Respecting the privacy rights of parents who pay child support

We have previously written that child support is among the more “loaded” topics in family law. Regardless of whether they pay or receive child support, nearly everyone involved has an opinion. And for the parents on the paying end – often fathers but not always – reminders to pay child support can feel like a moral judgment. No one wants to be thought of as a “deadbeat.”

Missouri has a Division of Child Support Enforcement to ensure that non-custodial parents are making court-ordered payments. Most other states also have enforcement mechanisms in place. But as a recent news article shows, the methods used by states are not always tactful or respectful of a person’s privacy.

Earlier this month, a man in Kansas complained to news reporters about a conspicuous piece of mail he receives every month. The man says he pays child support on time and in full every single month in accordance with a court order, yet he still receives a postcard reminding him to pay. It asks: “Have you paid your child support this month.”

To some, that simple question/reminder seems perfectly innocent. But because child support is such a loaded issue, some non-custodial parents (including this father) find it embarrassing to receive a monthly reminder in the mail that anyone can read. He believes it is an invasion of his privacy and an attempt to publicly shame parents into paying child support.

To be sure, there are probably good arguments to be made on both sides about whether or not child support reminders should be sent out in a manner that is only somewhat private. But the fact that a story like this is newsworthy suggests that child support is too often seen as a moral issue rather than a practical one.

Source: Yahoo Parenting, “Dad ‘Shocked’ and ‘Embarrassed’ by Child Support Postcard,” Esther Crain, Aug. 14, 2015

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