Are Child Support Collection Practices Fair?

child support collection practicesBy Jennifer M. Paine

Mens Divorce Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

Ever feel like you cannot get out of the cycle of child support collection? You may have fallen behind and just got caught up – and then, wham!

Suddenly, you receive a notice for a tax refund intercept, a notice for a hearing to explain why you have an arrearage, an income withholding order that can take away up to 65% of your pay, a passport revocation letter, a boot on your car, or a combination of these things.

For many guys, this a cycle that keeps on going, and going, and going, until their children are grown adults, living out of home and having children of their own.

Child support collection becomes the task of a state worker with one goal in mind – to have you paying the state in interest and penalties, for years and even decades after your child support obligation terminates.

But is this fair?

After all, your children are adults, and the state isn’t watching over them. So why should you pay the state anything?

There are many good reasons and a lot of bad ones. If your tax dollars go to support a child on food assistance, you should want the guy who is capable of supporting that child actually supporting that child. So, the State is owed something when he refuses.

But, one can, and should, question why immobilizing a vehicle so a guy cannot get to work to make money to pay support is fair. One can, and should, question why adding penalties and interest to unpaid support so that the total owed reaches an amount that makes him eligible for incarceration, is a good idea when the guy cannot pay the support in the first place.

There are circumstances in which both are fair. We would not want a guy driving down to the casino to gamble away his paycheck when he could be feeding his kids.

However, that guy is not most guys. Most guys work hard to meet their child support obligations and even harder to pay up when they fall behind.

Part 2 of this article gave divorce tips on what can, and should, be done to avoid the vicious cycle of child support collection.


Jennifer M. Paine is a mens divorce attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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