No sympathy from me

I feel bad for many fathers who are caught up in the machinery of child-support enforcement, but not this guy:

A St. John’s man says a provincial law aimed at dead-beat fathers is excessive.

Alastair Collis said it’s unacceptable that authorities have garnisheed his mother’s bank account.

“Why would they attack a 90-year-old woman? It’s elder abuse,” he told CBC News.

“They just can’t go just stopping your driver’s licence, your passports, your account and all that. And now, I don’t care what they do to me, they can throw me in jail, I don’t care but you don’t touch my mother.”

Newfoundland and Labrador’s director of support enforcement has declared Collis in default of payments and garnisheed his bank account and because Collis’s name is also on his mother’s account, that has been garnisheed as well.

According to Collis, he has been paying his child support.  It’s just that he refuses to pay through Newfoundland and Labrador’s support enforcement agency:

Once a court orders a divorced parent to pay support for children, the payments are made to the director of support enforcement, who then ensures the payments are passed on to the children.

Collis refuses to go through the director and said he doesn’t see why he should.

He said he’s a good father who regularly makes payments to his two teen-aged daughters in Toronto.

Collis is calling on all provincial party leaders to study child-support laws and have them rewritten.

In Nova Scotia (and back home in Newfoundland, I presume) the parties can agree that payments will be made directly to the recipient, though such orders often contain a clause giving either party the option to enroll in the Maintenance Enforcement Program.  As a rule, I recommend to my clients – payors and recipients of child support – that they make their payments through the Agency.  The recipient will know how much is owing, and the Program can enforce the order through garnishment of wages and bank accounts; the payor, meanwhile, will have documentation showing how much he has paid.

As for Collis, if he’s telling the truth and he has been paying child support, he should be able to make a court application to reduce or eliminate his arrears, and remove the garnishment order.  But it will cost time and money, and he may have to dig through years of bank statements and cancelled cheques to show how much he has paid.

That’s a high price to pay for making some kind of point, isn’t it?

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2 thoughts on “No sympathy from me

  1. Hi Damian,
    How about this: Is the concept of state-imposed post-relationship child support even a constructive concept?

    For starters, it distorts a free market: Child support as part of a pre-nup is a private contract. The mere fact of the existence of state-imposed ex-post-facto “remedies” relieves a couple from planning for consequences beforehand.

    Dunno. I’m looking back on decades and I’ve seen not a few examples of women gaming the system; men abused by an anti-male “justice” system; a general societal abdication of responsibility because the Gov is there to “fix” the problem afterwards, kids who treat dads as ATMs, a growth of more and more “agencies” and taxpayer expense…

    When the “cure” causes cancer, it’s time to reconsider the prescription, is it not?

  2. It’s a shame you don’t feel any sympathy for him. I do.

    I think what Ran / Si Vis Pacem said is right on the money, especially his parting line:

    ‘When the “cure” causes cancer, it’s time to reconsider the prescription, is it not?’

    Absolutely.

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