MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Tennessee lawmaker took to social media to express his anger about the way the child support system is set up and to encourage parents to avoid it. He said it is set up to make money for the state and not to help families.
"Follow the money. Please get this. It's a game man and it's tied directly to the criminal justice system," Representative Antonio Parkinson (D-98) said. "It ain't about the children. As long as they (DHS) got a child support order, the feds match 40 percent of that money to DHS."
Parkinson posted a Facebook Live on his page, which has over 121,000 shares, and walked viewers through what the system would do, and how it was designed to put a non-custodial parent behind for child support from the beginning.
Parkinson used the example of a man and woman dating, having a child, and then breaking up when that child was six or seven years old because someone cheated on the other. He said what happens if the custodial parent, in this case the mother, gets mad about the break up and takes the father to court for child support.
"Under the law right now in Tennessee, what it says if that the judge is going to take him back all the way back to when the child was born," Parkinson said.
Parkinson said for his example he would say the court order is for $500 per month the father has to pay.
"Let's say $500 a month. That's $6,000 (a year) times seven. That's $42,000. That's $42,000 off the top that he gets put on child support," Parkinson said.
In addition, Parkinson said if the mother was receiving state assistance through food stamps or other programs, then the father would have what the state has paid in that assistance over the course of seven years added to his child support as well. According to Parkinson's example, that places the father with over $50,000 to start child support.
"There's no way a person is going to be able to dig themselves out of that unless they're rich. But, if they're rich, it's gonna be more than that," Parkinson said.
Parkinson said the role DHS plays in a child support case is a conflict of interest.
"DHS is representing the custodial parent (in court), which most cases is the mother, but they (DHS) also advise the father - the non-custodial parent," Parkinson said. "Now, there's a conflict right there in itself. They're representing the custodial parent in court, while advising the non-custodial parent, under the guise of we believe in doing what's best for children."
But, Parkinson said it's not what's best for children. He said the child support system is all about money.
DHS is responsible for enforcing child support orders. That means, when a non-custodial parent doesn't pay child support for the child, then DHS will have their driver's license taken or put them in jail.
"Does that seem like that's in the best interest of the child, their father going to jail?" Parkinson asked.
Parkinson said he is working on legislation to change the way child support is done. During this process, he said he spoke to DHS (he doesn't mention who he talked to) and said he learned something that made him angry - it was about money.
"She (DHS representative) said when we get the full child support order, the feds match us a percentage of the money for enforcement," Parkinson said. "That pissed me the blank off. That pissed me completely off."
Parkinson said he is urging parents of children to work it out without using the child support system.
"The key to the game and the key to the trap is to avoid the trap," Parkinson said. "Fathers, support your kids. Mothers and fathers, don't get mad to the point, if you break up, to the point that you use this system for leverage to get back at the other person. When you put the state in your business, you're hurting your child. You're not helping your child."