published Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Tennessee child support forum scheduled today

JoAnne Favors
JoAnne Favors
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: Community meeting about child support

When: 1-8 p.m. today

Where: Kingdom Center, 730 E. M.L. King Blvd.

Child support payments have become so impossible for some parents that they cannot pay, even if they want to, Tennessee state Rep. JoAnne Favors said.

"I would like to see what we could do to try to make it a little easier as far as getting the payments appropriate," she said.

Favors is hosting a meeting today to inform parents of child support laws and hear their concerns.

Favors, who was divorced after five years of marriage and four children, said she understands how hard it is to raise a child without getting the child support that should be available, but that meeting child support demands is becoming "unrealistic."

Hundreds of people have complained that they have been put in jail, had their driver's licenses revoked and lost housing because they did not earn enough money to pay child support and living expenses, Favors said.

David Sanchez, assistant commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services child support program, and other staff members will be there to explain and try to resolve some child support issues.

No appointment is required, but parents are asked to be there at 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. They will learn about legal aspects of child support and the federal grant programs available in Hamilton County that can provide specific assistance to parents.

As of Tuesday there were 23,729 open child support cases in Hamilton County, said Christopher Garrett, director of communications with the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Josh Dzik's concerns about child support are recorded in a YouTube video in which he speaks at Favors' first community meeting on the subject in 2012.

For four years he never missed a child support payment, but he got a new job with an annual income of $36,000 a year. His child support, including insurance, was $1,500 a month, or half his earnings. He said he had to move out of his apartment and into his car, which made it harder for him to see his children. His driving privileges eventually were revoked, according to the video.

Dzik charged that Maximus Child Support Services, the agency that the Tennessee Department of Human Services uses to collect child support, works to make a profit instead of working for the best interests of children.

"It's a private company. They're trading at $61 on the New York Stock Exchange," he said. "As a business, their No. 1 priority is to make a profit and to make money for their shareholders."

A spokeswoman for Maximus said any comment would have to come from the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Garrett said, in response to Dzik's comment, "I'm not going to characterize someone's opinion."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman @timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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