Child support issue could send dad to jail
Dear Lawyer Mark:
About eight years ago, my ex-girlfriend and me had a kid.
We split up bit after that and never got back together, but I do have to pay child support.
My ex-girlfriend keeps taking me back to court because I don’t pay what I’m supposed to, and I owe a little over $3,000.
I know that seems like a lot of money, but actually that’s not a whole lot for paying over eight years.
Well, now, her friends at child support are ordering me back again for contempt.
Is there anything I can do to get her and the Child Support Agency off my back? I know there are guys out there who owe a whole lot more than me, and nothing happens to them–why are they picking on me when I can’s afford to pay?
— DISCRIMINATED AGAINST
The simple answers to both your questions are this: they’re “picking on” you because you’re not obeying a court order, and you can get them off your back by paying what you are supposed to pay.
While that $3,000. may not seem to be much to you, imagine being employed somewhere and your boss telling you he won’t pay you that month because he can’t afford it, but that you still have to work for him.
The fact of the matter is that the money is necessary for the well-being of your child, and you have a legal obligation to pay that money.
If you feel that your obligation is too much, you can go to the Child Support Enforcement Agency and request a modification, or you can hire an attorney to file a motion in court.
However, if you decide to just ignore the court order instead of going through a modification process, you could face jail time and fines for contempt of court, and even face the potential of felony charges for criminal non-support.
As for all the people you know who owe more than you and who haven’t been pursued by CSEA, I’m sure that if you provided the names and addresses to them, they would be happy to remedy the situation.
Dear Lawyer Mark:
My question isn’t really a legal question, but is more a question about lawyers.
I made phone calls to a bunch of different lawyers last week trying to get an answer to a simple question, but nobody would take my call.
They all said I would have to come in for a conference and be charged a consultation fee for advice, and that they wouldn’t know how much my whole case would cost until after I talked to them.
I am not happy with the service I received from any of them, and it makes me wonder whether all lawyers are just out to make a buck instead of taking care of their clients.
— ANGRY IN LAWRENCE COUNTY
Imagine someone calling a doctor’s office, telling them that he has a pain in his chest, and wanting to know whether he should take a Rolaids for indigestion or go to the emergency room for a heart attack, and also wanting to know how much the treatment would cost.
The man’s problem is simple: He has a pain in his chest.
Legal problems are very similar — most of the time a great deal of information is needed by the attorney about the facts and circumstances in order for him to make any kind of judgment about a case or to give advices.
While a question may seem simple to a client, legal problems often may hinge upon a single fact that the client may not think is important, and would leave out in a quick phone conversation.
A conference is therefore usually needed in order to provide people with better service and better advice. As to costs, the same holds true with lawyers as with doctors: We can’t know how much it will cost until we know what we are treating, because a Rolaids costs a lot less that an emergency room visit.
It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at LawyerMark@yahoo.com. The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.