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Its official. America is now a police state!

By GuruOfDos ·
Summarising the background as quickly as possible for those who don't know: Me Brit. Wife American. Live in UK. Have 4 month old baby.

Wife has two children from her 'previous' life, 14 and 15, both have been resident (adopted, even) by wife's parents since birth. As wife's parents have needed help from the state (NY) with benefits, NY state decided to take wife to court last year for back support.

No issue with this....a parent is obliged to support her children. I do with my children from my former marriage.

But....the judge decreed $50 a month and backdated the support to 19** and the arrears instantly total $7500 odd.

The court order states payments from now on of $50 a month ongoing, plus $25 a month towards the arrears. Not much, but it's based on my wifes income which is precicely zero. The law states that the minimum support is $50 a month, whether you have $50 a month or not!

Here's the deal. At arrears of $450, they revoke your recreation and drivers permits. No problem there...she had her NY licence revoked years ago and now has a full UK drivers Licence which they can't touch. Above $500, the account is handed over to the IRS so that they can intercept Federal and State tax returns and refunds. No problem there...she doesn't pay taxes in the US or live there anymore! They also report to credit agencies....fine, but US and UK agencies do not have common files or share information. Her credit is good here at 'home'.

Now, should the arrears exceed $5000, which they do (did I mention they slapped her with $7500 instantly?!!), they then automatically notify the US State Department and prevent renewal of or application for a passport. Not only that but if you attempt to enter or leave the USA, your passport will be taken from you there and then. The idea being, to prevent you skipping the country if you owe support.

So....we want to visit family in NY. I'm a Brit and can come or go as I please for 90 days on an IA-94 visa waiver...I have a machine readable UK passport. Our daughter is also British and the same rules apply. The wife however, will have her passport revoked the minute she sets foot off the plane. She has nowhere to live over there (the parents don't have room), no job, no belongings other than what she can carry on a plane, and no money to speak of. I'd then have to return to the UK with my daughter.

Now the US government's idea is that by detaining her in the country and preventing her from leaving, she will somehow 'magically' be able to pay off her support. Meanwhile I have to return to the UK, minus one wife and mother. The fact that I'm paying off the arrears...stipulated by the court at $25 a month some $75 a month (I'm not made of money...I have to pay my own support and support 'my' family!) is neither here nor there. If she was 'detained' (trapped would be a better term), I'd then have to come back, and funnel what I'm paying towards HER support obligation, AND SOME, into childcare for my daugther while her mother is unable to return to the UK.

Does it not make logical sense that someone residing abroad, and who IS complying with (and bettering) the court order should be allowed to travel freely and return to their home, rather than prevent her returning and actually LESSEN her ability to have her support paid by me??!!!

I have tried EVERY source I can find and even telephoned the CSE agency and State Department in the US, and no one can find any rule or law that covers this scenario.

It seems we have two options....either wait to travel until the arrears are cleared (5-6 years maybe?!!) OR she has to apply for British Citizenship (which she is eligible for as she is married to a Brit and has been resident here for over three years). That takes time and costs about ?214 (US$350)...perhaps 8-10 months for naturalisation then another month for a British Passport.

When she does finally get a British Passport, because it will not be biometric (the UK won't introduce those until at least 2006) she will have to apply to the US Embassy in London for a visa, costing ?64 ($110).

In the mean time, the parents can't get to see their daughter, son-in-law or new baby grand-dauhter, and we can't visit family who we haven't seen for over a year.

I know the US polices it's own citizens to death (that is the purpose of the Social Security Number!), but isn't this going a little 'too far'?!!!

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Even dafter than the law...

by GuruOfDos In reply to First of all GURU

Just an aside...making the payments isn't a problem...we simply send cheques via airmail made out in Sterling from our British bank account to the Support Collection Unit and let them worry about cashing takes them six weeks and they have to pay bank charges of $25 a time, which the court actually stated is THEIR problem, not ours, so they can't deduct these fees from the payments LOL.

I have given them over a dozen alternatives for payment...wire transfer from a UK bank in dollar funds, credit card payments (most American government agencies will NOT accept payments on credit cards issued outside the US), Western Union, etc, but they just said send cheques so there you go....their problem if each cheque for say $100 equivalent costs THEM $25 to cash and they HAVE to credit the full $100 to the support account!

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Pretty sad Guru

by Oz_Media In reply to Even dafter than the law. ...

Yes it is very typical here too that they have NO clue how to really resolve issues at all. There is too much INTERNAL red tape and political BS they have to clear for them to possibly operate in a logical or 'normal' fashion.

I once had UIC (unemployment insurance)overpay me. FIVE years later when applying for automotive school assistance, they offered to pay me X amount each month for living expenses while in school.

They then realized I owed them money, I had never been told before, and scheduled a repayment plan of $120.00 month.

Now, I had JUST received acceptance for support while in school and would need to pinch in order to make it work for me (thyis is in addition to student loan and several trades bursaries).

UIC (responsible for my support in school, wanted me to repay UIC $120.00 month. They then raised my allowance by $225.00 each month so I would have enough to pay THEM with?!? In an effort to repay THEMSELVES, they ended up giving e an extra $105.00 month in living expenses, that's AFTER taking back their share!

Needless to say, I didn't compain and they indeed did repay themselves and sent me a letter in the mail for me to claim the tax break.

Good government spending! Too bad their own internal politics and red tape cause them these problems, I made money off of it, I just don't see how nobody has seen this within the UIC offices. Mind you, it is rare that the right hand knows what the left is doing when it comes to governments.

The best part, out PM is the first in god knows how many years to alance the budget year after year. Make you realize how much money shifting and hiding really goes on. If they overpay ONE person over $1200.00 year in order to repay themselves, how many other people and thousands get lost this way? How do the books then balance?

I'm sure this isn't the ONLY screw up they make.

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Not a police state

by road-dog In reply to Its official. America is ...

Actually, you are the victim of our elected leaders' ill executed attempts to hammer "deadbeat dads".

This is simple bureaucratic incompetence, not fascism.

Here in Florida, they have gone so far as to begin driver's license suspension proceedings 15 days from the first missed payment.

I was laid off from a high paying job in 2001, and my child support payments were $938 / month. My unemployment benefits equaled $1100 / month. (you do the math). Try executing an effective job search without a driver's license because your license suspension begins in 15 days, but a court date for a child support reduction takes 15 MONTHS.

There are no common sense caveats in the system because all parents are treated like the absolute worst among us. Oddly enough, if you are willing to work pud jobs and quit whenever they begin pay garnishment, you can get break after break after break. The system only hampers those who try to play by the rules. The true deadbeats slide by as they always have....

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I think you've hit the nail on the head Road-Dog

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Not a police state

It is the bureeaucrats who manage to totally screw things up.

I remember not so long ago that there was a saying to really screw things up you required a computer.

Now days the proper way to put that should be If you want something never to work give it to a bureaucrat with a computer and you'll never see any sence ever again.

If it wasn't so serrious it would be a joke I'm revoking you're licence for non-payment of child support because you are unemployed in 15 days and you can appeal this in the court but it will take you 15 months to get a hearing to make amends for you're change in circumstances.

About 40 years ago over here the negelant husband who didn't pay any child support was placed in prision for 2 weeks to let them know the error of their ways when they where realised from prision they promptly walked into the arms of a Balif who served more papers on them for non payment of the last 2 weeks child support and where taken straight to court where they where again sentenced to 2 weeks jail. This would go on in some cases for years and there where many occurances of Magistrates tearing strips of the man for the nonpayment of child support for sometimes periods exceeding 2 years and they where told what a bad parent they where and so on and so on but again the Magistrate would impose a 2 week stay in jail and then 2 weeks latter would see the exact same person on the exact same charge with only the dates being different.

Luckly that is something that has long passed but it does show just how stupid the Law actually is as they could jail a person for nonpayment of child support and after serving their time they where imediatly charged with the same offence but thisd time with different dates.

How any sane person thought that one up is beyond me as obviously if you are in jail you can not pay the bills as you can not work. There was one very well publisied case where the woman shaked up with a very rich guy who was in the top 2% of the income level and then applied to have the husband jailed for non payment of the child support as the only evidence rerquired was the woman saying that she never recieved the money.

Now this guy was jailed for 2.5 years and eventually the Magistrate asked him what was going on as he was sick and tired of constantly placing him in jail for this offence. The person in question told the Magistrate what he had been told but as he had been in the jail he could offer no evidence so the Magistrate sentenced him to the rising of the Court instead of the normal 2 weeks and because the woman did not attend the court case and had not after the first three ocassions she was unpreapered for her ex to burst in with a Police Officer and get the required evidence.

She was even very insistant that the man had excaped from jail and it was the Policeman's duty to take him into custody and return him to the jail. While that ended that guys suffering there where pleanty of others who suffered the same things and it was only with the introduction of the Family Court over here that this was ceased.

Then the Legal Whores got their grubby little hands on the new court and wrecked it as well.


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Just a thought

by 1stladytech In reply to Its official. America is ...

Could you possibly find a way to pay the arrearages down to under $5,000? If the total amount of the arrearages falls below the threshold of the passport confiscation, you should be able to visit and then leave again. I would check this angle out, as it would give you a nearer target date for a visit. If you could get conformation of the reduction in debt, that should clear you at the airport in case the "men in black" haven't gotten thier records updated yet.

Just a thought for a possible work around.


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by GuruOfDos In reply to Just a thought

I'm hearing you....legislation states that the arrears ecxeeding $5000 triggers the revocation. Many sites also advise that if this is reduced to below $5000, then the name/SSN is removed from the Passport watch list. Even dropping one cent below the $5000, i.e. leaving an arrears balance of $4999.99 SHOULD be enough. In practice though, this doesn't happen! I checked very carefully and the computer system is automated so that triggering the 5k threshold is instantaneous, but removing the name from the watch list takes two to three months and involves countless letters and phone calls and to-ing and fro-ing between the Support Enforcement Agency, the local court where the order was issued, the State Department and such like. The other problem is very few government departments are able to call long distance, let alone overseas, so we will have to make all the running from this end and spend hours on hold waiting to talk to the right people. Even then, most are reluctant to send mail overseas to addresses outside the US.

Good info, though, and in theory, there's our answer, but in practice, burocracy, red tape and the inability of the US system to integrate with the rest of the world is a major stumbling block!!!

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