Deadbeat Parents

Todd Krienke plays Santa for less fortune children. It's is a routine he loves partly because it helps disguise his own situation.

Krienke says, "I think about them everyday, I pray about them everyday, but I don't get to see them today."

Krienke hasn't seen his four children in about a year. It was partly his decision after a five-year custody battle got ugly and the courts didn't take action to enforce his visitation order.

"There's really nothing to incentives the custodial parent in my situation to do anything; they can effectively do whatever they want."

Nationally renowned attorney and author Jeffery Leving sees this lack of enforcement all too often. He believes it's why many moms and dads in Illinois become deadbeats; they lose hope of having a relationship with their kids and wonder why they should bother paying. Change that, he says, and child support collection rates will skyrocket.

"We can't just look at one puzzle piece and not the other," he says.

According to a government report, more than 90 percent of parents with joint custody pay their child support. Parents with visitation are also more likely to keep up with payments. However, less than half of moms and dads without visitation pay their child support.

Leving acknowledges that some parents simply don't care to see their kids and some children may be better off without their mom or dad, but for parents like Krienke, he says there's no excuse.

"We have to fix a broken system, that's what we need to do."

In the meantime, while some days it's hard, Krienke continues to pay his support with the hope that one day it'll be his kids sitting on his lap.

"But there's a lot of time between now and then, though, and I'm missing a lot of really, really neat stuff. I'm just missing a lot of stuff and I miss my kids," he says.


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