I love what readers of this blog are doing with it: it becomes a place where experiences, and sometimes solutions, are exchanged.
Yesterday, comments of a reader immersed me back deep into the Dickensian world of New York State family laws, in 2012.
Let’s summarize: She’s a non-custodial parent living on Social Security disability benefits; her ex-husband too. As a veteran, he gets disability benefits for their dependent son. It does not matter. She has to pay child support no matter what. Any earnings in addition to disability benefits -strictly limited by law- are garnished: that’s part of the bureaucratic recklessness rooted in the sheer imbecility of the State’s child support laws. When she asks for a refund, the State takes its time and its cut: child support overpayments are never entirely refunded. Only in New York State!
At this point, another reader mentioned bill S4547 introduced by New York State Senator Ken LaValle. I did not know about it. Thanks. I immediately googled it.
A smart fellow once said politics is the art of the possible. As New York State family laws goes, the possible is not much. The bill basically amounts to putting a band aid on a gaping wound. It requires a reduction of a child support’s obligation by the amount of social security benefits received by the child (conditional upon a case by case examination by family courts: good luck!).
Sure, the bill will help my reader, who should not be in this situation in the first place. Has it occurred to lawmakers that recipients of social security disability benefits do not exactly belong to the 1%? And that our reader would not be that distressed, if her child support payments were not a flat share of her gross income, regardless how low her income is?
Kenneth LaValle and colleagues on the other side of the aisle need to get some ambition. The State family laws can be reformed, deeply. It has happened in Britain and Australia, who had as crummy family laws as in the State. The guiding plot: joint-custody and child support payments based on both parents’ income.
Meanwhile, readers, stay safe: don’t marry, and most of all, don’t divorce in New York State!