Tuesday, August 30, 2005

D is also for Deadbeat

Kentucky still doesn't get it, or at least not Jefferson County, as Glenn Sacks' post on the ongoing persecution of Deadbeat Dads shows. County Attorney Irv Maze recently published the names of 1,000 'deadbeat parents' in the Louisville Courier-Journal (Article) (Quotes from article below). Irv claims that the list is helping his office 'locate debtors'. I have a whole series of problems with this, as you might imagine:
  • If he has their addresses, I gather that he has already located them, and if he hasn't gotten their address right, isn't he publishing someone else's address, and putting whoever really lives at that address at risk?
  • And by the way, did these 'deadbeat dads' get a full jury trial, where it was determined by a jury of their peers that they rightfully and reasonably should be paying the specified amounts? -Remember, alimony and child support judgements are only very rarely (read 'almost never') supported by anything resembling a trial, instead you are guilty until you can prove yourself innocent.
  • And did a group of the alleged (alleged, because he didn't get a trial) deadbeat's peers or even a group of lawyers or judges review case law at a sentancing hearing, and decide that publishing their names was appropriate, given their crimes?

I gather that none of these questions was adequately asked or answered by Attorney Maze, and not only that, that he is not aware that the vast majority of 'deadbeat dads' are not people who are choosing not to pay their support and alimony, but instead are people who CANNOT pay the judgements against them, again, judgements entered into without the benefit of a jury, or any peer review of the reasonableness of the fines and punishments being levied. Irv either just doesn't get it, or is pandering to an ignorant class of voters, instead of persuing justice.

In his article, Glenn cites the statistics and facts on deadbeat dads, how the majority are simple laborers and the like, people without huge earning potential against whom huge judgements have been made - again, just to reiterate, without trial or review. Whereas these statistics are great, and help to debunk the 'deadbeat dad' myth, they totally shortchange another group - the men who did (prior to their divorce) have resources and education, who are now, because of job loss or financial difficulty on top of their divorce, now barely evading being a 'deadbeat dad', or who have slipped into that state due to the immensity of the debts loaded upon them by the legal system in spite of their job loss or 'underemployment'. ...Men who are required, in many cases, to continue to finance a six figure lifestyle for their ex, while just scraping by themselves. Men whose life, lifestyle, and prospects somehow just don't matter anymore. Men, often locked out of their children's lives, and prevented from having their own anymore. Men who are enslaved to their ex, and the machinery of divorce- the family law system. We call these people the 'Disposable Dads', and under the current law it's most of us.



Irv is so unrepentant or more likely clueless as to post the list on his county web-site, along with his phone, and an address and an email. Howabout letting him know what he is doing wrong? The man is also up for re-election in 2006. Maybe the locals will boot him.

Also the Louisville Courier-Journal Article does make an effort to represent part of the men's-rights side:

But some fathers' rights advocates criticized publishing the names of parents who owe child support, saying the public shame unfairly stigmatizes fathers.
Jeffery Leving, a prominent Chicago lawyer who lobbies for fathers seeking custody and visitation rights, heads the state-appointed Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood.
Most fathers behind on child support don't pay because they don't have the money, often because of illness or unemployment, Leving said. Many who can pay but don't have been denied visitation rights, he said.
"I've never seen a list of deadbeat moms who don't allow visitation," he said, adding that the U.S. child-support enforcement system is "gender biased."

but the article ends with comments from the executive director of a community center in Newburg called 'The Lighthouse' who claims that children 'refuse to learn' because the 'absent' (uh, expelled? denied? disposed-of?) father falls behind on support and so there is no incentive to learn. This seems like unfortunate spin, with little basis in fact, and ignoring the very real facts that men are often denied the minimal visitation rights granted by the court, and are left paying outrageous sums for a family that they cannot see, and to an ex-spouse who often enjoys a lifestyle better than theirs.

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