Monday, November 25, 2013

Demographics of Child Support Collection

According to the U.S. Census, of the $37.9 billion owed in child support, only $14.4 million was paid in 2011. Where the child had contact with the non-custodial parent, the full amount was received 49.1 percent of the cases. Where the child did not have contact with the non-custodial parent, the full amount of child support was only received 30.7 percent of the time. 

Most custodial parents (81.7%) are mothers. According to the Census study, the more contact a child has with the non-custodial parent, the more likely the custodial parent will receive the full amount of child support. Other factors which were found to be associated with a higher likelihood of receiving the full amount of child support, according to the Census study, were the custodial parent having at least a bachelor’s degree (50.6%), being divorced (48.4) and being age 40 or older (48.4). 56.3 percent of parents sharing joint physical or legal custody received/paid the full amount of child support. This was the highest observed rate in the study.

Factors associated with a lower likelihood of receiving the full amount of child support, according to the study, were being under 30 years old (36.6%), having less than a high school education (36.4%) and never having been married (35.1%).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Custody while Incarcerated

Dorothy Maraglino, 38, was pregnant when she was put in jail in May 2012 and charged with the murder of Brittany Killgore, a 22 year old marine’s wife whose husband was stationed in Afghanistan at the time of the murder. The child, a girl, was born in July 2012. Louis Ray Perez, 47, also a marine, is the father of the child. Perez is also charged with the murder, conspiracy, kidnapping, torture and attempted sexual battery of Killgore.

Maraglino gave custody of her child to Becky Zagha, 38. She says that she didn’t know Zagha well, but Perez asked her to give custody to her. Problems arose when, according to Maraglino, Zagha broke her promise to live in San Diego County and bring the child to weekly visits. Zagha moved to central California soon after the child was born. Zagha apparently also visited Perez and Maraglino frequently before the baby was born, but visits significantly decreased after she took custody.

Last month, Maraglino attempted, in a Fresno Court, to remove the child from Zagha and place her with Maraglino’s sister in South Carolina. The Court declined the request. Maraglino is now appealing that decision.

A parent that is incarcerated doesn’t necessarily immediately lose their parental rights. Depending on their crime, and assuming that it doesn’t involve violence towards the other parent or the children, the incarcerated parent may retain, at least legal custody (decision-making) rights. Visitation can be more complicated and, obviously, overnight visits cannot typically happen. If both parents are incarcerated, in the absence of other arrangements regarding the custody of the children, the state will take custody of the child(ren) and they will be placed in foster care. Similar to any other custody dispute, unless there are written court orders for visitation, there won’t necessarily be visitation unless the custodial parent/guardian chooses voluntarily, to bring the child to the incarcerated parent.

While Zagha may have "promised" to bring the child to Maraglino every week, if there weren’t court orders, then there is no remedy if she doesn’t do that. Once Marglino and Perez gave Zagha custody without any other orders, Zagha was not obligated to bring the child to either parent for visits.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Child Support Obligation for a Sperm Donation?

A Kansas man, William Marotta, responded to a Craigslist ad placed by a same sex couple seeking a sperm donor. One of the woman impregnated herself using a catheter and syringe without any physician’s assistance. A child was born from this process in 2009, she is now 4 years old. Marotta and the couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner, signed a written agreement where Marotta relinquished any and all parental rights and Bauer and Schreiner held him harmless for any child support claims raised by any entity or person. The couple split up in 2010 and share joint custody their eight children, including the one that Marotta biologically fathered.

Due to some health issues resulting in financial troubles, Bauer and Schreiner applied for public assistance. The Kansas Department for Children and Families demanded that they disclose the identity of the sperm donor or else the child would lose health insurance. The couple released Marotta’s name and the state opened a child support case against him. The state argues that the written agreement signed by the couple and Marotta is invalid because the insemination was not performed by a licensed physician.

Marotta and his wife are fighting any obligation owed for this child. The Kansas court is likely to reach a decision by the end of this year.

Non-traditional couples and parenting are becoming increasingly more common. Kansas, at least in the articles I have seen, has not raised the issue of going after the non-custodial, non-biological parent for reimbursement, or acknowledging that the non-birth parent was the other parent of this child rather than the biological father who, all parties agree, has had no contact with this child, and has no relationship with the child or Bauer or Schreiner. Kansas is not the only court that has addressed the issue of holding a sperm donor responsible for child support for their biological children resulting from the donation. Most of those cases that do hold the donor liable involve a father who has an active role in the child’s life or who holds himself out to be the child’s father.