Getting a divorce can be a pretty ugly mess, especially when children are involved. Custody battles can be terrible, and can cause rifts between both parents that last a lifetime. However, those differences should be put aside for the sake of the children, no matter which parent they end up with. After all, by having kids in the first place, both parents signed on to the job of taking care of and raising them.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen after a divorce. Even though a parent may have lost custody of their children, they still usually have to pay some form of child support because children are expensive. If a parent doesn’t pay that money, the other parent will struggle to provide their children with what they need. This isn’t fair to the kids, which is why some California lawmakers are looking into ways to ensure that parents always pay their child support.
Assembly Bill 1498
In an effort to ensure that kids always get the support they need from their parents, some lawmakers here in California have authored a new bill. Under this new bill, some parents who are behind on their child support payments might get some extra encouragement to start making those payments.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1498 was authored by California Assemblyman Tom Lackey and introduced to the State Assembly earlier this year. The bill proposes creating a new website that would publicly display important information about parents who are behind on their child support using a similar method that a few other states have adopted.
Some of the information that would be on display includes:
- Amount of child support owed
- Zip code
- Number of children
The idea is that by displaying this information in a public way, the parent will be peer pressured into making up those missed child support payments. It is important to note that not every parent who is behind on child support payments will be listed on the site.
For starters, the ex-spouse of the parent would have to okay the act of putting the other parent on the site, since it could draw unwanted attention towards the children. On top of that, only parents who owe more than $5,000, have been delinquent for a minimum of 12 months, and have not made a payment in 6 months. The parent cannot be going through any financial trouble, such as bankruptcy, or be locked up in jail or prison to be eligible to be placed on the site.
This proposed bill, of course, has supporters and opponents. There are those who that this sort of shaming is deserved if a parent isn’t doing their part in taking care of their child. However, there are those who argue that this is taking things too far.
The Consequences as They Are Now
Currently, when a parent is behind on their child support payments, there are some pretty big consequences. After all, this money is meant to help raise a child, and as such, falling behind on the payments is a very bad thing. Aside from the basic penalty of acquiring interest on the late payments, there are harsher consequences as well.
Some of the consequences for falling behind on child support include:
- Revoking the parent’s driver’s license.
- Intercepting the parent’s wages and transferring them directly to the custodial parent.
- Intercepting the parent’s tax returns or unemployment.
- Placing a lien on the parent’s property.
- Deny passport, or other government, applications.
In cases where the parent has the money for the child support, but refuses to pay it, that parent could face legal trouble and jail time.
Child Support Is a Very Big Deal
Paying child support is a very big deal. In theory, it is money that would have been there had the parents not become separated in the first place. That money is meant to ensure that the child is provided with everything he or she needs growing up. That is why it is such a big deal when a parent falls behind on child support payments, and why lawmakers here in California are looking for more ways to ensure that parents keep up with parents.
Lawmakers like Assemblyman Lackey hope that by publicly shaming parents who are behind on their child support payments, the parent will be more likely to avoid falling behind, or work harder at making up those payments. The idea is to use peer pressure in a good way.