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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioA man who reportedly fled to Cuba to avoid paying child support is expected back in Utah soon. What other ways are being used to get out of paying?
The aftermath of a judge's decision in a divorce case can be messy, bitter and expensive. Take, for example, the case of the woman we will call "Jenni." She says her ex-husband is supposed to pay her $394 every month for their two kids.
"We've been separated since April and he has paid [only] one month in child support, and that's because I had it come out of his paycheck," she said.
She says it appears he could pay child support, but she says he's spending the money on other things.
"His thing is that he would rather pay truck payments and his phone bill and buy new computers and buy things that he wants to play with. He bought a four-wheeler and he bought a bullet bike," Jenni said.
These stories are becoming more common. Officials at the Office of Recovery Services say there is a slight but steady upward trend in requests to recover child support payments since 2000.
Deputy Director of the Office of Recovery Services Tracy Graham said, "You hear a lot of different excuses. ‘I'm out of work. I don't have enough money to make ends meet on my end. I can't pay support.'"
Graham says some people try anything to get out of paying, like one man from Colorado.
"He worked in a funeral home in Colorado, faked his death certificate, and ended up applying for an embalming job in New Zealand. The authorities recognized he was on the run for not paying child support," Graham said.
However, he says these stories can get violent. He says there have been murder cases in Utah over child support. He says another factor can play into how messy these cases can be.
"There is always the issue of visitation that comes up. That's when [people say], 'I don't get to see the kids, why should I have to pay?'" he points out.
Graham says if you feel cut off from your kids, legally you are still required to pay your ordered support. However, legally custodial parents are also required to comply with the judge's ruling on visitation. So, if you think you're at a roadblock and can't get past issues like these, perhaps mediation is the best option.
"[It] brings in a third party mediator and tries to resolve these issues of visitation. That is available to parents at a much reduced cost in comparison to hiring an attorney and going to court to resolve those issues," Graham explained.
This kind of mediation is only available in the third judicial district, which covers Tooele, Salt Lake and Summit counties. Lawmakers are trying to make this available across the state.