The Department of Human Resources and the State of Alabama have a dirty little secret when it comes to child custody and support cases. Though not actually secret, it is not well known either. Buried in amendments to the Social Security Act is a law which established the Title IV-D Program. It was designed to assist the States in enforcing uncollected child support obligations, thereby reducing the number of people receiving welfare benefits. Recent amendments brought changes to the Title IV-D Program which would destroy lives, trample upon due process rights, and provide incentive payments to the States, seemingly, most successful in doing the most damage in the lives of its citizens.
The law in its current form provides payment to any State which meets certain percentage rates of success in five different categories: establishing paternity, establishing child support orders, collection of current child support, collection of support arrearages, and cost-effectiveness. $70 billion of your Federal tax dollars is allocated for this incentive program yearly. The State of Alabama receives approx. $64 million per year.
This is how it works. If Alabama has at least an eighty percent success rate on all five categories, the Federal government pays the State two dollars for every one dollar of child support money collected under this program (accordingly, the incentive goes down in proportion with the success rate). The law stipulates that each state must create a central disbursement center through which all child support is to be paid. Under the law, the State's "incentive pool" is two times the amount of child support money paid into these disbursement centers for each fiscal year.
Through this program, the State is provided with massive financial incentives to separate the child and the non-custodial parent (often the father) as much as possible. The less time the non-custodial parent spends with the child providing direct support, the more child support that the State can enforce on Alabama fathers. Then Uncle Sam gives each State their take of Judas's thirty pieces of silver. The reason why the Alabama Children's Family Act (2011 Ala. Legislature Senate Bill 196), which provides for equal parenting time, died in the Senate is because the Court's often enforced "Standard Visitation" (a mere fifty-two days a year - "every other weekend") is a literal cash windfall for the State. Does this not represent a significant conflict of interest?
That's not all. In an effort to improve "cost-effectiveness" - the fifth incentive category, Congress has passed laws granting the States the power to circumvent the due process rights of non-custodial parents in the collection of child support. In my case, two false affidavits filed by my first ex-wife with DHR, was all the due process needed for that agency to wreak havoc upon my personal finances. Utilizing the nefarious administrative wage garnishment and administrative tax offset, DHR confiscated almost ten thousand dollars of my wages over three years without judicial review. Family court judges refused to meet with me, as did the district attorney's office. I have spent the last few years studying Federal and State law relating to child support and wage garnishment. However, there is one item I cannot find. Can someone point out to me the part of the U.S. Constitution that declares our rights are to be upheld only if it is cost-effective to the government?
What about those single moms it was suppose to help? There are many cases where DHR refuses to take action, due to it not being cost-effective to enforce the support. Apparently, if you do not have a regular paycheck, it becomes too difficult to enforce. Just ask my mother, she has been owed over $140,000 accumulating over twenty years for my sister and I. Our friends at DHR have had very little success enforcing that order. The difference? I am involved in my daughters' lives and hold down a regular job. Score one for the real deadbeat dads out there. "Doing the right thing" simply makes me an easy target for DHR's self-serving greed.
I would like to state my appreciation for Senator Clay Scofield's support of SB196. I hope our Senator will continue his support in the upcoming session and see it through to a full vote in both houses. This bill would break that conflict of interest which exists to deprive Alabama fathers of the precious time they have while their children are growing up. I am preparing to challenge the constitutionality of administrative garnishments and offsets in Federal court. The Constitution is specific, and the courts have repeatedly upheld the due process rights of citizens where deprivation of property rights are involved. It is not enough. I need your voice to add to the call for equal rights for parents in Alabama. Please check http://marshallcountybroke.blogspot.com for updates. You can contact me directly to help or if you have had a like experience.
In 2008, I told the Marshall County DHR director, Wayne Sellers, "I will not give up until these injustices are corrected" when I provided them with proof of payment for my child support. They ignored my receipts, and DHR took most of my money based upon a lie and pursuant to a Federal law which promotes the separation of fathers and their children along with unconstitutionally aggressive collection practices, both for the financial benefit of the State. This is our court system and our government. These people are too self-serving to not comply with the people's collective voice, if only for self-preservation. If you will stand with me, we can make this wheel the squeakiest. That oil of liberty, SB 196 and the demise of administrative garnishment orders would restore the rights of our neighbors and promote the best interests of Alabama children. My friends, we need your help!