2. How Creditors Collect
Child Support and Alimony
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.
divorce decree itself is a court judgment, a lawyer can usually move
on its authority alone to obtain an execution,
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.
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.
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.
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.
federal law mandates that every state establish a new-hire
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
might also consider electing a path of poverty in an effort to
eradicate the incentive that makes your wallet such a target.
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
Steve Katz and George Trinkaus
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