January 24, 2020

Potential New Indiana Law Targets Gamblers

A proposed bill in Indiana could force parents who are behind on their child support payments to hand over their gambling winnings to their children.

The legislation, which is being considered by the Judiciary Committee of the Jackpotstate Senate, would withhold casino jackpot winnings from parents who are behind on their child support payments. For example, winners of slot-machine winnings of $1,200 or more would be checked for delinquent child support when they try and cash their prize.

Over 165,000 non-custodial parents each owe more than $2,000 in child support, which equals over $2 billion in child support delinquencies, according to the state Department of Child Services, which is pushing the legislation. In a state where only 58 percent of child support payments are collected, the proposed bill is gaining support.

Stuart Showalter, of Indiana Shared Parenting, does not believe that parents who are having difficulty paying child support should be gambling with their money. Indiana Department of Child Services Spokesperson Ann Housworth believes that the custodial parents that are owed money, and their children, could benefit from any money collected with the proposed legislation.

Obviously, there are two sides to the issue. Indiana casinos are not in favor of the bill and worry that the legislation will cause too much of a delay on casino floors while names of big winners are checked for delinquent child support. According to Mike Smith, President of the Casino Association of Indiana, the delay will customers since casinos are fast-paced environments and winners want to be paid quickly. Smith also argues that because 70% of business comes from out of state, he’s not sure how successful the collections would be.

Regarding an argument that the casinos should not have to do the government’s dirty work to collect child support, an unsympathetic Indiana Sen. Scott Schneider (Indianapolis) says the state created the gambling industry, and casinos need to play by its rules.

Should Child Support Money be Tracked?

child support“How do I know that the child support I am paying is really being used for the benefit of my kids?”  This is a question I hear from my bankruptcy clients as well as from Social Security disability clients who are facing the prospect of giving up their lump sum and part of their monthly payments.

One of my blog readers proposes a solution to this dilemma:

Child support should be taken from both parents equally put into a monitored account and a debit card should be given to the custodial parent, all money used with account would be tracked. Nowadays child support is used as a way of getting free money for travels new cars hanging out at the malls and nothing to do with the kids.

Is this solution realistic?  Does the man who wrote this have an accurate understanding about the obligations of a custodial parent?  What do you think?

Working Ex-Spouse Wants SSDI Offset

Questions about offsets continue to fill my inbox.   This one from Dina asks about a common area of confusion:

Dear Mr. Ginsberg,

I receive SSDI and my son (5 y/o) receives an SSDI auxillary payment.  His dad wants to reduce the child support he pays to me dollar for dollar based on the SSDI auxillary monies my son gets every month.

I think I understood from your post on April 2009, that the SSDI Auxillary payments to my son does not offset any child support that I receive from the dad.  Did I understand this correctly?

Can you direct me to information that I can provide to my son’s dad’s lawyer that shows him he cannot reduce the dad’s child support to me dollar for dollar based on my son’s auxillary award?

Thank you – you provide an invaluable free service – thank you!

My response: First, I think that the rules on offset depend to a great degree upon the jurisdiction where the support order was issued.  Rules about offsets are state law questions and every state has different rules.

ssdi offset questionsSecondly, I believe that the offset would only be applicable if your ex-husband was the one receiving SSDI.   The logic of permitting an offset arises from the nature of SSDI benefits.   SSDI payments arise from tax contributions that one makes when one is working.   In other words, if your ex-husband was the one receiving SSDI, auxiliary SSDI benefits would serve as a substitute for his earning power.

Here, you are the one receiving SSDI based on your work.   Your SSDI (partially) replaces your income and your earning power.  Why should your ex-husband get the benefit from your contributions into the Social Security system?