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Florida man who owes $20K of child support calls jailing unfair

Most people would agree that children should not suffer financially if their parents are not living together. This is one issue that child support is meant to address: making it so that the household income is similar to what it would be if the noncustodial parent were living in the house.

When the parent fails to pay child support, he or she could risk arrest and criminal penalties, once the bill becomes large enough. But there is a procedure that must be followed, and a Florida man says that the procedure failed in his case.

He is a father of four who fell about $20,000 behind on his child support. He was paying off the debt by having his paychecks deducted.

Somehow, the man says, the deductions stopped without his knowledge. A court hearing was held on the matter. At the hearing, the official presiding over the proceeding had the man taken to jail. It was either a judge or a hearing officer, depending on who you ask.

The man says he was not given a fair chance to tell his side of the story. His attorney says that his client was the victim of false arrest. It appears that he argued that only a judge could recommend jail time, not a hearing officer. The attorney said that the judge who signed the arrest document ordered the father’s release after the attorney brought the procedural matter to his attention.

Even if a parent is severely behind on child support, he or she is entitled to due process, which means that the process of punishing him or her must be the same as it is for everyone else. On the other hand, a deadbeat parent can cause serious problems for the custodial parent. Either way, parents should consider their legal options instead of allowing the matter to get worse.

Source: WJXT-TV, “Man: Arrest for unpaid child support was illegal,” Jim Piggott, May 23, 2014