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Host: Recently we had that story about a man that winning that huge $330 million Powerball jackpot from New Jersey, and then he was found to be delinquent on his child support payments. Well the man did settle that $30,000 debt. While lottery winnings will likely never come to any of our bank accounts, tax refunds will. So how does that work in Missouri when it comes to child support? Jonathan Marks is a family law attorney here to talk about it. Good morning to you.
JM: Good morning.
Host: I’ve gotta ask you. Have you ever had to deal with a lottery winner and this issue, or no?
JM: No, I haven’t been that fortunate yet.
Host: Well, what about any financial windfalls, maybe a family inheritance, something that somebody didn’t expect? Does that come into play sometimes?
JM: Normally an inheritance won’t come into play, you typically have to look at something more…where the State would have the ability to collect under that judgement.
Host: And talk about each case. Is it kind of just subjective or is there a clear cut rule in Missouri that attorneys and everybody must follow for divvying up the assets for child support?
JM: The rules are pretty clear but the key for every case is that it has to be registered with the Missouri Division of Child Support Enforcement. Once they’re involved, they have the authority to be able to go in and take the funds like they did in New Jersey for a lottery winning or for someone’s workmen’s compensation funds, or even for unemployment benefits, so that would be the key to be able to collect.
Host: And what about tax refunds? A lot of people get a really nice chunk of change there. How does that come into play? Is it your job as an attorney to kind of keep track of that stuff?
JM: No, again, the key would be that once the judgement is entered either through the child support enforcement agency, or through the court system to ensure that you’re registered with the child support enforcement agency, and they keep track of it through what’s called the family support payment center. So by putting them in the system they have the ability to track it, and when a tax refund would come from the State of Missouri or for the Federal Government, they have the ability to intercept those funds and then pay it to the parent who hasn’t been receiving the child support.
Host: That to me, I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, I just can’t fathom sometimes how people can’t take financial responsibility for their biological children. Do you see it more and more, or is this problem kind of going away? What is your experience?
JM: Well unfortunately due to the downturn in the economy starting back in 2008, we really did see an increase in the ability for arrears to get really high. So when construction and other factory work jobs did go down, we saw a very large increase and unfortunately the court system became somewhat clogged with what we call criminal nonsupport or civil contempt charges relating to the back child support being owed.
Host: And I understand some of these cases are related to, as you mentioned, unemployment or medical issues, things like that. Some people really really do try and they just can’t make ends meet.
JM: Unfortunately that’s true and for those individuals that do get stuck in one of those situations is important for them to stay on top of it, and to either go back to their attorney, or to go to the child support enforcement agency and try to seek to modify those, so their child support numbers and the amount they’re supposed to pay each month is more commensurate with what their income is at that present time.
Host: That’s some great information. Thank you very much. Lottery winnings, I don’t see in my future so it’s not gonna happen, but thank you very much we appreciate your time this morning
JM: Thank you.
Host: Jonathan Marks from the Marks Law Firm. If you have any questions about child support or any other family law issues we’ve got a link to Jonathan’s website on our website at fox2now.com