Yet another case of the child support system failing a well-intentioned father has made its way into the headlines.
The latest debacle comes from Orange County, Fla., where Dave Hernandez saw his income drained for months after his four sons moved in with him following the death of his estranged wife.
For nearly four months, the state took $800 each month from Hernandez’s checks as he struggled to keep his head above water financially while supporting four boys.
Immediately after the death of his estranged wife, Hernandez provided the child support office with a death certificate and proof that his sons were living with him. They told him they would let him know something shortly.
Several months later, he was still waiting. Every time he called to check the progress of the case or to ask where his child support payments were going, he was told the state would continue taking the money until his case was closed.
“I felt like I was being treated like a criminal,” he told WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando.
Finally, after a local reporter contacted the state about the situation, an official informed Hernandez that it owed him nearly $3,000. Hernandez claims $6,000 would be a more realistic estimate, but was thankful nonetheless.
Sadly, this is just the latest example of the modern child support system’s shortcomings. Here are several other cases previously covered by DadsDivorce in 2015:
In April, a South Carolina police officer shot and killed Walter Scott after he fled his vehicle after being stopped.
According to Scott’s family, he was fleeing because he owed more than $18,000 in child support and had a bench warrant out for his arrest at the time of the shooting. Scott previously spent time in jail for missed child support payments.
The story exposed how harsh the state’s child support laws are on poor parents. According to a 2009 survey of South Carolina county jails, one out of every eight inmates was in jail for missed child support payments. A separate study revealed that 75 percent of parents held in contempt for non-payment of child support were currently unemployed or previously unemployed or having difficulty finding work.
In late April, the Albany Times-Union explored the case of Loubert Legros, who claims the state is holding him responsible for child support payments that his employer pocketed.
Legros served as executive chef at Carmine’s Restaurant for nearly three years before it closed. During that time, he claims he lost eight months’ worth of court-ordered child support payments that were deducted but pocketed by owner Carmine Sprio.
Court orders require employers to deduct child support payments from employees’ paychecks and send to the state child support collection unit.
Legros provided documents showing more than $6,800 was deducted from his paychecks while working for Sprio, and yet the court still held Legros responsible for the missed payments.
In January, a judge ordered Michigan man Carnell Alexander to pay around $30,000 of child support debt to a child that DNA tests prove is not his.
In the 1980s, Alexander’s ex-girlfriend listed him as the father of her child in order to receive welfare benefits without realizing that doing so would open up a paternity case against Alexander. Years later, Alexander found this out when he was pulled over for a traffic stop and told he was a deadbeat dad.
Eventually, Alexander was able to obtain a DNA test confirming he was not the child’s father. The mother even admitted he wasn’t the dad and said the real father was involved in her son’s life. She also asked the court to forgive Alexander of his “missed payments.”
However, the judge still ordered Alexander to pay about $30,000 or face jail time. The case exposed how problematic it is that Michigan lacks paternity fraud laws.