Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Former NFL star faces federal court over child support payments

In the United States, there are billions of dollars owed in child support to primary custodians, as well as to the federal government for public assistance drawn for children who failed to receive support payments. The reasons behind this huge debt ranges from illogical child support calculators ordering parents, mostly men, to pay upwards of 40 percent of their after tax salaries to those who just flat out refuse to pay even if they have the money to pay. The phenomenon has become so wide-spread that terms like dead-beat dads have been used in both political and legal arenas.

Andre Rison, former NFL football star, appeared in federal court to respond to allegations that he is $346,000 dollars behind on his child support obligations. Prosecutors in the case wanted Rison to be sentenced to 15 months in prison for violating a 2012 probation agreement. The judge in the case, however, did not impose the jail time and simply added an additional year to Rison's probation, likely responding to his children's mother request that he not be placed in jail. The former star is required to pay $1,000 per month in support, in addition to a prior $2,358.86 per month child support obligation in a separate case. Making an appearance in the documentary "Broke," which is about struggling former NFL players, the star has reported having difficulty finding work.

In order to collect delinquent child support payments, states have the power to garnish wages or enact penalties like intercepting tax refund checks. If a person accrues a large enough debt, he or she can be placed in jail until a payment is made and even have their professional licenses taken away. Utah has jailed individuals owing less than $8,000 in child support. The state can place liens on bank accounts, suspend driver licenses and even deny passports for individuals found to be behind on child support payments.

Falling behind on child support payments is not the end of the world. Modifications can be made to lower payments and get parents back on track.

Source: Phoenix New Times, "Andre Rison, "Broke" Former NFL Player, Gets Break From Federal Judge in Child-Support Fail," Ray Stern, Aug. 16, 2013

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