T Nation

Dealing With Deadbeat Dad


#1

Hello T-Nation brain trust.

A relative of mine has an issue that she asked for my advice on. I had none for her, as I have zero experience dealing with this sort of thing. She raised her eyebrow at me when I told her I'd ask a bunch of meatheads on the internet, but this seemed like as good of a place to start as any.

Long story short. Boy, now 14, born out-of-wedlock. Court-ordered agreement in-place since sometime around boy's birth where father pays $68/week in child support and has visitation every other weekend. He also gets to claim him on taxes every other year.

During the course of last 14 years, father has been spotty on child-support and rarely honors the visitation agreement. Mother has kept a journal of many of these events, especially over the last several years. State has record of his support delinquency history. She also has many of his voicemails saved where he is refusing to help with ortho bills, generally being an asshole, refusing to take his son, etc.

No physical abuse from the father, which is about all he seems to have going for him. So we're just dealing with a kid's lifetime of disappointment and all of the confused feelings that come from a situation like that, plus the general frustration of a very good mother who has always honored her end of the arrangement.

Father of the year runs an all-cash scrap metal business out of his pickup truck.

Now, the point of this thread. Mother wants to go to court to have the agreement amended. No visitation for father and no claiming the kid on taxes are the things she wants most. She will still let him see the boy, but she sees no point in having an agreement that she treats as an obligation but the father does not.

I also suggested that she lawyer up and try to get his paltry child support payments raised, but she said funds are limited for that sort of thing. With the boy being 14, we were both unsure of whether or not the ROI on hiring a lawyer would be worth it at this point, even if she got more money.

Now on to my questions.

1) Is the mother's goal realistic if she were to walk into the mediation process without a lawyer to hash these things out? No visitation rights without prior arrangements, no claiming the child on taxes are really what she's after most.

2) Given the father's station in life as a metal salvage agent who deals exclusively in cash and almost certainly fails to report as much of his income as he can, would there be any incentive to lawyer up and try to rake this guy over the coals and get his payments increased? $68 per week is, according to her, based on a minimum-wage income he had many years ago. She doesn't know for sure that he is lying on his taxes, but it is a safe assumption that he is. Would the state raise as may eyebrows as we do at this and would a lawyer have any chance at making a difference in her child support payments?

I realize any advice given will be general in nature, but it will be appreciated nevertheless. Thanks for taking the time to consider this situation!

Best regards,

twojarslave


#2

Depends on the laws in your state, but it’s unlikely she will have any trouble getting the tax stipulation dropped with or without a lawyer. Getting the support raised will require evidence that he’s hiding income with or without a lawyer. 300 dollars a month for one child is meh, but how much do you think a guy really makes dealing scrap out of the back of his pick up?

Maine seems to have some relatively involved child support rules, and age is factored in by the look of it, so it’s due to be adjusted.

http://www.ptla.org/calculating-your-child-support

Here in Ontario 300 a month for 1 kid would be the support for someone making a little under 35 grand a year. No idea what it works out to down there.

As for visitation expect the judge to give the father shit for not taking the kid, but don’t expect an order to be made without any visitation at all. There are ways to get it of course, but it shouldn’t be done.


#3

The problem is the financial amounts being dealt with are paltry compared to legal fees. Sixty eight dollars probably won’t pay for 15 minutes of her lawyer’s time.

Will $68 make a significant change in either the child’s or the mom’s SOL?

Without lawyers, the mediation process either takes place one-on-one in person, or the judge will make a decision for you.

I would guess a judge wouldn’t agree to no visitation, especially if dad is making any effort at all.

What’s mom and dad’s relationship like? Do they talk? Can she tell him she’d like to amend the agreement in certain ways and see if he’s receptive? He may actually welcome once a month visitation perhaps.

There are states where the dad remits child support to the state and the state forwards the check on to the mom. If she can show a history of non-payment (she can actually allege a history on non-payment, he needs to prove he paid), she may be eligible for one of these more formal arrangements. If he doesn’t pay, his car registration gets revoked, they garnish bank accounts, etc. She can really press the non-payment issue and he will be liable plus interest.

That might be enough to get his attention.


#4

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
would there be any incentive to lawyer up and try to rake this guy over the coals
twojarslave[/quote]

There’s always incentive to do all kinds of things. Doesn’t mean you should do them. Very few people deserve a coal raking, and even fewer would appreciate it if they themselves were the ones being dragged.


#5

[quote]twojarslave wrote:
Now, the point of this thread. Mother wants to go to court to have the agreement amended. No visitation for father and no claiming the kid on taxes are the things she wants most. She will still let him see the boy, but she sees no point in having an agreement that she treats as an obligation but the father does not.
twojarslave[/quote]

Every state is different, but most states that I’m familiar with won’t tie support and visitation together, i.e., she is going to need grounds to amend visitation rights that aren’t tied to failure to pay support. His refusal to exercise visitation rights may provide some grounds to modify.


#6

She chose to have a kid out of wedlock. If the man was not ready and is a general asshole, then perhaps she should consider who she spreads her legs to. If the guy is dealing scrap out of his truck, then does she really think he’s HIDING income? If he doesn’t want to be a dad, that’s his choice. I may not agree with it, but she’s the one who forced the issue by having the kid. I doubt it was HIS choice… Leave the sorry sun of a bitch alone.

As for him not respecting court ordered visitation, when you are dealing scrap out of the back of your truck, does that strike anyone as the model of stability? But we expect stability from everyone who happens to bust a nut… The way I see it, she spread her legs for a dirt bag, got knocked up, decided to keep it KNOWING he was not interested, and forced the issue. Then keeps a journal and wants to drag an obviously unstable person through the coals for a choice SHE made and he had no say in. Dude is paying his money most of the time. He sees the kid occasionally. He isn’t ABUSIVE… Why inject the court system into what is clearly a private matter?


#7

Find an attorney that will do a pro-bono show cause on the violation of the agreement with a second motion to evaluate the amount and tax claiming. The show cause finding could force him to pay back amounts that have been delinquent.

If he pays the support, he is entitled to claiming him every other year. If he stops paying, she should claim him every year. I’d forfeit $68/month for the claim and $1,000 child tax credit over the next four years instead of two of them. If he’s making more money and she can get more, then the math might work out differently. Of course, if he’s not going to pay, the motion above could result in an injunction that would garnish his wages (but since he’s a cash only sole proprietor, they can’t tap his paycheck).

This is probably a case of squeezing blood from a turnip, so “what you can get” is probably limited to cutting off the visitation and claiming the child every year on taxes. Probably not worth the expense of an attorney and you can probably get by just claiming him on your TurboTax anyway and hoping not to get audited.

Not an attorney, not legal advice.


#8

Truncated facts:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

Boy, now 14, born out-of-wedlock.

father pays $68/week in child support and has visitation every other weekend. He also gets to claim him on taxes every other year.

Father of the year runs an all-cash scrap metal business out of his pickup truck.

Mother wants to go to court to have the agreement amended. No visitation for father and no claiming the kid on taxes are the things she wants most.
twojarslave[/quote]

Couple things here:

Boy is 14. Presumably child support ends at 18 (can vary, but I doubt it in this situation). SAPCR would take 1 year. So you dick around with a court case for a year to increase payments for 3. Sounds like a bad trade to me.

Next, he runs a cash business and is a liar. So he will under-report income and it will be next to impossible to change the amount. Again, bad trade.

The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.

Finally, child support and visitation are, by law, separate issues. A guy who doesn’t pay can still see he kids. Courts are not going to deny visitation/shared custody because a guy is flaky. Everyone in family court is flaky and stupid. You need violence, drugs, whatever.

In sum, don’t bother.


#9

1 - You can terminate parental rights. This requires a showing of significant abuse, drug use, ect, but it can also be done by agreement. If the sperm donor is as big a POS as you make out, he might be willing to agree to a TPR just to get totally off the hook for CS.

2 - Domestic cases are one of the few areas where courts will award attorney’s fees to be paid by the losing party. So, if she uses and attorney and wins, the court may award her attorney’s fees. Where I practice at in Alabama, this is the norm. It may be different where you live.

3 - In Alabama the Department of Human Resources will collect back CS for indigent custodial parents. I would check with your State’s similar agency and see if that is an option. At the very least, she could collect the back CS and probably get the every other year tax deduction done away with. The tax deduction is supposed to be for custodial parents, but it can be changed around by agreement, which he is breaching by not paying CS.

4 - The above being said, Jewbacca’s assessment is probably correct and it probably isn’t worth fooling with.


#10

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.
[/quote]

Perhaps I misunderstand you…CS payments are not deductible w/IRS.

Dependents & Exemptions
Question: Are child support payments deductible by the payer or can the payer claim a dependency exemption for the child?
Answer:
No, child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable income to the payee.


#11

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.
[/quote]

Perhaps I misunderstand you…CS payments are not deductible w/IRS.

Dependents & Exemptions
Question: Are child support payments deductible by the payer or can the payer claim a dependency exemption for the child?
Answer:
No, child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable income to the payee.
[/quote]

This was my understanding as well…and if it is a deduction then I’ve been missing out on it for 13 years now.


#12

[quote]Steel Nation wrote:

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.
[/quote]

Perhaps I misunderstand you…CS payments are not deductible w/IRS.

Dependents & Exemptions
Question: Are child support payments deductible by the payer or can the payer claim a dependency exemption for the child?
Answer:
No, child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable income to the payee.
[/quote]

This was my understanding as well…and if it is a deduction then I’ve been missing out on it for 13 years now.[/quote]

It’s not. Alimony is a deduction and is taxable for the person receiving the alimony, child support is not.

I think JB misunderstood OP’s question. OP’s friend wants to claim the child as an exemption on her taxes every year instead of every other year. She would either need to get agreement from the boy’s father or have the agreement amended by the court.


#13

I would definitely strip him of visitation rights. However, if she does that it’s unlikely she’ll get more money. The guy doesn’t seem that interested in the kid, so I would shut him out and not worry about the expense.
If he demands visitation then he does need to pay more and on time and I don’t see a court having a problem with either of those things since he is a deadbeat. Had he been prudent with payments and visitation, then she probably wouldn’t be able to change much, but since he’s a dickhole, the court will probably grant her requests. But she cannot have both. She can either remove his visitation, or jack up his payments. They won’t jack up his payments if he gets his visitation swiped.

I think her best move is to get that loser out of the kid’s life completely and not worry about the money. It’s clear he’s not going to pay anyway. Might as well remove the bad influence from his life.


#14

[quote]LankyMofo wrote:

[quote]Steel Nation wrote:

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.
[/quote]

Perhaps I misunderstand you…CS payments are not deductible w/IRS.

Dependents & Exemptions
Question: Are child support payments deductible by the payer or can the payer claim a dependency exemption for the child?
Answer:
No, child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable income to the payee.
[/quote]

This was my understanding as well…and if it is a deduction then I’ve been missing out on it for 13 years now.[/quote]

It’s not. Alimony is a deduction and is taxable for the person receiving the alimony, child support is not.

I think JB misunderstood OP’s question. OP’s friend wants to claim the child as an exemption on her taxes every year instead of every other year. She would either need to get agreement from the boy’s father or have the agreement amended by the court. [/quote]

I did misunderstand the question, sorry. What is stated above is correct.

But my point is, the person who gets to claim the deduction is a federal tax law question, and I don’t think a state judge can do anything about it. So my answer doesn’t change. Maybe you can do something about it. But I doubt it.

And I disagree with Pat that a marginal father is worse than no father. The man apparently works, earns a living, and is not abusive, drunk, druggie, etc. That’s actually “not bad” compared to what goes on in family court. And no court will strip a C- dad of visitation rights.

You have to be a felon scum bag danger to the child, not a flake.


#15

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
Truncated facts:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

Boy, now 14, born out-of-wedlock.

father pays $68/week in child support and has visitation every other weekend. He also gets to claim him on taxes every other year.

Father of the year runs an all-cash scrap metal business out of his pickup truck.

Mother wants to go to court to have the agreement amended. No visitation for father and no claiming the kid on taxes are the things she wants most.
twojarslave[/quote]

The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.

[/quote]
Per my lawyer the first to file is the first to claim. As has been stated Feds dont give a shit about what some county judge set.


#16

[quote]Derek542 wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
Truncated facts:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

Boy, now 14, born out-of-wedlock.

father pays $68/week in child support and has visitation every other weekend. He also gets to claim him on taxes every other year.

Father of the year runs an all-cash scrap metal business out of his pickup truck.

Mother wants to go to court to have the agreement amended. No visitation for father and no claiming the kid on taxes are the things she wants most.
twojarslave[/quote]

The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.

[/quote]
Per my lawyer the first to file is the first to claim. As has been stated Feds dont give a shit about what some county judge set.[/quote]

IRS states that the custodial parent gets to claim unless the custodial parent provides form 8332, release of claim for exemption to the non custodial parent, who must then provide it along with his tax return. A lower court can require the custodial parent to provide this form, then hold them in contempt if they don’t, but the IRS does not care either way, custodial parent gets exemption unless non custodial provides the form.

This is similar to the way a creditor does not care what a family court says about debt, if a court rules your ex has to pay, the creditor does not care and can still sue you, then its up to you to hash it out between the two of you in family court. So Jewbacca is correct, although the lower court can still impose the requirements on the individuals.

Your lawyer is not correct about who files first. Do not rely on that statement.


#17

[quote]Kayrob wrote:

[quote]Derek542 wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:
Truncated facts:

[quote]twojarslave wrote:

Boy, now 14, born out-of-wedlock.

father pays $68/week in child support and has visitation every other weekend. He also gets to claim him on taxes every other year.

Father of the year runs an all-cash scrap metal business out of his pickup truck.

Mother wants to go to court to have the agreement amended. No visitation for father and no claiming the kid on taxes are the things she wants most.
twojarslave[/quote]

The tax provision – well, child support is a federal tax deduction, and it’s a law set by Congress. So a state judge can’t do much here.

[/quote]
Per my lawyer the first to file is the first to claim. As has been stated Feds dont give a shit about what some county judge set.[/quote]

IRS states that the custodial parent gets to claim unless the custodial parent provides form 8332, release of claim for exemption to the non custodial parent, who must then provide it along with his tax return. A lower court can require the custodial parent to provide this form, then hold them in contempt if they don’t, but the IRS does not care either way, custodial parent gets exemption unless non custodial provides the form.

This is similar to the way a creditor does not care what a family court says about debt, if a court rules your ex has to pay, the creditor does not care and can still sue you, then its up to you to hash it out between the two of you in family court. So Jewbacca is correct, although the lower court can still impose the requirements on the individuals.

Your lawyer is not correct about who files first. Do not rely on that statement.
[/quote]
Thanks, my kids and CS days are long past, but glad someone with the true knowledge jumped in.


#18

In PA, child support and child custody are two completely different things. My ex and I had the support order set up a good year or two before the official custody was signed. (Of course, it was also one of the most amiable divorces you will ever see).

I used LegalZoom for all of my filing information. They have some great templates to help you out.

In PA, you petition the court for a child support order. You make an appointment to sit with a mediator. Lawyers can be present, but it is not necessary. Each person brings in all of their financial information. That information is entered into a computer where some logarithm stuff happens and a number is spit out. At this point, you can both agree on the number, sign the paperwork and be on your way. If one of you disagrees with the number, you can see if the two of you can reach an agreement. If no agreement can be made, you schedule an appointment for a judge to decide. Lawyers are not necessary at this stage either unless one of you is out for blood.

I used LegalZoom for custody as well. Again, there was no fighting for custody or anything. I created the support order and gave a copy to my ex before we went to sit with the mediator. We were both in agreement and we were out of there in no time. If we hadn’t agreed, we would have then gone before a judge yada, yada, yada. We play pretty fast and loose with the order because we still get along and help each other out when we can. However, I believe it is important to have everything legally binding in case something changes down the road.

As far as declaring on the tax return, Derek is exactly right. If she files her return before he does and she claims the boy, the deduction is hers. This may cause some personal issues to arise between the two, though.


#19

I was actually speaking from the real world perspective. My wife’s X is a dead beat, actually owes $125K in back support.

My wife had official custody but one year he filed early and claimed one of the kids “his favorite” and do you really believe the IRS cared?

We would have had to go back to court and cost more money then we would have gotten if we won. So there was no point.

Thus why my lawyer told me what he did. Now if it was like Tiger Woods and his wife that is one thing but middle class divorced people do not have the time or the money to contest.


#20

I’m sorry if it sounded like I was arguing with you, Derek. Maybe my choice of words were unclear? Please don’t crush my bones to make your bread!!