Passport: A friend of child support

Georgia and other states are benefiting from an aggressive federal initiative to prod wayward parents into honoring their child support obligations — holding back their passports.

Apparently, scofflaws are quicker to make good on their back support when a Caribbean vacation is in jeopardy. In the last fiscal year, Georgia collected $661,727 from offenders facing canceled sojourns in Europe or conferences in Asia. In one case, the threat of a passport denial prompted a delinquent parent to turn over $52,000 in owed support. The money collected is sent to the custodial parents and children.

"Although vacationing is important, nothing is more important than our obligations to our children," says Georgia Office of Child Support Services Director Cindy Moss.

The federal Passport Denial Program allows the withholding of passports from noncustodial parents who owe more than $2,500 in back support. Once the parents pay up or arrange a payment schedule approved by their state child support enforcement agency, the federal government resumes the passport application or renewal process.

In the first half of 2007, states collected more than $22.5 million through the passport program. That large payoff reflects changes this year requiring that Americans visiting Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda must for the first time have passports to return to the country. As a result of that new rule, applications for passports surged this year. So did child support repayments.

Increasingly, states are finding creative ways to collect unpaid child support, which is estimated to run in the billions of dollars. They can suspend or deny professional, occupational and driver’s licenses, and seize bank accounts, property or cars.

Such zealous efforts benefit not only the children, but the taxpayers who are often called upon to provide basic services to the child who is not receiving court-ordered support. If parents can afford airline tickets, they can afford to contribute to the welfare of their children.

SOURCE: Atlanta Journal Constitution and a story by Maureen Downey

Broncos player ordered to pay child support in Georgia

Travis Henry reportedly fathered nine children in four states

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/25/07

Travis Henry just got tackled by a $3,000-a-month child support judgment.

Sure, the Denver Broncos running back has a $25 million contract and a base monthly salary approaching $50,000, but that kind of bill can still crimp your style when you’re accustomed to expensive cars and fancy jewelry — and lots of other child support payments.

Henry, 28, has fathered nine children by nine women in at least four Southern states and has been ordered by various judges to provide child support for seven of them, according to court records involving one child living in DeKalb County.

DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger this week ordered Henry to provide $3,000 a month for the Lithonia boy he fathered out of wedlock three years ago with Jameshia Beacham, now 29.

Henry isn’t the most thrifty guy, according to court records, so the judge wants to ensure payment by establishing an unusual $250,000 trust that Henry must fund by next spring.

Seeliger wrote that the football player displayed "bad judgment in his spending habits," dropping $100,000 for a car and $146,000 for jewelry. Meanwhile, Henry fell behind on support payments for his child with Beacham that were mandated by a previous order. Threatened with jail, he borrowed $9,800 from his former team, the Tennessee Titans, to pay the bill, according to court records.


How Old Is Old Enough? Age-Related Concerns for Childcare and Babysitting


In child custody cases, parents often accuse each other of leaving the child inadequately supervised.  The allegations can be that the child was left home alone or left with someone who cannot properly supervise the child (such as relatives who are too old or too young).  Left Unsupervised: A Look at the Most Vulnerable Children, a 2003 study published by the non-profit research organization Child Trends addressed the large number of children are left without care and supervision by their parents.

Surprisingly, most States do not have regulations or laws about when a child is considered old enough to care for himself/herself or to care for other children.  Some states have guidelines or recommendations that are usually distributed through child protective services at the county level.  Similarly, reports of child neglect can be made to the [Department of Family and Children’s Services], though the response there may be very inconsistent and erratic.

As a practical matter, the difficulty in this area centers on the fact that every child is different.  Establishing a rule that a child must be X years old to stay home alone or supervise other children would not solve this problem, because some children are mature at an early age, some are immature, and many fall somewhere in the middle.  Wise parents base their decision about leaving his or her minor child unsupervised upon careful consideration of the child’s maturity and emotional stability.

Family dynamics also must play a part in a parent’s decisions about child care. Should a sibling be left in charge of younger siblings? If so, how old should that sibling be? How long should or could he/she be in charge? In some families, it would never work to leave one child in charge because of family dynamics, sibling rivalries, or other special challenges faced by one of more of the children.  The maturity and capabilities of the elected babysitter should be the controlling factors.

To help parents ensure that their children are safe, the University of Michigan Health System has compiled an excellent resource Babysitter Safety – What Parents and Sitters Need to Know.  This website includes the following types of information:  how to choose a babysitter, things to tell the sitter before you leave, information sitters should have, resources for sitters, the dangers of leaving kids home alone, information about problems associated with sibling sitters, and more.

Source:  "Home Alone: Child Care and Babysitter Issues" by Jeanne M. Hannah, published at her Updates in Michigan Family Law blog.
SOURCE FOR POST: South Carolina Family Law

Tips for Success at Your Settlement Conference

Many cases can get settled simply by getting the parties together to talk.  This type of informal meeting is called a "settlement conference."  The following steps can help you prepare for a settlement conference and improve the chances of its success:

  1. Identify the issues in your case.
  2. Understand how the law affects your case.
  3. Know the estimated costs of trial.
  4. Remain open to unique opportunities.
  5. Keep a few secrets.   
  6. Be determined.   
  7. Be ready for a little give and take.
  8. Be patient.
  9. Get it in writing.

You can read much more about each of these steps by clicking here.

Source:  "Settlement Conference Success" by Helene Taylor, published at The Modern Woman’s Divorce Guide.
SOURCE FOR POST: South Carolina Family Law Blog

Passport rules snag child support cash

Dreamstime_2705034_2 New regulations snarled travel this summer, but uncovered scofflaws

WASHINGTON – The price of a passport: $311,491 in back child support payments for a U.S. businessman now living in China; $46,000 for a musician seeking to perform overseas, and $45,849 for a man planning a Dominican Republic vacation.

The new passport requirements that have complicated travel this summer also have uncovered untold numbers of child support scofflaws and forced them to pay millions.

The State Department denies passports to noncustodial parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support. Once the parents make good on their debts, they can reapply for passports.

Now that millions of additional travelers need passports to fly back from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and South America, collections under the Passport Denial Program are on pace to about double this year, federal officials told The Associated Press.

In all, states have reported collecting at least $22.5 million through the program thus far in 2007. The money is then forwarded to the parent to whom it is owed.

Some people never learn.