Saturday, October 13, 2007

Not paying child support can be a crime

Yes, not paying child support can be a crime in Indiana. Specifically, either a D (IC 35-50-2-7) or C (IC 35-50-2-6) felony.

Take a look at Man charged with owing $125,000 in child support payments from the Richmond, Indiana Palladium-Item:

A former Connersville man who is among the state's most wanted for non-payment of child support appeared in Fayette County Court on Wednesday. Leman W. Booher, 57, of Richardson, Texas, was advised of his rights and asked for an attorney in Fayette Circuit Court where he faces charges that he owes $125,000 to his ex-wife for the care of his three children, who are now grown"
Mary T. Wagner wrote an op/ed piece, Corralling Deadbeat Dads, in today's Washington Post. Ms. Wagner is an assistant district attorney in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. Good reading for many reasons but here she lays out why not paying child support is a crime:

Statistics on the Web site of the federal Administration for Children and Families show that the federal and state partnership governing child support enforcement carried a caseload of 15.9 million families in fiscal 2005. Those numbers reflect the mandatory inclusion of parents who have custody and receive some kind of government benefits, and other custodial parents who voluntarily seek state help in getting their child-support orders enforced.

During that fiscal year, more than 11 million of those cases were listed as having some kind of child support arrears due -- and only a little more than half of those were listed as having payments coming in toward the arrears in child support. That's a lot of money not sent or spent on shoes, school supplies, haircuts or summer camp.

I hope that all of you who think about skipping out on your child-support obligations, to cut your losses or simplify your lives, keep in mind that I, or someone else working in a generic government office, will eventually haul you back to face the music. But if you think at all about what really matters, that should be the least of your worries.

Here is the Indiana statute on non-support:
IC 35-46-1-5 Nonsupport of a dependent child
Sec. 5. (a) A person who knowingly or intentionally fails to provide support to the person's dependent child commits nonsupport of a child, a Class D felony. However, the offense is a Class C felony if the total amount of unpaid support that is due and owing for one (1) or more children is at least fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000).
(b) It is a defense that the child had abandoned the home of his family without the consent of his parent or on the order of a court, but it is not a defense that the child had abandoned the home of his family if the cause of the child's leaving was the fault of his parent.
(c) It is a defense that the accused person, in the legitimate practice of his religious belief, provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer, in lieu of medical care, to his dependent child.
(d) It is a defense that the accused person was unable to provide support.
As added by Acts 1976, P.L.148, SEC.6. Amended by Acts 1977, P.L.340, SEC.88; Acts 1978, P.L.144, SEC.9; P.L.213-1996, SEC.4; P.L.123-2001, SEC.4.
Notice that the statute contains three defenses. Another not quite so apparent is that a person can be civilly liable for non-support between ages 18 and emancipation but criminally liable only when the child is under 18 years of age.

I will take on felony non-support cases but only in Madison County and the surrounding counties.

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