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Delinquent child support payors wear The Scarlet Letter

Many Alabama residents are familiar with the popular novel, “The Scarlet Letter,” where a woman found guilty of adultery must wear a scarlet A on her dress as a sign of shame. The story might seem like fiction, but recently, a similar tactic was used against individuals who failed to pay child support.

The idea, conceived by a county attorney, was to have individuals wear a sign that stated, “I do not pay child support,” if there had been a failure to pay child support. The idea was presented to individuals who were currently in jail for their crime, and they were given the opportunity to fulfill their sentence and get their time suspended by wearing the sign, as well as paying the money they owed.

The man who came up with the idea stated he did not want to embarrass or humiliate those who would wear the sign. Three inmates agreed with the plan, and stood outside of the county jail with the signs around their necks for several hours a day.

The idea is not entirely novel, as a number of states have shamed deadbeat parents by posting their pictures and names online. This process is somewhat unique, however, compared with traditional methods that are enforced against those with delinquent payments.

Typically, individuals behind on child support may see their wages garnished, liens placed against their property and their bank accounts frozen. In certain instances, individuals might be sent to jail for contempt, although this is typically a method of last resort because it may preclude the person from continuing to make payments.
No matter what method is pursued, it is clear that serious penalties are available in a child support dispute when a parent fails to make payments. Accordingly, for those seeking support payments, or those who are alleged to have violated a court order, it is best to work with a qualified attorney to handle the situation.

Source: WBIR, “Child support offenders wear signs to limit jail time,” Stoney Sharp, Mar. 9, 2013