With the current financial situation of the United States, which includes the bank bailouts and the recession, the wealth gap between citizens is increasing at a fast pace. Many contend that the middle class will be obsolete in the upcoming years. Unfortunately, the less money one may have can directly impact the amount of debt that a person amasses. According to the Free Legal Dictionary, equal protection is the constitutional guarantee that no person or class of persons shall be identified the same protection of the laws that is enjoyed by other persons or other classes.
The current child support system adversely affects low-income parents because they cannot afford the duties applied to child support orders. The penalty fees and interest are applied when payments become delinquent. Some states consider a payment delinquent after only 30 days while others may wait six months before applying enforcement. People that can afford to pay child support in a timely manner never face the punishments enforced by child support officers.
The Ohio Department of Job Family Services (2013) reported that a study conducted by the Urban Institute in 2007 concluded that 69% of arrears accrued in Ohio were owed by individuals with no reported income or reported income less than $10,000.
This causes great disparities between those being pursued and prosecuted and those who are not when punishments are based on income. The less fortunate are targeted and punished for being poor. The equal protection clause is violated because poor parents are not receiving the same treatment when it comes to state child support laws.
By bogging parents down with debt and stealing freedoms, there is a direct violation of the equal protection law.
The law states that men were created equal and have certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, (The Free Dictionary). If someone cannot afford the same luxuries, in this case making payment to the government, that person should not be denied their liberty or their happiness. Child support laws have caused unhappy situations across the country due to snatching freedoms over a state owed debt, and attaching a child for justification.
As the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, there needs to be reform to the current child support system. When the poor are unfairly pursued, prosecuted, and jailed, the system is purposely violating the constitution. Parents must argue in court for their rights or reform will never occur. As long as the government is allowed to openly violate parent’s rights, the child support hustle will continue to plague our children and families.
Child Support Guidelines Advisory Council (2012, August 24). Meeting agenda. Retrieved April 13, 2014, from http://jfs.ohio.gov/Ocs/pdf/20120824-Agenda.pdf
Farlex (n.d.). Equal Protection Clause legal definition of Equal Protection Clause. Equal Protection Clause synonyms by the Free Online Law Dictionary. Retrieved April 13, 2014, from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Equal+Protection+Clause