August 18, 2011
Fathers and Families Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, MS was quoted in the Indianapolis Star concerning new child support enforcement policies. In the piece, Holstein explains that state laws on delinquent parents are counterproductive and unfairly punish poor parents.
It turns poor fathers into fugitives who have to work in the underground economy and keep moving, and Mom doesn’t get anything because of it. They’ll go after a guy who is making minimum wage, trying his best but only making 80 percent of the payment.
In Those who owe child support get a break (Indianapolis Star, 8/18/11), reporter John Tuohy highlights the Eric Wilborn case, writing:
Out of work, broke and drinking too much, Eric Wilborn was sent to jail three times.
The 41-year-old Indianapolis mechanic wasn’t robbing people or getting into bar fights; he’d fallen behind on child support payments.
Wilborn now has a full-time job and is making his regular $170-a-week payments, but he’s an example of how seriously authorities take delinquent parents and how much discretion they have in prosecuting them.
“Thirty days in jail three times,” he said, “makes it hard to keep a job”…
Wilborn, who is about $50,000 behind in child support payments, said he got divorced 12 years ago when his daughter was about 3.
Wilborn struggled for years to keep up with payments while abusing alcohol and having trouble finding jobs. He did three 30-day sentences in jail for failure to pay and had his driver’s license suspended. The latter nearly cost him a job offer…
Wilborn said he makes $15 an hour now and brings home $300 a week after his support payments are deducted.
Granted that Wilborn’s problems were partly caused by alcohol abuse, he’s been severely punished and is happy to now be in a situation where, for one child, he’s losing half his paycheck to child support and taxes, and he probably will do so for at least 15 more years.