Child Support Enforcement Shouldn’t Be Able To Take Away Your Livelihood
Anyone who complains about child support enforcement is inevitably accused of being on the side of “deadbeat” parents who don’t want to support their children, so let me preface this post by saying that I am for the concept child support. If you have children you should be obligated to help support them.
That being said, the mechanisms for calculating and enforcing child support leave much to be desired. Case in point, a North Dakota attorney who has had his law license suspended multiple times for being late in child support payments. This attorney, one Rudolph Tollefson, is challenging the authority of North Dakota’s child support enforcement bureaucrats to suspend occupational licenses.
I don’t know anything about Mr. Tollefson’s case, and I haven’t researched the law allegedly authorizing the child support officials to suspend occupational licensing, but I think it’s pretty clear that this sort of policy doesn’t pass the smell test.
If you are a lawyer or a plumber or a dentist and you are behind on your child support, how does an attack on your livelihood improve that situation? We could assume, I guess, that people who are behind on their child support are in that position because only because they want to be and not because of some some inability to pay, but that would be unfair. If you experience a decrease in income the child support bureaucrats don’t care. You owe what you owe, and if you don’t pay up, they’ll go after your job.
Which can only exacerbate the problem, in more ways than one. If you make a living from being a lawyer, how are you to catch up on your child support payments if the state won’t let you be a lawyer? And in these sort of family law situations, where emotions are already running high, are we not creating an even more volatile situation by giving the paying parents such a raw deal?
Nor is the suspension of occupational licensing the only method child support enforcement uses. They can take away your vehicle license too, making it harder to get to work, and list you (as if you were a sex predator) on a statewide database of delinquent payers even if you’re no more than a month or a partial payment behind (which can make it harder to get hired by employers checking that database).
We’ve simply gone overboard on child support enforcement, but there’s a reason. Federal funding for some of North Dakota’s human services programs is based on child support collections. The more child support the state collects and distributes the more money the federal government gives the state.
This has incentivized draconian and patently unfair collection methods. But whatever the federal policy, there is no need or excuse for North Dakota to be treating non-custodial parents in this manner.Tags: child support, family law, North Dakota News, rudolph tollefson