Background: In my co-authored column, Servicemen victimized by child support system (World Net Daily, 6/27/07), I discuss the ways the child support enforcement system victimizes innocent citizens, particularly military personnel. I wrote:
“In 1998, Congress held extensive hearings on the myriad abuses committed by the Internal Revenue Service against law-abiding citizens. What few realize is that there are a similar number of men, fathers and families who have been victims of the same types of abuses by child support enforcement agencies. Because federal funding helps shape the way child support enforcement bureaucracies operate, similar hearings are needed to investigate and remedy these abuses.”
James Beaty’s article As he prepares to go to war, soldier faces DHS red tape (McAlester News-Capital, 10/13/07) is yet another example of the way the child support system harasses and abuses our military personnel. In this case, a father is scheduled to deploy to Iraq, so he went to child support enforcement to get a modification on his child support, since his income was going to decline. I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that downward modifications are often difficult to get, and here’s another example. Instead of the downward modification, the father (pictured above, with his wife), got an unexplained increase in his child support, and child support enforcement seized all of his and his wife’s bank accounts. Nice.
This kind of outrage isn’t unusual–I hear stories like this all day long. It’s to Beaty’s credit that he pursued this story. I suggest that readers send him a quick note to thank him–click here. The story is below.
Thanks to child support expert Jane Spies of the National Family Justice Association for sending me the article. Jane discusses problems with the child support system in her recent article The Myth of the Successful Child Support System.
As he prepares to go to war, soldier faces DHS red tape
By James Beaty, Senior Editor
The McAlester News-Capital, 10/13/07
Retha Gail Whitlock kept a brave face as long as she could.
It started with her chin, which slightly trembled, almost imperceptibly at first. A single tear streamed down her cheek, followed by one more and then another.
Finally, she lowered her head, unable to hold back a flood of tears which had been welling up inside her for the past few days.
“I”m sorry,’ she said. “I told myself I was going to be strong.’
Retha Gail looked at her husband, National Guardsmen Brian Whitlock, who is set to report for active duty on Oct. 21 before going on to Fort Bliss, Texas, and then deployment to the war in Iraq.
She said she”s concerned about him, as well as her stepson Daniel Whitlock and their cousin, Jeremy Snow — a trio of family members who joined the National Guard together as a family unit last year.
But her worries about the war weren”t the only reason for her tears. She feels that while her family members will be fighting overseas for their country, the state of Oklahoma — or at least some of its agents or employees — has dealt her a crushing blow, a blow that”s almost too much to bear.
“I”m terrified for him over there,’ she said. “I told him not to worry about us. We”ll be all right.’
But she acknowledges a few seconds later she has her doubts. She said she doesn”t know how she”ll put food on the table, pay co-payments for medical bills or buy clothes for the family she has at home.
Over the past week, the Whitlocks said the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, working through KiBois Community Action, first froze, then seized, every last cent they had in a joint banking account.
A lien is already placed on anything that will be added — which means that every penny Whitlock is paid while in Iraq can be seized, since his National Guard pay is electronically deposited, he said.
The Whitlocks said it all has to do with child support payments that Brian Whitlock pays to two different women who are mothers of his children.
The guardsman wanted to make it clear that he”s not trying to get out of his child support payments.
“I owe it,’ he said — and he”s been paying it. He has check stubs from his job at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, which show where the payments are automatically deducted, as proof. Whitlock said KiBois has told him the deductions are not only for his current payments, but include payments on what he owes in arrears, as well.
He”s not complaining about that.
The Whitlocks said their problems escalated when Brian Whitlock went to KiBois, which handles some child support enforcement for the DHS, to try and have his child support payments modified while he”s fighting in Iraq. He said he won”t be making as much fighting the war as he does at McAAP.
Whitlock said he went to KiBois on his own, because he wanted to report that he would no longer be getting his McAAP check once he reported for duty, but instead would be getting a check for his National Guard service.
“That”s why I went down,’ he said. “I didn”t want to get behind. When my check at McAAP stopped and I got my Army check, they could deduct it.’
As proof of his lower income while he”s in the National Guard, Whitlock said he brought along a chart given to guardsmen which shows them how to figure their pay by computing their years of service with their rank.
It shows that an E-4, such as Whitlock, with 18 years of service is paid $2,062.80 a month — which is less than his McAAP pay.
Whitlock also has a letter from his commander, Capt. Cameron C. Lehanhan.
“Purpose of this memorandum is to certify SPC/E-4 Brian Keith Whitlock”s monthly gross earnings will be $2,062.80 for the period 18 Oct. 2007 through the end of our deployment sometime late in 2008,’ the letter states.
However, Whitlock said a caseworker at KiBois told him he was wrong.
“They said somebody had done some legwork and said I would be making much more than at my civilian job,’ he said. Whitlock said he asked the source of the information.
“They said they could not disclose it to me,’ he said.
When Whitlock said he would not agree with what KiBois wanted, he said he was told he would be given a hearing date. A document signed by Administrative Law Judge Javier Ramirez set the hearing date for Oct. 29 — which is eight days after Brian Whitlock is to report for duty prior to his deployment to Iraq.
The document also contains a statement: “This is the notice of the hearing. Parties are advised that failure to appear may result in a default judgment.’
That stunned Whitlock, who said he had told an attorney at KiBois twice that he must report for duty on Oct. 21.
Several days later, DHS placed the lien on the Whitlocks” joint checking account.
Read the full article here.