Thursday, April 24, 2008

Deadbeat Fathers or Deadbeat System?

For my first injustice post, I'm concentrating on something is hits close to home. Family courts and domestic relations....are they really there to "help" families or is it just a disguise to punish men for the years of female oppression from years ago? I'm sure you can see where I' going with this.

Recently, my fiance and I have been fighting to no avail with domestic relations in PA. They apparently thought it was fine to ignore his 2 requests for child support modification when he lost his job last year and learned that not only was his son not in daycare but he was NEVER in the overpriced daycare in which baby momma said he was enrolled. Keeping in mind that he was already in arrears because of the time he spent in jail (for which baby momma had the same charges but only got probation because she was pregnant) and the time it took him to move in with his family from NY to PA, enroll in College and find a job. Now, deeper in debt, "family" court is taking notice. He was arrested in February, spent four days in jail and finally had a hearing in early April. The judge (who, based on her wording, was CONSIDERABLY bias against him because he is male) ordered him to pay $120 per week out of his $200 per week paycheck. He was told if he misses 2 weeks of payment he will be put in jail for 30 days. Less than a week later, a police officer ran his license plate late at night and found that my sweetie's drivers license was suspended. His license was taken by said officer, he was ticketed for driving while under a suspended license and his car was impounded. The judge at his hearing neglected to say she was suspending his license.

Now the injustice...

How on God's green earth could he be expected to pay $120 per week (which according to the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act is illegal because it is more than 50% of his income)when domestics took his drivers license? Of course, trying to reason/fight with domestic relations is like beating a dead horse. They said, to get his license restored, he would have to make SEVERAL regular payments OR pay $500 lump toward his support/Arrears.

So, let me get this straight, you have to work to pay your child support but you can't get to work because your license was taken because you couldn't pay your child support for a time and now you can't get to work until you pay which you can't do because they took your license? How exactly does this work out in anyone's favor? Do they just want him in jail, where he will continue NOT being able to pay and when he is released he will be ever deeper in Arrears and less likely to get a job because of his prison record?

Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence. Men across the country are punished with exorbitant child support rates because they are men. Often times, a man's child support is so great, his standard of living is greatly reduced so the standard of living for his child and his child's mother can be "fair."

I've seen and heard of cases where men fight desperately for child support adjustments/modifications because they cannot afford food, rent, gas and/or clothing for themselves. If you are a man, and you go to domestic relations for assistance, they will tell you (as they told Mike) "the attorney's are only for the mothers." WOW!

Rights and laws were violated several times is that long story...

1: CIVIL RIGHTS! According to the US Constitution, discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, etc. is a civil rights violation. The judge was clearly in violation and I suspect Domestic Relations is as well by only assisting mothers.

2:Equal Protection - prohibits discrimination by state governments. The general idea of this is "All men are created equal"

3: United States Code - Codification of general and permanent Federal Laws. Title 42-Public Health and Welfare. Chapter 21 - Civil Rights. Sub chapter V - Federally assisted Programs: Prohibition against exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under federally assisted programs on ground of race, color, gender or national origin.

4: Human Rights - Pretty much the same as Civil Rights, however, this is the "Right to life, liberty, freedom of expression and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work**, and the right to education. **Taking of the drivers license prevents one from getting to work, therefore, violating their right to work.

Now, because Mike needed to drive to get to his job to pay his child support, Domestic Relations lifted the suspension of his license BUT the state DMV still wouldn't give it back until he paid $25 for a test and passed it. The "Father's Workshop" that Mike is now required to attend (per the judge) said they will reimburse him for the money paid for the test. When we stopped there yesterday to pick up the money, I specifically asked the counselor how he could be expected to pay his child support this week when Domestic Relations suspended his license and he wasn't able to work last week. She looked me dead in the eye and said "getting the license restored was like pulling teeth." Take that as you will.....

In conclusion, the Rights of Father's across the country are continually violated based on so called "Family Law." Deadbeat parents are a completely different matter, the matter at hand here is the Father's who WANT to pay for their children within their means and WANT to be part of their children's lives. Also, based on studies, men who are paying child support pay MUCH MORE than women who pay child support. Some studies show that non-custodial mothers are not required to pay support because "the father should get a better job."

I know what I intend to do to help these men fight for their rights. In addition to this blog, I have letters to be sent to Congress, PA State Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, Governor Rendell and anyone else who might listen. What will you do....?

Interesting Related Links: ** Notice the Public Law says "willfully fails" not "tries to pay but can't because domestics is discriminatory" **notice here how there is a plethora of advice and help for the child support SEEKER but next to nothing for the support PAYER (more often than not, the FATHER)