The Pros and Cons of Shaming Arizona “Deadbeat” Parents on Social Media
You work with your Arizona family law lawyer to fight hard for the child support schedule that you need to properly provide for your children. You might get payments for awhile, but then things start coming up reasons why your former partner can’t pay this month — and then the next month and then the next. Soon, your former partner doesn’t even bother with the excuses; the checks just stop coming.
You call your child custody attorney to help you collect, and maybe you even go back to court. An arrest warrant may even be issued, but still, nothing changes. Eventually, you give up hope that you’ll ever see a dime of what you’re owed.
Unfortunately, those stories are not uncommon, and communities across the country have been looking for ways to make deadbeat parents pay up. Now, Arizona’s governor feels that he may have a solution.
Governor Doug Ducey started a campaign to target parents who are delinquent on child support payments on social media. The campaign will post the names and photos of parents who owe money, along with the exact amount they owe, with the hashtag #deadbeat.
- The campaign expects to target 421 parents who are delinquent on payments, including 34 women.
- These parents owe more than $20 million all together.
- Those being targeted owe more than $5,000 each, have missed more than six months’ worth of payments, have had a warrant issued for their arrest, and are not able to be located.
Yet these parents are not even the worst of the worst. Arizona officials say the campaign is targeted at those it needs help finding.
The campaign has caused some debate, with many questioning whether it is the right way to reach delinquent parents. Here are some pros and cons that have been suggested for using social media as a means to shame delinquent parents into paying:
Help Locate Parents
Social media has shown time and again the power it has to help find people. It has been used to connect adopted children and their biological parents, long-lost lovers, and people with their lost possessions. Proponents of the Arizona campaign feel that it can help locate parents who have tried to evade the law or who have even left the state.
Shame Parents into Paying
Ultimately, the goal of the campaign is to collect the back child support that these parents owe. The majority of the parents who are owed the money have already spoken with a child custody attorney and tried all legal outlets for collecting the money. Using social media to find these parents is an option of last resort. The hope is that the parents will be so shamed by the public exposure that they will take steps to pay what they owe to get out of the limelight.
Create a Culture of Non-Tolerance
Silence begets acceptance. By publicly taking a stand against this delinquency, the state is creating a culture of non-tolerance. Parents know that if they don’t pay what they owe, they could face legal consequences as well as public shaming.
Show How Big a Problem This Is
Many people don’t know just how big a problem it is for parents to not pay their court-ordered child support. This social media campaign shows them just how many people are delinquent and to what extent. With this awareness, more people can be moved to act, either by getting directly involved with agencies that do work for children or by creating their own culture of non-tolerance among friends and family.
Of course, with any campaign, there are disadvantages to consider. A few of these include:
Public Shaming is Unethical
Many feel that public shaming is never the appropriate strategy for correcting a problem. Even if these parents have broken the law or have failed to live up to their obligations, they are still human beings and are deserving of respect.
Disproportionately Leaves Out Women
Men’s rights groups have said that the public shaming campaign in Arizona focuses almost exclusively on men, even though many women fail to pay their child support also. While this may not be true — the statistics show that women are a much smaller number of delinquents — it can certainly create the image that only men are delinquent in their child support payments, which can give some women a free pass for bad behavior.
May Cause Some People to Engage in Even More Subversive Behavior
Laws already exist to get parents to pay their Arizona child support, and yet some people still find ways to get around them, such as by leaving the state or working jobs that pay cash under the table. Social media shaming may bring them into the public eye, but that may just cause them to think of new and inventive ways to hide from the law.
Could be Shaming Those Who Just Don’t Have Money
Sometimes, parents don’t pay their child support because they just don’t have money. They may have lost a job or become ill, and they didn’t have the money to talk with an Arizona family law lawyer to get their child support order modified. They may not have had the time or the know-how to file for a modification themselves either. Publicly shaming these people could cost them more job opportunities and cause them other personal problems.
Whether you are the parent who is waiting to get paid back child support or you are the parent who owes money and is in over your head, you need to work with a Mesa child custody attorney to get the right resolution. My AZ Lawyers can help you track down delinquent parents and file legal action to get the money you’re owed, such as garnishing a pay check or taking tax refunds. If you owe money, a family law lawyer can help you file a modification or set up a payment plan to meet your obligations. Call us today to learn how we can help you.
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