Child Support Arrears? Go after the house and boat.

Listen to the surprise of this journalist as he recounts the tactics in this child support collection case from this article entitled: County aims to take house, land of man who owes $40G in child support.

To force a Scott Twp. man to pay what he owes his ex-wife and two high-school-age children, Lackawanna County has taken the highly unusual route of going after his houses and land. Jeffrey Borsheski, 48, is nearly $40,000 behind in his child-support payments.

Most times, people which are owed child support merely rely upon wage garnishment and/or threats of jail to extract court-ordered child support from the non-custodial parent. Oddly, they act differently than any other judgment holder.

In Alabama, each month that a child support payment is due and unpaid, a judgment is rendered against that non-custodial parent. (This is why child support arrearage cannot be waived by a court.)  Sometimes, this sum total is reduced to a written order but this isn’t required.

Most any other kind of judgment holder would pursue physical assets (i.e. house, bank accounts, vehicles, guns, equipment, boats, etc.) first. Wage garnishment would be secondarily pursued. They want their money now and prefer to not wait each month for the garnishment to take from each check which could take years.

However, this is exactly opposite how most child support judgment holders act: they wait month-to-month for a trickle of income hopefully first. If arrears gets too great, they finally seek contempt of court: meaning jail for the child support obligor. (Typically a lose-lose scenario.)

I’m not sure why child support judgment holders act so differently than other judgment creditors. They should go after the physical assets. Issue post-judgment discovery to locate the assets. Search the revenue commissioner’s office for real estate. Search the DMV or probate office for vehicles. Have the Sheriff seize physical assets and auction them off. Have their banks freeze their accounts and give you the contents.

The county’s extreme action against the defendant is rarely employed, county officials said, because people way behind in their child support payments rarely have property. If they do, it’s usually owned jointly, often with a spouse. But when Mr. Luongo did a little research, he discovered the Scott Twp. home was owned solely by Mr. Borsheski, meaning the county could take and sell it to pay his massive bill to his ex-wife and kids.

And, in Alabama, you can take these actions privately, you don’t need to wait for DHR to become this aggressive in collection efforts. (When I prosecuted for DHR, I would inquire of parents in contempt about their assets and sometimes look to seizure on the judgment.)

As noted in the article, in Alabama, the judgment creditor couldn’t “give” the physical assets either. That would be a fraudulent transfer. The courts would set it aside and get the property back. Such a transfer may delay the result but only runs up the costs for the person in arrears.

Mr. Borsheski’s ex-wife, Anita Vadala, 50, of Mayfield, said she hopes her struggles can help other mothers reclaim some of the support they are owed, which in her case is $602 per month.