants to see if maybe they could work something out with Mr. Oakminster, otherwise he’d be back to hear the next case in a few minutes.

Heh. Talk about shaking the money tree. Had guys falling over themselves to pay up. Especially in the summer time. It’s mighty hot in the deep South, and some rural jails are not air conditioned…..

And the response from another attorney:


I love this! I’ll pass that along to the county solicitors here; they’d get a chuckle out of it. In the Family Division Courthouse here, we have support contempts pretty much every Friday, and there’s never more than a handful of cases at once, so you lose that “deterrent” effect. But what we do have is the holding cell clear at the other end of the building, so the defendants have to be paraded all the way across the floor in their orange jumpsuits and ankle and wrist shackles, past all the other support defendants who happen to be there awaiting their establishment/modification hearings. The message: “This could be you”.

So there you have it: a couple attorneys openly admitting that the entire operation is a setup and a shakedown, in which state counsel beats up on poor men who can’t afford a lawyer. It’s really a travesty of justice, and makes a mockery of the concept of liberty.

Finally, a couple years after Oakminster made that post, someone else (not me) found it and took him to task for his attitude, asking him how he could face himself after treating unfortunate men in that manner. His response, in which he admits that helping custodial parents and children is an afterthought at most, puts it all in perspective:


Absolutely incredible you can look in the mirror each day.


It was my first law job. I was good at it. Saved/recovered taxpayer dollars by enforcing court ordered support obligations, establishing paternity, and in some small way making life better for children and custodial parents in the process. I don’t have any regrets about those cases.

What the lovely Oakminster describes above is pretty much how things were for a couple decades, but a recent Supreme Court decision – Turner v. Rogers – called this state of affairs into question. A man named Michael Turner, who had been in and out of jail on child support contempt cases for much of the last decade, argued that if he was going to be jailed, he should have the right to counsel. Ultimately, the court found that because it was a civil rather than criminal contempt case, Turner did not have the right to counsel, but to ensure that his 14th amendment rights weren’t violated states should adopt guidelines that prevent incarceration of men who do not have the ability to pay.

While I first thought it was a bit of a cop-out on the part of SCOTUS (I would have preferred right to counsel), over time it has become apparent that this finding did in fact make some significant changes. The practice of summarily jailing parents in arrears appears to be in steep decline, with the Obama administration openly calling into question whether it is appropriate to jail fathers who cannot afford to pay child support. Finally, it looks like some sanity has begun to return to the discussion.

However, this doesn’t mean that noncustodial parents are out of the woods yet. Not even close. Awards remain excessive, extortion by mothers using claims of physical and/or sexual abuse and other forms of slander/perjury is still a common tactic in the courtroom, and coercion is still the rule. Although contempt jailings are in decline, you can still easily end up in jail due to a license suspension. This is what had me worried last month. While I was (probably) not at risk for a civil contempt charge, I was facing license suspension due to being in arrears and missing a couple recent payments, partly because of a foulup in the online payment system I’m accustomed to using. If my license had been suspended and I didn’t realize it at the time, I could have been pulled over, and I would have gone directly to jail. Not for child support, mind you, but for driving with a suspended license. This would have been a serious headache, and it does happen to a lot of guys who aren’t paying close attention, or who missed notification due to a move or some administrative mistake (e.g. website malfunction like Obamacare).

So while the child support enforcement system is evolving, it still has a long ways to go toward becoming fair and humane. The main impediment at the moment remains the Bradley amendment, which is an atrocious piece of legislation that creates a form of federally-sanctioned piracy on the part of state child support enforcement agencies. If there is any reason for optimism, it is that both political parties are undergoing a fundamental shift, and the formerly critical feminist component of the Democratic party is losing ground to a mainly non-white coalition that is disproportionately harmed by predatory enforcement practices (e.g. a black or Hispanic woman whose partner is shackled with permanent debt to the state because of a previous child), and will probably be happy to see them go. Republicans, for their part, are generally the party of married, private sector workers, so they don’t have as much of a stake in child support policy, and I doubt they’d put up a fight if Democrats had a change of heart on the issue.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

The Querl Xoralundra January 6, 2014 at 14:59

The system gives the government money, but it also looks bad. Take the example of H. Beatty Chadwick who was locked up for 14 years for “contempt”. His ex-wife claimed he had stashed a lot of cash overseas. He said he didn’t have any offshore bank accounts. No proof was ever produced that he did, but a Court still jailed him until he handed the money over.

14 years. He wouldn’t have done that if he had killed her.

Stories like these need to be out in the public domain more often.

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Jeremy January 6, 2014 at 15:03

Federal and state law enforcement being involved in marriage and child enforcement services is inhumane in the first place. There is no justification for any law that alters the freely-entered-into contracts that a free citizen chooses. This is literally no different than the Federal Government passing a law saying that people who cancel their cell phone plans or have their cell phone plans cancelled on them must continue to pay their cell phone service company, but only get supervised phone calls on weekends, and taking a percentage of the payments for enforcement.

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Dire Badger January 6, 2014 at 15:07

I can assure you that Indiana (Or at least Marion county) still regularly and lightly jail men for the maximum amount of time (90 days) the moment their child support falls into arrears.
I understand that there is some sort of kickback system in place, but it automatically causes a spiral cycle among anyone so jailed, but the judges there generally hold another CS enforcement trial the day before your holding is up, so that the judge can immediately assign you another 90 days. do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.
over 80% of all males in Marion county have spent at least a weak in it’s prison. This is absurd and utterly reprehensible. They have the most expensive and largest facility in the tri state area, and it is overcrowded on a regular basis… simply by the men of marion county.

I spoke with one gentleman that had been there, regularly recycled every 90 days, for 11 years. Even had the (minimal) paperwork to prove it. (his military disability was just enough to keep up with CS, but not enough to pay back arrears).
Most men, however, are kept in place, unable to earn, until they reach ‘felony’ levels of CS arrears. At which point they are immediately transferred to the state prison without seeing the light of day and having a cursory trial. 2 years in prison, at which point they again are marched in front of a judge who assigns them 90 days contempt of court while they prepare a new case….

Marion county has admittedly a large minority population and a fairly high crime rate, but nothing even close to justifying this kind of behavior. And it is not unique to this county. I understand most of Indiana and Illinois also practice this sort of ‘jailhouse economic freeloading’. The jailhouse is some sort of federal cash cow for local law enforcement and the court system.

There is only one escape, and that is for a friend or ally to scrape together a fine of many thousands of dollars, and pay for a temporary out… and then escape across country.

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Dire Badger January 6, 2014 at 15:16

esentially this proves the point: Never trust police.

Police exist, get paid for, and get promotions for, one thing; Catching criminals. That is why the drug war will never go away, it provides an unending stream of criminals to feed the police machine.

If there are not enough criminals, they create more. Police have no insterest in protecting you. There are exceptions (the occasional decent cop) but there is literally NO fiscal incentive for preventing or even discouraging crime… Their job is to prove that you have done something worth jailing for.

Especially never trust a cop that is trying to tell you that ‘without such and such I cannot help you.’ Never plead guilty. Never give over your driver’s license without being officially detained for a traffic violation. Never even give your name for any other violation they are trying to stick you with… Police are NEVER there to help you…. they are there to catch or create a criminal, and if they cannot find an easy one, you are an obvious target.

We live in a police state, and have since the eighties. You can (sort of) trust a sheriff, because their job is more to stop crime than catch criminals, but a police department exists for nothing more than it’s own promotion.

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Poiuyt January 6, 2014 at 17:04

Welmer this article is only a close approximation to the politics, the reality and the reasons behind the child support enforcement system excuse.

The minuscule amounts that are actually extracted in aggregate from all non-custodial and obligor parents is a tiny fraction of the actual amounts required to administer and run the thing. There are many multiple more workers and contractors making a living as staff off it than can be sustained from its confiscations alone.

The systems excuse for existing at all is to create and sustain JOBS for the masses whichs’ salaries, wages, benefits and emoluments packages are financed MAINLY from taxation, borrowing and cash printing. Other political regimes of the past applied different system excuses for the same ends, JOBS for the masses. For example others politically scapegoated wrong class, wrong race or wrong class as working system excuses.

So only in a fractional sense are you right and correct. The real edifice you and all obligor non-custodial parents observe and experience is but a sectional portion of a gigantic edifice of our Great Western Socialist Scheme and Ponzii. The actual cash monies gotten from your lot is but a drop in the ocean relative to that gained by the systems legitimate enslavement of everybody else to debt, to tax and to coercion …

Only fools believe in a left or right inclined democracy thats constitutionally liberal when all it is is a Great Western Social Ponzii.

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anon January 6, 2014 at 17:29

Democrats represent the state worker and beneficiary interest faction, Republicans represent the institutional investor, stakeholder and private interest faction of the same monstrosity. YinYang

The biggest and best run Asian, South American, South African, North European, Netherlands, German and Russian corporations today gained their current magnificence in application of very good business practices with the worst regimes of their times.

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gender foreigner January 6, 2014 at 17:45

Dear Bill:

Great article. Thanks for the info. :)

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DirkJohanson January 6, 2014 at 17:51

Judges as debt collectors is on its way to becoming tomorrow’s scandal; I recently learned from a prosecutor friend of mine that it happens in criminal court, too. In fact, he related that it was all a particular judge – who was a friend of his – really cared about.

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Greg January 6, 2014 at 19:04

Watch this. Somehow gets a felony for arrearage, and loses his job because he’s a felon. I weep with him.

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epoche* January 6, 2014 at 19:17

The main impediment at the moment remains the Bradley amendment, which is an atrocious piece of legislation that creates a form of federally-sanctioned piracy on the part of state child support enforcement agencies.
The original purpose of child support was to pay for social services if a woman went on it. The government was the entity that received the money not the woman. The goal was to make sure that nobody starved in the streets while at the same time both parties probably had it worse off than living together. It was not the original purpose of child support to offer women an attractive alternative to living in the same house as the men they slept with as a family. This is an important distinction.

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Dan the man January 6, 2014 at 21:55

@Poiuyt True, but the jobs created for the masses is only secondary. The money made in law and prison industries, by the wealthy is the main focus.

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Punisher January 6, 2014 at 22:10


Maybe when judges start showing up in their homes dead from severe beating or were hanged, things in Marion may change.

Christianity allows for so much of this corruption because good people don’t execute the garbage that adorns themselves in black, for fear of eternal damnation.

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Walhaz January 6, 2014 at 23:07

Interesting topic. I wasn’t aware of the Bradley Amendment.

More proof that everything in the USA is a racket.

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kuis January 6, 2014 at 23:17

Glad to know you are ok Mr.Price!

I got into an argument with an American woman recently who doesn’t identify herself as a feminist but supports many of the causes because i questioned the whole idea of child support and reproductive rights. I said basically that a man should be able to walk away if he doesn’t want the child. She told me that was just an opinion but the law says otherwise and basically the law can’t be questioned.

That’s the kind of thing we are up against. The laws benefit women so why would they protest them?

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geographybeefinalisthimself January 7, 2014 at 01:36

“Until very recently, it was common practice for men with child support arrears to be thrown in jail on the basis of ‘contempt of court.’”

“The practice of summarily jailing parents in arrears appears to be in steep decline, with the Obama administration openly calling into question whether it is appropriate to jail fathers who cannot afford to pay child support. Finally, it looks like some sanity has begun to return to the discussion.”

There may be fewer instances of men being jailed for being unable to pay child support payments that are clearly unreasonable, but are any of the men who have already been jailed going to get any compensation for what happened to them? After all, how is a decline in incarceration without any financial compensation as acknowledgement that the state wronged them going to help them, especially since awards are still excessive and unrealistic, as you said so yourself?

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geographybeefinalisthimself January 7, 2014 at 01:54

Incarceration for not being able to pay a clearly unreasonable amount of child support may soon be a thing of the past, but why should any man think that it will never return with a vengeance at a later date and why should any woman who initiates a divorce (especially one who initiates a divorce yet blames the ex-husband for the marriage’s failure) get any child support if there are any children at all?

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geographybeefinalisthimself January 7, 2014 at 05:53

“The practice of summarily jailing parents in arrears appears to be in steep decline, with the Obama administration openly calling into question whether it is appropriate to jail fathers who cannot afford to pay child support. Finally, it looks like some sanity has begun to return to the discussion.”

Given that non-custodial mothers have almost never been incarcerated, and men who pay child support are far more compliant than women who do the same, while it is welcome that incarceration is no longer being used as much against fathers, how is it fair that incarceration is not being increasingly used against mothers so that they can have a taste of the medicine fathers have been receiving?

Go ahead and call me vindictive all you want, but if men were not being incarcerated for noncompliance and women were being jailed for noncompliance, we all know how feminists would feel. They have consistently shown that they can dish it out, but they can never take it. I would like to see a single example where after dishing it out to men, they were able to take it in return.

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Cultural_Expat January 7, 2014 at 05:59

Related-jailing, alienating children, and killing fathers for child support the Littleton, New Hampshire family court drove another man to suicide yesterday (a few years ago Thomas Ball immolated himself on the steps of another NH “Family” court once he understood that fathers are not part of the family-the family is the Gubment and the woman.

Anyway, before it gets scrubbed here is a story from todays NH newspaper.

Of course you will note in the article that the Police chief said his last written statement seemingly only had to do with his organs and what to do with them…yeah…right.

And here is an a letter to the editor of another NH newspaper from the man who killed himself.

I have not had a chance to search completely on the man but it looks like another man who sacrificed for his country, putting himself in extreme harms way, gets a taste of the gubment he was fighting for. As he writes his ex-wife was alienating his kids, filing protective orders against him, and the Littleton, NH family court insured that lots of assets got transferred to her along with insuring a current and future stream of income (for federal matching funds of course to keep the other “gals” in the state “working” and to insure they have a political stake in the corruption)

Take a look at this stuff. Do a search on this man. Yeah…PSTD from the NH Family Court system…he was safer in Iraq or defusing underwater bombs than standing before NH family court for justice…thats my opinion.

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American Revolution 2 January 7, 2014 at 09:26

All it would take is to drop a few – they will get the message after a while. Let’s put it another way, shall we? You get more of what you pay for. You keep paying for your own enslavement and…you get…wait for it…more enslavement. And slavery never ended. It merely changed forms. And it is now worse than ever.

Stop feeding the beast. Some mentioned escaping across country. Bravo for those brave souls. Ah, and throwing yourself into slavery for the state will not benefit your kids. Notice, by the way, that I did not capitalize “state.” It is not a god nor is it immortal. (Hint, hint: it can be destroyed. No, really: hint, hint.)

The state (not capitalized!) is already going bankrupt. Ever heard the saying “strike while the iron is hot”? It’s red hot, baby. Drop one, drop two, drop a few. Lay leviathan to rest and be done with it, gents.

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joeb January 7, 2014 at 12:02

Nice to see you back bill , this brings up the question for me at least just my opinion . And we did see a little excitement develop .
About , A charismatic leader and the development or The natural Process.
I would think that if you would have stayed away. Letter and search and even threats would have ensued .
Someday and we all know a chrizmatic leader will appear and unite all of the MRM . Will we be prepared or will anarchy and violence erupt .
With Mgtow the MRM is on the tip of the tongue of almost every young man . You would Have to be in a cave . to have missed the last year .
I suppose story and folklore can provide the thought experiment of natural response of authority . But I wonder .
To what ends would we go to get you back . And for the next man that might “like the Mgtows say” Be the One “.

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W.F. Price January 7, 2014 at 12:28

Judges as debt collectors is on its way to becoming tomorrow’s scandal; I recently learned from a prosecutor friend of mine that it happens in criminal court, too. In fact, he related that it was all a particular judge – who was a friend of his – really cared about.


Do you know whether they are getting compensated for that in some manner? I mean in addition to providing more job security for themselves by making courts sources of revenue.

keyster January 7, 2014 at 12:39

Just glad to hear you’re OK Mr. Price!
I checked the county lock up registry and saw you weren’t a part of it, (but there was another Mr. Price).

Ironic that a progressive-liberal such as Senator Bill Bradley would cause so much harm to poor black men. Supposedly this was to discourage them from producing more Baby Mamas – it had little effect. What HAS had effect is placing (free) abortion clinics in black urban neighorhoods, prioritizing affirmative action for black women and keeping black sperm donors in our prisons.

Men need to be controlled by government; short of shirking their “moral obligations”. Government needs to become the MAN that supports irresponsible women, even if it means extracting that support from men.

The reality is that very few fathers abandon their children (even black fathers). If the mother needs financial help he’ll do what he can to help. He has a conscience and in the black community there will be plenty of shame heaped on the “dead beat” brutha. So because of the drum-beat of anecdotal stories of “struggling single moms” and children who don’t know who their father is, something must be done to hold ALL non-custodial fathers accountable, regardless of the unintended consequences – white, black, rich poor…you’re now in the SYSTEM…and we have “welfare reform”…. most of which was an urban black and certian precincts of white trash problem at the time.

The Big Government Machine grinds on fixing the havoc it wreaks on our personal lives only to create more havoc and so on.

I’m pretty sure Mr. Price would have cared for his children properly without a court order to do so. It’s now a self-perpetuating industry of social workers and technocrats – that makes sure the 1% of dads who really are dead beats pays their dues. It eases our conscience to know such a draconian system exists…even if they have to keep skimming a little off the top of hard working men’s pay checks to do so.

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Xpat January 7, 2014 at 12:54

Another fresh example of how the government operates

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced an 18-month pilot program Monday to charge the shuttle companies fees based on the number of stops they make in city bus zones. The shuttle companies would be charged $1 per stop, which the mayor’s office estimates will bring in approximately $1.6 million in total revenue for the entire pilot. That total is intentionally limited: State law limits such fees to the cost of providing a service or policy. So all of the fees will go into policing the program.!

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Stickman January 8, 2014 at 08:05

The real head scratcher is the whole thing is a shell game anyway. locking up someone for non-payment/contempt of court (up to one year in most places), on average costs far more to the taxpayer than what the person owed in back child support. It typically costs a locality between 20k-30k per year to house an inmate (not including court costs). The majority (95%), that I have personally seen owe far far less than that when they get locked up.

Seems that in the long run it would be cheaper to have the locality pay off the dang debt. not that i agree would agree with it… just saying this whole putting people in jail doesn’t SAVE anyone any money, its all just a ploy to seem like “they” are doing something in order to get votes/ keep their unnecessary job…

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joeb January 8, 2014 at 08:22

There’s Been some talk of state payer child support . This would mean The system pays the support from Tax’s already paid .
Downsizing would be the problem since A system that needs only your name ssi # and financial info would be self service and no need for 2 million social workers eating up funds as payroll .
When you think about how the system works . A social worker has to negotiate screens before moving to levels of automatic payments .
The criteria for moving past one and two may simply be information of the client , three and fore is financial.
Now the Obvious truth here is If a female make above the initial tear of 24 k she does not belong in the system . Hence no services , What we have now is tax’s being wasted on a system that supports at least 50% of these women that are not even entitled or eligible to HHS services .
On the other hand a male that makes 24 k Minus 30% Taxes minus another 30 % for CSA would qualify for services .
And simply because of the fact he has already paid 30% tax’s into the system his support would be reduced or at least supplemented by the State . An actual fair system . That provide assistance to male and females .

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3DShooter January 8, 2014 at 19:56

Bill gave a good overview of where things are, but we must go back to how it got this way.

Prior to the ’80′s women were given a per child stipend, primarily funded by the feds, of around $200/child per month. Unfortunately, the ’80′s were a time of many hysteria’s (think McMartin pre-school). And one of the hysteria’s was the ‘welfare queen’. And though there were women who were making a living off of having welfare babies, the hype was mostly for political posturing.

So as gov’t naturally does, it set out to solve a problem it created. To do so, they turned to Policy Studies Inc., a think-tank out of Denver CO. PSI recommended that C$ levels should be 5x the levels that were currently being allotted.

Now keep in mind that the hype was to reduce the federal outlay which was $200/child per month.

Since the fed’s couldn’t enact the legislation directly, they decided that creating ‘federal guidelines’ that the states must adopt would be the end run around the constitutional prohibitions against direct action (this kind of blackmail has become routine from the feds – think BAC limits to get fed highway funding). In order to receive the federal funds, states must adopt the guidelines and extract payment from fathers which they all have done. In return the would get 70% of the amount collected in fed funds. Since the guidelines were far higher than they had been before, the feds are actually paying MORE than had been paid before. There were no net savings from the laws and in fact there has been a net increase in spending.

Oh, and the founder of Policy Studies Inc. – he went on to create the largest private C$ collection agency in the country.

The corruption is systemic – the kangaroo family kourts cannot be reformed. This is why I adamantly believe that all men’s/father’s rights individuals must be for the abolition of the kangaroo family kourts. Though deep down, I as others, would enjoy seeing a few of the bastards enjoy a ‘long drop and a short rope’.

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Walhaz January 9, 2014 at 04:00


“She told me that was just an opinion but the law says otherwise and basically the law can’t be questioned.”

She was very damn wrong.

The law can absolutely be questioned, but will legislation happen that changes these laws? That’s what matters. (To most men.)

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Dire Badger January 9, 2014 at 16:53

Every single time a law is applied, it is supposed to be questioned. This is a basic rule of jurisprudence, and it’s one of the things that judges and lawyers try VERY hard not to allow juries to know.
Essentially, our country is supposed to have no such thing as ‘precedent’. Each case is supposed to be judged on it’s own merit, and each time a law is applied it is intended to be weighed for effectiveness, applicability, and if there were any mitigating circumstances.
In essence, the founding fathers tried to make laws VERY hard to impliment, but extremely easy to eliminate. Lawyers, of course, found this to not be to their liking, since it meant any joe shmoe could defend themselves… so they have been spending two centuries trying their hardest to rip this apart…. largely successfully.
most of the founding fathers were just short of anarchists…. most people seem to forget this.

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BC Dad January 10, 2014 at 01:34

“Although contempt jailings are in decline”

I’ve searched high and low for some current accurate stats on the number of men in prison for non-payment/contempt, can you give me a source for this?

Also, why can’t I log in?

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Peter-Andrew: Nolan(c) January 10, 2014 at 09:17

I have proven child support is voluntary.

A shame so many men complain about something they do that is voluntary. Remember, I was issued with a child support order in November 2007. I never paid one cent.

The fact that a few guvmints are persecuting me for doing that just shows you how criminal they are.

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Pugs Fugly January 10, 2014 at 20:26

My ex-wife, on the bench, in court, on the record:

“I make $65,000 a year,” at a job, she claimed, working for a software company her boyfriend owned and operated. She lost, because the family court in my county frowned on the idea of moving children out of said county; also, she’d lied at a previous court appearance about fully intending to stay in said county, but I digress.

Ten days after losing to me in court, we get an affidavit claiming that she’d lost her 65k a year job. Still with the boyfriend mind you, he was just no longer writing her paychecks, if indeed, he ever really was.

Boyfriend didn’t want to pay her $685 a month in child support, so he “fired” her.

It’s 18 months later, and I’ve never received a dime. Still obligated to honor our custody/visitation arrangements. She still has a driver’s license. There is no warrant for her arrest.

It’s bizarre, really. Texas, for all it’s positive attributes, won’t prosecute a woman for perjury or contempt. I get it; they know they’d be taking on a net cost that wouldn’t redeem itself, both in court and incarceration expenses. But still. They could make an example. She’s not the only woman in her situation.

I’m currently out $1,000 for a motion to modify our decree, which, for some incredibly bizarre reason, states that my child can now fly alone, across the country, because she’s over the age of 5. This is apparently “standard.” Understand that were our situation reversed, my ex-wife would never, in a million years, agree to allow our daughter on a plane without either of us flying with her. But since it benefits her financially in that she has one-less round-trip ticket to buy, she’s ok with it. The decree allows her to indulge her delusion of house and family for a week her and a month there, so she’s agreeable to the idea of handing our child over to a complete stranger at the airport.

This is inexcusable to me, so I’m actively trying to change it. If she can’t or won’t pay her child support, then she can at least travel with our daughter.

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jack January 22, 2014 at 00:16

In this respect continental Europe is not so bad. In France, Germany or Belgium, if a father doesn’t have the money to pay up, he doesn’t, period. This is why poor men still marry in droves while better-earners are reluctant to marry at all. A bachelor who earns well will rather finance a blank marriage for his Brazilian sweetheart than marry her himself.

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