Skip to comments.It's Pay Or Punish
Posted on 01/26/2006 7:00:29 PM PST by buccaneer81
Luzerne County Child Support Its pay or punish Conahans crackdown questioned By TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER email@example.com
I got to the point that I just basically gave up. Stephen Galchefski Jailed in support case
JENKINS TWP. Seven months ago Stephen Galchefski had an apartment, a truck and a job working in a tire store that paid $10 an hour.
It wasnt much, he said, but somehow he managed to scrape by, despite an $880-a-month child support order that most months left him $400 a month to live on.
Then a bout with depression and an alcohol problem landed him in a mental hospital and rehab. He lost his job. His child support continued to rack up. In October he found himself before a judge, facing a contempt charge.
Galchefski, 30, said it was the first time hed been called into court for falling behind on support, and he expected President Judge Michael Conahan would give him a chance to make good on the payments, especially because he had a new job waiting for him.
That had always been the policy of Judge Chester Muroski, who had handled contempt hearings for 23 years before Conahan took over in September. Galchefski was stunned when he was sentenced to two months and immediately jailed.
I wasnt even given a chance to speak to explain myself, Galchefski said. I said your honor, I just started a job. He said do you have the money? I said, No, and he said 60 days.
Its a rude awakening that has been experienced by dozens of defendants who have appeared at contempt hearings before Conahan.
Records from the Domestic Relations department show Conahan jailed 183 defendants from the 10 contempt hearings he held from Sept. 9, 2005, up to Jan. 13, for an average of 18 per hearing. That compares to 129 defendants who were jailed by Muroski during the 17 hearings he held from January to August 2005, for an average of eight per hearing.
The stricter stance has left Galchefski disillusioned with the court system. Its also drawn the concern of some social service providers and clergy, who question whether its doing more harm than good.
The way Judge Conahan is working, it gets addressed more quickly, but it also gets addressed in one way, which is incarceration, said Tom Winiarczyk, chaplain at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
Winiarczyk, of Providing Hope Ministries, said hes disappointed by the new stance because its essentially scuttled a program begun in 2005 that sought to help people facing child support contempt obtain jobs.
Under Muroskis tenure, defendants who owed back support were brought in for a first hearing. If they showed they were making a good faith effort to pay theyd be given two to four weeks to catch up. If they failed to make good on the promise, they were brought in for a second hearing and typically sentenced to six months.
We were able to contact persons at the initial contempt hearing and give them job leads. That opportunity has disappeared, Winiarczyk said.
The higher incarceration rates also have put a strain on the county prison, which is severely overcrowded. In 2005, prison officials spent $564,000 as of November on housing inmates at other institutions because of the overcrowding, according to Warden Gene Fischi.
Conahan declined to comment on his reasoning, saying he does not comment on court procedures.
Jim Davis, director of the Luzerne County Domestic Relations department, said the new stance has aided his department in that support officers now only have to go to court once instead of twice. Its also getting non-payers into court more quickly. Whether its increasing compliance hasnt been determined yet.
We thought wed wait until after the first year to compare and see, Davis said.
In Galchefskis case, hes said his incarceration accomplished nothing except to cause him to lose his job, his residence and his truck and fall even further behind in his support payments. When he went before the judge he owed about $3,000 in back support. That has swelled to $4,778.
And he now has another bill to worry about: He owes the prison $600 for his two-month stay.
Im guilty of not paying, but in no way did that decision rectify the situation at all, he said. If I wasnt locked up, I would have had half my (back support) paid. Now theres no way.
Released from prison last month, hes living with friends. He just obtained a job that will pay him $10 an hour and that, after taxes, will leave him with about $1,280 a month. But hes still required to pay $880 to his ex-girlfriend for their 2-year-old son.
That figure includes $600 in basic support, plus another $220 he has to pay for his share of the boys child-care expenses while the mother is at work. He also has to provide medical coverage for the boy, which will cost him an additional $60 per month, for a grand total of $940.
Galchefski said he cant understand why hes paying so much when other people he knows who have an income similar to his are paying $75 a week for one child. His ex-girlfriend was working when the support order was entered and earned slightly more than he did.
She gets to have custody and I get to pay everything. It makes me feel like Im being punished for creating a child.
Galchefski said he did not intend to fall behind on support. Part of his problem stemmed from the fact he was hit with a bill for $1,800 in back support as soon as the support order was entered. Thats because support is calculated from the date the custodial parent first files and continues to accumulate while the parties are waiting for a hearing. In his case that took three months, at $600 a month.
Even with that, Galchefski said he was making payments on time, until personal problems sent him on a downward spiral.
I had house bills, an electric bill, a car payment, insurance. If I missed a day of work, I got $80 and $90 paychecks, he said. I got to the point that I just basically gave up. I went crazy and wound up at First Hospital.
Even though he was out of work and in rehab, his support obligation did not change. He said he was out of the hospital two weeks when he got the notice he had to appear at the contempt hearing.
Life happens. People lose jobs, he said. I owed what I owed, but I should have at least been given a chance before being locked up for 60 days, before losing everything I own, to explain myself and be heard. They give people who drive and smash up cars a chance. Why cant they give someone a chance for child support? I felt I was the same as someone who killed someone.
Davis said he could not comment on Galchefskis case. Speaking generally, he said defendants are given opportunities to catch up on support before theyre brought before the judge. Theyll first be sent two notices. If they ignore those, an enforcement conference will be held. Its only after that conference that a defendant will be listed for contempt court.
Its not like you miss a payment today and we haul you into court next week, Davis said.
Galchefski insists he never received any notice before being called in for contempt.
Regardless of the past, Galchefski said hes trying to comply with his order. Hes hopeful that should he fall behind again, Conahan will be more willing to listen.
I dont mean to be down on Mr. Conahan or insult his decisions. I just think he should at least look at what hes doing.
For a more detailed chart on what non-custodial parents will pay under the new guidelines, go to www.timesleader.com
For an online calculator that allows users to calculate exact amount of support that will be due under the new guidelines go to .html Terrie Morgan-Besecker, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7179
Feminazis and apologist "men", flame away.
Then you hear about how a woman is murdered by her ex. Push anyone too far and they strike back or crack. Cracking puts them on the street somewhere and striking back puts them in prison. Either way society pays for it.
It's amazing it doesn't happen more often. Shows you how decent most guys are.
""Then you hear about how a woman is murdered by her ex.
It's amazing it doesn't happen more often. Shows you how decent most guys are""
Wow, that's irrelevent if there ever was irrelevent.
Explain, little girl.
It's entirely relevant.
He was pointing out how men are essentially made slaves by their ex wives and girlfriends, and yet just take it -- well, like men.
Some crack, though, like the guy in the other story.
This guys support is insane. I think he should be paying some percentage of his income, but 2/3 is blatantly unfair. If he's making 10 bucks per hour and she's making more than that, AND she has custody, she should be paying the majority of support. He's probably paying all of her rent, all of her utilities, as well as half of the babysitting while SHE is working.
He pays more than my ex-husband who makes 70K a year does for two kids (one of whom is special needs!) My husband works with a guy who makes about $11 an hour and has to pay out $600 a month. I don't know how they figure out child support, but the system is definitely broken!
Don't worry. You'll see plenty on here that agree that he should pay $800 AND MORE even if he made 6 bucks an hour.
I'd become a mercenary or something. Go take out my frustrations overseas :-)
I totally don't understand that. I am afraid to even have my kids over to their dads five minutes late on his days! I also don't understand why lawyers have to be involved in the process. From what I have witnessed, the judges hear what they want to hear and don't feel compelled to follow any laws anyway (in WA state, they aren't even considered laws but "guidelines.") Why do lawyers even have to be there?
""Explain, little girl.""
Maybe you should explain the pretenses under which murder of one's ex is justified.
"This guys support is insane. "
Yes, that's what I was thinking, without even actually doing the math. That's ridiculous. Guy needs a lawyer, Judge needs a chill pill.
I am a girl, to any who don't know, which I mention because I got flamed the last time I got on one of these "men's rights" threads, although at least this time I'm on the "right" side. ; )
Why did he spend this money repeatedly; out of his own pocket?
His ex-wife was living with her parents. Her father is a convicted child molester; yes, that's right...convicted of molesting a little girl. That evidence was presented in court on all occasions..and ignored. Seems the "ex" always suddenly came up with an apartment and a daycare provider prior to the court date.
She lived there for several years before the local media was alerted and the judge suddenly changed his mind.
Can bankruptcy dismiss court fees and chid care payments. If not perhaps he should just refuse to leave jail, as short of winning the lottery he's screwed.
But I also find your remarks inflammatory and uncalled for.
Perhaps you should explain yourself, little boy.
There ae more woman-haters out there than one would imagine.
Whats inflammatory? He never advocated anything. I guess you think its OK for a female to kill her husband while he sleeps because he is abusive. That seems to be fine with many women. He pointed out almost ALL men do not harm their exes when abused by the system, but that once in a blue moon, some weaker guy goes off the deep end and kills his ex. He didn't say it was OK, just stated fact. It happens, but probably not as much as the sleeping husband senario.
Show me where I said that, nooB, and stop being an idiot.
The "little girl" crap is uncalled for. But I suspect you may lack the elan to understand that.
Think before you post, nooB.
Never said little girl, and never said you said it was OK to anything. You just got your panties in a wad over the little girl comment not even directed to you and stopped thinking. I guess you think name calling is OK, since you called me a "nooB" ??? and an idiot. You do act like a little girl though. Grow up.
I have rules here on FR. I don't engage with people who:
Atribute an opinion to me which I never stated.
Take me deliberately out of context.
Come off aggressively from the start in a pathetic attempt to intimidate. (Don't waste your time; you're clearly no match for me. Better men than you have failed.)
You have violated all three.
Therefore, I am through with you. Buh-bye! ;-)
I'm sorry! I started a discussion with a fool, which is my fault. That's the problem with this medium, fools like you can lurk and hide.
Here's some weekend reading for ya:
Let's look at this from a different direction....
A woman is raising your kids... both of your kids. Not her kids, not his kids - your in the dual sense - kids! It takes two, remember!?
Kids are expensive. Mom is probably working AT LEAST one full time job to help supplement the $880 you are ordered to pay each month.
You stop making your payments... because of alcoholism....depression...whatever...
What are your kids going to live on while you take a mental health break from life? Would you prefer the mother and the children to be homeless because of their mentally weak father/ex-husband?
What will the kids wear to school, eat for dinner?
Who pays for their doctor bills, new sneakers, the new doll your daughter always wanted?
Why does no one see it from the child's point of view?
Or, how about the single mother who is desperately trying to keep it together while her ex-husband is in rehab?
Blame the woman... she was a whore/slut/b*tch and doesn't deserve anything...blahblahblah...
Same old neanderthal rhetoric from the knuckle draggers around here.
I agree with you....
They are trying to justify killing an ex-wife because she is "forcing them" to pay for THEIR CHILDREN!
Don't have them if you don't want them --- for the rest of your life! Kids are forever!
No one is living off $880/month with kids these days.
She's probably working two jobs just to keep the kids in food, shelter and clothing.
She probably wouldn't trust him to babysit their kids - with his bouts of "depression and alcoholism".
HE is an unfit parent, who ignores his responsibilites!
If the support payment was unfair... he should petition the court to have it lowered - he should not just think he's getting away with not supporting HIS KIDS!
Your situation has nothing to do with this story.
DO: See a lawyer and get it fixed.
DON'T: Blame every women in the world for your situation.
My daughter is paying her ex child support. She works from home and is their day care provider before and after school 5 days a week regardless of whether or not it is her "custody" time, otherwise they share custody...one week with dad, one week with mom.
Dad was clever enough to manipulate the calendar so that we has custody of the kids ONE MORE DAY PER YEAR. Based upon court ordered calculations, she pays him.
It just says it all so....eloquently. ;-)
It just says it all so....eloquently. ;-)
There's a weird warp between here and Jim Rob's sever in California....
Moral to the story....
It's dangerous to marry a scumbag, even if he started out in sheeps clothing.
I just pray that no one takes these disagreements out on the kids.
Yep, we'd best be careful about whom we choose to mate with, married or otherwise.
>I get to say it a second time today:
>Men are legally slaves to their ex-wives and children.
And that, my friend, is the truth.
Don't tell me you are advocating that the taxpayers should pick up the tab. In the grand scheme of things, these are personal squabbles. No offense, but I don't think my tax dollars should be used for your relative's life choices.
That's exactly it! So many people spout off about the poor guy who has to pay too much when they are out of work, etc. As a single mother who is putting two sons through college, and my ex- just got back to work after being laid off after 911, I have done my homework.
Each parent pays a percentage toward raising the child, depending on each parent's income and employability. If the financial situation of either parent changes, a simple modification to the child support order can be filed. No rocket science involved. Maybe a $25 filing file. I know, because I did it!!!!
Since all this support is supposed to be in the best interest of the child, maybe it is also a good idea for the parents to communicate as well. (Duh!) My ex- kept me informed of his situation, and he helped out when he could. And the kids still respected him for at least trying. Can't stress it enough: Whatever is in the best interests of the child!
OMG... That is Great. LOL
Couldn't legal aid help you with the custody issue?
""My daughter is paying her ex child support. She works from home and is their day care provider before and after school 5 days a week regardless of whether or not it is her "custody" time, otherwise they share custody...one week with dad, one week with mom.""
How did that even happen? What state do they live in? She needs a better lawyer.
They live in Utah. She makes substantially more money than he does.
When they were separated, she agreed to continue paying for day care since she was working outside of the home then. When she was able to rearrange her schedule so that she could work from home before school and after, she took them out of day care. Hubby thought that was somehow unfair since she no longer had to "pay." It's a mess, they haven't been back to court, but I see them heading in that direction.
Well, considering that LauraLee has stated in many previous posts that she is 18 years old, I wouldn't call it "crap."
As far as calling RightRight a "noob", I do believe we were all new here at one time.
My ex committed adultery, left, took my son, got full custody after I went through $30,000 fighting for custody and somehow its the man's fault?
She makes $42k, I make $50k and I pay $800 a month. In essence, she pays nothing to raise our son.
Oh and I see my son FOUR days a month. The courts say that's plenty. Sure.
So all you man haters keep living in your feminist fantasy world. Forced separation of children from a parent and confiscatory transfer of income are hardly conservative ideals. Are you ladies sure you're on the right forum?
As usual, the female in you has taken an opinion out of context. I would never condone murder. But considering the price men pay when a selfish woman decides to destroy his life and deprive him of his children, it is good to know that 99.9% of men are decent, stable human beings.
When the government tells you how often you can see your kids, and you have to pay a fortune to your ex who created the entire mess, you get back to me.
Look dumbass, I never said it was OK for anyone to hurt anyone. I don't care how old you are. I didn't call you "little girl". I pointed out a fact. """"Push anyone too far and they strike back or crack."""" I did not excuse any illegal or violent behavior. Too often you see 2 people from a divorce and so full of hate they cannot even look out for the child(ren). Push anyone too far and they react, sometimes violently. I did not say it was OK for this guy to do anything to his ex. Learn to read. I would guess this guy is part the lower socio-economic crowd and he probably did not marry the school valedictorian. Don't bother to reply as I am tired of talking with foolish sexist people.
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