Divorced Dad Pays His Support for 13 Years, Breaks His Leg, Misses 3 Months of Work-and Goes to Jail?!

Television reporter Tina Stein (pictured) of WIFR in Rockford, Illinois did an excellent job on the child support piece below. The piece details the case of Ed Conley, an electrician who broke his leg, was out of work for three months, and who nearly went to jail for it. Conley’s friends and relative came up with several thousand dollars to keep him out.

The case is typical of the way the child support system manufactures “deadbeat dads.” Let’s break it down:

1) Conley has a track record of 13 years of “mostly on-time payments.” Then he breaks his leg and can’t work.

2) He repeatedly tries to contact the child support agency to tell them and to get a downward modification, but can’t get through to anybody. Reporter Stein tries this also, and confirms Conley’s experience.

3) Ex-wife hires attorney to pursue Conley for the support she knows he shouldn’t be asked to pay. Her attorney blames Conley, saying, “He could file motions to where they could have child support reduced because they don’t have any income to pay for child support.” Conley had tried to resolve the issue the best he could–his only other alternative would have been to hire an attorney, which he obviously could not afford to do.

4) State doesn’t care, pursues him anyway, threatens him with jail, and only relents when his friends and relatives pay his child support for him.

This kind of outrage isn’t unusual–I hear stories like this all day long. It’s to Stein’s credit that she pursued this story. I spoke with Tina this morning and commended her–I suggest that readers send her a quick note to thank her–click here. Her story is below.

Child Support Concerns
Oct 1, 2007
Reporter: Tina Stein

A basketball injury didn’t earn Ed Conley any sympathy from the state’s Division of Child Support Enforcement, despite his 13-years of mostly on-time payments.

“There were breaks in my leg I have got 2 plates 19 screws in there. I didn’t just sprain my ankle and want to stay off work,” Conley says.

The electrician was off the job for three months and his ex-wife didn’t get any of the 38-hundred dollars owed for those three months either.

“She hired an attorney and that attorney contacted me and basically said I had to pay in full what was owed right then, and sent papers wanting me to be sent to jail.”

In Illinois, the Association for Children for Enforcement Support says nearly three billion dollars are owed in back child support. More than one in three cases are in collection, making us one of the worst states in the country. And while Conley promised to pay once he returned work, his ex-wife’s attorney, Donald Ray says he should have come up with the money sooner.

“He could file motions to where they could have child support reduced because they don’t have any income to pay for child support,” says Attorney Ray.

Unfamiliar with what to do, Conley tried getting help through the child support hot line.

“Three different times I called that number and got put on hold for 20 minutes and then it says due to the high call volumes your call will now be dropped,” Conley says.

I wanted to see if Conley was right. So I called and it took more than five minutes to speak to someone. And then I was transferred a half-dozen times before deciding to hang up.

Read the full article here.

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