Here’s another idiotic aspect of the child support system–demanding that incarcerated obligors continue to make child support payments even though we know they have no income and no ability to pay. Then, when they’re released, they’re several thousand dollars behind on child support (with interest on overdue payments added), and are subject to arrest or driven underground.
This problem has now been recognized by the Justice Department and Hillary Clinton actually addressed it during her campaign–to learn more, see my co-authored column New Justice Department Report’s Recommendations Could Reduce Prisoner Recidivism (Chicago Sun-Times, 10/26/07).
Usually the above scenario applies to low-income minority men incarcerated as part of the asinine War on Drugs. In the case below, the charges are far more serious–murder.
Nonetheless, it is still stupid and unfair to continue the man’s child support obligation. If he’s convicted, he’ll be in jail the rest of his life, so the obligation is irrelevant–it’ll never be paid. If he’s acquitted, then he’ll be behind on child support when he’s released, with all the concomitant problems, even though he is legally blameless.
From Murder Suspect Ordered To Continue Paying Child Support From Jail (Southern Maryland Online, 7/13/08):
A Lexington Park man accused of murdering his estranged wife’s boyfriend and attempting to kill her in the process must continue paying child support for their three children.
A ruling by Circuit Court Master F. Michael Harris last week determined that Koummane Virasith must still make the child support payments to Melissa Virasith despite being detained in the St. Mary’s County Detention Center.
The double shooting that took the life of Thomas John Saunders, 38, and seriously injured Melissa Virasith, 40, occurred April 10.
Before the shooting occurred, Melissa Virasith had filed two domestic violence complaints against her husband for alleged abusive behavior. The couple separated in 2006, court documents stated, with Koummane Virasith made to pay $400 a month in child support.
Melissa Virasith wrote to the court in late June stating that child support was now vital to her keeping her family going while she was recovering from the shooting.
“I have no income and will not have any income for some time to come,” Melissa Virasith wrote. “I feel that he is still responsible for the support of our three sons and I do not want to modify our support agreement.”
Melissa Virasith stated in her letter that she was currently a paraplegic as a result of the shooting and was undergoing therapy at a hospital in Baltimore.
In a letter to the court written little more than a week after Koummane Virasith allegedly shot the two victims, he stated that he had always paid his child support on time every month while gainfully employed.
His incarceration in the detention center now made that impossible, he wrote in the letter.
Read the full article here.