Deadbeat Dilemma, Part 10

By: Nichole Vrsansky
By: Nichole Vrsansky

They play one of the most important roles in child support enforcement, but some say judges are too lenient when it comes to deadbeat parents.

So how do they decide what's just for parents who aren't supporting their kids? 23 News reporter Nichole Vrsansky spoke with four of our local family court judges to find out.

"There are no consequences to their actions," says Kim Noir, who’s been battling to collect child support for years.

"Judges and state's attorneys have to decide this is a priority," adds State Sen. Dave Syverson.

"The mechanisms to put the squeeze on people aren't enforced," says child support attorney Donald Ray.

When in comes to lack of child support collection in our area, the fingers have been pointing in the direction toward our local judges.

"It isn't just the judges, it really relates to a lot of different issues in our society," says Chief Judge Katherine Zenoff of the 17th Judicial Circuit.

Issues like economic development, education and parenting are all the things Judge Zenoff says they consider when looking into why a mom or dad has failed to pay child support.

"Does the person have an education that would enable them to get a job? Is the person not able to get a job because they don't have the appropriate technical training?" questions Zenoff.

Sometimes Zenoff says a short stay behind bars works, but while some argue that should happen more often, Zenoff says it won't necessarily open the door to more support payments.

"If somebody is sent to jail for a few months, the opposing party can lose their job and the source of the payment is gone," explains Zenoff.

If a person is sent to jail, the judge assigns bond. Usually bond is around $500. When posted, that money goes directly to the parent trying to collect support. So why not assign a higher bond, especially if a person has continuously shown he or she can come up with that money?

"Sometimes judges will consider things like that," replies Zenoff.

But sometimes isn't good enough for parents like Lisa Labree who writes, “I'm so angry with our judicial system or for those who've been in and out of court for years.”

"He doesn't go to jail, he doesn't get his license taken away, why should he pay?" questions Angela Toepfer.

They believe deadbeats are ignoring the law, and in turn they say the law is ignoring them.


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