WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A class action lawsuit filed on Friday, 6 May 2011, claims Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) over collects child support payments in violation of state statutes and federal regulations. Records indicate in excess of $176 million has been wrongfully taken from over 114,000 child support payers. The suit further alleges ODJFS knowingly and willfully deceives parents concerning the status of their child support records while receiving tens of millions of dollars in unearned incentive and reimbursement payments from U.S. taxpayers.
According to Michael McCormick, executive director of The American Coalition for Fathers and Children (ACFC, www.acfc.org):
"Overzealous and erroneous child support collection efforts affect all citizens. This case is not about parents who don't, or can't, pay child support. ODJFS is literally taking money it is not entitled to from tens of thousands of good support paying mothers and fathers who could use those funds for food, shelter, and education for their children when they are with them."
McCormick adds: "The state should not be misleading parents that their child support balance is zero when they are, in fact, overpaid and should have an account credit. Parents are told they cannot recover the overpayment until the child support case is finished. For many parents that's ten, twelve or fifteen years down the road.
"Ohio regularly incarcerates poor parents who fall behind on their support obligations sentencing them to what are in effect 'debtor prisons.' Now it's alleged the state has, for years, been pilfering from parents who have fully paid their obligations. There's more going on than can be justified by the typically forthcoming 'computer glitch' excuse. It appears there are problems in the agency across the spectrum of payers," said McCormick
This is not the first time Ohio has been sued regarding child support payments. A decade ago Ohio was sued for wrongly withholding collected child support money from custodial parents. Millions of dollars were paid to affected children and parents.
In 2010 The Columbus Dispatch reported the story of a young father from whom the state collected $200 per month for his 5 year old son, while the child lived with him. Ohio deprived this child of much needed support for over a year.
Reports list Ohio as having over $26 million in net collected, undistributed child support, also known as UDC. Most states have millions that have not been timely distributed to families.
These problems are not unique to Ohio. National dialogue, increased scrutiny and Congressional oversight hearings probing the numerous errors and questionable practices of child support collection agencies are necessary.
Incarcerating indigent parents unable to pay support is bad enough; for states to knowingly and unlawfully take excess money is unconscionable.
A copy of the lawsuit is available at www.acfc.org/ohiosuit.
SOURCE American Coalition for Fathers and Children