Child Support Help (PA, OR, and UK)
January 14, 2015 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Help me understand how this all works with multiple states, lack of a job, life long student, and possibly an international move.

This is my cool sock puppet account for obvious reasons. :)

I am the BF/Step Dad. I know you aren't a lawyer probably and regardless anything you tell me isn't legal advice. Just trying to get some general feedback from more knowledgeable people about things to watch out for, things not to miss, things to do that we might not be doing.

My GF has a almost 7 year old son with a POS deadbeat bio father.
I'll skip the drama.

We live in PA. He lives currently with his new (from money) wife in Oregon.

He really hasn't paid anything and wasn't involved in the kid's life at all.

He is a permanent student and is what I can imagine in massive amounts of student debt.

GF had to file for Child Support finally.

My understanding is if he was in PA he would have had to pay back further than just the time of filing.

In Oregon he is only paying back to the time she filed.

He is from PA and was a PA resident when the kid was born.
He and his new wife just keep wracking up student debt and NOT WORKING. I think part of the reason he isn't working is he doesn't want to pay anything.

Oregon calculated his earnings based upon a hypothetical minimum wage job.

GF hasn't been paid anything yet. He tells us that we will be getting a lump sum soon.

Breaking news: He plans on moving back to PA for a while while working out going to school in the UK. Can't even buy his kid a pair of shoes, and he wants to go to school in London. You can imagine how I feel.

Does PA manage the case when he moves back to PA? Anyway we can go after him for the full back child support that he should owe? (I also believe he moved to Oregon because of the child support law there.)

How bout leaving the country? Should we be worried about that? Should we try to prevent that?

In all honestly my goal and the one I am suggesting to the GF is we be as cordial as possible. I want this guy to grow up and have a change of heart. I want him to pay his share and be responsible. I'm also going to do my best to prevent him from screwing over my family any more than he already has to date.

Thanks in advance!
posted by Socktimus Prime to Law & Government (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What is the lawyer situation? Because your GF needs a lawyer who understands your agreement and the law, and who knows how to enforce both. It seems like that's step 1 in doing anything here.
posted by brainmouse at 4:05 PM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

This is too thorny and thickety for mere Mefites to answer. Lawyer.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:19 PM on January 14, 2015

Yeah I know this is a tough one.

GF has no money for lawyer.

Deadbeat has no money, except what he gets from student aid and rich in-laws.

So far it looks like he's going to pay what Oregon has already ruled he owes.

If things get hard, we'll find a way to get a lawyer, but right now it's not in the immediate future.
posted by Socktimus Prime at 4:22 PM on January 14, 2015

Honestly, without a lawyer there is absolutely no way for you to do anything, or get anything from him, or for you to get definitive answers to your questions. There just isn't. This is a legal issue and you need legal support for it.
posted by brainmouse at 4:25 PM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

Try PA Law Help, they take cases for free and may help or point you towards other resources.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:28 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I sent my sister-in-law a book some years ago about seeking child support from a dead beat dad. I no longer recall the title, but the last time I looked, there were multiple titles on the subject on I suggest you go to a library and see what you can learn for free from reading a book or two on the subject. That's a good place to start and fits any budget.
posted by Michele in California at 4:55 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

The only thing I can contribute is there are passport restrictions for those who owe child support. But yes, your girlfriend needs a lawyer.
posted by umwhat at 5:25 PM on January 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport. Call your local child support office to ask for this to be enforced. Be persistent, squeaky wheel gets the grease.
posted by just asking at 5:32 PM on January 14, 2015 [11 favorites]

This will definitely vary from state to state, but if he moves back to PA then you may be able to contact your local domestic support (I don't know what they call it there) agency and ask for the case to be transferred so that it can be enforced through PA.

I don't think that you can file for an entirely new order if you already have one established in another state, ie, you probably can't file in PA and ask for back support from the time they separated.

One thing I am going to say, and this is from my experience working closely with some of the best support enforcement agencies in the entire country, is that sometimes you can't get blood from a stone. It sucks. He needs to buck up and pay, but honestly, if he's not working and really never works, then there isn't any money to be gotten. Yes, they may restrict his passport, but only if he's in arrears more than a certain amount. Sometimes it is better to let it go.

I really don't see the point in hiring an attorney if Deadbeat honestly has no money. You can't make his GF pay his child support, and just because she's rich doesn't mean that he has to pay more. There are set formulas for support and an attorney can't change that. If he were hiding income or assets it would be different. I'm sorry.
posted by checkitnice at 5:51 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Really, you need a lawyer. Get a second job, sell some organs, whatever. A good lawyer will make navigating all of this much easier. I have a lot of experience with a very similar situation.

You really, really, need a lawyer.

Is there a current child support order ? If there is, then that is half the battle.

If there is not an existing child support order, then things get trickier.

In my experience, the state where the child is resident is the one that makes the rules regarding child support. Most states (maybe all, I dont recall) will garnish wages and tax refunds and such for child support in another state - but, you can't get blood from a turnip no matter how hard you squeeze. Getting an order and enforcing an order are to different things.

Which sort of brings me to the other thing - what is you want, exactly ? You can't make him get a good job, and you certainly can't make him be a better father. You can't make his GF or his inlaws pay. And, it is entirely possible that if you lawyer up, he gets a lawyer, too and then it's a custody study and background checks and all of that, too.

You don't have to answer this question for us - but it will help your lawyer when you hire them. And you should understand that engaging Family Court is... difficult. It's a lot like hiring a vampire to help with your werewolf problem.

You really need to talk to a lawyer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:06 PM on January 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), ORS 110.303 et seq , establishes the procedure for determining which order is the controlling order where there are multiple child support orders in different states. The uniform law came into existence in 1992 and was adopted in Oregon in 1994. It has been codified in ORS Chapter 110. Under the terms of UIFSA a tribunal issuing a child support order consistent with the laws of the state has continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the parties’ child support as long as the state remains the residence of the obligor, the individual obligee or the child for whose benefit the support order is issued. ORS 110.327(1)(a). Thus, the child’s or one of the parties’ residency in the state in which the child support order was issued is necessary for the state to have continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over the order.
(from here)

So, if he does indeed move back to PA (or indeed, move anywhere other than Oregon) mom can file to have jurisdiction for the CS order transferred to PA.

Her first step right now should be to contact the PA state child support office to get assistance with enforcement, she absolutely should. There are programs that can help her get attempt to get at least whatever minimal amount is owed.
3. What happens if a child support obligation is not paid by the noncustodial parent living in another state?
The Child Support Enforcement Agency in the noncustodial parent's resident state will use the enforcement methods available in that states' child support laws, many of which are similar to Pennsylvania Law. The custodial parent should notify the Domestic Relations Section when the support order is not being paid.
(from here)

It is also possible to get a modification of a support order in the eventual event that he gets a real may even be possible to get a modification at some point if he remains intentionally under/unemployed, based on attributed income commensurate with his education/previous job history. The local PA child support office can probably provide info on how that works out if he remains living in Oregon.

In sum, local child support enforcement office.
posted by drlith at 6:24 PM on January 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'd side with Pogo Fuzzybutt and drlith on this one. They know what they are talking about. So do I. Take this seriously, book as many free consults as you can, take notes and then visit the law library or schedule a consult with a women's support service in your area. Your child's support falls under PA law, not sure at all about the no-income student status thing, but he's on the hook no matter what. One of my lawyers said that the state may be slow but they are like a steam-roller. It is in their best interests to collect from the deadbeat and they have seen every scenario in the book. Deadbeat's residence in OR provides him no protection, you need to focus on PA law. This is not going to be easy, especially if you are strapped for cash.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:12 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Clarification: book as many free consults as you can = you will find that most lawyers will be saying the same thing. Identify that thing and go from there.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:13 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

You can go after him for the full back child support, but in my experience, he can settle for half of that amount, or he can tack a percentage of the back support onto current payments for X amount of years. There is no guarantee that he will be ordered to write a check for 7 years of back support. Totally insulting, I know. If his GF comes from money, they could stymie the process with a decent lawyer. If yours is a compelling case, someone might take it pro bono, but that depends on who you talk to and where they are at professionally.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:28 PM on January 14, 2015

She may not need to lawyer up yet. Has she contacted the PA Bureau of Child Support Enforcement yet? Their job is to ensure child support payments are received, even if the parent lives in another state. They can seize assets and tax refunds, revoke driving licenses and send this man to jail. This is a FREE service in your state.

And as far as him going to the UK, according to their website: The United States Department of State can deny the issuance or renewal of a passport if you have child support arrears over $2,500.
posted by kinetic at 2:58 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding kinetic on the Pa. Bureau of Child Enforcement: her taxes pay them to do just what she needs done, i.e. collect from the deadbeat.

On the other hand, perhaps this guy's continued refusal to pay is, in a weird way, a good thing --- you say he hasn't really been involved in the kid's life? Perhaps owing massive amounts of child support will continue to ensure he isn't involved, and will make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) for him to insist on any kind of visitation. Because I really can't see how having someone who is basically a total stranger to the child drop in out of nowhere and disrupt the kid's life once in a blue moon could possibly end well.

Go after the dude, yes, but think of the unpaid support as another way to protect the kid from him.
posted by easily confused at 7:20 AM on January 15, 2015

Perhaps owing massive amounts of child support will continue to ensure he isn't involved, and will make it extremely difficult (if not impossible) for him to insist on any kind of visitation.

This is wrong.

Child support and visitation are two separate issues. The court will treat them as separate obligations and so should you.

Whatever you do, do not withhold agreed to access to the kid - especially court ordered visitation - because of child support or other reason. You can open a whole world of trouble upon yourself if you do that. My ex withheld visitation because some dumb reason, and she got 40 days in jail and a substantial fine for the trouble. I've known others who got in similar hot water.

The guy may be a relentless douchebag of a shitbrain - but he will always be dad. The child will only ever get one, and he is it. Help the boy make the most of what he has got.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:24 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

« Older Studies on the effect of children being...   |   Lights out: Why did my overhead lights all fail at... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.