News By Tag
News By Place
Child Support Enforcement Program Shouldn't Be A State's Cash Cow
The Federal Child Support Enforcement Program developed from Title IV-D of the Social Security Act in 1975 and was designed to reimburse governments for welfare benefits. In the past 37 years, one state has used it to rake in federal dollars.
By: Susan Hubbard (Thebeau)
In the State of Florida, the Florida Department of Revenue is the designated agency to administer this program to Florida families. This is not an easy task and past audits of the State of Florida have disclosed some deficiencies in administering this program. In order to minimize deficiencies and create outstanding performance levels, corners may be cut, actions may be taken that are not in compliance with federal mandates and Florida's children may suffer. One such case exists in Hillsborough County, Florida (the 13th Judicial Circuit in and for Tampa, Florida).
In this one case, a divorced couple had joint custody of one minor child and child support was paid by the mother to the father because the mother was the higher wage earner at that time. For a period of 4 1/2 years, the mother complied with a direct pay order (as confirmed by FL DOR) and as permitted by the Final Divorce Decree. After these 4 1/2 years, the minor child began to exhibit signs of being abused by his biological father and the mother instantly filed court documents to protect the child from further abuse. It was at that time, (50 months later), that the father suddenly decided that the direct pay period did not exist and went to FL DOR to collect child support for that period from the mother....for a second time. FL DOR failed to follow Administrative Code by obtaining an Affidavit of Arrears from the father and failed to perform the required investigation to ensure that the arrears that the father was claiming were true and that FL DOR had a justiciable issue. FL DOR proceeded with harsh collection efforts against the mother despite the mother's pleas and evidence that no such arrears existed. FL DOR went as far as to fight the mother's pending Modification of Child Support which when granted, would have cleared the error ridden records. The transcript from that hearing clearly shows that FL DOR CSE did not act in the best interest of the child and that the Hearing Officer and Judge who were involved in this case were completely without any knowledge of the case and without knowledge of the family law statutes in the State of Florida.
The result of these atrocities was that FL DOR acted in complete contrast to their certified plan that they are required to provide to the Federal Government.. In conjunction with the Hearing Officer and the Judge, FL DOR had issues heard and ruled on that had never been filed for. The misrepresentations and false testimony of FL DOR counsel, Mr. Albert Arena of the Attorney General's office led a confused and annoyed Hearing Officer to further discriminate against the mother by taking away all of the child's current support order as payment of the disputed arrears of $29,000. This violates federal law and state laws. The mother did attempt to get the Order vacated due to fraud however, the Judge (Judge Paul Huey) issued a ruling ex parte, ignoring the precision and factual motion to vacate filed by the mother and worse yet, punished the mother by not permitting any further pro se motions on her part when there was absolutely no basis for such an action.
FL DOR and the family courts benefited by taking the child's current support away from him..DOR was able to list the case as fully collected (a performance measure for additional federal dollars), the courts not only saved funds but also rid themselves of what they considered a 'problem litigant.' The biological father of the child was relieved of all of his financial obligations to his child and the mother was left paying $29,000 in child support twice.
It should also be noted that in 2009, the child took and passed a polygraph test, proving that he was indeed abused by his biological father. The child also proved that he had been exposed to illegal narcotic drugs at his father's home. Despite being advised of this devastating fact, FL DOR continued to advocate for this child abuser and with all their power and influence, they were able to obtain additional federal dollars on this case (and others like it) and relieve their client of any financial obligation to the child, even after their client abused the child.
At this time, the child and his biological mother live in poverty. The child still suffers with PTSD night terrors and other horrible effects from the child abuse and being abandoned by his biological father - all while the State of Florida enhances their performance in the child support program and collects federal dollars while Florida's children suffer.
These types of actions by DOR and the family courts must stop immediately. There is general agreement that child support hearings can be intimidating and FL DOR can appear to a frightened litigant as the power to make life very hard for the family. As parents, it is vital that we expose wrong doings and be part of the solution by righting these wrongs. The State of Florida is required to 'act in the best interest of the child.' In this one case, that has not happened and the person suffering the most is indeed, the child. This must be stopped immediately.
The child support program is meant solely for the benefit of children. It should not be, nor should any agency manipulate this system to collect federal funds based on false data nor allow any agency, person, state, etc to benefit from this program by forcing children to suffer.
# # #
We are an advocacy group for accountability regarding both the Federal program and the State of Florida's program for Child Support Enforcement.
Page Updated Last on: Mar 02, 2012