Child Support Felony Conviction for $2,846 Owed

Dane County, Wisconsin, should replace its District Attorney.
One of the remedies for collection child support is criminal prosecution. But any reasonable prosecutor will tell you that indicting a person for failure to pay child support is an extreme measure that should be used in only the most egregious cases, like this one. That's why we were shocked to read of a seven-count felony jury conviction in Wisconsin - for failure to pay $2,846 in back child support!

But Dane County Circuit Judge James Martin displayed the common sense that Dane County prosecutor Paul Humphrey clearly lacked. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the noncustodial parent told the court that he "made a mistake" when he fell behind in his support after a divorce and that thousands of dollars worth of medical bills for his stepdaughter led to bankruptcy. He had caught up with his child support prior to trial. Judge Martin interrupted him: ""You don't have to say anymore."

The Judge then lambasted Mr. Humphrey:

"Somewhere along the line, we've lost sight of what child support enforcement is supposed to be about; and that is to get payment to the children, payment to the parents," Martin said. "This case morphed from that into a prosecution for felonies, not because it was needed to get payment, but because we could get seven felony convictions. We could destroy, potentially destroy, this person financially for the rest of his life."

Because of the conviction, Judge Martin had to pronounce some sentence upon the noncustodial parent. He fined the parent less than $100 and ordered him on probation for the eight months remaining until his daughter turned 18.

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