NPO in the media

F & F’s Holstein on NPR’s Marketplace—Fathers, Child Support & the Recession

August 28, 2009

marketplaceFathers & Families Ned Holstein, MD recently discussed the problems faced by child support obligors in the recession on American Public Media’s Marketplace. From Economy gives some dads a bad rap (8/21/09): “When someone loses a job, the bills don’t stop coming.
Mortgage, car payments, health insurance and for some, child support. But Ned Holstein, president of Fathers and Families, a group that represents dads, says there’s a big difference.

Everybody is struggling. But someone who has a child support order is the only person who’s going to be put in jail, because they can’t pay their debts.

That’s why more parents who’ve lost their jobs are asking the courts to lower their child support payments…But just asking the court to lower your payments, because you lost your job, isn’t always enough. Divorce attorney B.J. Krintzman says the courts are slow moving:

They’re not going to get very far if they go in that week and say, “I lost my job, so I can no longer pay.” Usually there has to be some kind of period of time that’s gone by, so the obligor has to show attempts to get a job.

Some judges are sympathetic and lower payments right away, because they know it’s unlikely someone will get a new job quickly. But typically it takes six months for a judge to make a decision. Ned Holstein of Fathers and Families says:

[Y]you can be going broke in a hurry…Then when you get the hearing, typically, the family court judges will not give you relief at the first hearing. They say, “Well, how do we know this is going to be long standing? You might get a job next week. Also, you’ve got some assets, you can pay it out of your assets. And so, I’ll see you again in three more months.”

But it’s putting fathers who mean well and love their kids in jail, because they can’t pay. Krintzman says:

And this is not daddy jail; this is real jail…what ends up happening is dads borrow money from family and friends.

And when they do get out of jail, they’ll owe even more, because child support obligations don’t stop while someone is behind bars.” To listen to the audio of the piece or to read the full interview, go to Economy gives some dads a bad rap (Marketplace, 8/21/09).

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