Child Support Delinquency: Crack Down, Ease Up, Forget About It Completely?

In some states, there are some folks who spend some time in jail for nonpayment of child support.

If they genuinely are unable to pay, this may seem harsh. Actually, even if they are able to pay but just choose not to, this may still seem harsh.

There are some more who temporarily lose their driver’s license for nonpayment of child support. Ditto. Ditto.

One New York father, highlighted in a recent newspaper article, was shot fleeing a police officer … who stopped his car over a broken taillight.

The deceased man’s brother attributes this improbable incident to the man’s child support delinquency. Specifically, he postulates that his brother ran because he feared being jailed and losing his job due to the broken light.

The surviving brother claims that his deceased brother was eventually discharged from every single job that he ever had because he was incarcerated during his employment in each position over his child support arrears.

While conceding that incarceration does encourage payment by parents who have the ability to pay, opponents of incarceration for child support delinquency maintain that it has a punitive impact on poor people, confining them in a vicious circle of unemployment, arrears and jail.

They further voice the opinion that child support orders routinely are unfairly large to begin with, so the paying parent is set up for failure, property seizures, suspension of licenses to drive and engage in a business or profession. ( Note: child support calculations vary widely from state to state, as does use of incarceration as a means of enforcement of payment. )

One thing that is the same in every state: if a custodial parent applies for public assistance, the government will eventually seek to collect child support as reimbursement for assistance paid out to that parent.

Read more in this New York Times article: Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat.