A Texas man has been recently required to serve six months in jail as a result of a clerical error in his child support payments. The system is automated and somehow produced an error that, when discovered was repaid immediately, but to no avail. The bill amounted to $3,000 and was repaid quickly but still ended in a jail term. The laws of many states, including Connecticut, provide for potential incarceration if a child support order is not complied with.
The man's lawyer assumed the case would be an easy fix as her client brought her the receipt showing the modified payment and the letter showing overpayment. She proceeded to tell the opposing counsel the details of the matter but the other party was unwilling to settle the case as she wanted $3,500 in attorney's fees and was certain the judge would grant them. This forced both parties to move forward with the case.
The situation was governed by a recent Texas law that provides that overdue child support could result in a jail term of up to six months. The defendant's attorney was not able to appeal the case so the man was forced to turn himself in on Jan. 21, 2014.
Courts usually consider the best interests of the child to be paramount when making decisions and orders on custody and visitation matters. It is difficult to determine how this father's incarceration will have a positive effect on his son, particularly when it likely will cause further delinquencies in the child support payments that he owes.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Clerical Error In Child Support Payments Leads To Six-Month Jail Sentence For Clifford Hall ", January 21, 2014