If an opportunity from my own case arises whereby I can clearly demonstrate the atrocities Ohio’s Child Support Enforcement Agencies (CSEA’s) regularly commit against Non-Custodial Fathers (NCF’s) in their quest for hundreds of millions of dollars in profits annually from Title-IV federal incentive matches, I will not hesitate to use myself as an example as I have below.
Before proceeding, it’s imperative that I acknowledge that these abusive practices are also utilized against mothers who are non-custodial parents (NCPs) as well. However, I’ve yet to meet any noncustodial moms with felony criminal non-support convictions. I suspect that this is because statistically speaking, roughly 85-90 percent of NCPs nationwide are Fathers.
At the Advance Fatherhood! Ohio Summit held on Friday May 30, 2008, at the University of Cincinnati’s KingsGate Marriott Conference and Hotel, Ohio’s child support collections were the hotbed of controversial comments from audience participants.
Quite frankly, I was becoming rather agitated as I listened to one false statement after another being spoken by Mr. Dan Cade, Section Chief, Hamilton County CSEA Legal Department. So much so, that I’m proud of myself for the restraint I exercised when I addressed the Panel, considering that I didn’t point out the shameless untruthfulness of Mr. Cade’s words.
The question that remains however is this, was Mr. Cade knowingly lying to the 200 plus audience members, or, as the Section Chief of the Hamilton County CSEA’s Legal Department, is he so out-of-touch with his office’s abusive practices that he truly is ignorant of the regular abuse inflicted upon NCP’s by his caseworkers?” Read the rest of this article, and then you decide.
As a panel member, Mr. Cade responded to a participant’s story regarding the Hamilton County CSEA’s questionable practices of seizing NCP’s tax refunds and bank accounts, despite those funds being the only available monies to pay rent and put food on the table for the children. He stated, “seizing bank accounts and tax returns is used as a last resort by the CSEA.”
Mr. Cade, your statement couldn’t be further from the truth, as seizing accounts is a “first resort” used once an arrears reaches $500. In fact, as explained to me by Hamilton County Caseworker Hill in our recorded phone conversation seizing an unsuspecting Father’s bank account and thereby preventing him from feeding his family is always done when an account is $500 or more in arrears.
Ohio Council for Fathers Rights (OCFFR) came to the defense of Cindy Cox, the mother of an incredible four year old boy, when the Hamilton County CSEA stole her bank account in August 2007. Cindy made the mistake of putting her name on the checking account of Nathan’s Father, deposited her paycheck, and then the Hamilton County CSEA stole Cindy’s check. If that’s not bad enough, Nathan’s Father served 2 years in prison for back-support he never owed.
For those naysayers, OCFFR member David Rose is currently under 24-hour lock down as he serves a ten-month sentence as an innocent Father in the Orient Ohio Correctional Facility. A prison term dolled out for back child support that he never owed. I blogged his story numerous times, I know his case personally, and I wholly believe in Mr. Rose’s innocence.
What does the aforementioned have to do with grooming Fathers for criminal felony non-support? It clearly demonstrates the punitive measures taken against Fathers who cannot get their financially devastating child support orders lowered. Furthermore, it’s illustrative of the ensuing and irreparable damage to the lives of thousands of Ohio Fathers, and to those of the children they so dearly love. Who mentioned getting unbearable child support orders lowered? Why Mr. Cade did, he did so at the summit. He, like every other CSEA Employee across the state of Ohio espouses their half-truths about the “simplicity” of having ones child support order lowered following a job loss, medical condition, coma, heart attack etc.
Mr. Cade et al, talk incessantly about how an obligor must ‘only’ petition the CSEA for a review, or file a “Motion to Reduce” in court to have their monthly child support obligation lowered following a reduction or even a total loss of income. A loss incurred as a result of involuntary job loss or because of a minor medical problem such as a massive heart attack or stroke.
While true regarding the necessity of making a request to lower one’s obligation, Mr. Cade should have been more forthcoming and completing his sentence by adding, “however, the chances of being granted a downward deviation on your child support order in Ohio is probably less than ten percent statewide.”
Being an attorney who is also the head of the Hamilton County CSEA’s Legal Department, and as he mentioned at the Fatherhood Summit, Mr. Cade is well-versed in Ohio’s child support statutes. So am I Mr. Cade, and despite a Father’s pleas for a reduction in his support obligation, Ohio’s child support statutes state that a downward deviation “may” be granted under certain circumstances. The meaning of a simple word, ‘may’ is profound when written into legal statutes. Why? It implies there exists an option that the typical layperson would never recognize absent a comprehensive understanding of law.
OK you say, my point? Had the statutes been written to state a downward deviation “shall” be granted instead of “may” be granted, the courts and the CSEA caseworkers like the Darke County CSEA’s Linda Mallot couldn’t use “discretion” like Mallot did. In a legal sense, “shall” means the judge or CSEA caseworker must abide by the statute. “May” on the other hand means they may use “discretion” as to whether or not the statute will apply to a particular case.
By the use of her “discretion” and by the mere power of her ink pen Mallot “overruled” a State Level Hearing Officer’s legally-binding decision by ‘ruling’ herself that Mr. Rose was responsible for his loss of employment. A decision, that couldn’t otherwise be overturned absent a court order signed by an elected judge. Yet, it was rendered meaningless when Mallot wildly declared that Mr. Rose was involuntarily unemployed and “underemployed” why……simply because she said so.
Mr. Rose, in at least five separate documented and proven requests over a three-year period, petitioned Mallot for an Administrative Hearing so as to request that his child support obligation be reduced after he became according to her “voluntarily unemployed.”
What were the results of Mr. Rose’s persistent efforts? A criminal felony 5 nonsupport conviction that “earned” Mr. Rose 10 months of 24 hour lock down at the Orient Correctional Inmate Reception Center in Orient Ohio. Mr. Rose maintains his innocence, and alleges he can prove that Mallot perjured herself at his criminal trial to secure a wrongful felony conviction against him, and has filed a civil suit to seek redress.
Is Mr. Rose lying when he alleges he tried for three years to have his child support order lowered? Based on what I personally know about his case, and on the tape-recorded conversation between himself and Mallot that I possess, I think not. In fact, I can offer my own testimony to dispute Mr. Cades and all other’s claims that one most only “file a motion” or “request an administrative hearing” to have their child support obligation lowered following a loss of income.
On or about Summer 2005, I filed a “Motion to Reduce.” That’s a legal petition that I filed with the court to lower my child support obligation after it bankrupted me. In Fall 2006, I once again petitioned the court to hear my motion considering it was “continued” and ultimately went into limbo. Keep in mind that my ex-wife’s attorney filed a Motion to Modify my child support order in December 2005. The court granted that motion, and raised my child support obligation by more than $400 per month as a result. This, despite the fact that I have my daughter 50% of the time under my roof, feed her, buy her clothes and do everything any other loving parent would do for their child. My ex-wife has a Bachelors and an Associates Degree while I have only an Associates, and to this day I’ve never earned as much in one year as she has.
In October 2006, I filed a “Motion to be Heard.” That’s as simple as it sounds. I filed a motion to once again, ask the court to simply ‘hear’ my pending “Motion to Reduce” by granting me an “oral argument” to “make my case.” This, considering I had gone into bankruptcy and was being threatened with foreclosure for falling months behind on my mortgage.
“Denied!” the Magistrate ruled. He went on to order that, “all pending “pre-decree” motions would not be heard by the court until “post-decree.” “Pre-decree” is before the judge signs the final divorce decree that actually grants the parties divorce. “Post-decree” is after the parties are legally divorced. I was beyond angry. The court grants my ex-wife’s attorney’s motion to raise my child support obligation more than $400 monthly “pre-decree” in December 2005, and it refuses to hear mine to lower it until post-decree? Why, because I am a Father?
July 2007, my Decree of Divorce is issued. However, I don’t have the necessary $50 dollars to file a post-decree motion to modify my child support obligation. In what proved to be an exercise in futility, I liquidated $22,000 to bring my mortgage current and continued through the next winter without heating my home for a third year in a row.
December 2007, my 7-year old daughter would regularly ask, “Daddy, why is it always cold over here?” Instead of not being totally forthcoming in my response in answering her, I wanted so badly to say, “because the State of Ohio says it’s in your best interest that Daddy not have enough of his own money to heat our home so we can shiver all winter honey, now put your hat and gloves back on and continue coloring sweetie…”
December 14, 2007, my previous employer fires me after the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Fugitive Warrant Unit went to my former place of employment to arrest me on a civil contempt warrant. What was this criminal’s crime? I was indigent due to my present child support obligation. I couldn’t afford to pay my half ($667) of the court costs ordered to be paid by the same Magistrate who keeps refusing to hear my Motion to Reduce, and who now says he won’t hear the motion until post-decree! He has the audacity to sentence me to 30 days in jail for my, “refusal” to pay the court costs he ordered me to pay with monies I didn’t have, and after he continues refusing to hear my motion to reduce?
February 2008, the Hamilton County CSEA raises my child support order from $900 per month to $1080 per month, to begin collecting on my arrears, despite me being unemployed.
March 2008, I prevail in a State Level Hearing after a Hearing Officer rules that I was unemployed through no fault of my own and lifts the suspension of $422 weekly in unemployment benefits. (Note: This was the exact same hearing type that Mr. David Rose prevailed in. The Hearing Officer’s decision can only be overturned by a judge on appeal in a court of law; or by the pen of Linda Mallot, a Darke County CSEA caseworker.) Shortly thereafter, my first “$422” check is direct deposited into my bank account. However, after the Hamilton County CSEA seized $211 of it, I’m left with $211 to support a family of five. In one week alone, $120 went into our Explorer’s gas tank.
May 2008, the Hamilton County CSEA seizes $3,200 of my current wife’s (a full-time college student) tax return to pay for “part of my arrears” that accumulates while I continue to be unemployed. Despite having my daughter 50% of the time, and having my child support order raised to $1080 per month, the State of Ohio refuses to allow me to claim my daughter as a dependent to enable me to collect an additional $50 week in benefits. According to Ohio’s guidelines, I “don’t support my daughter.” I suppose this is because I’m only the “Non-Custodial Parent” who is fortunate enough to have my child 50% of the time.
May 2008, $1200 of unemployment compensation is paid out to me. However, the Hamilton County CSEA seized $600 of it for child support. After the Hamilton County CSEA begins deducting the extra $180 per month out of the total $1688 I “receive” in monthly benefits, I will be left with $680 per month to feed my daughter, 2 step-sons, my wife and me. What’s left of that will be used for gasoline, insurance, clothing (from the Thrift Stores) and whatever prescriptions we can buy. I don’t pay utilities or any other expenses like my mortgage. Hence the reason my house has been ordered by a judge to be auctioned off by the Hamilton County Sheriff as a result of my foreclosure.
May 2008, outraged that my wife cannot attend school this summer because the Hamilton County CSEA stole $3,200 of her tax refund and rebates to give to my ex-wife, I call the CSEA demanding a full audit of my account’s payment history from inception to date. I want this because they have been seizing my taxes returns for the past three years even though I never was in arrears. How could I have been in arrears when they have deducted over $27,000 cash from my pay checks since July 2004, the inception of my child support order? Furthermore, all of my payments were made through payroll deductions and on time up until my termination from my last job in December, 2007.
Keep in mind what Mr. Cade said as noted earlier in the article, “We only seize tax refunds as a last resort.” As a last resort to what Mr. Cade, to situations where you can find no other way to legally extort our money to secure higher Title-IV Social Security Federal Incentive Matches like the $223 million the CSEA earned for Ohio in 2003? The Hamilton County CSEA’s response to my account audit was this legal threat that arrived the very next day following my phone call to them.
May 2008, I file a second “Motion to be Heard” on my still-pending, and more than two and one-half years-old Motion to Reduce, as I have now paid over $10,000 for day care costs that were never incurred. My support order was raised $400 per month to pay for day care costs while my daughter proceeded through first and second grade in school.
It is worth noting that Ohio wrote its statutes in such a manner, that Fathers like Mr. Rose and myself who have paid tens of thousands of unwarranted and extorted child “support” dollars are without legal redress. In other words, the law prohibits the CSEA’s from “crediting” us for monies never owed. Now that’s our “constitutionally afforded” due process, equity, and justice at their finest.
June 2008, “Continued!” the Magistrate clamors. My Motion to Reduce Child Support has been continued a third time, and will allegedly be heard as my daughter attends school in the third grade while I continue to pay $400 per month in day care costs that aren’t being incurred. This, while my child support obligation of $1080 per month continues to be based on a salary that I ceased making six months ago. Assuming the Magistrate “shall” hear my Motion to Reduce, I am scheduled to argue my motion in September 2008, almost three years after filing my original motion to reduce. Now do you understand why I fully believe in Mr. David Rose’s innocence as he paces to-and-fro in a cell under 24-hour lock down?
In September 2008, when my Motion to Reduce, scheduled to be ‘heard” a third time, I may actually be homeless if I cannot successfully represent myself (Pro Se) at my foreclosure trial and delay the auction of my current, “home” at the upcoming Sheriff’s “sale.” I informed the Magistrate of my predicament at the hearing yesterday and he gave me that, “oh well” look when I described the difficulties of supporting a family of 5 on $7,000 a year. He was also unmoved by the upcoming auction of my home. At least I find solace in knowing that Ohio is only acting in my daughters best interest.
Given all that we’ve been through over the last four years, I try to find something positive in everything that happens in my life. Look on the bright side, keeping a tent in the woods heated this winter will be much easier than trying to heat a 3,000 square foot “home.” How many other children in Ohio will have the opportunity to make snowmen in their bedrooms this winter? Instead of tickling my daughter to wake her up in the morning, I’ll rub snow in her face.
The best is yet to come. My “felony clock” continues ticking. I need only miss 26 weekly payments out of 104 consecutive weeks to be indicted by the CSEA for Criminal Felony 5 Non-Support of a Minor Child. The missed payments DO NOT have to be consecutive, only the 104 week “window” used to indict me must be. It doesn’t matter that the CSEA seized my present wife’s $3,200 in tax rebates and refunds to pay on my arrears; a missed week is a missed week.
The way Ohio statutes are written, under Ohio law, a child support payment that is only one-dollar less than the required payment amount is considered a “missed-payment.” Next up for Tony Fantetti are license suspensions and a felony indictment as I’ve missed 24 out of my 26 “felony weeks” according to CSEA’s interpretation of Ohio’s statutes. Is the fact that 25% (or 22) of Ohio’s 88 County Prosecutors refuse to indict Fathers on criminal felony non-support beginning to make more sense now? Could that posture be considered an indictment of the system itself?
Therefore, when Mr. Dan Cade, Section Chief of the Hamilton County CSEA’s Legal Department claims as he did at the Advance Fatherhood! Ohio Summit held on May 30, 2008 that, “we will work with anyone who tries to make a payment” and further stated, “we only seize tax returns as a last resort,” and finally clamored, “all a Father must do if he loses his job is request that his Child Support obligation be lowered and we’ll work with him,” do you believe Mr. Cade’s assertions are substantiated by everything you just read? My documentation proves otherwise Mr. Cade, it’s time for Ohio’s Child Support Enforcement Agencies to stop lying to the public and to start telling the truth.
Is the story you just read, “in the best interests of the children” as Ohio’s CSEA’s and those like Mr. Cade claim, or is the decimation described here only in Ohio’s best financial interest as they rake in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal incentive matching Title-IV dollars at the expense of Ohio’s innocent children?
I wouldn’t in a million years have ever considered the possibility that I was unknowingly prophesying about my own life when I built this web site in July 2007 to publicly expose Ohio’s “profiteering.” Federal dollars to be “earned” at the expense of the destruction and decimation of the lives of the millions of innocent Ohio children living our nightmare.
As I described the nameless, faceless noncustodial parent’s nightmare in the previous link, could it be that I was unknowingly describing my own life, when considering that absent the felony conviction, that entire tragedy will have befallen me since being written?
“For the ‘love of’ money is the root of all evil…”
Ohio Council for Fathers Rights