My last couple of posts have been concerning child support and child support enforcement.  I promised a couple of examples of heavy-handed enforcement, so here’s my first story:

A guy called me from one of the New England states because he had been sued by the Tennessee Child Support Services.  The child support order required him to pay a certain amount of child support to his son’s mother in weekly installments.  In order to make his life easier, he was paying a full month’s worth of support at the beginning of each month.

In fact, because he wanted to make sure the child had what the child needed, he was kicking in a little extra support.  This was around September of last year, and at that point he had paid about $2,000 more in child support than he was required.

So what’s the problem?  He’s wasn’t paying as ordered.  Even though he was paying extra support and paying in advance, each week that he didn’t pay was considered a missed payment and contempt of court.  Despite the wishes of the child’s mother, Child Support Services wanted to put this guy in jail for 180 days, and they were pursuing it aggressively.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Rather than dole out a smaller amount of money to the mother weekly as if he was giving an allowance to a five-year-old, the father was treating her like an adult and giving her money at the first of the month so she could use her discretion how to spend it.

Child Support Services seemed to think the mother wasn’t able to handle that much money at once and wanted to make sure she was restricted to a small amount each week.

This is your tax dollars hard at work.

We eventually got it worked out, but part of the solution involved dad pleading “guilty” to contempt and taking a suspended sentence of 180 days in jail.  He never actually went to jail, but if he had made any other mistakes during his sentence, the judge could have imposed the jail time.

The only lesson here is if your child support payments or schedule needs to be adjusted, you need to ask a judge to modify the child support order in a way that is more effective for you.  The amount of the child support is generally controlled by Tennessee’s guidelines, but the payments can be made monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, or whatever will work for the parties.

If you have a situation like this, it’s a lot cheaper to hire a lawyer to do a modification of your child support than it is to hire one to try to keep you out of jail and modify the child support order.  Contact me to find out how I can help.