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from
Bill-Collector Confidential
Chapter 2. How Creditors Collect



Child Support and Alimony

Collecting on delinquent alimony and support claims is easy when it's known where you (the male ex) reside, where you work, what you earn, what and where your other assets are. Also, because your ex-wife keeps accurate records, it's known precisely how much you owe. But, as with any collection effort, the chances for collecting decrease as the problems of collection increase. For example, if you move out of the state in which the divorce decree was granted, you are not off free, but more collection work is required.
    Because
a divorce decree itself is a court judgment, a lawyer can usually move on its authority alone to obtain an execution, which means he can levy on your bank account, garnish your wages, or seize other assets, all without any notice, legal process, or any constitutional issues. Many divorce decrees require payroll deduction of child-support from the inception of the order, without process, and regardless of whether you are even delinquent. If you resist payment against a court judgment, you can be cited for contempt. Imprisonment for contempt of court is still a possibility in all jurisdictions.
   
The criminalized “dead-beat dad”
Procreation has become a very dangerous activity for you, the male. It helps if you are a millionaire with a good lawyer. Otherwise, you might need to acquire the skills of debtsmanship. It's not uncommon for you to end up with children gone and more than half of your income, too. As much as two-thirds of your wealth can be at risk. If you are consciously bent on (or at risk for) fatherhood, consider seeing a good lawyer in advance of your embarking on this adventure and writing with him a solid prenuptial agreement that protects your income and other interests in all directions. (Still, in case of pregnancy, a pre-nup will not trump a child-support obligation, so the solution is contraception.) Even with legal protections, good luck, sir, for the whole system is rigged against you. The law, the courts, most lawyers and prosecutors, the mass media, and the media-engineered social ethic are all rigged in favor of a gold-digging mother and against you, the father.
    Many states can revoke your driver’s license if you are a father behind in support, a punitive action that can also disable your ability to earn a living, and of course your ability to catch up on support. This draconian action can also extend to other professional licenses that enable your income. Social Security income, normally untouchable, can be levied upon for child support.
    Ambitious prosecutors like to launch well publicized dragnets and sweeps targeting “deadbeat dads.” Los Angeles posts a ten-most-wanted list. The IRS is empowered to offset income-tax refunds against any reported child-support debts and to forward that money to a state's collection unit. There is a cottage industry of bounty-hunting private detectives who, for a percentage, will locate the residences and income sources of that demonized entity, the “deadbeat dad.” The bounty hunter is a new and ominous entity in the collection biz.
    A recent federal law mandates that every state establish a
new-hire reporting system. Usually embedded within the same agency that administers child-support collection, the system is a trap for dads behind in support, for it facilitates a garnishment of wages.
    While wages are normally at least 75 percent exempt from garnishment under federal law, only 50 percent of your paycheck may be left after a garnishment for support.

    Computerized skip-tracing systems can search governmental departments so that a delinquent father attempting to disappear can be traced when he pays taxes, renews a driver’s license, or connects with government bureaus for other purposes. (See "Skip Tracers," Chapter 9 and "Skipmanship," Chapter 10.) If you try to hide assets, the court may order a judgment-debtor examination, which interrogates you in detail as to what you own and where it is. If you do not appear in court as ordered, a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest.
   
If you, the ex-father have moved out of the state
of the support decree, that document does not have direct legal force. In this not uncommon situation, the provisions of the Reciprocal Act (a cooperative agreement among states) must be engaged to enforce claims across jurisdictional lines. Before the Reciprocal Act, a father could run across state lines and snub his nose at support obligations. The act was once called "the runaway father law.”
     The more complicated your case, the more likely it is that you can negotiate for a settlement of an alimony or support debt. If you remarry with new responsibilities, the court may allow a reduction.
    Threat of garnishment is a good reason to be self-employed. An employer is compelled to deduct from your wages. Being employed in the straight world sets one up for all sorts of unfortunate bureaucratic intersections.
    You might also consider electing a path of poverty in an effort to eradicate the incentive that makes your wallet such a target.
    The mother might weigh the satisfaction of getting revenge against the ultimate economic impacts of turning the father into an official criminal. She might think twice before reporting him to any governmental agency, lest her action backfire.
Just signing up for welfare can trigger a punitive government collection effort.

Copyright ©  2012
by Steve Katz and George Trinkaus
All rights reserved.


from
Bill-Collector Confidential

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