To Ease Welfare Load, Kansas List Exposes Parents Behind On Child Support

KCUR published a story on April 11, 2018, highlighting a new Kansas Department of Children and Families website that is publishing the names and photographs of Kansas child support obligors who owe more than $5,000 in arrears, have not filed bankruptcy, and who are not on public assistance.

The Department for Children and Families website launched a child support evaders Web page Wednesday that features pictures of 10 delinquent parents. It includes notes on what they owe, where they were last seen, and a link to report their whereabouts.

Trisha Thomas said the site is intended both as a deterrent and a way to locate parents. Once delinquent payers are found, DCF has more options to make sure they make payments. They can be charged with criminal non-support or contempt, for example. The agency can also set up income-withholding orders, which it uses to take payments directly out of the non-custodial parent’s paychecks.

Ronald W. Nelson was quoted in the story as saying he’s usually skeptical of public shaming efforts, which he said often fall disproportionately on the poor. But he supports the effort, which he said seems narrowly focused on those “who have for long periods of time refused to pay their lawfully entered and reasonably determined child support payments.”

In his full statement, Nelson said:

“I generally don’t like attempts at “shaming” to gain compliance for anything. I’m of the opinion that there’s far too much shaming in the United States about far too many things, because often public shaming attempts fall most heavily on the poor and those who have other issues that lead them to not be able to appropriately comply with societal norms. It also sometimes results in people losing jobs or not being able to get a job that they need in order to pay off the debts for which they are charged or the actions for which they are being held out to public ridicule.
“That being said, my understanding of the program is that it does not target those people I’m most concerned about. Instead, it targets child support obligors who have for long periods of time refused to pay their lawfully entered and reasonably determined child support payments — sometimes because they don’t want the money going to their <hated> ex, sometimes because they feel (rightly or wrongly) that they haven’t been allowed to see their child(ren) as much as they think they should or that the child support recipient has withheld the child from them. Often times the refusal to pay child support obligations has gone on for years and would be subject to state or federal prosecution for non-payment of child support, but those prosecutions have fallen in the last few years and the programs meant to enforce child support through those means has been ineffective.”

KCUR-FM News Story