Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor express the opinion of the writer and are not necessarily the opinion of WBIG ownership, management or staff.
Cancer exists in our family court systems.
There have been many recent Emergent cases which were decided by the NJ Supreme Court which stayed incarnations issued by the lower courts in matters dealing with payment of alimony and/or child support and the associated arrears. In each case Emergent motions to the appellate courts were denied, but subsequently overturned by the NJ Supreme Court.
The judiciary is skirting around our rights to due process by issuing contempt of court charges to individuals who do not have the ability to pay alimony awards. The Superior Court judges are using the ruse that the individual has the keys to his cell and has only pay his arrears to get out. There are many circumstances where this is impossible. These incarcerations amount to extortion much like the Mafia enforcers who threatened, “You either pay up, or I bash your knee with this baseball bat.” The courts are trying to extort funds from victims’ friends and families.
The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Support Services issued a Guidance Document dated June 18, 2012, relative to the US Supreme Court Case of Turner v. Rogers, to state agencies administering Child Support Enforcement Plans. In Turner v. Rogers, the US Supreme Court held that the state must provide a form that can be used to elicit relevant information and that there must be an “express finding of fact by the court based specifically upon the ability to pay.” The US Supreme Court goes further and says that the states must ensure due process protection in Contempt of Court Practices. The Guidance Document states that these contempt practices may not currently be fundamentally fair and that the state’s failure to adequately review an individual’s present ability to pay may result in the state’s inability to show willfulness on the part of an individual. This Guidance, as well as the associated US Supreme Court ruling, is being ignored by the superior and appellate court judges.
In 2006 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in Pasqua v. Council, the Court opined that “the right to counsel is among our most precious of constitutional rights because it is the necessary means of securing other fundamental rights.” The lower court judges in New Jersey are completely ignoring the Pasqual v. Council ruling.
The lower courts are taking a position that people who have lost their job or who otherwise do not have the ability to pay alimony or child support are willfully disobedient and incarcerating them for contempt of court without proper legal counsel. The judges are completely ignoring current case law, as well as our rights under the 14th Amendment to due process. A full and complete investigation needs to be done to root out this cancer in the NJ judiciary system. Governor Christie, the people are demanding an Independent Special Prosecutor be appointed to investigate how the NJ judiciary is handling hearings dealing with Family Court matters in the cases where an inability to pay alimony or child support is in question.
National Alimony and Family Court Reform
Washington Crossing, PA