The Maryland Board of Physicians has suspended the medical license of Rockville eye surgeon, Michael Duplessie, for failure to pay child support.

Duplessie, however, has left the country and opened an office in Kuwait.

Duplessie owes more than $100,000 in past due child support.  The mother has several judgments against him.

The Board says it has used its power to suspend a medical license in only four other cases.

Stuart Cole and Mark Simpson set up several businesses including “Child Support Services” to collect child support payments, according to Howard Ain of WRKC in Cincinnati.

Their business would come up first in an Internet search.  Many people thought they were a government agency.

First they would obtain information about the payor.  Then they would send a letter saying “‘If you would like this to go away you can contact us at the number provided.”  The next letter would say that your driver’s license was suspended.  The next would say an arrest warrant has been issued.

They also sent letters to employers requiring them to deduct money from paychecks.  They charged heavy fees to both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent.

More than 200 victims lost between $2.5 and $3 million in the scheme. Stuart Cole and Mark Simpson were sentenced to more than a year in prison for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud charges.

If a parent is withholding visitation in Maryland, DC or VA, and there is a custody order in place, we have to file a motion to show cause why that parent should not be held in contempt of court.

Many clients have noticed the disparity in the enforcement of child support orders and visitation orders by the courts.

Oklahoma has passed a new law that says a parent who denies visitation to a parent who is current on child support can face fines and be held responsible for attorney fees, mediation costs and court costs.

There is a court form available at the clerk’s office and a hearing must be held within 21 days.  The non-custodian can be awarded make-up time.  One or both parents may be ordered to counseling or parent education classes.  The judge can even order a change in custody if appropriate.

When lottery winners in Arkansas owe child support, they will find that amount deducted from their winnings.

Arkansas passed a law in 2009 that requires the lottery to cooperate in identifying debtors who owe child support.

The state has collected $26,382 in past due child support.  The Lottery also collects any unpaid state taxes.

Since 2011, Louisiana has collected more than $2 million in child support from intercepting the winnings of non-custodial parents at the state’s 19 gambling casinos.

Other states with similar laws include Colorado, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio and West Virginia.

Clermont County, Ohio, has found a more practical solution than putting parents who can’t pay child support in jail.  It finds them jobs.

Ohio was hit hard by the recession.  The jobs program, called Success Through Employment Program or STEP, was started in 2007 with a grant from the Ohio prison system.  It has a 47% placement rate.

Once the parents find a job, they are able to help support their children, which makes a lot more sense than putting them in jail.

The average cost of raising a child to age 18 is $245,340 for a two-parent, middle-income family, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And that doesn’t include costs for giving birth or paying for college.  The annual calculation includes housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care, education and miscellaneous.

If you add in 2.4 percent projected inflation, the cost is $304,480.  The estimate rose 1.8 percent from last year.

Clifford Hall, 43, of Houston was sentenced to six months in jail for failure to pay child support.

After exhausting his appeal rights, he turned himself in and began serving his sentence last week.

But then AT&T, his employer, provided an affidavit that it had withheld the incorrect amount from his paychecks.

He was released from jail.

When separated spouses in Maryland and the District of Columbia require the aid of the court to resolve issues of support or custody they know where to file their case – in the local Circuit Court in Maryland and in Superior Court in the District of Columbia. And if they have been separated for less than the period required for an absolute divorce, they can include a request for limited divorce (legal separation in DC) in the support and/or custody suit.

Not so in Virginia. The circuit courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction, and are the trial courts preferred by lawyers, including family lawyers. But the court with jurisdiction of minors, including custody and support of minors, and support of spouses, is the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court (“JDR”). The Circuit Court only has concurrent jurisdiction over these matters if there is a divorce case pending. And, unlike in Maryland and DC, when the spouses have been separated for less than the required period (one year in general, six months with a written separation agreement and no minor children), a complaint for limited divorce is often not an option because in Virginia there aren’t any no fault grounds for limited divorce (called divorce from bed & board or, in Latin, a mensa et thoro ).
In this situation, the spouse needing custody or support relief faces a choice. He or she can:

1. File a petition requesting custody and/or support relief in JDR;

2. Assert fault grounds and file a complaint for divorce from bed and board and for the custody and/or support relief in Circuit Court; or

3. Wait the one year period and then file a complaint in Circuit Court for final divorce (called divorce a vincula matrimonii) on separation grounds and for the custody and/or support relief.
Each of these choices has advantages and disadvantages which I will address in my next post.

Guest post by David Williamson

Mothers Obtain Child Custody More Often than Fathers

In 82% of cases, mothers get custody of the children.  One reason for this may be, that On a purely statistical stand point, mothers are the primary up-bringer of the children (data:  2009). Even in cases where both parents work, statistics show mothers spend twice as much time engaged in primary childcare responsibilities than the fathers with mothers at 12.9 hours a week and fathers at 6.5 hours.

Court Involvement in Child Custody

In terms of how courts involve themselves in the custody process, a mere 4% of cases are actually litigated.  The vast majority of cases are settled long before trial.    In 51 percent of custody cases, both parents agreed on their own that the mother should have custody.

  • In 29 percent of custody cases, there was no third party involvement.
  • In 11 percent of custody cases, the parties agreed during mediation that the mother should have custdoy.
  • In 5 percent of custody cases, the issue was resolved after a custody evaluation.

Only 4 percent of custody cases went to trial.  Even of that 4 percent, only 1.5 percent completed custody litigation.  Fathers won about half of those litigated cases.  Approximately 91 percent of child custody cases are decided outside of court.

Child Support

When it comes down to child support post settlement, there is another gender divide. In 2009, mothers would get on average $5,997 in child support, whereas fathers would only get $5,601. The problems for fathers doesn’t end there, however, as only 30% of custodial fathers receive any child support, compared to 55% of custodial mothers. To put this in perspective, then, 91% of total child support dollars are given to custodial mothers, and 9% to custodial fathers.

These statistics seem to show a stark difference between male and female custodial experiences. The figures show an average, however, so it would be unwise to lean to heavily on this picture when considering how your situation might unfold. Should you require further information and an informal discussion regarding your individual circumstances, get in touch with one of Coles-Law Solicitor’s Family Lawyers for expert advice.