Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jail time for parents

Beacon Journal 02/20/2006

Associated Press
COLUMBUS - Prison officials are asking lawmakers to consider alternatives to putting deadbeat parents behind bars, where they don't earn much money and continue failing to support their children. The 601 men and 24 women sent to prison in 2004 for not paying child support made $12 to $18 a month working prison jobs, while taxpayers paid about $63 a day for each prisoner's shelter, food, clothing and medical care. ``We strongly think each child should receive the support they are due,'' Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman Andrea Dean said. ``But we also understand there are going to be some deadbeat dads or parents for whom, if they had an opportunity, an alternative sanction other than prison would be a good option.'' About 2.5 percent of inmates admitted to prisons in 2004 were felony child support cases. Failure to pay child support is punishable by six to 12 months in prison. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned for as long as 18 months. Prison officials want lawmakers to consider work release or other programs that would allow nonviolent child support violators to work under supervision. They say those options could help ease crowding and save taxpayers the $23,000 each prisoner costs annually.
Having a child support arrearage of more than $5,000 OR moving to another state without reporting new employment qualify for felony violation. My ex has had approx. $25,000 in arrears for many years AND has moved to many different states without ever reporting his new employer. The child support agency hasn't filed charges. We usually manage to find where he is employed and as long as he's paying, what's the sense? My take? There should be a consistent way to apply the law or the law should be changed. The best child support change was allowing the state agency to collect directly from employers in another state. Before, if someone was in another state, it was a slow, cumbersome process which never worked for me.

My kids have done without and now that they are older, they will continue to lose out on opportunities. They have no college savings. Their dad hasn't filed income tax in order to avoid having child support arrearage taken from his refund; therefore, applying for financial aid becomes impossible. The amount of arrearage currently being paid is 20% of the current payment (one child now). Arrearage payments will continue to be paid after my youngest turns 18 in 3 years. (current estimate=80 months)

I believe that if he would have been jailed the first time, that may have been the last time he purposely avoided paying support.

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