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Child support roundup: Powerball and public shaming

One way that a state, including Florida, can go about collecting delinquent child support payments is to levy on lottery winnings. That was amply seen recently following a New Jersey man's huge payday of about $152 million after taxes for winning a nearly $340 million Powerball jackpot.

State authorities quickly noted that there is an arrest warrant out for the man, who law enforcement officials are trying to find in efforts to have him satisfy $29,000 in support payments he has fallen behind on.

The jackpot should certainly take care of that, with a police official noting that the state's lottery authority routinely pays out support money owed before disbursing winnings.

Satisfying a judgment through Powerball winnings is indeed a rarity, and states frequently rely upon other methods to bring about compliance.

One such method, both creative and controversial, is a judge's order in Mississippi compelling a man who owes $13,000 to wear a sign publicly for three hours a day for three days a week until he pays off. The sign states, "I haven't paid child support and I'm in contempt of court."

The order has both supporters and critics. "I think all of those slackers should have to do this," posted one man online, with an alternative viewpoint stressing that the requirement would not compel obedience if the man truly can't pay and that it would simply serve to embarrass and humiliate his children.

And one resident in the county where the man lives says that the primary concern should be that, if such an order is to be issued, fairness requires that it be done so routinely and not selectively.

"Do it for one, do it for all," the resident noted.

Luckily, in Florida and elsewhere, the state has a number of alternatives to public shaming to pressure so-called "deadbeat" parents into satisfying their parental obligations.

Source: Jackson Clarion-Ledger, "Child support sign: Punishment applauded, questioned," Dustin Barnes, March 19, 2013

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