“Bungling cases isn’t anything new at Friend of the Court. In recent years Action News has repeatedly showed you how Friend of the Court has accused honest men of being deadbeat dads even when they had proof they were paying child support or didn’t owe a penny.”
Critics of divorced fathers and so-called “deadbeat dads” are often unaware of the many problems with the way child support is set and enforced. One of these problems is the phenomenal amount of errors Child Support enforcement agencies make. I’ll be running stories about them as part of my series called “Child Support Enforcement’s Endless Errors.”
According to the Detroit TV station WXYZ’s news report Friend of the Court (11/10/06):
“It’s a system designed to protect children from the hardships of divorce, but one family says Wayne County Friend of the Court made life miserable instead.
“The Wayne County Friend of the Court is a place with a history of botching simple cases and turning them into a maddeningly confusing mess.
“No one knows that better than Ruth and Dale Akers, who married 6 years ago and had a baby named Dale IV.
“But then they got a notice from Friend of the Court saying their son wasn’t theirs. Instead, it said, he belonged to Dale’s ex-wife and Dale owed child support.
“Bungling cases isn’t anything new at Friend of the Court. In recent years Action News has repeatedly showed you how Friend of the Court has accused honest men of being deadbeat dads even when they had proof they were paying child support or didn’t owe a penny.
“Terrance Hale said Friend of the Court misspelled his name and had him paying support for a newborn named Marjae to a stranger named Toni Etters.
“‘All they could tell me is this is your kid because the computer says it’s your kid,’ he said.
“Director of the state’s office of child support Marilyn Stephen says the program has improved but admits problems linger with the state’s million dollar computer system.
“The state has been making similar excuses since it first installed the system 3 years ago.
“‘Every time you go in and touch something in system, extensive testing is required to make sure no ripple effect and change other calculations resulting in problems,’ said Stephen.
“But Ruth and Dale say there is no excuse for what Friend of the Court has done to them.
“Records show Dale has faithfully paid his ex-wife child support for three children they’ve had together. But two years ago, the child support computer system started making life miserable.
“This year alone in a four week stretch Dale got three notices; the first said he owed about $700 a month, the second said he owed $849, and the last one said he owed more than $1,300.
“And then the most baffling mistake of all, asking Dale to pay his ex-wife for a son he had with his current wife.
“But the state and Friend of the Court haven’t even been able to fix that, instead saying what they’ve said for years, ‘we’re working on it’.”