N.K. Clark

There is a growing epidemic in America concerning the treatment of noncustodial parents when dealing with child support enforcement agencies and the family court system.  Unfortunately, there are no federal agencies that conduct investigations into complaints filed against local agencies by parents with any type of grievance.  Although there are parents that may have problems with their local agencies, parents are forced to remedy their complaints.  Parents must be sure that employees of state agencies are held accountable as they deal with the public.  As public servants, tax dollars pay their salaries and parents’ rights should be respected especially during such sensitive situations.  There are two child support agencies in particular that have proven to be ineffective when dealing with parents and complaints.

The first county with a horrible process in dealing with child support complaints is Bay County, Michigan.  In this county, just like many others, there is no lenience granted to parents that regularly make payments and for whatever reason, miss a couple during the course.  In Michigan, complaints must be filed through the Friend of the Court. The Bay County, Michigan agency is a direct agency of the 18th Judicial Circuit Family Division.  According to the Michigan Friend of the Court (FOC) Information Handbook, the FOC Act provides a grievance procedure for complaints about the FOC operations and employees.  This can only mean that the grievances are handled by the coworkers and supervisors of the people named in the complaints.  There can be no serious resolution when the police are policing the police.  Since most complaints will involve court decisions concerning custody or child support, an effective system must be in place to overturn those polices that are proven problematic to the complaint filer. 

The complaint process can be quite tedious as those with objections must interact with the agency at the butt of the action.   The parents with complaints will find themselves facing other obstacles when dealing with the Bay County, Michigan child support agency.  A grievance cannot be used to object to a FOC recommendation, or to disagree with the decision of the judge.  This barrier in the complaint process is only an added disappointment to parents in need of justice, perpetuates any unfair treatment, and leaves employees free of punishment for any unethical or illegal actions.   Since the FOC does not accept any grievance concerning court orders, they only advise that the complainant discuss legal options with an attorney.  This option will, more than likely, be time consuming and costly.  There is information provided in the handbook about filing complaints against Bay City judges.  However, these complaints are handled by the Judicial Tenure Commission but this group can do nothing about changing a court order.   Based on all of this information, one really has no operative way of filing a complaint and receiving an unbiased result when unhappy with the child support agency.

The next county is a located in the bordering state of Ohio.  Franklin County is not only where the reformed child support system was piloted in the 1990s courtesy of Former President Bill Clinton, it too offers no adequate complaint procedures for anguished parents.  While Bay County had an ineffective complaint process in place, it at least offered some sort of remedy process.  In Franklin County, as soon as a problem is expressed by a parent, the run-around is started by the agency and the court employees.  After an exhaustive two hour online search and emails to agency employees in regards to the complaint process, there have been no answers offered to date.  When searching the Attorney General website, the complaint listing includes information for Medicaid fraud, complaining against charitable organizations, and even a link to filing a complaint against organizations that offer bingo games.  There is, however, no complaint link to an agency that reportedly serves more than 3.3 million people, including 1.3 million children (Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, 2013).  This is just evidence of the lack of concern that the state has for the parents that they are supposed to service.

Effective complaint systems must be in place when an agency, and more importantly, individuals have to power to decide the fate of millions of people.  Child support enforcement employees can decide garnishment amounts, permissions to drive and fish, and if one is free or locked away.  With such authority, there must be control, transparency, and a plan for complainants when boundaries are stretched and broken at someone else’s expense.  Citizens, who happen to be parents, must know that there are regulations and policies in place that protect them against people and procedures that may be abusive to our rights.  As been the case for many years, the government (local, state, and federal) err too.  Taxpayers can take a look at Congress and find several instances where people have abused their power and were forced to answer to a higher office for their blunders.  There must be strong rules in place for people that have complaints to guarantee that we are heard and that solutions are obtainable.  When dealing with such a flawed system like the child support agencies, attention must be paid when operations are failing the customers and only benefiting the government.

References:

Michigan Supreme Court. (2013). Friend of the Court Handbook. Retrieved from

http://courts.mi.gov/administration/scao/resources/documents/publications/manuals/focb/focb_h

bk.pdf

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. (2013, February 27). Executive Budget Recommendations for SFY 2014-2015. Retrieved from http://www.gongwer-oh.com/public/130/JFSTestimony-Colbert.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

kenneth wayne shapiro aka baker
09/25/2014 12:49pm

yes i have a question if i raised my kids from birth am i entitled to child support or is she being she is the only one who worked and it was her choice to work and not stay home .Also i am now homeless and still provide care untill night time from 5:30 am to about 6 pm 5 days a week i dont want child support i just need to know if im right .I am pretty sure i am i will not get mad if i'm wrong or you cant give me any answer but i need some one to talk to because i filed for just food stamps and didnt get it and when i called they said they sent the request for a phone interview out but they never did this is in stark county ohio also their mother tried to commit fraud by requesting aide for child care when i provide it .

N.K. Clark
09/25/2014 1:22pm

Hi Kenneth. I must tell you that I am not an attorney. I am a child support reform advocate. It sounds as if you two do not have child support order in place. I would not recommend filing for child support because the system is extremely flawed. Child support orders often cause more harm than good and children do not receive 100% of the payment in most cases. As far as you filing for public assistance, you should be entitled to the programs offered based on your living situation and your especially if you are low-income. As I mentioned in this blog, it is very difficult to file complaints against these government agencies. However, if you do not feel that your needs are being met, file complaints with the director of human services in your county and the attorney general. Someone will have to respond to your complaint. If that doesn't work, go higher and file a complaint with the federal government in charge of Health and Human Services. The Stark County Executive Director is Deborah Forkas, M.ED. The website to AG DeWine is http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/about-ag/file-a-complaint.aspx.
Here is the information for the federal health and human services department:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Toll Free: 1-877-696-6775

Good luck to you and your family. Please feel free to contact me with any other questions or comments. Thanks, again!

kenneth
09/26/2014 9:25pm

Thank you very much for your help with the issue. My next step would have to be file a complaint at the federal level .What i just went threw yesterday was unreal i was told by the interviewer and her supervisor i am nothing but a babysitter and i could not get child care to look for a job in order for there mother not to lose hers but she could get the help because she is exempt .At that point i got a upset being called a baby sitter when i gave up everything to be a good father.I did recieve a call from a com. but he just asked me the same ol stuff and said theres a chain of command i said i already spoke to a supervisor .Also they said they mailed me information for a phone interview which they never sent and they say it was sent on a monday the interview for friday on the phone when it plainly says i don't have a phone to call my own email only but anyways excuse the grammar and spelling this is one messed up thing oh and the phone interviewer tried to make me use a name i know for a fact is not my last name its a name forced on me and is not my birth name this is a big cluster thanks again

kenneth
09/26/2014 9:28pm

so i actually had to fill out the paper work on the internet twice and call alot. i was told by the first woman i spoke with they were all going to do or say the same thing she did and in a way they did

N.K.
12/14/2014 9:01pm

Hi Kenneth- Did you ever get any results from filing the complaint on the federal level?

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Torrey Eubaire
12/15/2014 9:40am

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N.K.
12/15/2014 12:39pm

We definitely must do that, Torrey. Thank you for your comment.

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James Fayz
02/21/2016 9:53pm

I have posted a story on my face book page "crooked government" it tells about my experience with the Michigan F.O.C. I was punished for signing the papers, setting up the child support hearing and taking the girl to court. I was 20 years old and wanted to do the right thing, the people at the F.O.C. didn't like the court order so they made their own. Read my posts it is the most illegal child support case in history, the Register of Actions shows the case was never filed therefore there is NO court order, the Michigan F.O.C. is using a court order that does NOT appear in the Register of Actions.


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