A Kansas father is upset about some postcards he’s been receiving from the government. They’re bright red monthly reminders for him to pay his child support, and he thinks they’re an invasion of privacy.
A man who chose only to identify himself as “Scott” told KWCH News, “I was utterly shocked. Not only shocked, but embarrassed that they would be sending these cards out as public knowledge.”
The Kansas Department of Children and Families sends out monthly reminders to non-custodial parents who pay child support. The problem is, they don’t just send them to people who aren’t paying, they send them to everyone. The reminder isn’t in a concealed, private envelope: it’s a bright red color with the words, “Have you paid your child support this month?” written on it. For parents like Scott who pay, the cards could be a real unfair embarrassment.
A spokesperson for the Kansas DCF says, “These postcards are fairly discrete, but they do make clear that the individual does owe child support, not for the purpose of shaming anyone, but for the purpose of reminding them.” The postcards aren’t discreet at all: they’re bright red and use bold lettering.
If someone refuses to pay child support, brand them with a scarlet “J” for jerk for all I care. But harassing those who are up-to-date on their payments with this tactic seems a little out of line. Scott says, “If they say this is acceptable then what’s next? How far will they push that privacy or that invasion, what’s next?” It’s a fair point: how much of our personal information are we comfortable with the government plastering all over a postcard?
If these cards actually help – great. But treating non-payers and payers of child support the same is pretty unfair. Yes, it would be embarrassing to have your neighbors think you were a person who was behind on your child support payments. Non-custodial parents who don’t pay child support are ostracized and judged for good reason. But the kind of person who ignores their support payments is probably just pitching these in the trash.
Jeffrey R. Esser, a family law attorney in Chicago, told Yahoo Parenting, the invasion of privacy is “a small thing compared to the millions of kids who live below the poverty line because a noncustodial parent who is supposed to help support them does not do so.”
Sort of sounds like they are just willing to embarrass the lot who pays because there are more who don’t. I get wanting to shame parents who don’t pay, but throwing responsible parents under the bus with them seems pretty unfair.