Public Comments for: HB572 - Child support obligations; party's incarceration not deemed voluntary unemployment/underemployment.
I SUPPORT HB 572. HB 572 will reduce the crime rate. If non-custodial parents are under crushing child support obligations, they may drop out of formal employment and go back into the black market, such as dealing drugs. Baltimore Sun, June 18, 2019 (https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-child-support-abell-foundation-20190618-story.html). “Child support orders set beyond the ability of noncustodial parents to comply push them out of low-wage jobs, drown them in debt, hound them into the underground economy, and chase them out of their children’s lives,” wrote former federal child-support chief Vicki Turetsky. Laure Ruth, legal director for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, agreed that changes should be made. “When noncustodial parents have orders they cannot realistically pay,” she said, “custodial parents do not receive the money they should be getting and the whole family pays the consequences." HB 572 will allow access to higher paying jobs. Non-custodial parents released from prison typically have almost nothing, and can't pay child support accrued while in prison. Forcing parents to pay child support before their release will result in them losing their driver’s license (suspended due to nonpayment) and thus their ability to hold a decent job that will enable them to pay a decent amount of child support-- eliminating their ability to adequately support their children. Non-custodial parents earn less when they inevitably lose their driver’s license for not being able to pay this un-payable child support that accrued while in prison, because most good jobs are not accessible by transit, as opposed to by car. People who can drive "have access to 30 times as many jobs as low‐income people dependent on transit." See Randal O'Toole, Helping People Reach Jobs, Cato Institute, Nov. 15, 2017. HB 572 will save taxpayer money by not wasting time and money trying to collect uncollectible arrearages from financially broke released inmates. State child support agencies collect money from middle-class fathers, but largely fail to collect it from poor fathers, despite spending immense time and money incarcerating them, etc. HB 572 will help promote racial justice. It has been stated by Murray Steinberg, of the former Family Resolution Council in Mechanicsburg, that most non-custodial parents jailed for nonpayment of child support in Virginia are black, as well as a majority of all Virginia prison inmates. Black inmates, unlike white inmates, tend to come from poorer families, where crime rates are much higher. Unlike some white inmates’ families, black inmates generally can’t count on their relatives to bail them out or pay off their arrearages. It is mostly black people who are going to be crippled by unpayable child support obligations that build up during their incarceration. By supporting HB 572, you will be supporting the rights of parents and children in Virginia. All dependent children have the right to be emotionally, physically, and financially supported by their parents. Once a parent is released from prison, they should have access to gainful employment and get back to the most important job of all, providing for and raising their children. Family Reunion is a national, non-profit organization that works with lawmakers, existing organizations, and experts dedicated to making much-needed changes to the family court system so the best interests of children can be supported.