Punishment for child support non-payment raises debate

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A man who failed to make child support payments was given an unusual punishment that has created debate between supporters and opponents of the method. The man, who is more than $13,000 behind in child support payments was forced to wear a sign that alerted others to his crime. Although the technique has not been tried in Missouri at this point, it is likely that the same mixed reactions would be seen here as well as throughout the nation. Non-payment of child support is a problem seen in every state throughout the country.

The Scott County, Mississippi, father was forced to wear a sign stating that he had not paid child support and was in contempt of court. He must wear the sign for three hours a day, three days a week until he pays the entire amount he owes. 

Reactions have included those who applaud the action as bringing attention to the problem of child support collection and others who feel the punishment is demeaning and will not help the man catch up on his payments. Some pointed out that there are many others in the county who are behind on payments, and if the punishment was used for one person, it should be used for all. The subject’s mother is opposed to the punishment, noting that the man has cancer and has not been able to keep a job. Even the state chapter of the NAACP has questioned the procedure, saying that DHS has not been “fair” investigating the matter.

Those who are looking for a way to recover unpaid child support or who need help negotiating a divorce agreement including child support payments may benefit from talking to a divorce attorney. An attorney may be able to explain the various options available to parents when considering child support.

Source: Clarion Ledger, “Child support sign: Punishment applauded, questioned,” Dustin Barnes, March 19, 2013 

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