Posts Tagged ‘child support’

There is one principle I have been sticking to since this blog started: I do not publish ads disguised as

Sheri Atwood (Photo Vicki Thompson)

Sheri Atwood (Photo Vicki Thompson)

“I love your blog” comment for anybody, even from self-declared lawyers specialized in fathers’ rights. About a week ago, I received a comment from (perhaps) a parent praising SupportPay.com. I am going to publish this comment, for once. I might do even worse, but I’ll take the risk: discuss SupportPay here, because it is a topic that, I believe, deserves comments.

SupportPay is an online platform developed by Ittavi.Inc, which is incorporated in the great State of Delaware, although its headquarters are in Santa Clara, CA. According to founders Sheri Atwood and Lorena Chiu, SupportPay aims at softening tensions between divorced parents. Between the latter, communication sucks. It does, because it revolves around money. If communication about money is made easier -here comes SupportPay, with which you upload any receipt as proof of your expenses toward what you paid for your child- tension will ease, and children will be spared the shouting match that accompanies the bringing of them from one parent to the other.

I like technology like the next guy, but I do not think it will save the world. And I am also not totally sure that SupportPay founders have a clear idea of what their customer’s base is. Who pays child support? Mostly fathers. How do they pay it? Often, the State takes care of payments for them, through garnishment of their wages, like in my case. What are the predicament of fathers? They don’t see their kids, and making communication about money smoother won’t help see them more. Child support payments, which in most states are based on the sole non-custodial father’s income, amount to absurd percentage of their income. The problem of most fathers is not to keep track of their expenses for their kids; It is to keep up with them.

All of this to give a clearer idea of who SupportPay might be for: some of the 1%, Silicon Valley fathers who are not affected by the daunting demand of US family laws on the rest of us, and may find comfort in seeing through their expenses thanks to SupportPay. God bless them. Markets will always find answers, adequate or not, to their needs. I for one, will post another blog about SupportPay if it keeps one father from going to jail for missing chid support payments.

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Reverend Mary Hovland

The State of Minnesota is about to have fathers rights make a major step forward with the passing of  HF 322, Children’s Equal and Shared Parenting Act.  The bill will adopt the presumption of  shared and equal parenting time, unless agreed otherwise by parents. Provisions of the law will be extended to unmarried parents. Oh My!

Where did the impetus that shook the status quo come from? Interestingly enough, from three women – Phyllis Stageberg, retired teacher, Reverend Mary Hovland and the founder of the Center for parental Responsibility Molly Olson, who campaigned to give equal parenting rights to fathers. Olson documented that children without absent fathers do not fare well, undermining the “best interest of the child monstrosity” predicament which still founds most state family laws.

If the law passes in the house, it will obviously entail a revision of child support laws. If parents share custody, there is indeed no reason for divorced mothers to automatically receive a certain percentage of their ex’s income as child support, irrespective of theirs.  That’s where further resistance to the new law will come: from noble politicians championing mothers’ loss of the divorced rent.

In its 2011 version, the law was even dealing with false accusations of child abuse as a ground for the accuser’s parental fitness dismissal. I wonder if this cherry on the cake is still on the 2012 version…

Unlike in Canada, Australia, England, GermanyIsrael or Spain, the debate on fathers rights in the US is in a state of complete torpor. Let’ s hope that the Minnesotan Children’s Equal and Shared Parenting Act change that.

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Gosh, I wish the New York Times had sneaked in Manhattan Family Court when I was a regular customer there, from 2001 to


2009. But later is better than never. William Glaberson’s article from yesterday, Friday November 18, describes the making of  people’s family justice in New York City. Readers can learn what divorced fathers have come to know as they tasted family courts. It is Guantánamo right here in the city.

I guess many people don’t know the most important piece of news one learns from this article: Family courts in New York City are not supposed to be the secretive places they are. On the contrary, they have been ordered to be opened to the public since 1997. Yet it looks that for fourteen years now, the media has not been welcome there. Glaberson mentions arrogant cops denying reporters entry to court rooms, judges asking reporters to show their credentials to court clerks, who ask them to get the approval of the state’s chief administrative judge. As a result, accountability is nil. The little world of family court does as it pleases and prospers. Trials last what they last – mine lasted more than six years, law guardians sleep on the children’s  interests which they are to represent; unsupervised social-agency workers that supervise the visitations with your children have the leeway to bully you while you are trying to keep your relationship with your kids from deleting.

The media should not stop halfway in this most welcome attempt to lift the veil on the nauseating secrets of family justice in New York State. There is a lot of investigating to do about the work of  support magistrates, these gracious people who behind close doors decide about child support payments that too often put non-custodial parents in the red and sometimes in jail. And please, pay a visit to the nasty fellows of the Support Collection Unit on 151 West Broadway, in the City.

When is the reform of family justice be on the agenda of New York State Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman?

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The actor Charlie Sheene recently filed for divorce. Unlike most fathers, lucky Sheene will get joint custody of the twins he had with Brooke Mueller. He will also have to pay a monthly $55,000 in child support to Mueller.

Let see; $55,000, that’s 5,000 more than…the 2009 YEARLY median American household income of $49,945 (US Census Bureau). We all know that the alleged job of family courts is to foster children happiness. $55,000 monthly, that’s clearly a new high to the price of  happiness, and a new low to decency.

In the case of Sheene, L.A. Superior Court does not know the difference between child support (what raising a child reasonably – even in Hollywood- requires) and alimony to a spouse, which  is the outcome of a deal between two divorcing spouses. That’s not helping the credibility of family courts.

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“Tea partiers” have it all wrong.  They are after the government for being where it is not (health insurance ) and they are nowhere to be found when the government abuses its prerogatives.  For instance, when New York State strip searches non-custodial fathers for child support payments.

New York State has recently introduced a new rule for the payment of child support: the time when non-custodial parent was sending child support checks to the custodial one, or to the Support Collection Unit, is over.  Now, unless the non-custodial is self-employed, child support is to be deducted from the non-custodial paycheck. What’s the difference? First,  New York State family laws could  care less that you see  your children. Second, what New York States cares about though is that you pay child support. And It does not trust you to do it yourself.

What if, by any chance, too much is garnished from your paycheck? If, like myself, you have a  “credit”  as a result of a change in a  money order that did  not take effect at the right time? Too bad for you, fellah.  Child Support Information Line (1 800 846 0773) or Child Support Collection Unit on 151 West Broadway will tell you that this  “credit” is not really a “credit”. If this amount is less than your monthly child support, you ain’t gonna get your money back. You know, in case; these non-custodial fathers cannot really be trusted. And you are not gonna pay less in child support either the next month either. Free money for the custodial mother parent. Justice, the New York State way.

And it comes without saying that if you are late,  what you owe bears a whooping 9% interest rate on any arrears that you have, on whatever family court has decided you have to pay.

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David and Goliath

David and Goliath

By the end of 2008, fed-up with not being able to make ends meet with the drag of 31% of my gross income withdrawn from  each paycheck, I filed a motion to decrease child support and have my ex-wife use my health insurance for the dental and vision expenses of my girls. I was last in court in January 23, 2009.

Until today, I have not heard about Support Magistrate Grey’s decision. That’s very strange. Support Magistrate Grey is a fast shooter at non-custodial fathers. Usually, every time sicko ex-wife thas taken me to court -at least twice a year- for unreimbursed medical expenses, I have gotten a money judgment order within two weeks. Today, I learnt by a clerk of the court that Grey is on leave and that her decision is “reserved.” “Facts” of  my case are being faxed to her.

What are these intricate facts? On one side, sicko ex-wife, Goliath: $4,660 and change in net monthly salary from Princeton University; $6,800 of alleged monthly rental income  for a 2,200 square-feet loft, paid in full,  in Soho  (New York City). Total alleged (sicko ex-wife had not brought her  last tax return to court, but why bother, since Grey does not) net monthly income: $11, 500. To which is added every month $1,000 in child support, coming from me. Grand total net income: $12, 500 net a month. On January 23, sicko ex-wife wined about the heavy property tax in New York City  and the high maintenance on her loft.  I guess this is what the $1,000 in child support covers.

On the other side, myself. Net monthly income with $1,000 in child support payments deducted: $2,100. With Grey’s absurd money judgment for unreimbursed medical expenses, I am left with $1,600 and change a month, and my ex-wife with now $12,900. Any second grader would immediately grasp the difference in net monthly income by a factor of 6, and make the inevitable conclusions: something is wrong with transferring such resources from the relatively poor to the relatively rich. Even in New York City, there are many, many single parents who raise two kids with less than $11,500 net a month. 

It clearly takes more time than a second grader for  Support Magistrate Grey to get the “facts.” It must have to do with bias against men and a ill-conceived sense of the Support Magistrate mission: be Robin Hood squeezing the last penny from irresponsible deadbeat dads. Support magistrate Grey is no Robin Hood. She is the Sheriff of Nottingham.

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Let's Get Honest! Absolutely Uncommon Analysis of Family & Conciliation Courts' Operations, Practices, & History

'A Different Kind of Attention Develops Sound Judgment' | 'Suppose I'm Right Here?' (See March 23 & 5, 2014). More Than 745 posts and 45 pages of Public-Interest Investigative Blogging On These Matters Since 2009.