Hamilton County Child Support Enforcement Agency Seizes an Innocent Wife’s Tax Return

Please understand that Ohio Council for Fathers Rights (OCFFR) is not about me or my case, it’s about all of Ohio’s innocent parents and children who are regularly victimized and terrorized by Ohio’s 88 county Child Support Enforcement Agencies (CSEAs.)

That said, I won’t hesitate to use my own case when in doing so proves that Ohio’s CSEAs punitive actions taken against non-custodial parents (NCPs) have nothing to do with the, “best interest of the children” as Ohio claims, but everything to do with Ohio’s financial profit at the emotional expense of Ohio’s children in their relentless quests for profits from statewide child support collections.

To those not familiar with my case, I will explain how Ohio’s CSEA caused me to lose my job, then raised my monthly “child-support” payment from $900 per month to $1080 per month following my involuntarily unemployment.

To explain, I was ordered by the judge in my divorce case to pay court costs, or to serve 60 days in jail. I explained that I couldn’t afford to pay said costs because I was paying $1180 per month in medical and child support orders for my daughter who I had under my roof 50% of the time.

I informed the judge that I had no disposal monthly income, was behind in all of my bills, went bankrupt and that my house was in foreclosure because I didn’t have enough of my own money left over (after paying my, “child support”) to support myself and my new family. My house was recently ordered to be auctioned off at the sheriff’s sale as my family and I now face homelessness.

Unmoved by my, “excuses” the judge issued a warrant for my arrest when I failed to pay with monies I didn’t have. In my defense, I had even presented a foreclosure notice at my trial to prove that I wasn’t lying.

In executing the warrant for my arrest, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Fugitive Warrant Unit came to my former place of employment to arrest me on two separate occasions. I know this because after they knocked the window out of my front door, then scaled my roof and pointed a gun at me to arrest me, they told me they tried to arrest me at work twice, but I wasn’t there. Angry, my employer fired me for their actions whereby my employers operations were interrupted by two cops who came to arrest a dangerous criminal known as a Father.

Recently, I was awarded unemployment compensation benefits since my job loss was through no fault of my own. However, to minimize my monthly benefit amount, Ohio only allowed me to claim myself and my wife as dependents. Despite being obligated to pay $900 per month in child support for my daughter who lives with me 50% of the time, and despite buying her clothes, school lunches, food, providing a home, taking her to school, providing medical insurance, paying 50% of her out-of-pocket medical costs, buying her season passes to amusement parks, museums, zoos etc, teaching her, doing homework with her etc, I could not claim my daughter and receive higher unemployment compensation because the state of Ohio says I don’t support her since I’m “only” the non-custodial parent. By declaring my daughter as a, “non-dependent” I would receive $50 less in weekly unemployment compensation benefits.

Following my involuntary loss of employment, the Hamilton County CSEA raised my monthly child support order from $900 per month, to $1080 per month to begin collecting on my arrears. Keep in mind, I’ve had no income since my termination from employment on December 14, 2007.

Recently, and following a successful appeal whereby I represented myself (I couldn’t afford an attorney) in a state-level unemployment compensation hearing, it was ruled that the causation of my unemployment was through no fault on my own.

I was therefore approved to receive $400 per week to support myself, my wife, my daughter and my two step sons. Immediately, the Hamilton County CSEA began seizing $200 per week to apply towards my newly-raised $1080 monthly child support obligation. Instead of lowering my monthly child support obligation, the Hamilton County CSEA actually raised it by almost two hundred dollars per month.

Given that I had applied for benefits since December 2007 while my case was under appeal, this benefit award was retroactive to the date of my first claim almost six months ago. Also retroactive, is the Hamilton County CSEA’s $200 per week garnishment of my benefits.

That said, my new income is $1600 per month, and my new child support obligation is $1080 per month. That leaves me with $520 per month to support a family of five in my home that has been ordered to be auctioned off at the sheriff’s sale.

Understand that I must also pay the tax on my unemployment compensation, so the custodial parent receives their child support payments, “in cash.” My new $1080 month child support payment is automatically deducted from my unemployment compensation check on a weekly basis.

My present wife and I recently filed for our tax return. Considering that my wife is a full-time college student, this afforded us with additional tax credits that resulted in a federal tax refund of approximately $2200.

We just received notice from the IRS yesterday that my current wife’s tax return has been seized by the Hamilton County Child Support Enforcement Agency, and given to my ex-wife due to my child support arrears that began when I was terminated from my job for the actions of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Fugitive Warrant Unit.

When I spoke with Caseworker Hill of the Hamilton County CSEA in a tape-recorded telephone conversation and inquired as to why my wife’s $2200 tax return was seized for my arrears, she advised, “it’s because your social security number was on her return.”

So much for my wife’s, “constitutional rights and due process.” According to the Hamilton County CSEA, my present wife’s tax returns can be applied to my arrears because we’re married and filed our taxes jointly. Therefore, she forfeits her entire tax return that she intended in part to be used to buy season passes to King’s Island for our three children.

Despite my never-ending financial difficulties brought about by a child support obligation that I could never financially meet while simultaneously supporting my new family, my wife and I have made sacrifices to purchase season passes to Kings Island for the kids for the past three years.

My 7-year-old daughter Maria, in her giddy excitement has been asking me for three weeks, “Daddy, when can we go to Kings Island again, they’re opening soon!” Even more ironic, when I was doing her homework with her the other night, she referenced Kings Island in one of her spelling sentences as seen in Maria’s Kings Island Wish.

However, considering that the Hamilton County Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency is acting only in this child’s best interest,(please see Maria’s Mini Biography Page 1) seizing her Step-Mom’s tax return, and by seizing all but $520 of her Father’s monthly unemployment benefits whereby he is expected to support a family of five, Maria nor her step-brothers will not be able to visit Kings Island this year.

In fact, 7-year-old Maria’s entire family consisting of herself, two step-brothers, her step-mom and Father must carefully manage their Father’s $520 “monthly” income to: find a place to live, pay rent, purchase groceries, pay utilities, buy clothes, pay auto insurance, buy prescriptions and medications, purchase gasoline at $4.00 per gallon, pay the phone bill, fix the two broken-down vehicles in the driveway, pay creditors, buy toiletries, and finance the costs of any unforeseen expenses.

Why is this family of five being forced into homelessness and and left with a meager $520 per month to enjoy the upcoming summer? Simply because the Hamilton County Child Support Enforcement Agency is acting in Maria’s best interest by seizing her step-mom’s tax return, and by seizing her Father’s unemployment compensation benefits being paid to him for their actions whereby directly resulting in the loss of his job.

To penalize Maria’s Father for losing his job, the Hamilton County CSEA raised his child support order from $900 per month to $1080 per month following the loss of his employment. Under Ohio’s statutes, the CSEA may seize up to 65% of a Father’s monthly gross earnings to satisfy his child support obligations when he is in arrears.

It simply doesn’t matter that the unwarranted, punitive and hateful actions of Ohio’s CSEA are directly responsible for the loss of this Father’s job by setting his support order so high that it bankrupted him, caused him to become indigent, and therefore directly resulted in his incarceration, as he didn’t have enough of his own money to pay court-ordered divorce-related costs.

In newspapers and on television, Ohio’s 88 county CSEA Directors regularly proclaim that unemployed Fathers can request a CSEA Administrative Hearing, or file a motion in court to reduce their child support obligations following a loss of employment.

While true, what these same directors fail to publicly disclose is that the petitions by Fathers in such predicaments are routinely refused by the the courts and the CSEAs. It is “rare” for a Father’s child support obligation to be lowered following his loss of employment. Instead, they are declared by the CSEA’s and courts to be, “voluntarily under-employed.” They are told such things as, “you made $100,000 per year once before, so you can do it again. Your motion to reduce your monthly child support obligation is hereby denied!”

The result is that one unemployed Ohio Father after another is wrongfully indicted and incarcerated on criminal felony non-support charges while their names and faces are distributed nationwide on posters falsely labeling them as “deadbeats”, after haven falling behind on a child support obligation that in many cases exceeds their monthly net income.

Take David Rose’s case as a perfect example. He lost his job through no fault of his own. A competent state-level tribunal ruled that his loss of employment was through no fault of his own. He requested at least five administrative hearings through the Darke County Ohio Child Support Enforcement Agency to request a reduction in his support order. The result of his requests? Darke County CSEA’s Caseworker Mallot overruled a state level Hearing Officer’s decision through, “the mere power of her ink pen” and “ruled” that Mr. Rose was responsible for the loss of his job. Was Mr. Rose successful in his efforts to reduce his child support obligation? Well, if your definition of success includes his ten-month prison sentence under 24 hour lock-down, then I guess he was.

It is time for the Ohio’s Child Support Enforcement Agencies to stop lying to and deceiving the public about child support collections. The truth must be told. Child support collections have nothing to do with the, “best interest of the children” as Ohio’s CSEA’s routinely claim, but everything to do with their financial profits gained through federal incentive matches on, “Title-IV Labeled” child support cases at the expense of Ohio’s innocent children.

I challenge Ohio to provide statistical data to support their claims that their abusive and punitive collections efforts are benefiting Ohio’s children, considering that under Ohio’s present statutes, child support payments are merely, “presumed” to be spent on the children. There exists no statutory requirements in Ohio whereby the custodial child support receiving parent actually spends their child support award on the children.

Therefore, in cases where the custodial parent spends their child support payments on drug or alcohol addictions, or on an extravagant lifestyle while the children’s needs are being ignored, Ohio does nothing to intervene on said child’s behalf. So long as Ohio can count those support dollars as, “collected”, they can receive taxpayer funded federal incentive dollars while an innocent child’s intended support payments go up in smoke through a custodial parents crack pipe, or are spent to support a drunk driving custodial parent with an alcohol addiction.

I make those arguments not in sarcasm, but to point out the obvious truth. If Ohio truly cared about the, “best interests of the children” they certainly would enact legislation whereby the custodial parent must prove they are spending their support dollars on the children.

Claiming that the children are being supported by providing food, shelter and clothing proves nothing are not indicative of supporting the children when the non-custodial parent provides the same (including medical insurance), yet pays child support as well, and while many child-support-receiving custodial parents simultaneously receive welfare benefits.

Ironically, these same welfare benefits are not available to most child-support-paying non-custodial parents because they, “make too much money.” When applying for public assistance, a non-custodial parent paying $2000 per month in child support does not have the luxury of having his/her $2000 child support payments deducted from their gross income for the purpose of qualifying for public assistance.

Expecting a family of five to live on $580 per month is cruel, inhumane, unconscionably sadistic, and absolutely not in the best interests of the children living in that household.
For every family the state of Ohio claims is benefiting from child support payments, there exist another Ohio family whose parents and children are being destroyed by said payments.

Someone must take note of the ever-increasing suffering and carnage being induced upon the increasing number of innocent Ohio children resulting from Ohio’s destructive and out-of-control child support machinery. Those innocent children living under the harsh conditions of child-support-induced poverty in the households of their non-custodial parents. Loving parents who have happily assumed parental responsibility for step-children in second marriages, yet are without enough of their own money to support all of those they so dearly love.

Innocent children like Maria, who regularly and frightfully asks, “Daddy, are you going to go to jail for not paying child support?” “I don’t want you to go to jail again, I was crying and scared the last time they took you away.” “Can I talk to the judge and tell him I don’t want you to go to jail again Daddy, please?”

Tony Fantetti
Ohio Council for Fathers Rights

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