Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions

U.S. Supreme CourtJune 20 marked the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Turner v. Rogers case. (See the July 2012 Child Support Report.)  Mr. Turner, the noncustodial parent, was ordered to pay $51.73 per week in child support. Over the course of several years, he was held in civil contempt for nonpayment and incarcerated a number of times.

After the last hearing, Mr. Turner appealed. He alleged that his constitutional rights were violated. He argued that the due process clause of the 14th Amendment required the state to provide him with appointed counsel in a civil contempt hearing that could lead to incarceration. Neither the custodial parent nor the state child support program was represented by an attorney at the hearing.

In Turner, the Supreme Court held (based upon the circumstances in his case) that a state does not necessarily need to provide counsel to a defendant in a child support civil contempt proceeding, as long as the state provides adequate procedural safeguards. The Supreme Court said that due process does require an express finding by the state court that the noncustodial parent has the ability to pay the purge order based upon the individual facts of the case. Last month, I issued policy guidance for state child support agencies implementing the Turner decision and information about alternatives to incarceration.

As a result of the Turner v. Rogers decision, state child support agencies and courts are examining their civil contempt procedures. The goal is not to eliminate contempt procedures in cases where it may be appropriate, but instead to implement fair and cost-effective procedures that assure that families receive reliable child support payments, improve fairness and access to justice for parents without an attorney, and reduce the need for jail time. Incarceration may indeed be appropriate in those cases where noncustodial parents can afford to support their children but willfully evade their parental responsibilities by hiding income and assets. However, jail is not appropriate for noncustodial parents who do not have the means to pay their child support debts.

The first step to reducing the need for contempt hearings is to set accurate child support orders. The research is clear that setting realistic orders based on actual income can actually improve compliance, increasing both the amount of child support collected and the consistency of payment. The research says that compliance falls off when orders are set above 15 to 20 percent of a noncustodial parent’s income.

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. For the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, this law will offer an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from starting in 2014. Those who can’t afford insurance will get tax credits that make coverage affordable.

Already, 34 states including the District of Columbia have received 100 percent federally funded grants to set up health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, which will allow individuals and small businesses to compare and choose private health plans. Each state will take the lead in designing its own menu of options. In the child support program, we know that our medical child support responsibilities are evolving. We look forward to working with child support professionals in the coming months and years to develop medical child support policies that complement state health care policy decisions and work for families.

categories Child Support tags , ,

25 Responses to Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions

  1. Dadzrites says:

    “The first step to reducing the need for contempt hearings is to set accurate child support orders. The research is clear that setting realistic orders based on actual income can actually improve compliance, increasing both the amount of child support collected and the consistency of payment. The research says that compliance falls off when orders are set above 15 to 20 percent of a noncustodial parent’s income.”

    How is it possible for judges to set accurate child support orders when their pensions are salaries are directly & indirectly linked to the amounts of child support (and alimony) awarded, enforced upon & collected??? (See Title 42 USC Section 658(a)(the federal child support enforcement reimbursement incentive to the states). Judges are too tempted to artificially inflate child support orders (through such things as “imputing income” when people have been unemployed, underemployed or disabled through no fault of their own). Judges are too tempted to abuse contempt power to extort/extract monies from unsuspecting litigants/taxpayers/voters.

  2. Pete Schuler says:

    As a matter of state law, Kentucky requires the state to provide counsel for indigent defendants facing confinement due to their failure to provide court ordered child support in civil contempt proceedings. See Lewis v. Lewis, 875 SW2d 862 (1993).

  3. Alexis Duncan says:

    Custodial Parents and children are currently at a total disadvantage if the non-custodial parent is self-employed. Although Child Support Enforcement has made some great progress for those situations were non-custodial parents obligated to pay child support work for wages, there is still a lot to be desired child support enforcement actions for self-employees non-custodial parents. Involving financial institutions is a great first step. How about self-employed individuals who are issued 1099s, own their own companies, or have asset overseas. CAN WE INCORPORATE MONTHLY ELECTRONIC REPORTING OF 1099 income as another pilot to help out children and custodial parent who are not receiving child support. How about once these non-custodial bank accounts are located, requiring these folks to submit their bank statement? How about running an IRS masterfile to see all the businesses associated with the social security number? There must be more that we can do. I’d love to be on a
    national work group, think tank, brain storm to put to gether strategies to tackle this issue.

  4. Joyce Mascio says:

    Enlisting private investigators at random times would solve most of the problems we see with non-payment of child support. My question is how do they manage to pay their own bills for 5 years and supposedly not work?

  5. kismet says:

    Funny that there are all of these suggestions about ways to make non custodial parents pay up..and its especially interesting when the IRS is mentioned. Why is there no process to verify the use of child support funds? Parents receiving child support should be subject to random audits and need to keep receipts. I work everyday and pay taxes, but at anytime I can be called upon to justify my expenses on funds I EARNED. For the record, I raised a son alone, no child support and my son has a great relationship with his dad…funny how things can work when there is no vindictiveness, anger, lawyers or courts involved….

  6. Kevin Davis says:

    @Alexis Duncan—all parties are at a disadvantage if there is fraud. This is true because the custodial parent can understate their income too, thus increasing the non-custodial parents obligation and resentment which will affect the child.

  7. Another one says:

    After accessing this website accidentally and reading it, it all entails even the highest court system favors the CS system. Unbelievable!

    Where there is good there is evil. This could also be applied as where there is a good father there is a deadbeat father. The issue of child support has been ongoing for centuries and the system has been delegated to be favored more on the custodial end. The laws that justify what is fair within child support or custody is an approach of being biased against the non-custodial parent. It’s a nationwide issue that affects all men/women that are non-custodial parents. The whole CS system corruption includes all the Attorney Generals of all states, lawyers, judges, and other state agencies. Eventually, from what I have experienced hiring a lawyer is expensive and I am still paying the bill and trying to make ends meet. Yet it’s pointless hiring an attorney because it may seem as if they are fighting for you, but in reality we as caring non-custodial parents have no right! The only right we have is “The right to be with your child or children” NO [####]! Who gives the law the right to tell us that? We have every right even without their intrusion. The whole system is violating our constitutional rights and judges’ are aware of our due process, but just seem to ignore it. Without the crookedness the system would be broke. Morally it is totally wrong how the law gets involved and treats us as deadbeats and who want to be in our children’s lives, but only enables our lives to struggle and makes ends meet.

    We, as caring noncustodial parents’ get the end of the stick no matter what and label us a deadbeats. The force of making someone work twice as hard to pay CS is morally wrong, illegal, and definitly in violation of our Constitutional rights. Yet we can get other jobs but that only eliminates time to be spent with our child(ren) and pay additional CS to the lazy custodial parent. If not, we get punished by being incarcerated and suspending our driver’s license. Nonetheless, the United States isn’t like it used to be, what happened to the right Justice, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness here in the U.S.?

  8. Crystal Norment says:

    The Child Support System needs to be completely overhauled. It began based on social norms of the day with a marriage and a man’s responsibility to take care of his kids. That is no longer the social makeup of families. With Gay Marriages and Gay’s adopting kids and the whole “Baby Momma/Baby Daddy” phenonom, how can we still hold only the male father responsible for child support. In many instances the father did not have a “relationship” with the mother and the mother has multiple baby daddys. What is the mother’s responsibility to care for children that she made a choice to have without consulting the ensuing father. How will the law address these new social norms. It is ridiculous and unfair to imprison a man for failure to pay child support and not hold the mother to any standard.

  9. pat elpers says:

    there are two sides to this story and i’m sure there are abuses of the system it took me thirty years in an Indiana court to finally get all the support ordered in my case I heard more excuses than there are stars in the sky, It was really frustrating I went from lawyers to prosecutors and my ex was always allowed to defend his excuses However i was rarely ever allowed to speak one thing that I think even the courts should keep in mind, the money paid is to take care of the children a judge is not compensating the ex spouse but trying to compensate the children my children did without a lot due to the negligence. they deserved a near normal life because of their deadbeat dad they didn’t have it the court just prolonged the agony of divorce.

  10. Maulik Modi says:

    What is the law on providing child support for an in vitro fertilization (IVF) child? As someone mentioned here that the laws have not kept pace with social norms. The contention is the laws have not kept pace with technology either. What if two males decide to have an IVF child together, only one of them can be a biological father. With help of an egg donor and surrogate, the males can be proud and happy parents of a lovely IVF child. But what if the relationship turns sour DURING the IVF pregnancy and the non-biological parent ABANDONS the IVF/Surrogacy? What if both intended parents ABANDON the IVF pregnancy? Is the innocent IVF child the responsibility of the surrogate who will give birth? What is the accountability and responsibility for bring an innocent IVF child into this world who did not ask to be born? Are the needs of such an IVF child LESSER than a natural born child? Is the CHILD SUPPORT for the parents or to help the CHILD with daily supplies and necessities? Then why should the GENDER of the parent matter in assigning child support?

  11. Pedro Rosario Ruiz says:

    If a veterans get jailed for more than 6 month compensation will be suspended until he get released. That means that the veterans and his other dependent will go true a financial hardship. And that means that when he come out it will possible become a homeless veteran and not be able to pay the child support and get him financially up to date.

  12. Gail Brown MD MSW says:

    First in our PC (policitcally correct) environment I think calling people “Turnips” is appauling. In my opinion this is not differnt than calling someone a racial slur. We have not walked in that person’s shoes and until the Bradley Amendment can be modified that will continue to happend. Second, the cusodial prent can withold visitation and contact and the non-custodial parent has to spend thousands of dollars to take the custodial parent back to court. The custodial parent usually can get a “free” attorney. If the custodial parent becomes homeless – why is he or she not charged with child neglect? I know it may not be due to their fault, maybe lack of child support, loss of a job or a current spouse? What ever the reason, they are not charged for being poor and down on their luck like the non-custodial parent is. Even a medical disability allows for student loans to be deferred and sometimes “written off”. This must be addressed and done so in a manner that goes beyond this current Supreme Court decision as it did not address the unconstitional parts of the Bradley Amendment. I am sure that was not allowed to brought up – but maybe in a future hearing it will be.

  13. Paul - Private Investigator says:

    It seems you are having the same difficulties over there in the US as we do in the UK.

  14. Stepp AR says:

    You know whats sad! All this support encouges the custodial parent to sit around not work not go to school the less work they do the more they recieve. The system is messed up we need the federal gov to step in and fix it… what child spends 2000 dollars a month what child needs 90% of a fathers income if the father stayed with the family that child wouldnt require 90% and how about the times when the child is with the father and the father has no money left to buy his child a gift or take him or her to the movies fix rhe system.. all children should be joint responsiblity this is a stupid unfaiir process. There needs to be a set amount depending on area lived a resonable amount. Set per child depending on age.

  15. Antovion Whitfield says:

    Child support is unconstitutional. If you non-custodial parents agree with me, we need come together and fight the system until we can be treated with respect and treated fairly. We will be financial slaves if we don’t get together and fight for our income, dignity and respect!

  16. Mr Robinson says:

    Its very true the custodial parent looks like the hero and takes the kids everywhere with the non custodial parents hard earned money then still turns and tells the kids to ask their dad or non custodial for more money when they want new stuff.

  17. wade devillier says:

    Another money making racket from our government is child custody “best interest for someone’s child” then onto “child support”.

    What is really missing is the definition of “child support”. It really needs updating! Throwing money at another parent should not be the the default definition. This is a cop out of “child support”. The default definition of child support should be defined as being with your child. It should be measured in time rather than measured in money. What real parent had a child just to throw money to the other parent in order to raise the child? Yesterdays generation really makes me sick at times, I try not to think about it and push harder to get us out of this way of thinking. 50/50 custody default setting unless proved to be unfit. If 50/50 is not possible then look at other alternatives such as payments. I have all the time in the world to be with my children and really raise and support them; family court has kidnapped them from me as they offer me “visitation”. I had no idea I would be forced to “visit” my children at the early ages of 3 and 7 years of age.

  18. Michael Gallegos says:

    What we need is a class action lawsuit to enforce our constitutional rights, civil rights, and sue for compensatory damages, including seek criminal charges against these people because we are not second class citizens, and debtors prison is unconstitutional.

  19. Susan Schwaber says:

    If the judges took charge of a divorce procedure instead of allowing the lawyers to create a freak show then the hostility between parents would be more civil and the children would not be dragged through the gutters. The court system does not look to resolve issues but prolongs the drama! Families who initially had enough money to survive individually and to support their children spend most of their money on lawyers wasting time in court and accomplishing nothing. In return, the children suffer without the ability to enjoy their childhood which continues through their teenage years creating anger and hatred mentally forever. No one cares about the welfare of our kids or the ability for the custodial parent to provide support and security for their children. Instead, the parent is bullied from the moment the divorce proceedings begin by the Judges giving more time and time for the non custodial parents to not obey the law with no legal consequences and the lawyers billing hours and hours of wasted time taking all the money that was once available to support children! With years of fighting in court and the abuse of the law, the only people who survive the divorce process are the judges and lawyers. The innocent children spend their childhood being mentally and physically abused by the courts and the custodial parent suffers daily with the inability to provide security and support to her children. Of course, no one cares to help resolve any of these issues! Creating these reports and writing this blog are useless! No local, state or federal government care if child support arrears builds to being over $100.000. Delayed court decisions, motions or enforcement of contempt to follow the law are not of importance to anyone of legal authority! It truly is a disappointment and injustice to families trying to survive. No one oversees any of these court cases and the law continues to be abused hurting the innocent.

  20. Dee Douglas says:

    I have read all of you all blogs and can relate to majority of you. I have been pounding my head on the wall trying to figure out how to bring these issues to light so that one day the justice system can change. I agree, the should be some monitoring of child support payments. In order to know that the custodial parent is truly supporting the child, the other parent should not be paying out the tail to support the other parent. But like someone mentioned earlier…judges are in the scam as well.

  21. Larry Rock says:

    I am a non-cutodial parent with 2 daughters in Illinois
    I paid child support although my x-wife rarely allowed visititation
    When I came to her house on my court ordered visitation time
    My x-wife would come out curse me and tell me to leave that I wasn’t
    going to see the girls. I told her I would wait for her to bring my girls
    out for me to have my visitation. My x-wife would call the local police
    the police came and told me I would have to leave or be arrested
    I showed the police my court order ordered visitation court papers and was told
    that I had to leave and to get myself a lawyer and go to court
    which I did even though I spent all my money and was broke after 8 years
    of court a long with my x-wife alienating my daughter
    Where is the justice for the non-custodial parent
    If the non-custodial parent isn’t able to pay child support the courts and government will take away: your driver license, tax refund ,bank account,professional license,passport and put you in jail and it wouldn’t cost the
    custodial parent a dime to have does done

  22. Cathy Beasley says:

    The term dead beat comes from intentionally evading child support by moving from state to state and being financially caple of paying but refusing. I am a custodial parent who has been divorced for 10 years and am still fighting to get 35,000. in arrears. The state never even suspended his DL. I have worked a full time and a part time job for the last 10 years and all he gets is a slap on the wrist. I do not understand why the court systems do not enforce the DPPA of 1998. The non-custodial parent should be just as responsible as the custodial parent. We had 3 children TOGETHER, and I am all for serving jail time. Maybe a wake-up call is needed! I dont think child support money should be monitored. Look at our cost of living. We still have to pay to put a roof over the childs head, food on the table and clothes on their back. My children get most of my money.

  23. trista says:

    I understand both side of custodial parents and non custodialparent .However as a custodial parent I have been fighting for support for 15 years I even gave up future CS so my daughter’s father could get caught up on the 15 thousand he owed agreeing to 11.00 a week my last payment from him was 4.73 that was a slap in the face honestly.. Now my husband is the non custodialparent

  24. John says:

    I understand a lot of what people are saying on here.But i am a grand-parent raising 2 Grand-children and the children get a whole 60.00 dollars a month child support from the parents when they decide to pay it.We do not get food stamps or nothing like that i work for what we get.While the parents work under the table they also get food stamps.So where is the fairness in that.

  25. Sumbuddy says:

    The fact that custodial parents are indeed able to make ends meet financially even when the non-custodial parent fails to make child support payments, proves that child support payments are not absolutely 100% necessary for the upbringing of a child. I believe that government should only be allowed to order a non-custodial parent to pay child support if it is proven in court that the child is in danger without it. For example, if the custodial parent makes $500,000 a year but the non-custodial parent only earns $17,000 a year, then how does the government justify taking money from the non-custodial parent to pay child support, when there is no financial danger to this particular child?

Leave a Reply

To get help with your case or learn how to apply for child support, contact your state or tribal child support agency.  This is a moderated blog. All comments will be reviewed and cleared before they are posted. See Comment Policy.