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Texas jails a man for six months for paying child support…

January 22, 2014
By

child supportIn June of 2013 Texas repealed a long-standing law preventing courts from holding people in contempt for falling behind in child support if they paid up. No more. Now, Texas judges can throw a person in the slammer when their child support payments are current, maximum sentence six months in jail plus fees.

From many reports Clifford Hall was an involved father, employed, earned a decent living, paid child support, taxes, and was an otherwise responsible citizen of the great state of Texas.

His child support obligation increased sometime in 2012. Hall said he was not notified. Tyesha Elam, Hall’s attorney, said Hall’s employer never received a copy of the order increasing child support. Regardless, at court Hall was all paid up, he owed no child support. Neither suspected Hall was going to jail.

Elam said that some weeks Hall’s employer held out large amounts, small amounts, or no money for child support, the erratic payment of which apparently led to a shortage, albeit “arrears.”

Additionally, Hall’s visitation schedule had been modified, which he says he knew nothing about. The modification probably led to child support increase.

Whatever the reasons, the mother of Hall’s son eventually claimed the payments she received were inconsistent and not in full. So, she had Hall served with an enforcement action.

Hall retained Elam to sort things out. He was roughly $3,000 in arrears. Elam advised him to catch up the difference which he did in a matter of weeks. Later he received a letter from the Office of Attorney General that says, “This letter is to inform you that as of July 7, 2013 the total amount of pre-paid child support that has been applied to your account is $1,002.26.” He’d overpaid! And, he owed nothing when he went to court last November, a fact which apparently opposing counsel confirmed not once but twice in open court.

He was also ordered to pay opposing counsel $3,000. The attorney fees, including whatever amount Hall has to pay Elam, are substantially higher than the amount of arrears which had been paid, a substantial sum of money that could have gone in part, directly or indirectly, to Hall’s son.

Both Elam and Hall were shocked by Judge Lisa Millard’s ruling. Elam explained to the judge that Hall could lose his job, car, house, everything and asked how the sentence was in the best interest of Hall’s son. The judge admonished her for arguing with her. Hall, understandably upset, walked out of the courtroom further angering the judge. Elam fetched Hall, calmed him down, and returned him to the courtroom. Still confused by the ruling, Hall left the courtroom again and walked out of the courthouse. He was not ready to go to jail.

In a Huffington Post interview, Hall says, “Leaving court was not good…it’s wrong, but still it’s wrong to sentence me to six months in jail when none of this was my fault at all and I’m the one – the only one, who tried to fix it.”

Elam said she tried to negotiate with opposing counsel and the mother but the mother said, “He can do six months on the weekends.”

In the same interview when asked if he were going to lose everything Hall choked up, said, “Yes…yes, I’m going to lose everything…”

In an ABC 13 report by Demond Fernandez, Houston man in unusual child support case turns himself in; KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy blames Hall for not keeping track of his payments. Androphy labeled Hall “deadbeat,” thought he was scamming the system for his own failures.

If Hall did not know about the custody modification and what we assume to be the companion increase in child support, then he would not have known nor had reason to suspect amounts withheld on his pay stubs should have included the increased amount.

Nor, would Hall’s employer have any reason to know there was an order to increase the garnishment if the order was not served on the employer.

Androphy has a point though; Hall should have taken responsibility for ensuring the amounts withheld by his employer were correct less the unknown court ordered increase.

Nevertheless, if the collection “agency” (state or private) charged with serving notice to Hall and/or his employer failed to do so, then Hall should not pay for their maladministration, the collection agency and state should make him whole.

It appears the mother of Hall’s son was vindictive, wanted her pound of flesh. She reportedly refused to work out a reasonable settlement, wanted him behind bars even if he served the six months on weekends, which would have taken him about three years to complete. Either way, for her, unless she’s independently wealthy, sending Hall to jail for six months deprives her of income. It’s the cut off nose to spite face routine, emotion trump reason, and crazy is as crazy does, nuts…

Sending Hall to jail accomplishes nothing. It deprives an 11-year-old boy his father. Hall will lose his income, employment, car, house, credit… He won’t be able to pay child support, thereby and theoretically depriving his son sustenance and maybe the boy’s mother a few more pair of shoes. Such a jail sentence serves no greater good, is not in the best interest of anyone including the people of the great state of Texas, protects nothing except perhaps family court and jailer jobs, will cost  Texas $50 a day for incarceration for which Hall will later receive a bill he cannot pay because he no longer has a job, and is totally and otherwise asinine.

The judge did not have to sentence Hall to jail; the law allows for it but does not demand it. The judge could have given a lesser sentence, maybe one where Hall served ten days of jail time on his days off. But she was apparently offended by Hall’s behavior so she dropped the man-killer wrecking ball on him.

It should matter not whether Hall is the best father in the world; whether he strictly followed the custody agreement, fell behind in child support inadvertently or otherwise, or pissed off the judge or mother of their son. He should not be jailed for six months and lose everything he spent his adult life achieving. Destroying someone’s life for falling behind in child support after satisfying their debt is brain-dead senseless.

Hall, or the next poor schmuck to fall into this ass backwards Texas trap, may leave jail homeless, without money or a job. Maybe that’s what the Texas legislature had in mind… disenfranchise as many good fathers as possible to keep the jail doors revolving so the deadbeat pricks don’t annoy the mothers of their children with whiny pleas about seeing the children and not having enough money to support themselves. I’ll let you figure the rest out, thinking about it gives me a migraine.

Texans won’t stand for jailing a woman for the reasons they jailed Hall. This law will change as soon as a woman finds herself in the same predicament. Hopefully sooner if we make enough noise. Texan Andrea Yates murdered her five children and some in the media blamed her husband because he had to go to work to support his family. Yates was postpartum crazy like the legislators who birthed this bill. If you live in Texas and have a penis you may be next. Scary isn’t it?

Legal Advisor Androphy also thought since Hall didn’t take responsibility for making sure his child support garnishment and employer withholding were correct that he got what he deserved, “almost.” Really? Maybe we should drop H-bombs on Austin to get rid of the  imported red fire ants infestation…and, a few legislators, so they get what they deserve, almost. Think about it… I’m not sure about the fire ants.

Make some noise. Change.org has a petition you can sign to remove Millard from her bench: https://www.change.org/petitions/austin-texas-supreme-court-remove-judge-lisa-millard-from-the-bench

national coalition for menNo one should  have their lives destroyed for paying their child support

even if they were late in payments.

Failure to pay child support should not make a person a criminal.

 

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2 Responses to Texas jails a man for six months for paying child support…

  1. Guber on January 23, 2014 at 6:36 AM

    Sorry but this article is too gentle. Appearing to be balanced when the other side is clearly lying and abusing men by extortion is not going to fix anything. We need to speak a loud and clear unequivocal language.

    This is outrageous and shows how fundamentally evil the system is, and men must rise up and boycott it in masses.

    Women are filing 70% of divorces because they gain financially. It’s a rip-off game. Child support is the extortion tool. Every year duped men pay 22 billion USD to women.

    Look at the real injustice in this and all these cases: he was also orderd to pay the attorney of his slave owner to sue him! This is outrageous. But nobody cares about it.

    Men are being lied to by women and they are still buying the lies. But this has to stop. They should all boycott this extortion game. Living barely out of some car or shack as a slave while your ex is living off your back is not worth it.

    Men must stop to be held hostage with this “it’s for your children” lie. It’s manipulation to keep men docile. You do a better thing for your children if you bring the system down by refusing to cooperate. Simply refuse. Your life becomes meaning and you will know the empowerment of resistance. You will be able to look into the mirror again and see a man, and your children, especially your sons, can one day look up to you as someone who wasn’t some docile cash cow, but had self-respect.

    Men can stop this now if they unite and boycott this rigged system of slavery.

    Note: feminism and this marriage extortion game against men is at least 150-200 years old. Women’s rights warriors have lied and duped gullible men to believe women are victims, they are not, never were. It’s all a lie and men must rise up and take matters in their own hand. Politicians will not fix it, they pander only to those lying women.

    • kexyknave on January 26, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      I agree with the above statement, but there are civil means of resistance.

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