Imagine this scenario: You are living your everyday life, making your ordered child support payments, when suddenly you are thrown into jail because of a clerical error. That is exactly what happened to one Texas man after he was imprisoned because of contempt; he had been accused of failing to pay child support. The problem: He was not falling behind because of his own shortcomings, but rather because his employer was failing to withhold automatic child support payments.
The man was recently released because it was determined that he had, in fact, paid the required amount. He had racked up a $3,000 bill for past-due payments, which he remitted to court quickly after being incarcerated. One of the problems with Texas law, however, is that protections have recently been removed that had shielded parents who paid their child support in full after falling behind. However, a new statute has been approved -- it punishes all parents who make late payments, regardless of the reason.
Official reports show that the man was released just in time to spend an entire month of custody time with his son, however, providing a silver lining for the entire story. The man is still afraid of being sent to prison permanently, though, because his sentence was suspended. That means that a single slip-up in his finances could lead to hard time in a correctional institution. Experts say that this model may not be the smartest way to handle parents who are unable to pay -- or who simply make mistakes -- because they are far less likely to actually be able to send money if they are behind bars.
The man in this case had set up the infrastructure required to pay his child support on time. His employer's failure to appropriately withhold that money caused serious consequences, and the man suffered. This situation could affect scores of parents throughout Texas. It is important to double-check financial statements to make sure that your child support amount is being properly withheld. Parents who are facing this unfortunate situation still have legal options, however, and they deserve a fair and unbiased legal proceeding.
Source: The Root, "Texas Man Who Overpaid Child Support Is Released From Prison" Breanna Edwards, Jul. 28, 2014