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Arpaio Sweep Nets 49 Suspected Deadbeat Parents

28August
2012

August is Child Support Awareness Month and, according to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, “is an appropriate time to arrest those who have not paid their child support.”  The Sheriff’s office this past Saturday arrested 49 men on suspicion of being deadbeat parents in a sweep called “Operation Don’t Be a Deadbeat.”  After exiting a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office bus, these men who were hiding their faces, were paraded in front of news cameras in an attempt to shame them for failure to pay child support. 

Sheriff Arpaio stated it was the department’s goal to serve 600 arrest warrants on Saturday, and the sweeps are made to send a “message to everybody else that they should be paying their child support.”   Arpaio conducted a brief news conference in the parking lot of the Park Central mall on Central Avenue.  “We have economic bad times,” he said. “Usually, it’s the mother that has to work two, three jobs to get enough money to pay for food.  And yet you have these dads (who assume) no responsibility and do not pay their child support.”

These roundups are conducted annually by the Sheriff’s department and usually 100 volunteer posse members and deputies participate.  The program began in 2002, and, according to Sheriff Arpaio, since that time, 1,700 deadbeat parents have been arrested and $14 million have been give back to families. 

An admonishment was given to parents who are not paying their child-support payments.  “I’m asking all those that have not paid their child support to surrender,” said Arpaio.  He then added, “Call our office.  Be man enough or woman enough to turn yourselves in and work something out to pay the child support.”

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Child Visitation Without Child Support

11August
2012

When a couple with children divorces in Arizona, a court order is the only way of establishing a child support amount.  The court uses both parents’ incomes to calculate the amount of child support the noncustodial parent will pay to financially support the children.  After the support amount has been determined by the court, a court order will be issued by the court and then an Order of Assignment will be filed at the same time and a copy will be sent to the paying parent’s employer, which directs the employer to withhold the child support amount from the employee’s paycheck. 

In addition, divorcing parents need to have a parenting plan containing a child visitation schedule before the courts rule on a custody decision.  If parents cannot agree upon a parenting plan and visitation schedule, the court will create one which will take the best interests of the children into account. 

What happens when the noncustodial parent stops paying child support?  Will this affect his or her visitation rights?  No, it will not.  The court considers support and visitation as two separate issues, and whether or not the noncustodial parent stays current on his or her child support should not have any impact on the time spent with the children.  In the eyes of the court, denying a parent access to a child because he is behind on child support is not justified.  Arizona law does penalize those who do not pay their child support, but the denial of visitation rights is not used.  When support provisions are frequently being violated, the parent  may have to go back to court to handle the problem.

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Paternity and Child Support

28July
2012

When a father learns that a child he has loved and raised for many years in not his biological child, he feels angry, devastated and betrayed.   What actions are taken by a father in this type of situation, of course, depends on the father and also on the laws of the state in which he resides.

One Pennsylvania father, Mike, found out that the girl he had raised for six years was not his biological daughter.  Mike was devastated by this revelation, left his wife, but continued the relationship with his daughter.  He stated that to him, in all ways that mattered, this girl was still his daughter, so he paid his child support faithfully, and had visitation rights with his daughter.

However, when Mike learned that his ex-wife was going to marry the biological father of his daughter, the thought of supporting another man’s child when that man was in the household became unbearable and he filed to end his paternal rights, even though it might mean losing visitation rights with the child.  It has been two years since Mike filed the suit and he is still paying child support for another man’s daughter. 

Paternity decisions in most states are governed by an old English common law, that when a child is born in a marriage, it is presumed to be the product of that union unless the husband is impotent, sterile or beyond the “four seas.”  The outcome of a paternity case depends upon not only the details of the case itself, but also the state in which the case is tried.

In Arizona, there are several ways to establish the paternity of a child.

  • The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) offers a voluntary process in which unwed parents may open a case to establish paternity and child support.  The Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is signed by both parents and filed by DCSE through the Hospital Paternity Program to establish paternity.
  • Either parent may choose to have genetic testing done if there is a question regarding paternity. 
  • If one party is uncooperative in establishing  paternity on a case opened with DCSE, the case may be referred to the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for a court hearing to establish paternity and a child support order.
  • A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, signed by both parents, can be filed with the court or an administrative agency to establish paternity.
  • Unwed Parent’s may choose to go through the Arizona court system to resolve any issue and establish paternity and a child support order without the involvement of DCSE.  However, this choice may involve attorney fees, court cost and filing fees.

Establishing paternity can be a challenge, as there can be pages of complicated legal paperwork, and conflicts that arise involving child support and child custody issues as well.  An experienced Arizona Family Law Attorney will defend the rights of the children in your case, offer comprehensive knowledge, and foster professional and cordial negotiations.

Posted in Child Support, Paternity |
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Child Obesity and Child Custody

14July
2012

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past thirty years.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of children aged 6-11 in our nation who were obese increased from 7 % in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2008.  The percentage of adolescents aged 12-19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 19% over the same period.  Childhood obesity has both short-term and long-term effects on the health and well-being of these children.

As the obesity of children is increasing, so is the role obesity plays in the child-custody battles in our nation today.  In custody lawsuits, legal experts say parents are using accusations of poor nutrition and obesity as an attempt to persuade judges that their children are receiving poor care in the hands of ex-spouses or soon to be ex-spouses.  Typically in these cases, one parent accuses the other of placing a child at risk of developing diet related diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease.  A parent may even go as far as saying that a child is miserable because he is being teased at school because of his weight.

Not only are parents using the obesity of the child in an attempt to gain custody, but they are using the obesity of the other parent as well, by saying that the parent is too obese to perform basic child care functions.

In determining child custody, judges have, in the past, took into consideration what is in the best interest of the child.  Recently, however, some states are altering that criteria to include the physical well-being of the child as well as the emotional well-being of the child in determining who is granted custody.

According to June Carbone, a family-law expert and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, thirty years ago, custody decisions were relatively straight forward, in that, in most cases, the mother received sole custody of the children, and the father received limited visitation rights. With the recent trend of shared custody and child-support arrangements, the courts often factor in the strengths and weaknesses of each parent, and as a result, custody battles have grown more frequent and contentious.  Carbone stated that “people can always find another thing to fight over.”

To help judges determine child custody, many states have added specific criteria to look at when considering the best interests of a child.  More frequently, one of the issues coming up is that of whether and to what degree a child is eating well and exercising.  Most family law experts agree that obesity claims have to be fairly severe in order to trump both a child’s right to have a close relationship with a parent and a parent’s right to raise a child in the manner he or she sees fit.

Posted in Child Custody, Child Support |
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Arizona’s Division of Child Support Enforcement

10July
2012

Whether a couple is married or not, each parent is responsible for supporting his or her children until they reach the age of eighteen.  Child support is paid by wage-assignment through the payor’s job, with a few exemptions to the law.  Under the law in Arizona, the Department of Economic Security’s Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) must assist custodial parents and their children receive child support and medical support orders.

The Child Support Enforcement Program was established in 1975, and is a combined federal/state/local program that collects child support from parents who are legally obligated to pay. 

When a non-custodial parent pays child support,, research has shown that he is more likely to be involved in his child’s life.  Children who do not receive the child support they deserve from the non-custodial parent, are more at risk for not having their basic needs met, which then puts the custodial parent more likely to rely on government aid to have these needs met. 

DCSE is required by law to develop a process to publicly identify certain parents who are delinquent in child support payments.  Photographs and profiles of delinquent parents are displayed in public and private locations, and also online, as well.  The public is encouraged to contact DCSE with any tips to help in locating parents who are avoiding their court-ordered obligation to pay child support.  To be listed as a Child Support Evader, the following conditions must be met:

  • Court-ordered delinquent support must be in excess of $5,000.00
  • An arrest warrant has been issued
  • The non-custodial parent has not made any payments in the last six months
  • The non-custodial parent is not involved in bankruptcy proceedings or receiving welfare benefits
  • DCSE is provided with a photo of the non-custodial parent

The public can view those Child Support Evader parents displayed on the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s website by going to http://azdes.gov, and can contact the agency to provide information on the location of any individuals posted on the website by calling (877) 926-8334 of (800) 882-4151 or (602) 252-4045.

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Dennis Rodman Sentenced in Family Court

5June
2012

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman was sentenced in Orange, Florida family court Tuesday to 104 hours of community service on four counts of contempt for failing to pay child support.

Barry Michaelson, who is the court commissioner, also placed Rodman on three years of informal probation, with the condition that Rodman pay current child and spousal support obligations.  Michaelson said to the retired basketball player that his suggestion is to use your talents as a motivator, as a fine, fine athlete and as a fine person to assist others in need.

The dispute between Rodman and his ex-wife, began a long time ago, beginning in 2004 when his now ex-wife filed for divorce. Michelle Rodman’s attorneys say Rodman still owes back child support in an amount that exceeds $800,000.

Rodman said he’d do whatever community service that was required of him near his home in Florida and did not begrudge his former wife.  He said after the hearing that’s it all about the kids.

Rodman, 51, was found guilty last year of four counts of contempt for child support owed in 2009 and 2010.

According to Rodman’s attorney, Linnea Willis, those charges stemmed from a period of time when he was expected to pay $50,000 per month for child support, and that amount has now been reduced to $4,500 a month for both child support and spousal support.  She also stated that Rodman is current on those obligations.

Rodman was known for his wild and flamboyant behavior during his basketball career.  He and his former wife have been feuding over child support and custody for years.  They have two children, ages 10 and 11.

According to court documents filed earlier this year, Rodman is “broke”.  His tax return from 2010 shows that he earned around $150,000, but his financial manager stated he owed a significant amount in back taxes.  Because his alcoholism has hurt his image, she said, Rodman is finding it difficult to obtain corporate endorsements and other work.

Rodman’s outstanding disputes over back child support and additional contempt charges will be addressed at a hearing on June 22.

 

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Celebrity Child Support

13May
2012

When the father is a billionaire, should all of his children receive equal child support?  The mother of one child of a billionaire thinks so and went to court for more child support.

Supermodel Linda Evangelista and French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault received a judge’s approval for a confidential child support deal on Tuesday in New York.  The agreement was signed off earlier that day and sealed from public view.

According to the couple’s spokesman, the couple stated that they were happy that we were able to reach an agreement for the benefit and well-being of our son, Augie.

Evangelista was one of the biggest names in modeling in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The twosome dated over approximately four months in late 2005 and early 2006.   Augie, their son, was born in October 2006 after the couple split, but Pinault supported the child, though his paternity was kept very quiet.

Now, Evangelista has asked for child support in the amount of $46,000 per month. That’s $1,512 a day for Pinault’s five-year old son.  Pinault, who makes about $4 million a year, has said through his lawyer that he was willing to pay some support, but not a potential $46,000 per month.

Evangelista offered many reasons to the Court to justify her request for the $46,000 a month in child support, but the two main reasons were the following:

24/7 Child Care:  Augie needs a nanny 24 hours a day, which costs about $7,000 a month.

Armed Security:  Augie needs armed drivers to protect him when he’s traveling to and fro at a cost of $16,000 a month

After those expenses, it  leaves $23,000 a month for everything else Augie needs in the way of food, shelter, education and a reasonable lifestyle.

Evangelista also wants Pinault to give her son a mansion that mirrors the one he placed in trust for his daughter with his wife, actress Selma Hayek.  The California residence is valued at $13 million.  Whether Augie received his mansion in the child support deal, with a sealed agreement, only time will tell.

When dealing with child support issues or other family matters, it is beneficial to obtain legal counsel from an experienced attorney.

 

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